Tuesday, April 29, 2014


I've been reading for years that the Canon 5D MKII is NOT good for sports or action photography.  Since high speed action photography is how I learned photography in the 1970's, I decided to give my 5D MKII a real workout with some of the most difficult action to photograph--the chaotic action of rodeo!

I call rodeo chaotic action because it's action that is unplanned.  You never know where animals are going to go or what they're going to do.  That's very different than photographing racing motorcycles or race cars on a track.  I always knew from turn-to-turn, within a few feet, where a vehicle was going to be because, having been a racer myself, I knew the best "line" through each turn.

In rodeo all we have is a starting point--we know the bronc, the bull, or the calf is busting out of that gate or chute--after that they can go anywhere in the arena!
This is a real challenge for our auto focus, our framing ( constant zooming ), and exposure.

So, this was a great test of the 5D MKII's ability to auto focus while tracking action while leaving the zooming and exposure to me in manual mode.

My camera setup--using the Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS II lens--was:

AUTO FOCUS: AI Servo ( for moving subjects when the focusing distance keeps changing )
DRIVE MODE: Continuous @ 3.9 frames per second

I used the large jpeg because I did not want anything to slow me down; If I used RAW I could exceed my maximum burst rate and fill the buffer which would time-out the camera. Working within the camera's limitations I wanted to give it the best chance for success.

This was one of those, scary, chaotic situations where my subject charged TOWARDS ME--note the gal RUNNING FOR HER LIFE!

This one was a little more challenging for the auto focus with all the moving people in the background, but It did well.

A great action series where the auto focus tracked very well as I panned and zoomed.

A much more difficult series because I panned across a VERY BUSY background and then they changed direction, coming towards me, forcing me to zoom-out!

I think that,  working within the camera's capabilities, the 5D MKII is a fine camera for action photography--another feather in the cap for a SUPERB PORTRAIT CAMERA!

As always, if you have questions don't hesitate to ask. Asking questions is the best part of learning.

Author:  Jerry W Venz, PPA Certified Master Photographer

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