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Thread: Sports/Action lens?

  1. #1

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    Sports/Action lens?

    Here is the issue: I love my 85mm f/1.8 for sports. For my budget, it does a good job in the dark old rinks of winter on my Canon 40D. However... and there is always a however...its reach is limited and I end up cropping almost every shot I take. I could eventually save and purchase the 70-200 f/2.8, but I am thinking I might like a wider angle in order to capture more interesting shots and just keep cropping when necessary. It would also be useful for team shots and for landscapes.

    Is there a fast focusing lens that those of you with sports/action experience would recommend, somewhere around the 24-70 range, that would be suitable for fast action in poorly lit areas such as rinks and gyms? I have done so much research on the net that my head is spinning. The one lens that was making me a bit excited was the Tokina 50-135 f/2.8, (that would be a really nice range and much less expensive than the 70-200) but then I read that it was not fast focusing. I really need that feature. Help? (For the record, my little 50 f/1.8 is practically useless for hockey. I know some people like that lens for sports. It just doesn't suit me at all.)

    Thanks!

  2. #2

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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    Hi Myra,

    What ISO are you typically shooting at with the 85/1.8?

  3. #3

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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    Colin, usually anywhere from 1000 to 1600. If I go to 800, I have to bump up the the exposure in ACR and the levels in PS a lot in post. Shutter speed is usually 1/400. Sometimes I try 1/500 at 1600, but the quality starts to go and the shot is still underexposed. The noise reduction in CS5 helps a lot, but my camera/lens combo maxes out at 1600. I've tried 3200 but don't like the results.

    Another reason I'm considering a wide angle is for shots that happen in the crease or right in front of me. When shooting hockey, I am right at the glass. With the 85, I am too close to get some really good action (players fighting for the puck against the boards, close ups of players...) and the 85 will not allow a wide enough angle to get a shot that covers the back of the net to the player who is taking a shot on goal. I can get the player winding up or the player flying by the net in victory after the puck is in... or about 3 shots in between... but not the entire scene.

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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    Hi Myra,
    I take action shots of dancers in poorly lit environments, so it's similar (just not quite as fast on average).
    Cameras even newer than yours are improving on ISO perfomance all the time. My last camera was okay upto 800 (at a push), new one, gives same results at 3200, a 4x difference (say from 1/80 to 1/320). So that's one route, to improve ISO performance.
    Of course, shooting RAW allows for a slight increase in exposure if necessary, say a stop, (so that would make it 1/640 adding to the ISO performance).
    Fill flash to help with the light? (But then you may have protective screens and netting to cope with). Is it possible to have the external flash stuck to the protective glass where you can trigger wirelessly? That would eliminate reflections - say a monopod with flash attached leaning up against the screen).
    Then you have the choice of lens - and this is where I leave the conversation, so many others have better experience here.
    (BTW, I use a 18-250, f3.5-6.3 as I can follow anyone around the floor from anywhere).
    Graham

  5. #5

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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    Hi Graham,

    Even though it takes longer in post, I shoot RAW 90% of the time. Flash would be useless as I'm right at the glass and there's no way around or over it. External flash is out of my league. Some shots happen within 15 feet, while others may be 50 feet away. I'd like to be able to capture the 200ft away shots, but that would be the 70-200. If you open my flickr site (on the sig line below), you'll see what kind of hockey shots I usually get. I'd really like to go for a wider angle at this point. I've tried an older, fixed f/4 lens (70-210) and the shots are just terrible even at 1600 or 3200 iso. Underexposed, blotchy... yuck.

  6. #6

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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    Hi Myra,

    I was thinking along the lines of a 70-200/F4 and stop up the ISO, but sounds as if you're already running close to the wind with that. The only other thing that did occur to me was that even ISO 3200 is generally OK on a 40D - SO LONG AS ONE DOESN'T CROP EXCESSIVLY; you ARE cropping heavily, but only because of the insufficient focal length - so perhaps a cheaper F4 lens + ISO 3200 might let you get away with it?

    Failing that, all I can think of is get a camera with a better high ISO capability like the 7D.

  7. #7
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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    One rather ideal way to shoot sports is with a pair of prime lenses on two cameras. Your 85mm f/1.8 would match up nicely with the 135mm f/2L for distance shots. That lens, however is pretty expensive but, well under the price of and faster than the 70-200mm f/2.8 series lens. If you needed wider, you could always use your 50mm f/1.8 along with either the 85mm or 135mm lenses. However, you could likely get the 135mm f/2 and a used 50D camera for less than what the 70-200mm f/2.8L would cost.

    The 70-200mm f/4L IS lens is a quick focusing lens but, limited to the f/4 aperture which would demand a higher ISO than you can or are willing to shoot.

    BTW: The OPTECH Reporter Strap would be a good way to hold two cameras for sports like hockey. However, for most other used, I prefer to hang my 40D and 7D cameras on an OPTECH Dual Harness.

