Setting for gymnastics

edited July 2015 Posted in » Nikon Lens Talk
I have been unable to capture photos of my granddaughter that are in focus while doing gymnastics. Any suggestions on settings for a Nikon D3100?
It's such a fast moving and unpredictable style any suggestions would be helpful.


  • edited July 2015
    First thing is to figure out whether the lack of focus is caused by actual failure to focus, or by motion blur.

    If the subject is blurring from motion the only thing you can do is go to a faster shutter speed. Make sure your shutter speed is good and fast, 1/250 probably the minimum. You'll have to open up the lens and probably crank up ISO if your light is not very bright. A faster lens would help here.

    If the problem is that your focus is not locking on correctly, this is partly also a problem with a slower lens, but you can help some by making sure that you set the AF for single point, continuous servo, and dynamic area or 3D. Try to get the initial focus on the moving subject, and track her. Learning to pan the camera helps here. If the camera is set to multi-point focus, it may be focusing on the wrong thing.

    Make sure too that your focus point is centered. The [OK] button will recenter it. Aside from the convenience, the center point is the only "cross type" point you have, and is faster and more sensitive than the others.

    It's always going to be a challenge, especially with the slower kit lenses. You may be able to do better if you can try to predict where she will be, and pre-focus to an area. If the focus point is close, the lens will not spend so much time hunting.

    As an alternative, though it's not always easy, and takes some practice, you can switch to back button focusing. That's a menu item, in the section where you choose buttons. If you select "AF ON" for the function of the AE/AF lock button, the AF will occur only when you push that button. As usual, while you are operating the AF, the camera is in focus priority, and will not fire until focus is achieved. But as soon as you let go of the focus button, it's in release priority, just as if it were set for manual focus, and the camera will fire without delay. Though it's very easy to get blurry shots, especially when you forget to focus at all, it can be useful for subjects that move too fast. Just as with manual focus, if you can prefocus to an area where you know the gymnast will be appearing, and make multiple shots, she will move through the focus point.

    Back button focusing is a taste some people take to and some never do, but it's popular with some people who shoot fast action.
Sign In or Register to comment.