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Old Mar 10, 2008, 8:38 PM   #11
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IMO you can't go wrong - I have all three and I'm satisfied with all of them:
o The 120-300 f/2.8: http://www.pbase.com/nhl/sigma
o The 500mm f/4L: http://www.pbase.com/nhl/ef_500l
o and the 50-500: http://www.pbase.com/nhl/sigma_50_500

-> It depends on what focal range you shoot @ most:
The 120-300 f/2.8 will be great for low-light, and the shorter focal lenght
The 500mm f/4L has the best bokeh if you can live with a fix prime and bear the weight
... and the 50-500 is good for the longer range (i.e. you don't need to use the 120-300 f/2.8 with a TC anymore) without the weight of the fast prime
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 9:39 PM   #12
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Sorry didn't give you any info on what I like shooting. Indoor sports, mainly hockey, but volleyball basketball etc... Skill level pre-high school. Though every summer I shoot baseball. That's why I was thinking of the bigma 50-500. But if I can use a 2x convertor with the 120-300 for outdoor events such as baseball and find a pile of money under my pillow than the 120-300 is the way to go. I'm trying to figure out what is the most cost effective and financially sound way of picking a lens for my needs.
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Old Mar 11, 2008, 7:41 AM   #13
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The 120-300 f/2.8 is probably the best choice if you get it...
Another compromise would be its smaller brother the 100-300 f/4 EX, only 1-stop less but more affordable and very sharp indeed even with a 1.4x teleconverter on (@ 420mm f/5.6)
-> With the saving you may then look into a shorter fast prime for Volleyball then
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Old Mar 11, 2008, 11:51 AM   #14
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garman wrote:
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Sorry didn't give you any info on what I like shooting. Indoor sports, mainly hockey, but volleyball basketball etc... Skill level pre-high school. Though every summer I shoot baseball. That's why I was thinking of the bigma 50-500. But if I can use a 2x convertor with the 120-300 for outdoor events such as baseball and find a pile of money under my pillow than the 120-300 is the way to go. I'm trying to figure out what is the most cost effective and financially sound way of picking a lens for my needs.
A few things come to mind. First of all, the Bigma or any other 5.6 or even 4.0 lens will be practically useless for indoor sports. Given you're in pre-high school, even a 2.8 lens will require the use of ISO 3200. You didn't mention what camera body you have. Are you comfortable with it's ISO 3200 performance? If not, for the basketball and volleyball you'll likely want a 2.0 or 1.8 lens (85mm 1.8 or 100mm 2.0). If your comfortable with ISO 3200 performance of your camera then a 70-200 2.8 would work. The 120-300 2.8 will be too tight to use as a primary lens indoors - it would be good for some shots but not a good first choice.

For hockey - it depends on the lighting in the arenas. The key to good hockey shots is getting good tight shots and getting the face exposed properly (which may be 1.5 stops different than what your camera wants to meter at because of the ice). In any case, a 70-200 would be a better focal length than 120-300 if you're right at the boards.

For outdoor sports, the bigma is still a poor choice. 5.6 just doesn't give enough subject isolation and when light fails the lens performance will go down dramatically. Not a knock on the bigma, just a fact of any 5.6 lens.

If you're shooting just day games, the Sigma 100-300 is a fantastic lens - but if games are ever played under lights you'll need 2.8. You should be aware though that 300mm is barely long enough to shoot corner to corner of a full size diamond when shooting from on the field. So, if you don't have access to shoot from on the field, you would likely want a TC with either 300mm option. The bigma gives you more reach but you sacrifice low light performance and subject isolation. If you do have field access one of the 300s is definitely the way to go.

But, to bring this all around - all the sports you mentioned really require shutter speeds better than 1/320. For baseball, 1/1000 is a good speed. For basketball 1/400 is a minimum, volleyball I prefer at least 1/500

