Which mode is for shooting people during sporting events?

Posted on 21st April, by in Blog. No Comments

Which mode is for shooting people during events? Can you shoot people, vehicles, anything in motion in aperture priority mode? If you don’t want any blur and capture quick sharp moments during motion, would shutter priority be better?

I wouldn’t use Aperture Priority to try and stop motion, the only way you could be sure and get a high enough shutter speed would be to use a really high ISO unless you’re shooting in really bright light. That means a lot of noise to deal with.

I normally shoot manual during day events, since I shoot all older manual lenses, although Aperture Priority works too, but it’s my least favorite. I almost always start at f8, that’s where most lenses do best, and I keep the ISO as low as possible to minimize noise. If I can get by with it, I won’t go above ISO400.

As for shutter speed, I don’t think anybody can really make a solid recommendation without knowing overall conditions. I find for shooting birds in flight 1/350 will usually stop most wing motion except for small birds like Chickadees and Hummingbirds. Hummers take 1/1000 or better to really stop wing motion. You can stop a rabbit or dog running at 1/350. For sporting events, usually a little faster, 1/500 might stop most motion in a baseball game except the bat swinging. A runner’s feet may still have a little motion.

I would prefer manual, but shutter priority should work, and I always keep the ISO fixed rather than letting the camera set it on the fly. So if you can get at least 1/250 at ISO200 and f8, which is not difficult on a partly cloudy day, you should be able to stop all motion with things like people walking and such. For kids playing you would want closer to 1/500. For that you might also want a smaller aperture, so depth of field will help you fudge the focus a little where necessary.

It’s all relative, Aperture, ISO and shutter speed all affect each other. The only way to really know what to expect is to practice at it and pay attention to what results you get with various combinations. Start by changing only one variable and keeping the others static. Then work with another one until you find the combination that works most of the time. Set the aperture and ISO, for example, and leave them alone. Play with shutter speed. Then choose one of the others for the variable another day. Pay attention to what you get.

I like to practice on wildflowers. You’d be surprised how much motion blur shows up on a windy day. But they don’t run around, they sit in one place so you can take a dozen shots and take your time setting up each shot. A day working with wildflowers will teach you a lot.

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