Gear Talk > Lenses

Covering 70-200 Indoors.

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I know some people don’t like these threads but a similar post about what camera to purchase last year was very helpful to me.  Reading everyone’s thoughts and opinions was very useful so here I go again . . .  I think I know what the best option is but would very much appreciate the thoughts of others

I’m trying to cover a gap I see in my lens collection.  For indoor sports, especially my youngster’s swimming galas and for concert photography I have the following options:-

24-70L F2.8 (original version)
100L Macro F2.8
Camera is a 70d

All lenses I’m very happy with but the problem is that the 100 doesn’t have quite the reach and the 70-300L struggles in low light even if it is better than I expected!

So, naturally one of the fast 70-200 F2.8 zooms is the answer I thought.  Eventually having read reviews I settled on the latest Tamron lens in that category.  Yes, would love to opt for the Canon but it’s out of the price range and living near military bases I don’t fancy being mistaken for a hostile rocket launcher  ;D.   The Tamron looks relatively discrete.

So job done?  Well I happened to notice just how positive everyone was about the 135L F2.0 which gives me a bit more reach than today and a stop more light and is apparently very snappy in the focus department .  PLUS, it apparently works well with a 1.4 extender at F2.8.  All in for a similar price to the Tamron given the deals that are available to me.

I really like the sound of the 135L, when it’s long enough I get that extra stop of light and it sounds like a killer lens for various uses.  I can well imagine it would produce the best indoor pictures that I take over time.   And with the 1.4 extender at F2.8 I get pretty much the reach of the Tamron zoom.  But the Tamron has decent IS which particularly at the longer end and in concert lighting can be crucial so it’s probably my best bet overall.

Make sense?  Are there other options out there that I should consider?  I’m happy to listen to all and any advice.  Obviously I will refer to Ken Rockwell for the authoritative answer if opinion is evenly split  :D.

One last point, I know some people are going to talk about a full frame camera but bear in mind that even though indoor photography is important to me my main interest is outdoors and needs the reach of the crop camera and my distance issues become more pronounced too on FF.  So yes a 6d is a "one day" idea it's not for now I think.

Jim Saunders:
I'd get the 135 f/2 first and a zoom second; for indoor sports you need all the light you can get.


The 135 f/2 is pretty much the ultimate indoor sports / concert lens, especially on a crop body and I'd recommend it as well.  Keep in mind that despite what you may heard, it does not work very well with the 1.4x, at least wide open.

Guys, thanks for the replies.  My heart is heading for the 135 I think as per your suggestions.  It may not be as flexible as the zoom but I'd rather get 2 excellent pictures than 20 good ones.

Thanks also for the tip about it not working so well with the extender.  Do you have any reference for that or has it come through good old experience?

Since you already have the 70-300L, which is an excellent outdoor lens with a terrific zoom range.  I think the 135L would meet your needs for a fast indoor tele option nicely.

I have a 70-200 2.8 II and a 135L and often choose to leave the 70-200 at home due to its weight when I'll be carrying the camera for extended periods.  My equipment choice for festivals and day-long events is my 6D with 24-70 and 135L.  Occasionally, I take an extender along as well.  I often use my 135L for my nieces and nephews swimming and wrestling events in very poor light.  It works well in smaller areas where you can get pretty close to participants, but I take my 70-200 when I need more reach.

I have 1.4xIII and 2.0xIII extenders that I use occasionally with my 135L.  As Mackguyver pointed out, the extenders do not work well with the 135 wide open for some reason, but they work brilliantly with the 70-200.  In my experience (not formal testing) the 135mm / 1.4xIII combination seems to work well from f/5.6 and up, but my shots at wider apertures seemed soft with high CA's.   


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