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Thread: D3100 Sports Lenses

  1. #1
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    D3100 Sports Lenses

    so ive had a nikon d3100 with 18-55mm lenses and i have been tasked with covering the school soccer teams for the yearbook and such and i'm looking for a lense that is long enough to really get some good pictures and isnt thousands of dollars but wont affect the image quality.

  2. #2
    Melkus's Avatar
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    Re: D3100 Sports Lenses

    Can only comment on what I have but so far I'm happy with my Sigma 50-200mm. It's a bit soft at 200mm range but for only $159 I can't complain Have to ask your self what zoom range you might need, how far away from the action your going to be.

  3. #3
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: D3100 Sports Lenses

    First of all to state the obvious, you don't think that all of the sports photographers working professional sporting events or the Olympics are using the most expensive cameras and lenses because the want to. Anything budget priced is going to have some very significant tradeoffs that are mostly assocated with speed of the lens and image quality.

    The shortest maximum focal length you will want to go with is 200mm, and anything longer is going to start getting more expensive. I have the Nikon 55-200mm VR lens and at 200mm it is only f/5.6, so not blazingly fast. Nikon also makes both a 55-300mm lens and a 70-300mm lens that are getting more expensive, but are still in the budget range. I haven't used these but understand that they are a bit soft in the 200 - 300mm range.

    As Paul has mentioned, third party suppliers like Sigma and Tamron do make lenses you might want to consider, but regardless of the company that makes the lens, make sure you get one with a focus motor that is built into the lens. Your D3100 will not be able to autofocus with any of the lenses that require an in-camera screw drive motor.

    Because of the relatively low speed of the lens, you are likely going to have to shoot at higher ISO ratings, which will introduce digital noise into your images. I also suggest that you shoot shutter priority mode, rather than the other settings and start at 1/500th exposures and go from there. You will most likely want to freeze the motion. Image stabilization is another must have feature, based on the camera / lens / shooting conditions you are looking at.

    The other thing that you will have to do is move along the field to where the action is. While I am not a sports photographer myself, I know a few people that are very much into it and they all use two cameras; one for action that is close to them with a mid-range lens and the action that is far away with a longer lens.
    Last edited by Manfred M; 8th October 2012 at 12:09 AM.

  4. #4
    singlerosa's Avatar
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    Re: D3100 Sports Lenses

    I bought the Nikon 70-300 VR last year as an upgrade to my trusty old 70-300 4-5.6. I began using this lens on a D100 (currently shoot a D7000) and think it's great when you have good lighting. I shoot my grandkids' soccer games and Porsche Club track events as well as some nature stuff. Can't say that I use VR that much, but it's nice to have. Many times I can't tell the difference between shots taken with the 70-300 and my 80-200 2.8 (shot in similar situations). Good luck.

  5. #5
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: D3100 Sports Lenses

    Another vote for the 70-300VR. You'll have range for everything on the pitch pretty much covered, it's light, has VR (mine's bust but I'm not missing the VR), and if you get a good sample it's sharp all the way to 300mm. Some are reportedly soft from 250mm onwards, but mine's acceptable.

    Definitely move around the pitch as much as possible to get as many different view points. The last thing you want to end up with is 500 shots from the same spot. Mix it up.

  6. #6

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    Re: D3100 Sports Lenses

    As others have noted, your first problem is going to be getting a long lens with a large enough aperture for indoor or nighttime shooting. You would want a lens that is at least 200 mm and has a maximum aperture of f/2.8. These are expensive. The most affordable option is the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8, which is an excellent lens optically and costs about $750. Although it lacks VR, you won't need VR with most sports shots because you need a high enough shutter speed to keep from blurring the action. However, the Tamron has a slow focusing motor, which is a PITA when shooting sports.

    The excellent Nikon 70-300 VR has a very fast focusing motor and has capable VR that you probably won't use. But it is quite slow optically, with a maximum aperture at the long end of f/5.6. You can save a few bucks by getting the Tamron version of this lens, but will face the same limitations. The softness wide open is unlikely to be a serious concern to you with either lens, but the optical slowness is a problem.

    The Nikon 55-200 and 55-300 lenses are slow both optically and in terms of their focusing motors. I would suggest passing on them as too limited for sports photography. The cheapest no-compromise lens for your application is probably the Sigma 70-200 DG OS f/2.8, which is sold new for around $1400. Look for used or refurbished lenses of either this or one of the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 (either VR or VRII version would be fine, but the VRII is pricey even if used). If you settle for something less expensive, you just need to decide what you are willing to do without. FWIW
    Last edited by tclune; 9th October 2012 at 01:50 PM.

  7. #7
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    Re: D3100 Sports Lenses

    Thank you so much to everyone who commented. I ended up getting the Nikon 70-300 VR and am very pleased with it. I used it at districts and was absolutely thrilled with the pictures I got. Thanks again !!

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