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FORUMS Photo Sharing & Visual Enjoyment Sports 
Thread started 24 Sep 2010 (Friday) 21:23
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Best Basketball Lens?

 
ChasWG
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Oct 05, 2010 14:06 |  #31

Well after all the tests, trials and failures I had last year trying to shoot youth basketball I finally ended up with what I believe to be the best basketball lens for me. The Canon 24-70 f2.8L on my 40D crop body.

When the season started last year I had a canon 50mm f1.8 that I tried to use. I did end up with a couple keepers, but I knew that wasn't going to work fo me. Too slow to the focus.

Next I rented a Canon 50mm f1.4, also too slow to the focus and even though it has a USM focus motor (well not really, it's a Micro USM motor)it was a horrible Bball lens I thought. Maybe it was just a beat up rental lens, but I had more keepers with the f1.8 version sad to say. Then I tried adding light to the court. That helps more than anything I had done to that point. I also tried using my 70-200 f4L. I found it to be just a bit too tight on the 1.6 crop body.

So then the seach was on. I needed to find something that was fast (f2.8 or better), fast to the focus (it needs a USM or equivilent drive motor) and it had to be sort of wide as well. This left the Canon 24-70L or a Sigma 24-70 f2.8 HSM to consider.

I chose the Canon 24-70 f2.8L because it was a Canon lens and more than likely wouldn't need to go back to the factory to get ajusted before I could use it, even though it would be a new lens (a round $900 new). And I found a great deal on a Canon refurb lens through Calumet Photographic. I paid $1100 for my 24-70L and I haven't ever regreated it once!

I found the zoom in that range to be perfect for under the net/baseline work. I know it's not in your price range, but it is a wonderful lens for Bball. It tracks and focuses so fast and is so amazingly sharp. On your 7D it'll be really great!

Then this past spring I found a used 85mm f1.8 and I can't wait to try it out this winter. I think it'll be best used on a crop body from the corners. It'll be too tight for under the net action for use on the center and forwards, maybe gaurd shots from ther top of the key, but it'll be great from the corners. For the $400 or so that the 85mm f1.8 will cost you (I got mine for $340 used from www.KEH.com (external link) ) it will probably produce some excellent images for you if you can't spend for the 24-70L.

My other suggestion is to look into adding some strobes on wireless triggers to help with stopping the action and getting better images. Most gyms, even HS and College gyms are horrible for taking action shots. And if you're taking shots of youth players, don't let anyone tell you that you'll be fine because they are slower. OK, maybe a bit, but it's not like they're old folks in wheelchairs either. It's a fast game and when played right, it happens very quickly!

Canon 50mm f1.8

IMAGE: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2685/4178513918_597de0fae3_z.jpg

Canon 50mm f1.4
IMAGE: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2787/4177751703_f4a5dfd5df_z.jpg

The reason I didn't like the 50mm f1.4, it totally back focused this shot.
IMAGE: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2705/4269951595_572da4c17c_z.jpg

With lights and a Canon 28mm f2.8
IMAGE: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2740/4279469672_d2c1a684a4_z.jpg

Canon 70-200mm f4L with lights (not enough)
IMAGE: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4061/4279457510_888903aa5d_z.jpg

Canon 24-70 f2.8L with lights (shot @ 43mm)
IMAGE: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4033/4353862141_540ba2b778_z.jpg

24-70L @ 32mm with lights (4 strobes in all)
IMAGE: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4040/4353856269_8612b12db4_z.jpg

24-70L @ 35mm with lights
IMAGE: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2700/4353849583_5e76f73f02_z.jpg

I know these are a little too wide, or un cropped, but I never know what a parent will want, so I leave them a bit wider and can then work from there.

I'd say get the 85mm f1.8 and a couple of strobes with a cheap wireless system (I use the YN RF-602 and it works great!) and have a whole lot of fun this year!

Chas Gordon
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CanonPhotographer
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Oct 06, 2010 17:20 as a reply to  @ ChasWG's post |  #32

Wow, thank you chas, your post basically answered all my questions, i really appreciate it. I may get the 85mm. the 24-70L seems really nice but is out of my price range as you said.
I will let you know what i end up getting!!

Thanks again


Nikon D3, 24-70, 70-200 www.michaelpronzato.co​m (external link)

  
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ChasWG
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Oct 08, 2010 01:09 |  #33

No problem Michael. I got a lot of help from the Sports/Strobe shooters here last season and I thought I would try and pay that forward.

