Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Shooting Football - 5D MarkII + 200mm f/2.8

Our company has organized a football tournament between the different departments, and I went last week to one of the games to cheer for my colleagues' team and try out my 5D's tracking along with the 200mm f/2.8. I ended up enjoying the game (my colleagues won 5-4), but the photography experience was disasterous. Click to read more.

As usual I took the camera and one lens, I wanted to see how the Canon 5D's continuous focusing and 4fps fares in such conditions, my lens of choice was the 200mm f/2.8, I have already shot a few football games with my 60D + a 35mm and an 85mm, the 85mm on a crop sensor gave me enough reach from the sidelines, so I thought a 200mm focal length would be enough, especially that it would enable me to stand farther away, well, things didn't turn out very good.

See that opening picture? Look carefully, can you see the sidelines? Can you see the wall behind the sidelines? The court was in the middle of a very crowded buildings area, so the space was barely enough for the football field, with no place to stand far away, first problem, the 200mm was too long, and ai could barely fit people on the other end of the field.

See that ugly yellow wall and those ugly player colors? Second problem, the lights used in the field had a wierd color temperature, I tried setting a custom WB before shooting, but the colors turned very bad, so I shot RAW anyway and decided to tackle this matter in post, nothing worked, the photo you see above has major color tweaking (hue & saturation) done in post, it is as close as I could get to what I saw there, and to make matters worse, there were these awful yellow colored walls behind the players most of the time, at the end I made another copy of the photos in B&W to hide these problems, what do you think? Which ones are better?

Third problem, light levels were very very low, it isn't my first time shooting football, and I usually end up shooting f/2.8 at ISO 1600 or something to get reasonable shutter speeds, not here. I used manual mode, lens wide open at f/2.8, and in order to get 1/320 ~ 1/400 shutter speeds, I had to increase the ISO to 12,800 (first expansion ISO, not native), all these pictures you see here at shot at that ISO, and I used my usual luminance noise reduction in LR4 at 20, didn't spend anytime trying to get rid of the noise, pictures just aren't worth it.

To sum it up, the 5D did well in tracking the action, I don't think I had OOF shots, and I like the B&W shots much more because they don't show the ugly colors and they seem to hide (or maybe suit?) the noise pattern. What do you think?