    I have a Canon 135mm f/2.8 Soft Focus lens which is really a reasonably sharp lens when the soft focus is not dialed in. The focus is not terribly slow but, being older technology, it is not as fast as USM focusing. However, you can get it dirt cheap. I bought one for a lark when I found it on eBay for a hundred U.S. dollars. I can play with it and then always sell it for that much later one...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 17th February 2012 at 04:10 AM.

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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    Just back from another hockey game. Thanks for the ideas! I've tried my old 70-210 f/4 lens at 3200....very ugly outcomes. In the rink, photos from the 50 f/1.8 always look like they have had a vibrancy layer applied... they have a "dream like" quality which is not at all what I want for hockey. I've been wondering if the cold is creating some moisture in the lens. It's fine when used in other locations.

    I'll keep an eye out for a used 135 (have seen them on ebay in the past). Yes, I would love to have a 7D, but thought it might be better to just go the lens route.

    Thanks!
    Myra

  9. #9
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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    Hi Myra - I have a 50mm 1.4 which I use a lot, if that's any help.

  10. #10

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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    Kay, I was wondering about that one. Is the optic quaility quite a bit better than the 1.8?

  11. #11
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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    Hi Myra - absolutely chalk & cheese, plus it has the faster focus.
    Last year Grand final of the Basketball season our team was the 'away' team so we went from a pretty well lit big stadium to theirs which was very dark & very dark wood floor, whereas ours is honey colour wood much better reflection.
    There were 2 guys with 70-200 canon & nikon, both complaining about the conditions.
    We all had access all areas, so sitting courtside, I used the little 50 1.4 exclusively & was very happy.
    If you can get courtside it's light it focuses quickly and if you need it, you have the 1.4 up your sleeve

  12. #12

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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    Thanks, Kay! That is very good to know. I'll definitely put that lens on my list.


    Myra

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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    I shoot a lot of hockey photos too.
    I too do not like the results with ISO 3200 on my 60D.
    I typically shoot an f4 70-200 at f4, 1/320, and ISO 1600.
    These settings are hit and miss with motion blur, and I would love to be able to shoot at 3200.
    Perhaps there is a better way to process photos from ISO 3200?
    Any suggestions for this?
    Right now I use DPP for most cropping and all exposure adjustments. (some tweaking with curves in GIMP)
    Maybe I need to try the LR4 beta...

  14. #14

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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    I shoot a lot of hockey photos too.
    I too do not like the results with ISO 3200 on my 60D.
    I typically shoot an f4 70-200 at f4, 1/320, and ISO 1600.
    These settings are hit and miss with motion blur, and I would love to be able to shoot at 3200.
    Perhaps there is a better way to process photos from ISO 3200?
    Any suggestions for this?
    Right now I use DPP for most cropping and all exposure adjustments. (some tweaking with curves in GIMP)
    Maybe I need to try the LR4 beta...
    Hi Brian,

    Any chance you can send me a 3200 ISO RAW shot from your 60D that you think is "problematic"?

  15. #15
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    Sure, how can I do that?

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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    Sure, how can I do that?
    Brian - You upload the RAW file to a file sharing site, such as Mediafire (www.mediafire.com) (that's what I use).

    • You set up a free account.
    • Then you upload your RAW file
    • Then you capture the link URL address for that file and send that to Colin in a PM.
    • He clicks on the link and gets the file.

  17. #17
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    Thanks Donald, I will give it a try.

  18. #18
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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    Hello Myra
    did you consider Sigma 50-150 mm f/2.8 II APO EX DC HSM?

    cheers
    Nicola

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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    Hy Myra
    I shoot artistic skating and gymnastic with a nikon D700 so i can't really speak about which model of lens you should use but i can telle you abuot my experience with different focal lengths. I use an 80-200 f2.8 AF-D (not AF-S, very fast autofocus). This lens is very useful because the fields for such sports are not that big. but i have some problems when the subject in in the opposite side of it, i can shoot of course but a crop is a must because a 200mm on a full frame format is too short to enlarge the subject properly at that distance. on the other hand, when they come close to me i'd like to have a more wide focal lenght because i can't shoot the whole body of them, but i take good "action portraits" if the autofocus keeps going properly. the best thing to do is to have two cameras with two different kind of zoom lenses (24-70 and 70-200 or 80-200), because usually i shoot at f2.8 so i have a good bokeh in the back of the subject, and because a zoom like fore example 50-300, 28-200 and similar don't have an f2.8 aperture; it'd cause problems also with the iso values and the quality of the files.
    The autofocus precision is also very important, that's why i didn't buy a third part lens that may work not good with my D700, a camera with an amazing autofocus fast and precise.

  20. #20

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    Re: Sports/Action lens?

    I guess I wasn't really considering third party lenses. Does the Sigma focus fast enough for action sports?

    A 70-200 f/2.8 (close to the Nidon 80-200 f/2.8) would be a very useful lens indeed. I agree that coupled witha 24-70 lens not much else would be needed!

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