Canon T2i Lenses for Low Light Sports Photography

Howdy friends! Let’s take a look at some the best indoor and low light sports lenses for the Canon Rebel T2i…

The key to shooting inside a gym is to have a lens with a low f-value. A lens with a low f-value will allow more light to enter the camera, which will give you higher shutter speeds and a lower ISO. Higher shutter speeds will “freeze” the action and minimize movement or blur in your photos. Low ISO’s will ensure “noise free” images.

Lens Recommendations for Indoor and Low Light Sports

50mm EF f/1.8 II LensIf you’re able to get up and move around the gym, then I would recommend the very affordable Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens which can be purchased for around $100. I used to shoot basketball photos for a local college team and this was my preferred lens, however, I was able to shoot near the basket and along the sidelines. This lens will allow you to shoot at very high shutter speeds while keeping your ISO down, ensuring “noise free” images. The only negative to this lens is that there’s no ability to zoom, so you’ll have to move around in order to frame your subject.

Canon 70-200mm f/4 LensIf you’re looking to shoot from the bleachers, you’ll need a zoom lens with a low f-value. The problem is that these types of lenses are usually very expensive. The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Zoom lens is probably the “best” zoom lens in terms of overall value when comparing features and price. This lens will allow you to get close to your subject, while still maintaining a low f-value which will ensure high shutter speeds. Now here’s the negatives…this lens is fairly large and heavy, it’s also quite expensive. This lens usually sells for $650 which may sound extremely expensive, however, the same exact lens with a lower f-value (Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8) runs for nearly $1,300, which is double the price.

Canon 55-250mm f/4-5.6 LensIf you’re not willing to spend over $300 on a lens, then the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Zoom lens is probably the only budget zoom I would ever recommend. This lens is usually goes for $250, which is an excellent price for a zoom lens with Image Stabilization. This lens will allow you to shoot at 250mm, which is effectively 400mm on the T2i. Basically any lens that’s attached the Canon T2i will have a 1.6x crop factor applied to it. So a 50mm lens will be 80mm and a 250mm lens will be 400mm. A 400mm reach is more than enough to get a zoomed in shot of an athlete from the bleachers. I don’t usually recommend budget zoom lenses for “indoor” shooting, because you’ll have to increase the ISO to such a high number that your photos will be heavily affected by “image noise”, however, I think most people wouldn’t notice the noise in a 4×6 print. Pro photographers may notice some “noise” in your images when blown up to 100% on your computer monitor, but again these photos are for you and your family to enjoy.

After you decide on a lens, the next step will be learning to take great indoor sports photos with your T2i.

Some tips for shooting sports in low light with your Canon T2i

  1. Adjust the maximum ISO speed to 6400 for Auto ISO. When shooting sports in low light, you’ll need ISO speeds above 400 in order to achieve shutter speeds that are fast enough to freeze the action. This feature can be found on page 63 of the Canon T2i manual.
  2. Always shoot with a high shutter speed, somewhere around 1/500 to 1/1000. A high shutter speed will “freeze” the action, and minimize the blur that will occur with fast paced subjects. You can do this by putting the T2i into Shutter priority mode (rotate the dial on top of the T2i to “Tv” mode).
  3. If you’re shooting from the bleachers, pre-focus on the backboard or an object near the action. You can pre-focus by half pressing the shutter button on the T2i. Once the action moves close to the hoop, you can snap off that perfect shot without waiting for the camera to focus.
  4. Put the T2i into Continuous Shooting mode, which will allow you to snap off a series of photos at 3.7 images per second. This mode is great for capturing an athlete preparing to shoot, jumping, and then releasing the ball. This feature can be found on page 70 of the T2i manual.
  5. Change the AF mode to AI Servo. This will allow you to “track” the subject ensure that they are always in focus. Just half press the shutter button and follow your subject until you are ready to capture the image. This feature can be found on page 66 of the T2i manual.

If you’ve got any questions, tips or recommendations for shooting indoor sports with your T2i…please post a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Happy shooting!