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Thread: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

  1. #1

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    Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Any thoughts on this lens (or a 100mm f/2 USM) for low light sports photography? Colin, I noted that your "Emma" portraits used a similar lens in an L series. The clarity was amazing.

    What quality could I expect from either of these lenses if attached to a Rebel xti (400D)? I currently have the 50mm f1.8.

    The type of shots I will be doing most - indoor riding arena/no flash for cold weather shows and outside for all the other horse stuff. I need to be able to freeze jumping and faster gaits.

    (You have to give me at least an E for effort: First ride of the Spring so I took my trusty old Sony Cybershot and clicked a few from the saddle before the old mare got too frisky, and I had to go back to both hands on the reins<LOL>. )

    Thank you!

    Myra

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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Hi Myra,

    Even with the 1.6x crop factor, I suspect that 85mm is likely to be too short, and the fact that it doesn't have any zoom capability is possibly going to be a bit limiting unless you can run faster than the athletes / animals! So my suggestion would be to work out the focal length(s) you need first - and then see what's available in that range. The zoom might be a bit slower, but you're probably better off using a higher ISO to compensate (with a small increase in noise).

    PS: Only the 2nd "Emma" shot used the 85/F1.2 - the first was an 135/F2; probably Canon's 2 sharpest portrait primes

  3. #3

    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Myra

    It seems to be highly rated here http://www.warehouseexpress.com/buy-...sm-lens/p12816 But you really need a zoom for sports, especially if you are in a fixed shooting position. If you are shooting in low light and have a prime lens (say 85mm) you may end up cropping the shot in Photoshop to get in close enough, which will further reduce your image quality.

    What about the 70-200mmL (although it's only f/4) It is very well priced. http://www.warehouseexpress.com/buy-...sm-lens/p12848 It's 200 more, but will last you for years. I might get one myself, they look pretty good for the money.

  4. #4

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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Thanks, Rob and Colin. Thankfully, there is no running after the animals I'd die of cardiac arrest before the end of the first show if that was the case! What usually happens is that I set myself up near a jump or facing a spot that has an uncluttered background, take some photos from there and then move to another spot. Outside rings are the best as I can work my way all around them. From my position on the rail, the horse and rider are rarely more than 70m (230 ft) away; most of my action shots would fall within 20-30m (65-100 ft). We don’t have steeple chases, but we do have some lower level Eventing. For those, I can just park myself somewhere around the approach to a jump where the horse can see me and not spook.

    Rob, you are very close to nailing the lens I really want: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search...7020028LIS&N=0 That would be 1174. in GB pounds. The price in Canada for the same lens is $2150.00 I'm aiming for the f/2 just due to the low/poor light I'll encounter.
    That lens can be my three year goal. The pocket book will only permit about a fifth of that, at the moment, so I need a “bridge the gap” lens that will get me part way to where I want to go. Of course, by then I’ll also need a new camera to go with such a lens…

    Thanks!
    Myra

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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Hi Myra,

    Just a thought, but wouldn't an f1.8 or f2, used wide open, be soft (because wide) and also have so narrow a DoF that without very careful estimation how far over the jump they will be, possibly lead to a sharp flank, but soft nose and tail? (even allowing for shooting at a side angle)

    I'd go with the zoom of a reasonable aperture.

    Depending on your camera and its noise performance, a new camera shouldn't be essential next year, but a second body would be nice, eh? (for the other lens)

    Cheers,

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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Those are really good points, Dave. I spent a few hours last night (teachers and students are on March Break= free time!) looking at pictures on Flikre that were taken with this lens. The best ones were on cameras that allowed an ISO over 3000 (NOT a Rebel ). I also did a search with my camera and the lens. Most were of basketball (and weren't bad) in lit gyms; the horse shots I found were better than my kit lens. I find with my little 50 f/1.8 that I can get a sharp shot with good DoF if I am not too close to the subject.

    I just spent some time looking at prices on Ebay and Craigslist. For used or refurbished, the prices are still steep.

    It's OK if I can't get a new lens this year. I have so very much to learn in all areas. It's just nice to know what type of lens to shoot for (I can never think of a pun when I have to!). I'm a little antsy right now as I'm supposed to be photographing a clinic with a jumper coach in May and would like to be a little better prepared. The organizers are friends of mine, I have explained to them the limitations of my equipment (with examples) and there is no payment involved. They just want some shots to put on their website to document the day of the clinician, some close ups and anything else that may turn out. It will be good practice for me as I'll be able to be in the ring for part of the time.

