Need advice on lens for HS football games!

Started 4 months ago | Discussions
Zendit_Outdoors Forum Member • Posts: 66
Need advice on lens for HS football games!

So, our youngest son has really turned out to be a great athlete and we’re SO proud of his accomplishments - starting offense, defense and special teams/returns as a sophmore! - that the wife has approved the purchase of a lens to photograph and video the games. Yay! For once I won’t get browbeaten for a photography purchase! Haha! We live in a tiny town that’s very poor and the other parents will be SO happy if I can take some great photos of the boys, for them. But, I need help picking a lens….

I currently have a A7Riv that I’m using for everything but I’m waiting (been 2 months already!) on a A7Siii. I’m really needing to stay under $2500 although I could go to $3k if I absolutely had to. Ideally, I’d like to find something closer to the $2k mark. After watching some YouTube videos on sports photography, it looks like a zoom lens with something like a 300mm-400mm lens would be my best bet. Problem is, the guy who made some of the football-specific tutorials stressed that you “really need a f2.8 lens” because of the low light; otherwise your iso will have to be too high. Unfortunately, those fast Sony lenses with that max focal length a WAY above my pay grade! Like $7k+. What I’m wondering if this guy’s advice is off? He’s a Nikon shooter and I was hoping that these 2 Sony A7 series cameras (particularly the A7Siii) with their lowlight performance capabilities would allow me to use the more affordably priced, albeit ‘slower,’ lenses? Something like the Sony FE 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens or even the Sony FE 200-600mm G OSS lens and still get some great images without a ton of noise?

I want to take some great photos of my boy and his teammates but I’m not taking these as a pro and I’m not trying to sell photos to SI. I’m not going to pixel peep THAT much. Given that qualification, can I get away with one of these lenses? OR, would I be better off picking up the 85mm GM (that I’ve been itching for!) and just try and shoot those plays where I can get pretty close to the action? FWIW - the longest focal length lens I currently have is the Sony 24-105mm f4 G OSS.

Sure would appreciate any advise you can share with me. 👊😁

Sony a7 Sony a7R Sony a7S
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Jojophotomo Regular Member • Posts: 225
Re: Need advice on lens for HS football games!
1

Zendit_Outdoors wrote:

So, our youngest son has really turned out to be a great athlete and we’re SO proud of his accomplishments - starting offense, defense and special teams/returns as a sophmore! - that the wife has approved the purchase of a lens to photograph and video the games. Yay! For once I won’t get browbeaten for a photography purchase! Haha! We live in a tiny town that’s very poor and the other parents will be SO happy if I can take some great photos of the boys, for them. But, I need help picking a lens….

I currently have a A7Riv that I’m using for everything but I’m waiting (been 2 months already!) on a A7Siii. I’m really needing to stay under $2500 although I could go to $3k if I absolutely had to. Ideally, I’d like to find something closer to the $2k mark. After watching some YouTube videos on sports photography, it looks like a zoom lens with something like a 300mm-400mm lens would be my best bet. Problem is, the guy who made some of the football-specific tutorials stressed that you “really need a f2.8 lens” because of the low light; otherwise your iso will have to be too high. Unfortunately, those fast Sony lenses with that max focal length a WAY above my pay grade! Like $7k+. What I’m wondering if this guy’s advice is off? He’s a Nikon shooter and I was hoping that these 2 Sony A7 series cameras (particularly the A7Siii) with their lowlight performance capabilities would allow me to use the more affordably priced, albeit ‘slower,’ lenses? Something like the Sony FE 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens or even the Sony FE 200-600mm G OSS lens and still get some great images without a ton of noise?

I want to take some great photos of my boy and his teammates but I’m not taking these as a pro and I’m not trying to sell photos to SI. I’m not going to pixel peep THAT much. Given that qualification, can I get away with one of these lenses? OR, would I be better off picking up the 85mm GM (that I’ve been itching for!) and just try and shoot those plays where I can get pretty close to the action? FWIW - the longest focal length lens I currently have is the Sony 24-105mm f4 G OSS.

