Forums > Photography Talk > Looking for a lens for surf and other sports

Photographer

Mer Soleil Photography

Posts: 221

Atlantic Beach, Florida, US

I have recently had some opportunities to take some photos of surfers and stand up paddleboarders and I don't have a long enough lens. I mostly shoot with a Canon 5DMkII. I also have a Canon Rebel Xsi with the cropped sensor. My longest lens is a Canon 70-200 f/2.8L. I want more reach and I am trying to determine the best solution for the money since I won't be spending a year of my kid's tuition on a 600mm or 800mm lens.

I think the Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS USM looks like a possibility. Spending $1500 isn't a problem. Before I would buy it, I would rent one and test it out. Do any of you have this lens and do you like it for sports? Do you like it for shooting models or any other uses?

Should I first consider an extender like the 1.4x or the 2x? For under $500 I could get my 200mm lens out to 300mm or 400mm but with a trade off on light gathering. Then, if/when I buy a longer lens, I could still use the extender for even more reach. Again, do any of you use extenders for sports (or other uses) and are you pleased with the results?

Lastly, should I consider a less expensive Sigma 150-500mm for under $969? Do any of you have this lens and are you happy with the results?

Any other lens recommendations?

While I am happy with the lenses I currently have for shooting models, if my next lens purchase would also have some uses in that department, it would be even better.

FWIW, I occasionally shoot wildlife so this would be an additional use for a longer lens.

Thank you for any thoughts on the subject.

Jun 09 12 12:05 pm Link

Photographer

Paul Morgan Photography

Posts: 541

Medical Lake, Washington, US

Do a google search for reviews.  LOTS of info out there.

Some people swear by it, and you really cannot beat the versatility of 100-400.  Much depends on how you are using it.  With a 70-200, you can get pretty good images with a 1.4x, but you will be struggling with a 2x extender.  It will be slow to auto focus, and once you lose the focus it will hunt for several seconds to re-acquire.  I rented a 2x III to test with my 70-200 mkII.  For most general shooting it was pretty good, but I was specifically evaluating for birds-in-flight, and the slow focus was too much for me to tolerate. Color/Contrast was reduced a little, but recoverable in post fairly easily.  IQ is not as good, but if you crop a 200mm shot to get the same image size, the IQ will be better on the native 400 than the crop.

Others suggest the 300 f4, and add the 1.4x.  You can then use the 1.4x on your 70-200 as well and have a very nice tele set-up. 

I plan to rent a 400 5.6 to test as well; it is the "gold standard" for 'cheap' 400mm as far as focus/sharpness/IQ.  Generally the 100-400 is considered #2, but there are many stories of bad samples of the 100-400.  the 300 f4 + 1.4x is usually considered about on par with the 100-400, but not as versatile with no zoom.

Any extender (canon) on a f5.6 lens will shut down your AF.  I have heard the Kenko 1.4 is a very good one and will still allow AF, but I've not used it myself.

I'm no expert, but I have been researching quite a bit and tested some in anticipation of purchasing something in the 400mm range soon...

I would guess there is limited use for long teles shooting models, and you have the 70-200 to cover mid-tele...

Also, keep in mind, 400mm is a whole new world in camera technique and handling.  Any flaws that may not show up at 200mm will become painfully obvious at 400mm.  You really have to experience it to believe it; I thought my technique was good, then I shot at 400mm... you learn quickly though!

Hope that helps, and good luck!

Paul

Jun 09 12 10:19 pm Link

Photographer

Tom LA

Posts: 174

Walnut, California, US

I would sell the rebel, pick up a 7d and a 1.4x and call it a day. 

The zooms beyond the 200mm range might be an option, but only if you know you can live with f5.6 (on the long end......where it matters :p).  I never considered them because shooting sports indoors or at night is tough enough with a 2.8, so even if the 200-400 f4 1.4x came out, it would still be worthless (to me).  YMMV.

Jun 09 12 11:08 pm Link

Photographer

DougBPhoto

Posts: 38593

Portland, Oregon, US

Mer Soleil Photography wrote:
I have recently had some opportunities to take some photos of surfers and stand up paddleboarders and I don't have a long enough lens. I mostly shoot with a Canon 5DMkII. I also have a Canon Rebel Xsi with the cropped sensor. My longest lens is a Canon 70-200 f/2.8L. I want more reach and I am trying to determine the best solution for the money since I won't be spending a year of my kid's tuition on a 600mm or 800mm lens.

