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Old Nov 16, 2014, 8:51 PM   #1
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Default Fast Cute Kid

So I've got a sports driven kid. Hockey, baseball, swimming, tennis. Indoors and out, rain, snow or shine, he is on the go. I want to be able to get good quality shots of him on the go without getting into too many bells and whistles. I don't need insane zoom, but enough to get across a ball diamond would be nice. I know very basics like changing ISO settings but have never messed with multiple lenses. I've spent days comparing cameras online and there seem to be so many point and shoot options but they always seem to sacrifice true speed or true image qualities. Or maybe I am just not knowledgable enough to know what specs I really need.

Any ideas?
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Old Nov 16, 2014, 9:39 PM   #2
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There are two types of AF systems. Contrast Detection AF is what most P&S cameras use. It's more accurate for stationary subjects but isn't much good for moving subjects. Phase detection AF is more accurate for moving subjects, but it's bigger, heavier and more expensive, which keeps it inside the realm of dSLRs. (There's a third type, called Hybrid AF, which combines the two, but it's only in small "mirrorless" cameras that don't have the long focal length lenses you'll need.)

So, for what you want, P&S and mirrorless systems will not provide the utility and image quality you will want. Only dSLRs will have the capabilities and the range of lenses you'll need.

Generally speaking, for outdoor sports from the stands, you'll need at least a 300mm focal length zoom lens, and 400mm would be better. For indoor sports, you need to use a fast shutter speed (to prevent motion blur due to subject movement) in low light, so you'll need a lens with a large maximum aperture (at least f/2.8 or larger)(numerically smaller.) Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax all make suitable cameras and have appropriate lenses available from OEMs and third parties.

Take a look at the Sports & Action Photos forum to see what types of shots are possible with what types of gear.
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Old Nov 16, 2014, 9:47 PM   #3
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Thanks TCav. A friend recommended the Cannon rebel T3i as a good starting point for me. Do you think that would work for a relative beginner?
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Old Nov 17, 2014, 5:07 AM   #4
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A DSLR will indeed potentially yield the best results for what you're after- provided you accept the large/heavy footprint of the said system.
Many go this route but soon find carrying multiple lenses around and the size/weight of the system quite a bind.. never mind the expense..!
Perhaps if one was to accept a slight drop in IQ (though much better than a P+S...) over "all in one" convenience- maybe this is worth a look...?
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/pana...mix-dmc-fz1000
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Old Nov 17, 2014, 5:11 AM   #5
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The Canon T3i is a fine entry level dSLR.

My first inclination is to recommend that anyone looking for a dSLR should first look for lenses that are appropriate for what they want to shoot, have adequate image quality and are within their budget, then buy the camera body that they'll fit.

What's your budget?
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Old Nov 17, 2014, 8:21 AM   #6
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There isn't an easy answer to this question. Each sport offers it's own challenges to shoot. And, a lot depends on YOUR definition of 'good pictures'. A lot also depends on where you are able to shoot from.
For example, indoor swimming - in lots of natatoriums, the seating is up high above the pool deck - terrible for taking photos for anything but backstroke and even then you need a ton of zoom. So, right off the bat, in those places even having a good DSLR and quality lens still isn't going to get you good photos.

Now, let's talk baseball. what size diamond? if it's a full size diamond then you would need at least a 300mm lens on a t3I if you were shooting from ON THE FIELD. If you're behind a fence, now you're talking 400mm lens. If the games are at night, that's one of the toughest things to shoot because baseball fields have relatively poor lighting AND you need so much zoom. If it's 7 year olds then things are a lot easier.

Hockey - you're looking at needing an f/2.8 lens at least. Getting good shots there depends a lot on your shooting position because of all the marked up glass. You can't shoot through the glass unless your lens is right up against the glass. So you either need to do that or shoot from the bench or shoot from over top the glass (ladder).

If you haven't gotten the idea yet, it's really challenging to get decent sports photos as a typical spectator from where parents/spectators usually sit. You need to put some effort into getting into a better shooting location. If you can't do that or just don't want to, then spending money on a DSLR and lenses is flushing money down the toilet.

And, when you talk about indoor sports like hockey or swimming, now you're talking about something like a 70-200 2.8 lens which will set you back around $1200 just for the lens (Sigma version). Even still you have to be in a good location. That same 70-200 2.8 lens is good for outdoor baseball if it's a small diamond and you are just off the field. If full sized diamond and you're behind a fence then it's too short and you need something like a 400mm lens.
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Old Nov 17, 2014, 8:33 AM   #7
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Thanks for all the info folks. It certainly is a lot to think about. I'm looking in the $300-400 range but I'd consider used or refurbished as long as I could get a warranty
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Old Nov 17, 2014, 10:24 AM   #8
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Your budget of $300-400 is not remotely enough for a DSLR solution that will allow you to shoot your specific sports.

You should look into whether some of the Panasonic cameras would fit your needs. The 1000 mentioned above is nice, but with only 200mm equivalent lens it's just too short. I suggest you look into the FZ200. It sells in the $450-500 range. It really is the only camera that has the necessary focal length AND max aperture and Panasonic probably has the best focus tracking ability of a digicam (still not in same league as a DSLR but you cannot afford the necessary lenses to utilize a DSLR). What we don't know is what is your definition of "good enough" is. I suggest doing some searches to find sports images with the FZ200 and the people that use them. Then you can determine if it is "good enough" for your needs. It would be unfortunate if you spent that kind of money and still weren't satisfied.
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Old Nov 17, 2014, 11:47 AM   #9
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you might want to look into a panasonic FZ200. it has an f/2.8 lens, long zoom and is a good camera. just like with a DSLR, there will be some learning curve, but that's to be expected when you'll be needing faster shutter speeds. new it's above your budget, but i tried google and see that bhphotovideo.com has it used, and they have a warranty - either 3 months or 6, can't remember which. my husband and i have bought bought used cameras through b&h, and i've been buying from them for years with no complaints, so maybe the used camera could be an option.

oh, yeah - the link http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/used/8...bD4aAqFa8P8HAQ
(it's not an affiliate link - just long)
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Old Nov 17, 2014, 1:55 PM   #10
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JohnG- the FZ1000 has a 25-400mm equivalent zoom....
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