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Old Mar 11, 2008, 2:51 PM   #15
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Thanks again guys for the incredbile tips. I love the focal range of the bigma, plus it's price point. But.... I think the 120-300 may be the way to go. My thought is if I spend 1000$ or less for a lens half the time and spend 2400$ for lens most of the time I think the versatility of the f/2.8 trumps the Bigma if all things being optically equal, ie sharpness. Like mentioned earlier a 2x TC for "nominal" amount would push the focal range to Bigma territory, not really sure about the sharpness and IQ hit. Anyway I have the rebel xt and quite happy the the 1600 iso range and I will shoot darker to to keep the shutter speeds up and PP the pics if need be. Eventually when I have "more money" I will move up to the 40D whenever that happens.
BTW Mark or NHL, I shoot at 200mm at hockey rinks @ 1600iso with a shutter of 500, sometimes 640th/sec. I also shoot from the penality box no glass I sometimes wish I can get more reach to get facial expressions. Is it better to over expose the readings to get brighter faces or is it better to do that on post with photoshop. I really hate those cages. Plastic visers would be a Godsend. One more thing how good is the ISO 3200 on the 40D is there a huge difference from the Rebel 1600iso. I noticed that on the spec for the 40D there is a "h" on the 3200iso setting. that gives me a little pause weather if it's worth going for a upgrade for one more "stop".
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Old Mar 11, 2008, 3:29 PM   #16
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Easy answer, you are always wanting to expose for the faces of the players you are shooting. So it is not over exposing rather correctly exposing. When shooting sports you are better off shooting manual if at all possible, this is easier indoors that outside. When using Tv or Av the camera will want to expose what it believes is correct however when there is a lot of white (ice for example) or black (shirts etc) the camera will under expose and over expose respectively. So I would guess personally increase the ISO to 800 and see what that does, then lower the shutter speed if needed.

As for one stop being an only, I would say this is a big benefit as you are talking double the shutter speed making a large difference. Other benefits of the 40D are better AF, spot metering, 6.5 fps, better handling for most people as it is a larger body.

Did you check out the links I posted giving examples of the 120-300 with and without a 2x TC?
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Old Mar 11, 2008, 4:40 PM   #17
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Hey Mark, I looked at your link. that's why I was thinking about the 2x TC for the extra reach outdoors. One thing you havent mention if the IQ takes a hit, also if you have any hunting issues.
Are you saying I should shoot at 800 and drop my shutter speeds to 400-500th/sec? I always shoot manual, I like the control.
Anyway I was wondering how you got that lens (120-300) for a song. It has balooned 800 dollars more, not sure why. If you can point me to a URL at that price I'll gladly fork out the doe ASAP for that lens. I've been constantly checking sigma4less to see if the drop the price.
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Old Mar 11, 2008, 5:04 PM   #18
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garman wrote:
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Hey Mark, I looked at your link. that's why I was thinking about the 2x TC for the extra reach outdoors. One thing you havent mention if the IQ takes a hit, also if you have any hunting issues...
The AF speed will take a hit with a 2xTC especially in low-contrast low light
-> At this point a Bigma might be better in AF speed even though its minimum aperture is only f/6.3... (i.e. without the burden of a TC)

In good light high contrast a 120-300 with 2xTC IQ is quite OK (wide open):
http://www.pbase.com/nhl/image/38124221
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Old Mar 11, 2008, 6:06 PM   #19
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NHL wrote:
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The AF speed will take a hit with a 2xTC especially in low-contrast low light
-> At this point a Bigma might be better in AF speed even though its minimum aperture is only f/6.3... (i.e. without the burden of a TC)

In good light high contrast a 120-300 with 2xTC IQ is quite OK (wide open):
http://www.pbase.com/nhl/image/38124221
As mentioned the bigma is useless indoors for sports. For outdoor sports by the time light levels are affecting AF, 5.6 isn't going to be wide enough to get necessary shutter speeds. At least with the 120-300 you can take the TC off and get great shots. Nothing you can do to make the bigma useful in a low light sports shooting situation.

Absolutely IQ will take a hit. In all honesty, performance with the 1.4x TC is a bit iffy - the bokeh really can look very strange. I wouldn't plan on using the lens for sports use with a 2x very much.


to clarify - if the question becomes 'which is the better low light sports option - 120-300 with 2x TC or bigma' - the answer is neither is good enough.

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Old Mar 11, 2008, 6:55 PM   #20
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garman wrote:
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Is it better to over expose the readings to get brighter faces or is it better to do that on post with photoshop.
Mark's advice is right on the money. This is a no brainer - underexposing faces and fixing in PP yields poor results. You want faces exposed properly.

Marks other comments are also on the mark - the 40d hasa significantly better focus system than the XT. The focus system alone is worth the upgrade. The other attributes (5fps, better build quality, more focus points) all make it a better camera but the focus system is what makes it a better sports solution.
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