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Best lens for shooting low light bicycling photography - Rebel T6i

ewb65
Apprentice

I have a canon rebel t6i and wanted to know the best suggestions for a lens that can work with low light and fast subjects the best with no availability to use flash (since they're racing, I refrain from using the flash because it's distracting and it could cause an accident). I also am still so new to the photography world so any suggestion on camera / lens combo or just a lens that could help me take photos in that situation would be great. I would also love suggestions as to what to put the ISO, the shutter speed, and the aperture settings to. I'm still getting a hang of everything, so like I said, any suggestion is great. 

9 REPLIES 9

kvbarkley
VIP
VIP

What lenses do you have?

What is your budget?

At the very least get the EF-50mm/1.8 probably the best value in the canon lens stable.

definitely looking for a budget - friendly option! Thanks for the suggestion. I also have the package deal when it comes to the canon rebel package. I have the f/ 3.5 - 5.6 ,18-55 mm and f / 4-5.6, 75-300 mm lenses. 

ebiggs1
Legend
Legend

"At the very least get the EF-50mm/1.8 ..."

No doubt this is the fastest if cheapest is also a concern. However, it will be one of the most restrictive lenses too. A zoom is so much more friendly to live with that giving up a stop or two is almost always worth it. The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens has the very same constant aperture of f1.8 and the ability to zoom. It is not the cheapest but not too terribly expensive. And even more versatile option and in the same price class is the fantastic Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens. Only slightly slower but with a bit more reach.

Keep in mind great lenses, fast lenses are not cheap to manufacture and all photography gear has its limits. There is just some things they can't do no matter how much money you spend. More choice are one of the 24-70mm f23.8 zooms. Several makers have one at various price points. Canon, Sigma and Tamron all have one. They are all good with Canon being the best in class and the most expensive. The Canon ef 24-70mm f2.8L is my choice and has been a true work horse for many years for me.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

ebiggs1
Legend
Legend

You did not mention how close you can get to the racers. You may need a lens in the higher FL area. In sports photography where you shoot from is way more important than what you shoot with. Closer is always better sometimes that is impossible so you need a big tele. Starting with something in the 70-200mm f2.8 category all the way to one of the super zooms 150-600mm f5.6 lenses.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

I can get pretty close to them, the only thing that separates them from me is a hip height fence usually

Then the EF 50mm f1.8 may work for you. The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens would be great but at a very much higher cost. The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens would be my top choice.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

ebiggs1
Legend
Legend

"I would also love suggestions as to what to put the ISO, the shutter speed, and the aperture settings"

 

This is impossible without seeing exactly where and what and the conditions at the event. Basic starting settings that I would use are Av mode. Never use one of the Creative mode like Sport mode. Again use Av and set the lens to its widest aperture or one stop down. This will allow the T6i to select the fastest SS it can for proper exposure Set ISO to 1600. Daylight WB. Be ready to change the aperture or ISO as needed. Use One shot never use Ai-servo for this. And select just the center focus point. Consult your manual if you don't know how to make these settings.

Now the most important part is to use raw file not jpg, never jpg. Then if you have not already done so d/l form Canon DPP4 photo editor. It is free and is a very good photo editor and file utility as it will u/l the photos to your computer. If you do not post edit and you don't use raw you will never get great shots so if you are unwilling to do this I would suggest you select a different hobby.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

wq9nsc
Authority
Authority

I have used the EF 85 f1.8 often for indoor soccer and for basketball in a couple of very poorly illuminated gyms.  It has good image quality wide open at f1.8 and focuses quickly which is critical for sports.

With cycling, you will need servo AF (or whatever that is called on your body, NOT one shot AF) and my preferred setup is manual (where you set both aperture and shutter speed) and set ISO to auto so that it adjusts to provide the proper exposure at your chosen aperture and shutter. 

You will probably need the lens wide open (f1.8) in low light but the shutter speed will depend upon whether you are trying panning shots where you pan the camera PRECISELY at the speed the cyclist is moving as the bike passes you are if you are trying to freeze the cyclist as they approach your position. 

1/800 or better is needed to freeze cyclists while 1/640 is probably too slow BUT if the light level forces you there then you can try 1/640 or even 1/500 but some blurring is likely.  1/1000 is excellent for freezing a cyclist but if the lighting isn't sufficient with f1.8 and 1/1000 without pushing ISO too high for your camera then you will have to accept very minor motion blur @ 1/800 or 1/640.

Panning shots allow much slower shutter speed but these shots are more difficult to capture and require both skill and practice.  You want to choose a point on the cyclist that you use for a reference and I like to use single point focusing (one point shows up in the array) which gives you a nice marker in the viewfinder to keep on the specific part of the target you have chosen.

Start panning with this point on the cyclist before you begin taking images (in high speed drive mode) and then continue the panning motion after you are no longer pressing the shutter release.  This helps you to pan smoothly through the critical point and with practice (and a bit of luck) you will get some nice sharp images of the cyclist against a blurred background.  Try for a shutter speed of around 1/100, faster than absolutely needed for an expert at panning but it gives you a little cushion while still allowing far more light than a motion freezing shutter speed.

As Ernie stated, shoot in RAW because this gives you the best data to work with in removing noise and adjust exposure and white balance after the event.

Rodger

EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

ebiggs1
Legend
Legend

"...  you will need servo AF (or whatever that is called on your body, NOT one shot AF) ..."

The problem with new people using Ai-servo is they will miss most of their shots because of not understanding how it works. I have seen this so many times in my classes I never recommend folks use it until they become very familiar with and understand photography. Also I never recommend they use full manual as Av gives them the best chance of success being partly manual but allowing the camera to handle the other part. I have changed a bit and now recommend Auto ISO if the camera supports it. Success for new comers is key and builds confidence. KISS at first but it is always a good idea.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!
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