Canon Lens for These Conditions?

stevietheb

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 15, 2004
591
0
Houston
As I posted in another thread, my wife recently bought a Canon Digital Rebel XTi. We're wanting to take a lot of sports photos (right now we're dealing with Friday Night Lights here in Texas). I can of have this lens picked out:

Canon EF 70-300mm F4-5.6 IS USM

Any thoughts on using this lens for sports photography? I'm especially interested in Canon's IS feature. We're on a serious budget (the $600 for this lens would be a MAJOR purchase)...but any suggestions are welcome.

Also, for shooting (a) outdoor at night under lights [Friday Night Lights again] and/or (b) inside in a gym [volleyball and basketball] should we be using some kind of filters?

We are total n00bs and would really like some advice...

THANKS
 

beavo451

macrumors 6502
Jun 22, 2006
483
2
That lens is not fast enough for Friday night lights. You need something 2.8 or faster.

Indoor basketball is even worse. Sometimes 2.8 lenses don't cut it and you need to go for a f/2 or faster lens. A 50mm f.18 or 1.4 can be useful if you are on the edge of the court and right next to the action. An 85mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 would be better. I know the Nikon 1.8 version is $400 while the 1.4 is $1100. I think Canon's pricing is similar. The 50mm f/1.8 can be had for $100. But, these lenses will not be long enough if you are in the stands and definitely are not long enough for football, even if you are one the sidelines. You would have to be lucky and have the action come very close to you.

If you are really itching to get good sports photos, practice during the day. Or you can rent a fast lens to experiment with.

The IS will help you hold the camera steady, but it will not allow you to get the fast shutter speeds to freeze action like a fast aperture lens will. Freezing action is critical, otherwise everything is a big blur and does not look good.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,427
139
Location Location Location
For indoor use at the gym, I'd say "no", there's not enough light. You might be OK though. It really depends on the gym.

I don't know about American Football and how much bright the lights are (I imagine they're brigh), the amount of light you get will be fine. You may take a high percentage of stinkers, but if 1 in 10 photos is a keeper, you're in business!
 

ChrisBrightwell

macrumors 68020
Apr 5, 2004
2,294
0
Huntsville, AL
f/4 is the absolute slowest you'll want to go under those lights. f/5.6 will be basically unbareable. Football moves quickly ... needs fast shutters. f/5.6 won't cut it.

Either get a few good primes or invest in the 70-200mm f/4 IS USM. If you're feeling like breaking the bank, get the f/2.8 IS USM.
 

sjl

macrumors 6502
Sep 15, 2004
441
0
Melbourne, Australia
Canon EF 70-300mm F4-5.6 IS USM

Any thoughts on using this lens for sports photography? I'm especially interested in Canon's IS feature. We're on a serious budget (the $600 for this lens would be a MAJOR purchase)...but any suggestions are welcome.

Also, for shooting (a) outdoor at night under lights [Friday Night Lights again] and/or (b) inside in a gym [volleyball and basketball] should we be using some kind of filters?
First thing to remember: IS only helps if you're handholding the camera. It will not help to stop subject motion, nor will it help if you're using a tripod. In the latter case, it can even ruin the shot - turn IS off whenever you're using a tripod. If you're lucky, the lens can sense tripod use and disable IS automatically (but I know that there are lenses that can't do that - I have one of them.)

Second thing to remember: sports photography is all about being able to freeze the action (possibly with a little bit of subject blur to suggest motion). This means fast shutter speeds. This in turn means a combination of high ISO, and/or wide aperture (image quality means you'd prefer wide aperture rather than high ISO).

f/5.6, in the context of sports photography, is slow. Doable in bright sunlight. Definitely not doable under artificial lighting.

As for the filters, I'd say probably not. The only filter I'd think might be worthwhile would be a circular polariser, and that only under bright sunlight; it probably won't do anything for the image if it's artificial lighting. You may need to adjust the white balance, though, depending on the type of lighting.
 

failsafe1

macrumors 6502a
Jul 21, 2003
621
1
Lens for football

You need the fastest long lens you can afford. The lens you mention is slow for football because at the longest focal length on the zoom it will be at F5.6. With high school night time football you are dealing with fast action and low (bad) lighting. With the digital rebel you have a 1.6 conversion factor so I think the 300 outer limit is overkill because this makes the 300 a 480mm 5.6 lens. You would be better off getting a 70-200 2.8 Sigma lens for $800 or even the 100-300 f4 lens would be a little better (not much) but it is the same price and you get the same 300mm length at a one f stop better. You can shop KEH.com in Atlanta and look for these lenses used and get a better price. I just looked and the 70-200 f2.8 Sigma is less than $700. With your Rebel the 200mm length is equivalent to 320mm and is a constant 2.8 instead of 5.6 or 4. The difference that 2.8 makes is two shutter speeds better than the 5.6 lens will give you. What this means is you have to shoot at 2.8 so you can get the fastest shutter speed you can shooting at ISO 800 or 1600. Shutter speed is the most important part of sports photography. If you don't stop the action you will get a blurred photo even if you have depth of field. DOF is less critical here because most everything will be at infinity so even at F8 or greater your DOF is only inches. Whew. Hope this helps. If you want more help drop me a note. I am a pro and happy to help.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,427
139
Location Location Location
Well, f/5.6 is ok if the lights are VERY bright. I believe so, anyway. If the lights are as bright as they are at the tennis courts near my home, I think he'd be more than good at ISO 800. If desperate, there's still ISO 1600, which is rather good on the Canons and most Nikons. :)

