Barrel racing is a thrilling rodeo event that involves horse and rider racing around barrels in a timed competition. It’s a fast-paced and exciting sport that requires a camera lens capable of capturing the action in great detail.
I traditionally photograph barrel races with my trusty Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, but it didn’t have the reach that I wanted for the third barrel. I tried a 1.4x extender, but that didn’t add the reach that I was looking for. My nest step was to Google various lens lengths, but nothing really popped up for barrel racing photography. But there certainly were a lot of posts about wildlife photography! Why not conduct the experiment myself? I reached out to my favorite equipment rental site, LensRentals, and submitted an expedited order for the lens to use this past weekend. The Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM is a popular lens among photographers, but the question remains: does it work for barrel racing?
The short answer is yes, the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM is a suitable lens for barrel racing. Here are some reasons why:
Long focal length range: The 100-400mm focal length range of this lens makes it versatile enough to capture each barrel and close-up shots of the horse and rider as they run home. This lens provides a great range for capturing the fast-paced action of barrel racing. I was able to reach much further to better cover the third barrel. I didn’t have to crop in as much as I do with my 70-200.
Fast autofocus: The lens has a fast and accurate autofocus system that helps you quickly capture the action as it unfolds. This is essential when shooting barrel racing, where the speed of the horse and rider can change quickly. I did have some moments where I missed focus after zooming out from right to left barrel, so keep that in mind if you’re considering purchasing the lens.
High-quality optics: The lens is part of Canon’s L-series, which is known for its high-quality optics. This lens produces sharp, clear images with minimal distortion, making it perfect for capturing the details of the horse and rider during a barrel racing event. I was able to track my subjects even with the dust that they kicked up.
Of course, there are other factors to consider when shooting barrel racing, such as lighting conditions and the positioning of the horse and rider. But the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM provides the flexibility and functionality needed to capture the excitement of this thrilling sport. Would I use the 100-400mm lens in an indoor or small arena? No. But it is a wonderful lens for large, outdoor arenas. I love how close I was able to get to the barrel racers without bothering the timers and while staying safe.
In conclusion, the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM is a suitable lens for barrel racing photography. Its long focal length range, image stabilization, fast autofocus, and high-quality optics make it an ideal choice for capturing the action and excitement of this fast-paced sport.
April 24, 2023