Low light action

Discussion in 'Sports' started by scott_lustig, Sep 26, 2015.

  1. I am shooting my son's soccer games under poor outdoor lighting with a Canon 7d Mark ii and the 70-200 f 2.8 I rented. I still had to shoot at ISO 16,000 f 2.8 and was forced to have a shutter speed of 1/250. Would I be better off shooting with a higher megapixel camera (5DS R, 50 megapixels) and a 50 mm lens for example (that is faster, correct?) and then cropping way in? Would that give me less noise and better quality image?
  2. The 5DS and 7DII have the same pixel size so that an image taken with a 5DS and cropped to match the field of view of a 7DII will have about 20MP remaining (same as the 7DII). According to Canon the noise performance (per pixel) of both cameras are about the same, so I can't imagine that a 5DS image cropped to an APSC field of view will be of better quality than a 7DII image when taken with the same lens. Someone else can do the math, but a 50mm image on a 5DS when cropped to match a 200mm image on a 7DII will not have a whole lot of pixels.
  3. If you use the faster lens to reduce the ISO setting, the noise should improve. If you use it to increase the shutter speed. players and the ball in motion should be sharper.
  4. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Would I be better off shooting with a higher megapixel camera (5DS R, 50 megapixels) and a 50mm lens for example​
    NO. I am very confident that would not be a good overall choice.
    Depending on the age and skill level of your son and his team-members, you’ll need about 1/640th to 1/1250th to stop the soccer action. So if you were pulling F/2.8 @ 1/250 @ ISO16,000 at FL = 200mm and you swapped to FL = 50mm you can gain maximum of two stops of Lens Speed (assuming you use a 50/1.4), enabling you to pull the shots at:
    F/1.4 @ 1/1000th @ ISO16,000 ≡ F/2 @ 1/500th @ ISO8,000.
    Just for the sake of this conversation, let’s assume that the players are young and inexperienced and that Tv = 1/500th will be a sufficient: you are still pulling shots at ISO 8000, and if you want to get to a FoV equivalent of a 200mm lens then you have to crop away a substantial area of the Image File. If you want the Mathematics of it, you’ll remove about 40/41ths of the 5D’s image; that’s removing 97.56% of the Image File.
    If you want a visual representation - it is like this below: if the image below were made with a 5D and a 50mm Lens (which it wasn’t), then the area in the Yellow rectangle (or the pink rectangle top left) would be what you’d have remaining if you cropped the image to be the equivalent FoV of using a 200m lens on a 7D . . .

    (FYI the image used FL = 300mm on an APS-C Camera and I was about at the Halfway-line of a Full Sized Field – I’d usually use 300mm or 400mm and a 70 to 200 on two APS-C Cameras, for a Full Sized Soccer Field ).


