Sports Photography Lens

pietastersdnd

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I'm very new to sports photography. I will be getting a canon XTI in the next few weeks. For the past few years I have used the Canon A95 point and shoot camera. I've always been an advanced user but you can only do so much with a point and shoot. I was hoping that some of you might have a few suggestions for a lens.

I am on a pretty tight budget so I cant really spend more then $1000. I was looking at the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM. I liked the focal lenght and read some great reviews. I am a little concerned about the aperture while shooting at a higher shutter speed.

Right now I would just be shooting for my own pleasue but if I can become a decent shooter I may start doing some professional work. I work for a large news service as a radio producer. In the past I have taken pictures that have been used for our photo service. I have access to a lot of major sporting events and the company would find it cost effective to have me produce and take photos.

I would greatly appreciate any suggestions from users. I've saved a long time for this new camera and I cant wait to get shooting.

Thanks!
 

JDS

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What kind of events will you be shooting? Indoors or out? Day or night?

That should be a nice lens for daytime events. At night or indoors, even with a high ISO setting, you may struggle some.

On the other hand, even with better (much more expensive) glass, it would be tough to get night shots unless you have pro-level (maybe some college) stadium lighting.
 

Big Mike

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Welcome to the forum.

Firstly, congrats on the new camera...it will be a world of difference better than your old camera.

Your concerns are well founded. F4 to F5.6 is much too small for the majority of sports type shooting. The 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS, is said to be a pretty good lens and Image Stabilization is a great tool...however...it will only prevent blur from camera shake. IS will not prevent any blur from moving subjects (which is what most of sports shooting entails).

If sports shooting is your primary purpose when choosing a lens...I would strongly suggest that you go with a lens that has a max aperture of at least F2.8. In this medium telephoto range, there is the 70-200 F2.8 L IS...it's the best tool for the job, but it's also expensive. There is a version without IS, which is cheaper...but IS will still come in handy in several situations...better to have it than not. One option would be the Sigma 70-200 F2.8, it's a pretty good lens and isn't as expensive as the Canon model.
Other options might be something like a 300mm F2.8 or 200mm (F2.0 I think).

To cover major sporting events, most photographers use long lenses with large apertures. Those lenses are very large and heavy, usually requiring the use of a monopod....and of course, they cost as much as small cars. However, if that's their job, it's a tool of the trade. Many of them probably don't own those lenses...but borrow them from the organization that they work for (news paper etc). Trying to compete with that, using your own gear...may be fighting a loosing battle.
 
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pietastersdnd

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What kind of events will you be shooting? Indoors or out? Day or night?

That should be a nice lens for daytime events. At night or indoors, even with a high ISO setting, you may struggle some.

On the other hand, even with better (much more expensive) glass, it would be tough to get night shots unless you have pro-level (maybe some college) stadium lighting.


Thanks for the help so far!

The majority of it would be outdoors during the day.
 
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pietastersdnd

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Welcome to the forum.

Firstly, congrats on the new camera...it will be a world of difference better than your old camera.

Your concerns are well founded. F4 to F5.6 is much too small for the majority of sports type shooting. The 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS, is said to be a pretty good lens and Image Stabilization is a great tool...however...it will only prevent blur from camera shake. IS will not prevent any blur from moving subjects (which is what most of sports shooting entails).

If sports shooting is your primary purpose when choosing a lens...I would strongly suggest that you go with a lens that has a max aperture of at least F2.8. In this medium telephoto range, there is the 70-200 F2.8 L IS...it's the best tool for the job, but it's also expensive. There is a version without IS, which is cheaper...but IS will still come in handy in several situations...better to have it than not. One option would be the Sigma 70-200 F2.8, it's a pretty good lens and isn't as expensive as the Canon model.
Other options might be something like a 300mm F2.8 or 200mm (F2.0 I think).

To cover major sporting events, most photographers use long lenses with large apertures. Those lenses are very large and heavy, usually requiring the use of a monopod....and of course, they cost as much as small cars. However, if that's their job, it's a tool of the trade. Many of them probably don't own those lenses...but borrow them from the organization that they work for (news paper etc). Trying to compete with that, using your own gear...may be fighting a loosing battle.

We do have our own photo department. I would assume they have a large variety of lens's. If I was sent on an asignment I might be able to borrow one from them.

I've read some good things about Sigma, how are they as a brand? Prior to reading these types of forums I had never heard of the company.
 

Coldow91

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Sigma makes very good quality lenses and they are often cheaper than Canon's equivalent without sacrificing that much quality.
 

