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Old Feb 2, 2006, 6:08 AM   #1
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I want to move up to a good DSLR but don't know if I can swing an expensive lens right now too. Is the 20D any good with a zoom in low light without the IS lens?

I shoot a lot of sports and want to be able to get a good clear shot.

Any help or ideas would be appreciated.
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Old Feb 2, 2006, 6:23 AM   #2
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If you're talking low light sports, what lens you need depends on what sport.

If you're talking courtside basketball or volleyball in High School type gyms (poor lighting) then your two best options are the inexpensive 50mm 1.8 ($70) or the 85mm 1.8 ($370). Neither lens is long enough to shoot from the stands. If you're shooting low-light outside (baseball or football under the lights) then the minimum you need is a 70-200 2.8 lens (Canon = $1100, Sigma = $800). And, the 70-200 is still a little short for field sports so you'll have to follow the action if it's football or for baseball stick primarily to infield shots). Unfortunately, for sports shooting you need fast shutter speeds. In low light that typically means high ISO and 'fast' lens (2.8 or 1.8). There just is no getting around that. If you're shooting college level indoor sports then a 2.8 lens is a viable option indoors.

IS is not particularly useful for sports shooting - it allows you to get a steady shot at lower shutter speeds than normal. That won't stop your subject from moving however. So, a lens with aperture of 5.6 may allow you to handhold a shot at 1/30 of a second indoors in poor lighting. That's great for a portrait shot of a person not moving. But it's not going to freeze the action of a sports participant where 1/320 is the minimum speed you need and 1/500 is the desirable speed.

So, bottom line - the only inexpensive lens is the 50mm 1.8 and that's only good for a very short range indoors so you need to be courtside (around basket in basketball or around the net for volleyball).
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Old Feb 2, 2006, 10:28 AM   #3
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Yes, the 20D is good in low light.

Yes, you should get an IS lens if you can.

In general what JohnG has said is correct, however...

I don't agree entirely - IS can help with telephoto shots of sports. For example if you are shooting at 300mm *1.6 = 480mm that would suggest a shutter speed of 1/500 to alleviate camera shake. This is in fact just a rule-of-thumb, if you don't have steady hands you might need 1/1000 or with very steady hands you might need less.

To stop action, depending on the circumstances you might be able to use 1/125 or 1/250 - so in fact being able to hand-hold at those shutter speeds CAN help.


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Old Feb 2, 2006, 10:51 AM   #4
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While technically correct, I'm not sure how much Peripatetic's distinction makes in this case: Low light, low cost.

So, low light requires a 2.8 lens. The only 300mm lens capable of 2.8 WITH IS is the Canon 300mm 2.8 - and at $4000 i think that blows the low cost estimate. Next non-IS option is the Sigma 120-300 2.8 - at $2200 that also blows the budget. So now we get to lenses that apply to this particular situation:

70-200 2.8 or a 200mm or shorter zoom or prime:

Lenses with that capability with IS:

Canon 70-200 2.8 IS

That's it to my knowledge. For low light sports, sacrificing an f-stop for IS is a bad idea - removing camera shake doesn't help you if you can't stop the action.

So, none of the non-L IS lenses in your price range are going to be fast enough. And if you're indoors for H.S. or below events the 70-200 won't be fast enough. So, if you are shooting sports where the 70-200 2.8 is a possible solution then the IS may be beneficial - but for that situation I would argue the $800 Sigma 70-200 2.8 and a monopod is a better SPORTS solution than the $1400 Canon 70-200 2.8 IS.

As for desired shutter speeds. Anything below 1/320 (without flash) is not going to give you consistantly good results. Even 1/320 you're looking at a lot of throw-aways because of motion blur. 1/125 may work for very young children running strait (peewee football) but nothing with quick action at all. I would not recommend a solution that forces you to use shutter speeds lower than 1/320.
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Old Feb 2, 2006, 10:56 AM   #5
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Hi RP33,

This won't answer your question due to price. But it might prove a little useful.