I think the Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS USM looks like a possibility. Spending $1500 isn't a problem. Before I would buy it, I would rent one and test it out. Do any of you have this lens and do you like it for sports? Do you like it for shooting models or any other uses?

Should I first consider an extender like the 1.4x or the 2x? For under $500 I could get my 200mm lens out to 300mm or 400mm but with a trade off on light gathering. Then, if/when I buy a longer lens, I could still use the extender for even more reach. Again, do any of you use extenders for sports (or other uses) and are you pleased with the results?

Lastly, should I consider a less expensive Sigma 150-500mm for under $969? Do any of you have this lens and are you happy with the results?

Any other lens recommendations?

While I am happy with the lenses I currently have for shooting models, if my next lens purchase would also have some uses in that department, it would be even better.

FWIW, I occasionally shoot wildlife so this would be an additional use for a longer lens.

Thank you for any thoughts on the subject.

I'd been an anti-teleconverter snob for longer lenses for a long time.

Over Memorial Day weekend, just for shits and giggles, I went ahead and tried a 1.7 and 2.0 AF-S converter from Nikon, and was pleasantly surprised.  On a 70-200 2.8 the images looked as sharp as Nikon's 80-400 (which one would think is similar to Canon's 100-400) and one would think Canon should be similar with a 2x on their 70-200 f2.8.  Also consider that the f-stop with the TC's will be roughly equal to what you'd get buying one of those zooms.

I have yet to try the motor-in-lens focus Sigma.. I own an old Tokina 200-500 that AF's off the camera body's motor and it is very much like Nikon's (long due for update) 80-400 in that it is decent but slower focus than it should be with the in-lens motor.   If you're gonna get the sigma definitely do the 150-500 instead of the 50-500, and if buying used, be wary as I seem to recall they had some issues with certain batches of those (vibration reduction/anti-shake models).

Best advice, if you TC, don't go cheap, get the actual/newest one canon has that is compatible with your gear, I'm sure it is worth it (much like the Nikon is).

I did try that 1.7x and 2x from Nikon on Nikon's 300mm f2.8 and the images from that with the 2x were surprisingly sharp, and even at 100% I could not see much difference from shooting with Nikon's $10k AF-S 600 f4... while I am sure the 600 is sharper, it is also huge with a lot of inertia (same for the 400 f2.8) and the 300mm (plus TC) being much lighter weight was easier to pan and track, potentially resulting in greater sharpness.  I even know someone with the Nikon 400 f2.8 who is thinking of selling that to drop to the 300mm f2.8 for the same reason.

Obviously the TC's and slow lenses don't help with shooting night sports (unless very well lit) but as you said, who has the budget for those exotics, and if you shoot mostly daytime they will do the job.

Hope this helps, and sorry I don't know on the sigma.  I see a surprising number of them on craigslist and ebay, so not sure the cause.

Jun 09 12 11:31 pm Link

Photographer

tenrocK photo

Posts: 5426

New York, New York, US

With the amount of light you get at the beach, I wouldn't worry much at all about getting enough light on a sensor with extension tubes or convertors.

Jun 10 12 01:10 am Link

Photographer

Scott Sansenbach

Posts: 567

Huntington Beach, California, US

I shoot surf frequently. I shoot Nikon and my favorite surf lens is a Nikon 80-400 4.5 - 5.6 VR zoom. On my D300 this gives me  120-600mm equivalent. I love this lens and it is perfect for surf. I'm sure the Canon 100-400 would be a great choice.

IMO a f2.8 is actually a disadvantage because they are so large you have to use a tripod. I love to handhold and being able to zoom is awesome. Hand holding means you can be more responsive and nail a higher percentage of shots.

Jun 10 12 01:44 am Link

Photographer

R_Marquez

Posts: 4624

San Francisco, California, US

1. I don't shoot a lot of action.
2. A 100mm f/2.8L on crop is usually long enough for me.

With that said: I wanted to have a telephoto lens just in case. I first looked at the 300mm f/4 IS for its price and reach. When I need telephoto, I usually need the longer end so, no problem with it being a prime. I figured I'd mostly need it for daylight shooting, so f/4 was okay.

Then I considered that maybe I'd need it indoors at a church when they insist I shoot from the balcony. The 100mm is okay, but then I'd have to crop a little. So I opted for a 70-200mm so that I can do f/2.8 indoors. I picked up a cheap TC and there is some quality loss, but then you have to pixel peep to see it and for what I'd want it in the daylight, the 2 stop loss doesn't matter much. Plus, in daylight, highers ISO values are pretty clean so ISO800 is no biggie if I need a faster shutter speed. AF is really not as bad as I expected with the TC but the only thing I've used the TC for is for the eclipse so it's not something I use often anyway.

