Need help with what lens to use


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Jan 8, 2012
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Hey guys new to the forum, I mostly shoot cars and stuff like that. So in the summer I have a big event coming up, and need to decide what lens to rent or buy. The cars I will be shooting are professional race cars. There speeds can reach 300+ MPH. I need a lens that will react to the fast shutter speed, and still is a great quality pro looking pic. I also will be shooting the event at night and I have a 580 EXII and was wondering how I should set it up and what mode. I'm new to photography and not so good at night photography. Please help lol.
You'll probably need a 70-200mm f/2.8L II or even a 300mm f/2.8L II for night time shooting. As well as a camera body that can handle ISO well. You might consider the 1D line. The 1D Mark IV should probably do the trick, as well as have a fast AF system to keep up with the cars.
You need to learn a few new tricks to shoot races at night like this. High speed sync would be one. Your flash normally stops motion, but in this instance it's not going to be enough flash to stop the motion, so you will need to be using a shutter speed that is faster than your sync speed of 1/250. Hence the High Speed Sync or rear curtain sync flash.

Second would be panning-you are going to have to learn to move the camera with the focus in AI Servo and locked onto that car. Those cars come through so fast that there just plain isn't a chance for any lens to lock focus on it. You can pre-focus at the middle of the lane you will be shooting and that will work beautifully. Panning will give you the blurred effect of the side lines and give you more of a feeling of that very fast speed. If you get fairly good at panning you can shoot at a much slower shutter speed and won't need flash. That would probably be how I choose to shoot this particular event.

You obviously shoot Canon seeing how you have a 580EX II. What camera body are you working with?

Depending on how close you can get I'd guess a 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM II is going to be what you need. The lens doesn't need to react to the fast shutter speed, it needs to have a good, fast focus motor. Anything that says Macro on it is definitely out of the question. Macro lenses focus slower.
If you are able to be close-track side or infield on a circle track-you may want a 24-70 f/2.8L.
Hey guys thanks for the input. It was all wonderful advice. So many people told me to use that lens for at night,so I will rent it when it comes time. I shoot with a canon T3i
Actually you will need to rent it a couple times before the event to learn how to use it in the situation you described. Otherwise I'm not sure it is worth renting.
Thanks cloudwalker i didnt even think about that lol. I will rent it sometime soon so i can play around with it a little, You guys have been nothing but great help thank you.

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