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I am having trouble with focusing moving subjects.  Mostly for me that is dogs, horses, birds and the like.   I am using shutter speed of 1/500 and in TV mode. I am using auto focus as I can't manually focus fast enough - still finding many shots not in focus. The AF mode I am using is Al Focus AF.  I would be grateful for any tips.   Usually using ISO of 100 or 200.  In dimmer light, I have set ISO on auto.  Those are often pretty noisy.

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My AF point is in the center...  I have checked my manual.

I would like to know more.  What is back button focusing?

"back button focusing" is assigning a button on the back of the camera, where the thumb of your right hand rests, to use as the focus button, instead of using the shutter release.  Then when you want the camera to focus you press the button you assigned.


Can we see a sample problem shot?


The book for my T2i says AI Focus AF switches the AF mode from One-Shot AF to AI Servo AF automatically if the still subject starts moving.  Once in AI Servo mode, the focus confirmation light will not light, but it might beep.  You have to keep the focus point on the moving subject.  This makes it sound like AI Focus is a good choice. 

So here the sharpest area is the hind end of the dog.  Not ideal. :-(
The resized image does not show the AF points.  The centre AF point is on the grass in this image.  For this sort of shot, where you know almost exactly where the dog will be, you can pre-focus then release the shutter when the dog arrives.  I applied sharpening to the image and all of it looks reasonably focused.  At this size, I don't see the hind end as having better focus.

I am just an amateur when it comes to actions shots. The shots that have been successful for me have been where I have my Canon Xti set on AI Servo, center weighted metering and a fast shutter speed. I have shot birds in sports mode, but prefer to shoot in Tv (shutter priority) with a speed of about 1/1500 to 1/2500. I will adjust F stop depending on available light. My technique is to use manual focus, watch the pattern of subject movement for a bit to get a feel for distance and location. Then I manually focus the lens on the spot where I anticipate the subject to be when I take the shot. After that I wait until a subject enters the "shot" zone. From there, small adjustments in focus can be made. Obviously, I take a lot of shots that don't work out, but that is the beauty of digital. I do use also multiple shot mode and keep the shutter held down as I lead the subject a bit. Like I said, I am not pro on this subject so hopefully others who know better will help out. 

Thanks everyone.  I am going out to practice more today on this issue keeping your tips in mind.
So, how would I do this on the Nikon d90? If I set it on continuous, the focus changes to something else than my subject. How do I keep it on the subject and recompose? Thanks.
Move the switch from "C" to "S" mode on front of camera and focus will stay locked while re-composing shot as long as the shutter release is held 1/2 way down.
I usually use a much higher shutter speed (1500-2500) in the TV mode and Al Servo for outdoor sports action shots. Try a free program called "Noiseware Community Edition" to reduce any noise you are getting.

This picture is at 1/500 s and ISO 200, f7.1  You need to raise the shutter speed since you have motion blur.  If you want a motion look, then you need to pan the camera with the dog but you should stand to your left so you are perpendicular to the subject.  Adjust the shutter speed to get the look you want.


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