Canon XSi need lens for sports

Discussion in 'Sports' started by jeff_matticks, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. My son plays football (outdoors) and basketball (indoors). I am looking for an affordable lens that will provide decent quality pictures and the ability to capture the action shots in both the indoor and outdoor settings. I did borrow a Canon L series lens from a friend (do not recall the specific model), and the pictures are great, although I had only used it outdoors. I recently purchased a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM II Macro zoom. After using it at a basketball game and looking at the results, I was not pleased. The pictures appeared soft. Not sharp. I called Sigma and was told right away that this was a common problem and that the lens just needed to be adjusted, requiring that I send the lens and my camera to Sigma. I realize that Sigma is a 3rd party manuf, but I'm not thrilled with the idea of sending my camera to Sigma. I plan to return this lens. I have been looking at either the Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 IS or the EF 70-200 f/2.8 USM.
    Does anyone have any thoughts regarding either of the above listed Canon lenses, another suggestion, or shoudl I keep the Sigma and have them "adjust" it.
    Thanks in advance.
  2. Can you post an example of the problematic basketball shots you got? I strongly suspect that, whether or not that Sigma lens needs a miniscule tweek, that the real problem was your shutter speed. For basketball, indoors under traditionally poor lighting conditions, you need to crank up the camera's ISO to as high as you can stand it (noise-wise), use the lens wide open at f/2.8, and get the fastest shutter speed than can be had. You'll be lucky to get 1/250th, which is still not enough to really freeze motion and make things sharp.

    Without a camera that can use VERY high ISO settings, you'll that indoor sports may actually require something like an 85/1.8 or some other lens that gathers more light than an f/2.8 lens. Sports in poor light is a laws of physics problem, and there's a reason that you see professionals doing it with monster lenses. But we can deduce a lot more by looking over a sample of the images you got (the better to see how you were shooting).

    That Canon 100-400, by the way (note the smaller aperture numbers) collects far less light than the Sigma you were using. The result will be even blurrier images indoors. Would work fine for football as long as you have sunlight (no night games!). The Canon 70-200/2.8 gathers just as much light as the Sigma. If shutter speeds were your problem, that won't help a bit, either.
  3. Hello Jeff,
    I would let Sigma have a look at the lens and camera first. If you like the results outdoors after that ( using 2,8), but still not indoors, you likely need faster shutterspeed.
    As a next step I would look at an upgrade of the camera. One of the Ti2, Ti3, 60D or 7D would give you about one stop more of usable high ISO. Its still not sure that you will get high enough shutterspeeds.
  4. I hope you don't mind me jumping in and asking a question related to this. I have a Canon Ti1, I have the kit lens 18-55, I have the Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6 with stabilization, and the Canon 55-250 f4-5.6 with stabilization. I take pics of hockey, outdoor soccer, and basketball. I bought the Canon 55-250 because the action moves around so much, that I miss close shots with the 70mm-300.
    I actually get some really great photos at hockey, but of course I realize with a different lens, I could do even better. My basketball pics are dark, but sharp. Outside ones are all good.
    So what should my dream lens be for capturing sharp pics? Seems like I would want a big zoom (18mm-300mm would be perfect) prime. Do they even make a zoom lens like that? What f stop should I be considering, would 2.8 be good enough? I do get a lot of great hockey pics with my current combo, and take many more of those than basketball.
    I tried the sigma 18-270 pzd lens, thinking while the f stops weren't great, I loved the flexibility. My results were terrible and I returned it.
    Thanks, Carolyn
  5. I would take Sigma up on the offer of looking at your camera and lens to make sure both are functioning properly. But I agree with Matt that is may just be that you're trying to shoot fast-moving action under low light that is the issue. I regularly shoot figure skating in rinks where the exposure is 2.8 at 1/200 at ISO 1600. I own a Tamron 70-200 2.8 and it simply can't autofocus fash enough to keep up with fast-moving skaters under those conditions. I've also shot with a Nikon 80-200 2.8, which is better, and both the VRI and VRII versions of the Nikon 70-200 2.8 Both VR's are better than the 80-200 but there is a noticeably higher percentage of in-focus shots with the VRII, who I rent one of those whenever I have skating to shoot. All of this is with a Nikon D200, which itself doesn't AF as fast as a later model, but that's what I have for the moment. So your lens might be perfectly fine. It's just that when you have to shoot under low light you are typicaly going to be wide open at 2.8 where there is basically no depth of field -- the shot is either in focus or it's not. The face might even be sharp with arms or legs out of focus. And anything under about 1/500 in sports leaves room for motion blur even if you're holding the camera perfectly steady. Also, on my camera, at ISO 1600 the resolution is starting to go so even if it's perfectly in focus and no motion blur, it can look soft if you look at it in 100 percent view in photoshop. One more thing is to be sure to turn off noise reduction, which blurs the image slightly to hide digital noise but can cause an image to look soft. As far as a 1.8 or 1.4 lens, I certainly agreed that that helps with shutter speed, but to my thinking it's a tossup because you're going to have even less depth of field and even with AF will have trouble keeping fast-moving players in focus.
  6. Try getting an 85 f/1.8 and a 200 f/2.8. Both sharp and fast enough to follow sports as it happens if the camera body or you focus fast enough.
    You might try getting a used Canon EOS 1DMkII or MkIIn. They AF fast and the image quality is excellent, even for an older camera. You still see a lot of them on the sidelines of NFL, NBA and MLB events.
  7. i would use the 100-400 for football, but you'll have trouble with shutter speeds if the games are played under the lights. for bball, 85 1.8 is hard to beat. please post some pics.
  8. Hi Jeff-I have the same type of Canon as you and my daughter has played basketball and soccer for years. It took me quite a lot of reading and learning to figure out what I needed to get the best shots for each sport. I'm just an amateur but I want great shots of my kid and her teams! I followed the advice of many here on the boards and like those above in this post and got an 85/1.8 for basketball. It is a gem! You will not believe the difference in your shots. I stand at the end on the court, under the basket or at the corner to get the best shots. With this lens you have to move with your feet, you can't jsut sit in the stands and expect to get a good shot. No one ever questioned my being there and I have shot in dozens of venues.
    I had started out with the 55-250/4-5.6 but it just doesn't cut it for speed or light, either for basketball or soccer. I finally took the plunge and invested some serious money in the 70-200/2.8is II this past summer and I haven't regretted it one bit. Yes, it's a lot of money for a lens. However, my kid is going to be playing sports for 3 more years in high school and I wish I had invested in it long ago and not missed all the great shots I did. I hope that's helpful!
  9. Sending in camera/lenses for adjustment is nothing to be worried about. Camera and lens all function within a range of tolerance and if they are opposite ends of this range they need tweaking to get them to match. It will usually make a big difference to performance.
    Having said that I agree with the above poster that there are other causes - namely shutter speed to slow and also missed focus.

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