Is this a good set-up for nighttime sports?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Wes Jordan, Mar 27, 2006.

  1. Wes Jordan macrumors regular

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    #1
    I am in high school(read little money) and I want to get a camera to photograph all the nighttime sports action. I am going to get a Canon 20d and I am considering the 70-200 f/4L lens. Is this an appropriate set-up? Should I add the 580EX as well? Thanks for the help!

    And is this lens fast enough to deliver a lot of background blur for portraits?
     
  2. cgratti macrumors 6502a

    cgratti

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    #2
    That lens is no where near fast enough for nighttime sports shoots. You definately need the 70-200 f/2.8, preferably with IS. The flash will help for some of the photos but not much for anything farther away.

    Anything at night you will want to use ISO 1600 with a 2.8 or better lens.
     
  3. Wes Jordan thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    I was hoping I could take advantage of the ISO 3200 option on the 20d and use a 1/80, preferably 1/100 shutter to use that lens, and the more I think about it, the more I think I will probaly have to go with the 100-300 lens. I am having a hard enough time saving enough for the 20d, let along a $600 lens. Right now I have enough for the Rebel XT, but I went to Best Buy(I would have gone to a REAL store but we don't have one here) and played with both and the Rebel XT is just too whimpy and the 5 FPS compared to 3 FPS is a big difference.

    Thanks for the response!
     
  4. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #4
    Not necessarily...I've had great results shooting in a brightly lit stadium with a 70-300 f/5.6 lens. Outdoor sports lighting provides a lot more light than you think, and really fast lenses aren't really necessary.

    It's a lot brighter on a lit soccer or football field than, say, in a hockey rink or basketball court.
     
  5. Wes Jordan thread starter macrumors regular

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    #5
    I would say that with my FZ30, my shots are 1-2 shots underexposed at 1/125 and f/3.7. By going to 3200 I gain three stops of light but lose 1 for the slower lens. That leaves me with a 2 stop increase, plus a cleaner image compared to ISO 400 on the FZ30, and likely a slightly underexposed picture. Is this correct thinking and math?
     
  6. mchendricks macrumors member

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    #6
    Faster lenses let you freeze the action. You might consider using fast prime lenses. Many can be found much cheaper than zooms. Canon makes a 50mm f1.8 lens for about $100. You won't get close up shots, but the light won't be a problem. You just need to use manual zoom (your feet!). You can build a collection of lenses as money and time permit.

    Happy shooting,
    Mike
     
  7. jemeinc macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Have you gone to the booster club and presented them with your idea?... They may offer to pay for the equipment in exchange for your services for the sports teams... I'm not sure about still photos, but I coach football and we purchased a sideline video camera for a student in exchange for working the sidelines and creating our season ending highlight video... We then sold the DVD's as part of a fund-raiser, and with the profits purchased the much more expensive digital video editing program we originally wanted- which came with a video camera...It was a win-win for everyone...

    Just thinking outside of the box since you said you were doing it for high school sports... Talk to the AD and see if something can be worked out...
     
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #8
    Spend more on the lens less on the body

    You say money is the issue then you buy a 20D? You be much better off spending that money on an f/2.8 lens. That extra stop translates to shutter speeds exctly twice as fast. or shooting in 1/2 the light at same speed.

    You could buy a used Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 lens for $700 and a new D50 for $500. So for a total of $1200 you have a much better system The 80-200 f/2.8 is _the_ sports lens thae "everyone" uses.

    As for a flash, it likely will not work unless you can get very close. Are you shoting basketball from the sidelines? Then maybe a flash would reach but would they let you use the flash? I'd bet not. You can compute the flash's "reach" directly from the published guide number. It's just simple math if you know the distance and the widest f-stop on the lens Yes, another reason to buy a fast lens - the flash will then have more "reach" Assumming you are permitted to use it and you are not shooting a sport like football

    Don't discount film. You can get some high speed film and push process it and then scan it. The results will give better quality then a DSLR but of course the time to process and scan means you get the files next day not seconds after the game ends
    But with either Nikon or Canon yu can buy a film body for cheap, like $100

    You should be shopping for a lens. This should be where the bulk of your budget goes. Lenses wil last for decades. If you buy a pro-quality 80-200 f/2.8 lens (Canon or Nikon) you will be using it 20 years from now. That can't be said for a DSLR body. They become obsolite quickly with a five year life at most.
     
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #9
    You've chosen the most equipment intensive type of photography, sports at night. There is just no way around the need for big expensive optics. You should have selected studio portraits or landscapes and saved about a kilo-buck.

