Field Review: Canon 1D Mk IV (Day 7)

Canon 1D Mk IV users will surely be using their cameras to shoot professional sports like baseball. I went to Central Park the other day to shoot a game in progress. The autofocus did not disappoint at all with this camera, nor did the high ISO performance. Though sports isn’t something I usually shoot and it requires paying careful attention to all the details, the tests I did showed that the 1D Mk IV was able to keep up with faster action the way that the Nikon D3s was able to.

Equipment Used

1D Mk IV

80-200mm F2.8 L

Hypothesis

Shooting sports requires quick changing of autofocus points as well as being able to quickly and accurately lock onto your targets and stay on them while they are moving at fast speeds. Part of this is predicting their movements. The Canon 1D Mk IV should be able to accurately do this when combined with a skilled photographer that can pan the camera to keep up with the subject. This is easier with the Nikon autofocus system as it tracks the subject moving throughout the entire frame vs having to have the photographer keep the focusing point on the subject.

But how well does it work with an old L lens without USM?

Testing

To test this, I shot at varying ISOs from 800 to 3200 and shot at F5.6. At F2.8, it just wasn’t able to keep the subject sharply in focus because of their movement—so that possibility was thrown out the window. Perhaps this could have been different with a newer lens.

The images were also shot in Av mode to facilitate the speed of capturing the moments.

All images were shot at the full 16MP RAWs and had no post-processing done to them other than watermarking and resizing for the web.

The same autofocus tweaks from the duckling test were applied in this situation. You can find those tweaks here.

Focusing points were placed on the upper torso section of the players, especially the batters. The reason for this is because when the batters go to hit the ball, it keeps their entire body and their face in focus so that the emotion and reactions can be captured. When it comes to outfielders, they tend to crouch down to catch the ball or get ready to run. When they do this, they still remain in focus. A perfect example is in the photo below.

This also helped with when unexpected occurrences happened, such as a batter jumping to avoid being injured as in the photo below.

When it came to having to switch from one subject to another (such as the batter to an outfielder) the camera was able to focus quickly enough but I wasn’t able to zoom in quickly enough to create a composition that I liked. Also, this required changing focusing points a bit. At a moment like this, Nikon’s focusing system would have been a bit more useful as I would be able to place the point on the subject and the autofocus system would track the subject throughout the frame. Despite this, I was still able to get some great moments such as the one below.

However, Nikon’s focusing system would have still been more useful such as in the photo below.

Here, my focusing point is on the player on the ground. I needed to constantly keep my focusing point on him, which messed with my composition because of his movements. This in turn required changing my zooming perspective while panning and trying to keep that point on him. In practice, this actually can get very difficult. In the real world, a crop can fix this.

Also in the real world, it’s best to get the shot right the first time around.

The two focusing systems will be discussed more in depth in my longer Canon 1D Mk IV vs Nikon D3s piece that you can expect soon.

Gallery

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.