Event Shoot - 280mm f-4 vs 270mm f-2.8 - One is Half the Size

For your next event shoot, say a pro basketball game, which would you rather have: a 280mm f/4 on a 21 MP body, or a 270mm f/2.8 on a 12 MP body? Now here's the real question: which one do you think has the best odds of getting in the arena?

canon_vs_oly_pen_280mm.jpg Left - Canon 5D Mark II, 20-200mm f/2.8 zoom, 1.4X extender. Right - Olympus PEN E-PM1 with Carl Zeiss 135mm f/2.8 prime lens.

For tonight's game, I'm choosing the Olympus Pen E-PM1(camera on the right, 12MP, 5 FPS) with a Zeiss 135mm f/2.8 using a Rayqual micro 4/3rds adapter. When I shoot micro 4/3rds, I can double the effective focal length of any lens I mount on the body. And since the Olympus PEN Mini has image stabilization built-in, the lens is automatically stabilized.

If I don't get turned away at the door, I hope to have sample shots for you tomorrow.

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Derrick, I think you know that's not really a fair comparison size-wise. ;) Canon's 200/2.8 prime and 135/2 (with a 2x extender) would both be much smaller than the 70-200 which is just a monstrosity, a lovely monstrosity, but one nonetheless. :-)

However, I agree with your point though. M4/3 (and even standard crop sensor cameras) are simply amazing in terms of space and light compared to full frame. Of course, you have to be committed to smaller lenses, but it's worth it!

One thing I love to do for sports games is to bring two lenses, and keep the big one off the camera. Often times I've found people don't even realize it's a camera lens, or you could call it a thermos that looks like a camera lens. Using an extender is also great and it makes an excellent fake lens to keep on the camera. Things like a nifty-fifty are also great options to keep on a camera. And if you're traveling with a woman… then large purses make good fake camera bags! (Thanks, Mom!)

"Decoy lens on the camera" is my usual method, as well. I'll keep a 50/1.8 mounted and a 28-300 (I shoot Nikon) in my wife's purse or stuck in the upper portion of my boot. Almost all of my football photos were shot with that:


Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge lets you bring in any lens you want, no decoy required. Stadiums that also host pro games seem to restrict you to 3".