Sports Photography Buying Guide

Kim Jong By Kim Jong - updated August 24th, 2020
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Today we're gearing up and taking a good look at the latest range of cameras and accessories from the popular in the Canon Store range, seeing which ones are the best for taking photos while at sports events. For most this will be for taking photos at our kids' local games, but the gear we'll be highlighting below is certainly good enough to capture professional shots too!

Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned photographer, you really want to have the right gear for shooting sports. Capturing good sports shots can be difficult, and often takes years of practice before you start nailing those front-page worthy shots! Having inadequate gear will only hinder you, so really want to pay attention to your gear from the beginning.

With so many cameras and lenses to choose from, it can get overwhelming shopping for the right gear – especially if you’re just starting out. We’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of some of our top picks for sports photography!

Choosing a Camera Body

If you want to capture dramatic images, starting with a good camera body is important. You need a camera that is fast enough to capture every shot. The Canon EOS R6 Mirrorless Camera is a great new option that includes an adapter which makes the R6 compatible with existing sports-specific EF lenses, and many more newer options.

Engineered to shoot in a range of situations, the camera is built around a magnesium alloy chassis with high precision outer body parts, including sealing materials to provide dust and moisture resistance. Versatile in its usage, the EOS R6 offers powerful shooting with unprecedented levels of speed, operational ease, image quality and low light performance.

The EOS R6 boasts Canon’s new Dual Pixel CMOS AF II with up to 1053 autofocus zones and 5940 user selectable AF point positions. One of the first cameras from Canon to offer complete 100% frame coverage, it gives you the ability to track your subjects right to the corner of the frame. The EOS R6 offers up to 20 frames per second continuous shooting with the electronic shutter.

Image Stabilization is now possible when using non stabilized lenses. Combined with selected Canon RF lenses, IBIS works in tandem with lens-based Image Stabilizer to deliver coordinated control and reduce camera-shake blur up to an incredible 8 stops of shutter speed.

Picture of a big canon camera at sports event
picture of crowd at sports event
Picture of epic dive for netball
Picture of epic bike stunt
Picture of epic kick

Choosing Camera Lenses

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens

The Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens is the ultimate sports lens — a favourite amongst many photographers! It delivers phenomenal image quality (and offers a very diffuse background blur), it’s super-fast and accurate, it is weather sealed, and it has an impressive build quality that can stand up to professional use. The 400mm focal length is perfect for on the field, and if you want to increase its reach, just add an extender! This is one of the longest f/2.8 focal lengths available!

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens

When you’re running around shooting an intense sport match, you don’t always have time to swap out lenses for the perfect shot, so it’s worth having a good zoom lens on you for that extra versatility on the go too! The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens is an extremely impressive telephoto zoom lens that excels in sports photography! This lens is great for capturing sports action happening closer to you – such as indoor sports, but is also just as appropriate out on the field too. You’ll see some sports photographers with this mounted on a monopod, and they’ll grab the camera with this lens as the action comes closer to the side lines. With the action so close, the focal length needed for the perfect shot can change rapidly, and this is what makes the zoom feature so handy!

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens

For a wide-aperture sports lens, check out the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens. This ultra-wide zoom lens is a professional grade lens with fantastic weather-sealed build quality, fast and accurate autofocus, and amazing image quality — even wide open at f/2.8. This lens is a great choice for a remote camera, and for taking shots of an entire stadium or arena.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Lens

For a more affordable / entry-level option, check out the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Lens. Despite the cheaper price point, you’ll still get pro-grade build quality, exceptional image quality, and fast and accurate auto focus!

Having a camera strap is great for those moment between the action
Having a camera strap is great for those moment between the action
Get a spare battery in your kit to keep to you powered up into overtime
Get a spare battery in your kit to keep to you powered up into overtime
A tripod or monopod helps to take photos from long ranges
A tripod or monopod helps to take photos from long ranges
Burst modes often benifit from having a very fast memory card
Burst modes often benifit from having a very fast memory card

Fast Memory Cards

When it comes to memory cards, not only do you want to make sure you have enough storage, but you also need a memory card that can keep up with the action. Choose cards with read and write speeds of at least 90M/Bs to help you nail those dramatic action shots, especially if you’ll be using continuous shooting mode. Some sports photographers also prefer shooting in JPEG, as the smaller file size processes in your camera faster. You’ll want to make sure you have multiple memory cards too, not just for extra space, but also for backup!

Batteries & Charger

Don’t let a flat battery stop you from capturing all of the action! First of all, you’ll want to make sure your batteries are fully charged when you show up to a sports event. But you should also ensure you’re carrying extra batteries with you just in case. This will keep you prepared for any contingencies. The last thing you’d want is to miss peak sports moments all because of a flat battery!

Tripod or Monopod

Enjoy better mobility so you can photograph fast-action shots better and prevent blurred images due to camera shake. Take the weight off your arms from carrying a long focal length lens for hours with a monopod. If you opt for a monopod, with only one leg to set up (instead of a tripod’s usual 3), it also gives you versatility in movement and enables panning, a shooting technique that follows a moving subject and captures it in action.

Camera straps & more accessories

If you’re shooting sports, you’re probably going to be running back and forth quite a bit. Considering how much you’ll be spending on your camera gear, you really want to make sure you’re doing what you can do avoid drops. Use a camera strap to prevent dropping your camera. Can’t hang the strap around your neck? Wrap it around your wrist instead.

Whether you sling it around your neck or waist, a strap keeps it close to your body, and away from the ground.

So there you have it - some of our top picks for camera equipment for sports photography. Shop the full range of cameras and accessories here, or check out some of the most popular in the Canon Store today! 


Written By

Kim Jong

The one from NZ, not NK.

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