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Old Apr 5, 2006, 10:10 AM   #1
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I need to buy a camera that allows me to zoom across a football field, take night time under the light shots, action shots, and indoor under floresent light shots. My current camera does not do a good job at any of the above. Thought about the sony dsc-h1 or the cannon rebel xlt, both prices have been reduced, but I didn't want to exchange quality for price. Need a user friendly camera prefer a good "auto" setting. Just an amateur farm girl looking for a good easy to use camera for family sports fun. thank you for any help.
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Old Apr 5, 2006, 11:04 AM   #2
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hiho-

We can give you a more specific answer if you give us a better description of exactly what you want to do. As I understand it, all of your photos will be taken WITHOUT FLASH, would that be true? When you say that you want to shoot all the way across the field, are we referring to football? What kind of lights illuminate the field? When shoot all the way across the field, do you want a team photo, or to you want to be able to take a photo of an individual player? How far away will you be? You mention that you want to stop the action, I am assuming this is football, so I want you to understand that you might not be able to completely stop the action at that distance.

You speak of taking indoor action shots under flourescent lights, is this basketball? Is the game in a gym? Will you, or can youuse flash? How far away will you be?

MT
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Old Apr 5, 2006, 11:31 AM   #3
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Unfortunately, I've got some disappointing news for you. I shoot high school football under the lights and there is not a single digicam on the market that is going to produce good results under those conditions. The same is true for indoor action shots (say basketball games). There are some very good digicams that will give you excellent results for daytime outdoor sports but for low-light sports, the digicams cannot compare with the DSLRs.

Here is what you need for shooting 'across the football field' and 'under the lights':

1. A camera capable of ISO 1600 and preferably ISO 3200 with very low noise. These two criteria are where Canon wins out over Nikon.

2. A lens capable of at least 300mm effective focal length (remember most consumer level DSLRs have what's called a 'crop factor' - so a 200mm lens on a Canon XT behaves like a 320mm lens on a film camera). The lens also must have a max aperture of 2.8 at it's longest focal length. These lenses are not cheap. The common starter lens is a 70-200mm 2.8 zoom lens (or Nikon 80-200 2.8). The cheapest quality alternative is a Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 lens which costs $750. This also assumes, by the way, that you are on the sidelines and not in the stands. And that you are able to move up and down the sidelines with the action - about 15 yards in front of the line of scrimage. There is no cost effective way to shoot low light football from the stands - any lens with enough reach will not have the aperture necessary to get the shutter speeds you need to stop the action.

For indoor sports, lighting is often even worse. People who shoot basketball for instance, will typically use a prime lens - either a 50mm 1.8 or an 85mm 1.8 - again from the floor. From the stands, other prime lenses are necessary. The point I'm trying to make is that for sports: the camera is only one part of the equation. Sports shooting requires some expensive lenses and unless you have an incredibly lit gym, the 70-200mm 2.8 lens you use for football won't work. The other point here is that just owning a Rebel XT would not be enough - you need the right lens to go with it.

And, unfortunately,the need to shoot at high ISO, high aperture means you need to go beyond auto mode on the camera. But don't let that discourage you, the settings are really not that difficult - in many ways it's easier than shooting in daylight. That's really the easy part.

Also, you are going to need to spend time post-processing the images. Even on the Canon 20D (what I use) - which has the best ISO 1600 and 3200 performance of the non-professional cameras - I have to run my images through noise reduction software and tweak them in other ways because of the poor lighting.

I'm not trying to discourage you, but shooting low-light sports is one of the most demanding endeavors regarding equipment. It pushes the best DSLR cameras and lenses to their limits. Now, the question is: do you want these pictures bad enough to invest $2000 plus on the equipment and the time to shoot from the field rather than the stands? If you do, then more specifics can be discussed. Unfortunately there isn't an inexpensive or easy solution that is likely to yield you much better results in low light sports than you're currently getting.

