Suggested Equipment for Low Light Photography

Hector1970

EOS R
Mar 22, 2012
1,198
365
I was photographing Boxing last weekend.
It was set in a hotel rather than an arena.
While the boxing was quite visible to audience the light was too low for my camera gear.

I used a 7DII with 16-35mm F4.
While this focussed quite well image quality was horrible at 51200 ISO.
( I had the shutter speed at 1/400 which is ideal for boxing but I should have compromised to get a better image
I also used a 5DIII with a 50 1.2 L lens.
While the image quality was much better about 90% of the photographs were out of focus.
Again I was shooting at 1/400 and F1.2
I should have used a smaller aperature and a slower shutter speed.
I also should have used my 70-200 2.8 but had let someone else use it on the night.

What is the 1DX II like at high ISO's like 51200?
Does it take usuable images?
What will the 5D IV high ISO performance be?

Is there a fast lens available that focuses fast in poor lighting condition (sub 2.8)?

Are there any tricks of the trade I should have used?
I had considered bouncing flash off the ceiling but didn't want to risk distracting a boxer.
The flash recycling time was a consideration too.
Boxing move really fast and to capture the action you need to be in burst mode.
Their hands move really fast.
 

pwp

EOS R6
Oct 25, 2010
2,530
23
You sound like a perfect Sony A7sII customer. They're crazy high iso settings.
That must be an uncommonly under-lit boxing venue.

-pw
 

neuroanatomist

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Jul 21, 2010
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pwp said:
That must be an uncommonly under-lit boxing venue.
+1

Last boxing match I shot (very amateur, ring set up in a warehouse), I used the 1D X and mainly the 70-200/2.8L IS II. I used shutter speeds between 1/500 - 1/800 s, apertures between f/2.8 and f/5.6, and ISOs were generally in the 320-8000 range, with only a few shots topping out at ISO 12800.
 

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Hector1970

EOS R
Mar 22, 2012
1,198
365
Yes the location was really poor lighting wise. Way darker than the scene Neuroanatomist had below.
I presume the 1DX is better than a 5DIII ISO wise.
I think I'd have had just a black photograph in those circumstances (2.8 / ISO 320-8000 / 1/500- 1/800)
I was using those types of setting when they were training in the Gym and the pictures were great.

It is often a location for boxing matches (but its a hotel so its normally for weddings).

Is there a current ISO performance champion among full frame cameras?
Will all manufacturers get to that level relatively soon.

I'm curious as to what the 5D IV will bring to the party.
Are there any of the fast medium to wide angle lens quick to focus.
I found the 50 1.2 was slow focusing - I assume because of the weight of glass to move.
I was wondering if a 35mm F2 would be a more usable lens.

I should have but didn't use the 70-200mm F2.8
I thought I'd be too close (I was shooting from under the ropes).
Better close than too noisy at F4.
 

gregorywood

Always in learning mode
The 6D is quite good at low light performance and combined with any lens capable of f/2.8 or faster, should give you plenty of latitude for capturing some great images.

My daughter plays indoor soccer during the winter months and the venue is horribly lit. They use these high output lights, but are spaced quite a bit apart, so it leaves some less-than-optimal lighting in many areas of the field. I have had good success with the 6D and the 70-200 f/2.8 II as well as the 100mm f/2. I can keep the shutter speeds between 500 and 800 without going super high on the ISO setting.
 

Mikehit

EOS R6
Jul 28, 2015
3,313
502
I too am puzzled not so much by the poor image quality at ISO 50,000 but the fact you needed to go that high in the first place.
At the risk of covering things you have thought of, have you got the flicker detect activated on the 7D2? That can make significant impact on the exposure, but without it I would have expected erratic rather than out and out disappointing results.

AF is a combination of the light gathering of the lens and how the lens talks to the camera and the 51.2 is an old lens so maybe that is not up to the demands of the venue.
 
I am very happy to use my at ISO25600 as "normal shooting"... I haven't found the need for ISO51200 as you're generally less aperture limited with FF cameras so don't need the ISO quite as much.

here's a ISO25600 shot of my son from my 6D (should be similar to what a 1DX will do) no NR straight out of DPP with everything turned off.. all sliders mid point. The shots also a bit underexposed, I could have used ISO51200 with proper exposure and got the same shot more or less (it's a full res image, click to pixel peep)

 

Jim Saunders

EOS R
Sep 9, 2012
1,125
14
hhaphoto.com
Why not an armful of those Yongnuo 600 flashes, trigger to match, some kind of support for them? You'd have to go to HSS but that's still cheaper than a new body or faster glass.

Jim
 

neuroanatomist

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Jul 21, 2010
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Jim Saunders said:
Why not an armful of those Yongnuo 600 flashes, trigger to match, some kind of support for them? You'd have to go to HSS but that's still cheaper than a new body or faster glass.
Why not? Possibly the risk of that armful of flashes firing bright light that distracts competitors and interfere with their ability to effectively compete...thus pissing off large men who pummel others for a living. Just a thought... ;)
 

Jim Saunders

EOS R
Sep 9, 2012
1,125
14
hhaphoto.com
neuroanatomist said:
Jim Saunders said:
Why not an armful of those Yongnuo 600 flashes, trigger to match, some kind of support for them? You'd have to go to HSS but that's still cheaper than a new body or faster glass.
Why not? Possibly the risk of that armful of flashes firing bright light that distracts competitors and interfere with their ability to effectively compete...thus pissing off large men who pummel others for a living. Just a thought... ;)
There's that, maybe some continuous lights if anyone makes them at a usable balance of colour, output and affordability yet. Point is adding light might (might!) be easier.

