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Old 24th of April 2012 (Tue)   #1
Noitca
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Default Lens question

Ok, bored and fustrated with work stuff at the moment, so my mind wanders.

I currently shoot with the gear I have listed below, mostly with the 55-250 lens. At some point, in the far distant future, after I find enough pennies on the ground or rob a bank or something, I plan on upgrading the lens.

Upgrade to what?

Obviously 300 or 400 f/2.8 would be a coveted choice for sports. However, unless anyone can hook me up with an estate sale where the seller has no clue of what they have, or a divorce sale where an angry husband/wife is screwing over a photographer husband/wife, those are out of the question.

So, let's say in the $1000 to $1500ish range.

70-200 f/2.8. maybe with IS version 1 if used. This seems like a kick butt lens and very versitle covering a lot of uses, but a max of 200 mm seems like it could get limiting for sports. Could potentially toss on a 1.4x TC to make it almost a 100-300 f/4, but I imagine that IQ would suffer. Would still benifit from a zoomable range though, and could still fall back to shorter focal lengths when the light gets low and/or crappy. For what it's worth, 2x TC's sound great on paper, but I haven't seen anyone say they actually use a 2x with "acceptable" results.

That said..

Why not just grab a 300 f/4 and call it good if I end up using the TC most of the time in the above option? Seems like this would have better IQ at 300mm than the 70-200+1.4x. Would have to still rely on the 55-250 when something shorter is needed, but how much? I seem to recall seeing in the sports photos section 300mm used quite a bit with fantastic results (granted the f/2.8, but more focusing on the focal length). Now, the f/4 STARTS to improve the aperature issues, as I gain over the 5.6 at 250mm on my current lens, but I suspect that low/poor lighting would still be a challenge. Ultimately, this would be an upgrade in capability, as it doesn't really replace my current lens (which would be fine, I think)

I had the thought that the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 would be a good solution. (had never heard it called "dust pump" before). Zoomable range looks great. Does nothing to upgrade aperature though. $1,500 and still struggle with low/poor lighting? Ouch. However, I would expect the IQ from 100-250 to be better than my current lens under good light, right? This gives a longer reach and a nice wide range to use it with, but I have seen a comment that at 300mm, the 300 f/4 just "does better" IQ wise.

So, which one should I dream about getting "near term". Unfortunately, I am not in the situation to make a move anyway, so it is all just a dream. Just curious which would be the better purchase.

Right now I tend to bounce back and forth between the 70-200 f/2.8 and 300 f/4 option.

Thanks for reading.
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Old 24th of April 2012 (Tue)   #2
wcpeabody
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Default Re: Lens question

What are you wanting to shoot with it?

Indoors vs outdoors
Day light - at night under lights
What sports?
What level of play?
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Old 24th of April 2012 (Tue)   #3
bboowwyy
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Default Re: Lens question

If you get lucky, you can find a 300/2.8 non-is for $1500ish.
f/4 can work at night, albeit with a camera with great ISO and good stadium lighting.
Here is an example of a night game being shot with an f/4 lens.
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Old 24th of April 2012 (Tue)   #4
Noitca
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Default Re: Lens question

Sorry, forgot use... not that it's important. LOL.

Right now, the lion's share of shutter actuation goes to my son's 5u sports. Assuming that he sticks with that, it will be sports related mostly, mixture of day games and night games which are poorly lit city fields.

Other stuff is generally outdoor type stuff. My kid, my dog, scenery, vacation shots, wildlife (while on vacation), general mundane shots.
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Old 24th of April 2012 (Tue)   #5
Noitca
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Default Re: Lens question

Nice shots.. those were all with the 300 f/4?
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Old 24th of April 2012 (Tue)   #6
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Default Re: Lens question

I just rented the 300 f/4 for a week, one of my first shots from it...

I think it's a keeper...


AL0C7677 by kenjancef, on Flickr
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Old 25th of April 2012 (Wed)   #7
bboowwyy
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Default Re: Lens question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noitca View Post
Nice shots.. those were all with the 300 f/4?
No, they were with a Nikon 500/f4 (looking at the exif data).
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Old 25th of April 2012 (Wed)   #8
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Default Re: Lens question

Nice pic.