    That must be a very poorly lit night time field? Those shooting specs reckon to be only about 2~3EV brighter, than (very) low-light indoor night-time.
    So the killer is the light that you don’t have. What you do have is a camera with good High ISO characteristics (7DMkII) and a Fast, Telephoto Lens (200/2.8). What I suggest is that you assume you’ll use F/2.8, then establish the Tv that you require depending upon the Speed and Skill-level of the Players. Then make an average EV reading of the playing area and set your ISO accordingly. If that means you are at ISO32000 then so be it. The really important point is to NOT UNDER expose – because, any underexposure will exacerbate the appearance of noise. If you can run the sideline then do so and try to frame as many shots tight enough so no cropping will be required. Get a good de noise programme. Consider converting images to B&W.
    Whatever you do, my advice is summarized twofold:
    don’t underexpose
    don’t use too slow a shutter speed
    Noise and no movement blur makes a much better images than a blurry sports photo with less noise.
  5. Thank you for your detailed response. The lighting is terrible at night and I am shooting High School boys, very fast. I am now wondering whether I should use a flash and or a prime lens, say 200mm f/2.8?
  6. A focused flash can be very effective. Be sure to check with the coaches or athletic director to make sure this is acceptable. There was a time when flash photography at sporting events was common. I've seen coverage of boxing matches where photographers would use their Speed Graphics with Press-40 flash bulbs. I've been to a D-I college basketball game years ago (as a spectator) where the remote flashes in the rafters fired so often it was annoying. Partly because the flashes could be annoying and partly because it is now possible to shoot without flash in most venues, flash photography has fallen out of favor.
  7. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    The lighting is terrible at night and I am shooting High School boys, very fast. I am now wondering whether I should use a flash and or a prime lens, say 200mm f/2.8?
    With an F/2.8 Lens - a powerful Flash Unit, for example 600 EX, (in theory) will provide you a Maximum Flash Working Distance of about 80m at ISO 1600, when the Flash Head is zoomed to FL = 200mm and the Flash is at Full Power. As already mentioned that could be very useful to your cause.
    Note that you'll need both a powerful Flash and also you'll need to bump the ISO to get to a useful Maximum Flash Working Distance and also note that MFWD is only a guide, so it is best to keep within it.
    I think that the main matters for your consideration will be:
    1 > the Flash Recycling Time: you'll have to time each shot and then wait for the flash to be ready for the next shot
    2 > the appearance of the background: the Ambient Light is so dark there will be little background detail in many (most?) shots
    3 > the Maximum Flash Working Distance Limit: if you exceed that limit, the Subject will be underexposed, hence the Noise issue will be exacerbated
    4 > the Maximum Flash Sync Speed of your Camera: that will be the Shutter Speed you that will be using (it will be around 1/200 ~ 1/250), if for any reason the Flash does not provide an effective exposure of the Subject (e.g. you exceed Max. Working Distance or Flash not at full power) you will also have Subject Movement Blur (as well as more Noise)
    5 > if Flash Photography from the Sideline is permitted: the reason I didn't mention Flash Photography, is because I am not allowed to use Flash at the various Night-time Sporting Events that I shoot, so I made an assumption, but your Sporting Association Rules and any applicable Laws might be different.
    A 200mm F/2.8 Prime Lens will be not be any advantage over using a 70 to 200 F/2.8 Zoom Lens, because the Minimum Aperture is the same, F/2.8, in both Lenses.
    The main consideration of the Lens is the Minimum Aperture Available, which was the idea that you had correct in your opening post, so, for example, a 200 F/2.0 Lens would give you some advantage compared to the 70 to 200 F/2.8.
  8. Your responses are much appreciated. Last question, does a prime lens, 200mm f 2.8 allow more light than a 70-200 f 2.8......in other words can I shoot at a faster shutter speed with the prime?
  9. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    If both lenses are set at F/2.8, then the shutter speed will be the same for both the F/2.8 Prime and the F/2.8 Zoom for any one given scene.
    That was the meaning I was trying to convey in my last two sentences, (under the ***).
    For the pedants: there probably will be a very minimal difference between the Prime and the Zoom: the Prime being a little bit faster (letting a little bit more light through). This is due to how much light is lost through the lens's elements and baffles. This is referred to as the 'T-Stop': but the T-Stop measurement is mainly only relevant in (older) Cine Lenses.
    Comparing any of the three EF 70 to 200/2.8L Zooms to the EF 200/2.8L Prime Lens I doubt that there would be even 1/10th Stop difference - and that's not worth concerning yourself about at all.
    BTW - you're most welcome to the comments and the advice. Make some good pictures of your Son.
  10. "does a prime lens, 200mm f 2.8 allow more light than a 70-200 f 2.8"

    No. If the lenses are properly marked, 2.8 is 2.8. And as far as anything faster, remember that the wider the aperture the less depth of field so even if you could get your shutter speed up or ISO down you increase the risk of missing focus.

    16,000 -- are you sure you didn't mean 1600? What you describe is more than three stops less light than the worst indoor hockey/figure skating rinks I've shot in and you say you're outside. Darkest highschool night football stadiums I've shot at were 1/500 at f/4 at 1600. If you're having to go to 16,000 to get 2.8 and 1/250, there's just a point at which there isn't enough light to shoot and you need to bring in light of one form or another.
  11. Hi,
    that must be a really badly lit ground....
    If that was me - I'd set the speed at 1/500th or above (you know what you need to make it sharp-ish), leave the f-stop as wide as possible and then set my Nikon D700 in AutoISO mode to see what that produced.
  12. ISO 16,000? really? on a crop sensor? not much you can do there. the rule of thumb for sports is you always want to prioritize shutter speed to freeze motion. 1/250 can give you blurry shots. you want to be at least at 1/500 and preferably 1/1000-1/250. the problem is if you also need to shoot at 200mm, there arent too many options faster than 2.8. you may want to rent a full-frame camera. regarding flash, unless you use an external battery setup, your recycling times will not be fast enough, assuming flash is allowed.
  13. if you want to control the shutter speed then the cheat code for it is in this link, http://www.digitalcameraworld.com/2014/04/22/how-to-shoot-fast-moving-objects-free-photography-cheat-sheet/ . I hope this helps you.
  14. The 2 work fine together once you have verified the focus. I had to send my 7Dii and 70-200 IS II to CPS to get them aligned, after that the setup works great in low light. I shoot many high school events under poor lighting without issue at speeds around 1/1000 and ISO 3200 or lower depending on location on the field.
    If you want something (lens) that is a great deal for the 7DII and is reasonably priced - go to Canon's refurbished lens sales site and buy the 135L F/2. This on the 7DII will give you a 216mm at F2 works great for the $799 they are selling the lens for right now. I also use this indoors and have 50mm 1.4 on my 5d3 for close shots but with soccer close is not the issue. Good luck it has taken me several years to understand all of the little ins and outs of high school lighting. Mod: Signature URL removed. Not allowed per photo.net guidelines.

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