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Igiveup Jul 1, 2011 7:47 PM

Selecting a zoom lense for Nikon D5100

I have recently purchased the Nikon D5100. This is my 1st DSLR and I purchased this camera hoping to be able to photographn my children playing hockey and performing gymnastics.

I'm very much a beginner in photography but am hoping to invest some time (& money) to be able to get some good shots. My obvious difficulty will be the fact that for gymnastics, flash is not allowed and I can not necessarily be all that close to each aperatus.

For hockey shots, again the lighting is not always ideal and the action is fast.

I rented the Sigma lense 70-200mm, f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM for a hockey tournament. Took a lot of pictures and played around with some settings...but am still new to the camera and I didn't find I got the results I had expected...I used the "sports" setting most of the time and played around with the ISO (1600) and with the 3D tracking. Oh & I used a mono-pod...

Would like some suggestions on what lense would be best for my purposes. Obviously, the Sigman lense mentioned above is very pricey and I don't want to invest that kind of money if I'm not going to get the results I'm looking for...I realize the camera "operator" (me) has to learn more about what settings to change to get the desired results would also like to have some suggestions on what settings I should have used...


nitti48 Aug 13, 2011 6:49 PM

Hi...I too have acquired a D5100..Have had it about 2 weeks..I tried atleast 3 diff lens which I bought on Amazon..tried them out and sent back for refund..I am an Amateur and went with the Tamron 18-270mm with AF..VR..and PZD motor driven focusing..This is a real good all around lens and I am even contemplating selling the 18-55mm that came with the camera body..I am still learning the camera and not being a professional i am very satisfied with the Tamron lens..

TCav Aug 13, 2011 8:21 PM

What you want to do is the toughest thing you can do in photography, and you want to do it in the worst possible conditions.

The Sigma 70-200 is an HSM lens, so it focuses quickly, but the D5100 doesn't have the greatest AF system. That might be part of your problem, but I think the biggest is inexperience.

I suggest you use A (Aperture Priority) Mode (keeping the aperture wide open), use AF-C (Continuous Servo AF) with Single Point AF, and select the center focus point. (You can experiment with Dynamic-area and 3D-tracking later. 3D-tracking may not work well with uniforms and sportswear, so try it last.)

As for shutter speed and ISO, I'd use Auto ISO Sensitivity, set the Maximum sensitivity to 1600, and the Minimum shutter speed to 1/300. I'd also leave the High ISO NR off until you see how it goes. Depending on your venues, you may need to set the Maximum sensitivity to 3200, at which point you may need the NR, but for the time being, leave it off until you find out what you can get away with.

BTW, since you'll be using fast shutter speeds, the OS version of the Sigma is an unnecessary expense. You will probably do as well with the less expensive unstabilized version.

tacticdesigns Aug 14, 2011 6:31 AM

I just got a Nikon D5100 myself, and planning to use it to try to take pictures of my daughter at her gymnastics next season.

As for equipment and strategies, here's a link to when I asked for help / strategies on how to take gymnastics pictures. A lot of great help and info in there.

I think getting the faster lenses is a step in the right direction. I'm planning to get a Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 and a Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 this season. They are more in my budget than the Sigmas or Nikons.

Here are some of my settings and strategies for this season . . . I'm not planning to use the sports mode.

1) Manually set ISO to ISO6400 and turn auto ISO off, so that I have control over the ISO. (If things are bright, I might try ISO3200, but out of the 8 gyms I shot in the past 2 seasons, only one of them was bright.) Hopefully this will get my shutter speed up to about 1/500th of a second, which is where I think I'm going to max out at on ISO6400 and f2.8.

2) Set my camera on Aperture priority and set the aperture to f2.8. (If things are bright, I might try to keep the ISO at 6400 and play with the aperture and try f4 to help the camera capture stuff in focus, but probably not. We'll see.) [If aperture priority mode is having trouble with a difficult lighting condition like extreme back light, I might switch to manual mode. I did that a couple of times.]

3) Set up my D5100 to show shutter speed on the quick preview, so I can check what shutter speed the camera is capturing the shots at to check to see if I'm at about 1/500th second. If not, then its a warning that I might want to try something different.

