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New Contributor
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎02-07-2014

I need a zoom lens for shooting sports morning and night

I need someone to help me selecting a telephoto zoom that will help me to get sharp zoom images for football matches morning and night time. I have a Canon 50 D and normal Canon 55-250 IS zoom also I have Canon EF 50  f/1.8 II lens in addition to Canon EFS 18-55 lens.


I am not a professional photographer and would like to get one with a reasonable price

Reputable Contributor
Posts: 790
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: I need a zoom lens for shooting sports morning and night

[ Edited ]

" zoom images for football matches morning and night time...and would like to get one with a reasonable price"


So, let me see if I have this right.... You want high quality results of difficult subjects under challenging lighting conditions, but basically don't want to pay what it costs for such a lens. Smiley Happy


Well, I really don't know what you consider a "reasonable cost", but the ideal zoom for much sports photography in tough lighting conditions is 70-200/2.8 IS USM Mark II. f2.8 is needed for low light shooting. 70-200mm is a pretty good range of focal lengths for many sports situations, assuming you are using it on one of the crop sensor Rebel series cameras.


To save some money, you might consider a used 70-200/2.8 IS "Mark I". That's still a very good lens, if you can find one. There is also a less expensive EF 70-200/2.8 without IS, though it's now the oldest design among the Canon 70-200s, with slightly lower image quality than the other EF 70-200s.... Plus it is very nice to have IS at times, even shooting sports.


All these f2.8 lenses are considerably larger and heavier than your 55-250, too. The 70-200/4 IS and non-IS zooms are a bit smaller and lighter.


Any longer telephoto zoom witth f4 or f2.8 aperture is going to be very large and more expensive.


There are various prime lenses (not zooms) 300mm and longer that are f4 and f2.8. There are even some f2.0 and faster primes. Not as convenient as zooms, but sometimes these are what's necessary..


And there are various smaller and variable aperture zooms, such as the EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM.  Higher performance and more reach than your current zoom... but not much increase in low light capabilities.


What is the highest ISO you use with your 50D? I would use ISO 1600 without much concern, but might push it a bit higher with some extra noise reduction work later in post-processing.


Note: for sports shooting, a USM lens is best... faster focusing and responsive enough to be able to track movement, keep up with your subjects. Of course you have to do your part, too, using the right techniques with your camera. For example, AI Servo, manually selected center AF point only, and Back Button Focusing all have worked well for me shooting sports with 50D.


50D with 70-200/2.8 IS "Mark I"...




Autocross 2




Hunter Jumper


EF 300/4 IS USM on 50D...


Historics at Laguna Seca 1


EF 300/4 IS USM + EF 1.4X II on 50D....


Historics at Laguna Seca 2


I don't seem to have any lower light shots with 50D and those two lenses posted anywhere online, but have used them frequently in more challenging situations, too. The same lenses have been serving on my 7Ds for the past 4.5 years.


Alan Myers

San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7D(x2), 50D(x3), some other cameras, various lenses & accessories








Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,119
Registered: ‎02-06-2013

Re: I need a zoom lens for shooting sports morning and night

[ Edited ]

I was going to write on my own then I ran into this link:


This should give you a good idea on the available lenses out there.


Personally I use a EF 70-200 f/4L IS USM (sometimes used with a 1.4X II teleconverter) and a EF 400mm f/5.6L USM.   I shoot mostly birds in flight and 95% of the time I use the 400mm f/5.6L.  The 70-200 is rarely used except when I'm traveling. 


Note neither of my lenses are very fast...faster than f/4 will cost you plenty.  Budget-minded constraint and fast zoom  lenses, unfortunately are not quite compatible Smiley Happy.  Luckily, modern DSLRs have very good ISO ranges and post processing softwares have very good noise filtering algorithms.  Note that during the recent superbowl where 75% of the photographers used big Canon lenses...none of those lenses are faster than f/4.  They do just fine at night.

Diverhank's photos on Flickr
New Contributor
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎02-07-2014

Re: I need a zoom lens for shooting sports morning and night

I got a lot of information from your reply.. I was looking for a lens in $1000 range which sounds difficult.. Your reply is really helpful.. I will think again
Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,861
Registered: ‎12-02-2012

Re: I need a zoom lens for shooting sports morning and night

[ Edited ]

Diverhawk's link to Cameralabs is helpful. My favorite source for recommendations is The Digital Picture. See the link below.

For indoor sports:

All their recommendations:

Indoor or low light/ night sports is like the perfect storm for making your life hard (and expensive) as a photographer.

The sports part of the equation: Sports need a fast shutter speed to freeze fast moving subjects so they are clear and sharp instead of a blur. But with the shutter open such a short time. it is a challenge to get enough light into the camera to create a proper exposure, and ideally you would be undertaking this in bright outdoor daytime sunlight.

The dim light part of the equation: Dim light creates a challenge in getting enough light into the camera to make a good exposure. The easiest way to do this, even using very cheap equipment, is to use a very long shutter time. If your subject is not moving, and if you have a tripod, you could take a picture when it is so dark you can barely even see the subject, but the camera will pick it up if you give it a long enough exposure time. This is the very opposite of sports photography though, and any moving subject would be a blur (or would even disappear) with a 30-second shutter.

So these two goals (sports and low light) are at cross purposes. It strains the ability of your camera, and of your lenses, to get a decent shot.

You can raise the ISO sensitivity in your camera to get by with less light, but above ISO 800 or ISO 1600 perhaps on a crop camera, it will damage the image quality and may make your pictures unacceptable. If you have maxed out your ISO, then you must deal with any remaining light deficit by using a wider aperture lens. Ideally you would like to have a low f-number, such as F2 .8 or F2 . But if you price lenses, you will see that F2 .8 is where things start to get expensive.

Personally I would recommend the somewhat hard to swallow 70 to 200 F2 .8 Mk 2 lens. It will cost you about $2300, but it is the right tool for your job. I knuckled under and bought that lens myself, even though I am not a pro photographer and I am by no means rich. But my kids are only going to be kids one time and then they're gone, so I wanted to have hundreds and hundreds of excellent pictures.  It is also great for portraits, and for long-ish general shooting, though is is a little large when you are carrying it around.

Good luck!


Canon 5d mk 4, Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?
Forum Elite
Posts: 14,001
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: I need a zoom lens for shooting sports morning and night

"... help me to get sharp zoom images for football matches morning and nigh ..."


One of these perhaps? This was from the latest Super Bowl gane.



EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎01-19-2014

Re: I need a zoom lens for shooting sports morning and night

Amfoto 1 Alan Myers said it all
Reputable Contributor
Posts: 952
Registered: ‎12-24-2013

Re: I need a zoom lens for shooting sports morning and night

Because you will be shooting sports with a fast shutter speed to freeze the action, Image Stabilization is really not needed. 


Using 2.8 instead of 4.0 will double your shutter speed from 1/250 to 1/500. 


Buying used lenses can keep the price lower and the cheapest f/2.8 lenses are:


Sigma 50-150mm 2.8   $500 Used Sigma 50-150

Sigma 70-200mm 2.8   $512 Sigma 70-200 2.8

Canon 70-200mm 2.8   $1000 Canon 70-200 2.8 (non-IS)


Mike Sowsun
80D, 5D Mk III
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