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Thread: The best lens for sport events

  1. #1

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    The best lens for sport events

    Good afternoon,

    I was shooting hockey yesterday. The good thing was that our St. Petersburg team won 3:2, the bad... Now I do not really think that my Canon kit EF 55-250 4.0-5.6 IS lens fits for such events. If I am not mistaken quite short time is a must to get correct exposure even under perfect lightning conditions. Even 1/400 does not work perfectly. I had to switch flash on in high-speed mode just in order to enable times less than 1/200 (X-Value for 550D). Also I had to increase ISO speed up to 3200. The result was not spectacular. There is too much noise and incorrectly exposed photos. Post processing is required. What are the basic rules of thumb for high-speed shooting? Which lens can be recommended for shooting of sport evens? Thank you.

    P.S. Sorry for my English :-(

  2. #2

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    re: The best lens for sport events

    Non-professional hockey arenas are notorious for bad lighting. In the end it all comes down to how much (and what quality) light is getting to the sensor. You can increase your chances of getting a good shot in a number of ways. First off if you can is get closer to the ice. Reducing the zoom in your lens will let you shoot more towards the 4.0 end of your lens. When you pick your spot check for the amount of light. You may find some areas better than others.

    A good flash helps. The further you can drive out that beam of light the better.

    A faster lens will also let in more light. My SB800 in combination with a 2.8 lens allows me to get some good shots at short distances in arenas with bad lighting. In others with good lighting I can reach out further and the flash then provides some fill.

    Past that you are looking at setting up multiple strobes. Not what I think you are looking for.

    By the way, the high speed mode you are trying to use actually diminishes the strength of the flash. Instead of a single full power pop, you are forcing the flash to fire multiple times at a lower power amount. With good panning skills I think you will find you get better results leaving your shutter at or just below the sync speed and letting the flash do it's thing. If it's not a ttl flash then set it to max and manually work the aperture.

    Are their any good hockey players in Russia?

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    pnodrog's Avatar
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    re: The best lens for sport events

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew1 View Post

    Are their any good hockey players in Russia?
    2012 Men's World Ranking
    Points Movement
    1 Russia 3425
    2 Finland 3345
    3 Czech Republic 3330 +2
    4 Sweden 3280 -1
    5 Canada 3255 -1

    And I thought the best hockey players came from India.

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    William W's Avatar
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    re: The best lens for sport events

    Quote Originally Posted by pnodrog View Post
    I thought the best hockey players came from India.
    Ric Charlesworth would have some comment on that . . .

    WW

  5. #5
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    re: The best lens for sport events

    Quote Originally Posted by Destructor View Post
    Good afternoon,

    I was shooting hockey yesterday. . . I do not really think that my Canon kit EF 55-250 4.0-5.6 IS lens fits for such events. Even 1/400 does not work perfectly.
    A faster lens will be better all round.
    Can you please supply the details of your most common exposure settings WITHOUT using flash?
    You might find the best economical solution is investing in a short telephoto, like the 50/1.8 or the 85/1.8 and shooting Available Light – depending upon how much light you have.
    Sure, you might a have to crop a bit for some shots.

    WW

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    re: The best lens for sport events

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    Ric Charlesworth would have some comment on that . . .

    WW
    Yes Bill and with very good reason ......... but back in 1976 who did they lose to in the Olympic finals?

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    re: The best lens for sport events

    . . . that was only one game . . .
    . . . you have a passion for sports, too?

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    re: The best lens for sport events

    Bill,

    Thank you for the input. For sport events I would set aperture 8-11. I would set exposure time as short as possible. Typical value for my Canon 550D is 1/400 (FP mode) or even less.

    P.S. Speaking about hockey... Gentlemen, I think you should confess that soviet hockey school was the best in the world :-) Soviet specialists were even training Czech and Finnish teams who are now among our strongest competitors.

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    re: The best lens for sport events

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    . . . that was only one game . . .
    . . . you have a passion for sports, too?
    Bill may I supply you with a list of sports I am prepared to discuss with you - currently hockey, swimming, cricket and a many others do not appear on it.

