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Old Nov 26, 2007, 2:04 PM   #1
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I'm in need of a new camera for shooting some indoor basketball games of my daughter's. I've tried the point n shoots etc., but the indoor results are just bad. I'm thinking about the SLR-like models with larger sensors to try and capture the indoor action. Fuji has some such as the s8000 and the s6000 that look promising in my price range... say about $400 or less. Do you have any recommendations given what I want to accomplish shooting indoor high school basketball? I am a novice photographer, but not a complete beginner. My wife is someone who needs to be able to just turn the camera on and take a picture, so it needs to have a mode that's easy to use.
Thanks for your help.
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Old Nov 26, 2007, 2:22 PM   #2
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You'll want a DSLR with a bright prime (fixed focal length versus zoom) lens for a higher percentage of keepers shooting indoor sports. You will typically need to shoot at around f/2 at ISO 1600 to get your shutter speeds up in the 1/400 second or faster range. A model with ISO 3200 is an even better bet, in case the gym is not lit as well.


An 85mm f/1.8 is a popular lens for this purpose. This type of lens typically runs between $300 and $400 for Nikon and Canon DSLR models.

On a tighter budget, you could try to get by with a 50mm f/1.8 instead. But, a much better bet would be an 85mm.

Note that the entry level Nikon D40 and D40x models do not allow Autofocus with these types of lenses. I'd probably avoid those cameras for indoor sports (although you could use manual focus instead).

Even a bright f/2.8 zoom can be dimmer than desired for indoor sports (even when shooting at ISO 1600, you may see a high percentage of photos with motion blur). You could get some keepers with a bright f/2.8 zoom. But, expect a lot of blurry photos, too. So, I'd go with a bright prime (fixed focal length versus zoom lens) instead. You'll want a lens with f/2 or brighter (smaller f/stop numbers) for this type of shooting.

I would not recommend trying to get any usable images with non-DSLR camera models. For one thing, their lenses are not bright enough. For another, you'll have more noise and/or loss of detail from noise reduction trying to shoot at their highest ISO speed settings.

I'd consider a model like the Canon XT or XTi at a mininum, using a lens like a 85mm f/1.8 AF Lens on one for basketball (assuming you can shoot from the floor versus the stands).

Or, if budget permitted, move up a notch to a model like a Canon EOS-20D, 30D or 40D so that you'd have higher available ISO speeds if needed, as well as faster frame rates.


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Old Nov 26, 2007, 3:37 PM   #3
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Thank you for your help. It seems that what I want just isn't going to be foundin the sub-$400 range from what you're telling me.

One question for you. You mention the Canon EOS XT as a entry level choice. I have an EOS Rebel film camera that we bought in 1991 that has two lenses. I'm pretty sure they are EF-S lenses, but I'll check tonight when I get home. Do you think those would work with the new Canon digitals? If so, all I would need would be a body, and that would certainly help the price. I believe, and this is from memory, one is a like a 35-85? and I know the other is a 300mm zoom for sure.

Thanks again.
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Old Nov 26, 2007, 3:49 PM   #4
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Your film Rebel uses Canon EF Mount Lenses. The Canon Rebel DSLR models can use either EF or EF-S (Digital Only) lenses.

So, yes, your lenses would function on a Canon DSLR. But, you'll have a narrower angle of view (more apparent magnification) using them on an entry level DSLR model. That's because these models using APS-C size sensors that are smaller than 35mm film.

To see what focal length you'd need on a 35mm camera for the same angle of view you'd have on a DSLR model like the XT, multiply the focal length by 1.6x.

In other words, you'll have the same angle of view with 300mm lens on an entry Level Canon DSLR model that you would have using a 480mm lens on a 35mm camera (300mm x 1.6 = 480mm).

That's why most of the kit lenses start out at around 18mm now (because they'll appear to be longer on a DSLR like the XT).

Chances are, your lenses would not be bright enough for indoor sports use, though. Even a higher quality zoom that can maintain f/2.8 throughout it's focal range would struggle to get a high percentage of photos without blur shooting indoor sports, unless you can shoot at ISO 3200. A brighter prime (not a zoom) is the preferred lens choice for that type of shooting.

