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Old Jan 2, 2007, 8:08 PM   #1
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I'm looking to buy my first SLR and I am trying to decide between two models, the 30D and the Xti. My primary use for the camera will be: 1. my daughter's gymnastic meets and 2. my son's basketball games.

I have held both cameras, looked over specificationsand have read review after review on each one. I have tried to do my homework but I still have a few questions.

I am starting from scratch so lenses will need to be purchased. I am thinking about Canon's 135mm f/2.0 to start with as I will be shooting from the stands. My second choice from what I have gathered here would probably be Sigma's 120-300 f/2.8 zoom lens.

The 30D will shoot at ISO 3200 and the Xti will not. While I would not want to shoot at 3200 if I didn't have to, I understand that the f/2.8 zoom may not be fast enough for the lighting I frequently have to deal with. The ISO 3200 shots that JohnG posted up awhile back were pretty impressive to say the least, but if the camera only shoots at ISO 1600 it doesn't matter. With that being said, most of the shots I see posted are shot at 1600, is having the capability to shoot beyond ISO 1600 a big limiting factor and would the Sigma zoom be useless?

I could stomach the price on an Xti much more than I could a 30D due to I have to buy lenses as well, but I don't want to purchase a camera that will limit me for the specific use I am buying it for...I have been that route before.

Please let me know if there are any other pros and cons I am not seeing for the primary uses I have listed.

Chris


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Old Jan 3, 2007, 7:42 AM   #2
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30d without a doubt.

lighting for gymnastics is absolutely horrible - at least in the 3 places I've shot at. 1 out of the 3 I was able to use ISO 1600 - the other 2 required 3200.

The 5fps vs. 3fps is also nice to have

Build quality is definitely better

Ergonomics and controls - The XTi does not have the back wheel or the back joystick - I was helping a friend who just bought an XTi learn the camera and it drove me nuts that I couldn't access things as easily.

Jury is still out on whether Canon took a step backward on high ISOs in actual application by going to a 10mp camera. Numerous claims of underexposure at high ISOs as comparped to the XT - unfortunately most such claims come from fairly novice photographers so who knows how accurate they are.

In any event I think the XTi is a wonderful camera - it's just that the 30d is a BETTER SPORTS camera.

Lenses are a tough thing though for indoor sports. For basketball, an 85mm 1.8 is good from the first couple rows of the stands. Further up and the 135 becomes a great idea.

The real problem is the gymnastics. It's highly unlikely you'll be permitted access to the competition area if your daughter is an actual competing gymnast (as opposed to recreational where you might be able to get access). So, focal lengths become VERY tricky. I've used a 70-200 2.8 lens so far in the handful of gymnastics meets I've shot - most using ISO 3200, F2.8 and 1/320 - as I mentioned the lighting for gymnastics is often horrible. Floor routines seem to routinely be close to the crowd and anything longer than 70mm can be too tight. While some aperatus can be long enough away that 300mm would be nice. Unfortunately, what would really be nice is 2.0 lenses. The problem there is - what focal length (sinc 2.0 lenses are all primes)?

And, since the 200mm 1.8 is scarce now (and ludicrously expensive anyway at $3500) there aren't a lot of great solutions. Having the 135mm as your longest lens may not be long enough for some of the events. Also, I would say you might have issues shooting from the stands with a 70-200 2.8 or 120-300 2.8. Your shutter speeds are low enough a monopod may be required and that combination may be frowned upon by fellow bystanders in the stands. The work-around to that problem, of course, is to offer up photos to other parents who will suddenly no longer care because they get something out of the deal.

So, in summary: go with the 30d, get either 85mm (for 1st 2 rows) or 135 for higher up for basketball and you're fine. For gymnastics - it's a tough call - you will almost surely need ISO 3200 and as much reach as you can get. So, the 120-300 2.8 might be a good call - with 2nd place going to 70-200 2.8. And, for some of the events you may be able to use your prime from basketball.

Best of luck to you!
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Old Jan 3, 2007, 12:59 PM   #3
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Thanks JohnG for the recommendations. My daughter is on a competition team and I don't have access to the floor. The lighting seems to go from poor to fair in almost every gym she competes in, but it never has even approached very good or great (even at the state meet). The ISO 3200 images may be a little noisy, but a noisy shot is better than no shot at all and like I stated previously, the ones you posted looked fine. Furthermore, you never know how far away the girls are going to be based upon the layout of the aparatus until you arrive at the competition, so like you said...itwill not beeasy.

As far as the basketball is concerned, I have read very good things about the 135mm f/2.0 lens and thought I could utilize it more than the 85mm lens simply because I can often back away but not vice versa. I am guessing that I should be able to utilize the 135mm f/2.0 with ISO 1600 most of the time??

So the 30d it is...at least I will know my equipment is adequate and any shortcomings will be the photographers fault!

Chris
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Old Jan 3, 2007, 1:10 PM   #4
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PhotoDad wrote:
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.I am guessing that I should be able to utilize the 135mm f/2.0 with ISO 1600 most of the time??



Chris
Yes - you should be able to get by with ISOo 1600 and 2.0 in most gyms.
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Old Jan 3, 2007, 1:23 PM   #5
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Yep, basically what John said.... lol.

I use the 30D and am very happy with it indeed, the 5fps and faster AF are what sold it to me over the XTi (well and that I almost crushed the XTi in my hand as I'm 6'6" tall).
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