Lens for indoor action shots without sapping color and sharpness

edited March 2012 Posted in » Canon T2i Forum
I was talking with a fellow T2i owner over on my Facebook page and she was wondering which lens would give her the best results for shooting indoor sports. I thought it would be beneficial to share our conversation with all of you...

Dorrie's Question: I am considering purchasing a Tamron 28-75 f2.8 for $459.00 This lens does not have image stabilizer. I currently have the lens that comes with the T2i kit. Those lenses do not have IS. I am able to get great outdoor action shots (soccer, softball) but indoor (basketball) shots are not as crisp. I can't afford the better Canon with IS but don't want to waste my money if this lens is not going to be good. I set the camera on Manual with ISO 1600 and shutter speed of 125. I also set it at ISERVO ( no idea what that is but read that is a good setting for movement). I also want the ability to zoom.

Moose's Answer: Believe it or not, Image Stabilization really does do much for fast action (indoor basketball). Image Stabilization can help reduce blur cause by "camera shake" (small hand movements), but it can't reduce blur caused by fast moving subjects. In order to freeze fast action you need a fast shutter speed. In order to get a fast shutter speed, you need more light or higher ISO. As you've already experienced, a higher ISO can sap the color and sharpness out of your shots. So in order to obtain a faster shutter speed while keeping the ISO down, you'll need a "brighter" lens. Lenses are usually defined by their focal length (18-55mm) and their maximum aperture value (f/3.5-5.6). The maximum aperture value is the lowest aperture f-number available to you at the widest and longest focal lengths.

So on your 18-55mm kit lens, the lowest aperture at 18mm is f/3.5 and at 55mm it's f/5.6. By using a lens with a larger maximum aperture (like f/1.8) you'll be able to keep the ISO down while at the same time increasing the shutter speed. The catch is that lenses with really large maximum aperture's can be very expensive, especially when you start getting into telephoto lenses.

To find a middle ground, I recommend starting with a "prime" lens like the 50mm f/1.8 or the 85mm f/1.8 which will allow you to shoot with a very "bright" aperture of f/1.8 on your T2i. Prime lenses are fixed at a given focal length, so you won't be able to zoom. In order to compose a shot, you'll need to get up and move around. While losing the ability to zoom from the stands might be a deal-breaker for you, a prime lens is really the best way to go.

Dorrie's Reply: I just bought the Tamron 2 nights ago. If it does not give me the picture I am looking for I am definitely going to get the one you recommend. For only 100 dollars, it's worth it. I do like the zoom but I do want the sharpness and I can always crop. I ended up paying $290 for a used Tamron f2.8. It should be here Thursday. I will post the results for anyone else who can benefit from the information. The kit lenses take great outdoor softball and soccer pictures. I am disappointed to learn they are the bottom of the line. If I knew then what I know now.

Moose's Reply: Yep, it's all apart of the learning experience. For what it's worth, the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 may serve you well. You'll be able to obtain a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range which will definitely be an improvement over the kit lens. Let us know how it goes! :)

Dorrie's Reply: I have now shot hundreds of pictures with the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 indoors at basketball games. I set the ISO to 3200, I shoot on AV or TV back and forth to see which give me the best results but of course I have no idea which photos were taken with which setting. Either way, I love the results. I have gotten clear pictures of girls running and jumping in the air. I am very glad that I bought this lens.

Moose's Reply: Fantastic! Glad the lens worked out for you. By the way, you can review the settings you used when playing back images on your T2i by pressing the DISP button.
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