Brunei Darussalam


Badminton is the only sports I play well and I try to squeeze in at least a 3-4 games per week (usually in one session) which my partners and I normally manage just once a week. It’s hard enough to coordinate several people’s time on a sacred weekend to meet in court, it’s even harder to congregate outside of court for coffee. And this has been a busy week for me having woken up really early (4.30am) for the BEDB 4th Invitational Golf Tournament shoot at the Empire Hotel followed up a whole day of aerial photography from BSB to KB to BSB and to top things off, my amah (“domestic helper”) leaves for her month long vacation this evening. So I try to make the most of my time as humanly and as practically possible.

So, yesterday (technically, last weekend) it was another routine badminton session with the usual fellas with the addition of Alan whom you may remember from an outing with Gavin etc. Instead of another outing elsewhere, I thought it would be really cool to demonstrate the capability of the 5D Mark II’s AI Servo that I’ve recently come to discover—its ability to continuously track high and low contrast moving objects with such amazing accuracy itself became an object of fascination for me so I’m now on the quest to discover how much more (of challenging lighting conditions) I can push the technology. So here are shots of me captured by Alan on his 5DII, 24-105 f/4 IS between 1/125-1/160s at ISO 5000. I could have chosen ISO 6400 to get a slightly quicker shutter speed or had him use my 24-70 f/2.8 but no. One should practice with the equipment (however limited an inventory) one owns.



One of the most exciting and dramatic moments to watch in any badminton game is the jump smash and since none of my partners habitually jump it would be extremely unnatural for them to do so for the camera so once again I volunteered myself and set Alan’s 5DII for the shot. What this means for me is having seen the exposure capabilities of this camera even with an f/4 lens and a low light venue, a future assignment such a national tournament would fare better results providing the venue has better lighting. Speaking of which, I am keen to run a couple of Speedlites and put the Pocket Wizards to good use someday.


Considering the varying low light conditions of the BSRC badminton hall I am extremely pleased with the results and the amount of grain at ISO 5000 (even ISO 6400) is no big deal—easily reduced or even completely removed but at the expense of losing details. I converted these to a toned and tweaked black and white to remove the  unpleasing combination of green walls and brown floors.

So, are you a jumper?

26 thoughts on “I JUMP. DO YOU ?

  1. Jan, it’s likely that you can’t get this close during any national tournaments, try testing with something longer like a 70-200 and shoot from across the court. Nice shots nonetheless. 🙂


    1. Unfortunately yes unless the organiser allows setting up of a remotely triggered camera from the vantage point of the net. This is how I like my shots for badminton .. ultra wide and dramatic. Most newspaper shots are way too close to really capture the essence of the game. Just watch a tournament on TV and you know how exciting it is. A photo of a player standing there holding his racket does great injustice to the sport if his skills aren’t captured. When I set out to shoot this game, I wanted it to be dramatic and demonstrating the camera’s AI Servo ability was secondary.

      Members of ClubSnap where I also posted this highlighted that Canon DSLR’s AI Servo has always been good and my observation of the 5DII being “remarkable” isn’t a big deal. To some extend, that’s a fair observation and I should know .. I’ve owned 1DmkII, 20D, 5D and 5DII.


    1. The agony of defeat can be ugly. You don’t want to see! 😀

      I only wish I can apply this anti-gravity moment to good use in photography but seems current image stabilizing technology isn’t quite up to the mark yet!


    1. There isn’t much you can do with squash really. The rooms are small and where possible I would try a wide angle shot of the entire room or if the venue allows, a wider perspective of several adjacent rooms where simultaneous games are in session and shoot them in a slow shutter mode. The result if executed properly would be, the picture in my mind, great.


  2. Nice pictures. Yes I used to jump long time ago that is. I have not been playing badminton since last year, missed badminton. I ought to go back on court.


  3. Nice jump but Jan could have missed the shot after the jump. Any eye witness?
    BTW, your opponent gave you a nicely placed 3/4 court high shot right smack in the middle of the court for you to smash! How often does this kind of shots happen?


  4. OMG I LOVE badminton! Haven’t played it ages!! .. now I miss it lol I have never jumped… I guess I’m just not hardcore… who am I kidding.. I suck! lol but I love the game 🙂 great shots.


  5. Your photography is AMAZING!!! I found my way here through a comment you’d made about putting a Facebook badge on your WP blog. Still haven’t figured it out, but, as an avid amateur photographer myself (digital), would you mind telling me what camera & lens you use for your color and b/w photos? Thanks!

    Oh . . . actually I see where you’ve divulged your settings and camera for the b/w shots. How about the color? Thanks so much.


    1. Thanks THC! All photos that are published in this blog since the very first post (Nov 2006) were shot with EOS 20D, 5D and fairly recently, the 5DII and appearance of them are likely in that order of seniority too.

      Lenses I use are and they appear in no particular order of preference: 17-40mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm, 100-400mm, 50mm, 100mm Macro.The first three are the most used and I’m now looking at getting a second 5DII body—Yes, I like it that much! 🙂


  6. Hi Jan – (my name, too, but I’m a lady) for your camera and lens info. Sigh, perhaps one of these days! For now, I have my little Canon A720, which is barely sufficient, but I could afford it, and can pop it into my purse! 🙂


    1. Yes, it is considering the venue’s less than ideal lighting conditions. Some people argue that low light has little to do with the camera’s AI Servo capability. Some people argue that the camera’s AI Servo performance has nothing to do with the 5DII’s High ISO performance. Many I think have forgotten that having shutter speed without aperture and ISO produce nothing—the exposure triangle need to work in unison to produce a picture.

      My argument has been the combination of the EOS AI Servo and High ISO performance and accurate AF worked in unison to produce these photos. Granted, wide angle shots like these are easier to get right than say telephoto ones where understandably the slightest bit of movement either way throws the subject off its focal distance due to the shallower depth-of-field.

      Coming back to your question about player moving towards and away from the camera, I hadn’t thought about seriously shooting them that way. Reason being, to shoot the subjects moving forward and backward, one would have to shoot from an elevated vantage point else the net gets in the way. Sports along the lines of soccer, cyclists where the athletes tend to run in a linear fashion make better subjects than badminton and other ‘net’ sports.

      Besides, for this post I was really only after shots that convey the sport’s most dramatic moments—jump smashes. No doubt there are other interesting possibilities that do not involve jumping such as facial expressions of the players, body language .. all of which happen at a blink of an eye.


  7. I think for a jump smash, you would be moving vertically upwards. Therefore, you would always have the subject the same distance from the camera (give or take a foot or so). Would that be a good demonstration of AI servo? Granted that your intention to show the AI servo capabilities are secondary in these pictures.

    Badminton has a lot of diagonal movement on court in singles. From that particular shooting point, the player can have linear movement (relative to the camera). I am wondering how good is the 5D Mark II AI servo considering the low light + low contrast conditions. I have a 30D and wonder if the 5D Mark II AI servo can improve on this. Hence my particular interest here.


    1. The example I have here seems to be controversial to many. Before a jump smash happens, the player will have moved forward then backward and maybe in that time also abrupt side way movements moments before he/she makes the jump. The photographer will have begun to track his movements very early on in the hope of achieving focus lock so AI Servo could continue to track the subject.

      The 5D MK II is so popular I’m sure you’d be able to borrow one for some conclusive test shots. Like one poster who put a perspective in this discussion, no one would be allowed (other than the umpire) this close to the game so the more challenging shots realistically speaking would be those from a tele lens.


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