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Old Mar 12, 2009, 1:04 PM   #11
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Dave:

As JohnG mentioned, you'll need brighter lenses for indoor sports. The lenses you tried to use for basketball are way too slow (i.e., dim) to shoot moving subjects indoors without a flash. They're best used outdoors in good light.

You're going to be down to a widest aperture of around f/5.6 if you zoom in much with those lenses, which doesn't let in enough light to achieve the desired shutter speeds for indoor sports. That also means that the Autofocus Sensors don't see as well for focus purposes.

A prime (fixed focal length versus zoom) is your best bet for indoor sports shooting at ISO 1600 with your A200. For example, a 50mm f/1.7, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4, 100mm f/2, or 135mm f/1.8. If you shoot at f/2 with one of those lenses, you should be able to get your shutter speeds up to around 1/400 second at ISO 1600 in a typical high school gym.

To put things into perspective, f/2 is 8 (eight) times as bright as f/5.6, allowing shutter speeds 8 times as fast as you'd get with a dimmer zoom at f/5.6 (for the same ISO speed, lighting and exposure). The image the autofocus sensors see with a brighter lens is also brighter (and ditto for your viewfinder image; it's going to be brighter with a brighter lens). The pupils in your eyes are just adjusting to the lower light indoors much better than a camera using a dimmer lens can.

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).

If you wanted to use an f/2.8 zoom (which is 4 times as bright as a dimmer zoom with only f/5.6 available when zoomed in much), you'd probably want to use ISO 3200 to reduce motion blur. That's going to be a bit noisy on your A200. So, you'd have to balance the need for faster shutter speeds with higher noise levels, versus motion blur if you try to use a lower ISO speed with the same lens (for example, you may be able to get away with 1/250 second at ISO 1600 with an f/2.8 lens, but you'd get a lower percentage of keepers at shutter speeds that slow due to a bit of motion blur).

In any event, the lenses you mentioned using are just not bright enough for indoor sports. You'll either need to use a flash, or get brighter lenses (zooms with f/2.8 available throughout their focal range if shooting at ISO 3200, or primes with f/2 available if shooting at ISO 1600 are probably your best bets).


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Old Mar 12, 2009, 1:30 PM   #12
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JohnG and Jim thanks for the info, I understood that going ..... I was just trying to make the point that the A200 wasn't gonna cut it for him. I was doing the basketball game as a test of the camera and the local newspaper bagged for some pictures. If I was doing it for a living I would get a better camera and lenses.

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Old Mar 12, 2009, 1:44 PM   #13
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ncjaybee wrote:
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I could invest in a faster lens. Say a Sigma 70-200 2.8 that I can pick up for around 800. This would get me a stop faster than the beercan but doesn't do anything for additional magnification.

I could invest in the Sony Alpha 700, which should get me some help on the speed if I can go higher on ISO, and I think it also focuses faster. I can pick one up for $700 - body only. He'll give me about $175 for my Alpha 100, or I can sell it on my own.
I've got a Sony A700, and I really like it. But, you're really going to need to upgrade both your body and lenses for best results (i.e., buy the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 *and* the A700 if you want to shoot in lower light more often, keeping in mind that you'll probably need to use ISO 3200 for indoor sports like basketball using an f/2.8 lens).

Or, buy a longer prime for that use instead if you don't like using your 50mm f/1.4 for basketball (which is your best bet with the lenses you have now). For example, a Minolta 85mm f/1.4, Sony/Zeiss 85mm f/1.4, Minolta 100mm f/2, Sony/Zeiss 135mm f/1.8, shooting at ISO 1600 or ISO 2000. At ISO 3200, you could get away with a Minolta 135mm f/2.8 AF lens from further distances (or use an f/2.8 zoom like the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 you mentioned if budget permits).

