How to Use AI Servo

IMG_3754You may have noticed something when you are shooting fast moving objects… You focus, then the subject moves, then you have to refocus, then it’s out of focus, and around and around we go. It’s annoying! But listen up! There’s a better way! And I’m going to give it to you.

The solution to your action shooting dilemma is called AI Servo (Continuous Focus for all of the Nikon users out there), and it’s going to relieve all of the stress you’ve been feeling about your fast moving shots!

What is AI Servo For?

In its simplest terms, AI Servo is used for any situation the has unpredictable movement in which you wouldn’t be able to refocus fast enough. It’s especially helpful whenever you find yourself shooting sports photography and wildlife photography.

You see, if you were using normal focus, you’d have to reframe, refocus, and shoot every single time your subject moved (especially if you had a wide aperture).

However, when you use AI Servo, your camera is continuously focusing on the subject. You will be able to hear the camera constantly focusing and refocusing as you shoot.

How to Use AI Servo

To use AI Servo, locate your autofocus menu in your camera. You will probably have at least three options for autofocus: one shot, AI Focus, and AI Servo. Obviously, to use AI Servo, select AI Servo. Really, the next thing you need to to is go shoot!

As an example of situations to use AI Servo, I took photos of my dog. Dogs are constantly wiggling and moving around. If you’re using one shot, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to get the correct focus. Using AI Servo will give you sharp images even though the animal is moving in and out of focus!


IMG_2538Keep This in Mind…

If you are using AI Servo, you might want to switch your camera from single shot to continuous shooting. It’s much easier for you to get a good focus and photo when you can constantly focus and shoot simultaneously. That’s how I got this action photo to the right… As the skateboarder moved down the rail quickly, my camera continued to focus and shoot as he moved toward me, keeping him in focus.

Also, remember that because your camera is constantly tracking for a focal point, it’s not going to be out of the ordinary for something to move across the frame and mess up the focus. It’s very common in sports for another player to move across the frame and the camera will switch to focus on them instead of the original subject.

Keep in mind that since your subject is moving fast, your shutter should also be working fast. Don’t let a slow shutter speed ruin great action shots. Don’t be afraid to use a shutter over 1/2000 seconds!

In the end, AI Servo is a terrific feature to incorporate into your photography bag of tricks. Whether you are shooting professional sports or your dogs playing in your backyard, you will get better action photos using AI Servo. Guaranteed.

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