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Old May 1, 2006, 4:14 AM   #1
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I will be purchasing a Canon EOS 20D within the next week or so. I will be shooting a good bit of football/basketball shots and was wonder which lens/lenses would be a good starting point for shots of this nature. Most of the time I should have sideline access but there may be times where I won't as well. Any/all help is appreciated.



Also are there any sites/stores that I should know about as far as the best prices so I may compare to my local shops? Thanks in advance.
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Old May 1, 2006, 7:49 AM   #2
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A couple questions for you:

When you say football - which sport do you mean - European (i.e. soccer)or American? What level (juevenile, high school, college)? Will there be night games or just day games?

In either case, the best starting kit for field sports is probably a 70-200mm 2.8 lens plus 1.4x TC (which can be used in day games). I have the Sigma version of this lens and have been very happy with it. It's about $400 less than the Canon equivelent (non IS) but some people prefer Canon only lenses. If your purpose is primarily sports I would suggest the Canon 70-200 IS lens is a waste of money - IS won't help you in shooting sports and the lens is reportedly not as sharp as the non-IS.

I recommend shooting with a 2.8 aperture lens for two important sports shooting reasons: 1) low light capability and 2) subject isolation. Even in day games, when things get overcast you may find yourself shooting ISO 800/1600 and needing 2.8 to get the shutter speeds you need. For last year's football season I shot with this setup and also tried my 100-400L. The quality on the 100-400 was great as was the added reach, but the subject isolation from the 5.6 aperture was really poor. Of the two setups I preferred the 70-200 2.8 plus 1.4 tc over the 100-400. And, shooting HS football under lights I can tell you, you absolutely need a 2.8 lens. I had games I was shooting at 2.8, ISO 3200 and still only getting shutter speeds of 1/320 inside the 30 yard line.

This spring I upgraded to the Sigma 120-300 2.8 lens and for baseball/softball it's working very well - I can't wait to use it for football.

Now, having said all that, a 70-200 lens is short for field sports (pros use a 400mm 2.8 - sometimes with a TC). If you're shooting american football, even with a TC you'll have to follow the action up and down the field (about 20-25 yards ahead of the line of scrimage at most). If you're not on the field, you're going to get very marginal results no matter what you use - you'll just be too far removed from the action and your area of coverage will really be very small and if you're in the stands, the angles will be wrong (i.e. shooting down on your subject rather than up). Still, my personal opinion is I would rather give up some reach and have 2.8.

For basketball, you will want to use either the 50mm 1.8 or 85mm 1.8 lenses if you're shooting from the court. A 2.8 lens just won't be fast enough in many gymnasiums.
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Old May 1, 2006, 11:57 AM   #3
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John G is right on the money!

I shoot basketball, baseball and american ;-) football.

Quick rundown of what I have/do:

Basketball (Mark II N 85 f/1.8) and 20D with 24-70 f/2.8L

Baseball (Mark II N with 70-200 f/2.8L) 20D 400mm f/2.8L on monopod

Football (Mark II N with 400mm f/2.8L) 20D with 70-200 f/2.8L

To answer your question, If I could only have one lens, it would be the 70-200 f/2.8 with a 1.4x. This just won't work for many indoor events unless they are really bright. Evening games and overcast days, it can be a problem and you will most likely need to remove the1.4x.

Best of luck.

Joe
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Old May 3, 2006, 10:31 AM   #4
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Thanks so much for the help. I'm an amateur but I'm anxious to see how well things turn out, I'll be shooting for a college recruiting service and want to have some of the best pictures in the business.
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Old May 3, 2006, 10:46 AM   #5
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CheungWah wrote:
Quote:
Thanks so much for the help. I'm an amateur but I'm anxious to see how well things turn out, I'll be shooting for a college recruiting service and want to have some of the best pictures in the business.
Good luck - be sure to stop back and post some of your work.

One last piece of advice I forgot to mention - make sure you understand what your target audience wants. The photos I submit for publication are often very different than the photos parents buy from me - two different audiences. So, make sure you understand the types of shots the recruiting service wants - they may be different than what you might expect or what you might see posted on forums here. Find out what's important and what's not:

some examples of what I mean:

When I submit photos to my editor she doesn't care about tight crops and noise isn't much of an issue because newsprint for the small paper isn't that high of a quality anyway - they only require 250 dpi image resolution as well. And, typically the paper wants action shots if they are doing something about the game or 'action portraits' (single player only) if they're doing a story on a particular athlete.

Contrast that with parents who want noise free images with clutter removed and their kid predominantly featured in the picture or often the only one in the picture.

I have a friend that's a baseball fanatic and when I ask for his opinion on my baseball stuff he prefers shots that illustrate fundamentals or technical aspects of the game - so if he were my client I would provide him a different subset of my work. I may have 100 shots from a game and all these types of shots in that group but people don't want to look through that much stuff - especially editors - so I cull it down and give each what they want.

Bottom line is: know your audience and only give them the work they want - editors don't want 150 images to wade through (typically) so learn what they like and give them that first.
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Old May 9, 2006, 3:17 PM   #6
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Excellent advice from JohnG, a pro who obviously knows his onions . . ahh, errr . . . lenses! Nature shooting is my professional preference, and all my sports shooting is high school sports for newsprint. I shoot the 20D and 100-400L IS. Not a bad outdoor sports lens, and for 180 dpi newsprint, if it's a dark day, simply ramp up the iso to 800 or 1600 and wash it through Noise Ninja and you're there. But indoor sports? I don't even want to talk about what the 100-400 can't do. If I shot more sports or had more strict sports needs, I'd get the aforementioned 70-200 f2.8 in a heartbeat.

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