Master your camera: Setting your Nikon D7100 for Action Photography

Master your camera: Setting your Nikon D7100 for Action Photography

Optimising your camera for shooting fast-moving subjects can help you capture that crucial moment. Lightning-quick reflexes also come in handy. Neil Freeman explains how to take action photography

The D7100 is surprisingly light and compact for such a feature-packed and durable body. The D7100 delivers superior DX performance to take your photography to the next level. By not employing an optical low-pass filter (OLPF), the D7100 makes the most of its 24.1-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor to sharply capture even the finest textures in crisp high resolution. Its 51-point autofocus (AF) system offers you rapid and ultra-accurate image capture at a professional level. Weather and dust resistant, with magnesium alloy top and rear covers, this high-spec D-SLR shoots continuously at 6fps, gives an extra telephoto effect with innovative 1.3x crop function and has ISO sensitivity of 100-6400, offering superb results in poorly lit environments or when shooting fast-moving action.

Settings for action photography

Photographing action and fast-moving subjects can be exciting and challenging all at the same time. When shooting action, the key to achieving great images is being prepared. This means you have to set your camera up well before the action takes place. Then, all you have to do is concentrate on the action and when it happens.


When shooting action, start by setting the mode dial correctly. You’ll want to ensure it’s set to shutter priority mode

Using the settings outlined below is a great place to start when capturing movement and action. These settings should work well in all situations and will help you to achieve in-focus, sharp and detailed images on a continual basis.

Fast shutter speeds

Getting your shutter speed right is the most important thing in action photography. You need to set a fast shutter speed to freeze motion, otherwise you will have blurry and soft images. Shutter Priority mode allows you to take control of the shutter speed, while the camera takes care of aperture and other settings.

Using a shutter speed of around 1/1000sec is a great starting point for freezing motion in the majority of action images.


Tracking fast-moving subjects across the frame can be a real challenge, but at the same time it’s extremely rewarding © Bob Martin

If you see any blurring in the subject you are trying freeze, move to an even faster shutter speed. You may need to go as high as 1/4000sec for really fast action such as motor racing or professional-level tennis or rugby. To set your shutter speed, press the button in the middle of the top dial and move it to the letter S. This will instantly set it to Shutter Priority mode.

Image format

Setting your D7100 to shoot in the JPEG file format will enable you to write more images to the card in much quicker time

When shooting action images, it’s worth considering shooting JPEGs as opposed to firing off Raw files. This will allow the camera to write the images to the SD card quicker.

Raw will give you better quality images when photographing action, however, speed is more important.

Using JPEG mode lets you capture more pictures at a time and also fits more images onto your memory card.

Setting the image quality can be done easily with the D7100. Enter the Shooting Menu, and on the first page under the heading Image Quality, press right on the multi selector in order to access the image quality settings, select the JPEG quality you require and press OK.

High Speed Continuous mode

Switching the drive mode dial to continuous high (CH) gives you the opportunity to shoot at up to 6fps

For fast action shots, set the camera to High Speed Continuous shooting mode (often called burst mode) to take up to six images a second. This gives you a much better chance of capturing a good image. To use high speed Continuous mode, press the shutter button and hold it down to take several photos in a row without lifting your finger.

Bear in mind that shooting in this mode will fill your memory card(s) much faster than taking individual shots. Make sure you have plenty of cards with spare capacity. If you see that you are running out of space, use a break in the action to review your images to delete some of the shots you don’t like.

Moving to High Speed Continuous shooting on the D7100 can be done by pressing and holding the small button to the left of control dial, while at the same time rotating the lower section of the wheel to CH mark.

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