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Old 3rd of June 2010 (Thu)   #1
CarbonFly
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Default Need a roller derby lens!?

I have read all of the stickied articles and searched across the net about primes vs zoom, etc.

In the past month I have become the unofficial "official" photographer for my wife's roller derby team. Shooting fast sports combined with a low-light indoor setting has surpassed the limits of my 17-85mm and 70-300mm lens. Even when I use my 580EXII flash I can't get enough light, etc to catch a good shot of the action. For the past 2 bouts I have been relegated to using my 50mm 1.8 as it is the only lens that gets enough light for a good shot. BUT.....it's still slow to focus. So, I put all my lenses up on eBay and have decided to go for quality.

Right now I'm thinking that the 24-70mm 2.8L is my best bet, but a friend who is a professional photographer suggested I get a 50 1.4 and 85 1.8 instead to use. My problem with this is that I sit track-side for the photos and depending on where the action is during the roller derby I feel that the zoom would be better to allow me to get the shot. Switching primes depending on where the action is on the track would be really difficult during a bout.

Would the 24-70 be fast enough? Or are the primes listed above faster and necessary?

What does everyone think?

As a side note, do you think that a monopod would be a good idea to help stabalize the photos since the 24-70 has no IS. (recommendations?)
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Old 3rd of June 2010 (Thu)   #2
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Default Re: Need a roller derby lens!?

I would go prime.
The difference between 2.8 and 1.8 can be huge.
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Old 3rd of June 2010 (Thu)   #3
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Default Re: Need a roller derby lens!?

f2.8 will not likely be fast enough. Can you move away from track side? If so you might rent the 85mm f1.8 for a bout, and see if you can find a place to get the action you want with only that lens. The 85mm f1.8 focuses very fast.

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Old 3rd of June 2010 (Thu)   #4
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Default Re: Need a roller derby lens!?

Mono pod won't help-slow shutter and fast moving subjects.The 85 f1.8 is a fast focusing lens,but is it the focal lenth that you need?I suggest that you find the FL that you need and buy primes (85 f1.8 and 135 f2L come first in mind to me).It seems that you can use flash so if you get good with using flash then you might get away with a f2.8 (zoom) lens,but a faster lens is the better option.The zoom also has advantages,but the primes are faster.
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Old 3rd of June 2010 (Thu)   #5
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Default Re: Need a roller derby lens!?

If you're allowed to use flash ... keep trying. I know I would.

As for a 2.8 zoom being sufficiently fast; it's easy to figure out, based on what shutter speed (and ISO) you were able to get with the 50/1.8.
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Old 3rd of June 2010 (Thu)   #6
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Default Re: Need a roller derby lens!?

85 f/1.8
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Old 3rd of June 2010 (Thu)   #7
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Default Re: Need a roller derby lens!?

Were you using direct flash? Try bouncing it. I had maybe a 50 ft ceiling in a building like a hangar. With the flash head zoomed to 105 you'll be surprised how much you get. You will need to keep the SS up though to avoid ghosting.

I tried to photograph derby once using my 17-55 and 50mm f/1.8. Honestly neither is suited for this. The zoom was too slow and the "nifty" fifty sucks hard in low light. It just can't focus.

I think you need better than ISO 3200 and f/2. I think the 85 f/1.8 is probably the best lens for the job. I think the best position is coming out of the turn. From that location they'll be facing you as they turn, which is the most exciting action. I think the 85 will be a good length for that. The 135L if you need tighter.
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Old 3rd of June 2010 (Thu)   #8
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Default Re: Need a roller derby lens!?

I've shot many a random sport, inside and outside, and I find that zooms are perfectly fine. Indoor amateur hockey has crappy lighting and still my 70-200/4 on a 1D classic at ISO1600 was able to pull 1/500 shutter speeds.

Here's my "but..."
You sit track side, so get a wide angle (say Tamron 17-50/2.8 or similar) and aim to get the shots right in front of you. Keep the lens pre-focused and stay wide to lesson OOF areas. Forget about the other side of the track, b/c you're likely to capture 25% of the action right in front of you 100% of the time.
Or...
Get a longer zoom (or prime) and focus on action across the rink. Then you're likely to capture the 25% of the action away from you...maybe 100% of the time.
Or...
Set your shutter to 1/20th or so, set your flash to max power and capture some awesome blur with sharp skaters mixed in. Awesome effect!

