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Old Apr 18, 2009, 11:26 AM   #1
imt
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I have a canon 20D and I am an amateur photographer but looking to get more into it. I am looking to get some good new lenses.

This camera was a hand me down from my father, who just wanted something basic and he had the stock Canon EFS 18-55 lens as well as a Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6 telephoto lens.

I am using the camera for sports photo of my kids (8&10) little league baseball/softball, basketball & soccer games. Also use it for regular day to day shots as well. Aside from basketball, all of the games are outside and during the day. I guess for soccer, since its the fall, some days can e gloomier than others. In regard to the regular day to day shots, I also want the ability to take photo's inside without having to use the flash. If I am correct on this (novice alert) I think I need a faster lens with a smaller aperture to accomplish this. I am interested in taking this camera beyond the totally auto preset setting (Jpeg only) and maybe shoot RAW + Jpeg where I have more editing/correcting capabilities in Aperture 2.0 and more adjustments in regard to pictures. Not sure also if anyone has a good source to read about photography to learn how to best utilize and when to utilize the AV, TV, P settings.

So if I was looking to get a couple of lenses to get started with what I am looking to do, what would you recommend? I was looking at the 70-200 f2.8 but in reading other posts, not sure if this wold be the most ideal or not.
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Old Apr 18, 2009, 3:30 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums.

I rarely shoot sports. But, Canon shooters seem to prefer the 85mm f/1.8 USM for basketball in many school gyms when using Canon 20D/30D/40D bodies, providing you can shoot from the floor.

You'd probably be able to use ISO 1600 in typical gym lighting with it, whereas with an f/2.8 zoom, you may need to stick with ISO 3200 to get a higher percentage of keepers without motion blur. Of course, the downside is that you won't have the flexibility of a zoom, so you'd be limited in the shots you'd be able to get acceptable results with it. If you're comfortable with the quality of your images at ISO 3200 in that type of lighting, then a zoom would be an option.

For baseball, you may want something longer than 200mm. You could always use a TC (Teleconverter) on a premium quality lens like a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L to give it more reach when needed. But, you may get better quality using a lens that has more reach without a TC (provided it's a decent quality lens).

I'd let members know more about your budget limits, giving some details on field size for the soccer, etc. We have some members that shoot a lot of sports with Canon gear that can give you some pros and cons of various choices available (Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, Sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX DG HSM and more).

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Old Apr 19, 2009, 12:47 PM   #3
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I don't want to say that I have an unlimited budget.

I was looking initially at the 70-200 f2.8 with and without IS, s that is a good indication of what I would contemplate spending. I also don't want to spend $$ and get a lens or lenses that do not do the job after spending all of that money. If there is something more expensive that would be more ideal I would be interested. Same goes for something less. Again I am a novice in terms of photography but want to have the appropriate tools to build on.

Not sure of field size in soccer. Its kids soccer and its the normal size of a high school soccer field. Pretty much I can walk up and back on one side of the field. Coaches & kids are on the other side.

As I stated in the initial post, I am also looking to get a lens to take good shots both indoor (with need for the flash as much) as well as outdoor for posed and unposed shots of the family.
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Old Apr 20, 2009, 9:12 AM   #4
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There's no one perfect lens for what you want to shoot.

Again, with a zoom lens with f/2.8 available, you'd probably need to use ISO 3200 for indoor sports like basketball for a higher percentage of keepers. That means the photos will have relatively high noise levels, decreasing the amount of detail captured, especially after using Noise Reduction software.

If you're OK with noise levels at ISO 3200 from your 20D, the 70-200mm f/2.8 would be an option. But, Canon shooters usually get better results using a brighter prime with a body like your 20D. The 85mm f/1.8 USM lens (around $360 now) is usually the preferred choice for basketball when shooting from the floor with a camera like your 20D, since you'd get faster shutter speeds for a given lighting and ISO speed, and it's a fast focusing lens. A lens like the 85mm f/1.8 would allow you to use ISO 1600 versus ISO 3200 in typical gym lighting, retaining more detail compared to using ISO 3200 with an f/2.8 zoom. On the downside, you would not have the framing flexibility of a zoom, so that will limit the shots you can expect to get.

For outdoor sports like baseball, a lens reaching out longer than 200mm is usually preferrred (i.e., you may find 200mm is not long enough to cover the entire field using a 70-200mm zoom). I'd check the EXIF in photos you've taken with your 70-300mm lens to see what focal lengths you're using more often (most image editors can tell you the camera settings used, including focal length).

Now, you could use a TC (Teleconverter) with a 70-200mm f/2.8 when you need a longer focal length. A 1.4x TC would make a 70-200mm f/2.8 the equivalent of a 98-280mm f/4 zoom (you lose one stop of light with a 1.4x TC). But, you'll usually see a bit of image degradation using a TC, so there are tradeoffs. You could also use a 70-200mm f/4 (very sharp lens) with a 1.4x TC (making it the equavilent of a 98-280mm f/5.6 lens). The higher the lens quality to begin with, the better it's going to work with a TC.

