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Old Jun 9, 2006, 2:35 PM   #1
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I need some advice on the best digital camera and lenses for football photography. I am concerned with distances and the proper lense to use for sideline photography. I am new to the sports photography side of things. I do not have the budget for a huge telephoto zoom. Can anyone help me with this? Thanks
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Old Jun 9, 2006, 8:15 PM   #2
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Well, the ideal setup is a 1d Mk IIN and 400mm 2.8 but I'm guessing you don't have $10,000 to spend.

What kind of football - American football or international (i.e. soccer)?

What level of play and under what timeframes?

The best non-pro sports body is going to be either the 30d or 20d.The 350 is OK butsports shooting is the one area wherethe 20d/30d really makes a big difference - due to ability to shoot ISO 3200,5fps burst vs 3 and precision focusing with a 2.8 lens.

The ideal starter lens for eitherAmerican football or Soccer is a 70-200 2.8 plus 1.4x TC for good light.If you can't afford the Canon then Sigma makes a nice version for around $750 (I own one and it's been great). There are several less expensive lensesbut they're not well suited to sports because they don't have 2.8 capability at the zoom end so I wouldn't generally recommend them for sports.

So,which football under which lighting conditions (daylight, possible night, definite night under lights)

And, of course,what is your budget for the camera and lens?
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Old Jun 10, 2006, 10:54 PM   #3
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I cover high school football for a local studio and use a 20D with a Canon 70-200 2.8 L lens and a 580 EX flash. It will reach to mid field width wise. There are times I would like to have a little more range but every game I find enough action to get great coverage. I am on the sidelines. If not on the sidelines I would have to have more length. All of the games are played at night. It is really a great deal of fun!

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Old Jun 12, 2006, 8:22 AM   #4
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I work for a paper that covers the University of South Caolina Gamecocks. There will definitely be night games.* My budget is around $1500-$1700.* Is the Sigma lens truely OK? Thanks again for the help.
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Old Jun 12, 2006, 8:47 AM   #5
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Free Times wrote:
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I work for a paper that covers the University of South Caolina Gamecocks. There will definitely be night games.? My budget is around $1500-$1700.? Is the Sigma lens truely OK? Thanks again for the help.
Are you a freelancer? Just curious. $1700 is a pretty small budget for a paper that wants to cover college football. I think you're going to find a 200mm lens on a college field to be very limiting (typically, college fields have more restrictions regarding where you can shoot from).

Shooting at night, you absolutely will need a 20d or 30d for the ISO 3200 performance. There simply isn't another model available that matches the ISO 3200 performance and has the necessary feature set.

The 20D body only can be had for $1050 right now.

2 gb CF card = $100 (for high speed like Ultra II or Extreme III)

I checked and the Sigma 70-200 2.8 is going for around $840 right now (Sigma made a 'DG' version with extra coating on the lens - a cheap excuse to raise the price an extra $100. They've also added Macro (although not a true 1:1 macro) to it to make a macro version - to raise the price even further).

So, the cheapest outfit without any other 'stuff' already has you at $2000 - well over your intended budget - and without some much needed reach. (Sigma's TC is around $170).

The Sigma can produce some very good results - I used it all last year for high school football. I would not recommend any 200mm lens as a solution for newspaper quality photos at the college level.

If you're a paid staff member you really need to speak to your editor about increasing your budget. If you're a freelancer you really need to save up more money. And, if you're a freelancer will you even have credentials to get on the field?

As I mentioned earlier - there are less expensive lenses - but they'll be 5.6 lenses - way too slow for night football under the lights and really poor for sports in general - especially college football in a newspaper (where you should be using at least a 300mm 2.8 lens).

I would have different answers if you were shooting your son's games for fun or even doing high school or college stuff for fun rather than for profession. But for newspaper prints of college football you really need to be looking at better lenses and probably better bodies.


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Old Jun 12, 2006, 9:17 AM   #6
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I appreciate your input. I am not the only photographer on this project. We use freelancers with much better equipment that can get very high quality shots. I am basically looking for a camera that can serve my needs on the sidelines. I would like to have the ability to reach mid-field. I appreciate your concern with field credentials and such, but really all I was asking about was the camera and lenses that would be good to use.*
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Old Jun 13, 2006, 12:15 AM   #7
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The level of your access (closeness) will depend on your credentials. If you can get up real close, you could start with a less expensive option and add a 1.4 multiplier later. If your budget is very strict, the 20d/Sigma 70 - 200 2.8 option is probably your best bet.
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Old Jun 15, 2006, 1:57 PM   #8
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Agreed the 20D combohas the best price/performance ratio, PS there is FOOTBALL (what you lot over the pond mistakenly refer to as SOCCER) and there is AMERICAN FOOTBALL
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