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Best Lens for My Kids' Sporting Events

cgutshall7
Apprentice

I have  a Canon EOS Rebel T7. I take a lot of pictures of my kids sporting events and I am looking for some advice on lenses. I am ok for the most part for events that are outdoors during the day and indoor events. Where I need some advice is picking out a lens or even camera settings to assist me in taking better pictures. Everything turns out dark....everything. Please help all input is greatly appreciated. Thank You!

8 REPLIES 8

Tronhard
Elite

Hi and welcome to the forum! 🙂

First of all what lens or lenses do you currently have, please?  Second, can you please post a couple of images along with the EXIF data for the images.  If you are not sure about that, put the images on a share site and send us the link.


cheers, TREVOR

Before you ask us, have you looked in the manual or on the Canon Support Site?
"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris


Ok, so I have added an example of one of the dark photos info. Hopefully it’s what you requested. I also feel like I need to tell you that I am very new to digital photography I am trying to learn the best I can so that I don’t waste time taking awful pictures lol. The lens that I currently use is a canon 75-300mm. And I have been shooting in Manuel mode. I am trying to teach myself and learn what settings to use in what situations but I would like to add another lens to my arsenal as well. I appreciate the quick response!

Hi and thanks for your explanation.  However, I cannot see any image, data, or a link to one at this stage. Can you check at your end to make sure  you included it please?  When you say you are new to digital photography, what background or experience do you have with film cameras, especially SLRs?  Are you comfortable with the exposure triangle, for example?

When getting used to a DSLR, my first suggestion is to let the benefits that come with a DSLR work for you while you get used to the system.  I would suggest downloading the User Guide as a PDF which you can get At this link.  One of the first things I would do is to set the ISO at auto.  That simplifies the choices you need to make to control the exposure.

Start shooting in P mode or Av mode.  If you use the latter, you can choose what is in focus, and the camera will sort out the shutter speed and ISO for you.  It is worth studying the use of the Exposure Compensation dial for back-lit subjects, and using the built-in flash for fill-in use.

I will make a couple of observations.  The Canon EF 75-300 lens is arguably Canon's worst optic and is not stabilized.   Not having any idea of your budget, but based on the fact that the T7 is the most affordable camera in the line-up, I would suggest one or both of the following:

For general photography, under which might well apply taking photos of the kids, the Canon EF-S 18-135 IS STM or USM lens.  The STM version is optically much the same as the USM version but is older and usually cheaper.  I have a couple of them and they are excellent lenses.  It is fast focusing, silent and has optical stabilization.  You can manually focus without having to switch off the AF/MF switch.

For longer reach the EF-S 55-250 STM is another economical lens that is brilliant value for money.  It too has great optics, fast, silent and has image stabilization.  You might be able to pick these up from Canon's refurbished lens site, the line for which is At this link  I have created a comparison of the two lenses mentioned AT THIS LINK .  I hope you will find them helpful.


cheers, TREVOR

Before you ask us, have you looked in the manual or on the Canon Support Site?
"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris

Now I don't know the OP's budget but the EF-S 17-55mm F/2.8 IS USM lens a great low light performing lens. But at a cost though. If the OP works in low light. This is where a variable aperture lenses' weakness appears the most.

-Demetrius

40D, 5D Mark IV, EF 16-35mm F/2.8L III USM, EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM, EF 28-135mm F/3.5-5.6 IS USM, EF 50 F/1.8 STM

430EX III-RT & 600EX II-RT

Hi cgutshall7 what mode are you shooting in. Since you mentioned dark pictures. If this is happening in Auto Mode something isn't right.

