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By Michele Grenier

October 28, 2020

 

Wondering what lenses make the best sports photography come to life? One thing is certain: it isn’t just a question of focal length – it’s when to use them. Here are a few tips to guide you in your choice in the midst of a vast array of photographic lenses.

 

Wide-angle lenses

Wide-angle lenses - focal length between 14 and 35 mm – are ideal in tight spaces because they offer a wide field of view (hence the name.) It allows you to get closer to your subject and capture the entire scene because it reduces the size of the elements in the frame.

In large spaces, it is very useful to have the full picture of a situation: the team players cheering, the crowd in the bleachers or the beautiful scenery behind the athlete. Wide-angle lenses create images with more depth of field (less blur) than standard and telephoto lenses.



Michèle Grenier
Sony A9 + Sony FE 28mm f/2
1/500  |  f/2  |  ISO 500

 

Standard lenses

Standard lenses - also called "normal"- have a focal length of about 50 mm for full-frame cameras (35 mm for APS-C sensors.) These are probably the easiest lenses to use because they reproduce the angle of view and perspective of human vision very accurately. Very versatile, this type of lens is useful for portraits as well as for photographing details or taking long shots.

A personal anecdote: the 50mm f/1.8 was the first lens I bought when I started doing sports photography. This lens is still one of my favorites today and I use it in almost every setting I work in.



Michèle Grenier
Sony a9 + Sony T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA
1/6400  |  f/1.8  |  ISO 100

Telephoto lenses

Telephoto lenses - focal length between 70 and 600 mm - magnify the objects, a bit like binoculars do. They allow you to shoot your subject from a distance, or to capture small details at close range. The telephoto lens creates the smallest depth of field (the most blur) as a result of the flattening of the scene – the reason why the telephoto lenses are my favorite kind of lens!

Their use requires space and is ideal for outdoor sports such as running, cycling, baseball, soccer, water sports, skiing, etc... Obviously, the further you are from your subject, the longer the focal length you will need. Some companies offer the possibility of mounting a teleconverter to their lenses to add a magnification factor ranging from 1.4x to 2x.



Michèle Grenier
Sony a9 + Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS
1/800  |  f/5.6  |  ISO 500

 

What lens should you use?

It comes down to your personal taste! You can use any lens in sports photography. Will you be far away from your subject or very close? Will you be able to move around? Will you be indoors or outdoors? Using a 200mm telephoto lens in a 100 square foot studio would probably not be the best choice, whereas it would be perfect for a soccer game. It's all a matter of context and looks!

If you're still hesitant about which lens to buy next, just rent it out first! You'll have the opportunity to test it at a lower cost and see if it really suits your needs!

Happy shooting!

 

Find the right lens suited for your needs

 


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