Lenses are an integral part of any photo shoot. The camera body, however sophisticated that may be, is useless unless you pair it up with a proper lens. There are a lot of things to keep in mind while choosing a camera lens for your specific photography needs. It is therefore very essential to understand how a camera lens functions. This article covers the basic specifications that camera lenses have, their meanings, and obviously the best camera lens for cheerleading competitions.
If you are in a hurry, Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens, Telephoto Zoom Lens is the lens that has been suggested by most experts for indoor cheerleading competitions. For taking team photos, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens is the sure-shot recommendation.
What is a Camera Lens?
A camera lens is basically a set of optical elements that control the amount of light that gets through while bending the light rays to a specific focal point. This specific focal point can be the film strip for a traditional camera or the digital sensor for a digital camera. The image below can help you visualize how the camera lens functions.
The two most important features that specify camera lenses are focal length and aperture. Let me explain these two features to you in some detail.
Focal Length: This is a measurement of the distance between the point of convergence of the camera lens and the camera sensor. Usually specified in “mm”, this specification is mentioned at the front of the lens and can be a range of values or a single value.
The image below can help you understand this distance in a visual way with 28mm being the focal length for this particular lens. A lower value of focal length gives you a wider angle capturing more from the scene, while a higher value gives you a narrower angle helping you focus on distant, finer details. For a more detailed explanation, you can check out this article.
Aperture: Aperture is basically how much the camera lens will open, i.e., how much light the camera lens will allow to pass on to the image sensor. This aperture setting, along with the shutter speed and ISO setting, controls the light exposure of the photo. The wider the aperture, the smaller the F-stop (focal-stop) number.
The aperture control is usually done with the help of opaque diaphragms which control the amount of light coming inside the camera. The F-stop number and the aperture size are inversely proportional as shown in the image below.
The aperture is also related to the depth of field of the scene being shot. With a larger aperture, the depth of field becomes shallower allowing more elements in the scene to be out of focus. Whereas, with a smaller aperture the depth of the field becomes larger with a bigger area of the scene coming to focus.
This is depicted in the image given below. For a more detailed reference of aperture, you can have a look at this article.
There are more specifications for a lens, however focal length and aperture are the most important ones.
Now, coming to the two main types of lenses: Primes lenses have a fixed focal length making them lighter and faster. Being lightweight, they are portable and gives the best results for just one type of scene/photography. Zoom lenses come with a range of focal lengths making them more flexible. However, having more glass in them, zoom lenses are heavier and slower than prime lenses.
There are other things that you might want to know about camera lenses, which you can read in this article from MasterClass which explains the basics quite well.
What Lens does Sports Photographers Use?
Sports photography is all about capturing fast-moving athletes in action. It is all about capturing the emotions of the players, audiences as well as fine details in the scene.
As an expert shares in her 5 most important tips in sports photography, forming a plan is very crucial in sports photography (Youtube video shared below).
The selection of lens depends on the plan that you have in mind. You can read some importants tips on how to photograph cheerleading events from this article here. For capturing the emotions of the players and spectators, you need to focus on them and as a result, you need a larger focal length lens. For the scene, you would need a lens with a medium kind of focal length.
Ideally for sports photography, 70-200mm focal length lenses with a fast maximum aperture of F/2.8 are a perfect choice. These kinds of lenses are called telephoto lenses as they bring a distant object closer and help you focus and shoot.
Lighting conditions play an important factor in shooting indoor sporting events like cheerleading. In such conditions, a faster maximum aperture is required and F/2.8 can be a good lens choice. As already mentioned above, this will allow more light to come into your camera getting you better shots.
Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens, Telephoto Zoom Lens is one such lens that can be the best fit for indoor sports photography. It is compact and lightweight as compared to the other lenses in this segment, and also features shake correction which is an important thing for these telephoto lenses. It is compatible with most Canon cameras and even mirrorless ones. The lens also comes with a mounting pod for mounting it onto a tripod (You may check out a lightweight, budget tripod here on Amazon).
Here I also share below, the 5 vital sports photography tips from Jean Fruth, an expert sports photographer.
What Lens is Good for Events?
As already mentioned in the section above the best lenses for cheerleading events are the ones with a focal length of around 70-100mm and with a fast maximum aperture of around F/2.8. This combination can help you get good shots of the athletes as well as the scene, and the venue and also cater to the lower than ideal lighting conditions in an indoor event.
After talking with 3 sports photographers, I found 3 user-friendly lenses that can be the perfect starting device for beginners as well as mid-level experienced photographers. The first one I have already recommended above is Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens, Telephoto Zoom Lens. However, it is a bit on the costlier side.
If you are on a tighter budget, I would recommend Tamron AF 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD IF Macro Lens for Sony Digital SLR Cameras Model which costs around $700 is a great budget buy for Sony DSLR Cameras. For the guys using Canon DSLRs, I would suggest Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC G2, which is an awesome lens costing around $1300. The numerous positive reviews speak for themselves for these two budget lenses.
What Lens is Best for Team Photos?
There are a few things to keep in mind while taking team photos. The most important thing is to get the faces of all the team members with a certain level of clarity.
For outdoor events, the position of the sun needs to be taken care of for team snaps. Sun to the sides can cause one side of the face to get dark, and thus needs to be taken care of. For indoor events, this is not a problem, however, a properly lit area is to be preferred for team snaps.
For team photos, normal zoom lenses with specifications of 24-70mm are usually the best. You can stand at a shorter distance from the team capturing them in full, maintaining the aspect ratio. This 24-70mm lens along with a 70-200mm lens can help you cover the full range of 24-200mm. An awesome idea right?!
I would recommend Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens and Sony SEL2470GM FE 24-70 mm F2.8 G Master Full Frame Standard Zoom Lens in this segment. Do check if they fit with your DSLR camera before you place the order. You can read more about the best cameras for cheerleading events here.
Back to You
The choice of the camera lens for cheerleading events mainly boils down to a longer focal length and faster maximum aperture. Reach the event early with a proper plan in mind, take your perfect spot depending on your plan and execute your plan. Cheerleading photography is not very difficult if you keep a few basic things in mind.
I hope this article was able to help you decide on the perfect lens for shooting cheerleading competitions. However, Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens, Telephoto Zoom Lens is surely the winner in all respects.