-Demetrius

40D, 5D Mark IV, EF 16-35mm F/2.8L III USM, EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM, EF 28-135mm F/3.5-5.6 IS USM, EF 50 F/1.8 STM

430EX III-RT & 600EX II-RT

If the OP sends us some images with the EXIF info we will have all that to hand.


cheers, TREVOR

Before you ask us, have you looked in the manual or on the Canon Support Site?
"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris

Waddizzle
Legend

@cgutshall7 wrote:

I have  a Canon EOS Rebel T7. I take a lot of pictures of my kids sporting events and I am looking for some advice on lenses. I am ok for the most part for events that are outdoors during the day and indoor events. Where I need some advice is picking out a lens or even camera settings to assist me in taking better pictures. Everything turns out dark....everything. Please help all input is greatly appreciated. Thank You!


The T7 is a very basic, entry level camera body.  It is designed to allow people experience using a DSLR at a low cost.  The features and camera settings are the bare minimum that you will find in a digital camera.

If you are new to DSLR photography, then welcome aboard.  There are two learning curves in front of you.  One is learning about photography.  The second is learning about DSLR camera bodies.  

I like to draw a comparison to acquiring a driver’s license, which also involves two learning curves. One learning curve is learning about the rules of the road.  The second is learning how to operate a motor vehicle.  Before you can receive a driver’s license you are given a written test to measure your knowledge of the rules of the road.  You are later given a driving test to measure you skills at operating a motor vehicle.  

Except for the testing and licensing part, learning to use a DSLR is a similar process.  It is also similar to learning to play a musical instrument.  You need to learn about basic photography or basic music theory.  You also need to learn how to operate a camera or how to play a musical instrument.  The two learning curves are joined at the hip.

EOS 101 - Video Tutorial for Beginners, from Canon USA 

The two most basic things to learn about basic photography are “Exposure Triangle” and “Depth of Field”.  The above link is a series of videos produced by Canon USA several years ago.  It is designed for beginners with entry level Rebel cameras like your T7.  There 13 videos that are each about 5 minutes long.  You will probably wanting to watch them more than once, and rewatch individual topics over again in the future.

Canon engineers decided to only allow users to control exposure in full stop increments in Manual shooting mode, while the usual unit of control is 1/3 of a stop.  I am sure this was done to not overwhelm beginners with a wide range of options, but it does restrict the amount of control one has over exposure.  If you use Manual mode, then I highly recommend setting ISO to Auto, which allow the camera to resolve exposure to 1/3 of a stop accuracy.

However, I recommend that new users set the camera to P mode before trying Av, Tv, or M.  This mode gives you the best opportunity to learn about the operation of the camera itself.  It is similar to the Green [A+] mode, which presents a limited number of menu options.  P mode operates in a similar fashion, plus it presents the full gamut of menu options while maintaining a high degree of automatic exposure control.

How long does it take someone to learn to play a piano?  Not unless someone is some sort of prodigy, it does not happen overnight.  It takes a while with patience and [perseverance] being the keys to success.  

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

amfoto1
Whiz

cgutshall7

Let's not talk about lenses yet. 300mm like you already have is plenty of "reach" for most kids sports, though there is still room for improvement. More about a lens upgrade later... first let's talk technique, setup and camera.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Most sports shooters DON'T use manual exposure (M) most of the time. The reason is that shooting sports very often means subjects in varying lighting conditions and no time to be adjusting manual exposure settings. Often sports shooters like to use TV mode (shutter priority) mode so they can select faster shutter speeds, letting the camera choose an appropriate lens aperture. You still need to confirm that the range of apertures necessary is available... checking that you have sufficiently large aperture to accommodate the darkest area you'll be shooting and that the brightest doesn't call for an aperture smaller than your lens can provide (I would bias toward the larger aperture, since very small apertures tend to mean too slow shutter seed and/or problems with diffraction). Adjust your ISO to control that range of apertures. The camera will tell you if you're exceeding the range. If you have insufficient aperture available for a correct exposure in the darkest area you will see the largest lens aperture flashing in the viewfinder. As long as it's solidly lit, you're okay.

