Today we are talking about the best lens for sports photography. As you can imagine, capturing the best photos of your favorite sports game is going to be tricky with your standard camera. Even if you use your normal, everyday lens, it’s going to be tough to get the best shots of the action without a quality lens. You need the best zooming capabilities, the best speeds, and the best stabilization.
When it comes to professional sports photography, the lens is everything. Even if you’re just a fan who wants to get phenomenal pictures to post on social media, a great lens is the first step. Your camera may already have fantastic speed and a good range, but the right lens can upgrade you from amateur to pro.
A good sports photography lens is going to give you higher contrast, sharper pictures, and more vibrant colors to really capture the best sporting moments in all their glory. Of course, you also need a quality camera, preferably a DSLR with a great processing rate and fast burst speeds – but you need the right lens to complement your camera.
The Best Lenses For Sporting Cameras
If you’re looking to capture all the best memories of your sporting events, this is the telephoto lens for you. It’s designed for serious customers, as you can clearly tell from its price. It’s technically flawless, and yes, it costs probably more than your current camera. If you’re looking to get serious with sporting photography, this is the greatest lens you could possibly buy. It comes with fantastic features, bringing performance and quality together to exceed your expectations with every snapshot. Amazing optical quality, a flawless optical image stabilizer, and a construction that is resistant to dust and water.
This lens is designed to be reliable and long-lasting. It gives you consistently sharp results at any zoom length. The shake reduction has been dramatically enhanced, it comes complete with two optical image stabilizer modes, and it has a phenomenal inner focusing ring system so that you get fast and precise performance with almost complete silence. You also get a full-time manual focus for when you need it. And finally, the chromatic aberration has been drastically minimized to give you a higher quality with all your images.
- 77mm Filter Size
- Super Sharp Zoom Images
- High-Speed AutoFocus
- Dust & Water Resistant
- Reduced Distortion
- Super Expensive
- Little Heavy
- Works w/ Newer Cameras
Welcome to the best zoom lens you will ever purchase for under $1,000. Yes, this lens is a bit older than some other models. But considering it’s still worth a tremendous amount of money, and the features are still relevant today, this is a perfect lens for your sports photography. It has incredible sharpness, the autofocus speed is fantastic, and it has an impressive zoom range. But back to the autofocus for a second, this lens works to focus pretty much immediately. With lots of light, the autofocus is super fast and almost completely silent. If you’re photographing a basketball game or a roller derby match, the autofocus will allow you to capture image after image with extreme precision.
In terms of technical specifications, you get enhanced vibration reduction image stabilization engineered specifically for this lens. You are now able to shoot at up to four shutter speeds slower than usual thanks to the reduction in vibration, and this gives you infinitely sharper images. The lens also uses 7 extra-low dispersion elements for superior color correction with minimal chromatic aberration – even at aperture settings that are especially wide. And let’s not forget the nanocrystal coating, which reduces ghosting and flare to enhance your images even more.
- Extremely Well-Balanced
- Great for Any Occasion
- Superior Internal Focus
- Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor
- Designed for Nikon Cameras
- Slightly Older Model
- Super Heavy/Best w/ Tripod
This telephoto lens from Tamron is an excellent mid-grade solution to all your sports photography. It includes three VC modes, it has reduced minimal object distance allowing a top magnification ratio of 1: 6.1, and it comes with focus and zoom rings and an arca-swiss style interface to enhance the lens’s speed and utility. If you’re looking for a great zoom lens with excellent bokeh, this is it! You can get spectacular background effects when shooting from just about any angle. Enhanced optical performance, faster autofocusing speeds, and improved accuracy. These are just a handful of the many features that come included with the Tamron lens.
The biggest pro when using this lens is the supreme accuracy you get. The lens uses an ultrasonic silent drive motor in conjunction with a pair of high-performance microcomputers to ensure flawless focusing and accuracy at all times. Plus, if you’re not satisfied, there is a full-time manual focus override so that you can make your own adjustments while utilizing the autofocus without needing to switch from AF to MF.
