Today I want to focus on gear. I am always looking for insights as to what equipment I should buy. I spend countless hours reading reviews (many of which are just repeating what others have already said).
I shoot almost entirely with my Canon 1DX. If you can afford this camera it is the way to go. The small amount of noise even in low light situations is amazing. Below is a shot from the Wisconsin State Semi-Final Soccer match between Madison West and Marquette University High. This was shot with the 1DX @ 12800 iso @ 1/1250 using a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM @ f2.8.
For a backup camera I use my 7D. Often I have this camera paired with my EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. Below is another shot from the same game using the 7D. This is the older version of this camera so the iso maxes out at 6400. The settings for this shot are 130mm, 6400 iso, f2.8, 1/1000 of a second.
I'm finding that the 7D image quality, slower fps, noise, etc is so inferior to the 1DX that I don't use this camera much any more. I considered getting a 7D Mark II but have decided to save my pennies and get another 1DX.
For indoor work, the 400mm is usually too big. I then find myself using the 70-200 on the 1DX and using my EF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS II USM on the 7D although occasionally I switch this around. Below are some shots from the Chicago Mustang soccer match against St Louis. Settings for the images directly below are Canon EOS-1D X, f/2.8 @ 57 mm, 1/1250, ISO 6400.
By comparison, the next image was shot with the 70-200 lens on the Canon EOS 7D, f/2.8 @ 80 mm, 1/1000, ISO 3200.
I really wish I had a 300mm lens for indoor work and am seriously considering purchasing the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM. I also would like a more wide angle lens and am looking at Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens. A Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye is also on the wish list (but for now farther down the list than some other gear).
To haul all this gear around I have several bags. My 400mm lens came with a Lowepro Lens Trekker 600 II AW Lens Case as well as the hard shell case. I have never used the hard shell. The Lowepro is such a nice way to get my lens, 1DX, and Gitzo 6X carbon fiber monopod to and from games. I also have a Lowepro Classified Sling 180 AW. This bag is discontinued but you can still find them on Ebay. I can carry my 7D, two lenses, my Surface Pro 3, 600 EX-RT Flash, card reader, spare cards (mostly RAW but a couple of Sandisks), and rain covers for the cameras.
My most recent purchase has been a Cotton Carrier Camera Vest with Side Holster. The jury is still out on this, but so far I like using it.
As I said earlier, I spend a lot of time researching my purchases before committing to them. When I first started out I had the hard choice of Canon vs Nikon. I found that for what I like to shoot Canon seemed to offer more and better. Since I have not actually shot with Nikon I don't know if this is really true, but I have been very happy with all my Canon equipment.
Once I decided on Canon the next question was what lens to get. I read many reviews and planned to grow my equipment. I found http://www.the-digital-picture.com/reviews/canon-lens-reviews.aspx very helpful. When I decided on the 7D as my first camera I picked the Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens to go with it. For travel and landscapes it was a great choice. I took the image below with this setup and won a trip to Jamaica.
But, for sports I knew I would need something longer. Everyone said get the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM and they were all right. This is my go to lens for most events. If I could only carry one lens it would be this one most times. The images quality is amazing.
This 7D camera and lens combination kept me happy for a couple of years. But, I eventually realized I needed a longer reach for soccer and football. The 400mm was a lot of money, but I have been very happy with the results and have never regretted the purchase. I decided to to it in a big way and also got the 1DX and the 24-70 at the same time.
I continue to research equipment both online as well as personal discussions with other shooters. I have found Jeff Cable's website gear list in particular to be extremely helpful. I look forward to finding new sources for good and relevant information. If you come across any, please let me know.