Sideburns

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Sigma is great. Most lenses are slightly lower quality than Canon's, but who's aren't? lol.

Your money is well spent on Sigma glass, for sure.

the 70-200 f2.8 is a good investment...a 300mm would also be a good lens for you...
 

Deadeye008

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If you are shooting outdoors in good light I would suggest the Canon 70-200 4L. Very sharp, and the f/4 aperture should be sufficient as long as there is good light. It runs about $575 new but you could pick up a used one for $4XX. I love mine!
 

Big Mike

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If you are shooting outdoors in good light I would suggest the Canon 70-200 4L. Very sharp, and the f/4 aperture should be sufficient as long as there is good light. It runs about $575 new but you could pick up a used one for $4XX. I love mine!
Good suggestion. This is one of the sharpest zoom lenses on the market. The F4 aperture may be a limitation as the light gets dim...but in good light, it's would be a good option.
 

RyanLilly

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The canon 70-200 f4 as mentioned above or the sigma 70-200 f2.8 ~$900 if you need a bit more light.
 

JIP

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If you are shooting outdoors in good light I would suggest the Canon 70-200 4L. Very sharp, and the f/4 aperture should be sufficient as long as there is good light. It runs about $575 new but you could pick up a used one for $4XX. I love mine!
I think you might be over-estumating the capabilities of an f/4 lens. I had a field pass to a Steeler game and shot it with a rented 300 f/4. At the time I was shooting film and was ton betwen renting he 30 f/4 or the 80-200 f/2.8 I chose the length over speed and it was a big mistake. The lens was fr too slow eveunder the lights of a professional venue. I had taken 400 film and needed to push it to 1000 to get useable shutter speeds.
 

table1349

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I shoot a lot of sports and there are several lenses that are must haves at some point if you get serious about this.

For starting out in daylight outdoors stuff a 70-200 f2.8 is your best bet for price, focal length and useability. I use the Canon version, but when the local photography shop I buy from started stocking the Sigma the owner gave me one and asked me to take it and try it out. It was sharp, fast AF and pretty well constructed. At $900 I can't imagine that anyone could go wrong with that lens. I was very impressed. The only thing that was a bother to me is that the zoom ring rotates in the opposite direction from the Canon, and that just took a few minutes of getting used to.

The 300 f2.8 is a good intermediate length lens. It is also around $4000.00. The cream of the crop, IMO is the 400 f2.8. At $6500 it is not a lens just anyone will go out buy. But for me the extra focal length justifies the price difference. It is one sweet lens to shoot, but it does have a bit of a learning curve. It is probably the supreme football, soccer, track and field lens on the market.

If you decide to move indoors someday then fast is the key, Usually primes. My three favorite lenses for basket ball, volleyball and the little bit of gymnastics I shoot are the 50mm f1.4, 85mm f1.8 and the 135 f2.0L. All fast enough glass to allow for more controllable ISO's and all have very fast Auto Focus. If you can find an old 200 f1.8L it makes a great indoors lens with some serious reach, but they are going for around $3000 used.

Here are a couple of lens review sites geared towards sports.
http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Canon-Lenses/Canon-Outdoor-Sports-Lens.aspx

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Canon-Lenses/Canon-Indoor-Sports-Lens.aspx

Check out the rest of the site for reviews on other Canon lenses and Canon compatable lenses from Sigma, Tamron, Tokina etc.
 

DEANO914

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I too was in the same dilemma, I cold not decide what lens to buy. I truly wanted the eye grabbing "White Lens" but could not decide if I wanted to spend the extra $800 on the 70-200L 2.8 IS rather then the 70-200 2.8 non IS. As much as I wanted IS the cost was just a little above budget but RITZ was offering 10 months same as cash w/ $150 instant rebate on the IS version so I went for it and let me tell you I am one proud papa.

But if you are truly at a $1000 budget do not hesitate to buy the SIGMA 70-200 2.8. If you can spend about $200 more go for the CANON L 70-200 2.8 non IS you wont regret it.

I too considered the CANON 70-200 f/4 non IS but what really tossed it out was no tripod collar and to add one is like $130:stun:WOW! I shoot with a mono the majority of the time.

GOOD LUCK!
 

Trenton Romulox

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Here's a suggestion, get a zoom. No matter what. Get a zoom. I tried to use my 180mm prime Nikon f/2.8 lens for shooting hockey, it's tough to do. I'm selling it to get a 70-200 f/2.8 as soon as I can find one in stock. Primes are good and all, but they are really inconvenient when shooting sports.
 
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pietastersdnd

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Thanks for all the responses. I will have to look at sigma more closely.
 

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