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Old Dec 16, 2006, 7:56 PM   #11
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jacks wrote:
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Great sports lenses cost a fotune, but given your budget I would look at the Sigma 100-300f4 (long enough but f2.8 would be better) or the Sigma 70-200f2.8 (fast enough but might be a bit short).
This is where adding a 1.4x telecon to the package as mentioned in my first post comes into play as when using this you have a 98-280 f4 added to the bag. I also have a 2x telecon to give a 140-400mm f5.6.
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Old Dec 16, 2006, 9:34 PM   #12
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Okay,

So no VR/IS/SR in the camera or lens. That's just gimmicky, is it?

The votes seem to fall into the Nikon and Canon camps, with the nod going to Canon as they focus quicker.

If I were to go with a Nikon, is there any real advantage going with a D70s over a D80? I'm not a marketing junky, so I don't believe in the "more pixels is better" theory.

What about the Canons? Should I be looking at a slightly older model like the Rebel XT or the newer ones, I mean, is there REALLY any advantage to "latest and greatest"?

Thanks again for the help everyone. It's *truly* appreciated.

I feel like the more info I have, the more confusing this becomes... :?
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Old Dec 16, 2006, 9:37 PM   #13
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From what I have read, the Nikon plus their 18-200 VR (an image-stabilized lens) is an excellent combo, and the Nikons have a vast array of lenses available, but are limited. I have read that the Canons are even more limited.
I'm afraid I have no idea what that means.

For sports shooting IS/VR is basically useless whether you have it in the body or in the lens; equally useless.

What I meant was:

I have read many places that the Nikon D70s/D80, paired with the Nikon 18-200 f2.8 VR lens is an *excellent* combo for shooting sports.

I have also read that if one buys a Nikon, you have far more options available to you in lenses over the Canons, ie the Canons have a very limited selection comparatively.
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Old Dec 16, 2006, 10:51 PM   #14
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I have a Pentax K10 and love it. I also have a K100 and use it as a second camera body when I don't mind carrying two cameras. The one top quality lens I have is a 300mm f4 and it works really well as a birding lens.My 25 year old50mm 1.7 lens and K10 did a credible job in very poor lighting in an aquarium today.

I still think that having access to all those old Pentax lenses can really make a huge difference. It was the main reason why I looked at Pentax in the first place (I had planned on getting a Canon). Since I had a number of old Pentax lenses, it seemed like a good idea to at least check one out. I'd recommend looking at the them too!
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Old Dec 17, 2006, 12:26 AM   #15
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hostile wrote:
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What I meant was:

I have read many places that the Nikon D70s/D80, paired with the Nikon 18-200 f2.8 VR lens is an *excellent* combo for shooting sports.

I have also read that if one buys a Nikon, you have far more options available to you in lenses over the Canons, ie the Canons have a very limited selection comparatively.
First - you weren't told that by anyone who knows what they're doing as a sports shooter. Not knocking Nikon at all - they have great cameras. And the 18-200 is a great consumer grade lens - but it is not a sports lens.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"As to your second point - about Nikon having more lens offerings - tha is also incorrect advice. Both camps have a great selection of lenses. Canon's are a bit more affordable when you get into the higher end lenses.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Now, like Mark, I shoot quite a bit of sports. So, I want to help level set here. As others have mentioned, the camera is only part of the equation. The other part is having the right lens for the job. I can't seem to find what sports you shoot in any of this thread except they are outdoor and 25-100 yards away.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"So, let's talk about what lenses are necessary for that kind of work. At 100 yards, you can forget getting a decent shot of a human - it's too far away. After about 40,000 sports shots, I feel confident the following numbers are about true. On a 1.5 or 1.6 crop camera (Nikons are 1.5 and Canons are 1.6):

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"200mm lens is accurate & sharp for about 25-30 yards.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"300mm lens is accurate and sharp for about 40 yards

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"400mm lens is accurate and sharp for about 50-60 yards.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"This is assuming that you want to crop your photos and fill the frame with the subject which is the technique employed by most sports shooters.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Now, let's take another important feature of a sports lens - aperture. For sports you want wide apertures. In field sports, f2.8 is usually the desired aperture. This accomplishes 2 important things for a good sports photo:

