70-200 F2.8 or F/4 IS for motorsports

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by richard_martin|10, Sep 13, 2010.

  1. I'm making some changes in my bag in the next week or so and wanted to get a bit of input on what I know is a subject thats been talked to death! What I'm interested in is people that have shot motorsports or any other high speed sports with the non IS 70-200 2.8 and/or the IS F/4 70-200. I'm curious about how much more accurate the auto focus becomes with the center focal point being more sensitive with 2.8 lenses. I've shot with a 2.8 and haven't really noticed much if any difference. I'm very happy with my non IS F/4 but I'm going up to a 50D so I'm thinking the far better resolution of the IS F/4 may be a better way to go. What do you guys think? Thanks in advance for everyones help.
  2. You're seldom going to shoot motorsports at f/2.8 except for special effects and mainly in the paddock. I use the f/4 as a wildlife lens, with and w/o the 1.4x TC and it works great. IME, birds are way faster than cars and motorcycles. You'll have no trouble at all with the AF on the f/4. BTW, bokeh is excellent with the f/4 wide open, but I'm normally shooting at f/4 or f/11 to get enough DOF.
    If you're considering a new body, then look at the 7D vs. the 50D. There'll be times that you'll really long for the 8-fps capacity of the 7D. When a car goes off track or there's a spin, you'll want the 8-fps and it really works.
  3. IME, birds are way faster than cars and motorcycles.​
    That's an unusual viewpoint. What do you mean by that, David?
  4. FWIW, I shoot with the 100-400 f/4-5.6 IS and agree with David that you will seldom shoot much motorsports below f/4 except for effects on static subjects.
    I do use a 50D, but would agree that if a new body is in the mix, the 7D would be the better option.
    I'm for the IS as the majority of shots will be hand-held.
    I have nothing to reasonably compare the AF differences (using the center focus point) between an f/2.8 and f/4 lens other than my 100mm f/2.8 Macro which I don't think would be a relevant comparison.
    My Canon 1.4X TC coupled with the 100-400 does not AF on the 50D. I don't think it would on the 7D either. About the only time I use the TC these days is when I break out the film EOS 3, even then the TC slows AF and is noticable in shooting action sports.
  5. I've been shooting motorsports for years as a spectator but more recently have been credentialed and have been shooting next to a lot of pros. Most of them use the 2.8 but I can never figure out why as it really is a portrait lens. When asked why they just say thats the lens to use, no specific reason other then "its fast". If you look at my results from the F/4 you wouldn't necessarily agree with the 2.8 philosophy. I would never shoot cars on track at 2.8 unless it was dusk, and the weight of the lens can be an issue when you are hoofing it around tracks that can be as much as 4 miles.....I did it for several races and it wasn't fun! As far as 7D vs. 50D the burst rate is not a selling point for me as I shoot mostly one shot or bursts of 2-3 at most depending on the speed of the cars, I find my 40D is more then capable, but I got a 50D on an estate sale so why not? My feeling is the F/4 IS version with rave reviews of spectacular resolution would make a better match to the 50D. Just looking for as many opinions as possible. Heres a link to some of my stuff..... http://lastturnclub.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=733&Itemid=66 These shots were taken with a 40D and 70-200 F/4L non IS and 300 F/4L non IS which has been sold.
  6. I never thought about it, but what David says makes sense -- about birds being faster than cars. A bird will fly one body-length much faster than a car will travel one car-length. Heck, I think the fastest birds can fly (or at least dive) at speeds well over 100 mph. What's more, they've got pretty rapidly fluttering wings.
    You can pan pretty easily on a car. The 70-200/4IS has a panning stabilization mode (mode 2) that's useful for this. I assume the same is true of the 2.8 version.
    The 70-200/4IS is very slightly sharper than the 70-200/2.8IS, but I wouldn't characterize it as having "far better resolution."
    I would think either lens would work fine for auto racing, but I have no experience in that area.
  7. it relates light condition u are going to shot.
    F4 will be no question to enjoy more sharp C-C image F4IS brings in bright daylight.
    In low light condition when pushing ISO to the extreme,sometimes one stop means bluring away.(1/100 upto 1/200).But I recommend 135L here to claim another stop faster/better image quality/fast focusing out of 70200 2.8
    another details should be noticed is,F4 IS have much better image quality between 135-200mm,also it's optimized for shooting tele subjects comparing 2.8 ones.IS is another superiority for tele photography.
    the down side is,EOS DSLRs need F2.8 wide open to function cross type focusing point,that means F4 IS could be focusing somehow shilly-shally in low light/low contrast situations.
