How Action Photo Equipment Works

Action Photography Cameras

Single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras typically are suited best for action photography.
Single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras typically are suited best for action photography.
George Rose/Getty Images

There are two types of cameras -- point-and-shoot and single-lens reflex (SLR) -- but for the purposes of action photography, SLR is probably what you want. While both types of cameras can take good action photos under the proper circumstances, you can customize the settings on an SLR and take control of the shooting situation instead of worrying about lighting and distance.

A point-and-shoot camera has one big advantage over an SLR -- it's less expensive. It's also lightweight and easy to use, making it good for a young or inexperienced photographer. Most point-and-shoot cameras use automatic settings for flash, focusing and shutter speeds, although some more sophisticated models have a manual mode, allowing you to change the settings. But you can't adjust them a great deal -- in most cases, the lens is fixed. Most point-and-shoot cameras have a zoom feature, but it won't be enough to focus on that tackle at midfield. The biggest difference between a point-and-shoot camera and an SLR, however, is the point of view. The image the photographer sees in the viewfinder on a point-and-shoot camera isn't the exact image registered on the digital image sensor or film. The viewing screen on a point-and-shoot camera does show what the camera is seeing, though. An SLR camera ends up with an advantage, because the image you see through the viewfinder is what the camera is actually recording.

So for the most part, if it's action photography you're interested in, you're probably going to want an SLR or DSLR, the latter of which which stands for digital single-lens reflex. Larger pixels in most DSLR cameras translate to better image quality, even when compared to point-and-shoot cameras that boast more megapixels. While point-and-shoot cameras do have manual controls, these manual controls are easier to access and change on DSLRs and offer more options.

DSLRs, while more expensive to begin with, are probably a better buy, since they hold their value longer [source: Rowse]. Manufacturers produce new updated models of point-and-shoot cameras often, but DSLRs tend to be more stable. While lenses are a considerable expense for DSLRs, you can use them on other cameras of the same brand if you decide to upgrade. Also, good quality DSLR cameras come at all levels on the pricing scale. If your budget allows for a medium-priced lens and a more expensive camera or a more expensive lens and a medium-priced camera, choose the expensive lens. You'll be fine with a cheaper camera, but that may not be the case with a cheaper lens, especially if it's action you crave.

Now that we've covered the types of cameras, we'll take a look at the piece of equipment that puts the action photography picture in focus -- the lens.