Jim
 

tpatana

EOS 5D Mark IV
Nov 1, 2012
1,535
263
I do kendo shooting, and flashes are completely forbidden during the matches. Sometimes mom&pop use p&s from the stands, and the tiny flash tries to do something. Mostly nobody cares, few times the judges went to tell them to stop the flash. Also at the Worlds last summer they posted "NO FLASH" everywhere. Luckily for finals they upped the lights so I was going 2.8 / ISO3200 / 1/500 during that. Non-finals were 2.8 / ISO6400/ 1/500, which is my typical for local gyms too. Last tournament was more dim, I was struggling at 2.8 / ISO6400 / 1/400. I considered going ISO12800, but I decided to push on post instead. Those are for 1DX.

For your case, I'd probably try 50/1.2@2.0. 85/1.8 would be ok if it focused better/faster.
 

Arty

EOS M6 Mark II
Jun 5, 2014
63
2
I would try to stay under ISO 12800, but it all depends on the lighting. Depth of field is going to be so shallow at F1.2 that you won't get anything in focus, as you have found. I haven't shot boxing, but did do some photos of wrestling with a T2i and a 50F1.4. If I had a full frame with me, that would have been preferable for ISO. Wrestlers basically do a lot of posing and there are pauses in the action. Boxing is much faster.

Distance matters. If you can get to ringside, you can do well with the 5D and a 35F2IS. AF is very fast on the 35. I would shoot shutter priority at as high a speed as you can, but with reasonable apertures - I like depth of field as well, so it is a compromise. You will be dealing with movement, so speed and aperture are tradeoffs An alternative would be the 85F1.8. AF is very fast and accurate on that lens as well, but I would use it on the full frame if lighting is low.

I don't like auto ISO, so if lighting is relatively constant, I would set it as low as possible to give me the speeds and apertures that will work. I have taken shots as high as 25,600 with the 6D, but they are never going to be as good as shots at ISO 1600. I was surprised at how good the photos were at 12800, but I would still rather be lower.
 

Mikehit

EOS R6
Jul 28, 2015
3,313
502
Here are some tips:

https://www.ephotozine.com/article/clever-boxing-photography-11109

I note that he says:
I was considering attaching my speedlight when the referee paused the fight, to severely reprimand an amateur photographer at ringside, who had just taken three images with flash. It appears boxers don't appreciate flashguns hitting them in the eyes when they are trying their best to duck punches.
 

eml58

1Dx
Aug 26, 2012
1,939
0
Singapore
I've generally not found any Camera that can produce a usable Image to Print that's shot at high ISO, it's just not been my experience, not with Canon, Nikon, Sony, Hasselblad, I've tried lots of them, the best high ISO camera I've used to date is the Nikon Df, it's in my view quite good out to 16500 and crap after that.

My 1Dx II is good out to 12800, then progressively crap after that.

If you don't want Images that you want to Print the Nikon D5 according to Nikon, will shoot out to ISO 1 Gazillion or so, but I'm reasonably sure after recently seeing the D5 in action in Africa, at night, alongside my 1Dx II, that Nikon have slightly overstated the Cameras potential.

I've shot the 1Dx II at night on Wildlife, with car headlights and Canon 600EX RT flash, and again, 3200-6400 produces excellent prints with little to no grain, 12800-3200 requires a lot of work in Post but can produce reasonable Prints, anything after 3200 at least for me is unusable except to simply ensure you have the Image.

The attached is a nighttime Image, spot light on low power with red filter to get the Focus, then a single 600 EX RT

Shot at ISO 51200

No other changes, this is the RAW image reduced in size and into a jpeg

It's an unusable Image, at least to me.

There may well be refinements in Camera set up that I'am ignoring or not using, so I'm all ears if anyone has the experience on this stuff, I love night Shooting with Wildlife.
 

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Nov 18, 2012
1,413
0
Virginia
Hector1970 said:
I was photographing Boxing last weekend.
It was set in a hotel rather than an arena.
While the boxing was quite visible to audience the light was too low for my camera gear.

I used a 7DII with 16-35mm F4.
While this focussed quite well image quality was horrible at 51200 ISO.
( I had the shutter speed at 1/400 which is ideal for boxing but I should have compromised to get a better image
I also used a 5DIII with a 50 1.2 L lens.
While the image quality was much better about 90% of the photographs were out of focus.
Again I was shooting at 1/400 and F1.2
I should have used a smaller aperature and a slower shutter speed.
I also should have used my 70-200 2.8 but had let someone else use it on the night.

What is the 1DX II like at high ISO's like 51200?
Does it take usuable images?
What will the 5D IV high ISO performance be?

