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Meaningful camera or lens upgrade for lacrosse photography


I've been shooting field sports (football, soccer, lacrosse) for several years.  I started with a 7d, moved to the 7dii, and a non-is 70-200 2.8.  I have one more important season to go.  I shoot for an online lacrosse publication as well as for the team/families.  Walking the cost vs benefit line... If you had $1500, would you upgrade to an r7 or would you get a used ef 100-400?  





Hello blb529 welcome to the forums and happy new years. What are looking to do with your budget. Buying a lens or upgrading your current body. Also did you mean 7D Mark II there isn't a 7D Mark III or did you mean 5D Mark III, 1D Mark III, 1Ds Mark III or 1DX Mark III. Just to confirm what camera body you're currently using. Can you please list the current gear you're using in the forum.


Happy New Years

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 (Retired), EF 50 F/1.8 STM, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM & EF 70-200mm F/2.8L IS III USM

EOS 40D (Retired) & 5D Mark IV

430EX III-RT, 470EX-AI & 600EX II-RT


Current Gear: EOS 5D Mark IV, EF F/2.8 Trinity, EF 50mm F/1.8 STM, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM, 470EX-AI & 600EX II-RT

Retired Gear: EOS 40D


I am definitely a "glass over body" type and that is especially true for sports where lighting is often an issue.  But how many of these games do you shoot under field lighting rather than daylight because the 100-400 maximum aperture is very limiting for night field sports.  So the lens upgrade may not be that useful depending upon time of day for the games.  I shoot a lot of high school sports and the 70-200 f2.8 is the workhorse but I also typically have a 400 f2.8 and 24-70 f2.8 on other bodies and usually all the lenses are shot wide open.

Your 7DII has considerably better weather sealing than the R7 which is another consideration for field sports, not just rain but also dust.  And Canon doesn't have anything now that would lead me to give up the responsiveness and battery life of my DSLR bodies for sports.

I shot lacrosse for the first time last Spring and I look forward to repeating that experience this year, it was great fun and a new challenge.  Looking back at the photos I selected from that event, roughly 2/3 of the action shots were with the 70-200 f2.8 and the remainder with the 400 f2.8 so a 400mm focal length is definitely useful IF the lighting is sufficient (remember the AF is also going to be less responsive with narrow aperture glass).

If you have a really critical game coming up, maybe rent one of Canon's "great white primes" for that game for the fun of it and to capture some nice moments...

The first image was captured with the EF 70-200, the second two with the EF 400.  There is definitely a learning curve involved in learning to shoot lacrosse and I am glad this wasn't at night 🙂



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

Rising Star
Rising Star

I'd vote for body upgrade as the better auto focus and sensor MP/ISO performance will give you more keepers vs the reach you get with the 100-400.  The R7 with it's high higher MP (32 vs 20) will allow you to crop into the image well enough to give you some of the reach you would have gotten with the 100-400.  You also get a higher FPS with the R7 than compared to your current body (30 elect vs 10fps).  You also get 651 af points in the R7 vs the 65 in 7Dmark2.  IBIS in the R7 will also add IS to your non-IS 70-200.  I have both the R5 and 5Dm4 and I'm shooting almost 100% with the R5 now.


Rebel XT, 7D, 5Dm3, 5DmIV (current), EOS R, EOS R5 (current)


What apertures do you mostly use for your images?  The EF 100 to 400 will drop to f/5.6 near the 400 end (4 times less light than f/2.8).  Which shutter speed equal, you'd need to increase ISO by two stops (e.g. ISO 1600 to ISO 6400).

Other than losing better weather sealing that Roger pointed out, I think moving to an R7 would be your best move.  


Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers


"If you had $1500, would you upgrade to an r7 or would you get a used ef 100-400?"

No and no!

"I am definitely a "glass over body" type and that is especially true for sports..."

 Almost 100% of the time a better lens is the best thing to do to improve or upgrade your photos. And in this case it is very true. However for a 7D Mk II the best lens upgrade is one of the 150-600mm super zooms. The $1500 limit makes this especially true. It is not even a debatable option. 

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!
click here to view the gallery