The two most common questions about sports photography lenses
I’m told I need a fast lens – what is a fast lens?
Fast lenses refer to the wider-than-average constant apertures found on more expensive lenses, such as a 70-200mm f/2.8 or f/4.
They’re called fast lenses because at an aperture of f/2.8 or f/4 you’re able to obtain faster shutter speeds, which is ideal for freezing your subjects’ action.
The wide apertures will also really bring your subjects out from their surroundings for more striking results.
The other benefit of using these lenses is that their wide apertures (and therefore your exposure, such as f/4 at 1/500 sec) are constant through the focal length range, whether you’re shooting at 70mm or 200mm.
With cheaper lenses the aperture will change from, say, f/3.5 at their widest focal length to f/5.6 at their longest end.
Is it worth using an image-stabilised lens?
Image stabilisation (or IS) is readily available on lenses from budget to pro-level, and this is a good thing for photographers, as a lens with IS can help to nullify camera shake when shooting handheld, which means sharper results all round.
Canon’s EF-S 55-250mm IS, for example, has a ‘four-stop Image Stabilizer’, which means you can use shutter speeds up to 16 times slower than normal and still capture shots without unwanted blur, such as 1/15 sec instead of 1/250 sec.
Some IS lenses have two stabilisation settings, one for normal shooting and one for use when panning by correcting simply for vertical shake.
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