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Old Aug 17, 2009, 6:11 PM   #11
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Well eccobleu-

The Canon SX-10 in daylight conditions can do that without a lot of cost. I had an old friend who was a professional photographer shared with me a very true statement:

A DSLR is a CONTINUING investment, while a super zoom is a ONE TIME investment.

Sarah Joyce

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Old Aug 18, 2009, 7:25 AM   #12
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Well eccobleu-

The Canon SX-10 in daylight conditions can do that without a lot of cost.
Sarah - since you've made that statement, perhaps you could show us some of your soccer and football photos upon which you base that advice.
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Old Aug 18, 2009, 8:13 AM   #13
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Well eccobleu-


A DSLR is a CONTINUING investment, while a super zoom is a ONE TIME investment.

Sarah Joyce
I don't completely agree with this statement. Many people never go beyond the kit lens/lenses. Besides maybe adding a flash, after the initial investment there is no requirement to purchase additional items. Cases, batteries, software, storage, etc are needed for both types of cameras and require additional investment. A P&S is thus not exactly a one time investment either. And many find P&S very limiting and end up purchasing a DSLR anyway.

With the number of P&S cameras you own (and yes I realize some are for teaching), it's clear P&S cameras aren't a one time investment.

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Old Aug 18, 2009, 11:31 AM   #14
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He's only 7 - the next sports up are U8 soccer and flag football. Games are outside and around 10AM - 3PM. We sit right on the side line, so we're pretty close. I would like something with a faster shutter speed and with a sharper image (more definition?) than what I have now. I hope I'm saying that right.

Thanks!
OK, sounds like you're getting blurry images. There are 2 causes for action shots to be blurry:
1) the subject isn't in good focus - this comes down to the gear's ability to track the subject and the photographer's ability to use the gear correctly.

2) shutter speeds are too low. Two attributes will give you faster shutter speeds - a wider aperture (f4 will give shutter speeds twice as fast as f5.6, f2.8 will give shutter speeds twice as fast as f4). The other attribute is ISO. Many digicams are notoriously bad in this department. A number of the latest digicams have very respectable ISO 400 and a few have decent ISO 800. Even in daylight you can find the need to shoot at ISO 400-800 to get fast enough shutter speeds. A number of the digicams/superzooms actually will have ISO 1600 and 3200. I wouldn't recommend using those ISOs for Canon's digicams. One of the great ironies is that Canon DSLRs have excellent noise performance at high ISOs but their digicams do not (different technology).

A newer superzoom will probably give you increased performance in both of the above. BUT, you'll find they still do a poor job of tracking a moving subject - especially when that subject is moving toward you.

If you're going to consider a superzoom I would VERY VERY STRONGLY recommend you see some photos of soccer/football with the camera before you make a decision. I've never been impressed with any sports photos from digicams but my standards are very high for sports images. I can tell you there are a lot of people on the internet that will tell you a camera can take sports images but most of them strangely enough don't have any sports images using the camera. People that don't shoot sports completely underestimate how difficult it is for the camera and the photographer to get decent images. BUT, having said that, it's important to choose a solution that meets YOUR criteria for 'good enough'. That's where seeing pictures helps you decide if the camera will get you 'good enough' sports images.

On the DSLR front, you could get by with a 200mm lens but 300 would be even better. Here's where things get interesting though. Not all lenses are created equal. The sharpness of most current dslr lenses will equal or better the sharpness from a superzoom lens so no worries there. BUT, what seperates lenses is just how sharp they are, AND when sports is concerned, how fast the lenses focus. For example, let's take some lenses you might choose from if you chose the XSi for your sports shooting:
Canon 70-300 IS USM. This is a very sharp consumer grade lens. It's also fairly fast to focus. That focus speed and the 300mm makes it a great consumer sports lens for kids sports in the daylight. But it's $550. The IS is very beneficial for non sports work where it will help in lower light situations where you have slower shutter speeds (and where subject isn't moving).

Canon 70-200 f4L - This is a pro grade lens. Pro sharpness, pro build quality and pro focus speed. Fastest focusing and sharpest lens in this discussion and it's all metal - one of the greatest bargains in Canon's lens lineup. It's $600. You're trading the extra reach of the 70-300 to get a wider aperture, better build, more sharpness and faster focusing.

Tamron 70-300 Di - A very sharp lens - on par with the canon 70-300. BUT, it's slow to focus. With the XSi it will focus faster and more accurately than any digicam on the market but not as fast as the 2 canon lenses. So you'll still end up with a number of out of focus shots because the motor in the lens isn't able to keep up with the demands. Again, everything is relative - better than a digicam, but quite a notch below the Canon's for sports use. Costs $170

Sigma 70-300. The weakest of the lot. It's not very sharp from 200-300 (least sharp of the 4 lenses) and it's also slow to focus since it does NOT have sigma's HSM lens motor. This used to be the budget lens of choice but since the Tamron came out I can't think of a good reason to recommend the sigma over the Tamron. At least the Tamron is sharper even if both lenses are slow to focus.