    Look at Nikon. Both Nikon and Canon have very good build quality at the high ends of their lines but Canon goes "realy cheap" at the low end. As you fond out the Rebel feels like a plastic box filled with air. But even the sub $500 Nikon D50 has a very solid feel to it.
    But if you can afford the 20D you need to look at Nikon's D200. and also the Canon 30D which has just replaced the 20D. All are about the same price

    If cost is an issue look for a good used lens. Lenses are a mature technology and a ten year old one makes as good an image as a new one. Remember it's the LENS that makes the image, the camera body only records it.

    One other thing to concider is if you shoot in RAW format you can "push" the exposure up about one stop later in software. Yes it adds noise.

    Don't think that using a high continous frame rate will get you the shot. It will get you 8 frames all taken at the "wrong" instant. The trick with sports photography is to capture THE moment, not 18 moments on either side of it. The way the pros do this to, have some "feel" for the subject and at least menally make the jump with the guy makeing that layup and trip the shutter when you and him are weightless at the top of the arc.

    Also it should be clear that a flash and fast frame rates don't mix. Flash re-cycle times are on the order of a handfull of seconds unless you have some big bucks to throw at the problem

    See if you can't fit at least a monopod into you budget. It will give you about 1/2 f-stop but you'll still need to remember to shoot with shutter speeds at least 1/lens focal lenght. So that's abot 1/200 or faster
     
  10. jlcharles macrumors 6502

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    #10
    This thread got me to register here after lurking for a while.

    Night sports suck. Unless you are in a well lit stadium. You're a high school student, shooting high school sports. The light is going to suck. Period. End of story. Add that to the fact that they will most likely be mercury vapor lights. Mercury vapor lights have a nasty side effect when taking pictures. The light temperature constantly changes. The only way to really counteract this is by shooting RAW so you can set your White Balance later.

    As for a lens, you have to shoot with f/2.8 or better. Forget about jumping to ISO 3200 also. Too damn noisy.

    ChrisA mentioned the 1/lens focal length rule of thumb. Definitely a good guideline, but not good enough for sports. The subjects are usually moving too fast to freeze at anything less than about 1/500. A monopod is a must, but my reasoning is that if I sit out shooting a tournament for a whole day, the 70-200 is too damn heavy and my arms will fall off.

    I shot a street hockey tournament two weekends ago. I just basically packed up when it got to the point that I had to bump to ISO 1600. It just wasn't worth it.

    As for the lens, think about renting. I drive into Philly and rent my stuff from Calumet. http://www.calumetphoto.com I think it's $35 a day and if I pick it up after 3pm on a Friday and drop it off before 10am on Monday I still only pay for one day.
     
  11. cgratti macrumors 6502a

    cgratti

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    #11

    Chances are that without a fast lens he will be getting alot of blurry sots from a slower shutter speed and alot of noise from such a high ISO. ISO 3200 is going to produce noise, much more than 1600, if he had a slightly faster lens he could shoot at 1600. If they let him use a flash he can purchase the 580EX and that will help him somewhat. I just dont see him getting very good results at nightsports with an f4 lens.
     
  12. Wes Jordan thread starter macrumors regular

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    #12
    Thanks for all the responses guys!

    Well, I am pretty set on buying a Canon, and especially the 20d. The reason why I am splurging on the 20d is because of the release of the 30d. I can get the 20d for only 1150 with the kit lens. I don't think the 30d is a significant enough change to warrant upgrading to it from the 20d. I really don't think the images the 20d delivers at 3200 are bad at all. Likelu better than my camera at 400. Run it through Neat Image and sharpen it a bit and all is well. The Nikon f/2.8 70-200 is $1600!

    Although I do agree that the more important part of a set-up is the photographer and not frames per second if one wants to get the right moment, I like having the burst and the 20d simply feels better in my hand.

    I was talking to lady I know with a 20d and all the fun lenses and the 580EX flash(boy do I want her set-up), and she said a 300 lens might not be necessary and might be too much lens when you consider the crop factor. What do you think. My P&S has a 480 equiv zoom and I would say I use most of the range.
     
  13. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

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    #13
    20D vs 30D ... personally, I'd plug the extra money for the 30D: the one third iso stops can be very useful at times. Having said that, though, I have a 20D, and I don't see any point in selling it and getting the 30D instead.

    As for the question of a 300mm lens, it all depends on what you're doing, what your budget is, etc. If all else fails, you can always crop images if you have a lens that's too wide, although you do lose some quality in doing that; having said that, though, most pros tend to crop their shots very heavily - I suppose it's a bit easier to catch a sudden action shot if you're wide than if you're too zoomed in and end up cropping an important piece of the action.
     
