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Old Dec 22, 2008, 1:53 PM   #1
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I need a lens for shooting gymnastics meets. The lighting is generally poor, and too far away for a flash. Also it's nearly constant movement. Any great ideas? We have a Nikon D60.
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Old Dec 22, 2008, 3:20 PM   #2
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I will, of course, defer to JohnG when he comments here, but you'll need long, fast lenses. That is, lenses with a maximum aperture of at least f/2.0, which means a fixed focal length lens instead of a zoom lens.

The problem you'll have is that the lenses to do that kind of thing won't autofocus on the Nikon D60. You'll need the fastest shutter speed you can get, to limit motion blur due to subject movement,with the highest acceptable ISO setting that will give a low level of image noise. That means usinga large aperture in order to get a proper exposure, and that means a shallow depth of field, which will make manual focusing difficult.
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Old Dec 22, 2008, 4:00 PM   #3
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My hubby has a lens that came with the Costco camera set (It also came with a shorter lens). It says "AF-S NIKKOR 55-200mm1;4-5.6G ED". I don't see any f/ listed on it. I don't know how to tell if it's fixed or zoom. Sorry, I'm pretty much a novice when it comes to real cameras. He has had trouble getting good shots with this lens. I would want the mm to be larger, right?
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Old Dec 22, 2008, 5:34 PM   #4
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The 55 - 200mm refers to the focal length. Fixed lenses have only one focal length, like 50mm. A zoom lens has a range - your 55-200mm lens is a zoom lens.

The speed of the lens is identified by the second set of numbers, the 1:4-5.6.Those numbers indicate the size of the opening of the lens, how much light it lets in (put an "f" instead of the "1:"). A smaller number means a larger opening and therefore, more light can get through. A "fast" lens is usually considered1.2 to 2.8. Your lens isn't very fast - at 50mm it is f4 at its widest, and at 200mm it's widest is f5.6 (you put an "f" before the aperture number).

That means that you have to use a longer shutter speed to get the proper exposure, while a camera with a larger aperture (say 2.8 )would be able to use a faster shutter speed. That's probably why you are getting poor pictures - the shutter speed is too slow to stop the action, and you might also be getting some camera shake.

I'll defer to JohnG for what you really need for focal length, but indoor sports require a much faster lens than you have. Your problem with the D60 is that not many of Nikon's current lens line-up includes fast lenses that will AF with the D60. I am not sure which Nikon lenses are now out that will work, other than a fast50mm.
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Old Dec 22, 2008, 5:37 PM   #5
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neverbug wrote:
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My hubby has a lens that came with the Costco camera set (It also came with a shorter lens). It says "AF-S NIKKOR 55-200mm1;4-5.6G ED". I don't see any f/ listed on it. I don't know how to tell if it's fixed or zoom. Sorry, I'm pretty much a novice when it comes to real cameras. He has had trouble getting good shots with this lens. I would want the mm to be larger, right?
The "55-200" tells you it's a zoom lens. It zooms from 55mm to 200mm. The 4-5.6 is the aperture or f-number. It tells you that at 55mm the lens has a maximum f-stop of f4 at 200mm the best f-stop value is 5.6.

The lens will be useless for most of your work. Gymnastics is one of the more difficult sports to shoot. You have usually very poor lighting and unless you have special permission you can't get close. This makes it difficult to succeed. You're probably being hit by both issues - the poor aperture value (5.6) means you can't get fast enough shutter speeds and depending on where the gallery is located, 200mm isn't long enough.

Ideally you would need a lens capable of f2.0. The problem is those lenses tend to be very short focal lengths. For instance an 85mm 1.8 is a good choice in Nikon. But you have to be within 25 feet of the aparatus for an 85mm lens to work well.

You could get by with a 2.8 lens if you put the camera at ISO 3200. Even then you'll probably get shutter speeds around 1/250. 1/250 won't freeze a lot of motion. You won't be able to get any tumbling passes that's for sure. BUT, it will allow you to get some shots. The cheapest lens out there is the Tamron - sells for about $700. The $800 Sigma is better and the Nikon 70-200 2.8 AF-s at $1700 is better still. But if you're too far away you'll still get poor results. How do you know if you're too far away? Your current lens is 200mm. If you hold the camera in portrait orientation and your daughter filles 3/4 of the vertical frame then you're close enough. Below that your results will really suffer.

If you are close enough - the easiest shots are on the beam. The movement there is very slow. Bars are 'hit or miss' - depending on which way the kids are facing. And at young levels the routines are very simple - so you can get some shots at 1/250. For floor - forget about capturing tumbles you won't have fast enough shutter speeds and even when you do it's very difficult to capture a good image - kids just look akward during the tumble.

There are a lot more techniques involved, but the question is whether $700 is in your budget and whether you're close enough to use it effectively.
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Old Dec 23, 2008, 8:11 AM   #6
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Although not as bright a prime, if you're close enough to use it, the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM would be another option in an f/2.8 zoom.

This lens was designed for camera models with an APS-C size sensor, so it would not work on a dSLR model with a 35mm size sensor (at least not without vignetting). It would work on your D60 (which has a Sony APS-C size sensor), and you'd have Autofocus since this lens has Sigma's HSM (Hypersonic Motor) focusing built into the lens.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...2_8_II_EX.html

Do you know what focal length you were using most often for the photos you took? That would give you a better idea of what lens would be optimum (which will depend on your distance to the subject). If you're not filling the frame enough with your subject, you'll want longer versus shorter (or shoot from a closer distance).

You can tell the focal length used for your images by using an EXIF viewer like Opanda's IExif:

http://www.opanda.com/en/iexif/index.html

Many image editors can see the EXIF data in an image, too (which tells you things like shutter speed, aperture, focal length and much more). For example, the free Irfanview can see it (under Image, Information EXIF).

http://www.irfanview.com

If you can shoot from real close, Nikon just announced a 50mm f/1.4 lens with AF-S that should be hitting dealer shelves now. It doesn't like like B&H has any yet (but, they're accepting orders now):

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...KKOR_AF_S.html

Unfortunately, Nikon doesn't offer many brighter primes with AF-S yet, and your D60 requires a lens with a built in focus motor if you want Autofocus.

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Old Dec 23, 2008, 1:15 PM   #7
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Thanks, everyone. That gives me a great idea of what I will need ($) to get him a lens. I am so clueless about this stuff. ;-)
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