I love January in Phoenix as it is the time of year when all the car auctions come to town. I enjoy the opportunity to see so many wonderful cars all gathered in one location. Last week I spent some time at Barrett-Jackson with my Canon 50D.
The lighting is all over the board at these auctions – full sun, open shade, tungsten, and mixed. I knew this would give the 50D a good chance to be tested. I had done some shooting with it outdoors and in studio, so I knew it worked well in these environments, but the indoor shots with random lighting seemed like it would be a challenge.
With prior cameras I would just crank up the ISO and shoot in AV mode keeping an eye on the shutter speed vs the focal length, tweaking the ISO where I could get away with it. The 50D now has an auto mode for ISO that I decided to get a test shooting the stage. As the cars move across the stage the lighting varies dramatically, and I wanted to get the cars in the clear, so I there was no one spot that they could be shot.
And not being a bidder, this meant I had to shoot from the cheap seats, so flash was out of the question. So I decided to switch the ISO to auto and see how the camera behaved. The ISO swung from 400 to 1250 depending on where I had the camera pointed and what aperture I selected. It kept the shutter speed within acceptable hand holding for the focal and length and never seemed to falter.
Upon reviewing the shots I was quite pleased with the results. Even though the noise level is acceptable for this type of work at the highest range the camera selected, it was nice to have even cleaner shots available when the light was better. I can really see where this feature can come in handy and why the Nikon users have always spoken so highly about the usefulness of this setting.
Auto-focus is also something I got a chance to test under the poor lighting and the 50D did great. I was very happy to see that it locked quickly and accurately under some tough conditions. The images were focused correctly and the camera only hunted when it faced the toughest targets where there was no contract to be seen. Experience has taught me to just focus on an edge and then recompose to the low contrast area as needed.
I will feel quite comfortable using the Canon 50D for this type of event in the future. Next week I hope to spend some time with my 5DII in the studio.