5 Fuji XT3 Sports Photography Tricks To Capture Better Photographs!

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There is no better thrill than live sports. 

The spectacle of what’s happening on the field or court, surrounded by thousands of cheering fans, can bring even the most modest of viewers rising to their feet. It’s the edge-of-your-seat experience of a last minute go ahead goal, a miraculous blocked field goal, and a buzzer beating three pointer that makes you never want to miss a single moment.

Capturing those moments with your camera however, may seem like a whole different ball game. But it doesn’t have to be. 

With the Fuji XT3, you’ll finally be able to immortalize all of your favorite sporting events with just a push of a button. Built with videographers and action photographers in mind, you will be able to take photos and record videos like a professional.With its compact frame, all new face detection auto focus, and Electronic ViewFinder (EVF) that shoots with an impressive 100 frames per second, you can bring the XT3 practically anywhere and shoot almost anything without the constant worry of lag or blurriness.  

And contrary to popular belief, sports photography does not require a professionally trained set of eyes or reflexes. With just a bit of time and practice, a 100 mile per hour fastball whizzing toward a batter or a moto-cross dirt bike riding through the air off a jump will no longer just be points of amazement, but the subjects of your photos.

Here are our five tips on how to get the best out of your sports photography with the Fuji XT3 at your side.

Know Your Sport

One of the most important things to remember when shooting sports photography is… what sport are we actually shooting? 

This may seem difficult to overlook, but just because you’re watching your favorite team or player doesn’t mean you can forget all of the basic elements of photography. Where is the light coming from? Will you be indoors or outdoors? Will the shadows be an issue? What is the weather like? Can I even bring a camera to this sporting event? 

That last question is of utmost importance: be sure you have permission to 1) bring your camera into the specific sports arena you want to shoot in, and 2) take photographs of the players. Odds are at professional events, you should worry most about number one. But for local or youth sporting events, make sure you have the all clear to shoot. The last thing you want is to have your Fuji XT3 or your photos confiscated.

And because you’re a knowledgeable sports fan, use that wisdom and apply it to your photography. Anticipate where the action is going to take place, and set yourself up accordingly. Don’t be caught trailing the play, only to have your winning moment blocked by a light post or another standing fan. 

And as the old adage goes, keep your eye on the ball. This is where your best photographs will be coming from. Use the Fuji XT3 for what it was meant for: quick firing action photography. 

Know Your Angles

Angles are everything in photography, and this still very much applies to sports. Turning any sports moment into a dramatic dash for the ball or finish line can be as simple as turning your camera a certain way.

Like we suggested with our first tip, use your sports knowledge to arrange yourself accordingly. Up in the nosebleeds, angles are extremely limited, but in outdoor fields where you find yourself level with the players, we normally opt for lower, more dramatic angles. In doing so, you will find less background distractions in your shots, such as players or fans. 

Two great features of the Fuji XT3 that will help with those more dramatic angles are its incredible touch screen LCD back display and its innovative Sports Finder Mode. The XT3’s back display projects what you would see through your viewfinder, and gives you the ability to swivel and direct itself off of the camera’s frame. That way, you can keep your eye on the game without having to always look through your viewfinder. 

With Sports Finder Mode, you will be able to see a visible frame of what you’re shooting on the back display, with the area inside the frame being your final photograph, and the area outside of it being excluded. This means no more need to crop post production, or guess if you are shooting wide enough to capture all the action – you will have the power to make all of those decisions right on the fly. 

Watch Your Shutter Speed And ISO Levels

Sports are quick. Players move at a million miles per hour. Goals happen in the blink of an eye. You make sure you never miss an important moment, whether that means skipping a bathroom break or missing a call from your boss. 

You should make sure your camera doesn’t miss one either. 

Slow shutter speeds are the death of any sports photographer, as they lead to unrecognizable photographs full of blurry colors and movements. Keep a constant eye on your shutter speed; we recommend nothing less than 1/500th of a second. Dropping below that mark could be a disastrous affair. Like most cameras, witn the XT3 you can adjust your shutter speed on the left dial on top of the camera’s frame. 

If you are shooting at night however, also be aware of your ISO levels – these determine how much light your camera lets in. Capturing the perfect moment is only possible if you’re able to see it. The XT3 does a great job of controlling the “noise” of your photographs when shooting in the dark – this means reducing the random bits of light and color that cloud your image when there is insufficient light. 

The Fuji XT3 also comes with the X-Trans CMOS 4 and X Processor 5, a large upgrade from its previous model, and one that takes the auto focus and video performance to the next level. With a fast shutter speed and correct ISO levels, you will be able to pick up and track the action quicker and steadier than ever before. 

The More Pictures The Better

Wayne Gretzky said it best: “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

And in photography, you have to be willing to take the shots in order to catch the perfect one.  

Lucky for us, the days are long gone when you had to be painstakingly precise with how you took photos. Digital photography has allowed even the most amateur of photographers to capture some of the most exciting moments in sports. You just sometimes have to embrace quantity over quality. 

With sports photography, we highly recommend switching the XT3 to burst mode. This will be located on the top right dial of the frame, so when the game starts, make sure it’s switched to ON. We recommend that you have the frames per second switched to its maximum setting, which for the XT3, with its extra read out speed and processing center, is a resounding 20 frames per second. With this, you will be able to capture all the action as it happens in real time, and even slow it down on video with the XT3’s slow motion setting.

Another tip to improve your camera’s speed is to shoot in JPEG rather than RAW files. RAW files contain much more data and can make your camera work just a bit slower, potentially leading to missed shooting opportunities. With JPEGs, the quality of the photos will still be excellent, but won’t force your camera to work overtime to process their smaller data files onto your memory card. 

Don’t Forget About The Action Off The Field

We highly recommend to apply just as much focus off the field as on it. As a fan, the atmosphere is one of the main reasons we come to live sporting events. So capture it.

Some of the greatest sports photography moments have taken place far away from the action. Winning goal scorers being mobbed by their home fans, devastated spectators with their hands covering their mouths, illegal fireworks lighting the sky above an arena – these are just as important as the game that took place, and equally emblematic of sports in general. 

The XT3’s face detection autofocus makes capturing fan bases much easier, either through stills or high definition video. You’ll be able to pinpoint focus on a member in the crowd with ease, or steadily follow behind a team or player as they enter a packed arena; even with a person coming towards you, the XT3 can recognize a face and retain the focus on it, despite any movement from either you or your subject. 

We also recommend getting to the arena or stadium before the game even starts. You’ll be able to admire the landscape outside of the arena with less fans blocking your view, as well as freely stroll and take in the gorgeous architecture inside. Maybe you’ll even stumble upon a beautiful (or harrowing) tradition amongst die-hard fans – you’ll never know until you start looking. 

So don’t be predictable with your photographs. Just because everyone is staring at the field doesn’t mean you, or your camera, have to as well.