Lens Advice for Rodeo Photography


TPF Noob!
Oct 28, 2015
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I have been shooting at a few local rodeo and rough stock events in our area. At the end of November I get to photograph a rodeo school and am needing some help in regards of what lens I should use. I have a Canon EOS Rebel T3. I have the 18-55mm lens that it came with, as well as a 75-300mm lens. While they both can get the job done, I'm really not a big fan of either and am sure there is something else out there I could use. Hoping to rent a lens and play around with some before I buy one. Any advice? I shoot mainly outdoor arenas, and the school will be outdoor, so the lighting is much better than indoor, obviously. I'm a newbie at this, so I'm still getting used to all the functions. That could also be something I need to do, adjust with the lenses that I have. Any and all advice is VERY welcomed!
Stock pro lens for so,so many events: Camera maker's current 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, meaning the relatively new Canon 70-200 L-series lens with Image Stablizer (IS) and ultrasonic focusing motor, USM, and the second incarnation, aka the Mark II. It is a fully-professional lens that is the stock in trade of many working pros and serious shooters. Focuses fast, gathers a lot of light, and has superb optics for a zoom lens, balances well when shot hand-held, and is just an all-around great lens for many types of fluid shooting situations. I would rent one of these, just so you can experience what a world-class zoom lens is all about. That would be my recommendation for a rental lens, so you could see first hand what a really fine, fine lens can do for you.

Beneath that are the earlier two f/2.8 Canon 70-200 models, one with,and one without Image Stabilizer technology, and the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 VC (and NOT the 70-200 Tamron "macro" zoom model, which was dog-slow on focusing).

The small,light 70-200 f/4 L IS USM Canon lens is nifty too; a friend of mine owns one. It balances fantastically on the smaller Canon bodies, and is affordably priced, and has the professional-level optics suitable for the new high-resolution sensors, but is one f/stop slower than the f/2.8 lenses. I would LOVE to own a new 70-200 f/4 with stabilizer, but have an older f/2.8 L IS USM that's still got probably a decade of life left in it for me and my uses.
Depending on your budget, the already mentioned 70-200 either in F/4 or F/2.8 is what's best.
I'll be buying the much cheaper 70-200 F/2.8 sigma in a few days hopefully, it's got stabilization and
it's even cheaper then the F/4 Canon with IS.

On the other, cheaper hand, the 55-250IS which I own now is A LOT better already then the 70-300
that you currently own. I also own a cheapo body, a T2i.
Thank y'all for all of this information! I'm a noob and really appreciate your taking the time to pass along your camera wisdom! I'm going to rent the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II, as I think it will give me a great range, from what you both spoke about it, and I can stay out of the way of the guys as they buck horses. Many thanks!!
Derrel and DB have pretty much covered everything here. However you mentioned "stay out of the way", you may also consider the Canon 300mm f/4.0. It will allow you to shoot from further back and still fill the frame. It's less than $1400 from B&H. I have used it some and would love to have one in my "stable".

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