Sports and events photographer, Stanley Cheah, has photographed many exciting sporting events such as the Singapore International Triathlon, SCA TRI Nation T20 Series between Nepal and Zimbabwe, Brazil vs Nigeria football match and the FINA Water Polo Challengers Cup 2019, and this time, he’s got the new Canon EOS 90D to accompany him.

In this article, Stanley takes us through his experience of photographing these sporting events with the Canon EOS 90D, and shares some handy tips for sports photography. Read on to find out more!

1. How was your experience with the Canon EOS 90D?

Compared to a full-frame DSLR camera, the Canon EOS 90D sports a 1.6x crop factor APS-C sensor, giving you the advantage of capturing more “zoomed in” images, perfect for sports photography.

Singapore International Triathlon

Canon EOS 90D | f/3.5 | ISO 100 | 1/1250s | EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Singapore International Triathlon

Canon EOS 90D | f/8.0 | ISO 1600 | 1/1000s | EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

The 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen LCD display gives me the freedom to explore creative perspectives and shoot freely from any angle. Thus, I was able to comfortably capture the triathletes running to the sea and swimming with the live view vari-angle AF tracking.

Singapore International Triathlon

Canon EOS 90D | f/2.8 | ISO 320 | 1/1000s | EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

I also tested the single point AF using an EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM prime lens and the results were amazing. The sharpness and bokeh effects were flawless.

In order to test the in-camera processing quality, I took all the images in JPEG instead of RAW format and must say I am impressed.

2. How do you suspend the fleeting moments at sporting events? 

Brazil vs Nigeria Football match

Canon EOS 90D | f/4.5 | ISO 4000 | 1/1250s | EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Locking the AF points can be challenging especially during a football match due to the unpredictable direction of the ball and quick acceleration and deceleration of the players. Thankfully, my understanding of the football game gave me the advantage to predict and anticipate the direction of the players and the ball correctly.

This was the same with water polo, where an extreme high-speed shutter was required to keep up with the action as the AF easily went out of focus due to water splashes.

FINA Water Polo Challengers Cup 2019

Canon EOS 90D  | f/2.8 | ISO 500 | 1/2000s | EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

When the event started at 3pm, there was a light ray penetrating into the pool and I took the opportunity to use the single-point AF to lock the player facing my direction.

FINA Water Polo Challengers Cup 2019

Canon EOS 90D | f/4 | ISO 3200 | 1/3200s | EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

I also tested the zone AF function and the subject was easily in focus as there were 9 active points. When there were too many water splashes, I changed back to single-point AF to lock the subject and shoot easily.

3. What are your favourite lenses to use at sporting events?

Brazil vs Nigeria Football match

Canon EOS 90D |  f/2.8 | ISO 1600 | 1/1000s | EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM

At the football match, all the attention was focused on the Brazilian players attacking the Nigerian goal post. I shot the event using both EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM and EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lenses. With the advantage of the 1.6x crop factor on the Canon EOS 90D, the EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens can reach up to 640mm. Thus, I could easily shoot the action on the opposite goal post.

Brazil vs Nigeria Football match

Canon EOS 90D | f/2.8| ISO 800 | 1/500s | EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Majority of the action happened near the goal post near where I was positioned after the second half of the football match. I then mounted my EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens to my Canon EOS 90D, which gave me a versatile 112-320mm focal range. This enabled me to capture the equalizer shot by Brazil's player no. 5, Casemiro, after a header from Marquinhos rebounded off the post.

4. Any interesting features on the Canon EOS 90D?

Singapore International Triathlon

Canon EOS 90D | f/18 | ISO 100 | 1/15s | EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM

I tried out the panning technique across various modes. In normal mode using a slow speed panning, the success rate of capturing an amazing shot is around 30%. With the panning mode now available in scene mode, the success rate has increased to around 50%. Both the cycling and running shots were taken using the panning technique in scene mode.

Singapore International Triathlon

Canon EOS 90D | f/9.0 | ISO 100 | 1/60s | EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM

5. How is the Canon EOS 90D better than your other cameras?

SCA TRI Nation T20 Series between Nepal and Zimbabwe

Canon EOS 90D | f/3.5 | ISO 6400 | 1/1000s | EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

The EOS 90D has improved in many aspects from speed and AF tracking, to low light performance. Previously, when taking photos at night without a tripod, I would not select an ISO more than 3200 in order to prevent noise and dark shades in the background. With the Canon EOS 90D, I was able to take the images with an ISO between 5000 and 6400 at the SCA TRI Nation T20 Series. Noise started to build up gradually only if the ISO selection went beyond 6400.

6. What did you like most about the EOS 90D? 

These are my personal favourite features of the EOS 90D:

  • Rear touchscreen with a side pivot gives a lot more flexibility to capture shots from a high angle or extremely low angle
  • Reliable live view shooting with Dual Pixel AF system
  • Image details after cropping are still with an acceptable quality
  • Superb battery life

About the Canon EOS 90D: 

The Canon EOS 90D is a new mid-range APS-C Crop sensor DSLR, and the successor of the Canon EOS 80D. Some of its updated features include the following:

  • Upgrade to 32.5 megapixels
  • Auto AF point selection -EOS iTR AF (Face-priority)
  • 10 fps through finder shooting upgrade from 7 fps on Canon EOS 80D
  • New 8-way multi-controller joystick

Learn more about the Canon EOS 90D.