    All in all,F4 IS is a better choice in general situations.While 135L or wallet scratching 200 F2IS is to be considered if u shoot in lowlight in most cases
  8. Michael, your right, I wasn't clear.
    The "apparent" speed of the subject through the viewfinder has much to do with the size of the subject, the distance from the camera to subject and the focal length of lens required to fill the frame and whether or not the subject being followed is moving smoothly or changing direction unexpectedly. For instance, with a mallard duck, moving at 30-mph, you need a 400mm or 500mm lens and the bird is not following a predeterminded path. With a car going around a track, whether in a tight corner at 50-mph or coming up a staight at 150-mph, the car is following a predetermined track and can fill the frame with a 200mm lens. Hence, shooting racing cars is EASY compared to shooting birds in flight.
  9. Wang, seldom are you going to "... push ISO to the extreme..." for outdoor racing photography. Even in the rain, at ISO 800, you'll be able to get S/S of 1/500th or faster with an f/4. Most of the time, in full sun or overcast, you'll be shooting at ISOs like 200 or 400 to get 1/1000th and above. The f/2.8 was a big deal when we were shooting Ektachrome, but the latest generation of cameras really give great IQ at least up to ISO 800 and some, like the 5D MkII, are exceptional up to ISO 3200 and even 6400 in the right conditions. Just don't underexpose and the noise will be minimal. My 7D is excellent up to ISO 1600 and I've even achieve "good" results up to ISO 6400. My 5D2 is even better.
  10. Just to clarify and eliminate any other lenses coming into play, I am looking for a comparison of the 70-200 2.8 non IS vs. 70-200 F/4 IS. I'm not considering any giagantic apertured/priced primes. My primary interest is if the 2.8 is noticibly faster and more accurately focusing then the f/4, and opinions about image quality. Thanks, Rich
  11. One more thing......seldom do I shoot above 1/1000 and thats only for head on shots. I prefer 1/500 or so since that give you movement on the wheels, otherwise the car looks like its just sitting on the track! Comparisions to birds are interesting, while they are not as fast as the cars they are much smaller.....otoh I've been to several tracks where the cars are moving so fast that its very hard to catch them regardless of shutter speed or equipment.
  12. For me the major difference is the ability of the IS lenses to accurately pan in Mode 2. If you can follow the action you will be rewarded.
    Nitro cars are known to be very fast accelerating and unpredictable. At the light both drivers hit the accelerator. The top car bogged. I just followed the action the best I could. The shot was at 1/100 sec.
    I haven't noticed any difference in focusing speeds because of the upgrade in cameras when I went from the non-IS f/2.8 to the IS f/4.
  13. Nice shots Marc.
  14. Thanks.
    I should have mentioned that the bottom shot is a crop of the top shot. I am amazed at how much detail can be found in these shots. I have printed to 13x19 in. and can see added detail in the print when using a loupe. This is with a 12 MP camera. I think a lot has to do with having a steady platform by using IS.
  15. David, I was talking about low light sport or stage shooting,and considering richard here is using 50D of which extreme ISO i/o image quality is around 1600 in my understanding ;)
    BTW,yr 1/500 theory is good advice
    Marc,good job!
  16. I enjoy watching motorsports not shooting them so much, but after reading this am I to understand the following?
    In night motorsports, the IS will aid in panning while having a slower shutter because of a smaller aperture and less light? (in the case of the f/4 IS at least)
  17. I've shot everything in motorsports for 30+ years. Panning, exposure and knowing where to shoot during a race are the most important skills. Birds may be small and hard to fram but they don't go 0-100mph in 60 feet or go 300+ mph.
    When the media van isn't around I pack my gear, 10-20 miles over a road race weekend is not uncommon. I've shot over 70K photos with the 70-200 f/4L. It's light, handheld panning is a joy and AF & IQ is great.
  18. I've shot both birds in flight and race cars. Birds are much harder for a number of reasons, particularly since you don't know which way they'll go next. Almost all the time the cars stay on the track. Bird do go zero to 40 in 60 feet and might change directions twice while doing it.
  19. They are different but potentially vexing AF problems. Motorsports have extremely high closure rates, a challenge for the camera electronics. Tracking and framing a pair of dogfighting swallows is a challenge for the photographer, let alone holding the AF reticle on target.
