Need advice on a lens choice (telephoto for sports)
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Old 10-14-2006   #1
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Default Need advice on a lens choice (telephoto for sports)

First of all, a big thanks to everyone in this community. I've lurked for a long time and found this to be a great resource as I learn how to setup for various situations. I hope that one day I can get my skills up to a level where I can actually contribute and give something back around here!

For the most part, I'm looking for lenses that complement the activities of my children. I have a 10 year old son who is involved in outdoor soccer, indoor soccer, cross country, and basketball. My 8 year old daughter is into dance and gymnastics. As you can see, some of these are pretty challenging situations given typical poor lighting of grade school level sports facilities. With information gathered here and elsewhere I've pretty much gotten the basketball situation squared away by getting a 50mm/1.8 prime. It does a fantastic job!


My current dilemma is this: I've been shooting my son's outdoor soccer games with an ancient Tamron 28-200mm/3.5-5.6 lens that quite honestly just doesn't cut it. By next year I plan to replace it, likely with the Canon 70-200mm/2.8 L (non-IS). I have the money in my "play money stash" to get one lens right now. My first instinct is to run out and pick this lens up, but I'm wondering if this might not cut it for indoor soccer and possibly some of the gymnastics over the winter. I know I ran into this scenario with basketball where my Tamron 2.8 still didn't allow me to get fast enough shutter speeds and I ended up getting the "thrifty fifty". In that scenario the difference between 1.8 and 2.8 made all the difference in the world. My alternative solution would be to get the 135mm/2 prime for indoor soccer and gymnastics this winter and hopefully have enough play money to buy the 70-200mm/2.8 by the time spring soccer rolls around.

So, after that long winded explanation, my question really boils down to this. Can I expect that the 70-200mm/2.8 L will perform well enough in the conditions listed above, to the point where I wouldn't need the 135mm/2 at all, or will the 2.0 make enough of a difference to justify the cost and loss of zoom capability? (and yes I'm aware that it's generally considered to be a better quality lens)

Sorry for the rambling and I hope my question is clear. I would really appreciate hearing from those that have been down this path before!

Thanks!
Chris

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Old 10-14-2006   #2
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Default Re: Need advice on a lens choice (telephoto for sports)

Your most challenging situation in the above scenario is your daughter's indoors sports. With the typical low light in those gyms you need all the light you can get, hence my suggestion of the 70-200 f2.8.

Now two questions arise, whether to go for the IS version or not. The second, will that lens be long enough for your son's soccer. Those I can't answer and better leave them to the experts here.

Welcome to the forum Chris.
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Old 10-14-2006   #3
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Default Re: Need advice on a lens choice (telephoto for sports)

Btw Chris, it would help to know which camera you have.
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Old 10-14-2006   #4
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Default Re: Need advice on a lens choice (telephoto for sports)

You can rent one for a couple weeks and not break the stash - might help you decide. If budget allows - IS is a must to shoot sports but you can get by with a monopod and shooting bursts. The first frame is usually soft(er) due to "trigger jerk"on the shutter.

Link = http://www.rentglass.com/shop.aspx?type=Canon
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Old 10-14-2006   #5
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Default Re: Need advice on a lens choice (telephoto for sports)

Hi Chris Kadman!

First: Welcome Aboard the Camel!

Second, for indoor sports you might also want to look at the EF85mm F1.8 USM (~$/ 375 - 425 new)

If that ain't long enough, the EF135 F2.0 L USM (~ $/ 900 - 1.000) might do your trick

IMHO for indoor sports the 70-200F2.8 is not fast enough in many INDOOR situations, unless you can shoot at ISO3200 and are prepared to pay that price (more noise - more PostProcessing necessary...)

...and as always, only *my* 0.02 worth...

Kindest regards!

Max@Home

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Old 10-14-2006   #6
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Default Re: Need advice on a lens choice (telephoto for sports)

Thanks for the info. I'm confused about the recommendation of the IS version of the 70-200. It seems to be a fairly common belief that it really doesn't have any value when it comes to sports where shutter speeds need to be high enough to freeze the action. I would be more than happy to buy the IS if it's needed, but I don't want the extra weight or battery drain if it isn't going to get me anything when shooting sports.

It also sounds like that might not matter, since a prime might be the way to go on this one. Still on the fence....

