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Old Sep 14, 2006, 7:57 PM   #1
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In doing my research for "what camera to buy", I'm finding that maybe I should be thinking about what lens(s) will work for me. I know I want a DSLR. I would like to get away with say the "stock" lens, but then one really nice lens for all of my sports photos (in and out doors). (I'm trying to formulate my question without confusing anyone:?). What are my limitations in using a lens with a lower f stop? Would I be able to use the same lens for a karate testing (closer, low light without flash) and a play on the far side of the soccerfield?Can I get away with using just one lens? My pictures are pretty basic, Iwould like to get some nice blur free action shots,in which some cases there will be very low light (thus the reason for the DSLR). To be honest it probably won't see muchaction outsidethe AUTO mode. I know there are lens out there with IS (not sure I buy into the whole IS thing anyway, so I'm not really taking that into consideration).Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Old Sep 14, 2006, 9:25 PM   #2
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Hello...

The DSLR world is a great step forward from the Point & Shoot world. You're going to love what you'll be able to do with this absolutely different technology. DSLRs offer no shutter lag and complete control over your pictures.

The bad news is the cost for these advantages. The cost of the camera is only the first issue. Lenses are where the real cost (and advantages) lie. A small f-stop lens almost always costs more than a large f-stop number one does. F-stop refers to the size of the "hole" that lets in light to the film or sensor.

Since the accessories and lenses is where the big money lies, you should pick a manufacturer (Canon, Nikon, etc.) and stick with them, since there's little compatiblity among manufacturers. There are "third party" lens manufacturers who make great lenses for Canon, Nikon, etc. cameras, but once you choose a camera maker, you're commited. Switching to Canon to Nikon or vice versa (or any other camera manufacturer) will make your lens collection obsolete.

I'd suggest you spend some time studying the basics of photography before you lay out "the long green".




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Old Sep 14, 2006, 10:31 PM   #3
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I suggest you do some reading on sports photography aswell. Some of the things you consider 'basic' ie. blur-free action shots in low light, are actually very demanding on equipment and may need very expensive lenses to even be possible.
The lens you would use for karate indoors (50mmf1.8 is the only cheap option) is completely different from one that could take action shots accross a sports field. Action shots at a distance of more than about 30m require very, very good gear though you can get some good snaps with cheaper lenses in bright sunlight. The photographers at sports events all carry those massive white lenses for a reason - smaller lenses simply cannpt capture enough light for the fast shutter speeds sports photography requires.

I would recommend an entry level dslr with kit lens, a 50mmf1.8 and a cheap telephoto zoom like the sigma 70-300APO. Before you buy though, do a lot of research and make sure you understand what your gear will be capable of. Some of your expectations are unrealistic and you will be pissed if you spend a lot of money and then find you still can't do what you want. Note that for sports there is no 'nearly good enough'. The dslr/lens that almost-but-can't-quite get a fast enough shutter speed for the shot is no better than the P&S that isn't even close but cost a thrid as much. Learn how to use the basic equipment and then see if you are prepared to pay for the gear you really want.
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Old Sep 15, 2006, 1:31 PM   #4
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futbol mom wrote:
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What are my limitations in using a lens with a lower f stop? Would I be able to use the same lens for a karate testing (closer, low light without flash) and a play on the far side of the soccerfield?Can I get away with using just one lens?Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
I shoot quite a bit of sports, and I'm going to give you some bad news here. It's the same bad news I give every sports parent - a DSLR is not a magic tool. You do, in fact, need very expensive lenses if you want to shoot sports. Sorry, it's a fact. And, there is no one-size-fits-all sports lens. Different sports require different lenses.

Indoor sports: Often a 2.8 lens just isn't fast enough. And, before the IS junkies jump in - image stabalization is pretty useful in this situation - IS doesn't stop a moving object. This means you need a prime lens (non zoom) capable of f2.0 or better. Now comes the problem - since you're talking prime lenses with fixed focal lengths you need a lens with the right focal length for the job. For basketball or volleyball from courtside an 85mm 1.8 lens is ideal. But, for dojo or dojang shots you're in some pretty cramped spaces. A 50mm 1.8 may be your best bet (they're cheap -usually less than $100) but often don't have the fastest focusing motors. The real focal length depends on the size of the room you're in - forsome dojos the action can get right on top of you. Still, as jacks indicated - a 50mm is probably your best bet.

But, I'm also afraid you'll have to get out of auto mode to shoot sports in low light. Don't be afraid. It's not that hard.You'll have to learn to shoot in aperture priority or manual mode (shutter priority typically yields worse action shots than the other two modes for several reasons). Many DSLRs have a sports mode, and speaking from a canon background I know their sports mode is insufficient to deal with low light situations (it uses an ISO of 400 which is not enough in low light).

