Multi-sport lens for beginning journalist

Discussion in 'Sports' started by megan_studdard, Nov 26, 2015.

  1. I work for a community newspaper and am expected to report and take photos. I cover a variety of high school sports, as well as community events/meetings/etc. At our company, we buy and use all of our own gear.
    I currently own a Canon T3i and two lenses -- the kit 18-55 mm and a 75-300 mm zoom. I am looking for a lens that will produce quality shots of all the high school sports I cover, from basketball to football. I would like a versatile lens I can carry between games and other events. I could go from shooting a volleyball game on Wednesday to a beauty pageant on Saturday.
    Since I am purchasing the lens out of pocket myself, ideally I'd like to not go over $1,500.
    I have looked at the Sigma 50/500 mm, but am not sure if it is a good option. I found one on for less than $400, but it's rated "bargain" and is 70-79 percent quality. Also considering a 100/400 mm, but those are pricey.
    Any suggestions?
  2. The key to sports picking a lens for sports is lens speed. High school fields and gyms are notoriously dark and unevenly lit. Getting a lens
    that's a 2.8 will be huge, you'll really respect the extra couple of stops of light you'll get over a 4-5.6.

    Id recommend the Canon 70-200 2.8 with IS. Its the benchmark in photojournalism and can go from shooting a football game to a beauty
    pageant without issue. Add in a teleconverter and you have great range with only minimal light loss. A 1.4x only loses one stop of light but gives you plenty of room to handle football. You can find a used version I with IS and a teleconverter in your
    budget easy. Sigma makes a similar lens for a fraction of the price, but I have no first hand experience with it.

    But really, pay for speed because it will repay you.
  3. I have the Nikon version of the lens MJ describes. It works great with my full frame D600. It would work well with your APS-C sensor for outdoor field sports. It would work well indoors in some situations. If you are shooting behind the end line in volleyball, it would be fine. If you shoot near the net, the field of view will be too narrow. Similarly in basketball, it will work fine to catch action at the far end of the court, but if you are sitting near the end line and the action is at the near end, the view will be too narrow. For this situation with your sensor, a 50 mm lens is ideal. A 50 mm f/1.8 lens can be purchased for less than $100 on eBay. If you shop carefully for used equipment you can get both lenses within your budget.
  4. you can get a sigma 70-200 2.8 for about half the price and it will be great for what you are doing
  5. a 50-500 would be a terrible lens for shooting indoor sports. i agree a 70-200/2.8 is what you want.
  6. 70-200mm f2.8, based on OP's budget and often low light nature of HS sports. Throw in a 50mm f1.8 at $100 or so when it's really dim. Get them through KEH, BH and Adorama used dept. to keep cost down. Move your feet, get up and down sidelines or get closer to the action as needed since you won't have 300 or 400mm reach. Rent the 300 or 400 f2.8 as needed, ideally pick up on Friday and returning Monday since it's usually considered as a one-day rental. Sounds like a fun start!
  7. the problem here is that for event/photojournalism, you actually need two 2.8 zooms: 17-50 and 70-200. not sure if you can get both for $1500, but just getting the 70-200, which i would do first, still leaves you with a slow kit lens at the wide end. one lens for every situation just doesnt exist. a 70-200 gives you some flexibility if you can move around, but in tight spaces and indoors it may be too long.
  8. IMHO, there is no ONE magical all purpose/event lens.
    Night games, gyms and similar are notoriously dim to shoot. There was a gym that I shot at, that we called the cave, because it was DARK. For these FAST glass is the only recommendation that I have. Everything else is compensating for lack of a FAST lens. Even with todays high ISO DSLRs, fast glass is worth it. A 50 or 35mm f1.4 is 2 stops faster than a f2.8 zoom lens.
    Don't neglect primes. Primes are generally faster than zooms, at comparable price levels. A 135/f2.8 is not an expensive lens, and to get a 70-200/2.8 you are paying MUCH more. Yes a zoom is flexible, but you have to pay $$$ for that flexibility. Though a 70-200/2.8 is probably a lens that you should get.
    And you don't have to go out to 400 or 500mm. IMHO 200mm is just fine. IMHO, anything more is getting into specialty or limited access shooting. You have a press pass, so you would be on the sidelines, not far away in the bleachers. Besides hand holding a LONG lens is difficult at best. And you can always crop the image. Newspaper does not requires the high resolution that a glossy magazine does. IF you need a long lens, just get a 500 or 600mm prime for those occasional LONG shots.
    And as was mentioned, you need something for the short end, 50mm and below. Use your kit lens for now, but plan to upgrade to a 2.8 zoom. But also keep a fast prime or two in your kit, again for those DARK indoor venues.

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