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Andrew Redington shoots golf with Canon’s new <br class="br_visual" />telephoto zoom

Andrew Redington shoots golf with Canon’s new
telephoto zoom

© Andrew Redington/Getty Images

May 2013

In sports photography prime lenses rule, so when specialist golf photographer Andrew Redington (Getty Images) moved from a fixed lens to a zoom, it raised a few eyebrows. But, as CPN writer Mark Alexander finds out, the interest in this lens – Canon’s new EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x – had a lot to do with envy rather than ridicule.

The best piece of advice Andrew Redington received was as direct as it was profound. Handed down from fellow Getty Images’ sports shooter Ross Kinnaird, its simplicity has stayed with Redington throughout his career as a sports photographer.

“If you see something happening, make sure you have your camera to your eye so you are following it, rather than just looking at it,” Andrew Redington recalls clearly. “Given what we do, you can’t be caught gawping. That’s the best piece of advice I have ever been given, and it has paid off - keep a lens on them at all times.”

Tasked with photographing the world’s best golfers, Redington rarely has one of his three EOS-1D Xs far from his gaze, and these days he usually pairs at least one of them with Canon’s breakthrough EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM with a built-in 1.4x extender. “I got it the week before the [British] Open Championship,” he recalls. “It was quite compact, and when I lifted it out of the box it was surprisingly light but robust. On first inspection it seemed like a very nice piece of kit, so I was pleased.”

© Andrew Redington/Getty Images

This image of Luke Donald during a practice round at the 94th USPGA Championship was taken at one of the Kiawah Island Ocean Course’s ‘special’ tees. Taken on an EOS-1D X with the EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x lens set at 461mm. The exposure was 1/1000sec at f/5.6, ISO 400.

As any photographer will tell you, exchanging a trusty piece of kit for something new is easier said than done and, as Redington admits, the move away from his faithful EF500mm was not without concerns. Fortunately his decision was eased by the positive reports he was receiving from other Getty Images photographers. “Most of my fears had been allayed by the guys at Getty Images who had already tested the lens,” he says. “The feedback I got was that the EF200-400mm was outstandingly sharp throughout the range. I trusted their judgment, but I wanted to see it with my own eyes.”

The day of reckoning came during the practice rounds of the 2012 British Open Championship, which was held at the famous Royal Lytham & St. Annes golf course in the north-west of England. “It was a funny experience,” he recalls. “At first I struggled with the range because I wasn’t used to having so much,” he explains. “It is a massive advantage being able to go from 200mm to 560mm. It took me a while to fathom that out. Initially I found myself shooting at 200mm, 400mm or 560mm. [Then] I began to realise I could also zoom all the way in between.”

Familiarising yourself with the possibilities offered by the vast focal length range of the EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x is a daunting prospect. However, once you’ve got to grips with its versatility, you then have the enviable task of considering the creative options at your disposal, as Redington explains. “Having the versatility to shoot how you want between 200mm and 560mm is brilliant. Rather than blasting everything with a 500mm and blowing out the background, you have the option to show more of the course or to include the caddie. It opens up your mind to shooting things differently. It gives you the option to be more creative.”

© Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The ability to change focal length during a swing is illustrated here with a shot of Lee Westwood playing a bunker shot on the practice ground ahead of the 2012 British Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, England. Taken on an EOS-1D X with the EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x lens set at 560mm. The exposure was 1/400sec at f/5.6, ISO 400.

© Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Wider but still sharp, this image of Lee Westwood playing a bunker shot on the practice ground ahead of the 2012 British Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes shows the versatility of the lens, which is now set to 340mm. Taken on an EOS-1D X with the EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x lens at 340mm. The exposure was 1/400sec at f/5.6, ISO 400.

The flexibility of the EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x hasn’t just widened Redington’s creative horizons, it has also improved his productivity. Instead of capturing swing sequences at a single focal length, he can now capture action at various lengths in order to satisfy specific customer requirements.

“You can achieve the shot you would normally take with a 500mm [lens], and then, if you are quick enough, flip from a vertical to a horizontal and zoom out,” Redington explains. “There was a nice tee at Kiawah Island Golf Resort [host to golf’s fourth Major of 2012; the USPGA] where we did quite a lot of that. We shot a vertical, clean stock shot and then went to a landscape, which showed the swamp behind the players. Essentially you could get two shots out of each swing sequence.”

