Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Another "real world" test of the Canon 7D Mark II - Shooting a high school football game at night

You may have read my original blog post about the upcoming Canon 7D Mark II, which I posted a week ago, and showed sample photos taken at ever increasing ISO levels. For the first test, I did take the new camera out with a 100-400mm lens, but was in a VERY dimly lit football field. This last weekend, my daughter asked me to shoot some of her high school's football game for their yearbook. This was at her high school which has better lights. And this time I brought my Canon 70-200 2.8 lens and shot all these photos at in Aperture Priority mode at f/2.8, setting the exposure compensation to -0.7 to keep from blowing out the white uniforms, and set the ISO levels anywhere from 5000 to 16,000.

I think you will be really impressed when you see how clean and sharp these images are, even at these crazy high ISO levels. And, in case you are wondering, I did not do any noise reduction on these jpg images.

I started shooting at ISO 6400 to obtain a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action. On this particular photo, I was at 1/1250 sec.

I was really happy to grab this fast action and still have excellent image quality.

Pointing the lens into a darker section of the field, for this photo I was only able to get a shutter speed of 1/640 sec. But, as you can tell, this was a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action in this case.

After shooting numerous photos at ISO 6400, I decided to bring the ISO down a little to 5000. This photo is nice and clean at this high ISO. You can see the noise level in the cropped image below.

The kid next to me was shooting with a Canon T2i with a variable aperture lens. Knowing the age of that camera (which can't shoot at very high ISOs) and the limitations of the lens, I figured he didn't stand a chance to get a decent shot.

Here is a photo of one of the kids diving straight ahead for a touchdown. Because I was shooting straight ahead with the lights all to the sides, and I had the exposure comp at -0.7, the runners face was very dark. For this photo, I did use the shadow/highlights adjustment in Photoshop to bring his face out of the shadows.

After scoring a touchdown, it was time for the opposing team to kick the extra point. I moved to a 45 degree angle and shot this. I prefocused on the ball and shot this with a shutter speed of 1/800 sec.

And then, just for fun, I decided to crank up the ISO to 16,000. I think that this photo is a perfect example of why I really like this camera. Is there noise in the photo? Yes. And if you look at the crop below, you will see the digital noise in the photo. BUT, when looking at the photo above, it is a fine image and plenty good enough for the high school yearbook. Sometimes us photographers obsess over the noise levels, but I would rather have a noisy image and freeze the peak of action than get a blurry unusable photo.

Another shot taken at ISO 16,000.

This and the remaining 3 photos were all taken at ISO 8000.

I do like the crop factor of the Canon 7D Mark II, allowing me to get nice tight shots even with a 70-200mm lens.

All in all, it was a really fun night shooting photos for the school and getting a chance to test the 7D Mark II once again.

I am still amazed at how good these DSLR cameras have gotten in the last 5 years!


If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. I would really appreciate that.



Unknown said...

Very nice Jeff. My 7D MkII is on order. Impatiently EOS 6D needs a buddy!

robertsfoto said...

I see the settings that are set, I am curious to know what type of lights did the stadium have. Your colors are so much better than anything I have ever achieved

Anonymous said...

Jeff I hope you post your focus settings you used for the 7DII. Hopefully I'll have mine in about 2 weeks.

Anonymous said...

Nice article Jeff. I have a question on your settings. You set the exposure compensation to -0.7 to keep from blowing out the white uniforms, and set the ISO levels anywhere from 5000 to 16,000. Why did you do this instead of no compensation and lower ISO? Wouldn't that give you the same result with less noise? I shoot a lot of sports so I would really like to understand this. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

great work .. thanks for sharing
I already have orders .. I look forward to test it

José Heitor .. from Portugal

DonnaLea said...

I wish I can take beautiful photos like that...

Unknown said...

These two posts on HS football had me giggling. I shoot the cheerleaders for my daughter's team. You think the field is bad for lighting? Try the sidelines between the light poles as far from the opposite lights as possible. :)

Like on the field, VR doesn't help freeze action. The kit lenses aren't fast enough. Flash is impossible to balance for a team of cheerleaders spread out over 15 yards without several speedlights set up on radio triggers which school administors aren't in favor of...

Jeff, I love your work. I have DEVOURED the Event Space videos. It was wonderful, in a sadistic, evil way, to hear one of the photographers I deeply respect say "DANG! This highschool gig is a different kettle of fish!"

On the other hand, it means that the budgetary director (wife) now sees the value of fast glass. I've scored 35mm and 85mm 1.8 primes, an 80-200 2.8 (love the Nikon professional grade lens) and a 17-55 2.8 out of the deal.

I have also received epic praise from the mom's that have been trying to take pictures with low end DSLR's, a kit lens and the pop-up flash.... all in part from your excellent advice.

Jeff Revell said...

Thanks for the post Jeff. I am taking my 7D MkII to a game tonight and will be playing with lots of ISO options. Like you, I will be using a 70-200 f/2.8 but also taking the 1.4x just in case I need a little more reach. Thanks again for posting the great images. Hopefully my test run will be equally as successful.

Rob said...


These are nice shots for a High School field. I shoot many high school games a year and recently added the 7DII to my gear.
I generally use the 5DIII and have been happy with noise performance I get, however I wanted the reach with my 300m 2.8 IS II. I noticed that with my 7DII the images are very soft, almost like there is some heavy NR going on in the camera. Could you give me an idea of your settings?

DaveB said...

Another review of the 7II here:

I found this comment to be especially interesting, especially for bird photographers:

"Put a Lexar 64GB Professional 1066x UDMA 7 Compact Flash Card (Max. Read/Write Speed: 160/155 MB/s) in the slot and the 7D II captured between 46 and 49 frames in 4.7 seconds (or less) to again match the rated speed but far exceed the rated buffer depth. With this Lexar card installed, two additional frames were captured .1 second apart every .2 seconds for a post-buffer-filled performance of 14 frames in 2.27 seconds or about 5.7 fps. This rate is faster than some cameras shoot with an empty buffer and I'm guessing that this rate continues until the card is filled. Shoot in JPG format and this card and camera combo can shoot at 10 fpd for a very long period of time."