Taking Action Shots on Your Nikon D3500 Using Fast Shutter Speeds

The Nikon D3500 lets you adjust the shutter speed for capturing action shots. Using a fast shutter speed is key to capturing a blur-free shot of any moving subject with the Nikon D3500, whether it’s a flower in the breeze, a spinning Ferris wheel or, as you can see below, a cyclist.
Try the techniques in the following steps for shooting action with the Nikon D3500:
Set the mode dial to S (shutter-priority auto exposure) on Nikon.
In this mode, you can control the shutter speed, and the camera takes care of choosing the aperture setting that results in a good exposure.

Rotate the command dial to adjust the shutter speed on the Nikon D3500.
The correct shutter speed to freeze motion depends on the speed of your subject, so you need to experiment. But in general, 1/320 sec should be enough for all but the fastest subjects (racing cars, boats, etc.). For slow targets, you can even lower 1/250 or 1/125 seconds. The subject in the photo above was moving too fast, so a shutter speed of 1/640 sec was used. Remember, however, that when you increase the shutter speed, the camera opens the aperture to maintain the same exposure. At lower stop numbers, the depth of field gets shorter, so you have to be extra careful to keep your subject in sharp focus while composing and focusing the image.

You can also take a completely different approach to capturing action shots: Instead of choosing a fast shutter speed, select a speed slow enough to blur moving objects, which can create an increased sense of movement, and in scenes with highly colored subjects, cool abstract images. This approach was used when photographing the carnival ride below. For the left photo, the shutter speed was set to 1/30 sec; For the correct version, things were slowed down to 1/5 of a second. In both cases, a tripod was used, but since almost everything in the frame was moving, both photos are blurred – the 1/5 second version is blurry due to the slow shutter speed.
Consider raising the ISO setting to allow for a faster shutter speed.
Unless you’re shooting in bright daylight, you may not be able to use a fast shutter speed at low ISO, even if the camera opens the aperture as wide as possible. Raising the ISO level increases the potential for noise, but a little noise is usually preferred on a blurry subject. Raising the ISO may also force the camera to choose a narrower aperture, which results in greater depth of field and makes it easier to capture the subject within the sharper focus area.
Why not add flash to brighten the scene? Well, adding flash is tricky for action shots, unfortunately. First, the flash needs time to recycle between shots, which slows down the rate of capture. Second, the internal flash’s range is limited, so don’t waste your time if your subject isn’t close by. And third, remember that the fastest shutter speed you can use with a flash is 1/200th of a second, which may not be high enough to capture a fast-moving subject without blur.
To shoot a motion shot at breakneck speed, set Nikon’s edit mode to Continuous.
In this mode, the camera captures a continuous series of frames as long as you hold down the shutter button. On the D3500, you can take up to five pictures per second. Here again, though, you need to use flash; Otherwise, you get one shot per press of the shutter button, just like in single frame editing mode. The quickest way to access the release mode setting is to press the release mode button on the back of the camera.
Select speed oriented focus options on your Nikon. When dealing with an unexpectedly moving subject, such as a bird in flight or a soccer player moving a ball across the field, you can usually rely on AF, using the following two AF settings:

At these settings, the Nikon D3500 initially sets focus on the selected focus point when you press the shutter button halfway but looks at surrounding points for focus information if your subject moves away from that selected point. The focus is adjusted continuously until you take the picture.
However, if you know where your target will be when you want to capture the action shot – say, the finish line of a marathon – another trick is to set the focus on that spot beforehand. This way, you can take the photo at the moment the moment occurs, without spending any time focusing before releasing the shutter. If you use autofocus, you need to use different settings: focus mode, AF-S; AF area mode, single point. With this combination, focus is set to the selected focus point when you press the shutter button halfway and it stays set at that distance as long as you keep the button halfway down. However, you may find it easier to switch to manual focus in this scenario, so that you don’t have to hold the shutter button halfway or use other AF-lock techniques while waiting for the subject to reach its mark.

Create a subject to allow movement across the frame of the Nikon D3500.
Frame your shot a little wider than you normally would to reduce the risk of your subject moving out of the frame before the photo is recorded. You can always crop for a tighter composition later. It’s also a good idea to leave more space in front of the subject rather than behind it. This makes it clear that your topic is going somewhere.