In terms of delivering the variety and choice demanded by Getty Images’ extensive client list, the new lens has been something of a revelation. “You could have one client, such as a tabloid newspaper, that generally wants bold, close-up images whereas other papers might want to show a bit of the course and some kind of reference to where the image was taken. With the EF200-400mm, you get two options during the same swing. You’ve got to be quick to do it, but it has opened up some nice possibilities in that regard.”

© Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x lens comes into its own around the greens, as this shot of Ian Poulter hitting out of the sand on the 10th hole during the final round of the 94th USPGA Championship at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island shows. Taken on an EOS-1D X with the EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x lens set at 383mm. The exposure was 1/640sec at f/5.6, ISO 400.

During the excitement and tension of shooting a Major golf tournament, when Redington is expected to capture the defining moments from as many angles and perspectives as possible, having flexibility in a long lens is a powerful advantage, especially when it comes to the final putt. “The versatility around the greens gives you the option to frame it how you like,” he says. “In the past and on the old bodies, bunker shots were difficult with a 500mm because it was too big – there was too much glass around the greens.”

He continues: “With the new bodies and the EF200-400mm it is much better. Bunker shots are quite graphic and can make really nice pictures, so it is great to have the option to go in super tight, which you might want to do if you need to crop out a TV cameraman. However, the lens also lets you shoot looser to get the big splurge of sand. It’s also a great benefit when someone is celebrating - you have the option to zoom in and zoom out which is exactly what I did when Rory Mcllroy won the USPGA Championship.”

Redington’s images of the Irishman’s victory could only be achieved with the help of an adjustable focal length. True enough, similar pictures could have been captured using two separate bodies, but the fluidity of the sequence would have been lost. More importantly, the images themselves would have been discarded if they fell any way short of the necessary standards required by the picture desk.

© Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy hugs his caddie J.P. Fitzgerald as he celebrates winning the 94th USPGA Championship on the 18th green at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA, on 12 August 2012. Taken on an EOS-1D X with the EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x lens set at 345mm. The exposure was 1/640sec at f/5.6, ISO 800.

“The first week I used the lens was at the [2012 British] Open Championship,” Redington recalls. “Because we had a team of editors, I didn’t see any of my images because they were sent directly to the desk but when I asked on the radio how the lens was looking, my editors told me they were very impressed with how sharp it was throughout the range. And that could have been any part of the range, including the converter. Since then, I have edited my own stuff and I can say it delivers excellent sharpness.”

In fact one of the only drawbacks Redington has found with the EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x lens is the amount of attention it attracts. “It has been the envy of everyone who has seen it,” he boasts. “At the USPGA, some Japanese photographers saw it and gathered round me just looking at it and cooing. I can understand it – it is frustrating changing lenses and converters, so to have one built into the lens makes life so easy. It’s just brilliant.”


Andrew Redington’s equipment:

3x EOS-1D X

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM
EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x
EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM
EF500mm f/4L IS II USM

Canon Speedlite 580EX II flashgun
Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2
Canon Battery Pack LP-E4
Lens cloths
Air blower

Biography: Andrew Redington

Andrew Redington

Andrew Redington started playing golf at the age of 13. After graduating from Reading University, England, in 1991, his passion for the sport led him to his dream job – managing the golf department of Allsport (later bought by Getty Images), which was at the time the world’s leading sports photography agency. Redington honed his photography skills under the tutelage of senior photographers at Allsport and is now one of Getty Images’ leading golf photographers. He has covered more than 250 tournaments including 21 British Open Championships, 19 US Masters and every Ryder Cup since 1995. His awards include the prestigious Specialist Folio Award in the British Sports Council Awards and The Open Championship Photograph of the Year.


The ability to change focal length during a swing is illustrated here with a shot of Lee Westwood playing a bunker shot on the practice ground ahead of the 2012 British Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, England. Taken on an EOS-1D X with the EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x lens set at 560mm. The exposure was 1/400sec at f/5.6, ISO 400.