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Old May 31, 2010, 7:16 PM   #1
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Default Newbie wants camera for sports

Hi,
I'm interested in a digital camera for outdoor sports. Our son is a high school soccer goalkeeper and other kids are surfers and baseball players. All sports photos will be taken in daylight. Night games are rare.

Other than sports, I'd take general family pictures: vacations, holidays, dogs, etc... with some being indoors.

Years ago, I used a Pentax 35mm and had several lenses but switched to a Sony digital point and shoot when our kids were young. I like the camera for convienence but it is terrible for sports.

Truth be told, I'd like a camera that has full auto mode. I'm not one do do much "fussing". I'm interested in a standard lens and a good zoom and higher frames per second (I need that for the goalkeeper shots) My guess is that I'd be 50+ yds away from the soccer action.

I'm willing to spend some $ to find the camera that will suit our needs. I've seen packages at BJ's and Costco but don't know if they are they are good.

I appreciate any thoughts you may have. I'm so glad I found this forum!
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Old May 31, 2010, 7:46 PM   #2
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Boston-

To begin the discussion, can you tell up your proposed budget? Also based on where you plan to be shooting from, what will be the distance between the camera and your subject? That will let us get the discussion started.

Sarah Joyce
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Old May 31, 2010, 8:11 PM   #3
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A soccer field is ~74 yds wide. That puts the goalie at ~37 yds from the sideline, plus you'll want to be ahead of him a little, so 50 yds sounds right. For that, a lens with a focal length of 400mm would be good, but you can probably get away with a 300mm lens. There are inexpensive ones, but for shooting sports, you'll need a lens that focuses fast, and they cost more. If you're serious, the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM (~$550), Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5 - 5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR (~$530), and Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G (~$800) are good choices.

For shooting sports, the Canon T1i (15MP) (~$620) and T2i (18MP) (~$800) have the best autofocus system, followed by the Nikon D90 (12MP) (~$850) and the Sony A500 (12MP) (~$650) and A550 (14MP) ($850).

Is that in line with what you expected to pay?
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Old Jun 1, 2010, 9:45 PM   #4
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A pentax K-x with a 2 lens kit 18-55 and 55-300 would do a okay job for soccer if price is a concern. And it is a very very good camera and the long zoom lens that pentax has is a fast enough lens to keep up with day time soccer.

some of those packages are not suited for sports at costco.
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Old Jun 1, 2010, 10:09 PM   #5
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Boston-

This could take the proverbial $800 lens and a DSLR camera. Are you still game for this?? Roughly $(US)1400 to $(US)1500.00.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jun 1, 2010, 10:23 PM   #6
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Yup if night games and indoor sports is a concern. The pentax with a 800 dollar lens would be the best tool if you do not want to get the motion blur.

sigma 70-200 2.8 is the value leader. If you went with a canon or nikon camera and wanted a canon or nikon brand lens, which are better we are talking 1700 dollars and up for the same range lens.
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Old Jun 2, 2010, 3:09 AM   #7
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I think a zoom lens with a maximum focal length of 200mm would be too short for what you want to do, unless the field is smaller.
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Old Jun 2, 2010, 8:16 AM   #8
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You're going to have to decide how important quality is. Because you're going to pay for it. If you are 50 yards away, forget 200-300mm. That's going to produce poor quality. You need 400-500mm. Of course if you can get closer then you can work with 300mm. Sorry but you have to make choices. Now, let's talk about sports shooting in general. Good sports shots require 4 things:
1) proper technique. Sorry to say, sports shooting is NOT a point and shoot thing. If you don't want to learn and get out of auto mode then I would caution against spending a lot of money on gear - you're going to get mediocre to poor shots no matter what.
2) right camera - the camera is the brains behind focusing and for sports controls TRACKING a moving subject and controls frames per second and high iso performance. And believe me - even in daylight you can be shooting at ISO 1600
3) right lens - You're shooting at distance usually, so you want a lens that is sharp when zoomed out. You also want a lens that is fast focusing - NOT all lenses have same focus speed. A lens with a powerful built in focus motor like Canon's ring USM or Sigma's HSM will focus faster. That's critical in sports because you not only have to focus once but continuously and you often switch targets so focus speed is important.
4) position: like it or not you cant get quality shots sitting in the stands for most outdoor sporting events like baseball or soccer. At a minimum you have to be right at the fence with a 400-500mm lens. Even better if you're right off the touch line or dugout/foul line as that can put you 10 yards closer to the action and remove obstructions between you and your subject(s).

But this assumes you actually want high quality results. For example:




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Old Jun 2, 2010, 8:25 AM   #9
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Now, as to what cameras are the best for sports - The Canon T2i/T1i and Nikon D90 are the best out there at the mid entry level. They have the best focus tracking systems out there and have the best selection of fast focusing lenses for sports use. The #3 camera is the Pentax KX. It's better than prior pentax cameras and is good enough for quality shots of your kids playing sports. But the canon and nikon are better. The trouble with pentax is: as a system it just isn't geared towards sports shooting. In nikon you have a significant body upgrade path if you want better results. No system on the market has a sports camera that competes with the Canon 7d and Nikon d300s much less the higher end bodies. And then there is the lens situation. Pentax just doesn't have the same lens selection for sports that Canon & nikon do.

Here's my recommendation given what you've told us about soccer, baseball and surfing: Go to a store and handle the D90, T1i and K-X. If the K-X feels a lot better than the other two then go with it. If it doesn't then the system benefits of Nikon & Canon are a much better option. Go with whichever of those two feels right. For a lens, buy the sigma 50-500 and buy a monopod. That lens will give you the reach you need from the distances you'll be at AND it will have good focus speed due to sigma's HSM motor. It's pricey, but the alternative is to buy a cheaper lens first and be disappointed and then end up buying a better lens down the road.
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Old Jun 2, 2010, 11:27 AM   #10
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Thanks so much for your responses! I'm flexible about costs. I don't want to buy over my ability but I do want to buy what will suit my needs. I was hoping to be under $1,500 - body, zoom, and standard lens. I still have my mono and tripod so I don't have to buy those. What about memory card. Will I have to upgrade and buy another? If I mostly use the monopod, is weight/size of body still a factor?
I have so much to learn and truly appreciate your insight! Thanks!
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