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Old Aug 20, 2012, 3:54 PM   #1
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Default Shooting HS indoor volleyball

Hi... I was on this forum a couple of years ago and got completely overwhelmed by all of the information I received regarding DSLR cameras but have once again decided to brave my confusion and try again. I have researched and have decided on purchasing a Canon t2i. My main subjects are my children and their events. My oldest plays high school volleyball and from what I gather this will be my most difficult shooting environment. I have read many lens reviews and understand that the best lenses for indoor sports photography are very expensive. I am saving for one of the incredible lenses but in the mean time need something more budget friendly. I have read that the 85 mm 1.8? is a good lens for indoor sports photography and then have read mixed reviews on others such as the 28 - 135mm, 100mm and the 55-250 mm. I read that for indoor sports photography you should have no less than an f2.8. I have read reviews for non canon brand lenses too which also have mixed reviews. So my question is what lens is budget friendly and will do a good job (not the best job) until I can save enough money for one of those "white" lenses?
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Old Aug 20, 2012, 4:07 PM   #2
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Yes on the "have no less than an f2.8."

To start out, Canon has both an 85/1.8 and a 100/2.0 in about the same price range.
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Old Aug 20, 2012, 4:27 PM   #3
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...I have read that the 85 mm 1.8? is a good lens for indoor sports photography
You answered your own question. ;-)

For that class of camera on a budget, most sports shooters are probably going to steer you towards the Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM, as it's going to focus fast and give you more than a stop advantage over an f/2.8 zoom (f/2 is twice as bright as f/2.8, allowing shutter speed that are twice as fast for the same lighting and ISO speed).

You can't capture everything with a fixed focal length lens like that, but it would give you some keepers at higher ISO speeds. Just keep in mind that you'll want to shoot from the floor, not the stands. IOW, if you don't fill the frame enough with your subjects, you're not going to get a lot of detail, especially at higher ISO speeds.

If you really wanted to move up to a zoom lens and have a higher budget available, something like a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 USM or Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 HSM lens might be a good bet if you don't mind shooting at ISO 3200 or higher. Cameras don't focus as well for tracking movement if you don't fill the frame more with your subject, so you need to be closer so that your primary subject occupies a greater percentage of the frame for AF to work well.

But, your shutter speeds may not be fast enough at ISO 3200 in some gyms. IOW, you'd be "right on the edge" of usability with a zoom like that at ISO 3200,, and you may need to move up ISO speed to more than ISO 3200 to keep shutter speeds fast enough in some gyms (and ISO 6400 is going to be a bit ugly (loss of detail from noise and/or noise reduction, so I'd avoid shooting at ISO speeds that high if possible).

IOW, in a typical High School gym, expect to see shutter speeds of around 1/400 second at f/2.8 for a properly exposed image at ISO 3200 (and if you underexpose, expect higher noise levels and more loss of detail). That's a good compromise shutter speed, but it's not going to freeze all movement.

But, shooters do go that route (use an f/2.8 zoom with that class of camera, so it's a viable option and would give you more framing flexibility compared to a single prime).

Just expect to use ISO 3200 or higher to reduce motion blur from subject movement at f/2.8 (and with faster foot/hand/ball movement, you can still expect to see a bit of motion blur).

As for the other zooms (28-135mm, 55-250mm), forget them. You'd just end up with blurry photos because your shutter speeds would be too slow, even at ISO 3200+. Not only will focus speed be too slow to track movement in lower light because they're not going to focus as fast, but they're just too dim (requiring slower shutter speeds for proper exposure with the same ISO speed and lighting).

You need f/2.8 or brighter for low light sports, even shooting at very high ISO speeds (and indoors sports are low light to a camera, even if the lighting seems bright to the human eye).
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Old Aug 20, 2012, 4:28 PM   #4
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These are both prime lenses right?
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Old Aug 20, 2012, 4:33 PM   #5
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Also, sorry what is IOW?
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Old Aug 20, 2012, 4:45 PM   #6
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And one more question, sorry - is the 70 - 200 mm f2.8 - the best lens I should be looking for when it comes to indoor sports photography or is there one that's better for 1700 or less?
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Old Aug 20, 2012, 4:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ticia View Post
These are both prime lenses right?
What do you mean by "both" (be more specific as for the lenses we've discussed so far).

