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Old Jun 10, 2005, 5:30 PM   #1
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I just purchased a Canon D20. I want to take action shoots of my daughters fencing competitions. All their competitions are done in gymnasiums or civic centers. The light is not very good and I need a fast lens. Iam prohibited from using a flash. I can shoot within 15 feet of the fencers. Tripods are difficult because there is limited space because of the spectators. I have considered purchasing the Canon 24-70 f2.8. and the Canon 28-135 f3.5 IS. I want to be able to stop the blade when they swing.Which would be the better choice?Does anyone have another recommendation?Other considerations?
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Old Jun 10, 2005, 5:55 PM   #2
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get the faster lens (24-70 2.8 )if stopping motion is your goal. the image stabilization will not help you here, you will need the faster shutter speeds afforded by a faster lens..

sigma makes an excellent 24-70 2.8 EX DG.. it offers image and buildquality to rivals the canon 24-70 L-series and costs far less at around 400USD..

best regards, dustin
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Old Jun 11, 2005, 3:30 AM   #3
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To stop fencing action in poor light is going to be really tough.

The 28-135 is definitely not the right lens for this job!

First of all you're going to be glad you have ISO3200, I would recommend you get hold of a good noise-reduction program like NeatImage http://www.neatimage.com/ they have a free version but I think paying for the pro version is worthwhile.

You're going to need to decide on a focal length range that you need. I suspect 70-200 will be too long, but if not then a Canon or Sigma 70-200 f2.8 will be very handy. Otherwise go for the Canon or Sigma 24-70 f2.8 or perhaps the Tamron 28-75 f2.8.

Make sure whatever lens you get has fast AF - so HSM on the Sigmas or USM on the Canon. Another thing to keep in mind is that the 20D's centre AF point can operate at a higher precision with lenses that are f2.8 or faster. So you'll probably want to switch to using the centre AF point only.

You might also consider some primes for the extra speed - you're going to need it all; the 50mm f1.8 is very cheap, and maybe the 85mm f1.8 will be good too.

You should consider using RAW mode because you will have more flexibility pushing underexposed shots, so you will need some big CF cards if you're going to make good use of the 20D's 5fps - and I'm sure you will.

Unfortunately I think that you will need at least 1/1000s to freeze the swords because they move very very fast. For getting perfect stop-motion you will probably need a powerful flash - now that may not be possible during competition, but I'm sure you get some great shots in training sessions. You'll most likely need a guide number of at least 50 for that.

Good luck and post some shots in the Sports Forum here when you can.

P.S. At the world photo awards 2005 exhibition (currently at the South Bank Centre in London) there is an amazing fencing shot.
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Old Jun 13, 2005, 2:57 PM   #4
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Paripatetic is correct about the speed. I'm still a beginner, but I photograph softball games, and at 1/1000, I still get a slight blur on the ball and bat. I would imagine that a foil blade would be even faster.

Good luck!
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Old Jun 14, 2005, 6:59 AM   #5
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AlanK wrote:
I can shoot within 15 feet of the fencers.
If you can get this close then I have some good news - get the 50mm 1.8 lense. It's only $70 but it's fast. The 50mm 1.4 would be better but it's a lot more $$$. I recommend starting with this inexpensive lense - it's a great low light lense to have and this allows you to put the bulk of your money towards a more all-purpose lense.
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Old Jun 14, 2005, 8:46 AM   #6
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Canon 85mm 1.8 and 1.2 are very nice...
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Old Jun 14, 2005, 9:58 AM   #7
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I have the 1.2 - the 1.8 might be a better choice because of the AF speed and cost!

... Also the 1.2 do not send the distance info for flash (but then I don't really need this with studio strobes)
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Old Jun 14, 2005, 10:53 AM   #8
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I'll go against the zoomers :-)
If you can get as close as 15feet, I'd consider a fast prime for this. In the 50mm to 100mm F1.4-F2.0 range, and shoot at ISO 1600-3200.

You can test this option out very inexpensively, get the canon 50mm F1.8 (maybe 75$us) and try it in the gym at ISO3200.

Edit: :blah: Gee sounds like most of us are on the same page :blah:

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Old Jun 14, 2005, 8:32 PM   #9
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What if I wanted to shoot from 30 feet away on a 45 degree angle from the fencers. What lense should I use to capture both fencers in action. Remember I can't use a flash.
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Old Jun 15, 2005, 3:30 AM   #10
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Under those conditions it becomes almost impossible to freeze motion.

If you are at a 45d angle to the fencers the area you want in focus is going to be approximately 10-15 feet.

Look at this site to discover your problem:


With a 50mm lens at 30 ft @f2.8 (which may not be fast enough to stop the action even at ISO3200) your DOF is only around 12ft total.

It's very difficult to tell from here exactly what conditions you are going to be operating under, so my recommendation is the same as Peter's; get the EF 50mm f1.8 II. This is a good fast and cheap lens that is approximately the right focal length. It's only $75 or so, and you should probably own one anyway for portraits. Start with that and let your experience be your guide as to the focal length and speed you need after that.
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