And if I can make another suggestion, I suggest the 70-200 f/4 as well. However, if you can get one used at B&H photo or keh.com, then do so. It's better than wasting $600 on a lens that doesn't do the job because that means you wasted $600.
 

stevietheb

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 15, 2004
591
0
Houston
Wow...thanks for all the feedback. Ridiculously helpful!

Question: I have heard that it is always best to buy lenses manufactured by the same company that manufactured your body. So, we've got a Canon, we should buy Canon lenses. How do these third-party companies compare (e.g. Sigma)?

Thanks again...this is great advice!
 

beavo451

macrumors 6502
Jun 22, 2006
483
2
I have never been to a sporting event with sufficient lighting to shoot at f/5.6 (Aside from daylight events). I haven't seen any nighttime sports photos shot at 4 or slower. Even then at f/4, you have to have extremely bright lights.

300 is not too long. It gets you nice and tight shots. I see shooters use 400s also (usually on a 1D MKII which = 520mm FOV.)

As somebody mentioned, f/2.8 will get two speeds faster than f/5.6. More correctly, it will get you two more stops. This is the difference between 125 and 500. Action can be blurred even at 1/400. 1/500 is the slowest to get good shots most of the time.
 

failsafe1

macrumors 6502a
Jul 21, 2003
621
1
3rd party lenses.

Wow...thanks for all the feedback. Ridiculously helpful!

Question: I have heard that it is always best to buy lenses manufactured by the same company that manufactured your body. So, we've got a Canon, we should buy Canon lenses. How do these third-party companies compare (e.g. Sigma)?

Thanks again...this is great advice!
I usually don't recommend 3rd party lenses but I have used all of them. I shoot Canon and Nikon (personal/work) and have found Sigma to be acceptable under all conditions. I have also used Tamron, and Tokina and certainly prefer Sigma of the three. Canon glass is great but for the 2.8 feature I would buy the Sigma any day!!
 

jlcharles

macrumors 6502
Mar 30, 2006
345
0
Wenonah, NJ
f/4 is the absolute slowest you'll want to go under those lights. f/5.6 will be basically unbareable. Football moves quickly ... needs fast shutters. f/5.6 won't cut it.

Either get a few good primes or invest in the 70-200mm f/4 IS USM. If you're feeling like breaking the bank, get the f/2.8 IS USM.
I was about to ask what the hell you were talking about. That lens must be new. I didn't know they had an f/4 IS.

Honestly, I don't see the point. The IS isn't going to keep you from getting motion blur from a moving subject.

The only reason I would get the IS on an f/2.8 is to get the weather sealing.
 

ChrisBrightwell

macrumors 68020
Apr 5, 2004
2,294
0
Huntsville, AL
I was about to ask what the hell you were talking about. That lens must be new. I didn't know they had an f/4 IS.
It's been since Photonika. :)

Honestly, I don't see the point. The IS isn't going to keep you from getting motion blur from a moving subject.
I want IS because I tend to walk up/down the field as the ball moves. Moving with a tripod or monopod is cumbersome at times and is liable to put me right in the line of a play at one time or another.
 

failsafe1

macrumors 6502a
Jul 21, 2003
621
1
Never shoot sports with tripod

Never ever under any circumstance bring a tripod to a public sporting event for sideline photography. That is an accident waiting to happen. Monopod or nothing. You can sling the pod over your shoulder with the lens pointed to the ground but the tripod is a deadly weapon with when you have dozens of shooters and players around you. WIth your previous post on IS lenses. These are nice but don't stop motion blur. Only camera shake. So you may get a nice sharply focused picture of a blurred object.
 

wheezy

macrumors 65816
Apr 7, 2005
1,280
1
Alpine, UT
A new lens for the mix

I own the 135mm F2 L Prime and would suggest that lens to no end. You could shoot wide open with it and get good clean shots, stop it down to 2.2 or 2.5 and you'll still have plenty of light available for a great crisp shot. The bokeh is incredible so you can isolate the action and just fade away the crowd.

So, you have super fast aperture you need for sport, and the right amount of zoom (216mm on the XTi). You can look around and find it between $800-$1000. More than the $600 you were wanting, but cheaper than the 70-200 2.8 (and a better lens if you ask me....)
 
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