5D-III 25600 ISO sports

Started Aug 20, 2012 | Discussions thread
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tony field
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5D-III 25600 ISO sports
Aug 20, 2012

I was asked to shoot a Roller Derby as a freebee. This event was presented this past weekend in a skating arena in Calgary. Normally, this type of shoot would be done with the 1D-IV. The arena, however, had abysmal gas discharge light and required F2.8, 1/400 sec at ISO 25600 - and even then was about 1/2 stop under-exposed. This resulted in an effective shooting EV of about 3.5. Since the 1D-IV could not work in this range and I had my 5D-III in my case by accident, I chose to see how the recently acquired 5D-III would react in this difficult condition. When you add the fact that many of the competitors were wearing black outfits, the focus system was probably working at an effective EV of 0 or 1. This is a strong test to see how the camera would perform.

After looking at the 700 shots I took in AI-Servo mode, I could find only a handful of shots that were not in focus. The camera gave maybe a 95% turnout of "good" images and probably about 90% of excellent focused images. This surprised me - my expected good result rate for similar shooting with the 1D-IV is about 90% and about 85% excellent focus - and this is when there is 3EV or 4EV more light in the arena.

The only down-side of shooting the 5D-III was the "invisible" focus points - in particular when shooting the black outfits - I always had to "guess" that I was pointing the centre focus point at an appropriate spot. Shame on Canon for such a silly design that even made it into the 1DX. Shame that they cannot fix it (and will not even provide some easy to implement firmware upgrades to minimize the problem).

Over all, the ISO 25600 was surprisingly good. I had never even tested the camera at this ISO and am now convinced that it is usable when absolutely needed. The images below are with the 70-200 F2.8 and most of the images are 1/2 frame or worse (should have brought the 300mm which is normally too long for this sport - but the shooting position was lousy and non-negotiable). Thank heaven for the 22 mpix (compared to the 1D-IV). No noise reduction is done - I prefer sharpness with noise to the mush that noise reduction dives.

Overall, for this type of work, I found the 5D-III quite usable and would give a 4 out of 5 thumbs up rating. Of course, for shooting pretty naked ladies in good light, I would probably rate it as a 4.5

Here are some images in these trying conditions - and note that Roller Derby is not a "fast" sport like hockey or skiing....

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