Gotcha. I was on my phone when I made that post. The f/4 seems manageable at least.
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Old 25th of April 2012 (Wed)   #9
JeffreyG
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Default Re: Lens question

How you approach sports depends on why you are shooting it. As a parent trying to get just your own kid, you can be very limited (like just one long prime) and still get several great shots by setting up to shoot just your one player. If you are looking to shoot the entire team during the course of a game or are at the game to catch the critical moments, having multple focal lengths available will dramatically speed up your work and prevent you from missing key plays

I use the 100-400L for outdoor field sports, and it is an excellent performer. One can use the longer primes, but then most people doing so would be using two bodies and teaming the longer primes with a 70-200 on their second body. If you want to use a simgle prime, I strongly recommend a 300 over a 400, because while the 300 will have you cropping a lot, it will also not be too long quite as often.

The next problematic consideration is if you also plan to shoot indoor sports, where the 100-400 is longer than needed and too slow. For indoor, it is hard to beat a 70-200/2.8. Various shorter fast primes are also possible, especially if you are handicapped by using a body that cannot be used in the range of ISO 3200 to ISO 12800.

Single Outdoor Daylight: 100-400L
Single Indoor/Night: 70-200/2.8L

Doing both options:
70-200/2.8L with 1.4X TC (problem is slow AF when shooting with TC)
100-400L with 85/1.8 (problem is inflexible range for indoors)
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Old 25th of April 2012 (Wed)   #10
Noitca
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Default Re: Lens question

Wow, awesome response.

I would say it ends up being a mix of both scenarios that you listed above. My primary reason is "a parent taking pictures of my kid". For the 2 years I have been doing it with my current equipement, I inevetablly get asked to take team shots during games (situational, catching the moment and what not). Ultimately, I am nieve/nice/dumb enough to say "yes", though I enjoy it. I can only imagine that walking out with better equipment will only amplify that.

The leagues and what not that I am dealing with are all rec leagues. So there are evening games. Not so much of a concern right now due to twilight coming at about 7:30 ish... but in the fall and winter that will change. We also haven't gotten into indoor sports as of yet, but I would be that would be coming.

My camera body is well, my camera body. Honestly, right now I am planning on running that into the ground before an upgrade, as I don't see spending 1500ish on a better iso body and using my current lenses as the best bang for the buck. For my T1i, iso 3200 is useable, though I try to be concious about relying on crop too much. I have had little to no luck at 6400 and 12800.

I guess it is hard to be the versatility of the 70-200 f/2.8. How bad is the focusing with the TC? Is it comparable to the 100-400? I would imagine that it would still be faster than what I have now. What about the 2x TC? Is that just not usable? Just running the math, that would basically make the 70-200 a 140-400 f/5.6, but there is more crap in the way now.

Thanks again.
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Old 25th of April 2012 (Wed)   #11
JeffreyG
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Default Re: Lens question

I'm thinking about this further. I have to tell you that from my experience in most HS gyms, I think you might find f/2.8 to be a real challenge with a T1i. It would be a shame if you laid out a lot of money for the 70-200/2.8 and then found that the lens was really too slow for the venues you are shooting.

To put this in perspective, I find a 'nice' gym in my area tends to need ISO 6400 and f/2.8 to get me to 1/500 or higher. A bad gym can be a whole stop worse than this. If this turns out to be the case for you, then you might be well set to focus on the field sports now and add a fast prime or two (like the 85/1.8) later.

But then we are back to talking field sports. In nice light down to the edge of twilight the 100-400L is unbeatable short of a monster like the 300/2.8L or the 400/2.8L.

Shooting after dusk needs a faster lens, but it realistically also needs flash. Even if you had a super fast lens to shoot under the lights, you will learn real fast that helmets and hats cast awful shadows that beg for a remote, low mounted flash to fix.

I'll also try to address your questions on the 70-200 with TCs. I found my older 70-200/2.8 IS to take a 1.4X TC OK and the AF was fast enough most of the time. The 70-200/2.8 IS II is better with a 1.4X TC, but the lens is beyond your budget.

Anecdotally, most people don't like the 2X TC with any zooms, although a few people think the combination with the 70-200/2.8 IS II is acceptable. AF is certainly quite slow, but I cannot personally give you a recommendation since I have never run this combination.
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Old 26th of April 2012 (Thu)   #12
Noitca
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Default Re: Lens question

Thanks Jeff, you rock!

For now and the near future, we are outdoors. When the challenges of indoors presents itself, then I will either have to deal with what I have, or make a decision from there.

By comparison, the 85/1.8 is a bargain, from what I have seen. LOL.
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