  10. #10

    re: The best lens for sport events

    For sport photography, shutter speed should be given priority. Otherwise the picture surely comes out blurr.. In my opinion, there are only two options left. Aperture and ISO (beside extra light). Get the fastest lens available and use higher ISO. But high ISO will somehow produce more noise. Maybe if you change image quality to RAW, then it might give more ground to mend the noise. An L-series lens also will help you focus faster and better.


    So
    1. Fastest lens available. Best with IS mode2.
    2. Higher ISO
    3. Use RAW
    Last edited by PengukirCahaya; 25th November 2012 at 06:11 PM.

  11. #11

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    re: The best lens for sport events

    For ice hockey getting close is not an option because you will then be shooting through the protective cage that surrounds the rink. That is why there are hardly ever any spectacular shots of the action due to the angle from shooting from higher up.

    Your 55-250 should be adequate the cover the action in a medium sized arena but if you are having to go to ISO 3200 for a shutter speed of less the 1/200 then the lighting in that arena is just too poor for anything good to come out. I havent shot any ice hockey but the speed that the players go means you are looking for at least 1/1000 or higher to freeze the motion. Flash is not going to help much due to being higher up and further away from the action and its light will just be gobbled up by the surroundings.

    The 550D is a very capable camera and can produce excellent shots with little noise up to ISO 800. ISO1600 is doable but beyond that is not recommended.

    So what are your options (assuming no major expenses)?

    - meter properly for the central arena which is a whole lot brighter then the surrounding area using either spot metering or partial metering to see if you can get a good shutter speed at ISO 800. Zoomed out you will be at f5.6 so that can be taken out of the equation.

    - if you cannot get a decent speed/iso combination then get a Better Beamer for your flash (not sure if you can get that outside North America but you can make one yourself). It will concentrate the light of the flash and you will be able to get a much longer range.

    This shot of a bird was taken with the Beamer attached. It was raining, dark and the bird very far off 60-70m. Not a great shot but goes to show the distance reached by the flash.
    The best lens for sport events

    Options with lots of additional expense -

    - 70-200 f2.8 this will give you 2 additional stop of light
    - camera that can handle 1600-6400 ISO range which will give you another 3 stops of light (1Dx or 5D3), but being full frame you will lose the "range" of the 1.6 camera.

    Hope this helps.

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    re: The best lens for sport events

    Quote Originally Posted by Destructor View Post
    For sport events I would set aperture 8-11. I would set exposure time as short as possible. Typical value for my Canon 550D is 1/400 (FP mode) or even less.
    If, for Ice Hockey you are using the 55 to 250 at F/8~11 and getting 1/400s as a shutter speed for correct exposure then I suggest you use F/5.6 and double (or x4) the shutter speed.

    For Ice Hockey you would need to be around 1/1000s or faster.

    Obviously a faster lens would assist.

    In most Ice Hockey Rinks, even though the lighting might be relatively low level, it is usually (almost always) even across the playing area and there is the benefit of the reflected light from the ice, helping to create an even light.

    Therefore once a meter reading has been attained for correct exposure M Mode (manual camera mode) can be used. This has the advantage of the TTL Meter not being confused as it pans across white ice and coloured back-board advertising and (wrongly) adjusts the exposure automatically.

    WW

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    re: The best lens for sport events

    Quote Originally Posted by pnodrog View Post
    a list of sports I am prepared to discuss
    I am pretty keen on all sports - Cricket and Swimming are only just above (Field) Hockey and probably are my top three (Rugby and Football a close dead heat for 3rd with Hockey): I have and have had more involvement in both Swimming and Cricket.

    Wine is a popular discussion point also - New Zealand is good at that.

    WW

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    re: The best lens for sport events

    Here it's all about getting the most light on the sensor (and having the most sensitive sensor ).
    Is there a difference in the speed with which a lens/camera acquires focus when changing lenses? I remember missing shots due to (too) slow focusing...

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    re: The best lens for sport events

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    I am pretty keen on all sports - Cricket and Swimming are only just above (Field) Hockey and probably are my top three (Rugby and Football a close dead heat for 3rd with Hockey): I have and have had more involvement in both Swimming and Cricket.

    Wine is a popular discussion point also - New Zealand is good at that.

