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Old Nov 27, 2007, 11:21 AM   #11
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cpkramers wrote:
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How about something like this?

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Autofocus.html
I'd suggest that, for a little more money, you might be happier with this:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...2_8_XR_Di.html

This is the one JimC mentioned. I've got one and am very pleased with it. It currently qualifies for a mail-in rebate, and it is available used as well.
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Old Nov 27, 2007, 11:23 AM   #12
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As a sports shooter myself I concur with the advice Jim is giving you. Sports shooting is difficult. Low light sports shooting is VERY difficult. Success is greatly dependent upon having both the right camera AND the right lens. Without those it's almost impossible to get quality results in low light sports. Once you have those it is still VERY difficult. You'll have a learning curve. Depending on the level of quality you want that curve can be very steep. Shooting basketball is NOT a point-and-shoot thing. So you should be aware of that going in - there's a lot to learn and practice to get good shots - even with the best gear.

In Canon's lineup it will definitely be worth while to get either an XTI or used 20d or used 30d. They will all do a better job than the XT at sports because they all use a better focusing system. The 20d & 30d have additional benefits over the XTi but trust me as a sports shooter whose used canon gear: the focus system alone is a good enough reason to choose any of these over the XT.

As for choosing the right lens. As Jim pointed out, you need prime lenses for the job. The challenge is: which lens to use? Here is the real difficult part - these lenses are only designed to focus accurately for a certain distance. If you want quality shots you want to stay within that distance.This is probably the single biggest issue new sports shooters contend with - they try to shoot action that's too far away. For instance, if you want quality results, the 50mm 1.8 is good for about 10-15 feet of coverage AND THAT's IT! You're not going to use that lens from 10 rows up in the stands and get quality shots at the hoop. That lens can be used when you're on the floor, directly on the baseline and shooting players within 15 feet - so not outside the arc, not at half court, etc. The 85mm 1.8 lens is good for about 20 feet or so. AND THAT's IT. It's much faster to focus than the 50 and sharper and it's a decent focal length to use. So it's the most popular choice for HS basketball - FROM THE FLOOR. From the stands you start needing more focal length - the 100mm 2.0 (about same price as 85mm 1.8) or the $1000 135mm 2.0. Bottom line is - you really neet to be shooting from the floor or you need to spend some significant money.

Another alternative is to shoot with a zoom lens and an external flash. I don't tend to like this method because flash sports photography is difficult to do well. AND, since you're just starting out you'd spend more money on the zoom and flash than you would on the 85mm lens. And in the end, if you're in the right place the 85mm will get you much better results.

So, getting the 50mm lens and XT and shooting from the stands will get you better shots than you're getting now but they'll still be poor shots because you're trying to do a job the gear is incapable of doing. Doesn't mean the gear is bad - just that it's the wrong gear for the job. Like hauling 15 yards of topsoil in the trunk of a BMW z5. The z5 is a nice car but terrible at hauling topsoil.

Now, if you are shooting from the baseline on the floor then the XT and 50mm can absolutely get you some very good shots once you learn how to shoot basketball. So that's a viable option. But if you could get a used 20d/30d for only $100 more then it is absolutely worth the extra $$$. The 85 is worth it too but if I had to choose I would get the better body now and save up for the 85mm lens for next year. If it were sunny-day sports then the difference in the focus systems wouldn't be as evident. But low light sports it is.
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Old Nov 27, 2007, 12:15 PM   #13
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Great information. That really helps me understand what I'm up against, and what it will take to get some decent results. Now I just have to decide what I'm willing to do $'s wise.

keh.com has some 20D's for $500, and I can get a Canon 100mm f/2 for $375. I just know I'll be shooting form the stands most all the time, so the 100 might be a better fit for me. I could then buy the Sigma 17-50mm at a later date, and use my old 35-80 Eos lens in the mean time.

Thanks again.


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Old Nov 27, 2007, 4:25 PM   #14
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JohnG wrote:
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... or the $1000 135mm 2.0. Bottom line is - you really neet to be shooting from the floor or you need to spend some significant money.
Or, if you stretch your budget...

Sony DSLR-A700 ($1399 for the body) with a Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm f/1.8 Autofocus Lens (another $1399). ;-)


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Old Nov 28, 2007, 10:47 AM   #15
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Jim - on a related note I think those prices bring up an interesting point. From your posts it seems like the 700 is absolutely a viable choice for an action photographer. But I think for sony to succeed in that market they need to do something on the lens front. And by that I mean affordability.It's going to be tough going to PROVE the 700 is asignificantly better sports body than the 40d or d300. Much less prove that it's on par with the D3 and 1D. Difficult because action shooting isn't something in general reviews. This is the type of thing that needs field tested. And while it could be successfully argued that the zeis lenses are superior to Canon or Nikon, 99% of the pro sports shooters are using Canon / Nikon. So their lenses are good enough for the pros to use, why should a hobbyist pay more for a solution from Sony.

So to attract the serious sports shooter, Sony still has their marketing work cut out for them. Canon / Nikon have the gear the pros use, and the lenses are often more affordable (since we're talking about using pro grade lenses. So it will be interesting to see if they try to go after the serious sports shooters and how they try to entice them away from Canon / Nikon. The 700 seems like a great first step. It will be interesting to see how they market over the next 3 years or so. I think to overcome the brand recognition they're either going to have to lower some lens prices (making the total sports package solution more affordable) or point out a serious competitive advantage that a serious sports shooter would look at and say: "yea it costs more to shoot sports in Sony but it's worth it".
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Old Nov 28, 2007, 11:10 AM   #16
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I think Sony is going to be a good solution over time.

The main issue right now is "middle grade" type lenses.

