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6 minute read

Three Ways to Improve Exposure on Moving Subjects

Getting the right amount of light to the sensor at the critical moment is crucial to creating great sports and action photography. FUJIFILM X Series cameras have plenty of functions to help you do just that

There are no second chances when framing the perfect moment and this is especially true for moving subjects. You need to be prepared and you need to be fast. This is why many FUJIFILM cameras have all parts of the exposure ‘triangle’ – ISO, shutter speed, and aperture – instantly accessible on the camera body. In most cases, an exposure compensation dial is also prominent on the exterior design.

This not only makes for speedy adjustments, but allows you to see what your settings are, even when the camera is switched off – it’s a big reason why photographers love these cameras so much!

In addition to the external dials, you’re also just a button press or two away from the following controls, all of which should give you a more impressive hit rate.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, Three Ways to Improve Exposure on Moving Subjects

Photo © Dirk Bogaerts

Pick the Right Metering Mode

Depending on the X Series model, you’ll find three or four metering modes, each one designed to help you get accurate exposure in a range of lighting conditions. Which one you choose depends on the type of subject you’re photographing and how it’s illuminated. And for action subjects that’s important, because you’ll be faced with lots of variety.

These different metering modes can be accessed either via a switch on the camera body or from within the SHOOTING SETTING menu under PHOTOMETRY.

Multi

This mode uses the whole frame on which to base the exposure settings. A mixture of brightness, color, and composition are used to instantly give balanced results. It’s great for speedy results, and when the light levels in the frame are changing rapidly, such as when following a race car through light and shade. Overall, it’s best to stick to this mode, unless you’re not getting the results you want in terms of lighting.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, Three Ways to Improve Exposure on Moving Subjects

Center Weighted

As its name suggests, here your X Series camera takes a reading from the whole scene, but biases the exposure towards the center of the frame. So, it’s a little more localized than Multi and helpful if you’re framing the subject centrally in your action shots, as is often the case – or if Multi mode is giving exposures that are too light or too dark.

Spot

Spot metering reduces the sampled area used to take a reading. This will typically be 1% or 2% of the frame, ignoring all the other areas, so it’s essentially the opposite of Multi mode. By default, Spot metering takes its reading from the center of the frame, but you can change this (see below). Spot metering is useful when you want to base the exposure only on the subject itself. 

Learn photography with Fujifilm, Three Ways to Improve Exposure on Moving Subjects

Average

This mode gives you a general metering option where the camera takes a reading from the whole scene and creates an average exposure to cover all the highlights, midtones, and shadows. So it’s like Multi, but without the advanced scene analysis used in that mode. Average is useful when dealing with very light or dark action subjects.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, Three Ways to Improve Exposure on Moving Subjects

Link Spot Metering and AF Points

If you want to experience the benefits of Spot metering, but need to use it away from the center of the frame where it’s typically locked, here’s how to do it. All you need to do is link your chosen AF point to the Spot metering mode, although if you own a FUJIFILM X-T3 or X-T4, this option is selected by default.

This means that, as you move the focusing point around via the Focus Lever, the spot metering point moves right along with it. Assuming the focusing point you choose is where your subject is, this can help you get the sort of exposure you want.

You can find the option to link the two in the AF/MF SETTING menu.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, Three Ways to Improve Exposure on Moving Subjects
Learn photography with Fujifilm, Three Ways to Improve Exposure on Moving Subjects

Photo © Jonathan Irish

Switch on Automatic ISO

Using the ISO Auto Setting option on an X Series camera gives you one less thing to think about when you’re in the thick of the action. And that means you’re a little more free to focus on your subject. 

In Auto ISO mode, the camera will raise or lower the ISO setting to keep the exposure ‘good’. It can also make it easier to stop the shutter speed dropping to a point where you might blur the subject you’re photographing. And that’s very helpful if your subject is moving through uneven light, or in dim conditions.

You’ll find the ISO AUTO SETTING within the SHOOTING SETTING menu. Three options are available, and these can be used to control how the ISO setting is changed by the camera. And you can set different options for different situations using the AUTO1, 2, and 3 options.

Default Sensitivity

This is the ISO setting you’d prefer to use most of the time. When you set this default, the camera will try to stick to it, only raising the ISO when the shutter speed needed to make a good exposure is below that which you set in Min. Shutter Speed.

 

Learn photography with Fujifilm, Three Ways to Improve Exposure on Moving Subjects

Max. Sensitivity

This is the highest setting you want the camera to use. The camera will automatically choose a sensitivity between the default and this.

Min. Shutter Speed

This is the slowest shutter speed you want to use. The ISO will be set between the default and the maximum so that the shutter speed doesn’t fall below this level. You can also set Auto in this menu, and the camera will pick a minimum shutter speed that’s equal to the inverse of the lens’ focal length. For example, if you’re using a lens with a focal length of 200mm, the camera will choose a minimum shutter speed in the neighborhood of 1/200 sec. It’s worth pointing out, however, that the shutter speed will be longer than the minimum speed selected if ISO is maxed out to give you a correct exposure.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, Three Ways to Improve Exposure on Moving Subjects
Learn photography with Fujifilm, Three Ways to Improve Exposure on Moving Subjects

Photo © Boone Speed

Give Yourself a Boost

Some FUJIFILM models allow you to enhance the performance of the camera. One of the key changes this makes is to increase the viewfinder refresh rate from the standard 60 frames-per-second (fps) to 100fps. This means viewfinder blackout time is substantially reduced, which makes framing fast-moving action easier while photographing in this mode.

Autofocus speed is also increased, so the reaction time of the camera is quicker and you’ll have a better chance of keeping fast movement subjects in focus.

The only drawback to Boost Mode is that it uses more power, so your battery life will be reduced. But the benefits hugely outweigh this, so it’s well worth switching on whenever action subjects come calling.