But, my advice to you regarding evaluating suggestions other people make on digicams is this. Ask to see specific shots under the same shooting conditions you will be using it. Taking a portrait picture of my wife standing outside under the lights is completely different than trying to take pictures of a football game. So, if you plan on using the camera for low light football ask to see examples of low light football shots. If you're going to use it for volleyball, ask for volleyball examples.I'd hate to see you spend $600 on a high end digicam only to realize it isn't up to the task of shooting low light sports.

Now, having said all that - if you want to forego the night time and low light shooting and concentrate on day time shooting there are more options in the digicam world.

Sorry if that scares you a bit. Digest what I've said and let me know which route you would like to pursue and I (and other people here) will be glad to help you out.

John
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Old Apr 5, 2006, 2:18 PM   #4
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I also am a volunteer Mom for football, wrestling and lacrosse. The football and lacrosse are played on the football field at night. I use a Canon 20D and Canon 70-200 2.8 using the TV mode (set the shuuter speed, the camera sets the aperature) at iso 1600 for the football and lacrosse. I get pretty good results but as the others said, it is not cheap to get the right equipment.

I had a Canon Digital Rebel and a Canon 75-300 5.6 until late November and even at 1600 there was not enough light. By the time I lightened them and reduced noise in Photoshop, they were not very good pictures. And even a huge external flash can not create enough light (or sync with a faster shuuter needed) for the night time zoom shots with this setup.

Luckily for the school, I am a serious amateur so I was going to upgrade my camera and lens anyway. But, unless you have the extra money for the lens or a great booster club that is willing to buy thelens for you, it will get expensive.

Feel free to email me and I can send you some pics taken with both the Rebel and 20d for comparison.


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Old Apr 5, 2006, 7:26 PM   #5
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The hot setup for shooting sports in the dark (under lights...) is a Nikon D50 with an 85f/1.8 lens running with Auto ISO in manual mode.

Find a poster on dpreview in the Nikon D50 forums by the name of "D50" and look at his soccer at night pictures. Simply stunning as far as I am concerned.
http://www.dpreview.com/forums/poste...iv&page=25

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=17748805
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=17662884
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=17663020
etc.

He posts a lot. Start on page 25 of his posts. The soccer posts have "night soccer" or ball in the subject.

Forget about using a flash. It won't reach and the players will hate you. You need a camera with good autofocus, (probably single point) , really good high ISO noise characteristics and a sharp fast lens.

One reason the D50 does so well is because when you set the camera on Auto ISO in manual mode, the camera uses ISO to control the exposure and it does a darn good job of it. On any other camera you would have to set the ISO to a fixed value and leave it at that. The D50 will set the ISO to the minimum needed for the right exposure and thus you will get a minimum of noise in your pictures, for the available light. Having said that, the D50 is about as good as it gets for high ISO noise. too, so something at ISO 1600 will turn out pretty nice. Randy shoot s jpegs, not RAW. Raws would look even better. And the forum where he is displaying those pictures doesn't do a great job of downsizeing them. The originals are sharper.

You can buy a D50 for $400-$500 (body only, refurb or not) and the 85f/1.8 will run about $300.

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Old Apr 5, 2006, 7:41 PM   #6
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me2-

I agree with you that the Nikon D-50 equipped with the Nikkor 85mm F 1.8 lens, and using auto iso in the manual mode is probably the best solution. However, it will not offer poster, hiho, the amount of zoom that I understand that she desires.

The Nikkor 85mm F 1.8 lens also has a $40 rebate from Nikon right now.

MT

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Old Apr 5, 2006, 10:57 PM   #7
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Nikon also makes a 105 f1.8 and a 135 f2. With some foot work, ie running around the field perimeter, you should be able to get some decent shots. Nikon also has the 80-200 f2.8 with VR. VR doesn't help though because you'll want to be shooting at 1/250th or so to freeze motion. f2.8 is on the verge of being too slow.