Sony elected to manufacturer the premium grade lenses first (35mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4, 135mm f/1.8, 70-200mm f/2.8, 300mm f/2.8, a vareity of special purpose lenses like the 135mm Soft Transition Focus, etc.). They haven't yet started rebranding some of higher end Minolta lenses yet either (for example, a 300mm f/4 or 600m f/4, although B&H still stocks some of these lens types brand new).

They've left out a number of the "middle grade" lenses so far (like the older Minolta 28mm f/2, 35mm f/2, 50mm f/1.7, 100mm f/2, 135mm f/2.8, etc.). You can still find them on the used market (and some are at very good prices like the 50mm f/1.7 AF Lens for under $100). But, they really need to address this "middle grade" niche for the long term.

You can also grab the Minolta 85mm f/1.4 on the used market for around $800 now. But, a Canon shooter can get an 85mm f/1.8 for around $300 brand new. It's a weak area in the current Sony DSLR lens lineup.

I think the 85mm lenses available for Sony would probably do fine for indoor sports, based on what I've seen from my 100mm f/2 on a 5D and a700 so far (and lenses tend to focus about twice as fast on the A700, thanks to better AF algorithms and a beefed up focus motor).

I saw one review of a Canon 85mm f/1.2L (the new II version with faster AF), compared to a Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on a KM 7D, and the reviewer indicated that the Zeiss still focused "noticeably faster" than the Canon lens (and he was using a 20D), even using the Zeiss on an older KM 7D body. So, my guess (only a guess), is that the a700 with a Ziess lens on it, is going to come close the speed of a Canon 85mm f/1.8 (which is about twice as fast as the newest Canon 85mm f/1.2L).

In any event, the camera bodies are becoming good enough that you tend to be "splitting hairs" between them. But, lens availability and pricing tends to leave a bit to be desired between brands, and Canon has the advantage with more lenses that have a decent ring USM type AF system at an affordable price right now.

Another niche that sports shooters are going to look at is the 70-200mm f/2.8 range, too. Sony just dropped the price on the 70-200mm f/2.8G SSM lens by around $500 (now, it's *only* $1999.95). lol But, that's still viewed as being "pricey" to many buyers.

Sigma apparently got "cold feet" during the KM to Sony transition, and I haven't seen their 70-200mm f/2.8 on the shelves for a while. I am starting to see some Sigma lenses in KM/Sony mount start shipping again now, though (for example, the 100-300mm f/4 just started showing up again).

Tamron announced a new 70-200mm f/2.8 a while back that should help improve competition in this market niche whenever they get around to shipping it:

http://www.tamron.co.jp/en/news/rele...0307_a001.html

I'd like to see a lot more competition in this niche (70-200mm f/2.8 zooms). Right now, Sigma is about the only other game in town, other than the camera manufacturers' zooms with this focal range and brightness (although you do see some Tokinas around from time to time, the Sigma is generally regarded as a better/faster focusing lens).

Sigma, Tokina and Tamron really should jump on the bandwagon and start shipping lenses with Ultrasonic motor type focusing systems, too. Part of that is probably licensing type stuff though.

That way, we'd have a lot more competition in this segment, which would help to drive prices down. Perhaps now that the DSLR market niches are growing at a faster rate (thanks to price drops as technology advances), we'll see more competition in the lenses for them, too.

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Old Nov 28, 2007, 11:17 AM   #17
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Jim,

I agree completely. Unfortunately it's going to take a few years which means it will likely be too late to benefit me much :angry: But yes, good for consumers in general.

And I REALLY think it's a growing niche - there are a LOT more soccer moms/dads at games with their DSLRs (still with the wrong lenses but they'll learn and over the next few years they'll want to buy the right lenses). And right now Sony is in a better position than Pentax or Oly to take advantage of that growth - IF they can meet the needs of that segment with better pricing.
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Old Nov 28, 2007, 1:34 PM   #18
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Another thought is that Sony may regard the middle grade prime lenses unnecessary, based on advancements in sensor technology (higher usable ISO speeds) and improvements in optical design that may allow the use of more flexible f/2.8 zooms instead.

They announced that they were working on f/2.8 zooms like a 14-35mm f/2.8 and 24-70mm f/2.8 SSM a while back. With usable ISO 3200 and higher (depending on print/viewing sizes needed), you may not need brighter primes. ;-)

Ditto for other lens types. Sony has already announced a 70-300mm G type lens with SSM (Supersonic Motor Focusing, which Minolta introduced on lenses like their 70-200mm f/2.8 SSM and 300mm f/2.8 SSM), that only has f/5.6 on it's long end.

I've already seen complaints from die hard Minolta fans complaining about Sony branding a lens with that dim as a G lens. lol

But, from my perspective, if the optical quality and focus speed live up to expectations, and sensor improvements continue to allow higher usable ISO speeds, that's a good thing (especially considering Autofocus sensor technology improvements allowing for dimmer lenses).

You get to use smaller and lighter (and hopefully less expensive) lenses for any given shooting condition with each newer generation of camera technology (image sensor, autofocus sensor/algorithms, image processing/noise reduction, etc.).

Thanks to higher resolution sensors, you can also get away with cropping a bit more and/or larger print and viewing sizes for a given focal length lens.

Sony is also the second largest shareholder in Tamron. So, I wouldn't underestimate that relationship, as well as their relationship with Carl Zeiss.

It will be interesting to watch anyway.

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Old Nov 28, 2007, 2:10 PM   #19
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fastest ever "DSLR-Like" p&s - SP-560 UZ(up to 15 fps)
but priced similar to entry-level DSLR's, which is prefect choice for action shooting(Spot, Flashpoint, Crime repot and etc)

[img]chrome://piclens/content/launch.png[/img]
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