I think if I didn't shoot events, I'd go for the 100-400mm if not the 300mm f/4, both with a crop body. With a 1.4x TC, the 300mm gets you 420mm at f/5.6 so it's as much reach as the 100-400mm although less versatile but should be slightly better than the 100-400mm at 300mm.

Jun 10 12 02:19 am Link

Photographer

vbi

Posts: 65

Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Canon 100-400 zoom or 400/5.6 - no question. The zoom if you want versatality, the fixed focal if you don't need it and want slightly better IQ and slightly faster focus.

Jun 10 12 02:20 am Link

Photographer

Mer Soleil Photography

Posts: 221

Atlantic Beach, Florida, US

Thanks so much for all of the input. Paul, I have read lots of reviews on the potential lenses on B&H and Amazon as well as some of the professional reviews. While they are helpful, they become redundant and were not helping me distinguish which lens choice or combination of choices might work best. So, I turned to you guys with a few specific questions and so far, the responses have been super helpful. I truly appreciate it guys.

I think I will rent the Canon 100-400 and test it for a week and then rent the 400 f/5.6 and test it for a week. I may buy the 1.4x TC just because and use it with my 70-200 lens while I sort through the larger lens choice.

Tom's suggestion about picking up the 7D and 1.4x is intriguing. That would make my 200mm lens reach out to 448mm. But, assuming all other things being equal (which I know they aren't) such as autofocus, light gathering, etc, would there be a significant difference in IQ between a racked out shot on the 7D with the 1.4x and 200mm lens compared to the same shot on the 5DMkII and the 400mm f/5.6 lens?

Thanks again for the valuable input.

Jun 10 12 06:41 am Link

Photographer

Bob Helm Photography

Posts: 18213

Cherry Hill, New Jersey, US

I agree with what Paul B posted.
I shoot Nikon and a lot of motorsports. I had a 70-200 and the 80 to 400 Nikon lenses and was reevaluating my equipment needs and after adding the 300 2.8 and 2x Nikors. I did a comparison of the 70-200 with 2X and the 80-400 and found the shapness was about the same so I sold the 80-400 and got another body.

I found shapness to be the same but focus was slower and for action that is important. Now I am rethinking it and am on the fence about the 80-400 and will most likely buy it again when they come up with an update.

There is a big difference between OEM and third party teleconverters so you may want to make sure the lense is compatable with Canon's. In Nikon the 80-400 is not, the 200-400 is (much more expensive)

Jun 10 12 06:51 am Link

Photographer

Mer Soleil Photography

Posts: 221

Atlantic Beach, Florida, US

vbi wrote:
Canon 100-400 zoom or 400/5.6 - no question. The zoom if you want versatality, the fixed focal if you don't need it and want slightly better IQ and slightly faster focus.

If it came down to choosing between the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 IS USM and the 400 f/5.6 USM would you think the IS ability of the zoom would be significant enough to tip the scales in its favor? I see where you indicate faster focus and better IQ with the prime. How much weight would you give to the IS function and its apparent ability to allow me to get sharper images in lower light? While I expect to be shooting in good beach light most of the time, the other thing is I would expect to be shooting with the faster shutter speeds to freeze the action. At faster shutter speeds, how important is the IS?

Thanks for your input.

Jun 10 12 06:52 am Link

Photographer

L Cowles Photography

Posts: 833

Corona, California, US

I am a Nikon shooter and use the 80-400.  In your situation if you don't want the shell out the $1500, the teleconverter would be a good possibiblity with the 2.8.  Many of my friends use them and get very good results.

I would stay away from the Sigma.  I have used several of heir long tele lens ad have not been happy.  I have a 170-500 that is very slow to focus and never gave me the results I get from the 80-400.

Jun 10 12 06:54 am Link

Photographer

Mer Soleil Photography

Posts: 221

Atlantic Beach, Florida, US

Robert Helm wrote:
I agree with what Paul B posted.
I shoot Nikon and a lot of motorsports. I had a 70-200 and the 80 to 400 Nikon lenses and was reevaluating my equipment needs and after adding the 300 2.8 and 2x Nikors. I did a comparison of the 70-200 with 2X and the 80-400 and found the shapness was about the same so I sold the 80-400 and got another body.

