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Old May 3, 2011, 8:35 PM   #1
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Default Lens for Indoor Volleyball

I am about to get a new lens for the grand kids ages 12 & 14 club volleyball events.
The arena is pretty well lit as indoor courts go (Anaheim Sports Center) and I have tried the Minolta 50mm f/1.7 with pretty fair results but to short.
Tried the 70-200mmG f/2.8 and Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 with mixed results.

I shoot on Aperture priority, ISO 800-1600 and no flash.
I am from 5 foot to 10 on the side lines off the court and have the full length to shoot from.

Thinking of the CZ85mm f/1.4 or the CZ135mm f/1.8

Any opinions out there?
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Old May 3, 2011, 9:47 PM   #2
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70-200 2.8G is the right choice but you need ISO 3200 I would guess. When you said you had 'mixed results' with this lens what did you mean?
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Old May 3, 2011, 10:25 PM   #3
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It was a little slow on getting focus on about one quarter of the shots, some of which I missed completely and others that were out of focus.
I was a rental lens and may not have been the best copy but most likely it was operator error
ISO 3200 is not one of the A700 strong points.
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Last edited by Flying Fossil; May 3, 2011 at 10:28 PM.
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Old May 4, 2011, 12:36 AM   #4
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G'day FF

Of the 2 - the 85 vs the 135 ... my money would be on the 85mm lens
I feel that the 85 will cover both sides of the court - tho with some cropping of other-side images, whereas the 135 will be too strong for this-side images - thus you may miss many of the closer shots

Hope this helps
Regards, Phil
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Old May 4, 2011, 6:54 AM   #5
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You posted this in our Add-On Lenses forum (which is setup for add-on lenses for point and shoot models).

So, I've moved the thread down to our Konica-Minolta./Sony dSLR Forum, where you'll be more likely to get responses from Sony dSLR shooters about the lenses that may work better on your camera for indoor sports. Note that we do not have a separate lenses forum setup yet for KM/Sony dSLR models (as we do for some of the other dSLR forums).

I'm not even sure that's a good idea (separate lenses forum for each dSLR brand), and may end up merging some of the existing forums setup that way later on (so that it's not as confusing where to post questions about what works best for sports, etc.).

Anyway, I don't shoot much in the way of indoor sports (other than a BB game from time to time, and I usually use my Minolta 100mm f/2 for that purpose). But, JohnG shoots a lot of sports and what he's saying sounds right to me. I've needed ISO 3200 when shooting with an f/2.8 lens to get shutter speeds up to around 1/400 second or so around here (if I want properly exposed images). So, ISO 800 to 1600 would be too low. unless lighting is a lot better than I've seen in gyms (that look well lit to the human eye). A zoom would also give you more framing flexibility compared to a prime. Also, you may need even faster shutter speeds with Volleyball compared to Basketball. So, I'd think at least ISO 3200 in typical indoor gyms with an f/2.8 lens (or ISO 4000 if you don't mind a bit of extra noise). I sometimes use my A700 at ISO 4000 shooting RAW.

Note that shooting RAW with your A700 will give you more flexibility for Noise Reduction later if you need to shoot at ISO 3200. That's the way I use mine. If you're using Version 4 Firmware, just turn off the in camera NR to make sure it's not being applied to RAW files (and you'll need Version 4 Firmware to make sure it's disabled entirely). Then, use newer RAW converters later to convert/remove noise (Lightroom 3, Sony IDC, Bibble Pro, etc.) and play with the NR sliders until you're happy with the results (or try third party NR plugins instead). You'll find trial versions of most products so you can test drive them to decide what works best for you.

As for the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8G SSM... I've got mixed feelings about it. I had the opportunity to use one for a while, and AF speed was not as good as I expected from it (frankly, I got the impression that most of my "screw drive" lenses focused much faster than SSM with it). But, without controlled conditions tests of AF speed, it's hard to say for sure. SSM (a.k.a., HSM, USM, SDM, etc., depending on manufacturer) lenses can be deceiving, as they're quieter, giving many users the impression that they focus faster, even though that may not be the case, depending on the lens you're comparing it to (and the AF motor speed in a given camera body will impact results with screw drive lenses, too).

Also, I've seen some Sony shooters with both the Sigma and Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses (SSM with the Sony and HSM with the Sigma) indicate that they thought the Sigma focused faster. I haven't seen any controlled conditions tests though.

Now, compared to the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8, either the Sony or Sigma should focus faster. I've seen no debate over that (the Tamron appears to be a slow focusing lens by virtually all accounts, when compared to the Sigma or Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses). Another option you may want to look at is the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 SSM. It's not as sharp in the corners as the 70-200mm lenses, but some users really like it for indoor sports use (and it's a smaller and lighter lens compared to the 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses available, since it's designed for an APS-C size sensor).

