Focus tracking: 4 ways to ensure pin-sharp action photos

How to use focus tracking: 03 Be ready and steady

Learn how to track fast-moving subjects using so-called ‘focus tracking’ for pin-sharp action shots.

Images and text by Mark Hamblin

Focus tracking: 4 ways to ensure pin-sharp action photos

For anyone interested in capturing wildlife or sport, tracking your subject and keeping it in sharp focus are fundamental to successful images.

In the pre-autofocus era, the top action photographers really earned their crust, and you could count the number of exceptional images produced each year on one hand.

These days our gear has a highly sophisticated autofocus system that is capable of producing super-sharp action images on a consistent basis.

But knowledge of what your camera is capable of, coupled with the skills to get the most from it, remain crucial. These are the things you need to know to master the technique.

SEE MORE: Best camera focus techniques – 10 surefire ways to get sharp photos

How to use focus tracking: 01 Use continuous focus mode

How to use focus tracking: 01 Use continuous focus mode

Single shot autofocus is fine for static subjects, but if you want to shoot a moving subject then you’ll need to keep it in focus all the time.

To do this, the camera has a Continuous focus mode (also called predictive focus) that will maintain focus on the subject as it moves across the frame or towards the camera.

By selecting this mode and keeping the shutter button half-pressed as you track the subject, the camera will make continuous adjustments to maintain accurate focus.

SEE MORE: Getting sharp images – every technique you need to know starting out

Improve your technique
Focus accuracy is quite variable with different cameras/lenses, so carry out some practice shoots to find out what your gear is capable of.

Focus tracking may also be unreliable in low light or low-contrast conditions, and when the subject is moving very quickly or erratically.

As with many things in life, practice makes perfect – or at least improves your success rate – so don’t be deterred if your first attempts aren’t as good as you hoped.

Find somewhere that provides lots of opportunities for action shots and stick with it.

How to use focus tracking: 01 Use continuous focus mode
How to use focus tracking: 02 Select the focus point
How to use focus tracking: 03 Be ready and steady
How to use focus tracking: 04 Stay on target

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