Get in the habit of testing your exposures occasionally when you are setting up to shoot sports. Point the camera toward the darkest areas to see if there is risk of under-exposure... then point it toward the brightest area to see if over-exposure might result. Adjust your shutter speed and ISO as needed. For sports you usually want to use a fairly fast shutter speed... in order to freeze the action. At a distance you might get away with 1/200 or 1/250... but closer subjects and faster movement (such as the swing of a bat or a foot kicking a ball) will require much faster.... 1/500, 1/800, 1/1000 or even faster. The direction of movement also matters.... subjects coming towards your or heading away from you are more easily frozen than subjects moving tangentially to you. 

3833798257_acab5b39bb_o.jpg

For the above shot of fast moving cars I used 1/1250, although because they were coming toward me I probably could have used a little slower shutter speed, if necessary (if light hadn't been as good and I was trying to keep from using too high an ISO). 

Sometime experiment with slower shutter speeds and "panning" techniques, depending upon the subject matter. This usually works best with vehicles but can sometimes be used for special effects where you blur part of the image to give a greater impression of movement.

5756324740_a510e04dd2_b.jpg

Here I used 1/100 shutter speed while panning with the fast moving car, in order to blur down the background and make the subject stand out. Using this technique takes some practice and even then not all images will be successful (we only share the good ones where the technique worked 😛)

6953631663_55a03d7646_o.jpg

As you can see, "dragging the shutter" (1/30) also can work with slower subjects such as a trotting horse & rider. I combined that with a flash technique (2nd curtain sync) to partially freeze the subject. 

Now let's talk lenses. If your 75-300mm is the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III that was often sold in kit with the Rebel T7 camera.... well, to be honest, that's a very "budget" lens that leaves a few things to be desired. When it comes to sports, the biggest concern is that the lens uses a micro motor to focus. An STM (stepper motor) or USM (ultrasonic) lens would be faster focusing... acquiring focus more quickly and tracking movign subjects better. For example, the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM (first version or II) would be a lot better lens for it's autofocus capabilities. It's also got better image quality (especially at 300mm) and Image Stabilization, but the better AF performance would be its biggest advantage.

Another good lens, but with not quite as much reach and not quite as quick focus, is the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM. .

It's not just the lens though. Your camera also plays an important role in auto focus performance. To get the best possible AF for sports out of a Rebel T7 you will need to use only the center AF point, must use AI Servo focus mode and might want to learn to do "Back Button Focus" (BBF). You'll need to do your part too, keeping that AF point right on the subject, where you want the camera and lens to focus (starting and stopping AF with the button, if using BBF). Also you might try setting your camera to it's fastest frame rate, though the T7's maximum 3 frames per second is not very fast. Rattle off short bursts of 2 or 3 shots to try to catch the peak moment in sports. Study whatever sport you are shooting to learn when those peak moments occur.

If you need more "reach", the Canon EF 100-400mm IS USM (either version) would be a good choice. However, these are relatively large, heavy, expensive lenses. They may seem unbalanced on a small, light camera like the T7.

As long as you have good light, an f/5.6 lens like the EF 70-300mm or EF 100-400mm would be fine. But in more challenging lighting conditions an f/4 or f/2.8 lens would be better. This gets more expensive and trickier, though. There are f/4 70-200mm lenses, and there is a 300mm f/4 available. But there is not a zoom that gives both f/4 and reaches 300mm. There is a 200-400mm f/4, but now you're looking at a very big, very expensive. There also are f/2.8 70-200mm lenses as well as f/2.8 300mm and 400mm. But, again, those are big, heavy and expensive.  

You probably also got an EF-S 18-55mm lens with your camera (I have never seen a T7 offered without one.) Are you using it? If not, why not? Another response suggested an EF-S 17-55mm, which is certainly an upgrade. But if you don't use an 18-55mm much, you aren't likely to need or use a 17-55mm.

Hope this helps!

***********


Alan Myers
San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7DII (x2), 7D(x2), EOS M5, some other cameras, various lenses & accessories
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