Seeing things through a new lens

On Tuesday, I received a package in the mail containing an object I’ve wanted for the past three years. It was a new camera lens.

I’ve been a sports photographer for almost three years now and there’s one lens that every sports photographer either seems to want or already has. That lens is a 70mm to 200mm with a fixed aperture of 2.8. The 70-200mm is the zoom on the camera and the aperture, also known as the f-stop, is how much light the camera allows in. The smaller the number, the more light is let in. Fixed means that when the lens is zoomed in all the way it still operates at an f-stop of 2.8.

So why have I?wanted this lens so badly for so long? Because a lot of the gymnasiums, football fields and hockey arenas where I shoot sporting events aren’t very well lit, so it becomes hard to get a shot that’s not blurry and isn’t dark. This lens will allow me to prevent that from happening as much, which will make me feel even better about my photographs.

I’m a Canon person. I have three Canon camera bodies and three Canon lenses. But since this particular lens costs thousands of dollars for the Canon version, I’ve opted to buy a Tamron version of the lens. Tamron is an off-band company that makes lenses for many different camera brands. Sigma is another company like this. Their lenses are a lot cheaper than the name brand products, but they work just as well.

Since this was my first time not buying a Canon camera product, I was a little nervous about how the lens would work. I read a lot of reviews which said the Tamron version didn’t focus as fast as Canon lens and that it was a lot louder than the Canon when it did focus. Now that I’ve had it for a few days, I’ve found some of those assessments are true and others aren’t.

When it comes to slower focusing, I didn’t notice it one single bit. I think it’s just as fast if not faster than some of my other lenses, but it is quite loud compared to my other ones. It emits a sort of mechanical sound while focusing, but after a few hours with it I stopped noticing the sound.

Overall, my first experience with an off-brand lens has been a success. I feel like I’m less afraid of using an off-brand lens and I might consider getting more Tamron lenses.

I’m really excited to see what it can do in the dark gymnasiums and can’t wait to test it out during basketball season.

Editor’s note: Recent Northern Michigan University graduate and Mining Journal photo journalist Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500. Her email address is