There was no way to anticipate or time the fact that this quarterback was suddenly going to dive for the end zone. The best way to get this capture was to track him for the length of his short run which surprisingly ended with a dive.
Here is a clip from Scott Kelby on the importance of higher frame rates.
Here is an example of how I use the my frames per second to cover a running play in football.
Ok, now on to my suggestions for the best sports cameras.
Where Canon cameras and sports photography is concerned, the 1DX series (Mark 1 and Mark 2) are the cream of the crop. Essentially Canon took the best of what was offered in their 5D series of cameras and merged it with their 1D series of sports cameras and turned the 1DX’s into sports photography powerhouses. The focusing systems are the most advanced in any Canon cameras, the tracking ability, the weather sealing the frames per second, ISO sensitivity and the buffers are all the most advanced in the Canon lineup. For a beginner who has the budget for purchasing a sports dedicated camera, the 1DX series would be the best choice possible for a Canon shooter. For beginners who have the funds, I recommend to them purchasing the original 1DX camera instead of the 1DX Mark 2 only because of the price of the latter. While the 1DX Mark 2 is superior in autofocus performance, ISO sensitivity buffer depth, megapixels and frames per second, I still find the original 1DX to be more than adequate for any beginner. Given that even a used 1DX Mark 2 will cost you around $4,500 dollars and a used original 1DX about 2,500 dollars, I usually recommend the latter and putting money towards a lens if necessary. If money is absolutely no object, then definitely spring for the 1DX Mark 2. These are the creme of the crop of sports photography cameras for the Canon mount. Again if budget isn’t an issue, this is where I would start.
1DX BUFFER AND FRAMES PER SECOND TEST
If the 1DX cameras are out of your price range then my second recommendation is always a tough one but generally I recommend one of the latest Canon 5D cameras as a second recommendation for a sports photography camera. That’s is often in conflict with what would be my normal second choice which is the Canon 1D Mark IV. For anyone who will be primarily shooting in good to moderately good lighting the 1D Mark IV is what I would suggest. Despite it’s relative age, I still find it to be the best sports dedicated camera for the price, however since most novice sports shooters will be covering sports in relatively challenging situations where lighting is concerned, I usually recommend the 5D series.
Canon 5D Mark 3 and 4
The specific Canon 5D series cameras I would suggest are the Canon 5D Mark 3 and the Canon 5D Mark 4. Those cameras offer the great advantages of the full frame sensor image quality and really good low light performance as well as good action tracking systems. They are not the equals to the 1DX cameras (despite the advertising) but they are quite capable. Where they fall behind the dedicated sports photography cameras like the 1DX and even the 1D Mark 4 are in the area of buffer/processing power (especially for raw shooters), frames per second and overall build quality. The build quality and sealing aren’t as much of a concern for me with these cameras as the former mentioned items. The 5D Mark 3 shoots 5fps and the Mark IV 7FPS. If shooting in Raw on the 5D3 you will be able to shoot 18 Raw files before the camera freezes and 61 jpegs on average. The 5D Mark 4 averages 21 Raw and an option of nearly unlimited jpeg shooting. “Timing” is often used as a reasoning for the lack of need for higher frame rates and timing is certainly one aspect of sports photography, however there is a time that necessitates shooting a consistent succession of frames of a subject and no amount of anticipation will assist you in capturing all of those moments. With that said, sports is as much chance as it it strategy, so certainly anyone shooting 5-6 frames per sec will not be handicapped in capturing certain images, there will just be frames that are missed which may or may not be important ones. The 5D series offers you beautiful files and ones that can meet the challenge of low light situations if you are shooting with relatively fast glass. So for anyone who will be shooting sports in lower light situations consistently, the Canon 5D Mark 3 and Mark 4 are the cameras I would recommend. One advantage for sports shooters that the 5D Mark 4 has over the 1DX is the 30 megapixel sensor. It will allow you to crop the photos and still save a bit more resolution than you are able to in the 1DX's 18mp image or the 1DX 2's 20 megapixel image.
Currently the 5D3 is selling used for under $2,000 dollars. The Canon 6D Mark and 6D Mark II is sort of the little sibling of the Canon 5D series. It offers a similar image quality and high ISO ability to the 5D series but without the same tracking ability and buffer capability.
5D3 Frame rate and buffer test.
Just to give you an idea of what the frame rate and buffer capacity is of the 5D series
Canon 1D Mark IV
The Canon 1D Mark 4 is right below the 5D series for sports in my opinion and in good light, I would choose this one over any of the 5D cameras. The 1D Mark IV is an awesome camera that can hold it’s own with the aforementioned cameras but only suffers a bit in one area and that is in the higher ISO’s. I have shot with it comfortably at 8,000 to 10,000 ISO but after that the image quality begins to deteriorate without the need for some serious post processing. As a sports camera in good lighting it will offer as good or possibly better focusing than the 5D series and also offers more frames per second (10fps) and a better buffer for raw files than the 5D Mark 3. It is also a 1.3 crop sensor camera so it gives you the advantage of the crop sensor as well. It can also be purchased under $1,000 dollars online. I still use it frequently for football despite owning two of the 1DX cameras. If you think that you will be shooting in conditions that won’t demand more than 8-10,000 ISO, it will definitely deliver as your dedicated sports camera. I still own two of them and use them almost as frequently as my 1DX cameras.
To read more on why I recommend it click the link below