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Old Sep 22, 2009, 10:38 PM   #1
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Default 200mm for High School football games?

I currently own a Nikon P90 P&S (the 24x zoom one), but I'm thinking about taking it back and buying up to a Nikon D3000 with an 18-55mm VR and 55-200mm VR lens.

Mostly I bought my camera because I wanted to be able to get a good zoom distance while taking pictures of my kids at Tae Kwon Do...usually they're on the other side of a long room and I never get good close shots. Of course, 24x is a little bit overkill for that.

That being said, my little brother plays football on the high school team. I know the zoom on my P90 could get great close up shots, but would probably fail at night games because high school lighting isn't very good. However, I'm concerned about the 55-200mm lens having a good enough zoom to really get me close shots and I can't afford anything more (unless I get a Tamron 300mm without autofocus).

Does anyone have any experience using a 200mm zoom from the stands? Any idea what kind of distances I can expect? I know it's a vague question, but I'm hoping some of the experts here can give me a little perspective!

EDIT: I guess I should have put this in the Nikon Lens forum...sorry, I'm new here!

Last edited by stevek42; Sep 22, 2009 at 10:56 PM.
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Old Sep 23, 2009, 4:51 AM   #2
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For shooting football from the sidelines, you really need something that goes to 300mm (and the Tamron 70-300 Di LD will AF on a D3000), and from the stands, you need something even longer.

Take a look at the football photos in the Sports & Action Photos forums to see what others are using.
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Old Sep 23, 2009, 5:19 AM   #3
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Steve,

Unfortunately you're out of luck. First, you're not going to get good shots from the stands - period. You're shooting down on your subject and especially with a helmet that's going to yield very poor photos even if you have enough reach.

A 200mm lens is good for about 25 yards of reach. Which means you're no where near close enough to get good shots from the stands. Also, at f5.6 there's no way that lens will get any kind of action shots. Typically for decently lit HS stadiums, you'll find F2.8, 1/400 ISO 3200-6400 to be common settings.

So, if you want to shoot football shots you need to be on the sideline with a 200mm f2.8 lens to get any decent results. But that's for decent shots. The concept of buying a D300 to try to take snapshots with doesn't make any sense to me at all. So I can't comment on what type of snapshots you could get from stands with any lens on that camera. I realize this isn't exactly what you wanted to hear, but it is reality from someone who photographs HS football. And while I appreciate wanting snapshots (if indeed all you want is snapshots and not quality photos) buying a semi-pro camera body seems like a bit of overkill. But unfortunately the body is only part of the equation. For this type of work you also need a quality lens AND right positioning to get quality shots.
To give you an idea - most pro shooters, even at a HS game, will be shooting with 400mm 2.8 or 300mm 2.8 lenses from the field. Most hobbyists only have the coin for a 200mm 2.8 lens so they have to make due with the distance limitations of that lens - but they still need to be on the sidelines to get many decent shots.
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Old Sep 23, 2009, 7:49 AM   #4
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I figured with f5.6 I wouldn't get any good action shots and would mostly be taking lineup shots.

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The concept of buying a D300 to try to take snapshots with doesn't make any sense to me at all.
I'm looking at a D3000, not a D300. Entry level dSLR. For the most part I want it to learn how to use dSLR and get a little more advanced with photography (and the kit lenses, while cheap, are fine for that and still worlds better than my P&S), but being able to provide my family with at least one decent pic from my brother's football game would be a side-benefit.
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Old Sep 23, 2009, 12:02 PM   #5
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Personally, I think your question is a difficult one to answer. At least to your satisfaction. Some of the answers you have been given are apparently coming from people who photograph football games for more than just hobby reasons. Some of them possibly could be earning money from these photos. Obviously, they are going to have very high demands on their images. Probably much higher than what you would be expecting.

The combination you are considering will probably give you some acceptable photos. Especially if you are more interested in what you call lineup shots. If these are night football games then you will probably want to consider an external flash. And even for lineup shots, you will have to get out of the stands and get closer to your subjects. A 200 mm lens sounds like it's quite powerful, but it isn't really, and unless you are going to be spending money for quality glass the type of lens you are considering is typically a bit soft at the longer focal lengths. A better choice might be the 70-300 mm, in my opinion.

