Originally Posted by igotbanned-ibra5
Af was set to auto, that would explain it all! I am using a d7000. As for settings i used manual a lot, and switched to shutter priority later on.
Ok, since I'm a recent convert to Nikon and know little about their consumer level bodies, I'm having to refer to a D7000 manual so bear with me. It's also later than usual for me, I can't seem to get to sleep tonight.
1. Your mileage may vary on this one, but most sports shooters I know use back button focus, both to separate metering and focus functions, and to make it easier to initiate focus tracking and cut down on accidental release. You do this in custom setting menu item f5, assigning the AF-L button to AF-ON to initiate autofocus (page 232 of the manual). It takes a little getting used to, but once I started doing it that way I never looked back. Canon shooters without an AF-ON button can assign their * button to initiate focus, which I did on my bodies prior to my 1D III and 5D II. In the case of those, I swapped the AF-ON and AE-L functions since I was used to the * button position for focus.
2. You want to make sure you're shooting action in AF-C mode, which equates to AI SERVO on a Canon body. From there, you want to be shooting in either single-point AF, or dynamic mode, depending on your background and situation. The modes are discussed on pages 94-95 of the manual. DO NOT USE auto-area AF. The camera is a tool, you have to guide it.
3. Now this part takes a little experience and practice. Select a focus point based on your desired framing or how you want the shot to look. Put that focus point on the desired target (normally this is the player's eyes) and mash the AE-L button. You want to start tracking as early as possible before you start squeezing off frames. Your job is to keep the focus point on target as the camera adjusts focus distance based on what it sees, and nail frames when appropriate. When the action has passed you, release the AF-L button and prepare for your next shot.
4. There are two custom settings you can use to tweak the operation a little. The first is AF-C priority selection, menu item a1 (page 208 of your manual). If you set to focus priority, the camera will lock you out of the shutter release until it confirms focus. I personally don't use this. I use release priority in AF-C mode, which will take the shot no matter if the camera feels it has focused properly. You just have more photos to cull.
The other custom setting is focus tracking speed, menu item a3 (page 209 of the manual). This setting adjusts how fast the camera reacts to distance change. You can speed it up (short) or make it near-instant (off), but be advised that the faster the camera tracks, the more dud shots you'll have if you let your focus point slip off your subject.
When I was shooting softball, I had the Canon equivalent setting on my speed menu as I'd adjust it depending on my distance to subject and what my background was. If I was shooting highly unpredictable 3rd to home motion with a dugout fence in the background, I'd have to set it moderate, lest the runner abort a steal and leave me with a fence under the AF point. Contrast detection focus systems LOVE chain link fence (and striped referee uniforms for that matter) and will lock on them in a heartbeat. When I was shooting batters running to first from the outfield behind the foul line, I'd speed it up a bit, as the players were running head on to me, and I didn't have to worry about them escaping my AF point. I could let the camera dedicate itself to adjusting for closure rate.