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Old Dec 8, 2009, 9:27 AM   #1
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Default sports lens for indoor shots with no flash

I have and Nikon D40x.. I would like to buy a lens compatable with the d40x that would allow me to take pictures of indoor basketball games. Flashes are not allowed. There are many lens out there and I have no clue as to what some of the descriptions mean after the f/stop such as this : Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S vr zoom. What lens should I buy and should I upgrade to the d90.
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Old Dec 8, 2009, 9:54 AM   #2
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You're kind of in a bind here. I'll assume you're talking about HS or lower level basketball. Typical exposure settings are ISO 1600 f1.8-2.0 1/400. The problem is, no lens of appropriate focal length will autofocus on the D40 because it lacks a focus motor.

A zoom lens like the 70-200 2.8 can work BUT you're then requiring ISO 3200-6400 to get fast enough focus speeds. AND, there's the matter of how well the D40x focus will perform under those conditions. We know the focus array is stripped down from prior nikon models in the D40x. It's less clear whether the tracking algorithms/ processing components were also stripped down as Nikon doesn't publish that information.

The D90 would absolutely be a better sports camera than the d40x but the question would be - can you afford to upgrade both body AND lens. And, you would still have to determine whether you were happy with the ISO 3200/6400 performance of the D90 in order to determing whether to get a zoom like the 70-200 or a prime, like the Nikon 85mm 1.8. Note: The d90 DOES have a focus motor built in, so it can use the 85mm 1.8 whereas the D40x cannot.
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Old Dec 8, 2009, 10:02 AM   #3
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The D90 would be a much better choice compared to your D40x, as you'd have higher usable ISO speeds with lower noise levels, and a better Autofocus system for tracking action. It can also Autofocus with AF lenses that don't have built in motors (like some of the brighter primes offered by Nikon). The D300s would be an even better choice (more advanced AF system, faster frame rate).

In a prime (fixed focal length versus zoom) on a D90, I'd probably look at the Nikkor AF 85mm f/1.8 if you can shoot from the baseline.

In a zoom, I'd probably look at a Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 like the one you mentioned, or perhaps a lower cost alternative like a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 HSM or Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 HSM, making sure to get the latest II version of it (noting that you'll probably need to use ISO 3200 or higher if you are shooting with a zoom versus brighter prime for best results).

See the dictionary section on the right hand side of this page by Thom Hogan for some of the acronyms used with Nikkor lenses (and third party lenses may use different acronyms for similar features).

http://www.bythom.com/lensacronyms.htm

With your D40x, you'll need an AF-S (Silent Wave motor focusing) lens in the Nikon lineup to get Autofocus (since the D40x does not have a focus motor built into the body, the lenses you use on it will need a built in motor for Autofocus). That rules out some Nikkor Autofocus lenses (like the Nikkor AF 85mm f/1.8 that I mentioned) if you want Autofocus. The D40, D40x, D60, D3000 and D5000 do not have focus motors built into their bodies. All other Nikon dSLR models do have focus motors built into their bodies (so, they'll Autofocus with AF lenses that do not have motors built in).

I'd probably lean towards the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 HSM II for basketball on a Nikon body with an APS-C size sensor with usable ISO 3200 or higher (assuming you're shooting from the floor).

Note that it would Autofocus on your D40x. Sigma's HSM (Hypersonic Motor focusing) lenses are similar to Nikon's AF-S (Silent Wave Focusing Motor) lenses, in that they have a focus motor built into them. But, you'd need ISO 3200 for more photos without motion blur, and it's noise levels are going to be very high trying to use it on your D40x. The Sony 10MP CCD sensor used in the D40x is not as good for higher ISO speed use compared to the Sony 12MP CMOS Sensors used in models like the D90 and D300s.

In a full frame body like the D700, D3, or D3s, you'll want a different zoom (since that Sigma 50-150mm is a DC lens, designed for use on cameras with smaller APS-C size sensors). The Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 AF-S VR you mentioned would probably your best bet on a full frame body. Note that bodies like the D700, D3 or D3s will give you much better results, as they are *much* better at higher ISO speeds (with higher available ISO speeds), and have a more advanced Autofocus System.
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Old Dec 8, 2009, 10:06 AM   #4
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I see JohnG beat me to it (I didn't see his post before responding), since I was looking up pages with Nikon acronyms, etc. while typing). lol

JohnG shoots a lot of sports. So, I'd make sure to take his advise seriously when looking for a good solution.
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Old Dec 8, 2009, 7:20 PM   #5
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thanks for your response. You're right. It is for HS basketball. So if I were to invest (no more than $1500) in a new camera and lens to take sports shots, what would it be? I have 2 lens already for my D40x-- the lens it came with-(DX AF-s 18-55 f3.5-5.6GII) and a Sigma 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 HSM.
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Old Dec 8, 2009, 7:23 PM   #6
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thanks Jim for your information. I'm still confused on what I should get
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Old Dec 9, 2009, 8:51 AM   #7
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Let me ask - are you able to shoot from the floor or do you need to shoot from the stands?
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Old Dec 9, 2009, 1:32 PM   #8
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Within your budget of $1,500, I think your best bet would be a Nikon D90 body and a Nikon 85mm f/1.8D. There are other lenses that might be more useful, but they're a lot more expensive. And the D90 can use the other lenses you've already got.

Canon has a broader selection of lenses that will do what you want within your budget, but you won't also be able to use your current lenses.
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Old Dec 9, 2009, 2:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
Within your budget of $1,500, I think your best bet would be a Nikon D90 body and a Nikon 85mm f/1.8D.

The challenge is the working range for people sports is about 25 feet for an 85mm lens. That works great if you're shooting from the corner of the baseline. If you're shooting from the stands it's too short. That's why location of the photographer is so important.
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Old Dec 9, 2009, 3:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
The challenge is the working range for people sports is about 25 feet for an 85mm lens. That works great if you're shooting from the corner of the baseline. If you're shooting from the stands it's too short. That's why location of the photographer is so important.
Absolutely, but for $1,500, the OP's options are limited. He can stick with his budget, get the 85/1.8, do what he can, and see if he wants to spend the extra money that will give him additional capabilities. Or he can abandon his budget and jump in with both feet.
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