Another option you may want to consider is a Minolta 80-200mm f/2.8G HS (High Speed) lens. It's a screw drive lens, but it focuses very fast by virtually all accounts. There are multiple versions of this lens, and Minolta made some changes with the chip (EEPROM communicating with the camera) and AF gearing to improve AF speed significantly with the HS version of it. On the downside, it won't work with a Minolta or Sony TC (something about the rear element design prevents being able to use most TCs with it, so that would limit it's flexibility for other purposes).
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Old May 4, 2011, 9:14 AM   #6
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Hmmm... tough situation. I wasn't aware the sony 70-200 2.8 was such a poor focus performer. That's unfortunate.
Here's the problem then. An 85mm lens in my experience is good for about 25 feet of reach. beyond that you start to run into more focus errors and not enough detail. I used to shoot volleyball with an 85mm lens on an APS-c sensor camera - I shot from behind the net judge on the court. From that position the 85 got most of the court BUT it was too tight on any of the kill shots or blocks on my side of the court. Move back to get those shots and it's not long enough to cover the further areas. A 70-200 is MUCH more flexible. But with volleyball you NEED fast focusing - more-so than other sports. Sigma HSM lenses work well - I used one of those too. The real question is whether you're happy enough with ISO 3200-6400 performance out of your A700 or not. I wasn't happy enough with 3200 performance of my older DSLR - wasn't until I got my 1dIII that I felt 3200 was usable.

As to shutter speeds - 1/640 is a great speed if you can get it. I often have to get by with 1/400 though:
at 1/640:


1/400:
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Old May 4, 2011, 9:26 AM   #7
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P.S.

In fairness to the Sony 70-200mm, I was using it on a Sony A850 for the most part, and it may have been the way that particular camera's AF algorithms were working with it (as my impression was that the A850 was noticeably slower focusing compared to my A700 with all of my lenses, and it was especially slower using the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 SSM).

However, note that since I was using that combo, Sony did release a firmware update for the A850 and A900 that was designed to improve Autofocus Performance. See this article about it from December discussing the improvements with Autofocus performance (the new firmware was released in December 2010).

http://www.steves-digicams.com/news/..._firmware.html

I did not test the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 with the new A850 firmware. So, the "sluggishness" I was seeing with that body/camera lens combo may have been corrected with the newer firmware (there may have been some "bugs" with the AF algorithms impacting performance with the 70-200mm SSM lens that were fixed with the new firmware)
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Old May 4, 2011, 10:08 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
Hmmm... tough situation. I wasn't aware the sony 70-200 2.8 was such a poor focus performer. That's unfortunate.
It's all relative. ;-)

What some people consider poor, others may consider to be great. I was just not impressed with it when shooting action using it on a Sony A850.

But, I can say the same thing about other cameras and lenses I've used. For example, my impression of some Nikon models wasn't exactly great either, even though it's AF system is highly regarded by many shooters.

For example, I got the impression that my Sony A700 was faster than a Nikon D300 and gave me a higher percentage of keepers using similar lenses on both (even though the Nikkor AF-S lenses were quieter and may give some users the impression that they're focusing faster than they really are because you don't hear as much noise as you do with screw drive lenses).

However, without controlled conditions testing, that's only my impression that the A700 is faster (given more keepers with the A700 in similar conditions, with AF speed obviously being the main issue to me when using the D300). I've seen some of the respected reviewers around also comment that they felt the D300 AF system was on the sluggish side for tracking action, too (especially with all AF points enabled). But, that was with early production firmware, too (and Nikon has since released a firmware update that improves AF performance with that particular model).

I had the opposite impression with the Nikon D3 (it has a very nice AF system).

Also, HSM/SSM/AF-S tends to be overrated in many cases. For example, you'll see some controlled conditions tests around (not just my impressions) that show some screw drive lenses can be faster than similar lenses on a given camera body like the Nikon D300. For example, a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AF-D (screw drive) lens will focus faster than a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AF-S (Silent Wave Motor) lens on a Nikon D300 body (which has a relatively fast AF motor built into it). The screw drive motors in the Nikon Pro level bodies (D3, etc.) are even faster.

Of course, performance will vary with the exact camera/lens being used due to a variety of reasons (how a lens is geared, body af motor speed, af algorithms and more).

Also, see my last post regarding a firmware update Sony made to the A850 and A900 models to improve Autofocus Performance (and I was using the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 SSM on the A850 for action shooting when I got the impression that it was a bit on the sluggish side, and have not tested that combo using the newer firmware)
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Old May 4, 2011, 11:17 AM   #9
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Thanks all of you for some very informative inputs.
Like Jim C., I used the 70-200mm on the newly aquired A900 thinking that now I am all set. Big sensor, big megapixels, all the best of the best with the exception of slightly slower FPS on the A900 vs. the A700.

Having sold the A900, I may try the 70-200 again on the A700 at various ISO ranges and see what I get. Also the Sigma and Minolta lens suggestions look interesting. The Sigma 50-150mm looks like the perfect range for volleyball.

John's shots were very nice but even there some slightly out of focus occurred on the ball or the hands.
I have a feeling that I am far to critical of my results.

Volleyball is a very difficult and challenging sport to shoot.

Now, if my 70-400 was just a f/1.8
I hope the ole A700 last a couple more years. What a bargain it has been.

Thanks again everyone.
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Old May 4, 2011, 12:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flying Fossil View Post
John's shots were very nice but even there some slightly out of focus occurred on the ball or the hands.
Don't confuse focus with blur from subject movement (you're seeing blur from movement cause by using shutter speeds that were not fast enough to freeze rapid hand/ball movement, not a focus problem). ;-)

Even shooting at 1/640 second (or even faster), you can still see see some blur from rapid hand/ball/foot movement. That has nothing to do with autofocus performance.
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