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Old Feb 25, 2016, 5:33 PM   #1
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Default Football / Softball (Youth) Lens advice

I think it has been about 5 years since I posted, since then my kids have grown up a little. I've got a daughter in softball 12 year age group, they play mid afternoon / evening games. The evening games start a good hour before sunset and on a clear day there is plenty of light, later in the evening I dont even try to take pictures as I'm still using the T2i and the ISO performance is average/low.

My son 9, plays flag football, the fields are probably only 3/4 of the width (maybe even smaller) of a standard football field and the length of the field from endzone to endzone is probably 50 yards give or take. The games are in the morning / early noon and have so much light I could use any glass.

My current setup is a Tamron 28-75 f2.8 on the T2i so my range is VERY short. In the football it is ok if the action is coming to the sideline on my side but even just sitting on the hash on my side of the field is too far out for this length.

The Softball I shoot from 1st base or 3rd base, at the edge of the fence, I can usually swing open the fence door to take some shots. I dont know the size of the field but they are tiny compared to a high school field. The fields dont have anywhere camera holes behind home plate, I have tried to shoot between the fence with little luck there.

As far as lens budget, I'd like to keep it under 800, that stays below "question" range

I realize this limits my choices. I thought about picking up the 70-300mm IS USM that I read about on these forums years ago I know JohnG has spoken to other members on its merit/value. That said, back then I thought the price of that lens was about 200 cheaper than it is now or I'm just getting older and my memory betrays me. So that got me looking.

Tamron 70-300mm ~450 with 100 mail in rebate - seen some reviews that say it is better than the canon, but on these forums it doesn't look like that.

Canon 70-300mm USM ~650

Canon 70-200 f4 + 1.4 TC - ~599 + the TC - Heard this had pretty good results, the 200 range would actually be decent for the football, but I think still too short for the softball.

Used Canon 300mm f4 ~650-750 (and possibly 1.4 TC in the future) - I'm really interested in this one now, I don't own a prime and I know I'll probably never own the f2.8 version until I'm taking pictures of the grandkids, but for now I'm wondering if for my fatherly hobbiest skills if this would be my best bet.

Next year will be the camera body, maybe a full frame or the 80D?
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Old Feb 25, 2016, 7:26 PM   #2
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I'd say that a 70-300 is your best bet, but I'd also say that when you shoot sports/action/wildlife, you need to keep the shutter speeds fast, so image stabilization isn't necessary. And sometimes, IS can be a hindrance.

I'd also say that lenses with fast AF motors (Canon's USM, Sigma's HSM, or Tamron's USD) will help you keep a moving subject in focus.

I'd say that the primes won't serve you well, since there will be times when your subjects are close, and a 300mm lens can limit your shooting opportunities.

Your best choices would probably be the Tamron 70-300 Di VC USD ($449) and the Canon 70-300 IS USM. (Stay clear of the cheaper ones.) The Canon is a better choice, but it's $200 more expensive. ($300 if you count the current rebate.) remember that the Canon has been around for a while, so there are good samples on the used market, so you can reduce that price difference significantly if you're can find one in good condition at KEH.com or the used department at major retailers.
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Old Feb 26, 2016, 9:08 AM   #3
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Thanks TCav I always enjoy your input.

I wanted to add another lens to the mix, I was browsing through some older threads and saw the Sigma 100-300 f4 mentioned. Used it looks about the same price as the canon 70-300... the sigma seems like a great value (although I did check out KEH and saw used 70-300 for ~300 which is a steal). Would that Sigma give much better bokeh?
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Old Feb 26, 2016, 7:02 PM   #4
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The Sigma 100-300/4.0 is a very nice lens, but the difference in DoF between f/4.0 and f/5.6 at 300mm and 100 feet is only about 2 feet.

I have the Tokina 100-300/4 and like it a lot for high school football, Little League, etc.
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Old Feb 29, 2016, 9:01 AM   #5
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Tamron's issue in the past used to be their focus systems weren't fast enough. They've supposedly improved them, so that's a bonus. Now, from comments of others, I believe it comes down to build quality. Tamron has very nice optics, but not quite the build quality from OEM or Sigma so the risk there is the lens won't survive a pitfall quite as well as OEM or Sigma. My concern over a sigma 100-300 f4 would be it has to be old. They haven't been in production for a while. As an electronic device, there is always a risk of failure. If I were you I would check with Sigma to see if they would still fix one if it failed.
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Old Mar 4, 2016, 7:31 AM   #6
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Thanks all, I thought about that too about the lens being older. Lucky for me canon just put the 70-300 back on sale -200 so i can order new and have that "comfort", pulling the trigger once i get into the office.

Done deal put in my order ... now if i can resist the bug of upgrading my t2i to the 7d ii... my wallet and wife will thank me.

Last edited by ruthless; Mar 4, 2016 at 8:30 AM.
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