Often asked for advice on shooting sports. Three-word answer: Long, fast glass. Translation: Long-range telephoto lenses with large apertures.
For example. For football, I generally use a 400mm f/2.8 Canon telephoto on a EOS 1D, Mark III digital SLR body. Because the Mark III has a form factor of 1.3 to one (due to the size of the chip), the effective focal length of the lens is a little over 500mm. The Mark III also has low noise at high ISOs so I can shoot at 6400 at f/2.8 at shutter speeds ranging from 1/320th to 1/500th of a second. The 400mm weights 16.5 pounds a monopod is required. I usually keep a 70-200 f/2.8 zoom on a second camera body to use when the action gets closer.
The photo above was shot from the end zone 60 yards away at a Floyd County High School football game in November. The photo below is from the same game at about 50 yards.
For basketball and volleyball, I use a 300mm f/2.8 Canon telephoto or a 70-200 f/2.8 zoom. For closer shots, the 24-70 f/2.8 Canon zoom is a good choice. At a recent game, tried out Canon’s superfast 135mm f/2.0. It gave great results (left) and probably will use it again. At a street price of $900, the 135mm is the bargain of the year, especially when you consider the prices of the longer-range high-speed telephotos ($3,500 for he 300mm and $6,500 for the 400).