Action Sports with the EOS 5DS R

January 15, 2016

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We interview motorsports photographer Kevin Wing about his experience with the EOS 5DS R and how it helps him as a magazine photographer. Kevin also discusses aspects of the camera such as RAW files, megapixels, frames per second and focusing system coming from using a EOS-1D X as his main camera.

Canon Digital Learning Center (CDLC): What was your first reaction when you saw 50.3 million pixel files from the EOS 5DS R on your computer screen? How much of a difference, from the perspective of a magazine and commercial shooter, was there in those files, vs. those of previous Canon EOS cameras you’d used?

Kevin Wing (KW): Without a doubt, these are the most impressive Canon files I've ever viewed on my computer screen. I've often thought of renting and/or buying a 50+ megapixel medium format camera. These files really bridge the gap. More importantly this camera is at a price point that is appealing to both professionals and amateurs.

CDLC: You made a great point in the video about the new cropping freedom the 50.3 million pixel 5DS series files allow — especially how the longest lens you need may now be 300mm. Before the advent of the EOS 5DS series, how much did you rely on cropping of your images for action and commercial work? Do you think this will change some aspects of how you shoot, moving forward?

KW: The 50.3 megapixel files really allow you to get closer to your subject through cropping. Whether your longest lens is 200mm or 600mm, there are always situations where you need to get closer to your subject, or you simply cannot carry all your lenses. Since the film era, I've always cropped my images in camera. Being able to shoot horizontal images and then later crop them to vertical is a huge advantage — particularly when your subject passes in front the camera only once. I have shot many magazine covers over the years and the layout is not always planned.

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CDLC: One reason that some shooters have dismissed the EOS 5DS series cameras for location-type action shooting is their 5 fps shooting speed (vs. the 12 fps you can achieve with your EOS-1D X). Were there specific instances in your time with the 5DS R that you found its 5 fps to be perfectly acceptable?

KW: The number of fps really depends on the speed of the subject matter you are shooting. If you shoot multiple vehicles traveling over 50 mph, then the EOS-1D X would be my first choice. However, many action sports never approach these high speeds, so in these circumstances the EOS 5DS R would be a viable option.

CDLC: There’s some fantastic imagery in the instructional video you shot. Working with the EOS 5DS R files, aside from any differences in subject detail and sharpness, did you find that things like color rendering, highlight–shadow detail, noise, and so on were similar to what you’ve achieved with your EOS-1D X in the past?

KW: The color rendering with the EOS 5DS R is very neutral straight out of the camera. Highlights and shadow density are excellent. The dynamic range seems to be consistent with the EOS-1D X and other Canon bodies I have used.

CDLC: Can you briefly explain, again, how you set-up and use AF in action shots like those in the video? And, did you observe any differences in AF performance with the EOS 5DS R, vs. the EOS-1D X that you frequently use?

KW: When using AF in action shots I typically use a single focusing point or expanded points. I like to have complete control with the focusing points so I can move them quickly from one side of the frame to the other in a few seconds. As far as differences in AF performance between the two cameras, I noticed that the EOS 5DS R autofocus percentage was not quite as high as the EOS-1D X (when using the same lens and shooting in the same conditions). When the EOS 5DS R percentage meets or exceeds the EOS-1D X, it's game over!

CDLC: Part of the professional work you do is commercial shooting, and sometimes that’s with products or stationary, posed shots of people — even in the studio on occasion. How do you anticipate the extremely high resolution of the EOS 5DS and 5DS R could add to what you can offer your clients in these challenging and demanding areas?

KW: The EOS 5DS R resolution is really astonishing. Having the option to produce 50.3 million pixel files is a definite game changer.

CDLC: We assume you shoot RAW images the vast majority of the time in your professional work. One by-product of the much larger files in the EOS 5DS series is that the burst rate — the number of continuous shots you can fire at 5 fps — is less than half that you can achieve on the EOS-1D X (14 continuous images, vs. about 35–38 with the EOS-1D X). Taking into account the way you like to work, did that ever become a problem in your time working with the EOS 5DS R?

KW: The EOS 5DS R 5 fps shooting speed was not a problem for me. I am pretty selective when shooting vehicles in motion. Anticipating peak action is key — I wouldn't recommend “spraying and praying.” Also, the EOS 5DS R file sizes are huge, which will really affect your post processing time. I rarely shoot more than 4 or 5 frames in one continuous burst.

CDLC: In your action shooting, what’s the highest ISO you typically work with (for instance, late in the day, or on dark overcast days)? Working with the EOS 5DS R, and examining its files, did you at any time have issues with the levels of digital noise at higher ISOs?

KW: I'm very fortunate to be based in Southern California. Almost all of my photos are shot late in the day and I usually use a 100–250 ISO. If the weather is less than ideal, I rarely shoot above 2500 ISO. In the latter situation, I prefer to add strobe light instead of increasing the ISO since there is more change of digital noise at this setting. When working with the EOS 5DS R digital noise was not an issue since I mostly shot with a low ISO setting.

CDLC: The EOS-1D X remains Canon’s definitive answer for action shooting at the highest levels. But considering the variety of work you do for editorial and commercial shooting, what are some of the scenarios you encounter where you might reach first for an EOS 5DS or 5DS R camera, rather than your standard EOS-1D X?

KW: The EOS 5DS R would be my camera of choice for static photos shot outdoors or in studio. It would be the best choice for a cover shot, opening spread, or national advertising assignment. I also wouldn't hesitate to use it as a “B” action camera. In some situations (like pull back action) you will have the luxury of multiple passes, versus a few fleeting opportunities.

 

*Please use safety precautions and obtain any applicable permits before shooting action on public roads

(9 Images, 2 Videos)

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