Sure would appreciate any advise you can share with me. 👊😁

70-200 2.8 no question.  Yeah you'll have to move around a lot, but with most high school teams that's not an issue.  Anything else is just not going to give you the light gathering capabilities to keep up reasonable shutter speeds after the sun goes down.

For reference, I use an A9 and A1.  This advice applies no matter what camera you choose.

 Jojophotomo's gear list:Jojophotomo's gear list
Sony a9 Sony a1 Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS Sony FE 20mm F1.8G
tdbmd Contributing Member • Posts: 931
Re: Need advice on lens for HS football games!

Most HS fields don't have great lighting like a college or pro stadium.  f2.8 is generally needed.  I guess you could try a f4 lens but you are also going to need shutter speeds in the 1/1000 or faster to really freeze the action

 tdbmd's gear list:tdbmd's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Mark II Canon EOS Rebel T8i (EOS 850D) Canon EOS R6 Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Canon EF-S 24mm F2.8 STM +8 more
Craig Gillette Forum Pro • Posts: 11,869
Re: Need advice on lens for HS football games!

I think you have two "problems."  Low light and high speed motion  and then distance to the action.  From the sideline, a 70-200/2.8 will handle nearby action pretty well.  The Tamron 70-180/2.8 is responsive and not terribly expensive.  If you are limited to shooting from the stands, you might have to look to longer lenses.

It might be worth verifying with the school what your shooting opportunities will be and maybe renting a 70-180 or 200 and the 200-600 just to see how they work in your situation and venue.

OP Zendit_Outdoors Forum Member • Posts: 66
Re: Need advice on lens for HS football games!

Jojophotomo wrote:

Zendit_Outdoors wrote:

So, our youngest son has really turned out to be a great athlete and we’re SO proud of his accomplishments - starting offense, defense and special teams/returns as a sophmore! - that the wife has approved the purchase of a lens to photograph and video the games. Yay! For once I won’t get browbeaten for a photography purchase! Haha! We live in a tiny town that’s very poor and the other parents will be SO happy if I can take some great photos of the boys, for them. But, I need help picking a lens….

I currently have a A7Riv that I’m using for everything but I’m waiting (been 2 months already!) on a A7Siii. I’m really needing to stay under $2500 although I could go to $3k if I absolutely had to. Ideally, I’d like to find something closer to the $2k mark. After watching some YouTube videos on sports photography, it looks like a zoom lens with something like a 300mm-400mm lens would be my best bet. Problem is, the guy who made some of the football-specific tutorials stressed that you “really need a f2.8 lens” because of the low light; otherwise your iso will have to be too high. Unfortunately, those fast Sony lenses with that max focal length a WAY above my pay grade! Like $7k+. What I’m wondering if this guy’s advice is off? He’s a Nikon shooter and I was hoping that these 2 Sony A7 series cameras (particularly the A7Siii) with their lowlight performance capabilities would allow me to use the more affordably priced, albeit ‘slower,’ lenses? Something like the Sony FE 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens or even the Sony FE 200-600mm G OSS lens and still get some great images without a ton of noise?

I want to take some great photos of my boy and his teammates but I’m not taking these as a pro and I’m not trying to sell photos to SI. I’m not going to pixel peep THAT much. Given that qualification, can I get away with one of these lenses? OR, would I be better off picking up the 85mm GM (that I’ve been itching for!) and just try and shoot those plays where I can get pretty close to the action? FWIW - the longest focal length lens I currently have is the Sony 24-105mm f4 G OSS.

Sure would appreciate any advise you can share with me. 👊😁

70-200 2.8 no question. Yeah you'll have to move around a lot, but with most high school teams that's not an issue. Anything else is just not going to give you the light gathering capabilities to keep up reasonable shutter speeds after the sun goes down.

For reference, I use an A9 and A1. This advice applies no matter what camera you choose.

Thanks. I was afraid I might get that answer. Lol. I’m going to start by renting the 70-200 F2.8 GM lens and I’m going to rent the 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM just because I’m stubborn. It’ll be fun to play with at the ranch anyway!