    Thanks!
    Myra

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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Just a thought, but wouldn't an f1.8 or f2, used wide open, be soft (because wide) and also have so narrow a DoF that without very careful estimation how far over the jump they will be, possibly lead to a sharp flank, but soft nose and tail? (even allowing for shooting at a side angle)
    Hi Dave,

    If you take a "worst case scenario" of F1.8 @ 20m on a 1.6x crop-factor camera the DoF is still 3.8m.

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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Hi Myra,

    The other possibility you need to consider is that there may not be ANY combination of lens / camera that will do a good job for the budget you have available. Getting high shutterspeeds is the key (I would think that 1/640th would be the absolute minimum) ... plus I think that you're going to be needing focal lengths closer to 200mm for a lot of the shots ...

    ... so typically you're going to HAVE to use high ISO settings (so a camera that handles them well will be an advantage (more $$$) - and you're going to need a fast lens (and "fast" + "long" in a zoom = BIG $$$) (in fact the EF70-200 F2.8L IS USM is about as fast as it gets).

    Another "long shot" ... the EF70-200 F2.8L IS USM has been updated by Canon to the new EF70-200 F2.8L IS USM II - so you might be able to pickup a 2nd hand one a bit cheaper?

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    If you take a "worst case scenario" of F1.8 @ 20m on a 1.6x crop-factor camera the DoF is still 3.8m.
    Oops, shoulda checked first

    What was Rob said in another post today "What a load of c**p I talk sometimes", well, it seems it applies to me (but not him, I thought it made sense)

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern
    so you might be able to pickup a 2nd hand one a bit cheaper?
    Only the price of a small s/h car?
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 17th March 2010 at 08:35 PM.

  10. #10

    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    What was Rob said in another post today "What a load of c**p I talk sometimes", well, it seems it applies to me (but not him, I thought it made sense)
    Yeah, I did, but if you tell everyone they will all be doing it. It will become de rigueur on this forum to spout complete and utter c**p!

    Apart from Colin. of course, who spouts great wisdom.

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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Quote Originally Posted by carregwen View Post
    Apart from Colin. of course, who spouts great wisdom.
    I like to think of myself as being an X-spurt ...

    with "X" being the "unknown quantity" and a "spurt" being a "drip under pressure"!

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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Quote Originally Posted by carregwen View Post
    Yeah, I did, but if you tell everyone they will all be doing it. It will become de rigueur on this forum to spout complete and utter c**p!
    I have been reading the "crop advice" thread and no-one has even mentioned harvesting yet, I mean, what is the point of a crop if not to harvest it

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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    You've lost me on most of this, but one thing I do know: if you spread all that crap you're going to have one heck of a harvest!

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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Myra,

    The other possibility you need to consider is that there may not be ANY combination of lens / camera that will do a good job for the budget you have available. Getting high shutterspeeds is the key (I would think that 1/640th would be the absolute minimum) ... plus I think that you're going to be needing focal lengths closer to 200mm for a lot of the shots ...
    Exactly what I am thinking. I'm looking for the impossible. That's OK. I'll keep an eye out for good used deals and work on composition and do what I can do with what I have

    Thanks!

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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Hi, Myra;

    One last suggestion: are there ever opportunities to increase the light? For example, do any of these venues have skylights that can be opened? I suppose it could cause issues sometimes, if there's a strange bar of light on the floor when a horse/rider is trying to judge a jump.

    Or artificial lights: in #4 from your album, for example, I see overhead lights that seem to be turned off. One problem there may be the mixture of artificial and natural light: mixed light is hard for white balance, so depending on the kind of lights, you may have a hard time with colors, especially near the windows.

    Cheers,
    Rick

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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Hi Rick,

    You are very observant! Yes, I could have asked for the lights to be turned on in that ring, however, the manager does not encourage using them during the day (expensive?) so I didn't ask. I'm planning another trip up this weekend, and will see if they can be turned on. A jumping lesson will be in progress, so the lights might be on as a matter of course. Also, I was looking at those photos again tonight, and wrote down the info with some ideas for improvement (mainly increase iso and shutter speed in a couple).

    Those big windows are all along both long sides of the ring. Combined with the white siding on the ceiling, there's a lot of shine. It is much brighter than most indoor arenas I've been in.

    Thanks for the comments!

    Myra

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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    I think Colin has nailed the answer about shutter speed and the limitations of your camera. . . here are some more thoughts for your consideration:

    The 85F/1.8 wide open is sharp (or soft) . . . it is what it is . . . I carry the 85F/1.8 because it is useful in a sports kit and it is a truckload cheaper, lighter (weight), than the F/1.2L.

    But it is NOT generally a lens for use for subjects 65ft to 100 ft distant.

    Your problem is the 400D (I use one occasionally).

    The 400D does not allow for very high ISO capacity.

    For the Subject Distances you describe and the EV in Horse Arenas a 7D and a 200 F/2.8L would be the best “value for money” combination, IMO.