    At any rate, the OP question was about motorsports and the Canon 70-200 in particular. The choice of which specific version from among the many is a strictly one of economics only in my opinion, since hauling and shooting even the heavy f/2.8 IS II all day is entirely feasible. You only need a good monopod and a good carry strap. I heartily recommend the Manfrotto 685B Neotec for its quick deployment, and a Black Rapids or Sun Sniper across the shoulders type strap. I use a QR2 plate on the tripod ring to quickly mate it to the monopod, and just leave the camera clipped to the strap.
    Shooting even the lighter f/4 versions offhand is a bit adventurous in my mind, and a waste of their highly refined optics. I can't really help with the OP question, except to say I don't hesitate at all to select the off-center f/4 AF points if they are more appropriate for the anticipated framing or composition. My experience is with a 7D and the f/2.8 IS II. I do feel IS is indispensable, regardless of shutter speed.
    Given all that, the f/4 IS is a good compromise, although I wouldn't curse the fates or feel limited if I had one of any of the others to use. All are fine lenses. The newest f/2.8 IS II delivers casually observable better contrast and is much less prone to lens flare, but at double the price and a noteworthy penalty in bulk and weight.
  20. Michael said:
    "Shooting even the lighter f/4 versions offhand is a bit adventurous in my mind, and a waste of their highly refined optics"
    I'm not sure that I understand what you mean here. Are you saying that handheld in lower light that the f/4 might be less than ideal, or do you mean something else?
    Not to argue, but I shoot my 70-200 f/4L IS handheld most of the time. S/S is usually up above 1/250-second, but for still subjects, thanks to IS, it does very well at lower speeds. I even shoot a lot of macros handheld with the 1.4x TC attached. If the light is low and I need to cut the S/S or need a small aperture to get the required DOF, then the tripod comes out.
  21. I have no argument with what you say, David. I also shoot long lenses handheld on occasion and get usable shots. The concern for motorsports is both a steady hold, usually some long moments in anticipation of the action, and then a smooth pan. Bracing the support elbow (which is by definition no longer off hand) gets a stable hold, but can be problematic for the pan depending on what you find close by. The monopod solves both problems, but only if used habitually, which to me means adjusting height quickly and easily without messing with the typical clips and locks. The Neotec monopod is the only one I know that adjusts without taking my shooting hand off the camera. Hence my recommendation for that specific monopod, and also IS.
  22. After shooting both birds and motorsports for years, I find that the skill set for both is the same. Which one is harder? For me the question is moot since both offer shooting opportunities beyond my ability. No, actually bird photography is much harder since you have to be on site in the freezing cold before dawn. And have you ever worked under a rain of goose poop? There's a distraction. The worst is putting up with other bird photographers.. what a bunch of wack-o's.
    f4 or 2.8? Weight is a big, big issue with me, especially around 2 PM. Hoofing it around the track all day, with a trip back to the car for lunch, given that I'm carrying much more than one lens, every pound counts. And like others have said, I rarely shoot wider than f8.
    OTOH, the f2.8 will give you a brighter viewfinder. Helpfull when things are happenning fast.
  23. "What I'm interested in is people that have shot motorsports or any other high speed sports with the non IS 70-200 2.8 and/or the IS F/4 70-200. I'm curious about how much more accurate the auto focus becomes with the center focal point being more sensitive with 2.8 lenses."
    Richard, I basicly understand it as follows. The F-Stop is not important when panning, because I usually use 1/500-1/100 cars, 1/100-1/60 helicopters to make the turning stuff turn. We are lucky that as the camera increases the F-Stop to compensate for correct exposure due to fixed 1/x -speed, the background blurr nicely falls into place, so a DOF choice is of no matter.
    As for the sensitivity at 2.8 I understand it as follows.The type of camera playes a major role here, for example on the same lens of F2.8 , cameras will focus better as their classification goes up, considering an Amature Camera compared to a semi-professional camera, compared with a professional cameras.In my case the 30D/40D was a big jump at 2.8 from the 350D.I'm not sure if current amature cameras(Latest) has become better in this particular respect.​
  24. I've shot birds and motorsports with the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS, with and without the 1.4x TC, on a 7D and at 5D MkII and AF is simply not a problem. I don't know about the performance on the 30D/40D.

Share This Page