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Old Jul 1, 2007, 3:21 PM   #1
Azp
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Hi all, as the title states I'm ready to buy a dslr. I've decided on Canon...thats that out of the way.

I'll be shooting sports & wildlife. So the question is 30d or 5d (5d would mean less to spend on lenses & less reach due to the sensor). Lenses I'm thinking of are Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 or Canon 300mm f2.8 prime. Open to suggestions for third party lenses,.. I want very high quality lenses. I would also like to know if there is a lot of difference in quality between a Canon TC and say a Kenko.

I could be completely off track here so all suggestions would be much appreciated. I really don't know if those lenses are the right way to go, but i don't know if Sigma or othercompanys manufacture lenses to that quality....Please help.

Thanks
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Old Jul 1, 2007, 7:53 PM   #2
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For sports and wildlife I think the 30d will serve you better than the 5d. Put the extra money saved into the glass. On the sports end, the 300mm 2.8 is a fantastic lens, but the real question is: What sports will you be shooting? And will you be using 2 bodies or 1? If only one body, then the 300mm will be somewhat limiting in some sports. What are you planning on shooting?
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Old Jul 2, 2007, 5:47 AM   #3
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Thanks for replying John. I would be shooting Football, Baseball & Swimming some motorsport. Just one body. Shooting wildlife would be as important, so I guessI need help on what glass to buy.What sort of results can expect from third party lenses? I just want mydecision to be the optimum given the budget...or at least the optimum compromise (sports/wildlife).

Thanks in advance
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Old Jul 2, 2007, 5:48 AM   #4
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Old Jul 2, 2007, 5:49 AM   #5
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Old Jul 2, 2007, 7:28 AM   #6
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Azp wrote:
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I would be shooting Football, Baseball & Swimming some motorsport. Just one body. Shooting wildlife would be as important,
Well, it's going to be tough to do everything with just one lens. Or I should say it will be tough to do everything WELL with one lens. But since you're considering the Canon 300mm 2.8 that leads me to believe you have $4000 to spend so we could be in business.

For wildlife and motorsport, reach is going to be critical. 100-400 would be the lens I'd suggest for those two purposes.

Swimming: 70-200 2.8 lens is the way to go. You may also require an external flash depending on the light levels in your given natatorium (and whether they allow flash). But more important, you need to be shooting from the pool deck not the stands if you want quality shots. If you don't have access to the pool deck you'll have very poor angles and even if you have enough reach, quality will suffer.

Football: you didn't indicate the level of play - midget, high school, college. Will games be day or night or both? Do you have access to the sidelines? As with swimming it's critical you have sideline access to get decent shots. If you don't have access, it isn't worth spending large $$$ on glass - your angles will be poor and too much of your view will be obstructed or you'll simply be too far away. If you're talking little kids you COULD get away with the 70-200. At high school level 300mm is a huge bonus and 400mm is ideal. Think of it this way - from your shooting position, a 200mm lens is good for about 25 yards of quality coverage, 300mm lens is good for 40 yards and a 400mm lens is good for 50-60 yards. 2.8 lens is ideal in all cases for subject isolation, but if you have night games it's absolutely required to get necessary shutter speeds. Also, if you're shooting night football you may find it necessary to use an external flash - even with 2.8 lenses. If you do I would suggest using a flash bracket and preferably a flash with external battery pack. Without the pack the recycle time on the flash will limit you to 1, maybe 2 shots in a burst.

Basball: Again you need to be shooting from the field to get quality results. Once again, focal length depends on level of play. t-ball you can use a 200mm lens. By the time you get to high school you need a 300mm lens to cover the entire infield. Again, 2.8 apertures are beneficial for subject isolation but not absolutely required unless you have night games.

Zoom vs. prime: No question prime lenses provide higher quality. But you're only shooting with a single body and you don't want to be swapping lenses in the field. So I would advise against prime lenses like the 300mm 2.8 for baseball & football (it's too long for swimming).

Third party vs. Canon: I have both Canon and Sigma lenses. Third party lenses come in all varieties - high quality down to utter crap. So, each lens has to be weighed and measured on it's own merits. To be honest I haven't seen much quality sports work (on canon mount) from other third party lenses besides sigma. There are 3 sigma lenses I would recommend for sports work: 120-300mm 2.8, 100-300 f4, 70-200 2.8.

I happen to own and use the Sigma 70-200 2.8 and the 120-300 2.8. Both are fantastic lenses. In the case of the 70-200, image quality is just as good as canon. Canon is slightly faster to focus in low light and has a little less purple fringing. In the case of the 120-300 vs canon 300mm 2.8 - no doubt the canon is quicker to focus and slightly sharper. This is probably canon's best performing telephoto. BUT, the 120-300 is about 90% of the canon. Sill outstanding and better than any other lens out there (beside the canon) at this focal length. AND it's a zoom which is critical. Shooting with a single body this is important.

So, what do I recommend?

