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Old Jun 15, 2005, 11:38 AM   #1
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I've been selected as one of the unofficial photographers of my daughters basketball team but found out this weekend that my Nikon 5000 is the wrong camera for such. I'm looking for a digital SLR that can handle the fast past games along with my son's surfing events. I have been using digital cameras for about 5 years and have a good basic understanding, but have never ventured into the digital SLR relm. Any suggestions from those with experience shooting these type of events would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Jun 15, 2005, 12:21 PM   #2
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I own the Canon 20D which is a great DSLR. The low noise at higher ISOs will be of great benefit at a basketball game. However, you also have to find a fast lens. The 5 frames per second also help with the action of sporting events. The almost instant on for the camera will also be helpful. Your budget should include some quality lens. Look in the Canon DSLR lens section for some suggestions.
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Old Jun 15, 2005, 12:25 PM   #3
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IMHO, if we are just considering SPORTS photography, here are the critical components of the BODY (note, not the lense - just the body):

1. High ISO Performance. Especially indoors you will find yourself using ISO 1600 or 3200 a lot - you need to get decent quality photos at these high ISOs. You'll still need to run through noise reduction software but you need a good quality image to start with.

2. Burst Rate / Buffer handling. In most cases when shooting sports you want to take a series of shots. Upon review it is almost never the first shot in the series which is 'the keeper'. With this thought in hand, the burst rate (how many pics per second) and buffer handling (how many pics can be taken before the camera stops taking pics so the buffer can be written to disk). Having a quicker burst rate and better buffer handling increases the odds you'll capture the 'keeper'.

3. Predictive AI Servo Focusing. Often times in sports, the subject is moving towards or away from the photographer. The camera's ability to 'track' the subject and use predictive focusing to more quickly re-focus for every shot in a burst is absolutely essential. In some older DSLRs like the Canon 300D you were only gauranteed of this ability in the preset Sports mode. In the creative modes where most people shoot sports the camera would determine for itself whether to apply this mode or not. Some times it guessed right - some times it didn't.

I think those are probably the top 3 things to look for in one body over another (all DSLRs will have the creative modes, white balance adjustment etc that you need but not all have the same ability in the above 3 categories).

Personally, I have the Canon 20D. I bought it as a replacement for my Canon 300D precisely because of it's abilities in the above 3 categories. I don't think there's a non-professional (i.e. $8000+) body that is out there right now that is better in these 3 categories (but I'm sure someone else out there will tell me I'm wrong )

The other thing you MUST consider is that the body is the easy part of the equation. For sports shooting, especially indoors you MUST, MUST, MUST have 'fast glass' with enough range to capture the action from where you will be shooting. With a few minor exceptions (Canon 50mm 1.8 for $75) this almost always equates to EXPENSIVE glass. For instance I've shot basketball with a 70-200 2.8 lense. A lense that only went to 4.0 would be too slow - and for high school gyms where lighting isn't great - even 2.8 might be too slow. Many people recommend a 1.8 or 1.4 lense for indoor sports. For outdoor sports like football or soccer you need at least 300mm or you'll have heavy cropping and 400mm is what the couple pros I've talked to use). You can get bye with slower glass outside - but if it's overcast you may find that a 5.6 lense is too slow even at high ISOs. So, if I were in your shoes I would expect to spend around $1,000 in lense(s) if you need both indoor and outdoor capability - and that figue is at the BOTTOM of the spectrum. Don't get me wrong - DSLRs will get you what you need, but just buying a great body is only part of the plan. Pairing the best body up with a poor, slow lense will still give you bad results.

Recommendations - in the canon line, sports shooting is one of the reasons to select the 20D over the 350d. Others will have to speak to the other manufacturers. Good luck in your choice.
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Old Jun 17, 2005, 12:39 PM   #4
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Thanks a bunch for the information, very useful!

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Old Jun 17, 2005, 1:04 PM   #5
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JohnG wrote:
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Personally, I have the Canon 20D. I bought it as a replacement for my Canon 300D precisely because of it's abilities in the above 3 categories. I don't think there's a non-professional (i.e. $8000+) body that is out there right now that is better in these 3 categories (but I'm sure someone else out there will tell me I'm wrong )
1dMK2 is much much better and you can get it for $3300 since canon is offering $500 rebate. But all the things you mentioned in your post make sense. Shooting inside sports is tough and requires expensive equipment.
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Old Jun 17, 2005, 1:15 PM   #6
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You will need fast lenses for inside basketball stuff and long reach lenses for surfing. So plan on spending big bucks. Getting dSLR body is only a small investment in comparison.
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