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How to Use the Nikon D90’s Sports Mode

The Nikon D90 includes a Sports mode, which automatically activates a number of settings that can help you photograph a moving object, whether it’s an athlete, a race car, or a romping dog. Capturing action without blur, like in sports photography, requires a fast shutter speed. In Sports mode, the camera automatically chooses that fast shutter speed for you. Now all you have to do is point and shoot!

  1. Locate the Mode dial on the top of the camera.

    Access the fully automatic Sports mode via the Mode dial on the top of the camera.

  2. Rotate the dial so that the Sports icon is selected.

    The Sports icon, an image of a swimmer, should be aligned with the silver line at the front of the camera.

  3. Frame the subject.

    In Sports mode, the autofocus system works as it does when you shoot in Auto mode and the camera detects motion: That is, it automatically selects the focus point, but focus isn’t locked when you press the shutter button halfway, as it is in Portrait and Landscape mode. Instead, the camera continually adjusts focus up to the time you fully depress the shutter button and take the shot.

    If your subject moves after you press the shutter button halfway, be sure that you adjust the framing so that the subject remains under one of the focus points. Otherwise, the camera may not lock focus on the subject correctly.

  4. Press the shutter button completely to take the picture.

Sometimes, allowing a moving object to blur can actually create a heightened sense of motion — an artistic choice that you can’t make in Sports mode. For more control over shutter speed, try out S mode (shutter-priority autoexposure).

Sports mode disables the built-in flash. This means that in dim lighting, the camera may not be able to select a very fast shutter speed and still deliver a good exposure. And because getting a good exposure trumps all, the shutter speed the camera uses may not be fast enough to “freeze” action, especially if your subject is moving very quickly. You can use an external flash unit in Sports mode, but this will result in slower shooting in order to allow the flash time to recycle. Additionally, you may be limited to a maximum shutter speed of 1/200 second, depending on the flash.

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