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Old Oct 17, 2006, 9:57 PM   #1
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I have used 35mm SLRs for 20 years. I bought an ultrazoom digicam several years ago hoping it would be a good all-around camera. I quickly learned it is terrible for sports, especially indoor swimming meets. It is too slow - both shutter lag and lens speed.

Having 2 college athletes (swimming and baseball), I have decided it is now time to step up to a DSLR to get the speed needed to photograph sports. Based on the lens options available, I am leaning towards a Canon system, especially with the rebates Canon is now offering.

I would appreciate your help with the following:

1) Is it worth it to spend an extra $200 (net after rebate) for the 30D over the XTi? Or should I put the $200 towards a lens? Are their any significant advantages of the 30D over the XTi for my needs?

2) I would like to get by with just 2 lens for now. I am considering the EF 17-40mm f/4.0 L USM for a walk around lens. Would you agree with this or suggest another?

3) For sports, I am considering the fixed focal length EF 200mm f/2.8 II USM. The reason is that even with my 10x zoom digicam, I mostly shoot near the long end (approximately equivalent to 380mm). However, will I reget not spending the extra money for the flexibilty that the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 provides? Will I need more than a 200mm lens (320mm equivalent) for sports? FYI - I am planning to rent these telephoto lenses before buying, but would appreciate any experience and opinions out there.

Thanks in advance for any feedback you can provide.

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Old Oct 17, 2006, 10:33 PM   #2
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30D is built much better and has a higher frame rate which would be useful for sport. The 400 has some great new stuff though and has really narrowed the gap between the 10,20,30 series and the 300,350,400 cameras. I think it is a better buy now unless you need the build quality or the larger grip of the 30D.
I'd look at third party lenses. Sigma and Tamron both do 18-50f2.8s that are faster, sharper, cheaper and have a better range than the 17-40L though they won't fit on a full-frame camera if you have one.
Sigma do a 70-200f2.8 and have a nice, compact 50-150f2.8 coming out that rival the canons and are much cheaper. Remember you focal length will effectively be multiplied by 1.6 on both of these cameras.
You may want longer lenses, especially for baseball, but these are going to get very expensive. The most versatile lens for sport is probably the sigma 120-300f2.8. With converters and a monopod it gives you a huge range without making too many compromises on image quality and should be fast enough to use at the pool. It will cost about double the canon 70-200f2.8.


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Old Oct 18, 2006, 4:09 AM   #3
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i would go with the 400d ... and save for a good lens ...
but if u want to do some adventure photography or maybe photography in reall extreme conditions with dust and snow ... i would recommend a camera that has a good weather sealing ... so then u might wanna choose the 30d or maybe other high end models ...

as far as picture quality .. i dont think theres any difference in the two cams ... ..except for 2 more megapixels ... but the sensor size is the same ... so there probably wont be any difference in the low light performance ....

* though please correct me if im wrong
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Old Oct 18, 2006, 7:13 AM   #4
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Definitely 30D for sports. Better build, better frame rate, ISO 3200. And according to some user reports with the new XTi, it may appear as if the camera is underexposing a bit at higher ISOs - and that after adjusting in post processing the images contain more noise than the camera's predecessor - the XT.

As to lenses - a 70-200 2.8 lens is a good choice for the college natatorium - great idea to rent it first though.

A 200mm lens on a 1.6 body is way too short to shoot baseball though. Even if you're shooting from on the field (might be pretty tough getting field access at a college - don't know I shoot high school) - 200mm is way too short. If you're shooting from 1st base line, 300mm barely reaches3rd base - and anything left of center and deep is way too dicey. You'd want 400mm foroutfield shots. If you're not shooting from the field, then you're going to run into some issues with reach.

As mentioned the Sigma 120-300 2.8 (around $2200) is probablythe most versatile field sport lens. I've used it since March on my 20d and love it.

If you can only afford one lens - make it the 70-200 2.8 plus 1.4x TC - as mentioned, sigma makes an excellent alternative to the Canon here for about $300 less.

If you can afford better, lens recommendation for baseball are as follows in descending order of recommendation (assuming only one body and you're not independently wealthy):

Sigma 120-300 2.8 plus 1.4x TC

Sigma 100-300 4.0 plus 1.4x TC

Canon 70-200 2.8 plus 1.4x TC

Sigma 70-200 2.8 plus 1.4x TC

Canon 100-400 (great choice if you have to shoot from the stands because of the reach and light weight)

Canon 70-300

Sigma 70-300
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Old Oct 18, 2006, 9:48 PM   #5
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After reviewing the suggested lenses, I noticed that some of the Canons have image stabilzation and some do not (including the Sigmas). Considering I need to shoot in natatoriums that are not well lit, is it critical to have IS or doesn't it really matter?
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Old Oct 19, 2006, 6:08 AM   #6
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IS won't help for sport because you need shutter speeds to stop the motion that are already fast enough to remove camera shake. This gets less true at 400mm+ focal lengths where camera shake can be bad even at 1/500.
I'm not sure if you can get away with slower speeds for swimming. Arms would move pretty fast, as would the splashing water, but if you could then IS would be helpful.
For sport you generally want a wider aperture ahead of IS.
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Old Oct 19, 2006, 7:04 AM   #7
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ricciardella wrote:
Quote:
After reviewing the suggested lenses, I noticed that some of the Canons have image stabilzation and some do not (including the Sigmas). Considering I need to shoot in natatoriums that are not well lit, is it critical to have IS or doesn't it really matter?

Well, none of the Sigma lenses listed have OS (Sigma's version of IS).

The Canon 100-400, Canon 70-300 and Sigma 70-300 are all NOT viable lenses for indoor swimming - none of them have a wide enough aperture.

The 120-300 may be a bit too long to use indoors as well.

So that leaves the 70-200 2.8 lenses for indoor use. Canon has both a 70-200 2.8 without IS and a 70-200 2.8 WITH IS. If your primary purpose is sports shooting, IMO it's not worth the extra $500 for the IS on this lens. It's help would be minimal.

You are going to want shutter speeds of 1/400 or better. This is why it's good for you to rent the lens first. Make sure that at ISO 1600 you can get a shutter speed of 1/400 or better. If you can't then you may have to consider a prime lens - something like the 135mm 2.0.
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