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Old Nov 17, 2008, 2:14 PM   #1
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Hi guys, I have my Canon 400D for about 8months now with EFs 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens. Still very new.

This lens is pretty much for general purpose but I find myself shooting more sports photography.
I am looking for a lens that can be suitable for fencing and baseball at a budget.
So far looking through the forum, the EF 70-300mm IS USM seems suitable, but the aperture is same as my current lens.

When shooting sport events its mostly indoor with low lighting. Fencing and baseball (open and closed roof stadium)

I find it difficult to get a sharp photo especially in fencing due to low lighting, and most of the action shots turn out to be blurry. I'd have to be lucky to get a sharp photo.

<img>http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/l6Nta7sxWTvxcw-fj5wlwg?authkey=q8inenDbvCM</img>

<img>http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/qNShI_Jf5xLi9-43XVho1g?authkey=q8inenDbvCM</img>

<img>http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/3StSQnK2DapZBkX0eoAWjQ?authkey=q8inenDbvCM</img>


For baseball in a dome stadium like Tokyo Dome it is very well lit and I can get away with ISO 800 at times (occasionally I'd get blurry when players are just jogging) .

I want to know is if I sit in the outfield Left or Right is approx. 325 feet to home plate.
Would 70-300mm lens be good enough for this situation (lighting/distance) to capture better composition of the players? with 17-85mm I am very limited for what photo I can produce.

<img>http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/UOOnWHGQcRugxgrmg9jdCg?authkey=q8inenDbvCM</img>

<img>http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/YSpLvFztkxzj1RmDf0ysDA?authkey=q8inenDbvCM</img>

<img>http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/XuyLGKoczvXy9Un_W0BA8g?authkey=q8inenDbvCM</img>


and also if someone can provide me with the settings I should be shooting at.



Thanks in advance.
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Old Nov 18, 2008, 2:42 AM   #2
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If 85mm takes you close enough to the action for fencing I'd recommend the 85mm f1.8, which is 2.5 stops faster than your current lens at that focal length. You could also look at something wider if you can get close to the piste. e.g. 50mm f1.4.

And I'd push the ISO right up to 1600.

No real recommendation for baseball. Others can comment.
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Old Nov 18, 2008, 10:47 AM   #3
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OK,

First none of yourr links worked for me. I've tried at work and at home and all the links result in 404 errors (not found). So I can't see your current images.

Let me take the baseball first:

Quote:
I want to know is if I sit in the outfield Left or Right is approx. 325 feet to home plate.
Would 70-300mm lens be good enough for this situation (lighting/distance) to capture better composition of the players?
First off - no, you're not going to be able to reach home plate from 325 feet away and get good shots. 300mm is good for about 160 feet. So, you're not even going to get good shots of the BASES much less home plate. The only decent shot you would get from the left field bleachers is a play by the center fielder (left fielder likely will have his back to you and right fielder will be too far away).

Also, it's difficult to say how good the lighting is there. In most stadiums here in the States lighting would be very very marginal for a 5.6 lens to work. I wouldn't count on it being good enough in your stadium with only ISO 1600.

Bottom line - I wouldn't expect great results from the combo for baseball given the information you've provided.

For fencing - that's going to be a tough one. I've used the 85mm 1.8 for indoor sports and it's a great lens for that purpose EXCEPT where framing comes into play. Beyond 25 feet the lens doesn't work well - focus certainly suffers. On a 1.6 crop body it's tough enough to keep the entire body in the frame of 2 people at close distances to one another. Given most fencing stances it may be extremely difficult. Compounding the difficulty is focus points on the 400d - especially in low light. Only the center point is really going to be accurate in low light - you're likey going to run into difficulties trying other focus points. Maybe not, but I suspect so. That's going to make framing increasingly difficult. Too difficult IMO to use the 85mm lens IMO.

