Using the Tamron 100-400mm lens
The new 100-400mm lens from Tamron is a great choice for the budget sports or action photographer. We decided to test it out here at the Santa Anita Race Track since horses are fast and catching their action in place would really test out this lens. Since the horses are running from far away, a telephoto zoom lens is appropriate for this shoot.
Make sure that you’re shooting in manual. This allows you to have more control over your images.
We’ll start at 1/1000 for the shutter and see if we need to adjust from there. After a few test shots, we upped our shutter to 1/1250. At the end of the day, we were at 1/2000.
Since this telephoto lens has a variable aperture (like most lenses in this market, unless you’re spending almost $10,000 on a constant f/4 or f/2 lens) we will be shooting at the fastest setting that’s available, which is f/6.3. At the end of the day, we were at f/9.
Once we dial those two settings, we just change the ISO to match, trying to stay close to our native ISO. But since we’ll be in direct sunlight, we will probably be at ISO 200 or 100.
WIN Aputure 120D and Vanguard Alta Fly 55T
Another way you can do this is setting your ISO on auto.
Since we know the two other variables, aperture and shutter speed, and we know those aren’t changing, having our ISO set to auto will eliminate that headache of trying to get it perfect every time.
The camera does a decent job keeping up. You’ll get some underexposed and overexposed shots, but the majority of them will look perfectly fine.
Back Button Focus
Trying to meter, focus and take your shot all with the front trigger is almost impossible and in sports photography, the action is happening so fast that it’s hard to see with your own eyes!
That’s why I always recommend using the back button on your camera to focus. Most DSLR cameras have this feature. that way, you can have your back button focusing and tracking your subject and have your front trigger taking pictures.
Every time you take your finger off the back button, it will refocus the image. So holding it down will keep the focus point you selected from the beginning. Most of what I did today was holding down the back button and following my subject in the frame.
The Tamron 100-400mm lens is the perfect choice for what we’re doing today. It has the focal range we need to capture close-up shots of the horses from far away.
If you have an APS-C sensor, it will effectively become a 50-600mm lens. Some full-frame cameras have the ability to crop the image, which will give you the same extended focal length.
The Tamron lens has VC1 and VC2 controls. You would use the VC1 for video and stills – mostly when your frame isn’t moving much. This will allow you to hand-hold the lens at a slower shutter speed say 1/500 or 1/600.
Use the VC2 when you plan on panning with your subject or when you are taking long exposures.
The 100-400mm has a 67mm thread on the front so a bit smaller than your standard 72mm thread size. You’ll have to pick up a step down ring which also might cause vignetting.
This lens has a minimum focus distance of 1.5 meters which is about 4.5 feet. For a 400mm lens, that’s pretty good.
Here are some images of a lizard we found in our backyard. The focus is sharp and we were able to get pretty close to it!