Hi there, 🙌

Are you a fan of action sports photography and are looking to capture some epic shots? Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, there are a few key elements to keep in mind when it comes to getting the sharpest action sports shots. In this blog post, I’ll be covering some essential tips on focus control and settings to help you up your photography game!

Understanding Focus

First things first - focus is the foundation of any good sports photo. If your photo is blurry or out of focus, it won’t capture the essence of the moment and will likely end up in the trash. So, how can you ensure your photos are perfectly sharp?

Manual Focus

One option is to use manual focus to ensure the perfect focus. This can be especially helpful in low light situations where autofocus may struggle. With manual focus, you have full control over what is in focus and what is not.

A hand adjusting the lens to manually focus


Autofocus is the default setting on most cameras, and can be a great option for action sports photography. However, it’s important to understand the different autofocus modes to ensure you’re using the right one for the situation.

Continuous Autofocus

Continuous autofocus is great for capturing action shots, as it tracks the subject and adjusts focus as they move. This can be helpful for sports where the subject is moving quickly, such as skateboarding or surfing.

A skateboarder grinding on a rail, captured with continuous autofocus

Single Point Autofocus

If your subject is stationary or moving slowly, single point autofocus may be a better option. This allows you to select a specific point in the frame for the camera to focus on.

A person standing still, captured with single point autofocus

Choosing the Right Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is another crucial element to consider when capturing action sports photography.

Freeze the Action

To freeze the action, you’ll want to use a higher shutter speed. This is typically around 1/1000th of a second or higher. This will ensure that even the fastest moving subjects are captured sharply.

A surfer riding a wave, captured with a high shutter speed

Motion Blur

On the other hand, you may want to capture some motion blur in your photo to convey a sense of movement. To do this, use a slower shutter speed (around 1/60th of a second or lower) and pan the camera to follow the motion of the subject.

A cyclist captured with a slower shutter speed to create motion blur

Using Aperture to Control Depth of Field

Aperture plays a role in determining the depth of field in your photos - or how much of the image is in sharp focus.

Shallow Depth of Field

If you want to isolate your subject and have a blurry background, use a wide aperture (lower f-stop number). This will create a shallow depth of field and blur the background, bringing the subject into sharp focus.

A skateboarder captured with a shallow depth of field, with the background blurred

Deep Depth of Field

If you want everything in the frame to be in focus, use a narrower aperture (higher f-stop number). This is useful for capturing group shots or scenery.

A group of snowboarders captured with a deep depth of field

Bonus Tips

Use Burst Mode

Burst mode can be useful in capturing that perfect moment. By taking a series of photos in quick succession, you increase the odds of getting the perfect shot.

A sequence of photos capturing a snowboarder's aerial move in burst mode

Keep an Eye on Your ISO

Finally, keep an eye on your ISO - this determines how sensitive your camera is to light. To avoid excessive noise in low light situations, try to keep your ISO as low as possible.

A surfer captured in low light with a low ISO for minimal noise

👉 That’s it for now - I hope these tips help you capture some amazing action sports shots! 📷