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The Best Lens for Sports Photography

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Sports fans are among the most passionate photographers as they love to capture the action and emotion of sporting events.

You need to have a built-in instinct when to press the shutter in sports photography, but it also helps a great deal if you have a lens that can handle the speed of the action and if you know the best focal lengths to use.

In this post,we’re going to help you find the best lens for sports photography.


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The Best Lens Depends on the Sport

The type of lens needed will depend on the type of sport or sports you plan on shooting.

Also, a lot of the decision will depend on how close you’re able to get to the action and how close you want the images cropped.

Telephoto lenses are excellent for sports if you’re quite a distance from the action. However, there are also some other good options out there.

A fast lens is usually better for most sports. These lenses have wider constant apertures.

However, they can be expensive, such as a 70mm-200mm f/2.8 or f/4 model. These are known as fast lenses since you can use a faster shutter speed with a wider aperture such as f/2.8 and f/4. This allows you to freeze the action with a sharp, clear image. In addition, the wide apertures are constant no matter what your focal length is.

It will help if the camera or lens comes with an image-stabilizer option. This feature will help to cut down on camera shake when you’re holding the camera. Let’s face it, most sporting events aren’t really ideal for tripods. Some image stabilizers are so good they allow you to use slow shutter speeds and can still produce excellent images.

These are Some of the Best Lenses for Taking Sports Photos

Telephoto zoom lens

When you can’t get close enough to the action you’ll need to use a telephoto zoom lens which comes with a long focal length.

This will allow you to zoom in and fill your frame with the athletes.

If you’re not up in the rafters you may be able to use a 70mm-200mm lens.

A couple of good ones are the Canon EF 70mm-200mm f/4L IS and the Nikon AF-S 70mm-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II.

However, if you really are quite a distance away it’s recommended that you have a bigger telephoto zoom lens. Some good ones are the Canon EF 100mm-400mm f/4.5-5.6L, the Sigma 120mm-400mm f/4.5-5.6 OS, and the Nikon AF VR 80mm-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens.

Mid-range zoom lens

If you’re relatively close to the sidelines at a sporting event or concert you may want to try out a mid-range zoom lens.

This will enable you to get some close action shots as well as allowing you to capture some of the surroundings if you choose.

This is ideal for outdoor cycling races as well as marathons etc.

The surroundings can always provide the shots with context.

You have a wide choice of focal lengths with a mid-range zoom lens and it will save you the need of constantly changing them. The fast lenses are typically better such as the Canon EF 24mm-70mm f/2.8L, the Sigma 24mm-70mm f/2.8, and the Nikon AF-S 24mm-70mm f/2.8G ED. Also, a general 18mm-55mm lens is usually another good choice.

Wide-angle zoom lens

When you’re inside of a stadium or arena it’s a good idea to take some wide angle shots of the entire scene as well as focusing on the teams and individuals.

With a DSLR camera you can use a wide focal length of about 10mm-12mm.

If you have a full-frame camera you can try about 16mm-17mm. there are some good wide-angle zoom lenses on the market such as  the Canon EF-S 10mm-22mm f/3.5-4.5, the Tokina 11mm-16mm f/2.8,, the Sigma 10mm-20mm f/3.5, and the Nikon AF-S DX 10mm-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED. These lenses are also ideal for extreme sports including snowboarding and skateboarding.

Focal Lengths for Sports Photography

You may want to try these focal lengths for various sports as they’ll allow for good compositions

Arenas and Stadiums: 10mm to 17mm
Runners: 50mm
Skateboarders: 18mm
Football, soccer, rugby: 200mm
Tennis: 70mm to 100mm
Motorsports: 250mm
Baseball: 400mm
Cricket: 300

One Comment

  1. […] The Best Lens for Sports Photography – this basic outline discusses the various types and applications of lenses in a sporting environment.  All the key points are touched upon in this post, including focal lengths and aperture size, really helping to remove a bit of the mystery for those who are interested in diving into this style of photography. […]

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