OP Zendit_Outdoors Forum Member • Posts: 66
Re: Need advice on lens for HS football games!

tdbmd wrote:

Most HS fields don't have great lighting like a college or pro stadium. f2.8 is generally needed. I guess you could try a f4 lens but you are also going to need shutter speeds in the 1/1000 or faster to really freeze the action

We actually have some pretty bright lights - much brighter than MOST of the teams we play but I definitely get your (and others) point.

OP Zendit_Outdoors Forum Member • Posts: 66
Re: Need advice on lens for HS football games!

Craig Gillette wrote:

I think you have two "problems." Low light and high speed motion and then distance to the action. From the sideline, a 70-200/2.8 will handle nearby action pretty well. The Tamron 70-180/2.8 is responsive and not terribly expensive. If you are limited to shooting from the stands, you might have to look to longer lenses.

It might be worth verifying with the school what your shooting opportunities will be and maybe renting a 70-180 or 200 and the 200-600 just to see how they work in your situation and venue.

Yessir, I’m going to rent some to try out. We have pretty great light on our field and being a VERY small school I’ll be able to actually get right on the edge of the field. Out of the way, of course, but still on the grass and very close to the sidelines. I’m going to start with the 70-200 F2.8 GM and the 100-400 f4.5-5.6 GM. I can’t find anything fast in the 400mm+ range that’s even remotely affordable. 😥 I do appreciate your help/advice! 🙏

tdbmd Contributing Member • Posts: 931
Re: Need advice on lens for HS football games!

Zendit_Outdoors wrote:

Craig Gillette wrote:

I think you have two "problems." Low light and high speed motion and then distance to the action. From the sideline, a 70-200/2.8 will handle nearby action pretty well. The Tamron 70-180/2.8 is responsive and not terribly expensive. If you are limited to shooting from the stands, you might have to look to longer lenses.

It might be worth verifying with the school what your shooting opportunities will be and maybe renting a 70-180 or 200 and the 200-600 just to see how they work in your situation and venue.

Yessir, I’m going to rent some to try out. We have pretty great light on our field and being a VERY small school I’ll be able to actually get right on the edge of the field. Out of the way, of course, but still on the grass and very close to the sidelines. I’m going to start with the 70-200 F2.8 GM and the 100-400 f4.5-5.6 GM. I can’t find anything fast in the 400mm+ range that’s even remotely affordable. 😥 I do appreciate your help/advice! 🙏

Very small school and great lighting usually do not go together but you will probably have to try it out and see.  Many of the newer bodies allow for higher ISO than ever and still have pretty clean photos.

 tdbmd's gear list:tdbmd's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Mark II Canon EOS Rebel T8i (EOS 850D) Canon EOS R6 Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Canon EF-S 24mm F2.8 STM +8 more
Sync80 New Member • Posts: 13
Re: Need advice on lens for HS football games!

If you can shoot from the sidelines, an excellent lens for high school football would be the Sony 135GM. It's sharp wide open and would give you one whole shutter speed faster than the 70-200GM. Besides the A7S3, another choice for low light pictures would be the A7M3, which makes superb photos up to 6400ASA, and can go a lot higher.

ghostr1der New Member • Posts: 7
Re: Need advice on lens for HS football games!
1

I would agree that either the Tamron 70-180 2.8 or the Sony 70-200 2.8 would be ideal. I don't own either lens; however, I like the Tamron better despite the slightly shorter long end. Since you have an A7RIV, you could also shoot in crop mode and still have 26mp images. That would give you the equivalent max focal lengths of 270 on the Tamron and 300 on the Sony.

OP Zendit_Outdoors Forum Member • Posts: 66
Re: Need advice on lens for HS football games!

Great points!! Thanks so much! I’m going to rent a Sony 70-200 and see how it works with the R4. STILL waiting for my Siii after more than 2 months! The stupid EPA regulations that stopped Sony (and many other electronics company’s’) shipments hit RIGHT as my order was getting ready to ship. Once Sony got their waiver (for that ONE TINY WIRE) they decided to wipe the slate and start again with NEW orders rather than picking up where they left off. Soooo, my dealer has been waiting on it and loads of other Sony gear that was effected by the EPA’s ridiculous new regulations. Ugh AND GRRRR!

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