I've been in love with my 85mm f1.8 since I first got it. It's a really great lens. One of the things I've been doing with it a lot this summer has been close-ups and some macro work with it. Yeah, I know, it's not a macro lens. And it's MFD is .85 meters (around 2.5 to 3 ft.), so how did I get this shot with that EF 85mm f1.8? Yeah, I know, not a sports image, but it does show the range of this lens. And look at that freaking awsome bokeh!

IMAGE: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4095/4913460929_e513ee9ef9_b.jpg

Get yourself some Kenko DG Extension Tubes and you're off to macro land with a really great and very useful lens!

So you said that you could spend up to $700 or so for a lens. I say get the Canon EF 85mm f1.8 for around $400 new (used for about $350 or so). Then get a set of Yongnou RF-602 wireless triggers off of eBay for about $60 and with the rest you could get a couple of strobes. I got my Canon 540EZ off of eBay for $100 in great used condition. It's a very versatile and powerful strobe. Or the Zeikos 680EX is available new for around that same price. It too is a very powerful strobe with lots of the same features as the older Canon flashes. With that set up you'll be shooting some great Bball images!

Chas Gordon
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Zivnuska
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Oct 08, 2010 03:13 as a reply to  @ ChasWG's post |  #34

Perhaps your next lens shouldn't be a lens at all.

Have you considered supplemental lighting instead?

Shoot with strobes at f/4 with a lower ISO and you get more depth of field, better colors, great skin tones, sharper images, and no light cycling--all with the lenses you already have.

Here are two old images of mine. Both are shot with the 1D Mark III. The first is ambient and the second is one year later with strobes ( 2 Alien Bee B800s). They are taken in the same gym, from the same place, in the same direction, of the same player. The 1D III is a great camera but you can't totally compensate for poor light quality.

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You'll never get this shot with this IQ shooting ambient:
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sch_photo
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Oct 08, 2010 21:12 |  #35

Zivnuska wrote in post #11056847 (external link)
Perhaps your next lens shouldn't be a lens at all.

Have you considered supplemental lighting instead?

Shoot with strobes at f/4 with a lower ISO and you get more depth of field, better colors, great skin tones, sharper images, and no light cycling--all with the lenses you already have.

I could not agree more. Gym light varies so much from school to school. I used two 580 EX II on two sides last year... this year I have alien bees B800s also. Can not wait to use them for basketball. Best lens issue. I use only my 70-200mm 2.8L. That IS the lens to use. You are better to save and get the lens you really want rather than get "something" that will work. I have shot basketball with a prime in the past and I hated it. I could not stand not being able to zoom in and out.


Equipment list: Canon 1Dx, Canon 1D mk III, 50D, 400mm 2.8L, 70-200mm 2.8L, 17-40 4.0L, 24-105 4.0L IS, Sigma 15mm 2.8 FE, (2) 580EX II

  
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Oct 08, 2010 21:45 as a reply to  @ sch_photo's post |  #36

i feel the same way sch-photo, i never used a prime lens and for me i feel like i have to zoom. I have a sunpak 444 and 443 flashes, and cybersyncs. i use them for off camera skateboarding flashes and they work excellent. Would these work for basketball?


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Staszek
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Oct 30, 2010 16:26 |  #37

Just got done shooting my first game, Butler vs Florida Southern. I wasn't on assignment so I didn't have court access, but I had good seats about 6 rows parallel to the basket. Lighting was superb at 1/800, f/2.5, and ISO fluctuating between 1600 and 3200. I was using my 135L and it was tight! Yes, even from 6 rows back. A 100 f/2 might be better on crop for perimeter action. I think an 85 will be plenty from the baseline. With this in mind, I think my 50 will see a lot of action this season.


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Staszek
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Oct 30, 2010 22:07 |  #38

Here's a shot to enhance my above post:

IMAGE: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1218/5129366745_7fbdaf4cb4_z.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …s/s_olszewski/5​129366745/  (external link)

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dmwierz
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Oct 31, 2010 00:01 |  #39

rluu wrote in post #11020623 (external link)
for the most part, would a focal length of 200mm or more ever be needed on a full frame for basketball?

Yes. I use a 400 on a 1.3X body all the time for down court action - the equivalent of a 520mm lens. Would use a 300 if I had one, but I don't. BTW, I hand hold this lens, FWIW. For near court, the 70-200 rules the day. A 300 would be a 390 on a 1.3X camera so even a 400 might be great on a ff body.


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Best Basketball Lens?
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