I found shapness to be the same but focus was slower and for action that is important. Now I am rethinking it and am on the fence about the 80-400 and will most likely buy it again when they come up with an update.

Was the slower focus a function of the TC? I have read that this is an issue and when trying to track a surfer or race car/motorcycle, I would imagine the fast/effective autofocus would be a huge factor.

Jun 10 12 06:58 am Link

Photographer

Mer Soleil Photography

Posts: 221

Atlantic Beach, Florida, US

L Cowles Photography wrote:
I am a Nikon shooter and use the 80-400.  In your situation if you don't want the shell out the $1500, the teleconverter would be a good possibiblity with the 2.8.  Many of my friends use them and get very good results.

I would stay away from the Sigma.  I have used several of heir long tele lens ad have not been happy.  I have a 170-500 that is very slow to focus and never gave me the results I get from the 80-400.

I know you are a Nikon shooter, but would you have any strong opinion about the 1.4x vs the 2.0x TCs? It seems I would need the 2.0x for my purposes but would I experience much drop off in autofocus function?

Jun 10 12 07:01 am Link

Photographer

ACPhotography

Posts: 8622

Plainview, New York, US

If you want to seriously shoot surfing you're going to want a minimum of 400mm...

400mm + 1.7 teleconverter for 650mm

Quiksilver Pro Long Beach, NY

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y71/NiteOwlNY/sports/Quiksilver%20Pro/_DSC8820.jpg

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y71/NiteOwlNY/sports/Quiksilver%20Pro/_DSC8885.jpg

Jun 10 12 08:26 am Link

Photographer

Kevin Fair

Posts: 2533

Palm Coast, Florida, US

I have a friend who uses the Canon 100-400 and gets great results shooting surf photos.

I use a Nikon 300 f/4 and a 1.4 TC.

A good site to check out surf photography.

http://community.surf-station.com/forum … to-Gallery

Jun 10 12 08:48 am Link

Photographer

ELiffmann

Posts: 1414

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, US

I like to shoot little birds and am part of the focal length obsessed.  If you're not hard on your gear I'd definitely check out the Sigma 50-500 or 150-500 but you'll need the OS(IS/VR).  That'll bump you into the $1,500 range.  If you don't get something with IS you'll need to be on a tripod especially with a crop-sensor.  I've got a friend that takes great stuff with 70-300L on a 7d I think too.  I've got a 1.4 tc for my 70-200 vrii and I wouldn't recommend that combo if you're starting out building your kit but since you've already got one...?  I've read(and agree in my case) that TCs and zooms don't mix well.  If you plan on shooting primarily surfers there should generally be plenty of light in which case the combo works decently.  If you're interested, check out my smugmug page and see the "Birds In Flight" page.  Disregard numbers 28-40, those were a 500 f4 rental.  I'm using a crop-sensor(d7000) too.  You could always rent the tc and see if it's tolerable.  I rented a 2x and decided against it.

Jun 10 12 09:48 am Link

Photographer

Fotografica Gregor

Posts: 4122

Alexandria, Virginia, US

In my experience, long telephoto zooms from both Canon and Nikon tend to miss focus on action shots too often when shooting with high speed professional bodies.

The shorter telephoto zooms 70-200 / 80-200 in the most modern variations are very good in this respect in my experience.

For my money I would go fixed focal length.  I use the Nikon 300 f2.8 VRII and the Nikon 400f2.8 AF-I lenses  to cover sports where the distances will be long.

These lenses stand up well to teleconverter use at 1.4x but lose focusing speed and accuracy beyond that.

Jun 10 12 09:59 am Link

Photographer

Paul Morgan Photography

Posts: 541

Medical Lake, Washington, US

Perhaps you should rent the teleconveters first, to see how they work for you.  Lensprotogo.com has them for pretty reasonable, that is where I rented mine.  Comes in a pelican case, price includes shipping both ways. 

As to IS, for shooting surfing, I think not useful, you need the shutter speed to freeze the action.  Wildlife at sunrise or sunset, that would be a different story, the IS would really come into its own and be quite valuable depending on conditions and subject.

Paul

Jun 10 12 09:59 am Link

Photographer

Bob Helm Photography

Posts: 18213

Cherry Hill, New Jersey, US

Mer Soleil Photography wrote:

Was the slower focus a function of the TC? I have read that this is an issue and when trying to track a surfer or race car/motorcycle, I would imagine the fast/effective autofocus would be a huge factor.

