I've already done a fair bit of research. I somewhat discarded the option of 70-200mm f/2.8 because of price and weight (I know I can get the new Tamron 70-200 g2 for about 1400 € but that's still too much and it weighs 1.5kg). It would probably get in my way when I move around in muddy terrain, over roots and rocks, in woods, on the beaches, etc.

I don't plan to shoot football, basketball or other team sports, at least not yet and not with the lens I choose to buy at the moment.

So I researched other options, and lots of people say they shoot 85mm f/1.8 or 105mm micro/macro lens. Or even wide lenses like 18-24mm when they can get sufficiently close to the subject, but this question is about telephoto lenses.

As such I identified a few lenses which are:

  • Nikon Nikkor 85mm f/1.8g (500 €)
  • Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro (400 €)
  • Nikon AF-S VR Micro NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens (900 €)
  • Tamron F017 N SP 90 MM f/2.8 Di Macro VC USD (650 €)

All of the above have great reviews on YouTube and between 4 and 5 stars on Amazon reviews.

I am an amateur photographer but still want to produce great quality shots for the sports niche I've chosen, which is mountain biking, cycling and other action sports.

Which one would be the best fit and is any one of them to be discarded? I heard comments about slow autofocus in general on macro lenses, is this still a big deal these days with these new lenses?

Oh and btw, I only consider lenses with an aperture of f/2.8 or faster because of frequently shooting in woods.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Before you go any further, are you absolutely sure that 100mm is enough? \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Apr 1, 2018 at 21:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you need a zoom, unless your style is to carefully pick a spot where you can shoot contestants as they come around a corner or cross a finish line, in which case a prime could work. If weight is a concern, how about using a monopod? If you can work around the weight, and if you can settle for a good used lens, you can surely find a used 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom for less than 900 €. \$\endgroup\$
    – chulster
    Apr 2, 2018 at 16:54
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ You're not really asking how to decide, you're asking what your decision should be. \$\endgroup\$
    – Caleb
    Apr 24, 2018 at 16:01
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Also I don't think I will be able to test any of the lenses mentioned above and I'm not buying one without being able to test it. I don't want the hassle of buying and then having to sell if it doesn't fit. I decided I will probably be better off going with 70-200 and don't reinvent the wheel here. \$\endgroup\$
    – mare
    Apr 28, 2018 at 19:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ You have not described the shots you want to take well enough to recommend a lens. How far are you from the action? Can you predict where it will be? What is the light level where you are shooting? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 27, 2020 at 2:29

2 Answers 2


It really depends on the sport that you're shooting. Some sports let you get fairly close (e.g. hockey, curling, basketball); other sports require you to use long lenses at a distance (baseball, cricket, football/soccer, gridiron football).

Fast lenses are best because of the lighting conditions in some sports, especially indoor sports or games/matches played at night under stadium lighting. Modern DSLRs give you more room for error on the ISO side of things than was the case in the film days, but a fast aperture will still help you shoot isolate the subject against the background, and let you use faster shutter speeds with higher quality.

Knowing the sport well, and knowing where to anticipate action, will help you considerably.

It's been awhile since I've shot curling or hockey, but when I did (as an amateur) I used a 35-135/3.5-4.5 (on 35mm film/full frame) and it was a pretty successful endeavour. On the other hand, with gridiron football I used much longer lenses. My 80-200/2.8 was my most useful lens (I lacked anything longer that was as fast) but I also got a lot of good use out of a modest 75-300/4.5-5.6. In fact, my best football shot was shot with this lens, at the nearer end of the range, as a running back ran toward me on the sideline. (Luckily he turned the corner. :) )

Using what you have, and learning its limitations, will teach you more about what lens to add to your stable than any advice we have. Go experiment and try, see how things turn out, and figure out what limitations you're running into - that will tell you what lens to get next.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I was looking exactly at the aperture.... If money is an issue, slower lens get cheaper way faster than "short" lens (sigma has a 600mm f/5.6 for 1k US for instance). Personally, I'd make sure of the distances before anything, few things are worse than not being able to frame what you want from where they let you be :) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 23, 2018 at 17:21

I would recommend the Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-D ED Macro. Compared to the 70-200 you will get:

  • (almost) the same optical quality
  • pretty much the same weight, unfortunately
  • No VR (not very usefull for sport anyway)
  • A hugely better pricetag, especially used

It is not an AF-S lens, so it will only autofocus on bodies that have an AF motor. https://kenrockwell.com/nikon/80200.htm

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the suggestion, I currently own a crop body so no AF motor in it but worth to remember this lens if I ever upgrade to a body with motor. \$\endgroup\$
    – mare
    Apr 28, 2018 at 19:14

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