Is there a fast lens available that focuses fast in poor lighting condition (sub 2.8)?

Are there any tricks of the trade I should have used?
I had considered bouncing flash off the ceiling but didn't want to risk distracting a boxer.
The flash recycling time was a consideration too.
Boxing move really fast and to capture the action you need to be in burst mode.
Their hands move really fast.
I have used the 1dxii at 51200. For large prints its ok if the intent is to view from a distance as most large prints are featured. Another option is to post process with something like DxO Optics Pro. For sports, people, and landscapes it can give you about 1 more stop to work with. Some wildlife, those with fur, you lose a little detail with but i use it almost every time for stadium soccer. At lower ISO it makes your shots look like they were all shot at iso 100.
 

danski0224

EOS R
Apr 24, 2011
1,102
11
Hector1970 said:
I was photographing Boxing last weekend.
It was set in a hotel rather than an arena.
While the boxing was quite visible to audience the light was too low for my camera gear.

I used a 7DII with 16-35mm F4.
While this focussed quite well image quality was horrible at 51200 ISO.
( I had the shutter speed at 1/400 which is ideal for boxing but I should have compromised to get a better image
I also used a 5DIII with a 50 1.2 L lens.
While the image quality was much better about 90% of the photographs were out of focus.
Again I was shooting at 1/400 and F1.2
I should have used a smaller aperature and a slower shutter speed.
I also should have used my 70-200 2.8 but had let someone else use it on the night.

What is the 1DX II like at high ISO's like 51200?
Does it take usuable images?
What will the 5D IV high ISO performance be?

Is there a fast lens available that focuses fast in poor lighting condition (sub 2.8)?

Are there any tricks of the trade I should have used?
I had considered bouncing flash off the ceiling but didn't want to risk distracting a boxer.
The flash recycling time was a consideration too.
Boxing move really fast and to capture the action you need to be in burst mode.
Their hands move really fast.
Most of what I have found about the 1DXII (online) is that the high ISO's are supposedly not very significantly improved over the 1DX. However, you do get the anti-flicker which may help significantly. There's a few other upgrades too.

It is also said that there is not a significant difference between the 5DIII and 1DX, however I beg to differ.

f/1.2 will likely give you a bunch of (mostly) out of focus images.

I'd set the camera in AV mode and set a minimum shutter speed and let the camera figure it out from there.

Flash is likely forbidden.
 

photojoern.de

See more in http://photojoern.de
Mar 10, 2016
53
0
Berlin, Germany
photojoern.de
Quote: "I should have used a smaller aperature and a slower shutter speed."
I think this summarizes very much it. The light was just too little. If you work with aperture 1.2 and 90% are out of focus, then it´s low light or your technique or your AF settings. But I doubt that there´s a better camera AF system than the 1DXII or 7DII from Canon.
ISO51k is probably pulled too much. Post processing can fix some of that, i.e. nik software collection with lightroom.
Equipment wise I would not worry too much, rather work on focussing settings and technique and try ISO12k, which gives reasonable to good results, in my opinion.
 

CanonFanBoy

Real men single speed.
CR Pro
Jan 28, 2015
5,172
3,347
Irving, Texas
Hector1970 said:
I also used a 5DIII with a 50 1.2 L lens.
While the image quality was much better about 90% of the photographs were out of focus.
Again I was shooting at 1/400 and F1.2
I should have used a smaller aperature and a slower shutter speed.
How close to the edge of the ring were you with a 50mm lens set at f/1.2?

At 15' from the edge of the ring the focal plane begins 14.08' from the camera and the depth of field is only 1.99' deep from there. (None of the inside of the ring in focus)

At 30' from the edge of the ring the focal plane begins 26.51' from the camera and the depth of field is only 8.04' deep from there. (Only 6' of the inside of the ring on your side in focus)

At 60' from the edge of the ring the focus plane begins 47.5 ' from the camera and then is only 33.96' deep from there. (Still only half or less of the ring on your side in focus).

A standard ring is 16-20' inside the ropes with another 2' outside the ropes.

With that lens set @ f/1.2 your shots were doomed from the start as far as focus goes.

Also, that 50mm lens isn't the fastest focusing lens around... and there's the lack of IS.

If you were far away from the boxers at those focal lengths , then I would expect a large crop to look bad. Especially if your ISO is high.

I suspect you were close to the ring (very close) with those two lenses you chose to bring to a boxing match. If not, then you were too far away and had to crop a lot.

I think the results you got with the 50mm f/1.2L are to be expected at that f/stop. Good tool, but not properly used. f/1.2 helped with the lighting, but made the depth of field far to shallow for what you wanted to photograph almost no matter where you stood.

Have no idea why the 16-35 f/4 didn't work out... especially running the ISO that high.

A 70-200 set at f/2.8 wouldn't have helped much either.

You could have used a smaller aperture (f/4+). Problem is you needed light so you could stop down. You didn't have the light to do that. That's a shame because it must have been an exciting event. The dearth of light was your worst enemy in this case.

It is surprising that the light would be so dark in a ring where guys are trying to hit each other and judges need to see the fight for scoring.