No, the TC was used on the 70-200 and cannot be used on the 80-400, will not fit.

Shooting with a TC can slow focus because of the need for better tolerance with the longer lens. With the Nikon this lens does not at present have a motor in it so it is inherently slower than lense with motors, like the 70-200.

Jun 10 12 10:00 am Link

Photographer

Instinct Images

Posts: 22653

San Diego, California, US

I owned the Canon 100-400mmL lens and it was just okay. I really don't like the push-pull zoom. I also found that 400mm wasn't long enough. If you can afford it I'd look into the 300mm f/2.8L with 1.4x or 2.0x converters. I've seen that lens go for about $2,500 used on eBay. But if you're only shooting surfing once in a while you might look into renting. It will take a lot of days of renting to equal the cost of any of those lenses.

This was shot with a 1D Mark II with the 100-400mm but it's heavily cropped from the original:

http://www.panoramio.com/photos/medium/47405323.jpg

Jun 10 12 02:26 pm Link

Photographer

P O T T S

Posts: 5381

Lake City, Florida, US

Kevin Fair wrote:
I have a friend who uses the Canon 100-400 and gets great results shooting surf photos.

I use a Nikon 300 f/4 and a 1.4 TC.

A good site to check out surf photography.

http://community.surf-station.com/forum … to-Gallery

I will second this. Some of thebest surf photographers I have ever seen frequent that website, including the guy i just quoted. It is a small community of some of the greatest surf related stuff you will find. And they are close to you.

Jun 10 12 02:50 pm Link

Photographer

Mer Soleil Photography

Posts: 221

Atlantic Beach, Florida, US

ACPhotography wrote:
If you want to seriously shoot surfing you're going to want a minimum of 400mm...

400mm + 1.7 teleconverter for 650mm

Quiksilver Pro Long Beach, NY

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y71/NiteOwlNY/sports/Quiksilver%20Pro/_DSC8820.jpg

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y71/NiteOwlNY/sports/Quiksilver%20Pro/_DSC8885.jpg

Those are great shots. I am not planning to get into this type of shooting too seriously but I have some friends here asking if I can shoot them surfing and/or stand up paddling. I would like a longer lens for this plus the occasional wildlife shoot. Thanks for the advice.

Jun 10 12 03:14 pm Link

Photographer

Mer Soleil Photography

Posts: 221

Atlantic Beach, Florida, US

Thanks for all the great advice. I have a lot to think about.

Jun 10 12 03:16 pm Link

Photographer

DougBPhoto

Posts: 38593

Portland, Oregon, US

Robert Helm wrote:
No, the TC was used on the 70-200 and cannot be used on the 80-400, will not fit.

Shooting with a TC can slow focus because of the need for better tolerance with the longer lens. With the Nikon this lens does not at present have a motor in it so it is inherently slower than lense with motors, like the 70-200.

Precisely... I guess the OP did not notice when I discussed this exact thing earlier in the thread.

Mer -

Also, to elaborate on something... not only will the AF-S TC's NOT work on the 80-400 due to the fact that the 80-400 is not available yet in an AF-S model (focus motor in the lens) and therefore focuses slower, MOST AF systems in cameras have trouble with auto focus speed and accuracy if the lens is slower than F5.6 (or if it is effectively slower due to a TC or a polarizer.)

Except at the widest setting, a TC on the 80-400 (or Canon's 100-400) won't be of much help because it will move the effective f-stop into the danger zone for auto-focus, and at the longer end of those lenses, it is most definitely so.

That is also a reason why those long Sigma's can be difficult, in that they tend to have an aperture of what f6.3 at the 500mm range, so not only do you get the less sharp end of the lens, but you also get less accurate auto focus combined with narrower depth of field (the longer your MM the less depth of field you get.)

So, when it comes to TC's, I'd only put them on the f2.8 lens, or a fixed-length f4 telephoto (1.4x), otherwise you start getting into the ifffy AF area due to less light hitting the AF sensors.

I hope this helps.. and I would probably start with a 2x Canon TC (on the 70-200 you already have, many times cheaper than the 100-400 for similar performance.)

Beyond that you QUICKLY get into serious cost-benefit considerations, as the really good quality will start with TC's on a 300 f2.8 and then going upward in cost and size to 500 f4, 400 f2.8, and 600 f4.