Now, for soccer - even on most DSLRs with a 'crop factor' you typically want a 300mm lens at least. 300mm will allow you to get shots sideline to sideline. But from goal line to goal line you need 400mm or better.

In a perfect world, you want an aperture of 2.8 so you can blur the background. Most fields have terrible scenery behind them - cars, porta-potties, people, houses, etc. So, being able to blur the background really improves the shot.





Now, the faster apertures are also necessary for when the lighting gets bad. So, if your son/daughter is playing evening games now (7 pm) that means them. If you're wanting to shoot at fall soccer matches under the lights you need a 2.8 aperture lens. Here are my suggestions for lenses to cover soccer or football:

Canon/Nikon 400mm 2.8 - about $7000 so probably not in the picture

Canon/Nikon 300mm 2.8 - about $4000 so still out of the picture

Sigma 120-300 2.8 - about $2200 - fantastic lens - it's what I'm currently using

Canon / Nikon 70-200 2.8 plus 1.4x TC (for added reach but you can take it off when lighting gets bad) - about $1200 for lens plus $250 for TC

Sigma 70-200 2.8 plus 1.4x TC - about $900 for lens plus $160 for TC

Sigma 100-300 f4 - $1000 - fantastically sharp lens and fast to focus but at f4 it has very limited use for evening games.

Canon/Nikon 70-300 3.5-5.6 - about $400 I think - Gets you the reach but still a bad sporting lens because of the 5.6 aperture and you'll really start to see a drop off in picture quality from the above lenses and at 5.6 you'll start getting the really ugly backgrounds back in focus and of course useless at night games.

Sigma 70-300 - 3.5-5.6about $250- bargain basement. Not a bad lens - but doesn't have HSM (sigma's fast focusing motor) and it's 5.6 so useless for evening games.

I constantly see parents at evening/night football/soccer games with their brand new DSLRs and kit lenses or cheap zooms and although they just spent over $1000 on gear their pictures still look like crap because they were under the impression the DSLR was the magic tool.

Sports shooting REQUIRES the right camera body and the right lenses. Without these you will not be able to consistantly shoot sports - sorry. Now, as many people have found out - even with the right tools, sports shooting takes skill and work. You have to be on the sidelines. you have to be willing to move, kneel or sit down. You have to know the sport and anticipate the action. And, you have to be willing to put in the time post-processing your photos. The seasoned pros shooting for major publications have enough skill, knowledge and ability to get outstanding shots out-of-camera. Most still prefer to do editing if they can (and deadlines allow). For the rest of us, 99% of photos can be dramatically improved by post processing. Sports shooting is tremendous fun - but ask anyone who does it regularly and does it fairly well and they'll tell you the same things I have. I don't say this to discourage you - far from it. I just want you to know the whole story before you spend $1000 and still can't accomplish your goals (either because you don't have the right lens, don't have a knack for sports shooting or don't want to spend the time post processing). You're going to have to really work to understand the new camera, exposure, depth of field, and timing if you want to shoot sports. If you don't want to or can't invest in that learning curve I just want to warn you that you might be throwing money away. Sports shooting is not for the point-and-shoot mentality.

Best of luck!.
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Old Sep 15, 2006, 3:20 PM   #5
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JohnG wrote:
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I shoot quite a bit of sports, and I'm going to give you some bad news here. <snip>....
Quote:
...<snip>Sports shooting is not for the point-and-shoot mentality.

Best of luck!.


True dat! Excellent summary of sports shooting. However, if the conditions are right (you can get close, the game is outdoors during the day, etc), you can get some nice shots with more humble equipment. Just do a search on some of the fora for "sports photography" and you'll find plenty of examples.

JohnG's examples are top notch, and you'll need good equipment along with good technique and experience to get similar shots.

I don't know the used lens market for other brands, but Pentax has a good selection of used lenses, and some of them are fairly fast telephoto primes. They are usually manual focus, sometime fully manual, but can take great pictures in the right conditions. Pentax dSLRs can mount and use basically any Pentax lens made for the last 40 years, so there are some bargains out there. BTW, I looked at used Pentax 300mm f/2.8 lenses and they, too, are $3-4000, so they're out of my range. However, I bought a 70-210 f/4 zoom the other day that takes great shot given enough light. This lens is faster (meaning it has a lower minimum aperature value) than the current zooms that most people buy (usually stopping at f/5.6), and I only paid $60 for it. The current autofocus zooms that stop at f/5.6 cost $140-$200.

