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Technique

Le présent article n'est pas disponible en Français
January 2009

James Jordan has been a Canon user since 1990 when he was loaned an EOS-1 and 300mm lens by Canon whilst at an event, despite not being a Canon user at the time. Since then he has owned all of the EOS-1 series film cameras through to the EOS-1V HS. In 2000 he started shooting digitally with the EOS D30 and since then he has always had two or three EOS digital cameras in his bag – all of which have been EOS-1 series models. He currently shoots with an EOS-1D Mark III, an EOS-1D Mark II and an EOS-1Ds Mark II body.

Assignment

James uses a variety of Canon lenses, including the EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM, the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, the EF200mm f/2L IS USM, the EF300mm f/2.8L IS USM and the EF400mm f/2.8L IS USM. Having previously shot sports with an EF200mm f/1.8L USM, he is well placed to comment on the new EF200mm f/2L IS USM lens.

The lens was introduced into the Canon lens range in 2008 primarily for indoor sports photographers. It incorporates a 5-stop Image Stabilizer system that allows for hand holding at very slow shutter speeds, as well as a fast maximum aperture of f/2 to ensure results in low light without the need to resort to using flash. James took the EF200mm f/2L IS USM lens to shoot some young British tennis players training on indoor courts.

© James Jordan

Smaller and lighter

James recalls: “Looking back at the old EF200mm f/1.8L USM lens, it was a great piece of kit, but it was just too heavy. I don’t often use a monopod or tripod, preferring the freedom of handholding and it would just get too tiring to use for extended periods of time. Although I don’t use the Image Stabilizer modes often either, the lack of this feature limited the older lens for other uses. The new lens is great. It’s smaller, lighter and optically excellent,” says James.

James comments: “The 200mm focal length is just perfect for tennis where often you’re quite close to the action. But the lens is also great for shooting portraits with a nicely out of focus background. Matched to my EOS-1D Mark III, it really is a great combination. Despite being a wider angle lens, it withstands flare just as well as the EF300mm f/2.8L IS USM and better than the EF200mm f/1.8L USM.”

One of the other key factors with this lens is its portability and weight (2520g). James continues: “I can’t get over the weight either – when I’m out shooting I can carry an EOS-1 series camera on each shoulder, one with the 300mm lens and one with the 200mm lens on, and it’s not an issue – in fact they balance really nicely on each shoulder!”

© James Jordan

Focusing speed

James has noted one or two key advantages to the EF 200mm f/2L IS USM optic: “One of the best features of this lens is the focus speed. It’s telling that I hadn’t even really noticed it - I’d just accepted it as being fast. In reality, it’s as fast as any other lens I’ve ever used. The f/2 maximum aperture has been a lifesaver too – that extra stop of light available over an f/2.8 lens does come in really useful at times.”

James explains further: “By way of example, the Lawn Tennis Association were looking for a lead partner – an organisation to sponsor all levels of British tennis. The life assurance and pensions company Aegon agreed to become that partner. On the day of the press launch, I was asked to take a shot of a young British player with the Aegon branding subtly in the background. I had about 15 minutes to get a shot on an indoor court, lit with fluorescent lamps. It was either up the ISO further than I’d like, or use a wider aperture. I choose the EOS-1D Mark III and EF200mm f/2L IS USM and got the shot at ISO 1600, f/2, at 1/1000sec. I’m not convinced I could have got the shot without that lens.”

© James Jordan

James Jordan is convinced he may not have got this type of shot without using the EF200mm f/2L IS USM lens.

James notes: “I have only one complaint, and this may just be peculiar to me and my hands, but the AF Stop buttons on the front of the lens are just not quite in the right place for me. On the EF300mm f/2.8L IS USM they’re exactly where I want them to be, but on this one, it’s just a bit awkward to get to.”

Conclusion

He sums up: “Overall, this lens does exactly what it says it will. It seems to me to be made for tennis photography, especially on indoor courts, and is a very worthy successor to the EF200mm f/1.8L USM lens. It may be quite expensive, but some shoots are unrepeatable and therefore priceless – that damage done to reputation and future business for not getting the shot could far outweigh the cost of the lens. So, for me, it’s not an issue. The bottom line is that as a professional photographer, it’s all tax deductable anyway!”

Biographie: James Jordan

James Jordan

James Jordan is a UK based photographer specializing in tennis photography with a commercial angle. He started in the early 1980s shooting teenage fashion before moving on to fashion and beauty photography, then pop, photographing Wham!, Duran Duran and Take That amongst others. He moved into more commercial and corporate work and this got him into tennis photography. He is a supplier to, and supporter of, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and he spends much of his time covering the up and coming British players.