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Old Jan 5, 2007, 3:29 PM   #11
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I went through the same decision process about six months ago. I bought the Sigma 70-200 F2.8, non stabilized, which I use for night time high school athletics. My body is the EOS 20. I have been very pleased with the results. Before this lens I had been using a Lumix FZ10 becuase of its 2.8 aperture, 12X zoom (35-435 eq), and IS. I just had to put up with the NOISE. With the Sigma lens and the higher ISO ability of the EOS 20, the results are much better, and I'm not using a tripod. You can see some daylight results at http://www.flickr.com/photos/pddcoo, but i won't be doing night shots again until late Feb. Coupla other notes: I find that cropping in photoshop is cheaper than a stronger zoom. As our sport is soccer I need the wide end as much as the zoom (this is when i miss the Lumix most). Some of the shots on the site above are with a TC, which in the Sigma brand, seems to add a bit of fuzz in the shadows. Bottom line: f2.8 is better than f4 IS.
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Old Jan 6, 2007, 8:53 AM   #12
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94q45t wrote:
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Coupla other notes: I find that cropping in photoshop is cheaper than a stronger zoom. .
Well - it's definitely cheaper. But, the results aren't as sharp and you lose details. Additionally, extra focal length helps reduce the DOF, isolating your subject and bluring annoying backgrounds. Especially with a sport like soccer (assuming full field), 300mm f4 will provide better results than 200mm 2.8. Cropping in photoshop is necessary much of the time (most of us aren't made of money) but it's a poor second place to having the shot framed correctly in-camera - i.e. taking a shot from 40 yards away with a 200mm lens and cropping down is going to yield much worse results than framing tighter in-camera with a 300mm or 400mm lens.

If you're using a 200mm lens you'll get better photos if you're simply patient and wait for the action to get within about 25 yards of your position.



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Bottom line: f2.8 is better than f4 IS.
All else being equal, this is true. But for daytime soccer, 300mm f4 is better than 200mm 2.8 (quality of lenses being equal). But, the flexibility 2.8 provides is absolutely wonderful - can't shoot night time well without it.
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Old Jan 6, 2007, 11:11 AM   #13
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You're right, of course, but keep in mind the 1.6X crop factor and the quality of the EOS CCD, so a 100% crop is fine unless your audience is pros. I don't print the vast majority, and they wind up on the high school web site, so highest quality isn't an issue. I also use a 1.4 or 2X teleconverter on occasion (daylight only, and not wonderful quality). While I'd love a 300mm f/4 lenses, most of the stadiumlights at local high schools arent strong andthe results are marginal even at ISO 3200.

One other objective is to make sure all the kids (and their parents) get fair representation on the web site, so a bad pic is better than no pic. With the speed of soccer at this level, zooms with a wide range are essential. If Sigma's 50-500 zoom opened to f/2.8, I'd use that. If the Sigma 120-300 lens were a 70-300 lens, I'd use that. It just seems like there are several lenses that are almost, but not quite, perfect...

I've tried using one body with an 18-55 and another with the 70-200, but I can't swap fast enough.
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Old Jan 6, 2007, 11:34 AM   #14
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94q45t wrote:
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but keep in mind the 1.6X crop factor and the quality of the EOS CCD, so a 100% crop is fine unless your audience is pros.
The problem isn't the quality of the sensor - the problem is the players are too far away so when you crop to fill the frame with the player you don't have enough details. Your audience doesn't have to be a pro to appreciate seeing their son/daughter's face:









You're right that parents would rather have something than nothing. But given the choice they'd rather have a shot where the face is clearly visible - and where there is a lot of detail. When you don't have enough focal length you either have to crop wide (leaving a lot of dead space and showing a small subject) or crop tightly and show that the focus isn't sharp and you don't have enough detail. I shoot with the 120-300 - the few shots I lose by not having 70mm is more than made up for by all the shots I get because I have 300mm.
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Old Jan 6, 2007, 12:46 PM   #15
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That's a $3,000 lens so one would expect the optics to make as much difference in clarityas the zoom factor.

The attachment is a 100% crop of a 200mm shot. The detail may not be as great, but I doubt most folks would notice. The blades of grass and the kicked up dust are pretty evident, though. The limits of the Web itself prevent displaying all the detail captured anyway. One advantage cropping does have is that in a given frame, the money shot may not even be the original point of focus.

I'd like to know how you incorporated your shots in your your post. It would easier to provide better examples for discussion. Thanks!

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Old Jan 6, 2007, 2:01 PM   #16
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94q45t wrote:
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The detail may not be as great, but I doubt most folks would notice.
They would if presented prints from that image vs. an image taken with the proper focal length / distance (so either longer focal length or simply using the equipment within it's limitations). The only reason people think it's OK is they don't see something better. Some parents probably thought their digicams took great shots - until they saw your shots. And, I'm not knocking you as a photographer just pointing out that there is no comparison of quality between a 100% crop that's barely tight enough to show the action - and what if they want an 8x10 of that shot - oh, sorry - not enough image resolution.
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That's a $3,000 lens so one would expect the optics to make as much difference in clarityas the zoom factor.
Well, it's a $2200 lens but your statement is only partially true. Yes it's a great lens but your lens is capable of similar quality when used within it's constraints - i.e. being within 25 yards of the action.

And back to the point of all this - the Sigma 100-300 is $1000 about the same price as the Sigma 70-200 2.8 plus TC. So, if the OP doesn't need low light capability he'll get much better results by having the right focal length for the job (and hey the 100-300 4.0 will still take a TC pretty well).