  14. Wes Jordan thread starter macrumors regular

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    #14
    I know what you mean, when I first tried doing some sports, my intention was to crop later, however after adjusting, the quality was horrible, but this is likely linked to my cheap P&S. I am currrently looking at lenses and I really feel that the 70-200 f/4L is as upscale as I can go, plus I love that it's white:cool:.
     
  15. cgratti macrumors 6502a

    cgratti

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    #15
    If you can get right up to the sidelines to shoot football or basketball games your going to find that 200mm is way too much with the crop factor of the camera, you will be using closer to the 135mm range if you can get that close. if your shooting from the stands then 200mm + is the way to go, I would try and rent a lens for a day and shoot with it first. f/4 is a little high to shoot with at night, unless the places are VERY well lit. Rember the higher the ISO the more noise, I hate having to go higher than 1600 and rarely ever go there. I did the night thing with the 70-200 f/4 L and wished I had the 2.8 every second I was shooting. JMO
     
  16. jlcharles macrumors 6502

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    #16
    200 is definitely not too much. I shoot street hockey for the local rec league and I sometime wish I had more. And the rink is most definitely smaller than a football field. As for basketball, I'd recommend an 85mm prime.
     
  17. cwright macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    If I were you I'd save a little longer and buy the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 and a tripod/monopod.

    I rented one earlier this year to do some theatre photography in relatively low light and it produced some amazing pictures–and I was limited to ISO 1600 with my Rebel XT.
     
  18. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #18
    Interresting how times have changed...

    In the 1970's I was the high school kid with little money. (Mcdonald's paid $2.40/hour back then) However back then I could get a decent setup for about $250 and I got the same or better quality that I'm gettng today with my DSLR. What I had was a Minolta SRT body and a 135mm f/2.8 MC Rokkor lens. The combination was dead sharp and at f/2.8 very fast. 70's vintage film still beats today's DSLR CCD Sensors. Mostly I bought 100 foot rolls of Plus-X or TriX and loaded it onto reusable cartridges. It worked out to about $0.50 per roll, not much more then digital costs me today.

    Today in 2006, we are seriouly recommending to a high school student "read little money" to buy a 20D and a 80-200mm f/2.8 lens at a cost of almost exactly 10X more then what I conciered a "premo" system.

    Seems the definition of "little money" has changed in the last 30 years

    The thing is that the end results will not be much different.
     
  19. revenuee macrumors 68020

    revenuee

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    #19
    if you think you're going to be able to shoot sports at that shutter then you are in for a big surprise.

    i've been shooting sports for a while and i can tell you any action shot bellow 1/200 is almost ALWAYS unusable ...
     
  20. Subiklim macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Google search "inflation calculator" and you'll find out that your money back then was pretty much equal to the money today.
     
  21. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #21
    OK I did that. $250 in 1976 equals $850 in 2005

    I agree with the above too. I could buy a decent system for $250 then and I could buy a decent system fo $850 today.

    Funny thing is that today I'm thinking about selling some equipment, some of it is a Nikon film body and a 135mm f/2.8 lens. Better quality then the Minolta stuff I used in the 70's and I'd let it go for $250

    The good news is that with photography you can spend anything you want and still get good results. I bought one of these a while back. Great fun...
    http://rpcp.mit.edu/~gingold/photo/lubitel/
    Be sure and check out the "Here is an example" link
     
  22. PBGPowerbook macrumors regular

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    #22
    eos 1n on ebay, a 200/2.8L and a monopod. shoot fuji press 800. you can send all the extra money to me.
     
  23. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #23
    I've been doing pretty well with a GN50 flash and an f2.8-f3.5 (35 mm equivalent) 100-400mm lens on my Olympus E-1 but the stadium is well-lit.

    It's tough to get the right shots. A lot of it is intuition and knowledge of the sport.
     
  24. cgratti macrumors 6502a

    cgratti

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    #24

    I have been shooting little league football and high school girls basketball, I tried the 70-200L and found that when zoomed in at 200mm i was way to close, I changed lenses to my 28-135 and thought it was a perfect fit for what I wanted, now for football when they run the opposite sideline it was a bit farther but when they were in the middle of the field or closer to my sdeline the 135 seems perfect. Don't forget the crop factor of the digital camera's, with a 1.6 crop factor a 200mm turns into a 320mm @ 200mm.
     
  25. revenuee macrumors 68020

    revenuee

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    #25
    and what's your shutter speed?

    i've gotten usable shots ... but very few - if you are shooting basketball or volleyball ... you will not freeze the ball, you'll be lucky if you can see the ball.

    a motion shot CAN be desirable in the right context ... BUT few agencies really care about you're artistic vision ... sports is about the action more then it is about the art.
     

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