Football is a fast sport and requires fast equipment. Football photography requires gear light enough to move around to get the right shot, and get out of the way when you are about to get run over on the sidelines (that has happened to me a few times). For Canon users, there are a lot of questions about what gear to use, the amount of gear to carry, and how to carry it all at once! Here are some of my suggestions based off of my experience on the sidelines.
I recommend buying lenses before a new DSLR camera when you are going to stock up on sports photography gear. Get EF lenses. Even if you do not have a full frame camera (which I would recommend a crop sensor to give you extra zoom anyways) the EF lens will still fit any Canon EOS DSLR. First and foremost, invest in a high quality telephoto lens.
If you don’t want to pay $10,500 for the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens (don’t you know I have retirement to think about, Canon?) then I highly recommend the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras. Even with an aperture of f/4, it’s half the price of the f/2.8 and delivers the same quality. It will also give you enough zoom to capture close action shots.
A quick tip for sports photography: it’s not all about the zoom; it’s about positioning yourself on the sideline to get a perfect angle. So, don’t worry that you are only able to zoom to 200mm, just move around on the sidelines. A good angle will beat a good zoom 100% of the time.
You will also want to get a wide angle lens. That may sound weird if you have not researched sports photography; however, you need a good wide angle lens for pregame group shots and close action shots on the sidelines.
For a good sport wide angle lens, check out the Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM Wide Angle Lens and the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras. With the fixed 24mm f/2.8 option you are getting a cheaper wide angle lens with no zoom and larger aperture capabilities. With the 17-40mm f/4 option you are getting an ultra wide angle lens that can zoom. Both are awesome options.
***UPDATE: Since writing this post, Canon has released a new wide angle 16-35 zoom f/4 lens. This would be an amazing lens to have for sports photography. Here’s the link.
So, with all of these lenses you need a good harness to carry all of your gear around quickly. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the Opteka MCH-25 Multi Camera Carrier Harness Holster System for DSLR Cameras. This harness will easily carry all of your gear so you can move with the action. I recommend having a camera with a wide angle lens connected to the harness (and always turned on) so that when the action gets close, you can hold your camera with the telephoto lens connected to the side so you can use the camera with the wide angle lens quickly.
There you have it! You’re ready to get your gear together and hit the turf running! Just remember to wear some comfortable running shoes. To know how to get started in sports photography, check out this post.