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I have an opportunity to buy a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM. It is in like new condition. I need to make offer.

I mostly shot high school football and wrestling. I'm not a pro. Will I be OK with this lens and not IS? I can’t afford a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens with IS, I just don’t want to buy a lens I can’t use.

  • From some experience with youth baseball under lights, it's down to the high-ISO performance of your camera whether it's adequate. Artificial light and fast motion is a tough combination. – Spehro Pefhany Oct 28 '18 at 10:42
  • Artificial light for a sports field or hall could be some hundred to a thousand Lux. That may be a factor of about 5 shorter or longer exposure time. What exposure time do you get when using another lens at f/2.8? – Uwe Oct 28 '18 at 11:17
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If the choice is between a 70-200mm f/4 with IS and a 70-200mm f/2.8 without IS, you're far better off with the f/2.8 lens and the 'faster' shutter speed that allows when shooting most sports.

For high school football, IS is not that useful. In order to prevent motion blur due to athlete's movements, you're going to need to use shutter times shorter than you should need to use to prevent blur due to camera motion, assuming you're using good camera stabilization techniques. I typically shoot high school football at ISO 3200, f/2.8, 1/800 second. If the lighting is dimmer, even 1/640 or 1/500 will do in a pinch. Anything below that and you're going to start seeing most of your shots with motion blur. With a 1.6X APS-C crop body, you should be able to hold your camera steady enough to use a shutter time as long as 1/320 while at 200mm.

With wrestling, it's a bit more of a mixed bag. When the wrestlers are moving quickly, you're in pretty much the same situation as football. But there are many points in a wrestling match when the two contestants are engaged but neither is moving very fast. Gyms are often dimmer than football stadiums. If the light in the gym is very dim, IS can come in handy to allow one to shoot at shutter times longer than 1/320 or 1/200 while at 200mm. But if you practice very good camera support techniques you should be able to shoot at slower than the 1/effective focal length rule of thumb and get many usable shots.

Just because you can't afford a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II (or III) doesn't mean you can't afford a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens with image stabilization, though. There are some pretty good third party 70-200/2.8 lenses with optical image stabilization available in Canon mounts for about the same price as the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L USM. The most notable is the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2, which is the second generation of Tamron's 70-200/2.8 with Vibration Control. It gives the current Canon 70-200/2.8 L IS lenses a good run for their money in terms of image quality and AF performance at a lower price. Sigma also offers a pretty good 70-200/2.8 with OS that's even cheaper, though it is not quite up to the same optical standard as the latest Canons with IS and the latest Tamron. But then again, the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM is also a bit long in the tooth and is also a step behind the current 70-200/2.8 IS offerings. A Sigma Global Vision series 70-200/2.8 is long overdue. Sigma announced the 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sport in September of 2018, but as of October 27, 2018 the lens has not yet begun to ship or appear in retailers' inventories. As with most newly introduced lenses, it will debut at a price higher than what it can probably be had for several months later.

  • A wrestling ring is also much smaller than a football field, which means it's more likely that a monopod will be a practical option. – chrylis Oct 27 '18 at 20:15
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    That depends on how the gym is set up. Most high school wrestling takes place on mats on a basketball floor, with several matches taking place on various mats at the same time. The photographer can't always be immediately next to the ring of the match being shot. Some gyms don't allow monopods (or tripods) on the basketball floor out of fear of it getting damaged. For different reasons, many venues don't allow patrons to enter with tripods/monopods. – Michael C Oct 27 '18 at 20:46
  • If you're at the same level as the action (wrestling), kneeling on your left knee with your left elbow on your right knee is a very stable position, and can make for some good shots. It works well for kids parties too, when again subject-motion blur is often a bigger factor than camera shake – Chris H Oct 28 '18 at 8:29
  • @Chris, since the camera should be supported by the left hand and operated by the right hand, particularly with heavier lenses, most experienced photographers keep their left knee up to support their left hand when using that technique. But again, depending on how the gym floor is laid out and what areas one has access to, one can't always shoot the participants in every match from that low. – Michael C Oct 28 '18 at 23:25
  • @MichaelClark it also depends on your proportions and lens. I find my way works better with my 400mm zoom, to put a hand under the lens's tripod mount. Either way, a good stable position makes a massive difference assuming it's compatible with getting the shot you want. That particular pose could serve as an example - elbows on a seat or rail can also be good. – Chris H Oct 29 '18 at 6:52
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If I were in your shoes, I would definitely look for a used Tamron 70-200 2.8 VC G2 lens, used would be fantastic, but even in brand new condition, it is bang on the best 70-200 2.8 deal you can get today. Tamron is known for their amazing VC and 70-200 is no exception. I haven't used it in person but all i have heard is praises. If you don't care about VC, even then tamron is very sharp, almost 90-95% of the canon newer is ii lens, but in your case, is sharper i think than the non is version. Do not shy away from buying third party lens, they generally are one of the most economical way to upgrade your kit. hope this helps.

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