Prime lenses are fixed focal length lenses (like the 85mm f/1.8 mentioned, or 100mm f/2 that TCaV mentioned). They do not zoom. They always give you the same angle of view (apparent magnification). One benefit of a prime (fixed focal length lens) is that you can usually find brighter lenses compared to zoom lenses. Another benefit as that most primes tend to be a bit sharper at equivalent apertures compared to brighter zooms. Prime lenses also tend to be smaller and lighter compared to most zoom lenses with the same angle of view available when looking a brighter zooms. For example, an 85mm f/1.8 is going to be a smaller and lighter lens compared to a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens, even though you can set the 70-200mm f/2.8 to 85mm if desired (because 85mm falls within it's available zoom range from wide to long).

On the downside, you can't vary the focal length with a prime lens; whereas with a zoom lens (like the 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses mentioned), you can go from a wider angle of view (on the 70mm end) to a narrower angle of view (using the 200mm end), without moving further away or closer to the subject to get the same angle of view (like you'd need to do using a fixed focal length prime lens like the 85mm f/1.8 mentioned).

Basically, if you want your subject to occupy more of the frame with a prime lens, you move closer. If you want your subject to occupy less of the frame with a prime lens, you move further away. You can't vary the focal length like you can with a zoom lens. With a zoom lens, you can stand in one place and change the amount of the frame your subject occupies by zooming in or out (using shorter or longer focal lengths within a zoom's available range), versus changing your distance to the subject like you'd need to do with a fixed focal length (a.k.a., prime) lens.

With a prime, you use your feet for zoom (move closer to, or further away from your subject to achieve the desired framing). ;-)

"IOW" means "In Other Words" (you see that acronym used often in forum posts).
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Old Aug 20, 2012, 4:54 PM   #8
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I am laughing at myself - I thought IOW was a photography term. lol I couldn't figure it out. Sorry for the confusion about both lenses - I was referring to the 85mm and 100mm so your answer was perfect. As far as a zoom lens goes is the 70-200 mm lens what I should be saving toward or is there something else (under $2000) that would be more appropriate for indoor sports photography?
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Old Aug 20, 2012, 5:12 PM   #9
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Yes, the 85/1.8 ($369) and 100/2.0 ($464) are both 'prime' (fixed focal length) lenses.

There is also the (unstabilized) Tamron 70-200/2.8 ($769) zoom, that's not bad, and costs a lot less than the (stabilized) Sigma and the (stabilized and unstabilized) Canon lenses, but it doesn't focus quite as fast as the others.

BTW (that's "by the way" by the way ), many of these lenses are available for rent at LensRentals.com.
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Old Aug 20, 2012, 5:14 PM   #10
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A 70-200mm f/2.8 is probably your best bet in a zoom lens. Note that you might be able to find an older Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM II without stabilization (the OS designation you'll see in the latest models) for less. I'd lean towards a newer II version of it for better optics. The Sigma's also have HSM (Hypersonic Motor Focusing) which works similar to Canon's ring USM (Ultrasonic Motor Focusing), which is a good idea for sports shooting.

Sigma has now discontinued the versions without OS (Optical Stabilization), but you may still find some vendors that have the lenses without OS in stock at a lower price point (they were selling at around $899 when Sigma replaced them with a newer model including stabilization selling for a lot more). For sports shooting, don't worry about the stabilization part (as you'll need to use faster shutter speeds to prevent blur from subject movement anyway, so blur from camera shake is not an issue for your use at the shutter speeds you'll need to use for sports).

Note that by most comments I've seen, the Canon lenses are bit sharper. But, on a tighter budget, a Sigma may be worth a look.
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