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Old 10-14-2006   #7
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Default Re: Need advice on a lens choice (telephoto for sports)

Quote:
It seems to be a fairly common belief that it really doesn't have any value when it comes to sports where shutter speeds need to be high enough to freeze the action.
IS is always helpful; it assists with AF (once it settles; activate IS first, then AF using the rear button) because it's easier for your AF system to grab onto contrast (no matter how high) if it's not bobbing up and down, and helps when you're shooting with a slower speed. In certain sports, you can practically get away with 1/125 second; wait for the players to stop moving for a split second (i.e. basketball, before a jump). Also, if you're shooting sideline stuff or the crowd, you can use a slower shutter speed. Also, I usually never designate a lens for just one use; while you might not always be using the IS, you never know when you might find yourself in a situation where you need it.

If you don't have the money, don't get the IS version. My priorities for selecting lenses when shooting sports:

1. Length: if it's not long enough, why bother?
2. Speed: IS/VR doesn't replace being able to let more light in
3. Size/Weight: is it hand-holdable? Is more support needed (extra cost)?
4. IS/VR: This is more like gravy; nice to have, but it's okay if you don't have it.

Yes, the 70-200 would be long enough for soccer; just wait for the players to get closer to where you are. Ideally, you'd want to have way more lens for field sports, but you can only live with so much. At the paper I'm interning with, the longest lenses are a pair of 300mm f/2.8 Nikkors.

If the light's usually pretty good outdoors, I'd recommend getting the 70-200mm f/4L and 85mm f/1.8 (or the 135mm f/2.0, or both) instead of the 70-200mm f/2.8 so you can get higher shutter speeds indoors.
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Old 10-17-2006   #8
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Default Re: Need advice on a lens choice (telephoto for sports)

Thanks to everyone for the input!

Well, things have changed a bit since my last post. Why? Well, the story goes like this: I went out to take a look at a few lenses at a local shop. They only had one of the lenses I was looking for, and even that one was pretty outrageously priced. Grrr! Anyway, the guy strapped it to a body so I could try it out and that body happened to be a 30D. Well, I sorta kinda maybe fell in love with the 30D. By the time I got home I had decided to sell my 350D and get a 30D. Sold my 350D to a co-worker the next day and ordered a 30D with a 50mm 1.4. Guess I should have mentioned before that I'm easily distracted by shiny objects.

Again, thanks to everyone for the valuable information and I'll still be looking for a lens in December for indoor soccer. If that lens doesn't also fit the bill for outdoor soccer, I'll be forced to buy another lens in the spring. Such is the life of an electronics junkie!!

Chris
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Old 10-30-2006   #9
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Default Re: Need advice on a lens choice (telephoto for sports)

Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclohexane
IS is always helpful; it assists with AF (once it settles; activate IS first, then AF using the rear button) because it's easier for your AF system to grab onto contrast (no matter how high) if it's not bobbing up and down, and helps when you're shooting with a slower speed. In certain sports, you can practically get away with 1/125 second; wait for the players to stop moving for a split second (i.e. basketball, before a jump). Also, if you're shooting sideline stuff or the crowd, you can use a slower shutter speed. Also, I usually never designate a lens for just one use; while you might not always be using the IS, you never know when you might find yourself in a situation where you need it.

If you don't have the money, don't get the IS version. My priorities for selecting lenses when shooting sports:

1. Length: if it's not long enough, why bother?
2. Speed: IS/VR doesn't replace being able to let more light in
3. Size/Weight: is it hand-holdable? Is more support needed (extra cost)?
4. IS/VR: This is more like gravy; nice to have, but it's okay if you don't have it.

Yes, the 70-200 would be long enough for soccer; just wait for the players to get closer to where you are. Ideally, you'd want to have way more lens for field sports, but you can only live with so much. At the paper I'm interning with, the longest lenses are a pair of 300mm f/2.8 Nikkors.

If the light's usually pretty good outdoors, I'd recommend getting the 70-200mm f/4L and 85mm f/1.8 (or the 135mm f/2.0, or both) instead of the 70-200mm f/2.8 so you can get higher shutter speeds indoors.
Very good points and well said.* I would add that a zoom is far more useful in sports.* I sold my 300mm F/4 because it always seemed like the wrong reach.* Much happier witht he 70-200mm F/2.8.* Outdoors you could add the 1.4X Tele without any discernible loss of quality.* On the 30D it would be equivalent to a 448mm lens! I use this to shoot airshows with excellent results.

Definitely go with the IS!


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