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Old Nov 26, 2007, 4:43 PM   #5
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Forgive my ignorance, but by a brighter prime(not zoom)lens, do you mean one that is a fixed length? In other words, it won't be a variable18-55mm, it would just be a 50mm for example without any zoom function?
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Old Nov 26, 2007, 4:59 PM   #6
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Correct. A fixed focal length versus zoom lens with an f/2 or wider aperture (smaller f/stop numbers) is the preferred choice for indoor sports in a school gym.

An 85mm f/1.8 USM Autofocus Lens is a popular choice with some of our Canon shooters for basketball (assuming you can shoot from the floor).

These types of lenses are much brighter than zooms.

The aperture scale in one stop increments (with larger than f/1 apertures possible but very rare in lenses) goes f/1.0, f/1.4, f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6, f/8.0, f/11, f/16, f/22.

With each one stop move to a smaller aperture (represented by higher f/stop numbers), you will need shutter speeds twice as long for proper exposure for the same lighting and ISO speed (only half the light gets through compared to a one stop larger aperture).

So, you can get shutter speeds twice as fast by shooting at f/2 with a brighter prime versus using a zoom with f/2.8 available (and only better grades of zooms will have f/2.8 ), for any given lighting and ISO speed.

If I were going to try and get away with using an f/2.8 zoom, I'd want to shoot at ISO 3200, and at ISO speeds that high, you're going to degrade image quality some, even with a DSLR model (and not all DSLR models can go that high). You could probably get some keepers at ISO 1600 and f/2.8, depending on the lighting. But, your percentage of keepers will go down (more of the photos will have motion blur trying to get away with using f/2.8 at ISO 1600).

So, your best bet is to use a brighter prime for indoor sports to get a higher percentage of keepers without blur.

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Old Nov 27, 2007, 8:55 AM   #7
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Thanks for your help Jim. Now I just have to convince the better half!
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Old Nov 27, 2007, 9:08 AM   #8
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If you're on a real tight budget, you may want to go used.

Something like a used Canon EOS-20D kit with an 18-55mm lens for general purpose use can be found for around $500 at vendors like http://www.keh.com and they have a good return policy (14 days from invoice date) as well as a short term warranty (60 days) on used gear. They also have very conservative ratings. See their Canon Digital section and look at both bodies and camera outfits.

Then, grab a 50mm f/1.8 AF Lens to go with it (under $100) for low light use if that's all the budget you have and you should get some shots when players are close enough. Or, if budget permits, a used or new 85mm f/1.8 USM AF lens would be a much better choice for indoor sports (around $310 new now at discounters, or $250 or so used).

So, figure somewhere around $800 for a solution with a used EOS-20D body, used 18-55mm kit lens, and used or new 85mm f/1.8 USM AF lens for indoor sports.

Or, you can grab a new Canon EOS-20D from http://www.buydig.com now for $799 while supplies last (it's a discontined model but fine for what you want to shoot). That's a body only price so you'd need to buy lenses for it.

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Old Nov 27, 2007, 10:42 AM   #9
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How about something like this?

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._Rebel_XT.html

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Autofocus.html

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...0mm_f_1_8.html

Total of about $800 plus memory card.

Would the 17-35mm be a pretty good daily lens, or should i just go with the stock 18-55mm for less $?

Thanks again Jim.
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Old Nov 27, 2007, 10:58 AM   #10
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That SP (Super Performance) Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 should be a good lens. I've got an older SP 20-40mm f/2.7-3.5 that's quite sharp. The SP series lenses from Tamron are their better grade of lenses.

The lens you're looking at is newer and starts out a bit wider, but doesn't go quite as long.

The main downside to this type of lens is focal range, since you only have a 2x difference between wide and long. That's good for quality. But, it's not so good for usability/convenience.

In something better than the Canon 18-55mm kit lens, I'd probably look at a Tamron 18-50mm f/2.8, or a Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 for a bit more range.

As for the indoor sports lens, I'd try to figure out a way to afford the 85mm f/1.8 instead of a 50mm. That's why I was thinkng a used kit may be a better idea, considering your original budget. Personally, I'd go used and get better quality gear (both camera body and lenses), versus going new with lower quality gear. The E0S-20D will be a better peformer compared to an XT (focus speed, build quality, buffer size, available ISO speeds, frame rate in continuous modes, etc.), and an 85mm f/1.8 will be a better lens for indoor sports compared to a 50mm f/1.8, allowing you to fill the frame more for better Autofocus performance, as well as better detail in the photos.

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