Canon T2i and Canon 70-200 2.8 for football

Discussion in 'Sports' started by qcgraphx, Jul 25, 2017.

  1. Hello, I'm completely new here and was hoping to call on you all for some advice for a total novice. I have a Canon Rebel T2i that I got as a present and I'm looking to do some sports photography with it. My question is I'm looking into purchasing a 70-200 2.8 to take football pictures here in North Carolina. What, if any, are the problems I will face using it? I have seen the FPS should be at least 4, and my T2i is rated for about 3.7. Will it be possible to get the crisp shots I'm looking for with my old T2i or will I be forced to upgrade in order to get the shots I'm looking for? Any help would be tremendously appreciated. Thank you from a total and complete novice.
  2. I am not a Canon user nor much a sports photographer (but have done some), so I won't go too much into the specifics of your camera.

    There are several issues with sports photography which make it difficult to get right, and the key issue is: things move all the time.
    - Ideally, you need autofocus that can acquire focus quickly, and refocus (or better yet, track it) quickly. Entry level cameras usually have their limits there.
    - You need to keep the shutterspeed up to eliminate movement. Consider times of 1/500th of a second, and faster.
    - A high framerate (FPS) can help shoot sequences (to reduce the risk of missing the moment), but it's at least as important to know the sports, its rules and anticipate those moments. So, high FPS is welcome, but possibly not a must-have.

    The first two points are both greatly helped with a lens with a big aperture, like the 70-200 f/2.8 you consider. So, that lens sure would be a solid choice. The problem with these lenses, apart from their pricetags, are weight and size. Unless you shoot from a tripod or monopod, you need to train a bit at handholding. At 200mm, your own movements will be clear enough, so it matters to stand stable, calm breathing and support the lens well (rest your arms on your chest).

    The issue with the shutterspeeds is the available quantity of light. For daylight outdoor sports, not a big issue (ISO400 or 800 on your camera will look good, and be enough to always give you fast shutterspeeds). But in the evening, light levels drop fast and stadium lightning may be less than expected. So, check how good your camera performs with higher ISOs as well.

    As you indicate to be a novice, I'd first just get started. Give it a try, and see what problems you run into. The first few times, the images won't yet be great, it may take some time to get the hang of things. Remember that good gear helps, but ultimately it is about the skill of the photographer, so do take your time to learn, read up on tips, tricks and photographic theory - good knowledge is a more important foundation.
  3. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    The “problems” to get the images that you want will likely be:

    > your general inexperience with Sports Photography

    > depending upon your Camera Viewpoint (where you can stand with your camera), the lens might not be long enough for all your shots, thus some images will require substantial cropping

    > depending upon your mobility (i.e. if you can run up and down the sideline), you’ll be restricted as to the type of shots you can get

    > your knowledge of the game and thus your anticipation of the play, (to know when to release the shutter) and that will depend a little bit upon the code of football (e.g. American Football, Soccer, Rugby Union) – for example anticipation of the shot when covering a Soccer Game is not the same as Rugby Union. I have not shot American Football, but, I do understand that there are several short interval “set plays” which run only a few seconds – so a good Photographer would have an understanding of what the probable next ‘set play’ might be, and so be ready for where the receiving player of the pass might be, and that is a technique different to shooting Soccer or Rugby Union, which are both more fluid/continuous in the ball’s transition between players.

    Also for American Football there are blocking players who are not necessarily involved directly with ball contact and so a choice will have to be made as to what shot to take – the impact of the blocking players at the expense of getting a shot with the ball in it.

    That’s just a mild gloss – but you should get the idea that the Photographer needs to understand the sport s/he is shooting and typically: the greater the knowledge of the sport the better the shots the Photographer gets.

    I wouldn’t worry about 3.7 frames per second - I suggest that you concentrate on your TIMING of the shot.


    A few questions:

    What lens(es ) do you already have?

    What code of football?

    Where will you be shooting from?

    Will you be able to move around freely?

    Nigh-time or daytime games?

  4. Bah forget the FPS you heard about. We shot football with a manual camera, so rather than Frames Per Second, it was Seconds Per Frame. Or how fast you could your thumb work the film advance lever and your finger the shutter release. Now being able to shoot burst series IS good, but don't get wrapped up in FPS. IF you KNOW the game, you can shoot just fine in single frame mode, like we did.

    If you do not know the game, learn it. Watch reruns of various football games, and imagine yourself shooting the game. How would you shoot, where would you aim, etc. Then go shoot some pop-warner games, high school JV and Varsity games. The more you shoot, the more you learn, and you WILL get better at it. Trust me, I went through the same learning curve when I shot for the high school yearbook.

    As Wouter said, how fast will that camera+lens combo focus? It does not have to be pro/super fast, but fast enough. If it cannot track focus a runner, you might as well shoot with a manual focus lens, where you can track focus.

    Set the auto focus to continuous mode, rather than single shot mode, and study and learn how to use continuous mode.

    Are you on the field or in the bleachers?
    I used a 80-200/f4.5 on a 35mm camera, on the field.
    With a 1.6x crop factor camera, a 70-200 would be equivalent to a 128-320 on a 35mm camera. This should be OK when shooting from the bleachers. Just don't expect real close shots, especially on the far side of the field from you.

    Again as Wouter said, can you handle the weight of the 2.8 lens? It is one thing to hold the lens for a minute while in the store, quite another to have to hold it during a game. Although American football is not constant movement like soccer, so you can lower the camera/lens and rest your arms for a moment between plays, and at half-time. But you don't want your arms to be so worn out by the 4th quarter that you can't shoot. Personally, at my age, I would opt for the slower but lighter f4 lens. Though I do regret passing up a f2.8 lens.