You may also want to look at the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 for a bit smaller and lighter package (compared to the 70-200mm f/2.8 ) for indoor use at ISO 3200 if you don't plan on a full frame model in the future (Sigma's 50-150mm f/2.8 is a DC lens, which means it's designed for models with an APS-C size sensor, so it projects a smaller image circle unsuitable for full frame models). It's around $674 at vendors like adorama.com

For the wildlife type shots (birds, etc.), you'll probably want a longer zoom. The Sigma 50-500mm (a.k.a., Bigma) is a well liked lens, selling at around $1029 now. Sony makes a 70-400mm G that is very nice (but, as already mentioned it's priced at close to $1500). Sigma also has some other options like their 100-300mm f/4 (which would still Autofocus using a 1.4x TC, giving you the equivalent of a 140-420mm f/5.6 using one with this lens, since you lose one stop of light with a 1.4x TC). You can also find a used Minolta 100-400mm. But, they've been slowly increasing in price. keh.com has a couple of them in stock now. See this page: Minolta 100-400mm f/4.5-6.7 APO AF lenses with hood, caps and case

You could also use a 1.4x or 2x TC with a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 for use in better lighting outdoors. But, anytime you use a TC, you can expect a bit of image degradation, which means you may need to stop down a bit from wide open apertures for better results (and you're already losing 1 stop of light with a 1.4x TC or 2 stops of light with a 2x TC).

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Old May 19, 2009, 10:59 PM   #14
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ncjaybee:

Oops...

My apologies. I pressed the Edit button instead of the Reply button and messed up your post here (although most of it is still in quotes with my comments after yours). Please remind me to finish my first cup of coffee before replying to posts this early. Sorry about that.

For others viewing this thread, ncjaybee ended up buying a new Sony A700 as an upgrade to the A100. I'll let him repeat anything that I removed from this post by accident.

JimC

Quote:
So far I like - haven't had a ton of time to do much more than play around with it seeing what different ISO settings would do etc - did take it to some hockey games (amateur youth hockey) and as I expected, I don't have the glass for that. The 50 does OK light wise, but you just can't get close enough for most of it - at least not from where I was able to shoot from.
You might be able to get away with the beercan and get some keepers. How high did you go with ISO speed? I'd bump it up to ISO 3200 or 4000 and see what you get. Just be careful you're not underexposing (as ice will fool the metering so you may need to use manual exposure or a +EV setting with exposure compensation to set a brighter exposure than the camera is metering). Otherwise, your noise levels will increase if you try to brighten a photo later.

Quote:
My kids are almost out of HS, so sports photo opps for them are winding down. I take mostly family events now, and would like to get more serious into wildlife photography.
You can probably pick up a Minolta 100-400mm f/4.5-6.7 APO AF lens in the $500's if you shop carefully. In a higher quality lens, the new Sony 70-400mm would be hard to beat. Another good choice would be the Bigma (Sigma 50-500mm) if you don't mind the size and weight.

Quote:
The 700 is WAY faster focusing than the 100.
Yes, it's a very responsive camera. I've been quite fond of mine.

Quote:
I understand that different lenses have different sweet spots. Any suggestions on finding those for the lenses I have?
Well... most lenses are going to be a bit softer at their zoom extremes, and most lenses are going to be a bit sharper if you stop down the aperture a bit from wide open (i.e., use f/5.6 instead of f/4 with a lens like the beercan). But, keep shutter speeds in mind.

Quote:
Also any suggestions on how to set the options on the camera - what to turn on/off etc?
I'd upgrade your firmware to version 4 as a first step. It can make a pretty big difference in how the camera handles noise at higher ISO speeds:

http://esupport.sony.com/US/perl/swu...=3757&os_id=31

I'd also turn DRO off at higher ISO speeds. Otherwise, it will probably try to boost brightness of the shadow areas, increasing visible noise levels (just as if you brightened those areas later using software).
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Old May 20, 2009, 6:35 AM   #15
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P.S.

Congrats on the new A700. I think you'll really like it.
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