As far as action shots are concerned, you probably are not going to be able to get a lot of good ones. If you can get down to the sidelines, shoot at high ISO, and take as many photos as you possibly can (hundreds per football game) you might get a handful of keepers. Keep the good ones, and don't be afraid to simply delete the other ones.

If I were you, I would purchase the camera system you are considering and give it a try. Try a lot of different exposure combinations, expecting a lot of unacceptable photos. When you get a few that are reasonably acceptable, take a look at the metadata to see what settings were used and then try again. Within a very short time you should be able to get a feel for what additional equipment you need to get the results you are expecting.

I don't think your football shooting attempts would be a complete failure, but you can be certain that your early attempts are not going to yield a lot of good photos. Like every other type of photo opportunity, you just have to keep trying until you get what you want.
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Old Sep 23, 2009, 12:28 PM   #6
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Sorry about the confusion. on 3000 vs. 300. That makes more sense. Here's an idea of the types of photos you could expect from DSLR and f5.6 lens in the stands:
http://photos.cleveland.com/photogal...atholic_2.html

If you want something a little closer and are only looking for lineup shots, then I think the flash option is great. The problem with that is though you'll need to get down to field level. And then the problem becomes the teams on the sidelines being in the way. So you'll likely be getting shots only when the team is near the 20-25 yard line. Antything in the midle 2/3 of the field you'll have players/coaches blocking your view.

Even then, it will be tricky depending on what hash mark the team is on and what player or players you want shots of. With flash you'll even be able to get action shots. Your enemy for static shots is lack of reach -for lens and flash. A 300mm and SB800 flash would get you shots but those flashes aren't cheap. Of course if the player is close or they're at the goal line then suddenly you can get some shots with 200mm and lesser flash. The troubling part there is having defensive players (or offensive players) from the other team between you and your subject. As you slide toward the sideline to get an angle where the other team isn't in the way you increase your distance and 200mm starts becoming short.

But all of this can be mitigated if you simply talk to the school and see if they'll let you down on the sidelines for a limited time (a quarter say). They may or may not. But it doesn't hurt to ask. Football seems to be the sport with the most leniency on this - because there is so much sideline space. Baseball, softball, soccer, lax are all far more restrictive about who gets inside the fences. And indoor sports can be pretty restrictive too.

Here's an example of what you could expect using a 200mm lens and flash from outside the fence at the goal line:
http://photos.cleveland.com/photogal...ield_goal.html

Note - none of these are my images. They're just shared with the website of my local paper. But they should give you an idea of the quality you could get.
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Old Sep 24, 2009, 10:07 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johng View Post
steve,

unfortunately you're out of luck. First, you're not going to get good shots from the stands - period. You're shooting down on your subject and especially with a helmet that's going to yield very poor photos even if you have enough reach.

A 200mm lens is good for about 25 yards of reach. Which means you're no where near close enough to get good shots from the stands. Also, at f5.6 there's no way that lens will get any kind of action shots. Typically for decently lit hs stadiums, you'll find f2.8, 1/400 iso 3200-6400 to be common settings.

So, if you want to shoot football shots you need to be on the sideline with a 200mm f2.8 lens to get any decent results. But that's for decent shots. The concept of buying a d300 to try to take snapshots with doesn't make any sense to me at all. So i can't comment on what type of snapshots you could get from stands with any lens on that camera. I realize this isn't exactly what you wanted to hear, but it is reality from someone who photographs hs football. And while i appreciate wanting snapshots (if indeed all you want is snapshots and not quality photos) buying a semi-pro camera body seems like a bit of overkill. But unfortunately the body is only part of the equation. For this type of work you also need a quality lens and right positioning to get quality shots.
To give you an idea - most pro shooters, even at a hs game, will be shooting with 400mm 2.8 or 300mm 2.8 lenses from the field. Most hobbyists only have the coin for a 200mm 2.8 lens so they have to make due with the distance limitations of that lens - but they still need to be on the sidelines to get many decent shots.
amen!
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Old Sep 15, 2010, 4:12 AM   #8
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John hit it right on the money. There is really no cheap way to get good sports photos. Actually let me retract that. The cheapest way to get a sport photo is one of those disposable cameras. All joking aside, those seem to fire pretty good. Past that you are looking at dumping money into a system. It will not be cheap, but you will be super happy when you see good results. Start off small and work your way up. A decent body and a good piece of glass can take you a long ways in this hobby.
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