IOW, for higher image quality, you may want to consider going with two lenses (one for indoor sports, another for outdoor sports in daylight).

Your Sigma 70-300mm has relatively mediocre optical quality, getting softer towards it's 300mm setting (as do most budget zoom lenses with that focal range). So, you could do probably better by going with something like a Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, which will have better image quality and faster Autofocus. The Sigma 100-300mm f/4 is another lens I'd consider (and it can work with a 1.4x TC if you ever need a longer lens). But, neither of those lenses is bright enough to work for indoor sports or night games.

There are pros and cons to any solution. ;-)

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Old Apr 20, 2009, 9:58 AM   #5
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Maybe I didn't phrase it correctly initially.

I know I cannot achieve all aspects with one lens. I am looking for multiple lenses. Possibly 2 two start to encompass what I am looking for. In terms of priority it would be

1. Outdoor sports (Baseball/softball - tis the season) & soccer.
2. Candid and posed family shots. Indoor & Out.
3. Basketball

THus I am not as worried abut basetball and never took pics this past year. Just thought it may be something I might due in the future. But #1 & #2 are the most important since this is where I use the camera the most.

When I was taking baseball pics this weekend, I was stretching out the lens to 300m. You have to deal with taking pics where you can or are allowed and this meant going almost to the third base area, where I can get the camera through the netting to take pics at bat as well as around the field. I also could go all the way to the outfield fence but that would be extremely far to zoom into home plate . As far as soccer goes, al parents are on one side of the field and coaches & kids on the other. I pretty much can wander up and down one side of the field and sometimes have to back away from the sideline to go in back of other parents sitting in their chairs.

I would also want to use the telephoto lens for taking pics on vacation etc. We just came back from a trip to DC and for one I didn't bring a tripod. This is where IS could have come in andy as well as a faster lens. Taking pics at dusk or darker with this lens was difficult due to the time the shutter stayed open. Thus if not perfectly steady for multiple seconds you had a blurry shot. of taking pics on the Mall of the Washington monument, Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, etc. So I would want something for this purpose as well.

Getting info like you stated in terms of my current sigma lens is good info to help make informed decisions. I know know why the pics at full zoom are not as great and that I could get more out of a another lens, even at the same focal length. Although on the Canon it would be a faster lens anyway at 4 vs, the 5.6 on my sigma.
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Old Apr 20, 2009, 11:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
...Taking pics at dusk or darker with this lens was difficult due to the time the shutter stayed open. Thus if not perfectly steady for multiple seconds you had a blurry shot. of taking pics on the Mall of the Washington monument, Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, etc. So I would want something for this purpose as well.
If it's dark enough for you need to "multiple seconds" for proper exposure, IS is not a viable solution. You'll need a tripod (or other steady platform). If you can find something to brace against, that can help (to some extent). But, don't expect IS to be the solution with shutter speeds that long.

You can expect around a 2 or 3 stop improvement with Image Stabilization, depending on the lens. But, it can't work miracles if light is low enough you need multiple seconds for exposure. Increasing ISO speed can help to some extent. But, not if it's dark enough so that you need multiple seconds for exposure at a lower ISO speed setting. Using a wider aperture lens can get you faster shutter speeds. But, then you reduce depth of field (the amount of an image that's in focus as you get further away from your focus point).

If lighting is as dim as you're implying, you need a tripod (or at least a monopod using very good technique).

As a general rule of thumb, your shutter speeds should be 1/focal length (35mm equivalent) for acceptable results with a hand held camera. The longer your focal length, the faster your shutter speeds will need to be (as blur from camera shake will increase as focal lengths get longer).

If you're shooting with a lens set to 70mm (equivalent to 98mm on a 35mm camera from an angle of view perspective) on a 20D, you'd want shutter speeds of around 1/100 second or faster to reduce blur from camera shake. So, using a stabilized lens, you can expect to get acceptable results with a shutter speed of around 1/20 second (not "multiple seconds") at that zoom setting. Some people can hold a camera steadier than others. How smoothly you press the shutter button also comes into the equation. But, expecting sharp photos with a exposures as long as you're mentioning with a hand held camera is is not realistic, stabilization or not.

For your baseball and softball, the Sigma 100-300mm f/4 would probably make a good choice, and it's a stop brighter lens compared to the Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS, so that may be better for late afternoon games when light starts to decrease. For use in more lighting conditions, some of our members that shoot a lot of sports go to a Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8. But, that's a $2900 lens.

Note that for most sports, stabilization is of very limited benefit (since you'll need faster shutter speeds to prevent blur from subject movement anyway).

Quote:
2. Candid and posed family shots. Indoor & Out.
The lenses we've been discussing are going to be too long for many of your indoor family shots, especially group photos, unless you're thinking about about head and shoulders shots of individuals (when you have enough room, since you can only back up so far). You also need to take a lens' minimum focus distance into consideration (shown in specifications for a given lens model), as some longer zooms won't allow you to focus very close.

I often use a 24-85mm lens as a walk around. But, sometimes even 24mm is too long for shooting groups indoors in tighter quarters. A lens starting out wider like your 18-55mm may be a better choice for that purpose. There are a number of lenses that start out that wide that can provide better image quality than your kit lens. But, again, there are pros and cons to the available choices (for example, the brighter the lens, the less focal range you'll likely find in a given zoom).

