Best Camera Settings – Sports, Action Photography

Have you ever struggled to capture good action shots with your camera, or wondered what the best camera settings are for sports or action photography?

Exposure Triangle

Those of us who are familiar with photography will know of the exposure triangle.

Basic Exposure Triangle

The three elements being

  1. ISO, the camera sensor’s sensitivity.
  2. Aperture, the size of the camera’s lens iris.
  3. Shutter speed, the amount of time the shutter stays open

Camera Modes

We also know that our camera’s have a number of modes, generally these are:

  • Programme mode
  • Aperture Priority mode
  • Time mode (shutter)
  • Manual mode
  • Auto mode, (depends on camera make as to how this functions)

And many cameras these days also have another mode, ‘auto ISO‘. Keeping things simple, it is the use of the ‘auto ISO’ combined with ‘manual mode’ that is of interest to us when doing action, or sports photography. Why? because this combination allows us to have full control of the aperture settings and shutter speed settings, leaving the auto ISO mode to work out the correct exposure by varying the ISO sensitivity of your camera.


Use of Auto ISO and Exposure Triangle


In general, you want to set a wide aperture to separate your subject from the background and have a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action. The basic settings for doing this are set out below.


  • ISO – auto
  • Aperture – widest possible
  • Shutter Speed – /1000 sec or more
  • Metering – centre-weighted
  • Focus Point – centre
  • White Balance Auto

What about noise at high ISO

The use of fast shutter speeds and the lighting conditions may mean that your camera will use a high ISO rating leading to some image noise.  There are many factors to consider when talking about image noise. However, in general, if your images are well exposed this noise will be minimal and can be corrected  or improved upon with some post processing.

Happy shooting 🙂



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