Shooting Action (What Lens To use)


Welcome back to buzword. We have been talking about shooting action. So far we have learned how to adjust our cameras to capture the action, and how to show motion in the shot by panning. In my last post we talked about composing, and how to catch your subject in the frame.

Now that we all know how to do these things lets talk about lens choices when shooting action.There are a lot of different choices you can make when covering a event.The image above was shot with a 70-200mm 2.8 canon lens.I used this lens because the runners where coming at me and I wanted to get a shot of them without getting in their way.

If you are planning on shooting high school sports you will need a 200mm lens at least to get the shots that will look different than the normal shot from the stands.If you can get on the sidelines then this size lens will work nice for sports like football, basketball, wrestling, or any sport that most of the action is in a general area of the court, or field.

If you area planning on shooting some soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, you might want to consider getting a 300mm or 400mm to capture the action. These sports seem to be all over the field, and you need that extra length to shoot across the field. I shoot with a 70-200mm for these sports because that is the biggest lens that I have. I just shoot down around the goal to get the players shooting on goal. You just need to be patient and do shoot the far away shots, because you will not be happy with them when you go to edit them.


Now when you are shooting closer a 24-70mm will work great. This will give you some room to grab the action when it is tight to you but, still will allow you to grab some action shots down court a bit.I think the perfect camera bag should have a 70-200mm, 24-70mm, and a wide angle lens. This will give you all of the ranges that you will need to cover the event.

50mm 1.8 lens is a wonderful lens to have as well. They are around $100 and can shoot in low light because of their 1.8 aperture. Two weeks ago I was shooting some Speedway Motorcycle racing at Champion Speedway in Owego, NY.
Most of the time I start out with my 70-200mm and grab shots from outside the track.

Later on in the night I grab my 50mm 1.8 and go to the infield and get up close and personal with the action.

So I guess it all depends on what you are shooting. Of course use what you have, and make the best of it, but if you are serious about shooting action invest in some fast glass. This means larger apertures like 2.8, 1.8, 1.4. Go to and rent one for a weekend and go out and shoot some action. The prices are really good. This way you can use one before you plunk down a pile of cash for one.

You will see a big difference in you action shots when you can get up closer to the action.
elmira ice race 1-17-14-7224

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Check out some of my action shots at



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