IOW, it sounds like you need several lenses to better meet your needs, as well as a tripod for when it gets too dark for a hand held camera.

How long have you been using this camera and lenses? My suggestion would be to use it for a while in order to get a better feel for the limitations of your existing gear before spending a lot of money on new lenses. That way, you can make better informed decisions on lenses that may work better in the conditions you shoot in more often, taking size, weight, focal range from wide to long, available apertures and more into consideration.

For your indoor family photos, investing in a good flash can help. That way, you can bounce the flash for more even lighting.

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Old Apr 20, 2009, 12:04 PM   #7
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Thanks for the info.

I have had this camera and lenses for several years now. Both my wife and I have been using it over this time. I use the Sigma telephoto and she primarily uses the smaller lens for shots of the kids. So I have an idea of the limitations.

Yes a good flash could help as well but would like to be able to get more shots without the need for flash. All of my shots get the red eye . I think I even have the extra canon flash but many times you are out for the day and never have the flash. So the only one that gets used is the one on the body. Alot of phtos also look more natural without flash especiallly when shooting more at duusk or want to capture the lighting from a building or something from behind the shot. Again talking as a novice here.

I'll look into the Sigma you discussed. This will also give me one stop over the sigma I currently have. How does the this sigma compare in terms of optics over my current one? Also, how does the sigma compare to the Canon's in terms of focus speed, optics etc. I see that there really isn't a comparison on Canon's side since as you stated they will be one stop more at the 300M range. I want to be able to get the best looking shots without having to crank the ISO and increase noise etc. I know that there are tradeoff's and they all come with $$.






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Old Apr 20, 2009, 2:59 PM   #8
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imt wrote:
Quote:
Yes a good flash could help as well but would like to be able to get more shots without the need for flash. All of my shots get the red eye .
The closer the flash is to the camera's lens, the greater the chance you'll see redeye.

With an external flash, you'll see less redeye at the ranges you're typically shooting at, and you can bounce the flash for more diffused lighting with Canon's better models . I'd look at the 430EX II or 580EX II.

Quote:
Alot of phtos also look more natural without flash especiallly when shooting more at duusk or want to capture the lighting from a building or something from behind the shot.
Indoors in a typical home at night, you'll need a flash for non-stationary subjects in some conditions, unless they're relatively still and you time your shots carefully using a brighter lens at higher ISO speed settings (think ISO 1600 or 3200).

You may see the same thing outdoors when it starts getting darker, too (requiring higher ISO speeds and a brighter lens).

I'd probably look at something like a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX HSM for typical family photos in existing light if you don't want to use a flash (and in some conditions, you may have to for people type photos unless you want some blur from subject movement).

If you go with a focal length much longer than that, you'll have more issues with blur from camera shake with a non-stabilized prime in more conditions as light decreases. Ditto for issues trying to fit more into the frame (the longer the focal length, the more room you'll need to get what you want into the photo, and you can always move closer for family shots, using your feet for zoom).

Depth of Field will also be shallower at wider apertures, so there are tradeoffs in lens choices, with pros and cons to longer versus shorter focal lengths and available apertures (since you may fill the frame more than you want to at closer distances with a longer lens in tighter quarters, and may not get enough depth of field).

You may want f/1.4 or f/2 if light gets real low to help reduce blur from subject movement, and a brighter zoom is going to be limited to an aperture of f/2.8

You can always use f/2.8 with an f/1.4 prime, but you can't use anything wider than f/2.8 (like f/2 which is twice as bright as f/2.8, or f/1.4 which is four times as bright as f/2.8 ) with any zoom lenses available for your camera.

Outdoors, you may get away with something longer (either in a zoom or in a prime).

Any choice is a tradeoff in one area or another. For more framing flexibility versus being able to use a lens in more low light conditions, look at a brighter f/2.8 zoom instead (Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS, Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8, Canon or Sigma 24-70mm f/2/8, etc.). But, a brighter prime would let you shoot in more conditions.

Quote:
I'll look into the Sigma you discussed. This will also give me one stop over the sigma I currently have. How does the this sigma compare in terms of optics over my current one? Also, how does the sigma compare to the Canon's in terms of focus speed, optics etc.
The Sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX HSM is a much better lens in every area compared to your existing lens. It's got far better optics and build quality, and it's going to be sharper throughout it's zoom range. It also has HSM (Hypersonic Motor) focusing, which is similar to Canon's ring type USM (Ultrasonic Focus Motor) Autofocus system, so it's going to focus much faster than your lens. Since it's brighter, that also increases focus speed as light gets lower (since the camera's AF sensors can "see" better with a brighter lens). You can also use a 1.4X TC with it (giving you the equivalent of a 140-420mm f/5.6), giving you more flexibility compared to your existing Sigma.

Quote:
Also, how does the sigma compare to the Canon's in terms of focus speed, optics etc.
The Sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX HSM gets very high marks for AF speed and optical quality.

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