A New Tool in the Camera Bag

(WARNING: camera gear geek-out. You’ve been warned)

I’ll skip over saying how long it’s been since I last wrote a blog entry! People who are able to do weekly updates amaze me. It’s a labour of love although not getting to a post doesn’t mean the love isn’t there. Anyhow… ‘nuf said.

New Lens

I’ve had a Canon 300mm L series lens for years. And I stopped carrying it around as it’s not really the right tool for what I think I am trying to capture. Perhaps it’s because I got very comfortable using the f2.8 70-200 L series that’s my go-to lens. For whatever reason I stopped using it. I’ve been more inclined to bring along a 1.4 extender (the second edition, not the newest iii) and have found that pretty good for finish line shots. Plus it’s easy to bring along, weighs very little and fits anywhere.

Charge to the line

Still… I didn’t feel like I was getting what I wanted from that position. I’ve struggled with what it means to get a finish line shot for years too; if you’ve seen photos of me in the “pen” where photographers are allowed and what it takes to get a good spot in there you know it’s a bunch of people with big lenses all taking the same shot. So I’ve been trying to get something unique and decided to try changing the tools I have at hand for that.

So I bought a new lens.

Going Long

In place of the 70-200 with extender and the 300 L I don’t bring, I added a heavy-weight. I considered 3 different lenses to address what I hope to accomplish:

  • Canon 100-400 L f4.5-5.6 IS USM
  • Sigma 150-600 f5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sport
  • Tamron SP AF 150-600 f5-6.3 G2

I’m looking for images that will probably need something around 500mm to capture and so I decided at least 400mm on a body with an APS-C sensor (1.6x crop factor) should put me in the right range. So far they all fit. Weatherproofing is another factor I take seriously having had gear fail during a race because of the conditions. That ruled out the Tamron for me. I also wasn’t impressed by reviews that talked about failures unrelated to crappy weather… I need it to be reliable without question or worry.

Weight is another factor… big lenses get heavy quickly! I will never forget carrying the Canon 400 f2.8 L lens I rented from the Vistek location to the opening ceremonies of the 2015 PanAm games. I should have taken a cab! That was a tick in favour of the Canon 100-400 as it’s significantly lighter than the Sigma S. The slightly faster aperture was another plus for that lens. F4.5 beats f5 🙂

In the end I decided to go with the extra reach the Sigma gave me though… with the 7D sensor the 600 is closer to 900mm. And with the 1.4 extender I have it gets me well over 1000!

Both lenses are fast and have lots of great features. Only time will tell if I made the right choice (for me, there’s never one right answer when creativity is involved).

Here are a few shots in a controlled space to see what the Sigma looks like…

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