4) Set the focus mode to "C"ontinuous mode (AF-C) rather than "S"ingle mode or "A"uto mode.

5) Set the AF-area mode to single point and select the center point. And when I shoot, pan with my daughter and keep her in the middle of the frame. (And crop / compose later.)

6) Set the release mode to continuous.

7) As mentioned above, when shooting, pan with my daughter and keep her in the middle of the frame. Keep my finger pressing the shutter half way so the camera is constantly focusing, and try to catch her in her poses, when her motion slows down a bit.

8) I'm going to have to see how matrix metering mode performs before I decide what I'm doing metering-wise. And I guess it has to do with the lighting at the gym. Is there severe backlighting that might make it difficult for the camera to expose for my daughter's face? I might bounce between matrix, spot or manual depending on what works in a particular gym for a particular event.

9) I might try shooting RAW to deal with White Balance. I'll have to see if the camera keeps up or if I might have to switch to JPG for the camera to keep up. If so, I'll have to come up with a different strategy for White Balance.

Hope this helps!

Take care, Glen :)

TCav Aug 14, 2011 8:49 AM

Shooting in A Mode and using Auto ISO Sensitivity lets you keep the shutter speed a fast as possible while keeping the ISO as low as possible, as long as lighting is good. As the lighting gets worse, the shutter speed drops until it reaches the Minimum shutter speed, at which point the ISO starts increasing. A shutter speed of 1/300 is in keeping with the rule-of-thumb to prevent motion blur due to camera shake (shutter speed = 1 / (Focal Length X Crop Factor) ), plus you've got the monopod which makes image stabilization unnecessarily.

Metering will be tough since the camera will use uniforms and sportswear to determine exposure, when what you want is to properly expose the faces. If the hockey jerseys are light, then the faces will be underexposed, and if they're dark, the faces will be overexposed. Spot metering is definately out, and Matrix metering might choose exposure settings which are appropriate for the ice. That will cause everything else to be underexposed. I'd stick with Center-weighted, and use exposure compensation to get the faces right, or, better yet, wait and fix the faces in post-processing.

RAW slows down continuous shooting a lot. For any kind of sports/action photography, I suggest you stick with Large Fine JPEG.

EDIT: ... and use some large, fast SDHC Cards.

TCav Aug 14, 2011 8:54 AM

The downside of using A Mode is that the aperture is wide open and so the Depth of Field is minimal. Any focus inaccuracies will mean a wasted shot. Shooting continuous in bursts of at least 5 or so, will mean that, even if the first one or two are out-of-focus, the next few will be ok. Also, try to get as unobstructed a view as possible. If you have to pan past a pillar or some other obstruction, then when you're back to the action, the camera has to focus all over again.

TCav Aug 15, 2011 5:56 AM

You might keep the faces properly exposed by using Active D-Lighting.

tacticdesigns Aug 16, 2011 5:56 AM


Originally Posted by TCav (Post 1248690)
You might keep the faces properly exposed by using Active D-Lighting.

I hadn't thought of that. I'm going to have to try that out!

Thanks TCav!

Take care, Glen :)

JohnG Aug 16, 2011 8:29 AM

The easy answer to the issues caused by aperture priority is to use manual exposures. Let's take gymnastics. Each apparatus may have a slightly different exposure but it will be constant. So you can get it dialed in pretty easy with the first gymnast - or last gymnast of preceding group. No need to play with active d lighting or with different exposure methods. The lighting is poor but constant. Shooting gymnastics is tough enough - don't make it tougher by introducing more points of failure.

In hockey there will be slight variations in light levels but again you're better off with manual exposure and dealing with the occasional shot that's under exposed vs. a wide variety of under/over exposures introduced by the camera having different colors to meter off of.

tacticdesigns Aug 16, 2011 9:03 AM


Originally Posted by JohnG (Post 1248928)
The easy answer to the issues caused by aperture priority is to use manual exposures.

Yeah. Last couple of times I went out, I thought I'd try out setting manually a bit and found it more consistent.

I was planning to play around with that a bit more next season.

Thanks for the pointer JohnG!

Take care, Glen :)

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