That's the difficulty with using prime lenses for low light sports photography on crop cameras. The notion that the crop factor gives you more "reach" is untrue. It doesn't. Whether you use the 85mm on a full size sensor, 1.3 sensor or 1.6 sensor you'll still see problems in performance after 25 feet. The best solution is to be close to the action and use a wider lens. How close can you get to the action?
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Old Nov 18, 2008, 10:53 AM   #4
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sorry - math was off. 300mm is good for about 120 feet not 160 (i.e. about 40 yards).
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Old Nov 19, 2008, 7:36 AM   #5
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Thanks peripathetic and John G for replying
Sorry I have linked the </img> to the link thats why -_-

For Fencing
http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo...ey=q8inenDbvCM

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo...ey=q8inenDbvCM

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo...ey=q8inenDbvCM



Baseball

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo...ey=q8inenDbvCM

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo...ey=q8inenDbvCM

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo...ey=q8inenDbvCM



Fencing I can get close to within 6-12 feet depending on the referee and the fencers location.
I dont know if upping the aperture together with high ISO will help better with the stop action. Usually fencing tournaments the lights are not well lit.


Baseball, how about using 70-300mm lens by the 1st base foul line area?
I've seen some photos in the form some taken from upper level home plate, got really nice shot of the batter and catcher.
-will I get the same results from 1st base?


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Old Nov 19, 2008, 8:12 AM   #6
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Well on the first fencing shot:

ISO800, 1/40s, f5.6, 56mm

Using a 50mm f1.4 for example:

ISO1600, f2, => 1/640s

which will certainly be enough to stop the action of the players, though who knows about the blades, they move very fast.

The downside of wide apertures though is that your DOF becomes narrower. For fencing though it's not the end of the world. Backgrounds at fencing competitions tend to be very messy, it's no bad thing throwing them out of focus.

You might also want to look into the Canon 28mm f1.8 as a possibility for fencing if you need something wider, orperhaps the Sigma 30mm f1.4.

I have never really photographed fencing, I've always been holding a sword :-) but I think I would be looking at something like a fast lens in the 24-30 range for context shots plus a short telephoto around 85-135 for detail shots. I would want both.

Don't be afraid to push to ISO1600, that extra stop of shutter speed is far more useful than the loss of quality from noise.

If I end up re-starting my fencing when my daughter is a little older I expect I'll end up doing plenty of fencing photography then. :-)
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Old Nov 19, 2008, 11:12 AM   #7
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On the baseball front:

I took a look at the last image. It was shot at ISO 1600, f5.6 and 1/100. Exposure looks pretty good. Sadly, as mentioned the 70-300 is the same aperture. And 1/100 is too slow for quality shots. Doesn't matter where you sit - that won't allow you to get good shots with that lens in that lighting.

As for distance, again a 300mm lens is good for 120 feet of quality coverage. If you dont know the dimensions of a diamond, google it. Then factor in the 'foul territory' of your specific stadium (don't know if you can find actual dimensions of your specific stadium anywhere). It's then geometry from there. You have a 120' arc from your seat projected onto the field.

The baseline is very long - obviously if you're right behind the dugout that 120' arc will fall on useful area of the field. If you'r far out in right or left field it won't.

But bottom line you still won't get the shutter speeds. IMO, $560 is a lot of money to spend to still get poor shots.
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Old Nov 19, 2008, 12:59 PM   #8
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Thanks Peripateic and John G for your input,
as for fencing I'll try using the ISO 1600 and more manual settings
most of the time was under sport settings.
and play around with the settings with my current lens this few weeks to find out the range of lens n if i should get with larger aperture.


JohnG, thanks for the info on the distance on the 300mm zoom.
but yea, I guess I'll leave those fast close up photos to the professionals for now.

and when you mention exposure time being slow what is the exposure time needed for sport event?
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Old Nov 19, 2008, 1:12 PM   #9
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Jrevol wrote:
Quote:
and when you mention exposure time being slow what is the exposure time needed for sport event?
It depends entirely on the motion you are trying to freeze. So there is no one size fits all answer. To give you an example I shot gymnastics last weekend - 1/250 is fine for most beam work and even the simple vaults being performed by these level 5 gymnasts. However, freezing the release of a major league pitcher takes about 1/3000-1/4000.

At 1/500 you can get good stop-action of a person running. There may be some hand or foot blur but typically the face and trunk will be frozen. For baseball, if you just want plays at a bag or in the field 1/400 would be the minimum. That is way too slow for freezing batters or pitchers though. 1/100 isn't good for much of anything accept people standing still.
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Old Nov 19, 2008, 9:08 PM   #10
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JohnG wrote:
Quote:
...If you dont know the dimensions of a diamond, google it. ...
"Ninety feet between bases is perhaps as close as man has come to perfection."

— Red Smith, the great baseball writer
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