Use the flash at the maximum power needed to support your shot, not capture your shot. I mean, your camera should be okay to capture 1/250 or higher in crappy light when pushed to ISO1600 or ISO3200 and using an f/2.8 lens. The flash just "fills in" the dark areas and highlights the light areas if you're tuning it right. You can switch between lenses all during the derby, but you will never find a single one lens fits all solution.

And for what it's worth, what size are you printing these out? Anything less than 8x12", and probably anything less than 12x16", ISO3200 wide open on any decent lens should produce stunning images with NO post processing, regardless of what lots of people worry about here. I speak from experience. I shot a motocross at f/4 (70-200/4), ISO3200, 1/whatever-I-could-get (which was about 1/500th at best) and then when I got home, opened the JPEGS (yes, JPEGs!) in Google Picasa, auto-adjusted the color and contrast, then cropped to about 1/3 of the original image, exported to Photoshop (CS2) and sharpened lightly, printed at 8x10", hung on my wall at work, and from outside of 3" you can't even see the graininess and "noise." No one has said, wow, that's noisy. Instead, it's usually, wow, my photos never come out like that!

If your images are going up on the web it's even less of an issue, since most screens are nowhere near the resolution you are going to print at.

But I digress...push your ISO as high as you can, see what kinds of shutter speeds you can get, decide if you want to shoot near or far, then use that to determine your lens needs. Good luck and feel free to ask me more if you want details.
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Old 4th of June 2010 (Fri)   #9
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Default Re: Need a roller derby lens!?

Thank you all so much. I'm going to try to absorb all of this info in and test it out at the next bout. The pictures are mainly for the purposes of being posted on the team website.

I truly think that my skills at shooting low light action provide as much of a barrier to getting a good photo as does having the proper lens. Low light/action pics have proven to be devastatingly frustrating. When sitting trackside, I position myself on the corner as the girls exit the turn because straight-aways are usually boring shots. Falls and hits happen on the corners. Depending on if the skater is coming into or out of the turn it would be nice to have the zoom to adjust the shot.

I think that I might go with the 24-70mm 2.8L and the 85mm 1.8 and see how that works out for me.
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Old 4th of June 2010 (Fri)   #10
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Default Re: Need a roller derby lens!?

maybe a wider prime like the Sigma 30mm f/1.4?
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Old 4th of June 2010 (Fri)   #11
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Default Re: Need a roller derby lens!?

To be honest, depends on the venue. Quite a lot of gyms around the UK and venues I have shot at have had decent lighting BUT 2.8 still requires a real high ISO to start with to really freeze any action.

It really depends on the track. Best thing to do is get in touch with a US based shooter, Axel Adams who is one of the best Roller Derby photographers period. Met him at a UK tournament and a great dude.

Are you shooting flat or banked track roller derby?

Flat track I find is great looking down the main straight (players facing me on the start line). For those, depending on the track, anywhere between 50-135mm is perfect IMO. I have never really gone wide, main reason is these women have a habit of flying towards photographers. Closer you are, less chance to get out of the way.

In all essence, it just boils down to what you want, slow shutters for the pans. So 2.8 wont really be a problem. I usually run AV and just stop the lens down to pan. Suppose TV would do the same. Best is a wide lens and to stick yourself on the curve.



As the jammers are released after the main pack, it takes half a track for them to catch up and pass so by the time the come back round, you have some heated blocking. (illegal move here)



Banked track should be a bit more interest, would love the opportunity for that.

Ill drop you a PM with some extra stuff

Mitesh
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Old 4th of June 2010 (Fri)   #12
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Default Re: Need a roller derby lens!?

85 1.8 or 100 f2 are great choices. They focus fast....
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Old 29th of June 2010 (Tue)   #13
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Default Re: Need a roller derby lens!?

i'm late to the thread, but what did you end up chosing? i've been using my 17-55 mostly for roller derby this season, but would probably be happier with the 24-70 range in a zoom. i've personally been lusting after the 85 1.8 for derby bouts though..
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Old 1st of July 2010 (Thu)   #14
CarbonFly
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Default Re: Need a roller derby lens!?

I went with the 24-70 because if fit my needs at derby and for other events. Ill get the 85 1.8 later.
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Old 1st of July 2010 (Thu)   #15
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Default Re: Need a roller derby lens!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarbonFly View Post
I went with the 24-70 because if fit my needs at derby and for other events. Ill get the 85 1.8 later.
yeah, sounds like a good plan to me. i know i would be pretty happy with that combo trackside at derby bouts!
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