When you start getting into long lenses, you'll also find that not only are the costs insane, but you will start seeing the joys of heat distortion, air pollution, dust, and other sharpness issues resulting from the longer distances between you and your subject.

Jun 10 12 03:31 pm Link

Photographer

-Ira

Posts: 2187

New York, New York, US

You don't need a lens.  You need a body.  The 5DII is a great camera...I have it too.  But it sucks when it comes to focusing on fast moving objects.

I've tried shooting sports with a Canon 70-200 2.8 IS, Canon 24-70 2.8, and Sigma 300 2.8.  All three lens are quick enough to focus but the 5D struggles to lock and track.  I will inevitability get a few keepers.  Which if fine since I am just shooting these events for fun.  But if I had a client depending on results I'd get a better body.

IMHO,

-Ira

Jun 10 12 03:34 pm Link

Photographer

Mer Soleil Photography

Posts: 221

Atlantic Beach, Florida, US

DougBPhoto wrote:

Precisely... I guess the OP did not notice when I discussed this exact thing earlier in the thread.

Mer -

Also, to elaborate on something... not only will the AF-S TC's NOT work on the 80-400 due to the fact that the 80-400 is not available yet in an AF-S model (focus motor in the lens) and therefore focuses slower, MOST AF systems in cameras have trouble with auto focus speed and accuracy if the lens is slower than F5.6 (or if it is effectively slower due to a TC or a polarizer.)

Except at the widest setting, a TC on the 80-400 (or Canon's 100-400) won't be of much help because it will move the effective f-stop into the danger zone for auto-focus, and at the longer end of those lenses, it is most definitely so.

That is also a reason why those long Sigma's can be difficult, in that they tend to have an aperture of what f6.3 at the 500mm range, so not only do you get the less sharp end of the lens, but you also get less accurate auto focus combined with narrower depth of field (the longer your MM the less depth of field you get.)

So, when it comes to TC's, I'd only put them on the f2.8 lens, or a fixed-length f4 telephoto (1.4x), otherwise you start getting into the ifffy AF area due to less light hitting the AF sensors.

I hope this helps.. and I would probably start with a 2x Canon TC (on the 70-200 you already have, many times cheaper than the 100-400 for similar performance.)

Beyond that you QUICKLY get into serious cost-benefit considerations, as the really good quality will start with TC's on a 300 f2.8 and then going upward in cost and size to 500 f4, 400 f2.8, and 600 f4.

When you start getting into long lenses, you'll also find that not only are the costs insane, but you will start seeing the joys of heat distortion, air pollution, dust, and other sharpness issues resulting from the longer distances between you and your subject.

Doug... your responses have been excellent, thorough and helpful. I truly appreciate the effort and the education. Thanks!

Jun 10 12 04:02 pm Link

Photographer

Mer Soleil Photography

Posts: 221

Atlantic Beach, Florida, US

IraMonko wrote:
You don't need a lens.  You need a body.  The 5DII is a great camera...I have it too.  But it sucks when it comes to focusing on fast moving objects.

I've tried shooting sports with a Canon 70-200 2.8 IS, Canon 24-70 2.8, and Sigma 300 2.8.  All three lens are quick enough to focus but the 5D struggles to lock and track.  I will inevitability get a few keepers.  Which if fine since I am just shooting these events for fun.  But if I had a client depending on results I'd get a better body.

IMHO,

-Ira

Do you think the earlier suggestion to get a 7D would make sense? I know it has the improved autofocus with many more af points than the 5DMkII. Still, I am doing this mostly for fun or personal use. I do shoot some of this action stuff for trade... for example, my friend that owns a local pizza place is an avid surfer and had some boards made with his restaurant logo on the boards. I shot the boards and shot him and others surfing on the boards. I have gotten some excellent pizza in return. But, I don't expect to convert this into a paid gig.

Jun 10 12 04:06 pm Link

Photographer

-Ira

Posts: 2187

New York, New York, US

Mer Soleil Photography wrote:

Do you think the earlier suggestion to get a 7D would make sense? I know it has the improved autofocus with many more af points than the 5DMkII. Still, I am doing this mostly for fun or personal use. I do shoot some of this action stuff for trade... for example, my friend that owns a local pizza place is an avid surfer and had some boards made with his restaurant logo on the boards. I shot the boards and shot him and others surfing on the boards. I have gotten some excellent pizza in return. But, I don't expect to convert this into a paid gig.

For what its worth....I don't have personal experience with the 7D but I know some people who shoot sports for a living who use it.