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"1. It allows fast shutter speeds (typically you want at least 1/500 - want to stop a swinging bat of a HS aged boy and you need about 1/2000). Now, many consumer grade lenses - like the 18-200 have an aperture of 5.6 when zoomed out (and 90% of all your sports shots you'll be zoomed out or at least should be). That's great for daylight games - but if you get into heavy overcast conditions or night games under lights and the lens will no longer provide you the shutter speeds necessary.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Shots at low light like this require both 2.8 lens and good ISO 3200 performance:



style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"2. It gives you subject isolation (subject in focus and background blurred). This is also why whoever told you a lens with only 5.6 is great for sports doesn't know what they're talking about. The only reason to use a 5.6 lens for sports is because you can't afford a better lens (and nothing wrong with that either - most of us have a budget - but there just isn't a 5.6 aperture lens that's 'great for sports'

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"some examples of the isolation I was referring to:









style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"So, where does that bring us? Well, to the lenses you'd want to use for outdoor field sports with either your Canon or Nikon camera. Here are my recommendations for lenses (I'm going to eliminate the $4000 + lenses from consideration - if you had that much money you'd be buying a pro level camera):

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"1. Sigma 120-300 2.8 ($2200) - comes in both Canon and Nikon mounts. Best 3rd party sports lens out there - in fact the ONLY other lens besides Canon 300mm 2.8 and Nikon 300mm 2.8 lenses (both around $4000) that has both 300mm and 2.8

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"2. Sigma 100-300 4.0 ($1000). Fantastically sharp lens. The only negative is it's only f4 which means not good enough for night games under lights.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"3. 70-200 2.8 (Either Canon's or Nikon's - price is $1600 for Canon's IS version, $1100 for non-IS, $1600 for Nikon's VR version) plus a 1.4x TC for good light situations. The 70-200 2.8 is usually the first lens of the serious hobbyist sports shooter - they're very versatile, still light and in college or pro level gyms capable of shooting indoors.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"4. Sigma 70-200 2.8. ($800)I have this lens and it's great. It's about 90% of the Canon or Nikon versions at a fraction of the cost. The one area where (according to experienced sports shooters I've chatted with who've used both) the lens falls short of the Canon is in AF speed in low light. The Canon seems to perform better in low light than the Sigma. In good light, they are virtually identical.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"5. A 70-300 from either camp (approx $550) - the good news is these lenses are still 300mm. The bad news - they're 5.6.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"If you want to shoot indoor sports then that's a completely different ball game and requires different lenses.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"So, you can see - shooting sports is not cheap - or at least not preparing yourself to shoot decent sports shots. As has already been mentioned - sports shooting is very demanding of equipment. Cheap lenses really falter in this area of photography (they are usually slower to focus and softer when fully zoomed out).

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"So, to wrap up: I second the advice to stay with Canon / Nikon. There's a reason they control 99.9% of the pro sports shooting market. Weather sealing is nice but even pros with weather sealed gear use rain shields for their gear - at which point weather sealing doesn't matter. And it's only useful if BOTH your camera AND lens are weather sealed - most non-pro lenses are NOT weather sealed.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"As for IS - it's also a very nice feature. But for a sports shooter it isn't essential. If you're going to use big lenses you'll use a monopod like most competant sports shooters (even when the lens has IS - it isn't as sturdy as a monopod - and frankly who wants to hold that gear for hours at a time).

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"And, I'll also reiterate - make sure to save money for a good lens. The shooter with a sigma 120-300 and Nikon D50 or Canon 350 is going to get better shots than someone with a 30d / D200 and 70-300 consumer lens (assuming both photogs are equally as good). So, if need be, save money on the body and buy the better glass.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Good luck!
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Old Dec 17, 2006, 12:50 AM   #16
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If you really want to shoot sports correctly, you've gotten great advice here. However, if you liked the shots from the D70s and the 200mm lens that you borrowed, youmay nothave to spend a bunch to recreate that level of quality these days. Find out what kind of lens you used (specifically the maximum aperture). Ifit was a "consumer zoom" with a maximum apertureof f5.6, then those types of lenses are not that expensive. You can probably stay within your budget listed above.

Of course, once you get bitten by the sports shooting bug, you'll probably want to get bigger, faster lenses. Then you can start spending the big bucks.

BTW, VR/IS/Shake Reduction isn't a gimmic. It's just not helpful for action subjects. It's really intended to help with reasonably still subjects, and in low light shots.

