Low Light Event Photography with the 1DX

Had a couple of indoor events for the Halogen Foundation, a charity helping produce the young leaders of the future. various speakers appear and speak on leadership.

Was a good tryout for the low light, high ISO and focusing properties of the 1DX. All in all it seemed to do pretty well!

I started off playing about with setting the ISO, but given changing lighting conditions and the darkness of the arena, compared to the stage, I wanted to control shutter speed and depth of field as much as possible. In the end, using the auto ISO setting was the easiest way to accomplish coverage of all the differing luminances. The values produced ranged from 3600 up to about 20000! Given the high end of this range, there was surprisingly little noise present in the images. Obviously it was there in the shadows, but given the ISO speed it was quite remarkable. What this did allow of course, was the ability to gain depth of field when needed and provide a shutter speed at which all shots on all lenses could be comfortably hand-held.

In terms of focusing in the dark arena conditions, sometimes the camera did flater, but given it was almost too dark to see the crowd, it was still impressive without and AF-assist beam of some kind. Fast glass helps of course, but even the best have their limitations - MF to the rescue.

In terms of white balance, I did start using the Tungsten setting, which worked well for the first event where the lighting was almost exclusively that. However the second event was an awful mix of Tungsten for the stage and low-light fluro and Tungsten on the audience. Talk about a rock and a hard place! In the end for those shots I just shot Auto WB, which gave a faithful rendering for most, but some required a tweak in Aperture afterwards.

In terms of pure WB for the stage lights, the Tungsten setting worked perfectly and colour was rendered very accurately.

The dynamic range of the 1DX was very large, which allows for beautiful gradation of tone in both the shadows and the highlights. This is definitely the best low-light camera I have ever used. When combined with f2.8 L lenses, I cannot hope for a better combination and provides the option of coming back with shots that would not have been possible before without supplemental lighting. the naturalness and colour rendition is second to none in the Canon stable.

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