Why have I preferred f/2.8 lenses?
Mainly for three reasons:
1. I love shooting at wide apertures to blur the background and give me great selective focus on my subject.
2. Quite often the more expensive f/2.8 lenses have the higher quality glass and yield the best images.
3. These lenses let me shoot at faster shutter speeds in low light situations (dark events and dimly lit sports venues mostly).
The first point still stands, and there is no substitution for a narrow depth of field, especially when shooting portraits. The really "fast" lenses can shoot at apertures like f/1.2 or f/1.4. And I still love shooting with these lenses at events to separate my subject from everyone else.
The second point is still true in many cases, but there are plenty of excellent lenses that max out at f/4.
But the third point is becoming less relevant, with the advent of newer cameras. The reason is this...the newer cameras now let you shoot at crazy high ISO levels with very little digital noise.
|This photo was taken with a Canon 5D Mark II at ISO 3200 at f/6.3 at 300mm.|
Lets look at an example from 10 years ago when I was shooting sports indoors. Back then I was using a Canon 20D and would never have pushed the ISO about 800, because the image quality degraded too much. So I would set the camera to ISO 800. I would then mount my Canon 70-200 2.8 lens on the camera and set the aperture to 2.8. But even then I might only achieve a shutter speed of 1/100 second. Yikes! Not nearly fast enough to capture a fast action hockey game. If I were to use a variable aperture lens and shoot at f/5.6 it would be even worse!
Today, I am using cameras like the 1DX, 7D Mark II, or 5D Mark III and I can push the ISO to levels of 10,000 and still get usable images. So having a fast lens is not as necessary.
|This photo was taken at ISO 1250 at f/4|
So...do we have to have a f/2.8 lens to shoot sports? I don't think so.
As a matter of fact, I really like using the Canon 100-400mm for sports since it is light weight (compared to the really big lenses).
But, my dream lens from Canon is the 200-400mm lens with the built in teladapter. It is f/4 all the way from 200mm to 400mm, and if I switch on the teladapter, I can shoot all the way to 560mm at f/5.6. And, if you read my blog a lot, you know that I love using zoom lenses, so that I have options in how I compose a shot. I used a prototype of this lens at the London Olympics and a shipping version in Sochi, and the image quality was just great!
I have heard people say, I would not use the Canon 24-105mm lens because it is an f/4 lens and not f/2.8, but I have used that lens for years and had excellent results. It is very sharp and has a nice focal range to shoot wide or closer in.
So...if you own a newer DSLR camera, and are looking for a new lens, you might be able to save some money with one of the less expensive lenses and capture good photos even in low light.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.
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