Lights, camera, action! Find out how lens guru Howie Choo captured immaculate action sports shots in a studio using his powerful Canon EOS-1D X full-frame DSLR and high-performance EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens.

Shooting for sports action indoors

I was excited when an educational institute contacted me to do a photoshoot for their sports department. Doing an indoor sports action photoshoot with studio lighting strobe setup was something that I’ve always wanted to do. The combination of high power studio strobes and low indoor ambient light would produce highly contrasted, and dynamic images.

<img src="chinese drums.jpg" alt="chinese drums">

Canon EOS-1D X | Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM | ISO 125 | F/8 | 1/250s

Setting up for the photoshoot

On the day of the shoot, my crew and I arrived well beforehand to set up. It was imperative that we came prepared with the entire studio set up –  backdrop, studio lights, light stands and accessories, computers and wire extensions. Having in mind how we wanted the photo to turn out, we went straight to work on setting up. The set up consisted of a black backdrop with 2 X mono lights acted as kicker lights and the other was the main light. My trusted Canon EOS-1D X with the Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM was all fixed up – lightning quick AF and minimum shutter lag was the main consideration in using this gear combination.

<img src="badminton.jpg" alt="asian playing badminton">

Canon EOS-1D X | Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM | ISO 125 | F/8 | 1/250s

<img src="softball.jpg" alt="asian playing softball">

Canon EOS-1D X | Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM | ISO 100 | F/5.6 | 1/800s

Striking the winning poses

Many of these poses were built upon their original ideas, but we had added other elements to make it more visually appealing. For example, some sports like Wushu had poses that scored well in competitions, hence the athletes were keen to show off these poses. However, some winning poses did not look good in photos. This led to multiple discussions between the athletes and our team to achieve the best win-win photo. In sports studio photography, the action and sequences performed by the talent would make or break the shoot.

<img src="wushu.jpg" alt="asian wushu">

Canon EOS-1D X | Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM | ISO 125 | F/8 | 1/250s

<img src="wushu.jpg" alt="asian wushu">

Canon EOS-1D X | Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM | ISO 125 | F/8 | 1/250s

Since many of them had never done a photo shoot before, it is necessary to get them to relax in front of the camera. The constant talking, motivating and getting them to share their inputs with helped to achieve the best photos where their poses and expressions were natural.

<img src="basketball.jpg" alt="asian playing basketball">

Canon EOS-1D X | Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM | ISO 125 | F/8 | 1/250s

With all the lights at full power, we were shooting at f/8.0, ISO 125 and 1/250 sec. Images captured by the Canon EOS-1D X full-frame sensor were sharp and crisp. Even on fast motion stunts like the Karate Flying Kick, our subject was completely frozen in the frame.

<img src="karate flying kick.jpg" alt="asian karate flying kick">

Canon EOS-1D X | Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM | ISO 125 | F/8 | 1/250s

<img src="karate.jpg" alt="asian karate">

Canon EOS-1D X | Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM | ISO 125 | F/8 | 1/250s

Pairing the Canon EOS-1D X with the reliable and versatile Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM offered high-speed and accurate AF capability. Nailing sharp focus on such fast action in a studio’s low ambient light condition was no small feat, but the gears handled the task admirably. Coupled with the world’s shortest shutter lag on the Canon EOS-1D X, capturing the ultimate peak action in one frame was a lot more probable. I also liked how the lights accentuated the details of the subjects’ expressions and textures of the outfits.

<img src="volleball.jpg" alt="asian playing volleyball">

Canon EOS-1D X | Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM | ISO 125 | F/8 | 1/250s

It’s a wrap!

We managed to shoot 7 different sports, 30 talents, and up to 400 images. Those who are interested in indoor studio sports photography should start with learning the basics of studio photography.

Extra attention should be given to the setting up of lights. Reading up beforehand about the sport that you are about to shoot helps too.

Check out the new EOS-1D X Mark II – Canon’s full-frame flagship DSLR equipped with a 20.2MP full-frame sensor, AF/AE tracking capabilities combined with a shutter durability of 400,000 cycles and a dust and drip-proof body that raises the bar in sports photography!