Sigma 70-200 2.8 plus 1.4x TC:



If you can't notice the difference in quality I assure you people who see 8x10 prints will - heck even 4x6 prints will show the difference.



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One advantage cropping does have is that in a given frame, the money shot may not even be the original point of focus.
But if you're shooting with shallow DOF to properly isolate your subject the other players won't be in focus. If they are, and you crop down on them you'll get poor results - compared to what you COULD get if you had the right focal length or were shooting within the limitations of your current focal length.



To incorporate the shots like I did, you need a web service capable of providing external links - smugmug, pbase are common ones that provide this service. I'm not sure which free sites offer the ability though. You are right, it is easier this way.





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Old Jan 6, 2007, 5:11 PM   #17
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Sounds like you're trying to win an argument. Please understand that I am not disputing a thing you say, only presenting the views of one on a budget. If the OP is not, then let's go for three EOS 1D bodies with various L IS lenses on them, or for that matter, stick with film which still offers the very best images possible.If he never has to worry about night games, then the aperture also isn't an issue. All our HS games are at night, and this is a big consideration if the subjects will be older teens or playing basketball.

As I said originally, these shots are for the web site, not prints. The image I provided is late afternoon in shadows with an elevated ASA, and compressed JPEG. as the original pixel count is even more reduced by the upload limits of this site. A TIFF or RAW image would clearly be better.

The Sigma price I quoted was from the Sigma site, although clearly there are many discounters out there. The Canon lens cited by the OP is $1500+/-, a signifcant difference even from the $2200 you paid for your lens, though Tri State now lists it at $1800. Mine cost less than $1000. Bottom line is that your way is the best way if he has the budget. If not, then I've presented some alternatives.

Check out http://www.fstopblues.com. This is a well regarded photographer who uses mainly a Panasonic Lumix FZ30. I suspect no one on this forum would consider it a serious camera, but this guy makes a living with it. I asked him about it at a show (large prints). His response was that his Nikons sit at home now because the Lumix allows him to capture any shot anywhere. Since you can buy one for 25% of the cost of the Sigme 120-300 f/2.8 lens alone, and it has a range of 35MM to 428MM, f2.8,one has to ask if the higher costs forhigher endequipment are justified. They may be, but it's no longer an automatic answer, especially if you have three kids in college.
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Old Jan 7, 2007, 4:31 AM   #18
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JohnG,
Nice shots. Those were shot with your Sigma 120-300 attached?
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Old Jan 7, 2007, 10:06 AM   #19
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Steve - yes they were with the 120-300, except for the football shot which was with the Sigma 70-200 and 1.4x TC.

94q45t,

You're missing my point. The point is simply this - whatever equipment you're using, you'll get better results if you use it correctly. If your equipment is a 200mm lens, you'll get better results if you don't try to shoot across field. Whether you use a digicam or a pro quality DSLR setup - you get quality action shots by filling the frame when the shot is taken and cropping even tighter. Framing extremely loosely and cropping down produces mediocre results. This has nothing to do with buying expensive gear. So, to get GOOD results with a 200mm lens you need to stay within about 25-30 yards of the action. If it's important to a photographer to get MORE shots because that 25-30 yards is too limiting, then it's important to get a longer lens. And, let's remember the OP was asking about the 70-200 2.8 IS - a $1600 lens. So, the $1000 for a sigma 100-300 f4 certainly seems to be within reach.

But even if shooting with just a 200mm - it's imporantant for the OP to know that to get quality results you have to stay within a certain distance of the action - if you exceed that distance, then the quality of the shots drops off quite a bit. If lower quality is acceptable, that's great - but at least he/she will know the pros/cons before making the investment.


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Old Jan 7, 2007, 11:53 AM   #20
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I do understand your point and heartily agree with it. I'm just not very good at making mine. The very best images will come from a full frame sensor, and a full frame capture with the appropriate lens. That's pure physics. Everything else is a compromise that has to be weighed.

I should've mentioned thatI do run the fields quite a bit because my publicity job lets me work the sidelines at stadium games. I do not use a tripod or monopod except rarely. In bright daylight, I use a teleconverter, and carry two cameras. I also average 400-600 shots per game, so some of them are bound to be winners.

There is an excellent thread at http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/s...&thecat=29discussing the Sigma 120-300mm lens at length. It is very highly regarded. This threadprovides good perspective on its uses, though it appears not to be a true 300mm lens.

If the OP thinks the bulk of shots will be daylight, the 100-300 is a good choice. If he plans to concentrate on individual players, or shoot at night, then the 120-300 is the right choice. Potentiallya body with a full frame sensor might be a better use of funds, emphasis on "might", unless he already has one. If he will be close to the action and has a body with say a 1.6x crop factor, then 120mm, (or the equivalent of 192mm) may force him to stand farther back than he might like, negating the benefits of the stronger zoom somewhat.

He has to establishhis goals, or admit he has the hots for a particular lens. After 20,000 shots or so, all sports shots begin to look generic. Then it becomes more important to capture the rarer shots, like bicycle kicks, dunks over the tops of heads, unsportsmanlikes and so forth. Doing that requires being prepared for shots from anywhere to anywhere. My personal preference is to have the ability to catch the close ones in addition to the far ones, and very quickly. The OP's preference may be to pass on some of these and to wait patiently for the ones that occur within his field of view. That's an equally valid approach that will get better quality results, image wise, but perhaps not drama wise.

I recommend that helook at how he shoots, who he shoots, where he shoots, and when he shoots and select any of these good lenses based on that. My point is that there is no single right answer to his question.

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