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Old Apr 27, 2010, 8:50 PM   #1
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Default Canon Lense for high speed distance shots

I'm trying to find advice on the most optimal lense to buy for my Canon T1i for taking shots of my husband drag racing. Races are during the late afternoon and at night - although the track is lit at the starting line - it is dark at the end of the track. I want to be able to take good shot of him launching/starting up to about 3-400 feet max needed. the problem is that we can't flash the camera (driver distraction) for the evening shots (so i will have to use aperture/iso settings to adjust). But basically i need a good zoom with stabelization but very fast. I've researched canons website and am struggling with what bang for the buck i will get.
right now i only have a EFS 55-250 1:4-5.6 and a EFS 10-22 1:3.5-4.5... great for shots of the car during burnouts or idle, but not racing.
any ideas?
thanks in advance!
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Old Apr 27, 2010, 9:15 PM   #2
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I presume that you'll be in the grandstand somewhere, as they don't generally let specators anywhere near the top end. So the further you'll be from the starting line, the longer the lens you'll need. The cars aren't going very quickly at the start of the race (relatively speaking), but they can quickly outpace a camera's/lens' ability to keep them in focus, and rails are definately a tough subject to focus on. The T1i was an excellent choice from among the entry level dSLRs, but the 50-250 isn't up to the task you have in mind. You might be able to get away with the Canon 70-300 IS USM for daylight shooting, or the Sigma 70-200/2.8 for night racing.

I suggest that, since you have such a speciallized purpose in mind, that you rent a lens to see how well it might work for you, then return it and rent another. When you've gone through your list, renting each one in turn, buy the one you're happiest with. LensRentals.com has a good selection of appropriate lenses for your Canon.

I'll add that, since the shutter speeds will be fast, you don't need to worry about image stabilization. Any shutter speed that will prevent motion blur due to subject movement will also prevent motion blur due to camera shake.
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Old Apr 28, 2010, 4:47 AM   #3
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The sigma 70-200 may be to short, at 400ft if you find the ef-s 55-250 to short already. You may want to test out how your ef-s 55-250mm at 3200 and 6400iso at the long end at f5.6. If you have results you like for the night shot. Then the ef 70-300 will give you a bit more reach.

If the higher iso works for you, you may want to consider the sigma 150-500mm if you need the longer reach.
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Old Apr 28, 2010, 8:41 AM   #4
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A higher ISO setting won't help with the fact that the lens needs to keep an automobile in focus that's traveling towards her at a speeds greater than 50 mph. The 50-250 won't ever do that well.
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Old Apr 28, 2010, 9:34 AM   #5
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I am asking the OP if the higher iso works for her with f 5.6 at night. If so something like the 70-300 or the bigma would be okay for the night shots. If not there really is not much you can do at 400ft. the 70-200 is most likely going to be to short at the 400ft mark.
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Old Apr 28, 2010, 10:02 AM   #6
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My advice to the OP: If you don't already have one, get an account at Fred Miranda's web site. THere are photogs there that shoot drag racing. Sports photography is difficult. TCAV and I shoot sports but not drag. Shoturtle doesn't shoot sports at all. I haven't many drag photos over the last few years at steve's - none to suggest any members shoot the sport with any regularity. As a sports photographer I can say it's very important to get advice from qualified shooters. Although I shoot a lot of sports - drag isn't one of them. If you want to spend your hard earned money right, get advice from people that shoot what you want to shoot. A quick search at Fred Miranda's sports corner turned up a number of posts on drag racing. Best of luck in your search!
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Old Apr 28, 2010, 1:27 PM   #7
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I would check out the motorsport sites. It will be informative. But you will have a bit of a reach even with a 300mm lens at the 400ft mark in day light. The back end of a car is about the size of a deer. And you will not be able to fill the frame from the stands. Or from the paddock. I go to englishtown in NJ allot when my friend race their car. On the long end in daylight the ef 100-400 L does a decent job. The ef 70-300 was ok, but could be better. But you will need to see if 5.6 will be acceptable for you when the light drop down. Because I do not think a 70-200 with a 1.4 TC will give you anything wider then 5.6.
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Old Apr 28, 2010, 1:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shoturtle View Post
... I do not think a 70-200 with a 1.4 TC will give you anything wider then 5.6.
A 1.4X teleconverter adds a single f-stop to the maximum aperture of a lens, so a 70-20/2.8 witha 1.4X TC would have a maximum aperture of f/4.0.
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Old Apr 28, 2010, 2:24 PM   #9
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Thanks TCav for getting my tc math right. So what will the zoom equal to on a 70-200mm lens with the 1.4x, and I presume the 2x tc will be 400 at F5.6

Still may not be wide enough at the long end at f4. But it is better, may work if she can live with the higher iso at 3200 or 6400.
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Old Apr 28, 2010, 8:55 PM   #10
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A 1.4X TC multiplies the focal length exactly the way you'd think. It's the f-number where the math turns funny.

The f-number is a function of both the focal length and the pupil diameter of a lens. For instance, a 50 mm lens with a pupil diameter of 50 mm would be an f/1.0 lens (50 mm / 50 mm.) If you put a 2X TC on it, the focal length doubles to 100, but the pupil diameter stays the same, so the result is an f/2.0 lens (100 mm / 50 mm.) An aperture with an f-number of f/1.0 lets in 4 times as much light as an aperture with an f-number of f/2.0, but in this case, it happens because we've increased the focal length instead of reducing the pupil diameter.

Suppose we had that 50 mm f/1.0 lens and we wanted to stop it down so it only let in 1/4 as much light. A diaphram with a pupil diameter of 50 mm has an area of 1963.5 mm (The area of a circle is equal to πr (pi times the square of the radius), or in this case, 3.1416 x 25 x 25.) To let in only 1/4 as much light, we'd need an aperture that had an area 1/4 as large, or 491.1 mm. If we divide that by pi and take the square root of the result, we get a radius of 12.5 mm and a diameter of 25 mm. So, in order to get an aperture of f/2.0 on that 50 mm lens, we'd need a pupil diameter of 25 mm (50 mm / 25 mm.) That was easy, wasn't it?

But if we wanted an aperture that let in 1/2 as much light, we'd need a pupil diameter of 35.4 mm. Half of 1963.5 mm is 981.7 mm. Divide that by pi and take the quare root the result and double it, and you've got a diameter of 35.4 mm. When you divide a 50 mm focal length by a 35.4 mm pupil diameter, you get and f-number of f/1.4 (50 mm / 35.4mm.) So half way between an aperture of f/1.0 and an aperture of f/2.0 is f/1.4, not f/1.5 like you might think. (f-numbers are not on a linear scale.)

So if you want to increase the focal length of a lens, but only add one f-number, you use a 1.4X teleconverter. That's why they make 1.4X TCs. So they'll only add one f-number to the aperture.
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Last edited by TCav; Apr 29, 2010 at 2:17 PM.
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