I also bought a Takumar (made by Pentax's parent company, Asahi) 135mm f/2.5 prime lens. This lens is plenty fast, but not that long. If you can get close to the field and the action takes place nearer to you than to the middle of the field, you should get some nice shots. I paid $40 for this lens.

The other thing sometimes needed for sports (and Pentax falls short here) is burst capacity. Sometimes you want to shoot several shots in a row to get that one good shot. This is controlled by burst speed (measured in frames per second) and buffer capacity (measured in number of shots). Canon and Nikon beat Pentax in this area, for sure.

I guess my advice on all this is to try it and see what you can get and what you're happy with. Also, just recognize your limitations. Just because you bought a dSLR doesn't mean Sports Illustrated will suddenly be buying all your shots. I know, cause I tried. :lol:

Best of luck, and post some of your efforts!

Russ

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Old Sep 15, 2006, 4:02 PM   #6
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Here's the link I was trying to find earlier. It's about shooting sports/action with a Pentax K100D.

http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...mp;forum_id=80



Russ
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Old Sep 15, 2006, 4:47 PM   #7
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rfortson wrote:
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True dat! Excellent summary of sports shooting. However, if the conditions are right (you can get close, the game is outdoors during the day, etc), you can get some nice shots with more humble equipment. Just do a search on some of the fora for "sports photography" and you'll find plenty of examples.
Russ - first, thanks for the compliments!

Second, i agree whole heartedly - you can absolutely get fabulous shots with less expensive equipment in the right conditions. Sorry if I gave the impression that you can't. I was kind of surprised to see most of the HS soccer teams around me play their games at 7 pm though under lights. Which, in mid september means poor lighting by the half.

I'm also going to agree with Russ that in general, Canon and Nikon have the best track record producing cameras with the features important to sports shooters. Nikon, unfortunately jumped on the high mp bandwagon earlier and the high ISO performance of their cameras suffered (their 6mp D50 has better high ISO performance than the D200 or D70s cameras). It will be very interesting to see how the new D80 and Canon 400D (where Canon has jumped on the 10mp bandwagon) performs at high ISO. IF (this is a big IF here) either camera can produce shots at ISO 1600 on par with the Canon 350D and Nikon D50 these will be very good entry level sports cameras. If you weren't going to shoot indoors this wouldn't be an issue. But indoors means ISO 1600 often.

The next tier is the Canon 30D because of the ISO 3200 availability and burst rate (5fps) while still having best-in-class noise performance.


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Old Sep 15, 2006, 6:36 PM   #8
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WOW! Talk about brain overload:?. I knew the lens issue was going to get me. Here I was hoping that the stock lens (for whatever brand) was going to be for my indoor shots, then all I would have to purchase would be a "nicer" lens for my outdoor sports... My kids are still young enough to where all of there AYSO games are on Saturdays mornings so evening light won't be an issue for a few years (I'll worry about that lens later). Could I use either of the sigmas that JohnG suggested with a flash...70-200 at 2.8 or 100-300 at f4 say for a basketball game??? Would the flash help at all?? By the way, what is a TC?? You are very patient people, thanks for your help with this "flash" newbie...

Actually another question...what would the 70-300 3.5-5.6 do for me? Could I get good outdoor soccer/baseball pictures? I see that the range would be there, but would it be quick enough??

Thanks again:?


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Old Sep 15, 2006, 6:44 PM   #9
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futbol mom wrote:
Quote:
Actually another question...what would the 70-300 3.5-5.6 do for me? Could I get good outdoor soccer/baseball pictures? I see that the range would be there, but would it be quick enough??

Thanks again:?

JohnG can probably answer more definitively, but I'm thinking your flash wouldn't be much use indoors at a game. Plus, it could distract the players. Better to just get a "faster" lens, if you can.

John's comment about high ISO performance is another thing that you should look at. The Nikon D50 and the Pentax K100D both use the 6 megapixel sensor and have good high ISO performance. That means you can shoot at ISO800 or ISO1600 (the Pentax goes to ISO3200, but it's somewhat noisy) and get some good shots in lower light. The higher megapixel cameras can struggle at the higher ISO settings since the sensor is the same physical size, it just has more (smaller) pixels on it and they don't accept as much light.

Oh, and I think by TC, he means teleconverter, a way to increase the focal length of a lens.

Good luck!

