One of my passions is sports photography. But, as regular readers of these missives (yes, there are some!) will know, my output has been limited due to not having a lens long enough to do justice to some of the sports I am involved with — in particular, rowing, rugby and cross country. Basketball has also been problematic given the quality of lighting in many of the gyms I frequent and the fact my armoury only extends to lenses with a maximum aperture of f4. This week some of that changed as I finally acquired a Canon 100 - 400 mm f4.5 - 5.6L IS 11 USM zoom.
To say I was excited on Saturday morning as I headed out to the Sydney International Regatta Centre for the 2018 NSW Rowing Championships is an understatement. But having said that, my biggest fear remained that I still did not have a long enough lens and maybe should have picked up the 200 - 400 with the built in teleconverter. But, although I would have given my right arm to have been able to purchase one, it didn't take long for me to be convinced that the new toy was more than able to tick every box.
Whilst the lens seemed heavier and chunkier when attached to my 5D111 than when I handled a unit in the store it more than made up for it in its output — sharp as a tack, wonderful bokeh, super fast to lock onto a subject. After almost five hours of shooting, my only "criticism" would be that the zoom ring was quite stiff — even when the locking mechanism was turned completely off. I am guessing it will free up over time — or I need to get used to operating a new lens again rather than one with a bit of age on it — but we will not know until we know.
Once I returned home and started to watch the images moving from my card reader and into Capture One on the big screen that feeling of excitement returned. Almost 400 images to upload but, one by one, they proved how much I needed this lens and showed what I had been missing. Still more playing to be done but this purchase turned out to be a no-brainer. And it has confirmed why, later in the year, I need to pick up an f2.8 or faster so I can really get stuck into producing better basketball images as well.