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Old Feb 17, 2010, 9:13 AM   #1
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Default Fast action in limited light

What cameras should I consider for taking fast action shots in limited light needing telephoto lense?? I do indoor dog agility trials. Fast moving dogs, distance shooting in limited indoor lighting.
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Old Feb 17, 2010, 9:23 AM   #2
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In low light, you need large apertures and slow shutter speeds.

For fast action, you need fast shutter speeds.

For fast action in low light, you need really large apertures.

You might be able to get away with f/2.8 if you can get the ISO up high enough, but to be certain, you should get a lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.0 or larger (numerically smaller.) There are only a handful of zoom lenses that go larger than f/2.8, and they are very expensive, so that narrows your selection to primes (fixed focal length lenses.)

Canon dSLRs have the best selection of large aperture lenses, followed by Nikon. Sony also has a few excellent lenses in that category. Olympus also has some excellent lenses for that, but they are prohibitively expensive, and their dSLRs aren't very good for sports/action photography.

Do you have some samples of shots you've taken with what you've got?
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Last edited by TCav; Feb 17, 2010 at 9:30 AM.
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Old Feb 17, 2010, 10:50 AM   #3
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TCAV hit some of the highlights. But with dog agility it's even more troublesome. Here's the additional problem. For lots of indoor sports you're shooting at ISO 3200-6400 at f2.0-2.8. Now, when doing that the depth of field is pretty shallow. AND you've got noise/loss of detail. Those are two things that don't go very well with dogs. To expose properly to see detail on a black dog you need even higher exposures than you would say for a light skinned basketball player. My point is this - indoor dog agility is even more difficult than indoor sports to get good results because of some of the dark hair, and the loss of detail to noise reduction and the shallow DOF of these wide lenses. You can still get shots, but it's tough.

For example - you could get shots with something like the Canon T1i and 70-200 2.8 lens. BUT for dogs you'd want to be within probably 40 feet to shoot with 200mm in low light and get decent frame-filling (at higher ISOs focus accuracy is more difficult and you can't crop as much without great loss of detail). The cheapest lens capable of such fast action in low light is the Sigma 70-200 2.8 - which runs about $850. Is something like this within your budget?
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Old Feb 17, 2010, 12:28 PM   #4
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I agree with JohnG. I photograph equestrian events, sometimes in poor light. If you set the ISO too high and try to deal with the noise, you lose a lot of detail in the fur, and it looks artificial. I've found that, with my Nikon D90, I can set the ISO as high as 1600. Anything higher, and I get noise in the fur and out-of-focus woodgrain, and any attempt to remove the noise removes enough detail that the images look plastic. In order to get proper exposures with reasonably fast shutter speeds, I've had to use an 85mm f/1.8 lens wide open. And I've had to be close. I've had the benefit of shooting larger subjects than you're talking about, so you'd need to be either a lot closer or use a much longer lens.
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