I shoot mainly sports right now with a 20D, lately basketball and mostly in middle/elementary school gyms. I get as close as I want. In a typical weekend
tournament I'll shoot around 2000 images.

The lenses I use:

Canon 70-200 L f/2.8 IS: I don't use the IS since it seems to slow the focus down a bit and I miss shots. I get better results without IS.

Lately I've switched to my Canon 24-70 L f/2.8 and get right under the basket. It seems that around 40 - 60mmproducesnice shots action under the boards.

I usually shoot with shutter priority at 200 - 250, my f/stop floats around f/2.8 - 3.5ish depending on the gym. This is with either a spot center meter or center weighted. I tend to use the exposure compensation so this is holding the f stop down a bit. The gyms are too dark for anything less than 1600 and I've even been shooting at 3200. I've shot at ISO=500 but I tend to like a bit of motion blur to give the action effect.

For post processing I use Noise Ninja and Photokit Sharpener to batch process the good images for the web.

As for price... You can't get away from a fast lens, the lighting is pretty bad in many of
the gyms. I've shot in several where 2 or three of the lights were out! Don't forget that you can't trick the camera, your eyes will adjust to the dimness, the camera won't. The 20D is fast enough and the 5 fps is very nice.

I'm saving for the Canon 400 L f/2.8 for baseball/softball and football this summer/fall.

Joe
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Old Feb 2, 2006, 2:46 PM   #6
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jlacasci wrote:

Obvious correction from my last reply. I meant shutter of 500 not ISO of 500 :?
Quote:
I've shot at ISO=500 but I tend to like a bit of motion blur to give the action effect.

Joe
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Old Feb 9, 2006, 3:11 AM   #7
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The Canon 20D + 85mm 1.8 is a pretty good combo...here's a BB pic I took with that setup:




And the 50mm 1.8 is also a nice lens, and very cheap too...here a pic I took with it (in very bad lighting):


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Old Feb 19, 2006, 11:43 AM   #8
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Holy Cow, radiocontrolguy! That is all I'm trying to get for family and friends sporting events. I've been led to believe pictures would be inadequate with less than $1000 lenses. For me needs (family and friends, amateur shots) that's INCREDIBLE! (Subjective, yes.)

Can anyone post pictures that look "bad?" The effect you get in these low-light, HS gyms or less? Point me to a link that will display these "bad" pictures?
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Old Feb 19, 2006, 1:06 PM   #9
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OK, it's not sports (which as I have teasingly mentioned before, I have no interest in) but it demonstrates the kind of situation you really don't want to be in with sports.

This was early in the morning in the city of London, it was still fairly dark to the naked eye. Subjectively I would guess fairly similar to an indoor scene with poor lighting. This shot used the IS quite heavily to get a sharp background, but the foreground figure is very blurred. I quite liked it as the kind of shot I'm interested in, but if the bloke had been carrying a basketball and I was trying to catch the action it's not the kind of effect you'd usually be looking for.

I suppose you might try to make a virtue out of it and produce a series of shots with nicely sharp backgrounds and blurred action, but the problem is that it would be the ONLY type of shot you would be able to get; this shot was taken with the 70-300 f4.5-5.6 DO IS, but it has the same IS and same aperture as the new EF 70-300.

Terry swears by his f2.8 zooms, but I suspect my bag and John's would look rather more similar. Longer all-purpose zooms with IS, and a bunch of really fast primes for when the light isn't good enough.

That's what I have now - slower zooms with IS and some fast primes, no f2.8 zooms.


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Old Feb 19, 2006, 5:58 PM   #10
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Learning enough to realize those lenses mentioned with only one number (e.g. 85mm 1.8 are Prime lenses. Right?

What is it that makes prime lenses better for portraits and for these close up sports shots?

Assume they still "focus," just don't "zoom." They focus only at that specified range, example 85mm?

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