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Sports Mode - Continuous Shooting Efficiency


Assuming a good quality memory card, does anyone have any advice on the efficiency of Sports Mode versus picturre quality?  I don't need 24M quality JPEG action shots. Would fewer pixels improve continuous shooting. Does it matter very much?



Which camera are you using?  The answer depends upon the model and camera capabilities.  In general, the less data moved and the faster the card then the less likely the camera will fill its buffer but different models have very different behaviors with respect to buffering and transfer.


Even with burst mode, timing is still critical to get the shot you want. 


I have been shooting a few baseball and softball games recently with my 1DX III and even though it shoots 16 FPS and will shoot over 1,000 frames in RAW or unlimited in JPG without filling the buffer, getting the ball coming off the bat is still dependent upon both skill and luck. 


I lock focus when the batter steps up to the plate, have the shutter set for minimum release time since I am shooting wide open aperture and the lens doesn't need time to settle, and will trigger the shutter while watching the ball.  This type of timing is another reason I won't yet consider going mirrorless for sports because the viewfinder lag with mirrorless makes this type of shooting technique impossible.


Softball is slower than baseball and during the last game I shot, I think I had a total of 3 captures with the ball contacting the bat and that was in a high scoring contest.  Shot with Canon 1DX III and EF 400 f2.8 @ 1/1600, f2.8, ISO 200.





EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

Excellent photo! Beautiful hue/saturation!

Great advice, thank you so much!

I just bought the Canon EOS M50.

I am using a very good memory card the SanDisk Extreme Pro (170 MB/s).

I plan to use the Sports Mode in the SCN Mode.

I have been shooting soccer (slow moving than a batter's swing) with an older PowerShot SX50HS in sports mode.

I know the EOS M50 is a big improvement over the SX50HS.

I have lots of memory; I just don't think I need photos at 24Mb.

Again, thanks and any advice is much appreciated.


PS: Are using a polarizing filter to get this great photo?


Thanks and thank you for providing the additional info.


I rarely use polarizing filters, just good quality clear "filters" on most lenses to protect the front element and make field cleaning easier (I don't mind taking the chance on damaging a "filter" if I need to quickly wipe rain or "stuff" off a filter).  That photo was shot with an EF 400 f2.8 which like the other Canon "great white" telephoto primes has a very large front element so if a filter is used, it is a drop in near the camera end of the lens assembly and it was shot without a filter.


In general, the more data you start with the better you can crop and do other editing functions.  I always shoot RAW files and that is particularly important for sports where you often need to crop even with long lenses and exposure adjustment is also often needed.  You can do far more with a RAW file than a jpg because so much information is discarded forever when the camera saves the image as a JPG file. 


The M50 supports C-RAW and that might be something to investigate as it provides greater buffer depth while preserving much of the capabilities of a true RAW file.  You will find shooting either in RAW or C-RAW is what you want for sports photos.


With soccer, you shouldn't run into buffer depth issues very often; about the only situation in soccer where I do burst shots are goal shots and sometimes when players attempt to head the ball but catching "headers" is best done with timing.  Practice overcoming the capture lag with your camera and it will become less difficult to rely upon short tightly controlled bursts that won't tax buffer depth.  Most of my successful attempts at catching players heading the ball are with shooting a single frame at the right point.  High speed bursts rarely catch that perfect moment of the compressed ball and the player grimacing 🙂


When I first started seriously shooting sports, I was using a Canon 1D Mark II which had very little buffer depth so it trained me to rely upon timing instead of "spray and pray" shooting.  Most soccer games the overwhelming majority of my image captures are single shots although the camera stays in high speed drive mode. 


This photo was the best save this past Saturday by a keeper who made several very good saves, this was the first image from a three image burst and was the best of the group but taken with the wrong camera.  I was shooting some close in action when one of the players got off a long chip pass that turned into an immediate goal shot by the receiving player.  This was shot with the 1DX Mark II and EF 70-200 f2.8 lens but from where I was positioned at that point I would have normally used the 1DX Mark III with its 400 prime but it happened so fast I didn't trust myself to raise the other camera up in time.


Location is critical in sports and I was out of position and dealing with a very sore arm which was the only side-effect of my second COVID shot so I am blaming the side-effect for not switching cameras when I should have done so 🙂 









EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

Another terrific action shot (soccer). Yes, good advice about trying C-RAW. I will definitely experiment with both (C-RAW and JPEG). I agree with your observation about being lucky to get "the shot". I had season tickets for an NHL team and I would marvel at numerous photographers shooting throughout the entire game but only ONE photo made it to the sports pages of the newspaper, Thanks again for your advice.

Most of us are not in a position to be able to afford the high end equipment that Rodger has.  Most of us are not even in the same talent level he has which is free. However, that said, IMHO, you did not select the best camera for the stuff you are wanting to shoot. Almost any of the Rebels like the T8i would be a better choice for instance, again, IMHO. 


At your NHL game how many M50's did you see the photographers use? Also, I realize you couldn't tell but I will tell you in all likely hood none use "Sport Mode" either.


OK that said in reality you have to use what you have.  Here is what I suggest you do.

Learn to use the Program AE, Shutter-priority AE, Aperture-priority AE and yes Manual exposure modes. You also have AE Bracketing which can be great.


Most of the time I recommend, and myself I use, Raw format. Th one case where I might not is high speed shooting. jpg here can speed up slower cameras or cameras with smaller buffers.


Lastly the lens and where you shoot from are the most important parts of this type work.  Location being the very most important part. Bleachers vs sideline, sideline wins every time!

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

The M50 has its strengths, but I agree that taking closeup action photos at a sports game is not a good match. However, i do have a Canon Powershot SX50HS with a 50X lens that works well. I have been getting good results with it. I was curious about some of the M50 modes and continuous/burst photos at 24Mb quality, and hence, my question. Thank you for your comments.

"The M50 has its strengths,..."


Absolutely!  Everybody is different with different expectations. It is all about what you expect your gear to produce and what you are happy with. If what you are getting is what you like and are satisfied with I am, and I suspect Rodger is to, all in for you. 


However, I am still going to push you in the more user controlled modes over Sport mode. Smiley Happy Go shoot some pictures and show some samples of your work, too.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

Yes, thank you.. I realize that Sports Mode is a template. I plan to shoot in M and control all the variables. A 10 year soccer game doesn't require the same shutter speed as a hockey player winding-up for a 100 mph slapshot. Thanks again for your response and encouragement.

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