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6 of The Best Lenses for Sports Photography

6 of the Best Lenses for Sports Photography - FilterGrade

Using your go-to lens for sports photography is probably going to disappoint you when you review the results from the event. When it comes to sports photography you need something that offers more speed and range than your everyday lens. Next to the right DSLR camera that offers a fast burst and processing rate, the right lens is essential for capturing those high contrast, sharp, and vibrant keep sporting moments.

How to choose the right lens for sports photography

  • Telephoto. A telephoto lens can vary so choosing the right one will be a matter of what exactly you are going to be shooting. Some sports you can get away with a short lens, but other sports you will need to choose a longer one. This lens should fall into the 300-400mm range and have the capability to support a teleconverter, which can give you some extra length if necessary.
  • Speed. You’ll need a fast lens to capture the fast pace of most sporting events. A lens that offers an f/2.8 or lower speed is ideal but this comes at a much steeper cost than a lens with an f/4.
  • Motor Speed. You want a lens that can autofocus fast. If you are looking for a canon lens look at the USM lenses which can faster than non-USM lenses. Those looking at Nikon lenses want to find one with a silent wave motor (SWM) as these offer a much faster autofocusing option.

Best Sports Photography Lenses

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM (or IS II USM)

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM

A great option for indoor sports photographers, or for photographers just starting out an on a tighter budget, is the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM. It will provide you with well lite images that are clear and of good quality. Can also be used for outdoor sports events that you can get a little closer to. Closest focusing distance is just under 5 feet away. Equipped with an Ultrasonic Motor (USM and is compatible with the Extender EF 1.4x II and 2x II which will increase your focusing range

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.6-5.6L USM

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.6-5.6L USM

While this lens can be more expensive than the other lens it with good reason. This super telephoto lens provides you with amazing image quality and is of lighter weight than many other telephoto lenses. This professional sports lens is equipped with an ultrasonic motor which makes getting those perfectly focused images easier and faster. The only downfall is there can be some issues using this lens when you lose light and the background tends not to blur as well as it does with some of the other lenses on this list.

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 L IS II USM

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 L IS II USM

This super telephoto lens comes provides image stabilizer and an ultrasonic motor. With accurate and fast AF, you will stunningly clear images of the most fast-paced sporting events. This lens also offers a diffuse background blur to really bring focus to those key players. It is equipped with weather seal allowing you to shoot rain or shine.

Nikon 70-200mm f2.8G AF-S VRII

Nikon 70-200mm f2.8G AF-S VRII

Another great option for sports photographers. While this is often looked at as a great portrait photographers lens there are many benefits to using this lens for sports photography as well, since it is highly versatile. One of the best-rated lens available with incredible ability to focus in low light with speed and accuracy. It is durable but can be a little heavier than other lenses. It offers a standard to telephoto zoom range with image stabilizing and operates with a silent wave motor system.
Standard to telephoto zoom lens, image stabilizer, silent wave motor AF system

Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 D ED AF zoom

Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 D ED AF zoom

This medium telephoto lens is fast and accurate allowing the photographer to maintain its fast aperture speed through the entire focal length. Its focus delimiter switch can help reduce the lens from searching for where to focus which can make capture those key moments in the game more successful. This lens is compatible with full frame DLSR from Nikon that has a built-in autofocusing motor. Designed with an all metal frame this lens is also incredibly durable.

Nikon 300mm f/2.8 G ED-IF II AF-S VR-II

Nikon 300mm f/2.8 G ED-IF II AF-S VR-II

This super telephoto lens seems to come with it all. It offers incredibly fast focusing speed, vibration reductions, image stabilization, edge to edge sharpness, and is compatible with all teleconverters from Nikon will give you an even greater reach. It utilizes a silent wave motor which speeds up focusing times while also be quiet. If you want to take serious, high quality, action sports images this is the ideal lens for you.

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