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How do you capture action shots?

How do you capture action shots?

Action photography continues to grow in popularity. Grabbing action shots of sports photography for example, if your child is in a sports league, can create long lasting cherished memories. Capturing moving subjects for great action shots could be tricky. Therefore, it is important to have the right mirrorless camera, a DSLR camera from Nikon or Canon for example, or digital camera able to provide sharp images regardless of lighting conditions, this goes for harsh lighting conditions like low light as well. In addition to the having a great camera, it is going to be equally as important to know which camera settings are designed for action photos. This may include setting your camera for continuous shooting to get those fast action scenes like you would find in a crowd pleasing football touchdown run in professional sports.

We will provide some tips and tutorials on how to get great action shots in addition to camera recommendations.

action shot

Action Photography Tutorials

Let’s explore some photography tips on how to set up and grab some awesome action photography.

  1. We will discuss cameras in further detail below. However, in addition to having the right digital camera, you will need the right lens for your action shots. While wide angle lenses are overall great prime lenses, try and check out a telephoto lens. As most of your action shots will be taken from a distance, having that telephoto lens will allow you to get the most out of your image quality. So a zoom lens will appeal to action photographers needing the focal length for their shots.

  2. Try altering your autofocus mode, by changing the AF area, this may give you better tracking features on your subject. On Canon cameras you can set the the autofocus mode to servo which is one of their standard autofocus settings. On that setting you can continuously depress the shutter button, this is ideal in action shots as you can just release the shutter button when you are ready to take your exposure.

  3. We always recommend setting your shooting mode to manual mode or manual focus, as this opens the camera settings up to your control where as autofocus will have the camera automatically adjust the settings. These can range from ISO settings, to aperture settings and shutter speed.

  4. Sports photos are often taken with a shallow depth of field so, you can focus on one side of your subject and set a blurred background for a gorgeous Bokeh effect.

  5. You can also set a motion blur even when continuous shooting, adding a Bokeh effect afterwards should be no problem.

  6. Try shooting with a wide aperture priority to allow for as much light into your action shot as possible.

  7. When shooting freeze action photos, try composing them with your subject as the main focus point in the frame of the action.

  8. Depress the shutter button to obviously control the shutter speed. Sports photographers want that faster shutter speed to help get those action shots and freeze action shots. So setting the shutter priority is vital. Watch your ISO levels on those fast shutter speeds as increasing the ISO too much may compromise the image quality.

  9. Try using a slow shutter speed if shooting landscape photography, especially at night or in low light conditions, as this will allow more light to enter the exposure. Slower shutter speeds may not require as much changes to the ISO sensitivity as faster shutter speeds would.

  10. Try panning the sports arena you are in. Getting a panoramic type of shot would look really cool uploaded to your social media page. Most DSLR cameras and your smartphone should have an option to shoot in while panning without loss of image quality.

  11. Shoot in burst mode which will give you several different exposures to chose from, so you know you aren’t missing out on that split-second action.

  12. Photographing in Raw uncompressed mode will give you even more post processing options. Changes can be made to tailor your needs.

    Action photo


When discussing getting the right camera for action photography, a great place to start is with a nice digital camera. In addition to DSLR or mirrorless cameras, there are some cool gadget and action cameras which would add to any photographers arsenal.

We love the DJI Osmo Action 4 Adventure Combo - 4K Waterproof Action Camera + Battery Case. This action camera is great for any action filled adventure and sports photography as well.

Some of the features which we rave about this camera are as follows:

  • A powerful 1/1.3″ Image Sensor is onboard, with a maximum wide aperture setting of F/2.8

  • 10-bit D-Log M color mode provides over one billion colors and a wider dynamic range. This will help in any post editing you may do.

  • Continuous shooting in 4K 120 FPS HDR, means you will get vivid, sharp and breathtaking photos and video.

  • Horizon Steady image stabilization ensures that you can tilt the camera and change viewing directions without the shake and blur associated with handheld shooting.

  • Hitting the beach, ready to take some underwater action shots? Well, the DJI Osmo Action 4 can handle that. The DJI Mimo accompanying app can identify and shoot gorgeous shots of underwater sea life. The DJI Osmo Action 4 is rated to handle up to 18m of water depth without a protective case.

  • Need to change your viewing angle? The Horizontal-Vertical Protective Frame lets you capture lossless vertical footage with ease and rotate the camera from shooting horizontally to vertically.

  • There is a customizable quick action button, so you can access camera settings in split second time.

  • Get good battery life as the DJI Osmo Action 4 is rated for up to 2.5 hours of shooting, You can fast charge the camera to about 80% in approximately 18 minutes.

  • Great performance even in low temperatures with it’s freeze resistant capabilities. You should be able to get about 2 hours of usage even in temperatures reaching -4 degrees.

  • With the GPS bluetooth enabled remote controller, you can record and imprint additional data on your action shot, this will help with controlling the data you want to appear if you are, say uploading your content to social media.

  • With crystal clear audio thanks to it’s three mics, and compatibility with the DJI Mic, not only can you increase the transmission length of the audio but the quality as well.

  • Wi-Fi is onboard for livestreaming as well to social media. Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi AC is the standard used by this camera. So you can access the faster 5Ghz wireless spectrum band for better livestreaming and uploading to social media.

  • One memory card slot is rated for SD cards up to 512 GB, so you should have plenty of onboard storage with right memory card.


Another camera we love for action shots is the Minolta MN30WP Waterproof Digital Camera. Some of the features that you will appreciate are as follows:

  • Very affordable price point for this action camera.

  • Ability to capture photos in 21 megapixel resolution for sharp, detailed exposures.

  • Shoots in 1080p or Full HD Resolution.

  • Ready to shoot underwater, the camera is rated for water resistance up to 16m. Gorgeous underwater action shots are at now at your fingertips.

  • vvWith 2.8f Touch LCD Display and 4x Digital Zoom, you know you can get that close up action shot while concentrating on your subject through the LCD screen.

  • With advanced subject Face Detection, a great Anti-Shake Image Stabilization system and panoramic shooting functions, sports photography (even in a large field or arena) are that much easier. Having shake and blur will occur without the proper image stabilization such as what is found on this great Minolta digital camera. Setting the shooting mode to Anti Shake will assist in this endeavor over other shooting modes.


Final Thoughts

Capturing those action shots, especially in the fast paced environment of sport photography should not seem like a daunting task. Utilizing our tutorials and photography tips, in conjunction with the right equipment should get you those split second action shots with no problem.

So cheer your family members on at their sporting event, or your favorite team and take high quality action shots in the process!!

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