Why are my photos always taken too late?

Getting lots of photos of the team running back up the court after the big shot?

Digital cameras have more to do in preparing to take a photo than do film cameras. Like film cameras, they have to focus the lens. However, they also have to take a pre-exposure to get proper color balance. The good news is that they are able to achieve better exposed, better color-balanced, and in many cases better focussed images than film cameras.

The bad news is that this takes a fraction of a second, sometimes long enough to miss your daughter's jump shot.

What can I do about it?

There are a couple of approaches that are very effective.

The simplest is to just push the shutter button down half way as you are waiting for the action to develop. Keep it there until you are ready for the photo, and then press the rest of the way.

Pressing half way signals the camera to immediately choose focus, color balance, and exposure. The subsequent delay when you take your shot is now quite small, comparable to film cameras. When I am shooting basketball games, I keep the shutter button half depressed, and I get great action shots.

A second approach is to switch to manual exposure and focus. If lighting is stable, as it is indoors, this works rather well. Most digital cameras have tremendous depth-of-field, so focus is not critical. Set your focus for a typical distance, and you will probably be happy with the results. If this is an indoor sporting event, you will want the shutter speed as high as possible, so choose maximum aperture and adjust shutter speed for proper exposure.