Jun 10 12 04:08 pm Link

Photographer

nwprophoto

Posts: 13917

Kalibo, Western Visayas, Philippines

Mer Soleil Photography wrote:
I have recently had some opportunities to take some photos of surfers and stand up paddleboarders and I don't have a long enough lens. I mostly shoot with a Canon 5DMkII. I also have a Canon Rebel Xsi with the cropped sensor. My longest lens is a Canon 70-200 f/2.8L.

How short were you?
A 400mm is only 2x of a 200mm.
For a lot of the surfing I have seen you would need to call the CIA or NASA
and borrow something huge.

Jun 10 12 04:44 pm Link

Photographer

Chuckarelei

Posts: 9566

Seattle, Washington, US

Fotografica Gregor wrote:
In my experience, long telephoto zooms from both Canon and Nikon tend to miss focus on action shots too often when shooting with high speed professional bodies.
The shorter telephoto zooms 70-200 / 80-200 in the most modern variations are very good in this respect in my experience.

Those xx-300mm to xx-400mm variable f/stop zooms are not considered as pro lenses. unlike their more expensive shorter range cousins like the 70-200mm range. so using those for pro style sports shooting is pushing it.

Jun 10 12 04:54 pm Link

Photographer

DougBPhoto

Posts: 38593

Portland, Oregon, US

Chuckarelei wrote:
Those xx-300mm to xx-400mm variable f/stop zooms are not considered as pro lenses. unlike their more expensive shorter range cousins like the 70-200mm range. so using those for pro style sports shooting is pushing it.

That is curious as I've gotten 80-400's from NPS on many occasions, yet was never able to get a 24-70 f2.8 out of them.  IIRC, many moons ago when I applied to NPS, the 80-400 counted as a pro lens.

I would agree that the xx-300mm are not considered pro, that is very true, but the 100-400 and 80-400 are used quite frequently by those pro sports shooters who don't have budgets exceeding $5,000 per lens.

Some even say crop sensors are not professional, but I really like them and that they allow me to capture images that are similar to what someone else needs a $5k FF body and $10k 600mm f4 lens to do.

Jun 10 12 05:03 pm Link

Photographer

Aaron Duarte

Posts: 104

Manchester, New Hampshire, US

I shot some seagulls, people and kite surfers at the beach.  With a stiff breeze blowing toward shore I wound up cleaning my lens and sensor several times to reduce the number of spots. 

I would suggest keeping the Rebel and looking for zooms.  I would not want to be changing primes at the beach or watching my 5d get eaten by salt spray. 

Rentals would be another option.

Jun 10 12 05:52 pm Link

Photographer

Chuckarelei

Posts: 9566

Seattle, Washington, US

DougBPhoto wrote:
That is curious as I've gotten 80-400's from NPS on many occasions, yet was never able to get a 24-70 f2.8 out of them.  IIRC, many moons ago when I applied to NPS, the 80-400 counted as a pro lens.
I would agree that the xx-300mm are not considered pro, that is very true, but the 100-400 and 80-400 are used quite frequently by those pro sports shooters who don't have budgets exceeding $5,000 per lens.
Some even say crop sensors are not professional, but I really like them and that they allow me to capture images that are similar to what someone else needs a $5k FF body and $10k 600mm f4 lens to do.

Well, NPS is basically like Madonna claims that she is a virgin. There are good number of working pros who are not members of NPS while there are quite NPS members who are not even a part-time pro. go figure. Nikon would not consider me a pro simply because I can't find an existing NPS member to sponsor me. go figure that?

To be honest, I have never seen pro Nikon shooters use 80-400 or 100-400 for basketball, football, soccer, gymnastics, swimming & diving. There are shooters on field who use those lenses, But they don't come across to me someone work for any major media outlet. The focus on those lenses are just way too slow to worthwhile.

About crop sensors; I don't know who said they are not pro cameras? Simply not true. Most of the sports shooters are for news/journalistic purpose. that's all they need, as they don't need to make it into a poster size.

Jun 10 12 06:11 pm Link

Photographer

DougBPhoto

Posts: 38593

Portland, Oregon, US

Chuckarelei wrote:
To be honest, I have never seen pro Nikon shooters use 80-400 or 100-400 for basketball, football, soccer, gymnastics, swimming & diving. There are shooters on field who use those lenses, But they don't come across to me someone work for any major media outlet. The focus on those lenses are just way too slow to worthwhile.

You also know that those lenses are virtually useless at night or indoors.