In the Nikon camp, it's a little tougher. They have a 70-300 lens but it's not as strong as Canon's. They don't have anything like Canon's 70-200 f4. The Sigma and Tamron lenses are available in Nikon mount, BUT I don't believe t he Sigma will auto-focus on the D5000 (unless they've updated the Nikon version to include a focus motor. It didn't used to since Nikon cameras used to all have focus motors in the camera. With the D40 / D60 /D5000 not having focus motors this means a number of older lenses no longer work. One of our Nikon shooters would have to help out with whether the Sigma lens has a motor. The Tamron is a newer design and I'm fairly confident it contains a motor so it will focus on the D5000. Still, if you wanted to go that route you should probably get positive confirmation.

Having said all this - there is still a learning curve to getting good sports images. It is NOT a point-and-shoot thing. Even the best DSLR equipment will provide poor, out of focus images if the photographer doesn't learn what they're doing. For example, DSLRs have multiiple focus points. To get good sports images you need to select a single focus point. You then have to keep that point on the player you want the photo of. Why? Because otherwise the camera will focus on another player or some other object and your subject will not be in focus. There are also challenging exposure considerations. Leave everything up to your camera in bright sunlight and you may be very disappointed in the exposures you get.
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Old Aug 18, 2009, 11:37 AM   #15
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Now, I should also say I do not shoot with ANY of the cameras you are considering. And I don't shoot with any of the specific lenses I've recommended. BUT, I do shoot sports. I do know first hand, what gear attributes are important. And I do track multiple forums looking at sports images to see what the various gear options are producing (at the DSLR level. I find very, very, very few digicam users are willing to post their sports images. Lots of other images and several discussions about sports but very few posted images - even in forums dedicated just to digicams).
So yes, I shoot football:








And yes I shoot soccer:


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Old Aug 18, 2009, 11:44 AM   #16
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JohnG-

You know very well that I always defer to you as the leading Sports Photographer in this Forum! My vision was that a super zoom from the sidelines of the field might be a stop gap solution, while the OP gathered some Sport Photography experience and truly determined if that was his niche or not and what camera equipment he really needed.

Your posted photos always look great and make a very strong statement, JohnG!

Sarah Joyce
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Old Aug 18, 2009, 11:52 AM   #17
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JohnG-

You know very well that I always defer to you as the leading Sports Photographer in this Forum!
Sarah Joyce
Sarah - it's not about defering to anyone. My point was you advised a person that a specific camera model could do a specific thing - with no actual evidence or experience to back up that claim. That's very misleading advice when you're advising someone else how to spend their money. Especially when you often state you are an instructor. Including that in your posts lends your opinions an air of knowledge and experience. So it's dangerous to talk in difinitive terms (e.g. the SX-10 can do that) without any basis for the claim. Because of that 'instructor' monitor that's why it's more dangerous when you specifically make those types of statements. I realize from your flurry of posts in the last day that the SX-10 is your new project camera. But that doesn't mean it's the end-all-be-all for every shooter that is considering a superzoom or DSLR.
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Old Aug 18, 2009, 1:30 PM   #18
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JohnG-

Thanks for the post. I actually agree with your position, and you can depend on the fact that I will be very careful indeed in making any statements that can be interpreted as judgemental.

I continue to agree with you that a super zoom camera is not well adapted to Sports Photography, but then, how many camera enthusiasts can afford to plunk down the amount of money you have invested in your cameras. I see the super zoom as a convenient, very portable, camera that, in good light, can do many types of photography with minimal cost. And as we both post very regularly, we know quite well that budget can be a very important issue.

In closing, I also offer my apologies to the OP (eccobleu) for perhaps confusing the issue with my statement about the Canon SX-10. Its always good to hear from you JohnG.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Aug 18, 2009, 1:58 PM   #19
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JohnG-

Thanks for the post. I actually agree with your position, and you can depend on the fact that I will be very careful indeed in making any statements that can be interpreted as judgemental.

I continue to agree with you that a super zoom camera is not well adapted to Sports Photography, but then, how many camera enthusiasts can afford to plunk down the amount of money you have invested in your cameras.
Again, I'm not suggesting they do. Which is why I suggested some options which would meet the OPs needss. Could be done for under $1000. Superzooms are great cameras. But, IMO, there is very little evidence in forums on the internet I've seen that suggest they're good enough for sports work. They may be, or not. Prior generations certainly weren't up to the task based on photos I've seen. That's why my suggestion is to always base a decision after seeing photos. Again, I'll see lots of discussions by people who own said cameras but they never seem to post their sports photos. That makes it difficult for a person reading the posts to determine whether the camera produces results that meet their quality standards. And sports isn't something professional reviews covers - even in DSLRs. So a potential buyer is at the mercy of current owners to post photos by which to judge equipment.

But, all that asside - as someone who shoots sports I like people who are making buying desisions to understand the obstacles involved. It is entirely possible a person's budget and their expectations do not intersect. I run into a lot of parents with DSLRs that still get poor results at their kids sports events. Usually do to a) they don't know HOW to shoot sports b) they have the wrong lens or c) they just can't get close enough to the action in which case equipment is moot. Just because someone WANTS to spend only $300 and will be shooting varsity football from the stands doesn't mean there is a camera out there that will enable them to do it. With proper education and advice the person can then either adjust their expectations or adjust their budget. Either way, they know the risks BEFORE they spend their hard earned money.
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Old Aug 18, 2009, 5:07 PM   #20
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Well spoken, JohnG!

Sarah Joyce
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