Russ
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Old Sep 16, 2006, 9:50 AM   #10
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futbol mom wrote:
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My kids are still young enough to where all of there AYSO games are on Saturdays mornings so evening light won't be an issue for a few years (I'll worry about that lens later).
Alright, this is a double edgzed sword. The good side is you don't have to worry about low light for a while. So you don't NEED a 2.8 field lens. The bad news is kids that small are, well, small :-)- which means they need to be closer for you to actually get a good shot. Think of it this way, let's say I take a HS player ( 5'3" talland stand him 30 yards away and a youth player (3'8" tall) next to him. Take a picture - the youth player fills up less of the frame. To get the youth player to fill up more of the picture frame I either need to be closer or use more zoom. What I'm saying is even with 300mm of lens and standing right by the field you'll run out of foot zoom and lens zoom, and have to wait a bit more for the action to come to you with smaller kids. Not a huge deal, just something to remember.
Quote:
Could I use either of the sigmas that JohnG suggested with a flash...70-200 at 2.8 or 100-300 at f4 say for a basketball game??? Would the flash help at all??
You can use flash for sports but you need a good, external flash. The built-in flash on any camera - even a DSLR is too pitifull to work in these conditions. Since a good external flash is going to be around $200 or more you might be better off buying an $80 50mm 1.8 lens and trying that (remember though you have to be shooting from the floor - not from the stands - this is part of the work you as a photographer need to put in). Believe me, flash sports photography is even tougher to do correctly.

Quote:
Actually another question...what would the 70-300 3.5-5.6 do for me? Could I get good outdoor soccer/baseball pictures?
Yes, you could in good lighting. Given you're always going to be shooting in daylight, you could use such a lens. The Canon 70-300 IS USM lens sells for around $580 and is a very good lens (has Canon's USM - ultrasonic motor focus system). It's much better than the various Canon 75-300 lenses. Nikon just released a new 70-300 VR lens for around the same price point. Sigma makes a nice inexpensive one for $200 that optically is very good. But it doesn't have HSM (sigma's fast focusing motor) so it will focus slower than the others.

I still say stick with Canon or Nikon for sports. They're more dedicated to sports shooters than any other brands - if you look at forums and sites like pbase - 90% of sports shooters are using one or the other brand.

For lenses: basketball get either a 50mm 1.8 ($80) or 85mm 1.8 ($400) - the 85mm is the right lens to get - you have to decide if you want to spend the money.

Soccer lens: Sigma 100-300 f4 ($1000) is the best lens but after that either the Canon or Nikon 70-300 lenses (about $600) will get decent results. And, again, this assumes you're shooting from the field - not from stands. Stands are too far away. Also, for kids this small it's even more imperitive that you kneel so you're at their head level. More work on your part

And, yes, by TC I did mean teleconverter. It's like another lens you attach to an existing lens that multiplies the focal length of the lens. In the Canon or Nikonsystems you can use either a 1.4x TC (which converts a 100mm lens to a 140mm lens) or a 2x TC (converts the 100mm lens to a 200mm lens). But, there are down sides. First, you lose a stop of aperture when using a 1.4x TC (so a lens capable of f4 is now only capable of f5.6) and 2 stops when using a 2x TC (so that f4 lens is now f8). Canon and Nikon non-pro systems require a lens to have f5.6 for autofocus to work. This means if you were using an f5.6 lens and a 1.4x tc (making it f8) you would lose autofocus - which means it's not a solution that's good for sports. There is also some degradation of image quality. Which means you only want to use a TC (for sports purposes) on a lens that is f4.0 or f2.8 AND has outstanding optical quality to begin with. So, of all the lenses discussed so far, the only lenses I would ever recommend you use a TC with are:

400mm 2.8, 300mm 2.8, Sigma 120-300 2.8, Sigma 100-300 f4, Canon/Nikon/Sigma 70-200 2.8

And, I would only recommend using a 1.4x TC.

Don't try to use a TC with the 70-300 lenses.

Hopefully this is helpful. I just hate the thought of anyone spending hard earned money on an expensive DSLR and still not being able to do what they want to do. I also recommend when researching ANY dslr or lens purchase you make sure you get advice from people who actually do what you want to do. For instance, I would be a bad source for macro type shooting - I don't do it. So, my advice might not only be bad it could be dangerous. So, take what I've given you and seek advice from other folks who actually shoot sports - I really do recommend getting advice from more than one source (i.e. don't trust just my word) - others may have a different take that works just as well or will have thought of something I didn't.

Once you've decided on a make/model of camera and lenses come back and ask about techniques and we can help you with 'how' to use the new camera to shoot a specific sport. But that's a question for later (the 'how' is really the same regardless of which camera system).




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