As for the focus being too slow, I must be a real old timer because I remember a time when it would take forever for any lens to focus because auto focus didn't exist, yet those lenses were still worthwhile in the hands of professionals (and many amateurs.)

Even a fixed 400 f5.6 would probably be considered a pro lens in its day, yet would not have been used to shoot any of those sports at night or indoors.

Luckily for the OP, surfing does not occur at night or indoors, so what other people with larger budgets use to shoot those sports really doesn't matter for much.

Professionals who can afford better lenses or can rent better lenses will use them, but there are ALSO professionals who know how to make due with what they have and can afford, or don't need the fanciest stuff on the market.

Personally, I love using a 300 f2.8, or a 400 f2.8 or 600 f4, but I also know there are other times where other lenses can do just fine AND may help you get shots that you might miss with those "better" lenses.

I remember a football game that I shot in the early evening, and a full-of-himself advanced amateur was laughing at me shooting an 80-400 while he had his 400 f2.8 and he was blasting off that typical line of snobby bull... that lens focuses too slow, isn't sharp enough, not a professional lens, blah blah.  Next play QB runs option and goes in for touchdown jumping over the opposing player.   I asked him how his shots turned out...  he said he didn't get any because he was "too tight"... I said... Oh, well, here is what 10 in-focus, properly cropped shots of that play look like.

Other times, I've shot side-by-side with folks with Canon FF and 600mm f4, me hand-holding an 80-400 on a crop body (essentially the same focal length/angle of view) and all of my shots be sell-able while they might get 1 in 20 good enough to be one of my rejects.

It isn't the gear that makes you a professional, it is knowing how to use what you have AND get professional results, even if you don't have $5,000 or $10,000 lenses.

I would think that someone of your experience would appreciate that better equipment does not always make someone a better photographer.

Jun 10 12 06:36 pm Link

Photographer

Mer Soleil Photography

Posts: 221

Atlantic Beach, Florida, US

Call it procrastination or prudence, but I have finally pulled the trigger. My present solution is that I have a 7D and a 400/f5.6 arriving tomorrow. My old Rebel has basically died so I am replacing it with a 7D. Now I will have my 5DMk2 and the 7D. I can't wait to experiement with the 400mm on both bodies. In time, I may also pick up a TC for my 70-200/f2.8 for more versatility.

Again, thanks to all who provided advice in this thread. I will come back in a week or so with an update from the field/beach.

Apr 24 13 01:12 pm Link

Photographer

Marin Photography NYC

Posts: 7249

New York, New York, US

My outdoor bird kit as I call it is a 50D with a Sigma 150-500mm lens. It works great, very sharp! Never had a problem with it. I have shot birds and aircraft with it from the beach many times.

this was taken at 500mm

http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4089/5172953176_b14d09f26d_z.jpg
Cocoa Beach 081 by RUBEN MARIN, on Flickr

this was at 289mm....

http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1420/5131195043_482891922f_z.jpg
20101030_167h by RUBEN MARIN, on Flickr

Apr 24 13 01:34 pm Link

Photographer

Mer Soleil Photography

Posts: 221

Atlantic Beach, Florida, US

Nice shots Ruben. I will be playing with this combo this weekend to get a feel for what is now possible. It's a bit like Christmas.

Apr 25 13 11:27 am Link

Photographer

Adam Rich Photography

Posts: 80

SANTA ROSA BEACH, Florida, US

Absolutely rent first. I had the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS and loved it on my 7D, not so much on the 5D Mk II. It would give strange "noise" in the unfocused areas of my shots. It made the pictures look artificial. Then I sold the 5D Mk II and got the Mk III, and the images were stunning.

But then I had to sell the 100-400 to get a 70-200 f/2.8L IS... the 100-400 wasn't a moneymaker for me...

I don't know if my lens/camera combination was some sort of unique coincidence, but I definitely recommend renting it first. In my opinion, it's a fabulous lens.

Best of both worlds is the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS on the 7D. Here's a shot from a few years ago: http://www.adamrichphotography.net/img/ … 019417.jpg


Adam

Apr 25 13 11:58 am Link

Photographer

Marin Photography NYC

Posts: 7249

New York, New York, US

Mer Soleil Photography wrote:
Nice shots Ruben. I will be playing with this combo this weekend to get a feel for what is now possible. It's a bit like Christmas.

I know what you mean, it's fun to spend and hard to earn!

Apr 25 13 02:28 pm Link