- Beautiful Bokeh
- Super Fast Shooting
- Pinpoint Accuracy
- Perfect Image Stabilization
- Shortened MOD
- Switches Protrude & Can Be Annoying
- Designed for Nikon Cameras
- Zoom a Bit Short for Field Games
No list is complete without a quality budget option. If you don’t have a ton of money to spend but you want the absolute best for your sports photography pictures, this lens from Olympus is a great place to start. You get phenomenal image performance, great telephoto shooting with an impressive zoom range, and the lens itself is compact and lightweight. It’s super affordable, it uses an MSE mechanism to give you rapid and quiet autofocusing, and the closest focusing distance you can get is 0.9m with a maximum image magnification of 0.18x.
But the big draw here is the great value you get for your money. Where most telephoto lenses are super heavy and cumbersome, this one is actually very light. And it doesn’t come with any sacrifices. The focal length is great, the optical construction of the lens gives you impressively bright images, and the circular aperture diaphragm results in natural defocusing. It’s great not only for taking photographs, but also for recording sharp and realistic videos. If you’re looking for an extremely versatile lens with a great zoom mechanism and quick autofocus capabilities, and you don’t want to rob yourself blind, definitely put this on the top of your list.
- Super Clear Images w/ Great Image Quality
- Very Good Value for Money
- Great for Movies & Images
- Smooth Bokeh
- Extremely Versatile
- No Lens Hood
- Not Great in Dark Settings
- Slightly Older Model
To cap off the list, here is a premium lens from Canon. If you have money to burn and really want to flex your photography muscles, getting the perfect shots at all your sports games, this is a lens that you will love. This is one of those dream lenses that cost so much money most people don’t even think about buying it. But it’s definitely worth the steep price, as its features are simply unbelievable. The image stabilization is fantastic, the image quality is worth the money alone, and the sharpness is going to blow your socks off. Wide performance is great, and the contrast and color are going to be rendered magnificently throughout the entire range.
If you’re feeling like doing some other types of photography, this is the perfect lens for taking macro shots. You can focus down to roughly 3 feet, allowing you to get some pretty decent close-up images. The Bokeh is superb, and the technology that has gone into the development of this lens is impressive. It uses a rotation-type zoom ring for an increase in precision. The zoom torque adjustment ring has been improved for easy setting. And the ASC coating dramatically reduces backlit flaring and almost completely removes ghosting. For shooting outside in harsh weather, the lens body itself is incredibly resistant to water and dust, making it a great lens for a muddy day at the ballpark.
- Fantastic Bokeh Quality
- Sharpness is Unparalleled
- Perfect Image Stabilization
- Can Shoot Macro
- Unbelievable Image Quality
- Outrageously Expensive
- Lens Creeps
There are three main aspects that make your lens perfect for sports photography. And this means any sport! Baseball, basketball, soccer, skiing, and even curling… if you’re into that kind of thing. Basically, you need speed, a quality motor, and you need a telephoto lens. You’re not going to get any action shots with a macro lens or a prime lens.
A telephoto lens is important because it gives you distance. Most sports will not allow you to use a short lens. Unless you’re right there in the middle of the field, you’re probably going to be out in the stands or on the fence. For this, you must have a telephoto lens that can zoom in extremely close. You’re going to want a long lens somewhere between the 300 and 400mm range. Having the capability to support a teleconverter will give you an added edge when the distance is extreme.
As for speed, your lens needs to be quick. Sporting events move fast and you need to keep up with the action. Our recommendation is a lens that offers something around an f/2.8 or lower. You can use an f/4 lens, but you will be sacrificing speed.
The motor is also super important, and it needs to be fast. You want a motor that allows for quick autofocusing. Typically, USM lenses from Canon or SWM motors from Nikon are ideal for sporting photography.