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Old Apr 1, 2009, 8:22 AM   #1
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As many of you may know, I recently lost all of my equipment to a home invasion. I am having to rebuild my inventory and although I do primarily wedding photography, I was considering a good sports lens...mainly for Basketball, Football and outdoor sports.

I wanted to get everyone's feel for which lens is more "usable" the Canon 300 2.8 or the 400 2.8. I have heard the 400 can be menacing in size.. but is AWESOME. I will be shooting a 5d Mk2 and a 50D(probably my main sports camera)

I would appreciate some advice on this and would also like to see if anyone has any photos of their rigs on cameras so I can see the comparison.

Thanks

Doug


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Old Apr 1, 2009, 11:18 AM   #2
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Doug, I need your disposable income

There is no single sports lens - it doesn't exist.

For basketball, assumining you're comfortable shooting at ISO 3200-6400 or strobing, the 70-200 2.8 is the workhorse lens. A 300mm 2.8 is a nice addition as is a 24-70 but the workhorse is the 70-200.

Outdoors, it depends on the sport.

300mm is nice for track or softball but can be a bit long for small-field soccer.

400mm is the workhorse (for those that can afford it) for football and soccer.

In either case, anyone using either prime is likely using a 2nd body with the 70-200 2.8 mounted on it.

I'm assuming you'd have a 70-200 2.8 for the wedding work regardless. So the question becomes - how much are you willing to spend on a lens for your field sport use. Is it business or personal? At $7000, the 400mm 2.8 is a very hefty investment. It's too long for softball and many little kids sports but great for full field baseball, soccer and football. Still, it comes down to whether you want to spend that much on the lens for what you intend to use if for. Is it for business? Then the question becomes, do you anticipate gaining that much more revenue by using that lens than if you bought the $4000 300mm 2.8. If you're not going to be generating a hefty amount off business from your sports shooting it may be a poor business decision. If, however, you're going to be shooting a lot of soccer / baseball tournaments each year you may get a better return on your investment.

Several of us have gone the route of the Sigma 120-300 2.8. It's actually a little shorter than 300mm and not as sharp as the Canon 300mm. BUT, it allows the use of a single camera which simplifies the kit a bit. And at $2700 it's still a bargain (although it was only $1800 when I bought it a few years back). For me, it was a business decision. The sports market around me isn't great. If I had the Canon 300mm I wouldn't get enough increased sales to justify the added cost. At some point I may invest in the 400mm 2.8 from a personal standpoint. It will be a poor business decision (I don't have the time / availability to do heavy tournament work) - but we sometimes buy things because we WANT them not because we need them.

So, assuming you will have a 70-200 2.8 and assuming the money isn't a problem, the choice between the 300mm 2.8 and 400mm 2.8 depends on the sports you will shoot. If money does factor in, then it's likely the 300mm is a better business decision if sports shooting is a minor portion of your business.
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Old Apr 1, 2009, 11:20 AM   #3
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You've already got the indoor sports covered with the 70-200mm f2.8 as long as you have enough light. If you are not in the best conditions then depending on where you positioned the 85mm f1.8, 100mm f2 or 135mm f2 would be key.

When it comes to outdoor sports then the king is the 400mm f2.8 but it is not overly versatile, most of us would love one but would get more use from the 300mm f2.8 which will take a 1.4 or 2x TC very well. Another option whichJohnG and I use for sports isthe Sigma 120-300mm f2.8, this takes a 1.4x TC well but not so good with a 2x however the Zoom makes it very versatile. If you have almost $7000 I can think of better ways of spending in than on one lens unless I were making a lot of money from it but I don't think you will.
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Old Apr 1, 2009, 9:53 PM   #4
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Good advice from you guys. I do have the 70-200, 85 1.8 and 135 2.0. My question centers more around the fact that right now I DO have that disposable income and wonder if using it to get the 400 is the wisest choice... I ask this because I would really really like to begin to get more active in sports shooting and feel I can do well and although it is indeed a risk financially, I doubt the lens will lose much value over the short haul.

Then, the questionI keep asking myself is... Do I need the 400 or do I WANT the 400. I am still working on this in my mind, but in the meanitme, thanks for the advice as always.
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Old Apr 2, 2009, 10:58 AM   #5
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I think only top sports shooters have a need for the 400, but I think any of us who shoot sports will want it.

I tried to justify one to myself a while ago but there wasn't enough work for me to warrant getting it. There are definite benefits to the shot quality but most customers won't notice them, if it is top magazines then the length and reduced dof are very key but not for the normal market.
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