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Old Jan 10, 2010, 7:09 PM   #1
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Default New Season

Hi all,
I have the Sony A-700, which I love, a couple of decent lens, and a new season for my Grand Daughters club volleyball just about to start.
All the games will of course be indoor and most of the sites have decent but less than perfect lighting.
I would like some recommendations for a lens.
I can get down close to court side from one end to the other so big tele isn't required.

Thanks for any suggestions.
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Old Jan 10, 2010, 7:32 PM   #2
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Usually a bright 85mm lens is a good option for court side shooting, however I'm not sure how fast the Sony option is to focus. I don't think there is an option with SSM so that could be an issue. It looks like the A700 just has a usable 3200 setting so it might be possible to get away with the 70-200mm f2.8 but I'm not sure I would want to give up that much light. If you can get right court side then I would be tempted to start with the 50mm f1.8 to check out the lighting and settings you are able to get before splashing cash.
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Old Jan 10, 2010, 9:13 PM   #3
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Thanks for the input Mark. I did get close to where I wanted to be last year late in the season with the 50mm f1.8
I only went up to ISO800 and almost got the shutter speed I wanted but not quite. This year before I spend wasted money I want to try it again at 1600, 2400 and maybe even 3200 ISO.
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Old Jan 10, 2010, 10:18 PM   #4
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I don't shoot volleyball (none of my great nieces or nephews play it). But, in gyms around here when I've shot basketball with my A700, I'd say ISO 800 is way to low for your 50mm.

I'd probably go manual exposure and try ISO 1600, 1/400 second and f/2 for starters and see what you get with your 50mm and tweak from there (going with faster shutter speeds if desired by using something like ISO 2000, 1/500 and f/2; etc., depending on what balance between shutter speeds and noise you want)

I'd set a custom white balance using a gray or white card (or even a white coffee filter if you don't have anything else handy), and turn DRO off.

If DRO is on, you'll get higher noise levels, especially if you're underexposing the images without realizing it because DRO is compensating for the underexposure.

If you go with an f2/8 zoom later, I'd probably look at the Sigma 50-150mm f2/.8 EX DC HSM II. I'd probably use f/2.8, ISO 3200 and 1/400 for starters (or go ISO 4000, 1/500 and f/2.8 if desired).

I know one of A700 owner that likes that Sigma for indoor sports. He shoots at ISO 4000 with it. A bit of noise can be better than blurry photos.

You may also want to experiment with similar settings using your 50mm to get a better idea if you'd like using those settings with an f/2.8 zoom. . Again, I'd go manual exposure and make *sure* to turn off DRO, checking the exposure and histogram via playback, and tweak settings from there (using a slower shutter speed if you're getting underexposed images and a faster shutter speed if you're getting overexposed images).
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Old Jan 11, 2010, 7:27 AM   #5
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P.S.

One other thing you may want to experiment with. Turn off Noise Reduction and shoot cRaw versus jpeg and use Bibble 5 Pro to process the images, tweaking the Noise Ninja settings to taste. That way, you're taking the camera's NR processing out the equation. You can download a trial version to see how you like it:

http://www.bibblelabs.com

You may also want to give a few other products like Adobe Lightroom a try and see how they compare in that area. I prefer Bibble Pro for use with my A700 when shooting at higher ISO speeds.

If you get a fast UDMA card for your A700, it can maintain 5fps for approx. 25 frames shooting cRaw, and still maintain a bit over 3fps with a full buffer after that based on tests I've seen with a Sandisk Extreme IV (300x, 45MB/Second Card) with a relatively fast buffer flush time (under 5 seconds).

I'd probably look at a PhotoFast 533x GMonster Plus card for that purpose, making sure to get the Plus version of it, unless you can find a really good deal on a Sandisk Extreme IV UDMA card (or faster Sandisk 600x Extreme Pro) instead.

