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Old Sep 27, 2007, 9:02 PM   #1
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My apologies if this is old territory.

I have used my faithful MinoltaA2 with success. However, I need something that I can use in less than perfect lighting AND... still use outside.Sportsphotos with extreme action. I shoot my daughters sports and that means indoor volleyball and outdoor fastpitch softball. I need a fairly quick lens.I am, typically, shooting from 50-200 feetaway. The D20 would seem to be a fit, however, the lens is TBD. A Canon 70-200 2.8 seems to fit the bill but is not cheap. I believe there is a Sigma 70-200 out there that has received adequate reviews.Auto-focus would be nice but is not an absolute. The Canon 70-300 is an option but I don't know if the quality of the lens is as good as the 70-200 2.8. Suggestions on alternatives?

While I wish to be frugal within reason, if I have to pay a bit more for quality, then so be it. The reason that autofocus might... be nice is that if I am tracking something happening very quickly then maybe autofocus is "better". Then again, if I am focusing on a pitcher and move to the catcher, the depth of field should cover both (I would think), particularly if I am a 100 feet away.

Sorry for the newbie type question but I migrated from an old Topcon RE Super to the Minolta and am now looking for something that I can produce 8x10 photos that have... a "wow factor", assuming I do my part.

Thanks !
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Old Sep 28, 2007, 9:08 AM   #2
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I'm assuming you mean the Canon EOS-20D (sometimes referred to as the 20D) versus D20.

This is a discontinued camera model (replaced by the EOS-30D, which is being replaced by the EOS-40D). But, it looks like Beach (a.k.a., Buydig.com) still has them in stock in new condition (note that this is a reputable vendor):

Canon EOS-20D at beachcamera.com for $869

If you need to shoot at dusk or under the lights at night, you'll want a bright zoom.

The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX HSM is a popular lens for that purpose. In better lighting, you could also use it with a TC (Teleconverter) to increase it's range. Note that you lose a stop of light with a 1.4x TC. But, in daytime, it shouldn't be an issue and you might want to stop down the lens some a bit for better sharpness anyway (and you will have some optical degradation with a TC, but with a higher quality lens and TC, it's not going to be as noticeable).

B&H stocks this lens at $889:

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM AF Lens at B&H for $889

A popular choice with sports shooters that has more focal range in a brighter zoom is the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8. It's not cheap though (and it's not exactly a small and light lens either):

Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 at B&H for $2699

If the games are all in better daytime lighting, you'll have more options. Plus, you may not want to lug around a heavier f/2.8 zoom (not to mention that lenses that are not as bright are usually less expensive).

I'd let members know what conditions you plan to shoot in for more lens options.

As for Depth of Field (your question about focusing on the Catcher from 100 feet away and still having a sharp Pitcher), that depends on the focal length and aperture you use.

You'll have a *much* shallower depth of field for any given angle of view, focus distance aperture compared to your A200. That's because the actual focal length of the lens on your A200 is only 7.2-50mm, and Depth of Field is computed using the actual focal length, focus distance and aperture. Your A200 can use a much shorter actual focal length for a given angle of view, because it's using a very small sensor.

A DSLR model will have a much shallower depth of field than you're accustomed to.

See this Depth of Field calculator to get a better idea of how that works:

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

Assuming a bit over 60 feet from the catcher to the pitcher's mound, you'd probably need to shoot at around f/6.7 or so at a focal length of 100mm in order to keep the pitcher sharp if you were focused on the catcher (unless you wanted to focus somewhere in between them). That would give you a bit over 163 feet to the furthest point still in focus at 100mm with a focus distance of 100 feet. Wider focal lengths would allow larger apertures (smaller f/stop number), longer focal lengths would require smaller apertures (higher f/stop numbers).

You can probably get away with that in good light (keeping both in focus as long as you didn't zoom in too much). But, not in poor light. Under the lights at night, you'll probably want to stay at f/2.8 to keep your shutter speeds up, even at higher ISO speeds.

If you zoomed in lot more to the longer end of the zooms like you're looking at, you may not be able to pull it off at all, even in bright light (you'd probably either run out of available aperture settings, or your shutter speeds would be too slow from trying to use a very small apertures).