Russ

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Old Dec 17, 2006, 1:22 AM   #17
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JohnG:

:shock:

That's one outstanding post! Thank you! Some amazing shots too, btw!

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I can't seem to find what sports you shoot in any of this thread except they are outdoor and 25-100 yards away.
I actually did mention it at the bottom of one of my posts above:

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Mark1616 I compete in, and take pictures of Schutzhund. If you don't know what that is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schutzhund
Usually, at these events, you can only obtain one vantage point to shoot from, and it's never optimal, and it never lets you shoot the entire action scene. You're either incredibly close to the action, or very far away from it. I am also an avid hiker/camper, so I would like a camera that I can use for taking decent nature shots with. With that said, sports are by far my primary target.

From the sounds of things, the Canons are most likely my best bet, and of the Canons, the 30D, 20D, Rebel XT, and XTi are the ones.

I remember coming across a post in another forum where someone mentioned that the 40D will be coming out in February? If so, then maybe I should hold off for a bit, wait for the 40D to hit, and hope it pushes the prices of the ones I just listed down?

I'm going to go to a couple of camera stores here in the coming weeks to play around with some of the Canons.

Historically, I have used Canon "PnS", and have found that they tend to over-expose a lot. Otoh, when I used that Nikon D70s, I found the images to be slightly under-exposed. Do the Canon dSLRs behave in the same "over-exposing" as their PnS siblings?
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Old Dec 17, 2006, 4:51 AM   #18
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I have read many places that the Nikon D70s/D80, paired with the Nikon 18-200 f2.8 VR lens is an *excellent* combo for shooting sports.
Well I'm sure it would be a reasonable sports lens if it existed. Unfortunately the 18-200 is NOT f2.8 it is f3.5-5.6.

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I have also read that if one buys a Nikon, you have far more options available to you in lenses over the Canons, ie the Canons have a very limited selection comparatively.
Where on earth did you read that?

Don't get me wrong; Nikon have some excellent lenses (many of which are slightly better than the equivalent Canons), and a very decent range, but Canon has a wider range and particularly for sports lenses they are far better value-for-money whilst being of similar quality.

The Pentax range is the smallest, and they don't currently have the AF speed that Nikon and Canon do. Although that is changing soon, as they will be adapting their mount (or may even have done it already on the K10D) so that they can use the in-lens ultrasonic motors instead of being tied to the in-body focus motors they currently use.

This current lack is the reason that it is not possible to get the Sigma HSM motor on the lenses that support it for the Pentax mount.

For landscape and portrait work there is very little to choose between the pro-sumer level cameras and lenses from the different manufacturers you are considering. But for action/sports Canon holds a narrow lead from Nikon, and Pentax aren't really in the game at the moment.

P.S. A quick count from one of the UK websites shows 9 Pentax lenses, 45 Nikon lenses and 60 Canon lenses currently available "new".

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Old Dec 17, 2006, 2:34 PM   #19
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After reading more and more, I have come to the conclusion that the 30D would be my best bet if I want to spend more on a body. If not, then a 20D or a D70s.

I'm going to go check out a 30D this week or next (maybe there will be a Boxing Day Sale on them at one of the stores in town).

The big knock against them seems to be being able to quickly change certain settings like ISO. Apparently it's menu-based whereas the Nikon has dedicated buttons, so it's just a "push and go".

Obviously, I'm going to have to put far more research into lens selection than body selection!
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Old Dec 17, 2006, 3:13 PM   #20
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I'm going to go check out a 30D this week or next (maybe there will be a Boxing Day Sale on them at one of the stores in town). The big knock against them seems to be being able to quickly change certain settings like ISO. Apparently it's menu-based whereas the Nikon has dedicated buttons, so it's just a "push and go".
That is not correct.

To change ISO on the 20D/30D all you need to do is push a button and turn a wheel. The ISO is not displayed in the viewfinder, but as long as you keep track of your ISO it's certainly possible to change ISO without taking your eye from the viewfinder.

In practice however, most of the time you will push the ISO button and turn a wheel and check the value on the top LCD screen.

This is not to say that Nikon's ergonomics are not better; but it's certainly easy to overstate the case. There are a very large number (the majority in fact) of professional and sports photographers out there who somehow manage to get by with Canons inferior ergonomics.

Also bear in mind that we all used to manage somehow with film where you could only change ISO by putting in a new roll of film. With digital it's easy to change in a second or two between shots.


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