Although I haven't seen any controlled conditions benchmarks yet, I know of one Sony user with an A700 and A900 that says the Photofast GMonster 533x Plus works fine in both cameras and didn't see any performance difference with an 8GB Sandisk UDMA card versus a 32GB Photofast GMonster 533x Plus card as far as number of raw frames with both before a full buffer. He highly recommendeded this card for use in the A700 and A900 after using it for a while with both cameras. Here's the vendor for them:

http://www.dvnation.com/Flash-Media-Cards.html
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Old Jan 11, 2010, 8:19 AM   #6
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Hi Jim,

I've been trying bibble and it seems to be pretty good. I was considering DXO but people report it to be slow etc. The only thing I liked about DXO is that it would allow more correction on lenses, but it is only shooting really wide with the 24-105 that I want this and probably there are other ways to fix these problems on the rare occasions they come up (any advice appreciated).
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Old Jan 11, 2010, 8:45 AM   #7
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Hey Mark. I'm embarrassed to admit it. But, I have not played with the lens correction features in Bibble. On the surface, it looks like it's pretty full featured in that area.

But, I haven't used those features. With my Sony A700's raw files, it seems to do a decent job with raw conversion though. I've found the same thing with .nef files from Nikon models using it. For example, if you look at the short article I wrote with impressions on the D3, you'll notice that I used Bibble 4 Pro to convert the ISO 25.600 image. I should probably run some of the images I've converted with Bibble 4 Pro through Bibble 5 Pro and look for differences in the processing. But, from newer images I've tried it with, it's doing a pretty decent job. I like the way it shows you the number of images with different settings types, too. The tracking of that kind of thing using EXIF data associated with them is a cool feature.

From my perspective, going that route (shooting raw and processing images with this type of product) helps to narrow the differences between camera models, too (because you're taking the camera's jpeg processing and noise reduction out of the equation). So, if you don't like the way a given camera's processing or noise reduction works, shoot raw instead (assuming you're using a camera model with adequate performance when shooting raw for the conditions you're using one in).
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Old Jan 11, 2010, 8:56 AM   #8
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Completely off topic now but I just gave some software a try for lens correction - called ptlens. You can download and get 10 free corrections before purchase. Seems to work pretty well. Sadly if you have a lot of distortion (like the 17-40 produces on my mkIII) you lose a good bit of the image.
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Old Jan 11, 2010, 9:04 AM   #9
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Fossil,

Back to your question. It's a tough nut - 50mm can be very short for volleyball. You really need to be within 15 feet to get decent focus with a 50mm lens. So it's good for near sid action because you can get more of the subject in the frame. But down the net or back court it's just too short.

If you are comfortable with ISO 3200-6400 on the A700 then a 70-200 2.8 is a good choice. I'd like to say the Sigma 50-150 as the focal length would be perfect. But, despite it's great focal length I've only seen one shooter post photos with that lens - and the photos posted were average. Impossible to tell if the shots were limited by the lens, camera or photographer. But the important thing is - it's too small a pool to make a recommendation on. Other people talk about using it - but without seeing photos I never trust a person saying gear is good for sports. Some people's idea of "good" doesn't always agree with my idea of good.

Still, I've used the sigma 70-200 2.8 in Canon mount as have a lot of other people and it's a quality lens. I've never heard of a problem with the lens in Sony mount so it's a viable alternative to the Sony version (which is outstanding).
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Old Jan 11, 2010, 9:23 AM   #10
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P.S.

I've got some basketball photos shot at higher ISO speeds with an A700 and processed with Bibble 4 Pro somewhere. Right this minute, my office looks like a computer factory, with PCs taken apart in pieces, since I'm going to replace the motherboard on my newest PC (I'm probably going to order one for it today), and was setting up another one for use as a PVR (installing a Tuner Card in it and more) for use with MythTV (so we can record and watch TV at the same time, use it as a back end to allow access to content from other PCs in our home, store video, music, photo galleries and more on it, etc.).

So, it may be later on this week or this weekend before I get them put back together and get all of my disk drives working to access those photos. But, that would give the OP an idea of what to expect for noise levels shooting that way. I could also run them through Bibble 5 Pro and look for improvements between the older and newer version of it.

Remind me about them if you don't see me updating this thread by next Monday (hopefully, I'll have everything sorted out with my PCs and drives by then). LOL
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