For your indoor Volleyball photos, you'll want a brighter lens. Otherwise, you'll probably get more motion blur than desired, even at high ISO speeds.

You'll want to use a prime (fixed focal length versus zoom) for best results, since you can get a brighter lens that way. The Canon 85mm f/1.8 is a popular lens for indoor sports (assuming you'll be able to shoot from the floor versus the stands). It's $339.95 at B&H:

Canon 85mm f/1.8 AF Lens at B&H for $339.95

Again, I'd let members know what conditions the softball games will be played in to get more lens options.

We have a few sports shooters here than can give you some tips on lenses to look at in that area.

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Old Sep 28, 2007, 9:52 AM   #3
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Altos wrote:
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I shoot my daughters sports and that means indoor volleyball and outdoor fastpitch softball. I need a fairly quick lens.I am, typically, shooting from 50-200 feetaway.
style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"As Jim mentioned you'll need two different lenses.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Is this college or high school? If high school, 2.8 won't be good enough for the gym shots. You'll need 2.0 or 1.8.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"But the biggest obstacle I see is those distances.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Let's take indoors first. an 85mm lens is good for about 20-25 feet

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"A 135mm lens (like the 135mm 2.0) is good for about 35 feet.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"So if you want 'wow factor' shots you're not only going to have to invest in the right camera gear but you need to get closer to the action.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Now, if it is a college gym, a 70-200 2.8 would work nicely - but not really for high school - you'd be shooting at ISO 3200 which is usable but not recommended.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"For outdoors, again distance is your enemy here.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"A 200mm lens is good for about 25 yards of coverage. A 300mm lens is good for about 40 yards of coverage 400mm is good for 50-60 yards of coverage.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"So, even if you had a 1d camera and 70-200 2.8 - if you're 200 feet from the edge of the field most of your shots will be very mediocre. That's the key to effective sports shooting - you HAVE to be close.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Now, for the softball - what types of fields? Is this college and a stadium? Or high school / travel where it's ball fields with fencing? If it's a fence, how high? If they're the big fences you need to be right up on the fence to be able to shoot through it and have any chance at success.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"So, what level of play? And can you get closer than your current 50-200 feet? Otherwise it will be difficult to get 'wow factor' shots.
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Old Sep 28, 2007, 2:09 PM   #4
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Great reply !!!

Yes, the 20D is obsolete. However, since I am not an expert nor a severe gadget intensive person I thought it best to aim at older units and invest more in the lens. The 20D is 8mp so... for what I am doing, it should (cross fingers) do well.

Thank you very much for the info on the lenses. It is appreciated.

Regards
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Old Sep 28, 2007, 2:23 PM   #5
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The indoor shots are high school. Therefore, yes, the lighting is very suspect. I can usually get fairly close so distance from the action isn't an issue.

The softball is 14U travelball, ASA national level, hardcore fastpitch. The good news is the fences are, typically, 5 feet in the outfield. The sidelines are anyones guess, dependent on where in the country it is being played. The action is fast but the lighting is usually great during the day (obviously) and adequate at night. Finding the good nook-and-cranny in the sideline fences will always be key.

Thanks for the input !
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Old Sep 28, 2007, 2:30 PM   #6
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OK then.

Volleyball - if you can get to the floor go with 85mm 1.8. If you are not allowed I would suggest 100mm 2.0 if you can sit right down front ($380) or 135mm 2.0 if you have to sit back up a bit ($1000).

For softball, here are my recommendations:

Sigma 120-300 2.8 ($2700)

Sigma 100-300 4.0 ($1000)

buy a sigma 1.4x TC ($180)

Budget: Canon 70-300 ($580)

You'll need all the reach you can get. Because you'll be off the field you'll need at least 300mm.

If you want to shoot at night under lights then you must have 2.8. So give that serious thought. The lighting isn't as bright as you think it is. That means either the sigma or a 70-200mm 2.8 lens. But in reality 200mm is way too short so you would only get the near side (1st & 2nd base if shooting from 1st base line)


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Old Sep 29, 2007, 11:16 AM   #7
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Do not let the 8 megapixels dissuade you. There is so little difference between 8 and 10 megapixels resolution that the image size difference is negligible.

