The right lens for gymnastics


Dave 1234
Registered: Dec 05, 2004
Total Posts: 280
Country: United States

I usually shoot dance, but did one gymnastics' meet for a mom whose older daughter dances, but younger one does gymnastics. I highly recommend the Canon 135 f/2. I mounted that on a Canon 1D Mark iii.!i=1729763044&k=hNcVwBp

Jay Connor
Registered: Dec 13, 2007
Total Posts: 185
Country: United States

+1 with Convergent re lenses

Depending on how close you can get pick the 85/1.8 or the 135/2

The 85 focuses super fast - I havent used the 135 for sports in a while so I dont remember how fast it locks on

I have the 70-200/2.8 as well and its a great lens but not fast enough for the light caves where you are shooting


Registered: Oct 09, 2011
Total Posts: 15
Country: United States

Extremely helpful information everyone..
I just now told my wife I need a lens AND a body on recomendations from here ;-)

After letting here read the replies she's okay with it... As I told her, every moment I fail to shoot is one we can't get back.

Registered: Mar 16, 2005
Total Posts: 3430
Country: United States

Good job in get her to go for the combo deal. Faster glass and more ISO & resolution will help greatly... Russ and Hammy know their stuff, follow there advise and it's hard to go wrong.

Ron Daniel
Registered: Nov 06, 2006
Total Posts: 201
Country: United States

I would like to chime in quickly and suggest the 135 f2. I had kids in gymnastics and tried to get by with a 30D and a F4 lens. Just doesn't get it. I eventually switched to a 1DMkIIn and a 135 f2 and could get by with iso 1600 in all but the darkest of gyms. I have also used a 85 f1.2 when I could get close and the gymnast didn't move much in relation to the camera such as pommel. The 85 f1.2 doesn't focus fast, but you can shoot in the dark with it!

Get the 135 f2, you won't regret it.


Registered: Nov 04, 2012
Total Posts: 16
Country: Canada

F4.0 will not give fast enough shutter speed to stop action (save for some slower portions of beam routines), the extra stop to 2.8 is required. My preference is to not shoot primes for gymnastics unless the shooting position allows for panning, I will typically change focal lengths several times during a routine to avoid chopping off appendages in framing, your results may vary.

Useable frames will require ISO performance beyond what a 20d will be capable of.

Registered: Oct 09, 2011
Total Posts: 15
Country: United States

I purchased a 7D from a member here. I shot 2 meets so far with, eeehhh. okay results. I share all of my photos on a shutterfly account with all of the teams parents and they are VERY happy with the pictures. Me? Not so much. My 70-200 F4 has given a few good shots, more out of sheer lick than anything else. Now that the coaches have given me permission to be in any location during events I have done reasonably well with a 50 F1.8 but my standards are higher than the results I am achieving. I am still in the experimental stage taking over 1000 pictures in yesterdays event. I think my next purchase will be the 85 F1.8. I have been shooting in Tv mode at 1/250 and adjusting the ISO to suit the aperture. As I stated, results have been mixed but I am gaining on it.

Registered: Jan 16, 2005
Total Posts: 634
Country: United States

Thanks for the update. You need different glass, and you'll be all set. I've never seen f/4 work for any indoor sports... ever. With an 85, shoot at f/2 and you should get amazing results.

Registered: Feb 05, 2002
Total Posts: 602
Country: Canada

You need a shutter speed around 1/500 to stop the motion in the hands and feet.

Registered: Sep 02, 2005
Total Posts: 329
Country: United States

Another option besides the 85 f1.8 and the 135 f2 is the 100 f2. All three are excellent lenses.

For the same price as the 135, I'd be tempted with the 85/100 and the 200 f2.8 L.

Registered: Dec 16, 2009
Total Posts: 286
Country: United States

mikegrados wrote:
I think this is a situation where clean high-ISO body is needed moreso than faster glass. The darkness of the gym, and the need to freeze action with a high shutter speed...I don't think a couple stops gained by going f4 to f2.8 in the 70-200, or f2.0 on a 135 will provide enough of a gain.

A lot of good suggestions regarding glass, but I agree with the post above. You will see more gains by getting a new body that can handle higher ISO then any aperture change in glass (and at a lower cost per unit change). However, if you are going to do both (as you have stated), then I agree with the above recommendations of the 85/1.8. I don't know if an aperture of 2.8 will do as much in a dark gym. I haven't used either the 100/2 or 135/2, but have heard good things so that seems to be another reasonable choice. I have had both the 85/1.8 and the 200/2.8, and would take the 85 anyday in that scenario.

Registered: Mar 05, 2011
Total Posts: 928
Country: United States

I would think the 135L or 85/100 1.8/2 would all work depending on how far you are away. With the 7D you will want to keep the ISO down as low as possible or get a good post processing routine going with LR to cleanup the noise and sharpen. There are a lot of threads on sharpening and NR for the 7D I would look those up. You will be surprised how much better the shots at 1600 iso and up can look.

Registered: Oct 09, 2011
Total Posts: 15
Country: United States

I have been trying to limit my ISO setting to 1600, at times I can, others I needed more and got the results I expected keeping in mind I was shooting at F4.
Convergent: yes, the 85 f1.8 is about all that fits into my post holiday budget, as much as I would like a 135 f2 I MUST stay within budget .

Warren: I quickly discovered that. Especially with vault. The other events I can pick out moments of time where 1/250 works well but 1/500 would be much better.

Robsuh: someday I will have at least one of those, but see my reply to convergent above

Jason, I bought the 7D. No more new bodies for me.

Svassh, thank you, that was on my list of things to learn more about. I have already looked into purchasing LR.

Thank you everyone! This has been most helpful

Registered: Apr 03, 2009
Total Posts: 5926
Country: United States

if you can get close - 85mm 1.8

Registered: Jul 29, 2009
Total Posts: 123
Country: United States

Think about the 80-200L magic drainpipe as an option. It can be found in that price range.

Paul Mo
Registered: Dec 12, 2012
Total Posts: 5975
Country: Thailand

Jcaron5 wrote:
I have already looked into purchasing LR.

Thank you everyone! This has been most helpful

Adobe gets a lot of, often unwarranted, bad press. But I can say without a doubt that Lightroom is the best program I have ever used. For photographers it is (almost) all you need.