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Old May 8, 2009, 2:42 AM   #1
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Default D40 Outdoor Athletics Best Lens ?

Hi All, Hope someone can help, Have just bought a D40 with the standard lens that came with it i.e. 18-55mm af-s 1:3.5-5.6G11ED Nikkor. Very pleased, this is my first DSLR. What I want to know is what lens would be best suited for photos at outdoor athletics events. i.e some moving shots, some up close and some as far as 100 metres away of athletes competing. I have taken some good photos with my existing lens but anything, say , 20meters away is fine but over that and I need to crop it and the photos lack definition and start pixelating. I am only amateur and dont want to carry a bag full of lenses and dont want to spend fortunes on lenses. What is my best option please.

Many thanks
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Old May 8, 2009, 5:25 AM   #2
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There is no lens that will enable you to take good photos of a human competitor 100 metes away. Something like the Sigma 50-500 would let you get to 60-70 meters but that's about it.
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Old May 8, 2009, 2:11 PM   #3
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Thanks JohnG, bit pricey for me though. I have been to PC world today for something else, and I was looking at the lenses there. A really helpful member of staff came to help me who was a keen photographer and belonged to a local club that he has given me details of. I had a look at his lenses and he recomended a Tamron 70-300 for about 176, or a Nikon 55-200mm for 195. He said Tamron or sigma would be a similar price to each other and cheaper than the nikon lenses and we probably wouldn't notice the difference. Any guidance from anyone would be helpful.
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Old May 8, 2009, 2:27 PM   #4
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well,
for human sports 200mm lens is good for about 25 meters
300mm lens is good for about 40 meters. As long as you understand that going in.

The Tamron is also slow to focus so not ideal for sports work. It is sharp though -sharper than the sigma 70-300 which is also slow to focus since it does not have Sigma's HSM motor.

Neither is very sharp from 200-300mm though.

These are budget lenses so you have to understand their limitations. As long as you're looking for a budget lens these are good options but you're not going to shoot action 100 meters away and focus speed will not be ideal but to get better performance you need to spend more $$$.

These may be the only options you can afford and that's OK you just should understand the limitations BEFORE you spend the money.
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Old May 8, 2009, 2:49 PM   #5
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Thanks again John,.
I really need the focus to be quick as I want to take continuos shots of athletes. So what make is better ? Would I be better off with Nikon. I think I would rather suffer on the zoom than lack focus. As for the 100M range I will have to live with 40 meters. As I said I am new to dslr's but If i get hooked and want a better body, say a D300, will these lenses fit that model as well as my D40.
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Old May 8, 2009, 3:39 PM   #6
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There are three parts to the focus equation.
Focus points in the camera - how precise they are. Not all points are created equal. It is unknown to me whether the points in the d40 are as accurate as the points in the higher end nikons.

Focus algorithms of the camera - this is the brains behind focusing - especially important for tracking moving subjects. There are calculations involved. There is definitely a difference between the d40 and d300/700 and then d3 here. The D300 has a better focus processing than the d40 for sure and the d3 has a better processor than d300. So with the same lens, that's why the d300 performs better than d40 and d3 performs better than d300. A side note: Nikon moved the focus point array of the pro body down to the d300 - so it has 51 points. BUt if you talk to people who have used both bodies the d3 is still noticably faster / more accurate so obviously nikon did not pull all the 'brains' down to the d300.

Thid part is the focus motor in the lens. Tamron doesn't make very good lens motors -they're not fast. The only third party that has good performing lenses for sports is Sigma - but only in lenses with their HSM drive (the sigma 70-300 does NOT have an HSM motor). For what it's worth, the nikon 70-300 isn't a stellar performer either. It's unfortunate they don't have a decent performing zoom lens under $1000. You have to step up to the 80-200 2.8 which by all accounts is pretty good or the 70-200 2.8 VR - but that's expensive. That's where the Sigma 50-500 and 100-300 come in. They're both $1000 USD or thereabouts. But they have reach and they have HSM. The least expensive sports-minded zoom is the Sigma 70-200 2.8 but you're looking at only 25 meters of coverage. Sadly, that's just the way it is. It's not to say you CANT get shots with the 70-300s it's just they're slower compared to the fast-focusing lenses.
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