    With your 400D, and in very low light you might consider shooting at the highest ISO and then cropping and converting the RAW image to B&W.

    I do not think shooting at 65ft to 100ft, the 100F/2 will gain much over the 85F/1.8.

    However, the 100F/2 is a nice value for money lens - but you might reserve your purchase and save to buy longer.

    Neither the 85F/1.8 nor the 100F/2 comes close to the 135F/2 for Image Quality, when used wide open and pushed to the limit at High ISO on any Intermediate Camera.

    ***

    It is very important to remember to get the exposure correct as at HIGH ISO, as noise is unforgiving if you UNDEREXPOSE.

    ***

    Here is the 85/F1.8 used at F/1.8 . . . at the absolute limit when used on a 5D, at ISO3200.

    Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Tech specs: EF85F/1.8 & 5D (yes a 5D can be used for Sport!)
    Shooting Specs: F/1.8 @ 1/800s @ ISO3200, Manual, HH, AWB, Centre AF, Spot Meter, Single Shot.



    Commentary:
    “I was happily shooting this swimming meet at around F/4.5 @ 1/1250s @ ISO1600 and a circuit breaker tripped the floodlights . . .
    I needed a shot of the Swimmer in Lane 6 Starting at a Backstroke Start.
    I used my 85mm and crept as close as I could under and near one of the Judges.
    1/800s is close to the absolute limit for a Backstroke Start.
    My 70 to 200 F/2.8L was useless in this situation.
    As luck would have it she qualified into the final and I made a better shot her under full lighting”

    ***

    Here is what you can expect as a step up from the 85F/1.8 for extreme low light work . . . the 135F/2 wide open used at F/2 on a 5D:

    Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Shooting: F/2 @ 1/25s @ ISO3200, HH, AWB, Centre AF, Spot Meter, Single Shot.

    WW

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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Gotta love the EF135/F2L eh Bill (although I must admit to still yearning for a EF200/F2!)

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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    For outdoors shots in leaping where there's enough available light, you can purchase Canon's EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM for a starter zoom since the more popular 70-200 2.8L or 4L IS is beyond your reach currently. For leaping and action shots, 1/1000th is a good starting point to freeze action; but it all depends on the available light and the capabilities of your camera (high enough ISOs to give you the necessary shutter speeds). You will be pushing your camera's 1600 ISO for indoors for an 85 1.8 (stopped down to f2 or 100 2 at f2.8); do not recommend shooting wide open because of CA (chromatic aberration) will result in soft images and fringing. 200 mm can be often times be too long for indoor arenas; depending on the venues. It is best to rent your lenses to see what works best for you if you mostly shoot at a particular venue. www.lensrental.com is a good online photography rental site.

    Telephotos zooms are the way to go when it comes to equestrian photography. Mostly because of the lack of distortion telephoto lenses offer since your subject is big and long. You can use wide angle lenses (like a 24 mm) for environmental shots but only if you're perpendicular to the horse. Frontal shots will result in the "bubble head or butt with tiny legs" which isn't all too flattering.

    Recommended site and help link:
    http://www.learntotakephotos.com/

    Laura Cotterman and Christina Handley are both life long equestrians and accomplished equestrian stock/commercial photographers.
    Last edited by Amberglass; 24th March 2010 at 02:12 PM.

  20. #20

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    Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM for sports?

    Thank you William, Amberglass and Colin for your recent replies. Back to work this week, so I’m falling behind with the forum postings.

    William, to me the photo of the swim meet looks very nice. The only drawback I can see is a bit of softness in the focus, and that could just be my eyes. My camera is a very basic creature as far as DSLRs go; I am just trying to squeeze every ounce of goodness out of it that I can Would love to have the 70-200 f/2.8 IS but that lens is $2100 + tax locally. (Canada) The light and colours in the second photo are stunning.

    Colin, I was prowling around the net the other day and came across this lens: M42: Super Takumar Preset 135mm f3.5. I searched a photo sharing site for some examples of this lens plus a Rebel xti. The few I found were amazingly sharp. I couldn’t find any action shots, though. I take it this is an old lens that has to take some kind of adapter?

    Amberglass, I thought about the 75-300 mm IS lens. I have the non IS version that came with my camera. It’s OK outside in some situations. I put it on a tripod and tried a few horse/rider shots on the weekend. Unfortunately, I wasn’t thinking when the horses were jumping and left my 50f1.8 on. I have some samples using the 50f1.8 on my profile page titled Second Try. Not sure how to post them here as thumbnails.

    I’ve been to the site you linked. They are excellent. There are also some podcasts that are available that are very good.

    Thanks!
    Myra
    Last edited by Maritimer1; 24th March 2010 at 10:57 PM.

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