Many digital cameras come with setting modes, which are usually identified by an icon. For instance, there may be a portrait mode, a macro setting, and a sports mode etc. When you turn the camera to one of these pre-set modes, the settings, including aperture, shutter speed and ISO will automatically be set for you instantly to meet the lighting situation.

How the Sports Mode Can Help Freeze Action Shots

The sports mode on most digital cameras resembles a tiny person who is running. When you set the camera to this specific mode it will adapt to the conditions by self-adjusting the camera’s ISO, usually to a higher setting; reduce the f/stop provide a much shallower depth of field; boost up the shutter speed to help freeze the action, and adjust the camera’s auto-focus setting to the adaptive or the artificial servo.

The ISO setting will usually be at a minimum of 400, but it depends on the specific lighting situation. The camera will basically adjust your settings so you don’t have to keep changing them manually. By reducing the f/stop, you can isolate the scene’s action. You’re not really interested in the background when taking action shots, so it’s fine if there’s some blur in it.

The increased shutter speed helps you to freeze the foreground action and the main subject of the photo. The camera will typically use a minimum shutter speed of 1/200th of a second. But again, like all of the settings it will depend on the amount of light that’s available to you. The frame advance setting also will be increased to the highest possible.

The camera’s auto-focus setting will be adjusted to predictive setting so it can anticipate the closeness, direction, and speed of the subject when you press the shutter. It will basically track the moving subject and try to keep him or her in focus. These settings are designed to make it easier when shooting and eliminating much of the guesswork involved in sports photography.

Be aware that the mode works better with a longer lens. This is because the depth of field is decreased and will produce a sharper contrast between the subject and the background. The faster the lens is the better. This will allow you to use a lower aperture f/stop and allow in more light, meaning you can take better photos in low-light conditions.

Try to keep the action near the center of the frame since the auto focusing sensors are generally concentrated in the middle. However, if you don’t want to center everything you can always use the manual focus mode. You may want to give some space in front of the subject so it looks like they’re moving into it, creating a better sense of action.

While the sports mode will help out where possible, it still can’t produce light for you. This means you’re not always guaranteed of great action shots if your camera can’t let in enough light at a fast shutter speed. The only way you can solve this problem in low-light situations is to have a fast enough lens with a low f/stop such as f/2.8.


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