    WW
    Bill you are trying to distract me from the subject of this thread. When I was younger I thought grapes were for eating not stamping on.

    PAVEL I think it may be cheaper to get a camera with better ISO performance than rush out and buy the sort of lens you need. If you buy the correct lens you will need to buy a new camera as well. If you buy a camera that will give you reasonable images at ISO 6400 you current lens just may suffice.

  16. #16
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    re: The best lens for sport events

    I would not advise to buy a new camera, rather than lens, or even to buy a lens necessarily, until other information is supplied and interrogated.

    The OP notes a lot of noise at ISO3200 and also that these shots were made at F/8~11: there are several points there which warrant investigation:

    • The appearance of noise is exacerbated by UNDER exposure, especially at High ISO - I am not convinced that the OP has correct exposure.
    • The 550D performs quite well at ISO3200, and quite reasonable at ISO6400.
    • There is /are one (or two) stops available in the Av of the lens being used.



    If PAVEL could supply a sample image with EXIF that would assist.

    WW

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    Re: The best lens for sport events

    Gentlemen,

    I am really sorry for the stupid question. Could you please tell me how to post images here? I have never posted images before. I do appreciate your support.

    P.S. I shot Kovy (Iliya Kovalchuk).

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    Re: The best lens for sport events

    Quote Originally Posted by Destructor View Post
    Gentlemen,

    I am really sorry for the stupid question. Could you please tell me how to post images here? I have never posted images before. I do appreciate your support.

    P.S. I shot Kovy (Iliya Kovalchuk).
    There is no such thing as a stupid question here on CiC. Go to this link. There you will find the link that takes you to the answer.

  19. #19
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    Re: The best lens for sport events

    Quote Originally Posted by Destructor View Post
    Gentlemen,
    I am really sorry for the stupid question.
    Not a stupid question at all. And indoor, amateur hockey is Really Tough.

    An option is to get an inexpensive external flash that has zoom that tracks with your focal length. I've been reasonably satisfied with a barely used Canon 420EZ ($50) that is from the film days. The Yongnuo YN468 is a less powerful Chinese knock-off that works pretty well ... usually under $100.

    With flash at Manual 1/1 full power, you have about the equivalent of 1/1000th second to freeze most action, although your sync speed with be 1/250 (or maybe 1/200?) You may get some ghosting if the ambient light isn't all that much less than what the flash provides.

    In your situation, I'd try to find a position where you can look over the protective glass towards your area of interest (behind the goalie?). Get there a bit early to try out some test exposures during warm-up. Try to use f4 for "selective focus", and don't worry about ISO too much. Set the flash at its longest focal length (80mm?) Also, be aware that the flash will illuminate close objects/people/chairs/bleachers to excess, so don't include near objects.

    And to answer your original question ... a 70-200mm f2.8 is pretty much the "go to" lens for indoor sports ... pricey.

    My 2

  20. #20

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    Re: The best lens for sport events

    After I bought 7D, 70-200 F2.8 IS II, the best I can affort for my daughter's figure skating< I found out that it is still very insufficient to deal with the indoor rink situation. Remember formal figure skating time forbdden use of flash!! and the Need to crop from the 70-200mm later .....
    then eventually, I use public skating time, when flash is allowed. Or skating party time, when flash is allowed for some pictures with sufficient light and I can skating in the rink to take picture as well, ( to get closer) this solve the problem.
    Hockey is different, I saw you tube showing how professional photographer can get pciture with sufficient light.
    They use four Canon 580 as one group, totally using 2 groups just for one side of the rink near the goalie. They all the way go up to the rink top , clamp the flash to the roof railing before the race.
    then they go down during the race, use wireless trigger to trigger the wireless flash and can get nice pictures near the goalie.
    so, we finally understand how come those hockey pictures or cards are so expensive, It is only pro, can do it.
    Same as my situation. Professional photographer hired by figure skating competition also cannot provide very nice pictures as they are still forbidden to use flash. 400mm F 2.8 is over kill in the distance and 70-200 also is the best lens they use, only they got better 1D series camera which gives out better pictures with high ISO!!!
    that's why God created LIGHT first!!!

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