Stanley Cheah is a sports and events photographer who loves shooting landscape and street photography in his leisure time. He enjoys the adrenaline rush while capturing action images and speed photography. He has photographed many exciting sporting events such as the Singapore Formula 1 Night Race, Singapore International Triathlon, SCA TRI Nation T20 Series between Nepal and Zimbabwe, Brazil vs Nigeria football match and FINA Water Polo Challengers Cup 2019. In this article, Stanley shares a review of the new Canon EOS 90D  with shots captured from a few recent sporting events! 

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:

  • 5 Megapixel upgrade from 24 MP on Canon EOS 80D
  • 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

With the presence of the APS-C sensor, the Canon EOS 90D has made it easier for photographers to get closer to the subject by 1.6 times compared to a full-frame DSLR. Hence, it is a great camera choice for sport and wildlife photography. In this article, I will share photos that I captured with the new Canon EOS 90D at the following sports events:

  • Triathlon – Singapore International Triathlon
  • Football – Brazil vs Nigeria at National Stadium
  • Water Polo-FINA Water Polo Challengers Cup 2019
  • Cricket – SCA TRI Nation T20 Series between Nepal and Zimbabwe

Singapore International Triathlon

Shooting condition:

  • Time and light condition: Early morning and daylight
  • Challenge: Shooting participants competing in sports including swimming, cycling and running

Canon EOS 90D | f/8.0 | ISO 1600 | 1/1000s | Canon EF16-35mm F/4L IS USM

Canon EOS 90D | f/3.5 | ISO 100 | 1/1250s | EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Canon EOS 90D | f/2.8 | ISO 320 | 1/1000s | EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Canon EOS 90D | f/18 | ISO 100 | 1/15s | EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM

Unlike other DSLRs, Canon’s 3-inch vari-angle LCD touch screen allows photographers to be creative and shoot from any angle. The photos of triathletes running to the sea and swimming were taken with live view vari-angle AF tracking. I also tested the single point AF using an EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM prime lens and the results were amazing. The sharpness and bokeh effects were flawless.

Next, I tried out the panning technique. In the 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 now increased to around 50%. Both the cycling and running shots featured below were taken using the panning technique in scene mode.

Canon EOS 90D | f/9.0 | ISO 100 | 1/60s | EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM

Canon EOS 90D | f/3.5 | ISO 100 | 1/800s | EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Canon EOS 90D | f/2.8 | ISO 160 | 1/1000s | EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Besides taking action shots, I also used the camera to take some behind-the-scene pictures of the triathlon event. Some of my favourite scenes included athletes pouring water on themselves to cool down and volunteers cheering on the runners during the event.

Football-Brazil Global Tour at National Stadium

Shooting condition:

  • Time and light condition: Evening time under stadium constant flood light
  • Challenge: Capturing the ball in mid-air with unpredictable direction, and players accelerating or decelerating quickly

The Singapore National Stadium had great lighting to shoot with. Thus, I set the Canon EOS 90D camera to manual mode.

Locking the AF points during a football match was a challenge due to the unpredictable direction of the ball. Thankfully, understanding of the football game gave me the advantage to predict and anticipate the direction of the players and ball correctly.

In this match, all the attention was focused on the Brazilian players attacking the Nigerian goal post. I had shot the event using both EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM and EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lenses. With the advantage of the 1.6 times crop function on the Canon EOS 90D, the EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens can reach up to 640mm. I could easily shoot the action on the opposite goal post. Football superstar, Neymar Jr, was on the opposite side of the goal post when I captured him in action.

Majority of the actioned happened near the goal post near where I was positioned after the second half of the match.  I mounted my EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens to my Canon EOS 90D  which gave me a 112-320mm range reach. This enabled me to capture the equalizer shot by Brazil’s player no. 5, Casemiro, after a header from Marquinhos rebounded off the post.

Canon EOS 90D |  f/2.8 | ISO 1600 | 1/1000s | EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Canon EOS 90D | f/2.8 | ISO 2500 | 1/1250s | EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Canon EOS 90D | f/2.8| ISO 800 | 1/500s | EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM |

Canon EOS 90D | f/4.5 | ISO 4000 | 1/1250s | EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Water Polo-FINA Water Polo Challengers Cup 2019

Shooting condition:

  • Time and lighting condition: Afternoon, Indoor OCBC Aquatic Centre pool
  • Challenge: Require extreme high-speed shutter to keep up with the action as the AF easily went out of focus by water splashes

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

Canon EOS 90D  | f/2.8 | ISO 500 | 1/2000s | EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Canon EOS 90D | f/4 | ISO 3200 | 1/3200s | EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

I  took this opportunity to test the zone AF function to photograph the images above. 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.

Canon EOS 90D | f/4 |  ISO 2000 | 1/2000s | EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Cricket – SCA TRI Nation T20 Series between Nepal and Zimbabwe

Shooting condition:

  • Time and light condition: Evening time under the stadium’s constant flood light
  • Challenge: Capturing the ball in the air with unpredictable direction

Canon EOS 90D | f/5.6 | ISO 5000 | 1/800s | EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Canon EOS 90D | f/3.5 | ISO 6400 | 1/1000s | EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

The Canon 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 shade at the background. For this event, I took the images with an ISO between 5000 and 6400. Noise started to build up gradually if the higher ISO selection went beyond 6400.

All the images taken in this review were in JPEG instead of RAW to test the in-camera processing quality. I found that the crop sensor DSLR had no issue for sports photography and gives photographers an advantage for that extra reach. In conclusion, these are my personal favourite features of the Canon EOS 90D :

  • Rear touchscreen with a side pivot gives a lot more flexibility to capture shots from a high angle and an 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