So I shot some cheer again this weekend. This was just a one-day shoot and I popped an SD card in the body periodically to save some shots. I had an opportunity to put 7800 clicks on the 1D3, really putting the 1D3 through its paces. (I've written about my experiences with the 1D Mark III here and the 200 f2 as compared to the 200 1.8 here.
I'm very happy with both the Mark III and the 200 f2. Amazing pieces of machinery, both of them.
The shoot today was in moderately okay light. ISO 1250, f2, 1/640. f2.8 would have been tough. ISO 1600, 1/400th... the bare minimum of what would be acceptable. Last week was over a full stop brighter and more consistent too. Last week the whole stage was pretty evenly lit, maybe dropping a third of a stop at the back of the stage, and 2/3 to a stop off on the front corners.
Today it was like shooting under a spotlight. The center of the stage was nicely lit. The back dropped off my 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop. As they came up to the front of the stage, the lights were basically overhead, giving them the raccoon eyes look and making any skin texture or rib cages really stick out due to shadow. Not only this but the shadows were like at least 2 stops darker than the stage, so I just did what I could to not shoot the people at the front of the stage and snipe my way back to the people at the center. It makes my job much easier when I can shoot without having to worry about exposure compensation on each shot depending on location on stage, altitude (closer to lights is brighter, as long as you don't get out of the spotlight effect), and so forth. After a few hours though, you get a feel for it and know exactly what to shoot to get the shot you want, not to mention what shutter speeds are acceptable for static poses, tosses, tumbles, and so on. It becomes automatic.
Last week we had lights behind the cheerleaders as well which really helped give some rim lighting and definition to the shadows, but this week it was front lights only. It looks so much better, IMHO, with the rear lights as well.
It's nice shooting with a 200 prime. It's a fantastic focal length for cheer. At first it felt limiting to not be able to zoom out like I could with the 70-200 zoom when the girls got too close, but you just learn to shoot tight. It's one less thing to worry about and it saves your wrist from constantly racking the lens in and out. When I send the lens back, I may just tape down the zoom ring on my 70-200 when shooting cheer. :)
Ah well, .cheer. It's fun. Great energy and lots 'o yin.