70-200 2.8 for swimming (canon if you can afford it, if not sigma is absolutely a great alternative) ($1100 for canon, $850 for sigma)

Sigma 120-300 2.8 for baseball and football and motorsport ($2700)

Monopod for the 120-300 ($50)

Sigma 1.4x TC for extra reach for all outdoor stuff ($170)

For wildlife, the 120-300 can be a great lens - it takes a 1.4x well and I'm told a 2x very well. Another poster here, NHL, uses the lens alot for wildlife. But it's a rather heavy lens. Personally I still prefer to use my 100-400L for the wildlife work I do (which I admit is minimal) especially if I don't want to use a monopod. It really is tough to have one lens for both sports and wildlife though. For wildlife you need plenty of reach - preferably 400mm or more. For sports you really want wide apertures. So, I don't like to use my 100-400 for sports because of the 5.6 aperture.

Here are some sample shots with the lenses I've recommended.

Sigma 70-200 2.8 for swimming:







Sigma 120-300 2.8:






















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Old Jul 3, 2007, 1:53 PM   #7
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They're great pictures. I alsolooked at NHL's website and he/she's getting greatresults with what I assume to be the Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 on birds & BIF...wonder if hes using a 2x TC?

How do you find the 70-200mm without IS? Are the pool shots hand held? Both are definitely nice lenses. Thanks for sharing your experience & knowledge. The 120-300mm is excellent value at $1000 less than the Canon. I wonder if anyone owns the Canon 300mmf2.8 and is willing to post some pics, I'd love to see what it can produce.

BTW I will be shooting all sizes midget to gorilla size and will have access to field and pool decks...you will probably be getting a barrage of questions in the not to distant future.

Thanks again for pointing me in the right direction.

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Old Jul 3, 2007, 2:03 PM   #8
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Not sure if anyone on this board uses the 300mm 2.8 - but the results are stunning. The problem is - it aint a zoom. So with only one camera body you'll be very limited.

The 70-200 shots are all hand-held. At shutter speeds of 1/400 or more (which is where you want to be) camera shake should not be a factor. Now, if you haven't used heavy glass before then any of the 70-200 2.8 lenses will SEEM heavy at first but you get used to it quickly. Then if you use the 120-300 2.8 or 300mm 2.8 you'll start to get an idea of what heavy feels like (move up to the 400mm 2.8 or 500mm 4.0 and you really get an appreciation).
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Old Jul 5, 2007, 3:21 PM   #9
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Hey John, been thinking about things and got a question about 120mm-300mm vs 300mm....with a 300mm prime even if i was going to be shooting with two bodies, I would miss out on a100mm zoom range (between 201-299), not being a zoom I wouldn't have a lotofversatility, and I'd be paying more. The advantage being a sharper result...how much sharper?...I doubt a$1000 worth of sharpness.

So even shooting with two bodies (70-200mm & ?) would you still recommend the Sigma? I assume You shot 2 bodies.


My question is. Given two bodies, what would be the advantage of buying the prime?

Thanks in adavance.


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Old Jul 5, 2007, 3:42 PM   #10
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Azp wrote:
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So even shooting with two bodies (70-200mm & ?) would you still recommend the Sigma? I assume You shot 2 bodies.


My question is. Given two bodies, what would be the advantage of buying the prime?

Thanks in adavance.

Two bodies -

body 1 = 300mm 2.8

body 2 = 70-200 2.8.

The advantage is you have the finest 300mm lens out there on one body and the best mid-range zoom lens on the other body.

Let's take football for instance. You would use the 300 as your primary lens and switch to the 70-200 when the action get's close (say red zone and you're shooting from back of the endzone). It's not like you drop one lens in mid-action and pick up the other (although I suppose you could try that) but when you plan on the action being closer you make the switch.

Or in baseball, say you're shooting from the 1st base line. You use the body with the 300 forbatter at plate, pitcher, short stop and 3rd basemanor any outfiled position. Youuse the 70-200 for shots of the 2nd basemanor action back at your bag. Also, if a man on 1st you might want to use the 70-200 to catch him diving back - or for a steal at 2nd (whether you use the 70-200 or 300 probably depends on how far off the line they make you set up).

But hey, now you're not talking about just $1000 lens difference Youre' talking about another body $1000 PLUS the lens difference $1000 PLUS the 70-200 2.8 ($1100) - that's a $3100 difference.

But shooting with a prime lens is very different. You have to accept the fact your subject may be too large for the frame. That makes some people very uncomfortable. But if you look at a number of SI shots or newspaper shots you'll notice in many cases the shot is of a partial subject. But man that partial looks fantastic (because focus accuracy is so much better).

But here's my question - are you planning on doing this for a major source of income? If so, you should strongly consider buying a mkIIN body and sticking with the 120-300. The better focus of the IIN will do more for you and is a better spend of the difference. So $3100 for IIN plus $2700 for 120-300 ($5800 total) is probably going to yield better results than 30d ($1000) plus 70-200 2.8 ($1100) plus 300mm 2.8 ($4000) for $6100 total.

While the general rule is: save on body put money into glass, by the time you get to a lens like the 120-300 the 30d becomes the limiting factor.

If you're not planning on it being a major source of income I'm not sure the extra quality gain from shooting
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