Spring for some big primes and a D50 and you'll have the ultimate setup.
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Old Apr 6, 2006, 7:26 AM   #8
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me2 wrote:
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Nikon also makes a 105 f1.8 and a 135 f2. With some foot work, ie running around the field perimeter, you should be able to get some decent shots. Nikon also has the 80-200 f2.8 with VR. VR doesn't help though because you'll want to be shooting at 1/250th or so to freeze motion. f2.8 is on the verge of being too slow.

Spring for some big primes and a D50 and you'll have the ultimate setup.
me2 - have you ever shot football before? Under lights? I'm guessing not - based on your suggestions of the 'ultimate solution'

A 105 or 135 prime is not long enough, by far for anything but the most basic shots at night under lights. Shooting under those conditions, at high ISO, you can't crop images heavily. A 135mm lens won't even cover something on the other sideline if you're at the same yard marker. As someone who actually does shoot football under the lights I'm going to say this is bad advice. And, let's say you want to follow me2's train of thought and get a longer prime - say Nikon makes a 200mm 2.0 or 1.8 prime - what do you do when the action gets close? The pros have a second body with a shorter lens. So, as I indicated in another thread, be very wary of people offering 'ultimate solutions' to shooting conditions they have no experience in.

I'm sorry if that's harsh, me2.Suggesting an 85mm ora 135mm for football at night- that is just bad advice. If lighting is too bad for a 2.8 lens then you need a camera capable of higher ISO performance. Again, the d50 is a very nice camera - but it is no where near the perfect solution for sports. It is on par with the Canon 300d as a sports camera - not even equivelent to the 350d and not in the same league as the 20d. Now, I'm not a Canon snob - Nikon makes great cameras. It's just their consumer DSLRs are not the best sports cameras.

It's fine to offer opinions on experience - that's what this forum is for. But people that don't know any better would take your statement at face value and they would end up wasting a lot of money and getting less-than-expected results.
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Old Apr 6, 2006, 8:23 AM   #9
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WOW :? Now my head is really spinning. I can't afford to add an additional $2000. to the $1,000. I had planned to spend. I will be on the side lines for the footbaLL games, but even when I take inside still shot pictures at my childs elementary school my sony DSC-11 , set on auto, takes horrible pictures. I appreciate your help and would like you to suggest the best camera that I can get for under $1,000. I understand that at that amount of money, I won't get anything that's perfect, but anythinghas tobe better than what I have. I use software that came with my lap top to edit my pictures now and that seems to work pretty well. I am completly lost when someone talks about noise reduction. I need a camera that I can set to auto and that takes care of the ISO and anything else a "real photographer" would do. Again thanks for taking the time to help this sports mom in need.:-)
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Old Apr 6, 2006, 8:57 AM   #10
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hiho126 wrote:
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I appreciate your help and would like you to suggest the best camera that I can get for under $1,000. I understand that at that amount of money, I won't get anything that's perfect, but anythinghas tobe better than what I have. I use software that came with my lap top to edit my pictures now and that seems to work pretty well. I am completly lost when someone talks about noise reduction. I need a camera that I can set to auto and that takes care of the ISO and anything else a "real photographer" would do. Again thanks for taking the time to help this sports mom in need.:-)
OK, given your desire to keep things as simple as possible and stay under $1000 - it's probably best to stick to a digicam rather than go DSLR. Something like the Fujsi S9000 or 5200 might be worth looking into. Both have ISO 1600 capability and decent zooms. I still believe any solution under $1000 is going to yield poor night football results but a camera like this will give you much better low light performance than what you currently have and will cost alot less than investing in any DSLR (Nikon or Canon).

As for software. Noise reduction software is very easy to use and a very worthwhile investment. Noiseware, Neatimage and Noise Ninja are the top 3 products and I believe they all have a free trial version you can download. I would also suggest looking into Photoshop Elements for editing your pictures. You'd be amazed how much you can improve your photos with those two pieces of software.

MT - you're the resident digicam instructor. Any other suggestions besides those two Fuji's for high-ISO performance and decent zoom?
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