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Old Dec 14, 2008, 12:50 PM   #1
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For those of us who occasionally shoot indoor sports (basketball, vollyball, ect.)

It would be nice to have reference as to what prime lens I should be using from what distance. Or, for those of you (lucky to have good lighting and/or a camera that can produce clean high ISO shots) who are using a 2.8 zoom.

Here are some common prime lenses used for indoor sports . What would be the minimum to maximum distance that each of these lenses should be used?

50mm

85mm

100mm

135mm

200mm

And a closley related subject is shutter speed.

What'syour minimum shutter speed that you feelis acceptable?

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Old Dec 14, 2008, 6:17 PM   #2
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50mm = 15 feet

85mm = 25 feet

100mm = 30 feet

135mm = not familiar with

200mm = 75 feet / 25 yards

300mm = 40 yards

400mm = 50-60 yards

Min distance depends on the camera - full frame obviously you can get more of your subject in the frame. And contrary to myth, using a 1.6x sensor camera doesn't really allow you to shoot from further away. So shooting these short primes on a 1.6 can be a bit problematic. When I shot with a 20d the 85mm 1.8 was my primary indoor sport lens. LOTS of partial bodies - not a whole lot of shots with the entire body in the frame. Moving to an aps-H camera really helped that out.

Minimum shutter speed depends entirely on the motion you want to freeze. For HS and below - volleyball and basketball, 1/400 is my lower limit. You'll get hand/ball movement but trunks and faces are frozen pretty good. It would be great to get better but that's simply not often possible. For example a very typical setting in gyms around me is ISO 3200 1/400 f2.8. Most gyms I shoot in are within about 1/3 stop of that plus or minus. Sports like gymnastics you can get by with slower speeds for beam work and even bars - and poses or leaps on the floor. Same with wrestling. But basketball and vball I wouldn't go below 1/400.

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Old Dec 15, 2008, 2:19 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply John G.

I was hoping for a reply from you. This gives a very clear reference for those of of us who are part time sports shooters. You just have to know where you'll be standing/sitting during the game. Such as the baseline corner a 85 or 100mm would be a good choice. Under the backboard a 50mm would be a good choice.

You bring up a very good point about using a camera with a "cropped sensor" and the working distance not changing.

I don't shoot Canonso I'm guessing the APS-H sensor is a cropped sensor but wider then a APS-C sensor that I'm using?

Thanks for this valuable info.

Mike
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Old Dec 15, 2008, 2:23 PM   #4
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Mike,

APS-H is a 1.3 crop sensor vs. Canon's 1.6 APS-C sensor.

And again these are just my personal opinions based on my experience. I've never seen any written documentation on it. And it isn't that you can't get a shot from further away - just that in my experience the keeper rate starts declining rapidly after that.
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Old Dec 15, 2008, 3:18 PM   #5
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I've just pinned this post as it is a question that often comes up so well worth having the info easily to hand.

As stab in the dark on the 135mm would be about 40 feet but this is not from experience.
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Old Dec 23, 2008, 10:26 PM   #6
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I use 1/250th for slow moving sports and 1/500th for faster sports (like running or hockey or something like that).

It would be nice to include 300mm lens and 400mm lens in that grid. Might be worth indicating which sport (ie volleyball 80mm, football 300mm, etc.)

A reference like that would be very cool. Just pick the sport and get the lens(es) recommendation. (and shutter speed and other settings).
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Old Dec 28, 2008, 2:30 AM   #7
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Just bought myself a 50mm f1.4 pentax lens which I hope to use to photgrph martial art events (on the mat) working between 10 and 20 feet.

normal zoom lens just didnt let enough light in.
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Old Jan 25, 2009, 5:11 AM   #8
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Thank you all very much for this very informative thread! This info will come in quite handy and save me lots of trial and error!

Bob
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Old Mar 8, 2009, 10:49 PM   #9
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Tough assignment. I went to an indoor volleyball event today that has excellent lighting for that type of environment.

I was at court side right next to the line judge, using a Sony A-700/wMinolta 50mm f1.7 set to sports mode, ISO 3200, no flash and I was getting shutter speeds pretty consistently at 320 which is way slow. Not wide enought for close shots, not long enough for back court, not fast enough to get to the desired 500 shutter speed.

Of the 70+ shots I took I kept 6 to fiddle with and they are far from good.

My question is this. If I were to walk into your store today with a pocket full of money, and ask for a lens for these two sports, what if anything could you suggest?
No flash allowed.


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Old Mar 9, 2009, 7:44 AM   #10
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Flying Fossil wrote:
Quote:
Tough assignment. I went to an indoor volleyball event today that has excellent lighting for that type of environment.

I was at court side right next to the line judge, using a Sony A-700/wMinolta 50mm f1.7 set to sports mode, ISO 3200, no flash and I was getting shutter speeds pretty consistently at 320 which is way slow. Not wide enought for close shots, not long enough for back court, not fast enough to get to the desired 500 shutter speed.

Of the 70+ shots I took I kept 6 to fiddle with and they are far from good.

My question is this. If I were to walk into your store today with a pocket full of money, and ask for a lens for these two sports, what if anything could you suggest?
No flash allowed.

Which two sports are you talking about, I only spotted volleyball?

I personally would/do shoot volleyball with an 85mm lens as this give a pretty good coverage. Not sure what Sony has in this range but that's the place to be.
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