Water-sports action images

EOS tips

Surfing, kayaking and other water sports make striking subjects for photography. The thrills, spills, jumps, turns and speed mean getting great results requires effort and patience. We've come up with some tips for taking better shots and for printing your results once you’ve got them.

• Using Sports mode
• Reducing unwanted blur
• Using Shutter priority mode (Tv)
• Use an AF focus zone
• Use fast lenses to shoot action
• Image quality settings

Whether you're planning to head out into the waves, stand on the edge of a local lake or to the beach, do always be aware of your surroundings and consider your safety and that of other people around you. Read on to learn more.

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Using Sports mode to capture fast action

Fast action sports are best captured when the camera is optimised to track your subject and freeze moving subjects. Turn your EOS Mode dial to the Sports setting, or turn to SCN mode and select Sports on the LCD display if your camera has one.

Sports mode will shorten the shutter speed and this will help to freeze movement. Sports mode also changes the camera’s autofocus (AF) system to track moving subjects.

For best results, half press the shutter and keep your finger on it to activate the focus before your subject reaches the ideal position for your shot. Sports mode also switch the camera to continuous high speed shooting making it take a series of pictures while the shutter is pressed fully down. If you’re shooting a lot of action, a larger capacity high-speed memory cards can help to maximize the number of pictures you can take in a sequence. Tip: When using Sports mode it is often better to shoot a few frames, then lift your finger off the shutter and find a new subject.

Reducing unwanted blur: Image stabilizer

Longer zoom lenses with image stabilizer help to reduce camera shake, but if you are moving the camera with the action your image stabilizer may be less efficient. Look for a switch on the side of the lens, if there’s a Mode 1 / Mode 2 switch, choose mode 2. Some lenses will switch automatically to mode 2 by detecting the panning movement.

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Fast action is often captured with a very short exposure. Set the shutter speed to 1/500s or faster. You may need 1/2000s to freeze drops of water. With the pace of the action you might not notice changing light conditions and if your shutter speed is very fast your lens might not be fast enough to get a good exposure. A fast lens is one with a larger maximum aperture (a small f-number) which can let more light in to capture action with a faster shutter speed. Using either Auto ISO or the custom function for Safety Shift with ISO will help to ensure the best exposure for better results.

Use an AF focus zone

EOS cameras have multiple focus points spread across the frame and the camera will usually focus on the subject closest to you. To be sure of where in your frame your camera will focus, try selecting a smaller group of focus points, and make sure they are kept on the subject.

You may need a bit more skill to do this, but the results are worth it. For most fast moving subjects selecting a single AF point can make it harder to get sharp shots as it will be easier for the AF point to miss the subject. AF point selection is only available when one of the creative zone modes, P, Tv, Av, M are selected.

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Use fast lenses to shoot action

Canon professional sports photographers often use the white L-series lenses as they provide fast maximum apertures and the ability to make distant subjects larger in the frame.

Which lenses you choose will depend on how close you are to the action. Being further away needs longer lenses, though an extreme wide-angle view can also be a dramatic alternative.

Image quality settings

If you shoot JPEG images (as opposed to RAW format images) your camera can take many more pictures in a continuous burst of frames. They will be written to the memory card much faster too.

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