I do a lot of shooting of Ultimate Frisbee which is a fast paced game and looking for some advice to help me shoot better. Currently I'm using a D90 with a 70-200 2.8 lens. I shoot ~500-600 shots a game normally from midfield on the sidelines with the following settings:
shutter priority and set @ 1250
ISO at 200 on sunny days up to ISO 1000 on cloudy days
a1 AF area mode @ Single point
a2 Center focus point @ Wide
shutter release @ single shot
I have tried the other AF area modes (Dynamic, Auto-area, 3D-tracking), but have found that I get the best results with Single point & Wide. I try to pre-focus constantly by depressing the shutter release half way multiple times before a shot whenever possible. I used to miss a lot of shots due to focus on other players in the foreground, but found through trial and error that these settings work the best for me so far.
The challenge is that it's a very fast paced game and I miss some shots due to poor focus (especially shots mid-field). The trend appears to be the focus is on the background. In a set of pics for one game, I probably have to discard ~15% of the shots due to poor focus. I can tell some of that would be my subject moved outside of my focus area so I can improve there. But sometimes the subject is centered in the focus area, but the focus still ends up being on the background. Most noticeable to me when shooting the players around the end-zone.
I am not sure if 15% failure on focus is normal/acceptable or not, but I would like to decrease this percentage as much as possible because I hate having to throw away a really good action shot because the focus on the subject was not right. Would like to ask the huge pool of knowledge here the following:
Are there any settings on the D90 that would help?
Are there any shooting techniques that would help?
Also, I'll probably take ~20,00 shots a year, and am up to 50,000 shutter cycles on my D90. So I know in a couple of years I would have to replace it or have the shutter assemby replaced. Would an upgrade now in camera bodies make a lot of difference? I've had some discussions with folks at camera stores and while most just wanted to upsell me on a new body, a couple where very good and gave me the following info:
For sports shooting, I want a body with many cross type focus sensors - only the center focus point in my D90 is cross type.
Did not recommend the D800 as that was more suites for portraits & landscapes rather than sports shooting
Did not recommend the D7000 as they did not feel the way it focuses would be much different than my D90
Their advice was to look for the D300 replacement camera - as that one would have more of these cross-type sensors and be targeted at people shooting fast actioned sports.
So would the D600 make a noticeable improvement in focus accuracy of my shots? Or would there be no real difference until I move up to something like a D4? I'm just a hobby photographer taking pictures of his daughters games (her team won the Canadian nationals this year - yup, I'm a proud papa), but I'll be doing this for at least the next 10 years - so willing to invest in better equipment now if it makes a difference in the quality of my shots.
Thanks for reading through this lengthy post. Appreciate all and any advice.