How to Photograph Your Kid’s Sports Without Motion Blur

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By day I’m the CEO of Corel, a desktop software company that sells Photo, Video, Graphics, Productivity, and Utility software to millions of consumers and small businesses around the globe. By night, like many of you, I’m an amateur photographer trying to shoot my teenage boys’ sporting events. Over the past decade, I have learned a number of tips and tricks that have increased my keeper rate. However, none of those tips are more important than learning how to eliminate motion blur.

Motion blur is by far the number one problem that amateur photographers have when photographing their kid’s sports. The good news is that motion blur occurs due to a particular reason – the shutter speed of the camera is too slow. The bad news is that increasing the shutter speed of the camera is a lot easier to say than it is to do. You need the right kind of camera, set to the right mode, with a lens that is long enough and big enough to catch the action.

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Use a multi-mode camera like a DSLR to shoot sports

There are two types of cameras in the world, those that operate only in automatic mode and those that have multiple mode settings. Cameras that operate exclusively in automatic mode include most mobile phone cameras and many point-and-shoot cameras. Multi-mode cameras are generally DSLRs, higher end point-and-shoot cameras, and very specialized camera phones like the Samsung camera phone. If you have a multi-mode camera, you will be able to change the camera mode from automatic (usually specified as a green ‘A’) to time value mode (usually specified as ‘TV’). Given their flexibility, multi-mode cameras generally cost more than automatic mode cameras.

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Choose a shutter speed that is fast enough to handle the action

Once your camera has been set to TV mode, you will be able to adjust the shutter speed. Shutter speed is generally specified as a certain percentage of a second. For example, a shutter speed of 30 means 1/30th of a second. Most sports move much faster than that though and so as a general rule I tend to use the following shutter speeds for my children’s sports:

Golf/Tennis/Gymnastics 1/500th of a second or 500 on the display Swimming/Water Polo/Baseball/Softball 1/640th of a second or 640 on the display Soccer/Football/Basketball 1/800th of a second or 800 on the display Cross Country/Track 1/1000th of a second or 1000 on the display Cycling 1/1250th of a second or 1250 on the display

You will need a lens that is long enough to catch the action

In order to capture sports at the fast shutter speeds discussed above, you need a lens that is LONG enough to catch the action. Most cameras that can be set to TV mode either

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