Commack High School Girls Varsity Lacrosse vs. Kings Park - Shana Kay Memorial Game
These images are from the Shana Kay Memorial girls lacrosse game on Saturday. It was a fun game with half time raffles to benefit a great cause. Not quite sure who won the scrimmage but I don’t think it mattered.
I get asked a lot what autofocus settings to use for sports. The quick answer is, “it depends”, but that doesn’t tell you much. Different camera manufactures have different autofocus settings. All usually have three autofocus types - single shot, continuous and manual (they may have slightly different names for these types but they’re basically the same). Usually, single shot AF is used for stationary, or nearly stationary subjects. It will lock focus when the shutter button or AF-L button is depressed but will not track the subject’s movement. Continuous AF will track a subject’s movement as long as the shutter or AF-L button is depressed. With manual AF you need to use your lens’s focus ring or the AF-L button, if you have it programmed to initiate focus when set on manual. So, for sports, you’d use continuous AF, right? Well… most of the time but not always. In lacrosse for example, when the action moves to the opposite end of the field and I want to get a shot of the goalie making a save, I’ll lock focus on the goalie then switch to manual AF. Now I can rearrange my composition to hopefully include the attacker as well as the goalie without worrying that the AF will change when I take the shot. You can do the same thing by setting up your camera for back button focus using the AF-L button (see your camera’s manual for how to do this).
On my Fuji cameras, and most other cameras, I also have three different AF modes available - single point mode, which uses a single AF point, whose size you can adjust, that you can locate on the subject you want in focus, zone mode, which uses a zone of multiple AF points (you can set how many points in the zone) to cover a wider area of your frame, and wide/tracking which uses a very large area of the frame to focus and is best used for focusing on more slowly moving subjects entering the frame. Ideally, zone AF mode is more suited to sports but there are times that even the smallest zone will overlap multiple players close together and focus on the wrong player. I generally use zone focus on sports like baseball, softball and gymnastics where athletes are farther apart from each other. For field sports like lacrosse, soccer and football, single point usually does a better job for me of isolating players, although it can be a bit slower to lock on than zone AF, especially in low light.
Finally, when using continuous (AF-C) autofocus my Fuji cameras have six custom settings that control how fast the AF tracks a subject, how long it locks on a subject if another player moves in front of the subject, and whether or not it gives more weight to a specific area in your image (ie., foreground or center). These are important because one setting may be optimal for subjects moving in a direct line towards or away from the camera while another will be optimal for subjects moving across the field of view.
Setting your autofocus settings properly for a given subject type goes a long way toward increasing your keeper rate.
That’s it for today’s post. Looks like a soggy week coming up. Next up - girls track on Tuesday if the weather holds. Have fun.