How do I shoot moving objects using my Canon Xti? I mean, what mode I need to keep my SLR (AV,P or TV) and what should be ISO and focal and other settings.

I am using canon 55-250 IS lens.


First thing you need to decide when shooting a moving subject is what is the motion effect you'd like to capture in your image. If you'd like to freeze the motion you need a short exposure. If you rather depict the sense of motion by creating a motion blur, then you need a long exposure.

Note that short and long are relative to the perpendicular (tangential, i.e., across the image) speed of the subject. So, you can see that the important factor here is exposure time, or shutter speed, and this is controlled with the Tv (Time Value) semi-auto mode. Once you set the desired exposure time, the camera will determine the required aperture (Av) automatically to get a correct exposure.

{Note that you can also use the M (Manual) mode to control both aperture and shutter speed independently, if the auto exposure result is not to your liking. Alternatively, you can use exposure compensation (AEC) to get that with the semi-auto modes.}

You can then add some artistic effects by using your flash. With the flash set to 2nd curtain exposure, you can freeze the subject at some instant and get a nice trail of blurred image. This will give the viewer the sens of the motion and its direction.

Regarding the other settings, generally speaking you should set your ISO to the lowest setting that will let you achieve the desired output. This will get you the highest quality in terms of digital noise. The focal length should be set such that you get the desired composition for your image, regardless of the other parameters.

UPDATE: In response to @mattdm's comment - personally, I use autofocus mode almost exclusively. The exceptions are when shooting in a low light, which does not allow the AF to lock-on, and when doing "studio" work, mostly with still subjects and on a tripod, where I can set the focus point to a specific place and leave it there.

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  • What about autofocus? – mattdm Dec 3 '11 at 14:46

To shoot moving subjects, you typically need a high shutter speed to reduce the chance of blurring the subject, or the effect of blur from camera movement. Obviously, aperture value and ISO will be dependent on the needed shutter speed. Therefore, you should select Tv mode when shooting action, and allow the camera to select the needed aperture setting to maintain the shutter speed. ISO you can change as needed to ensure the shutter speed as well, since your camera does not have auto ISO. I recommend keeping it in your normal range (ISO 100 up to 400) unless you need more.

In general, if you wish to stop action, which is preferred for moving kids, or sports action overall, you should choose the highest shutter speed possible for the conditions. I find that at least in soccer matches, 1/500 or more is required, with 1/1000 preferred. This ensures any motion blur from the players or the ball is eliminated.

Also, you may wish to consider setting your XTi focus mode in 'AI Servo" or "AI Focus" mode, which ensures your subject is in focus as the camera will track and change the focus point automatically. In my experience with Canon, the best results are found as the subject moves towards or away from your position, vs across your position. Also, I find that in moving kids or soccer, the camera doesn't know which subject to choose, and chooses the nearest for most moving, which may not be your intended subject. I get more 'keepers' in AI Focus mode myself.

However, for some subjects, such as auto racing, some motion blur is needed to convey the impression of speed and forward motion. From my experience, this is very dependent on the subject, the relative speed to the photographer (ie how close you are to the subject) and the conditions. In general, I find 1/100 up to 1/250 to be the sweet spot, but this requires a monopod and smooth panning with a long lens. Panning is following the subject with your camera, which is required to capture the 'speed blur' effect seen below.

enter image description here

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