I have a 20D. The change difference between a 20D and a 30D were small indeed. Spot metering being the only thing I truly wish I had currently. I won't compare the 20D to a 40D as I haven't really looked into that model. From what little I have read, it looks like they changed a lot of things.

But if you truly wanted to be frugal, you can get yourself a Pentax K10Dwith the Pentax 50-200mm kit lens. That lens is superb quality for the 199 Canadian price it retails for.

Now remember that some of the above lenses are quite expensive. People love expensive fast glass for several reasons.

1. Get tighter depth of field.

2. Get faster shutter speeds to stop the action in low light conditions.

3. Better AF performance in low light.

Now point 2 is fairly moot with digital SLRS as you can up your ISO readings to compensate. Most modern DSLRs won't give you much noise for this slight trouble depending on how high your setting is.

Shorter depth of fields on faster glass can be important as you tend to lose some of this ability with cropping factor cameras which all APS-C sensor sized cameras tend to be. Better AF performance only comes into light when your almost out of that commodity.

All this to say that you may not need expensive fast glass to start off with. I would get something cheaper and slower and see if that is your cup of tea. You may find that faster glass may be a waste of your money based upon your shooting style. I know this flies in the face of those who feel that you need the most expensive kit to get better photos..but I have found this not to be the case.


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Old Sep 29, 2007, 1:09 PM   #8
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Chako wrote:
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1. Get tighter depth of field.

2. Get faster shutter speeds to stop the action in low light conditions.

3. Better AF performance in low light.

Now point 2 is fairly moot with digital SLRS as you can up your ISO readings to compensate. Most modern DSLRs won't give you much noise for this slight trouble depending on how high your setting is.



All this to say that you may not need expensive fast glass to start off with. I

Actually when it comes to sports - and low light sports (which is what the OP talked about) - point 2 is NOT moot. You need fast glass AND high ISO.

For indoor sports - you need fast primes (2.0, 1.8) AND high ISO. I shoot volleyball at ISO 16000-2000, f2.0. So you need both.

I would strongly recommend AGAINST pentax for sports shooting. The lack of useful autofocus lenses of the appropriate focal length / aperture has been the discussion of several threads recently. Great cameras - but the system as a whole is really lacking the necessary lenses.

Unfortunately, if the goal is sports shooting - there usually isn't a cheap route to go.

If the OP didn't want to shoot sports it wouldn't be an issue.
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Old Sep 29, 2007, 3:01 PM   #9
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Sorry but I will disagree with you on several points.

As an owner of both a 20D and a K10D, it is true that predictive autofocus on the Pentax side is not anywhere as good as what Canon has. However, I have found this to be a minor pain in the rear.

I shot with a Bigma hand held and yes, sometimes indoors at mostly school sport events. The Bigma is a fairly slow lens. I have found that if I up my ISO to 800, I can get relatively fast shutter speeds that will stop indoor action. Although I do prefer a little blur on the ball

My point is that you do not need fast lenses for shooting sports. Fast lenses are preferred, without a doubt..but you can get away with cheaper gear most of the times.


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Old Sep 29, 2007, 4:03 PM   #10
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After spending a semi-rational amount of time looking for options that will come vaguely close to my pocketbook, I am wandering towards the following set-up;

Canon 20D

Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS for softball, giving up the depth of field a bit since most are day games. Admittedly, a concession.

1.4x extender lens

Canon "faster" non-zoom IS lens, around 100mm for indoor volleyball.

I would like to find a gold bar in my driveway, however, pending that... I simply don't have $3k for a set-up and there are a LOT of people selling 20D's that are at heavily reduced prices as they upgrade to 40D's (lots of body-only sellers). And I enjoy last years technology. The f/4 zoom w and w/o the doubler will likely work. Not a 2.8. Acknowledged. The volleyball lens... something fast and swap the 1.4 as needed.

Not being an expert,I just know there is a flaw or two in the thought process. Opinions from those moreexperienced appreciated.

Thanks again (especially to the responders whoare a GREAT help) !


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