    There is a reason some of the photogs that you see on TV have their camera+lens on a monopod. The monopod supports weight of the camera+lens. But, if you are on the field, I would NOT use a monopod. You need to be free to move quickly, especially to GET OUT OF THE WAY of a player headed directly to you. Shoot with both eyes open and always constantly look around yourself. It is the player coming from the side that will get you, not the one that you are tracking with the camera. He has padding, you don't, if/when he hits you, you loose. :(

    On the bleachers use of a monopod is maybe/maybe not. If the bleachers is cement, then you are likely OK. If the bleachers is wood, you can/will get a lot of vibration coming up from the bleachers through the monopod to the camera. Then you need to raise the shutter speed to compensate or hope the image stabilizer (IS) in the lens works.

    Shutter speed NEEDS to be high, at least 1/500 sec, faster if you are on the long end of the zoom. You need a higher shutter speed to stop action/movement, than to shoot static shots. But do not try to juggle shutter speeds during a game, it just gets too confusing. In a sunny day game, just set it and forget it; ISO=250, shutter speed 1/2000 sec, aperture f5.6 (sunny 16 rule + equivalent exposure). The only time this will change is when a cloud gets between the sun and the field. Or shutter priority at 1/1000 or 1/2000 sec, at ISO=250.

    The problem you will face is with night games. High school varsity games where I grew up and now where I live, tend to be night games. And here you have the problem of less light (than day games) and possibly/probably inconsistent lighting on different parts of the field. You have to crank up the cameras ISO level to be able to get you to the shutter speeds you need to use. Yes there will be camera noise at high ISO levels, but I would take noise over not getting the shot or a blurry shot from too slow of a shutter speed.

    gud luk
  5. The 70-200 f/2.8 lens is a good choice for football. The pros will use a 400 F/4 most of the time, but you can get a recent model used car for what one of these lenses cost. These same pros often have a second body with a 70-200 f/2.8.

    I'm not familiar with the performance of the T2i. The biggest factor for me was autofocus. A camera/lens combination that rapidly adjusts focus when players move is a huge advantage. It is possible to pre-focus, but this limits your options.

    If you have access to the sideline area, you should follow the line of scrimage up and down the field. If you want to concentrate on the quarterback, you can be behind the line of scrimage. If you want pix of the running backs and receivers, move downfield. If you are confined to the stands, The best option is the front row of the end zone. This is not a good location to watch the whole game--you can only see half of it. It will get you close to the action some of the time. Here is an example of what an amateur can get at an NFL game:
  6. I'm not much of a sports shooter and unfortunately new to Canon. The 70-200 f2.8 IS II seems to be a quite decent lens and was what lured me into that system. Like others above I doubt it will keep you happy during an entire game but it should provide a few chances to take pictures. Upon cameras: I only have a 5D IV and don't know Canon's rest. Reviewers don't ravish about the Rebel series SLR AF performance anymore. I assume a gazillion of highly sensitive AF spots, combined with distance and across the frame movement tracking AI and an UI for rapid spot selection are nice to have and / or desirable for sports.

    Among amateurs: Get a lens, get started improve and hope Canon brings out a 7D III when you are losing your hair over hitting the wall with what you have.
    If you need as many crisp football pictures as one can somehow get, maybe ponder switching to Nikon right from the start and now? Their D500 seems to outperform the current & seasoned 7D, a 3rd party 70-200mm might do for sports* and for daylight events there is also their awesome 200-500mm.
    (*= I got convinced to need the Canon for casual portraiture; head shots at really 200mm)

    In general I think an awesome AF benefits everybody. At a next step I'd look at RAW burst length / buffer flushing performance and after that worry about frame rates.
  7. hmmm
    QC has not been active since posting this thread,
    Another post and disappear :(
    ghainousx likes this.
  8. That's because they realized in order to get good Sports Action Shots easily and consistantly, they'll have to use $5,000 in gear.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2017
  9. IMHO, more than the gear is LOTS of time, to learn and practice.
    The learning curve on some sports is steep.
    For me football is easy, compared to soccer. I do not shoot soccer enough to get the shots "easily and consistently." I'm happy to get 10% "keepers."
    And I'm not looking forward to lacross, which I have never shot before. That will have an even steeper learning curve, for me.

    Though there are indeed equipment issues with night games. Needing to have gear to handle the lower light (high ISO cameras and fast lenses) vs. a day game.
    At the high school where I help the yearbook, we use the T3 and T5 for day games, and the T7i for night games.
  10. Recommendations above; 7D Mark II - $2,500, EF 70-200mm F/2.8 L IS II - $2,200, Lightweight Carbon Fiber Mono Pod - $300, Fast Card - $100. Field Access - $Priceless
  11. 'Field access,' I forgot about that.

    I shoot on the field, so I did not think about the longer lens you would need from the bleachers.
    If you are on the bleachers, you would need something longer than a 70-200, because a 70-200 is what I would use on the sidelines (with a FX body). How much longer will depend on how far away from the sidelines you are.
  12. Another thought, the T2 would be OK for a day game, but its max ISO would probably be barely good enough for night games, even with a f/2.8 lens.
    I had to help someone with a Nikon D3100 (about the same era as the T2), and I had to set his camera ISO to HIGH-2, to get a decent exposure. So this was 2 stops above standard max ISO.

    For night games, I would get the T7i or better, to get a better high ISO.

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