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jSQL Jun 21, 2008 9:32 AM

I'm brand new to the digital SLR world so please excuse me if this seems like a silly question. I'm in the process of researching a new digital camerea and I believe I'm going to go with the D80. I don't know what len(s) to purchase with this camera. The primary usage will be for taking family pictures and taking picture so of my daughter's ice skating competitions/performances. The reaon I'm upgrading cameras is that my current Olympus (8080) doesn't do a very good job when you zoom in and try to capture action shots - tons of blurring - which may have to do with my shakey hand. So for the pictures of ice skating I ssupect I will need something that is pretty fast, has image stabiliation, and can work in lower light siuations. For the family every day pictures a more general purpose lens may be appropriate.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


JimC Jun 21, 2008 12:54 PM

If you want to take shots of rapidly moving subjects in very low light indoors, you're going to need a very bright lens (with wider available apertures, represented by smaller f/stop numbers). You'll also need higher ISO speeds (which is how sensitive the sensor is to light). Otherwise, your shutter speeds are not going to be fast enough to reduce motion blur from subject movement to a reasonable tolerance level so you can get a higher percentage of keepers.

If budget permits, I'd probably lean towards the D300 instead in a Nikon solution, since it's going to be a bit more usable at ISO 3200 if you need it (with even higher ISO speeds available). I'd also go with a fast prime (fixed focal length versus zoom lens) like an 85mm f/1.8 AF lens if you can get close enough to use it for most shots. It's much brighter than a zoom.

If you must have a zoom, I'd probably lean towards a Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VR (but, it may not be bright enough for a higher percentage of keepers, depending on the lighting). If you could find a Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 AF at a good price, it would make a lower cost alternative (but, I'd go with a faster focusing AF-S lens like a newer 70-200mm f/2.8 VR for sports if budget permits). Another alternative would be a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro HSM lens. It's around $800 now at online vendors. But, I'd probably lean towards a prime instead of a zoom for faster shutter speeds.

That kind of shooting is going to be very demanding. Even with the best camera and lens choice for the job you can find, you may still find yourself needing an external flash for a higher percentage of keepers without blur, depending on the lighting. So, I'd keep that option in mind, too.

What's your total budget for camera and lenses, and what focal length do you find yourself using more often for the skating shots (and I realize they're blurry with your existing camera)?

jSQL Jun 21, 2008 1:45 PM

Budget .... apparently more than I'd like. If I go with the D300 ca nI still get a good general purpose lens (most pictures are in teh8 - 15 foot range) as well as a len for the skating shots. The skating can be anywaher from 40 to 130 foot away I suspect. I'm thinking $3,000. I can get the D300 for about $1700 (which is more than my original budget for everything). Would I be abel to get two good lens (need not be great this is a hobby (and not a serious serious one) for 1300 if not less?

JimC Jun 21, 2008 1:59 PM

In a zoom lens on a tighter budget, I'd probably try the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM Macro II (the II version is the newest one). This version of the lens isn't in stock at most dealers here yet. But, it will probably start hitting dealer shelves within the next few weeks. is taking preorders for it now in Nikon mount for $799:

You can get one of the older versions of this Sigma now. But, I'd probably get the latest II version instead (one more optical element is using higher quality ELD glass now, and I suspect it's going to be a better lens for the same price).

But, depending on the lighting and your need for higher quality images, you may end up needing a brighter prime instead for best results. So, you may want to think about getting something like this lens and shooting from closer when possible:

A prime like this one is more than twice as bright as any zoom you can buy (allowing shutter speeds more than twice as fast for the same lighting and ISO speed). You may also want to consider an external flash as an alternative (for example, a Nikon SB-800, or a more powerful Handle Mount Metz MZ series flash).

JimC Jun 21, 2008 2:23 PM

Another option you may want to consider is the Sony A700 with that same Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro II HSM lens ( is also taking preorders for it in Sony mount now at the same $799 price that they list the Nikon mount lens for). This lens would also be stabilized on a Sony dSLR body (thanks to a body based stabilization system).

Both the Nikon D300 and Sony A700 use a Sony 12MP CMOS sensor. The Nikon has a faster frame rate, a few more features, different A/D converter, with a bit different approach to image processing. But, the A700 would make a pretty good choice for low light use, too (at a lower price point compared to the D300). Note that I currently shoot with a Sony A700, so I'm probably a bit biased in that direction. ;-)

The Nikon solution has some lower cost primes though. For example, Sony's least expensive 85mm is a Carl Zeiss® Planar® T* 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens, selling for around $1299, and a used Minolta 85mm f/1.4 Autofocus lens (Sony dSLR models can use any Minolta Autofocus lens ever made) will run you in the $700s and up. Note that these Sony and Minolta 85mm f/1.4 AF lenses are brighter lenses compared to the lower priced Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 lens.


Sony also offers a very bright Carl Zeiss® Sonnar® T* 135mm f/1.8 Autofocus Lens (the brightest AF lens you can buy in that focal length) for $1,399.99 if budget permits, and you need something longer and brighter to get more keepers from your vantage point).

There is no one perfect choice. as low light photos of moving subjects is going to be very demanding on the equipment and photographer's skill level.

jSQL Jun 21, 2008 9:10 PM

OK, I'm looking at hte D300 and the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR. which shoudl take care of my sports needs assuming light isn't a big factor. Will this also work for the closer pictures or would that require a different lnes, and if so what woudl you recommend?

I've seen D300 packatges with

18-55mm AF-S DX Zoom Nikkor™ VR Lens

18-135mm ED IF A-S DX Zoom-Nikkor™ Lens

Is either of these a good general purpose lens or am I better buying camera body and lens all seperate.

and once I have all this stuff there is a good tutorizl DVD with the camera ... I hope.

And thanks for all your insights and assistance.

JimC Jun 22, 2008 8:50 AM

The 70-200mm is not going to make a very good "walk around" lens. For one thing, it's going to be a bit on the heavy side. Also, it's not going to start out very wide (and you can only back up so far).

The lenses you mentioned in the kits are popular choices. It depends on the quality you're looking for.

As for a DVD, perhaps some of our members can steer you in the right direction... But, again, the type of photography you're looking at is going to be *very* demanding on your skill as a photographer, as well as the equipment. It's not going to be easy getting keepers of moving subjects in low light, and you'll need to practice to hone your skills for a higher percentage of usable photos. You may want to consider a short course in Basic Photography (and it doesn't have to be specific to digital, as the concepts for aperture, shutter speed, ISO speed, etc., apply to both film and digital).

FrankD Jun 22, 2008 9:28 PM

JimC wrote:

As for a DVD, perhaps some of our members can steer you in the right direction...
I haven't read it myself but it seems to get favorable comments in various Nikon forums:

jSQL Jul 13, 2008 4:12 PM

Good day all. So I purchased the D300 and the 70mm - 200 mm F2.8 lens as recommended and the combination works great. I've had no problem capturing very fast action. So my next question is will a teleconverter help improve the zoom capabilties of this setup while still allowing me to maintain image stability, auto focus capabilities etc? What are the benefits and problems with a teleconverter such as the TC-20E II 2x TeleConverter.

NHL Jul 14, 2008 9:52 AM

jSQL wrote:

What are the benefits and problems with a teleconverter such as the TC-20E II 2x TeleConverter.
While the 2x TC double your focal lenght, It'll also slow the lens back down to f/5.6 (i.e 2-stop: f/2.8 > f/4 > f5.6) and the autofocus will also slow as a result because the lens is less bright now with a TC than without
-> A 1.4xTC may be better compromise as it doesn't affect as much while providing less of a magnification :idea:

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