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Old May 19, 2011, 12:27 PM   #1
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Default Very lost in camera search...

Hello all,

I am very lost in my search for the right camera...

I work for a company where I go out to various venues to photograph high action sports (soccer, floor hockey, basketball, field hockey, lacrosse etc). I have been outdoors in sun, in clouds as well as am often indoors at turf / arena facilities with LOW LIGHTING.

I need a camera to be able to take QUALITY photos of these athletes. The camera I was given here is not too great... every image I get is "ghosty" with the players all blurry.

My department will spend a few hundred dollars for the right camera but am urged to find the most cost effective option I can...

so long story short: I need:

- digital camera
- LOW light (indoors) and Outdoors capable
- fast action capturing
- quick response time in between shots
- possibly able to perform "burst" option - a few rapid fire photos in a row

** I also don't think I should be flashing in their faces during the game**

Please help photo gurus!! I'm stuck!! Thank you!!
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Old May 19, 2011, 1:55 PM   #2
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From what it sounds like, you will definitely need to get a dslr. Others can recommend specific brands/models, but I think you'll need to have various lenses in order to get good shots for the variety of settings that you described. What are the pictures going to be used for?
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Old May 19, 2011, 6:59 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by acscoggins View Post
From what it sounds like, you will definitely need to get a dslr
Disclaimer: I take photos of life rather than live to take photos and my opinions of cameras are reflected accordingly.
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Old May 19, 2011, 9:05 PM   #4
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What is your budget?
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Old May 22, 2011, 11:50 PM   #5
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I am somewhat surprised that JohnG has not responded yet - he may be on vacation....

I'll try to be a poor standin until his return....

First of all your budget is too low - a few hundred dollars is insufficient. If you are talking about some quality imagery, you are going to be spending at least $2K and probably closer to $3K to get started. You have two basic problems, and needs -

Camera Body - Essentially you need a DSLR, either Canon or Nikon for the following reasons. You need fast autofocusing and focus tracking. Only these two makes offer it. You also need a larger sensor than what a point and shoot provides in order to capture the light from the lens in a poorly lit venue. You also need high ISO speeds (increases the sensor's light sensitivity but also increases the noise within the image ) to deal with dark venues - probably up to ISO 6400 with good noise reduction. The body also determines the frames per second. It sounds like you may want 3 to 8 frames per second. This will burn up a lot of battery, so you may need a battery grip to cover a game (or a number of spare charged batteries to change out). You will also probably need some fast writing SD cards of possibly large size (8GB , class 10) so as to store the images from the camera as quickly as possible. You are probably in the $700 to $1000+ range for a good body. You will also need some post processing software to reduce the noise in high ISO images. The latest version of Lightroom is probably the minimum here to get started with. It has some built in noise reduction that is very good.

Lens - The lens is going to collect and focus the light on the camera body's sensor. For dark venues you will need a fast lens - at least a f2.8 lens of reasonable quality that is autofocus. The lens is the most important item here. A good lens on a crappy body will give a good image. A bad lens on a great body will result in a crappy image. Canon and Nikon have the image stabilization in the lens - and you will probably need image stabilization if you are NOT shooting on a tripod. Depending upon how close you are to the action you are will determine the focal length of the lens. Also, there are 2 types of lenses - prime and zoom. Prime lenses are of a single focal length, easier to build and provide generally higher quality images. Zoom lenses tend to be harder to design, may not have the image quality of a prime, but cover a range of focal lengths and a single lens covers the need for multiple prime lenses. Rule of thumb for zoom lenses is a zoom factor of 4 in order to keep reasonable image quality. There are a few exceptions to this, but holds true for most lenses. See this link here...
I am going to estimate that you will need at least a 100mm to 300mm lens for the sports listed. You may need more than one lens depending on the sport and shooting range.

The lens(es) will not be cheap either. Figure $700 to $1500 per lens.

I would suggest that you go down and read a number of threads in the Sports & Action Forum here. This will help you understand some of the problems you are facing.....
Equipment is one thing. You will also need to acquire some skill in terms of shooting sports. Placement on the field and angle to the action will be important for Quality images. Also, just because you have a fast lens, if you use it only at f2.8 your depth of field will be very shallow and most of the picture will be somewhat out of focus. Also, yes a fast f2.8 lens costs a lot, however it also has better light transmission qualities across its entire aperture range, so even if you are not using f2.8 you will be benefiting from its quality design and high quality optical lenses. So acquiring knowledge and experience in terms of using and applying everything (together as a system) will be key. Is there a newspaper local who has a sports photographer available (he may come with his own equipment) - that may be an option. Rent him for a weekend to help you get a faster start. Just thinking out loud.

If your company's livelihood is dependent upon sports photographs - especially quality ones, it is somewhat surprising that you are trying to do it on a shoestring with a point and shoot - along with a very small budget. This is a very challenging and demanding area of photography both in terms of skill, ability and equipment.

Here are some additional threads that may help:
Sorry for the bad news.....

Last edited by interested_observer; May 23, 2011 at 12:23 AM.
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Old May 23, 2011, 2:24 AM   #6
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Hi and welcome I am sorry but I cant see any mention of what you are using now.
What has been said is good advice and you will need a DSLR with a couple of good fast glass lenses as Flash wont be allowed in a lot of sports halls.
I would be looking at a Canon 7d for a body and then the lenses on top of that. Good Luck
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Old May 23, 2011, 6:23 AM   #7
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As mentioned, I think you and your budget and requirements don't come close to meeting. I think you need to elaborate on what your company does and what your role is.
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Old May 23, 2011, 3:49 PM   #8
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Thank you all very much for taking the time to read my ramblings and respond...

I realize my very broad estimation of budget and needs for a camera selection seem odd and don't match up. That's how lost I've been - ha!

Thank you all again.. this is a great forum with very well spoken and knowledgable participants.

Hopefully each of your suggestions will lead me to the right choice!

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