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Best Camera/Lens for Indoor Sports?
I am a beginner/intermediate SLR photographer and am in the market for a basic good all-around digital SLR camera to mostly photograph indoor volleyball games. No flashes are allowed in these gymnasiums. I was looking at the Nikon D40/x but have decided there's not enough affordable lens' options for that camera. In order to justify my purchase, I am looking for ease of operation (my wife needs to be able to use the camera on occaision), with not too many options. I may "blow-up" a few pictures to 8x10, but mostly, I will print-out 4x6 pics. I'm OK with a 6-8 mega-pixel camera.

So basically I'm looking for two different (auto-focus) lenses. If not a Nikon, I would prefer a Canon, but I have an open-mind for other brands. My budget is under $1k. I plan on keeping this camera for about ten years, so please help me narrow down this all important decision. Thank you for your time!..

Comments (18)

Shooting indoor sports without flash is just about impossible for $1000. Look at this thread:http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1002&message=25417045.

Just about the only lens under $1000 that is fast enough for indoor sports is the Sigma 50-150 f2.8 and that costs $600-700 which doesn't leave much for the camera body and general purpose lens..

You might want to review your budget or review how restricted you want to be for the indoor sports, e.g. high ISO and noisy images, or short range subjects only.Chris R..

Comment #1

I think the Canon 400D (around $600), Canon 85/1.8 ($375), and Canon 50/1.8 ($70) would be the best option with your stated budget. The 85/1.8 is an excellent lens for indoor sports..

Here's a shot using the 85/1.8 on my 40D:.

Http://www.pbase.com/rjonesphotography/image/86603350.

Richard..

Comment #2

Agree with Richard..

Don't forget the fast, sharp and cheap EF 100/2 as a good sports lens..

I would consider buing a used 30D instead of a new 400D, at similar price..

The 30D is snappier with 5 fps instead of 3 and offers in-camera ISO 3200. You could achieve this with the 400D as well shooting ISO 1600 in RAW at -EV and push one stop in DPP..

Anders..

Comment #3

Not sure what you mean by not enough affordable lens options for the D40/D40x.

There are 40 plus lenses:http://www.sigmaphoto.com/news/news.asp?nID=3356.

Http://www.nikonusa.com/template.php?cat=1&grp=5 (you need to scroll down to AFS..

The Sigmas are very affordable as are the Nikon kit lenses. You are limited in your choice of 70-200 f/2.8 zooms. But the Sigma is a perfectly decent lens and no other mfr produces an f/2.8 zoom in that range that is cheaper..

The D40 with kit lens (18-55) plus the 50-150 Sigma f/2.8 is probably going to give you the most affordable combination unless you chose to put up with the inflexibility of using prime lenses for indoor sports. If you chose that option then the D40/4ox is definitely not the right route to take..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #4

If you are willing to go used, you could try to find a Canon 30D reasonable, which would give you decent speed and good high ISO (which is huge in indoor sports), maybe pair it with a Sigma 50-150 2.8 or something. If you want new, you might want to look at Pentax K10D - $564 which gives you an amazing value (11 point AF, weather sealed semi-pro grade body, in camera stabilization, unlimited JPG buffer) but your lens options are more limited, either Pentax 50-135 2.8 (kinda short) or Sigma 70-200 2.8 HSM, either would bring the total to around $1500. Keep in mind that the K10D / sigma 70-200 combo would give you pretty much identical feature set (with the exception of slightly slower fps) and similar quality as Nikon D200 / 70-200 2.8 VR combo for less than half the price and would give you really solid gear that just might last that 10 years. I shoot Nikon, but I just don't see a camera in their line up in your price range that's up to it. You could go with primes to get lens speed at an affordable price, but I personally would feel limited...

Comment #5

The new Nikon 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 is nice in that it adds VR to the mix. It's pricy at $725 or so. If you can find a Nikon D40 in decent shape for $300 (good luck) then this is a good combo at close to your budget..

Or....

Tamron makes an 18-250 f/3.5-6.3 that you could start with. It's available for $500 or less "on the street". f/6.3 isn't great (ok, nothing about this lens is great), but the only other real options (a.k.a. sufficient reach) in your price range are mirror lenses and I don't think you'd like them at all..

That leaves you another $500 for a used body. A Canon 350D (Rebel XT) body is as much as you'd need and can be had for around $350 in good condition if you shop carefully. Canons seem to have about the lowest noise levels at the high ISO values you'll end up shooting..

That still leaves you $150 for a monopod - which you'll need..

If you luck out on the prices/budget then add a 50mm prime to your list. You'll be amazed at how versitle such a lens is in "party and vacation" situations...

Comment #6

TheMadTexan wrote:.

The new Nikon 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 is nice in that it adds VR to the mix..

VR doesn't help a slow lens deal with indoor sports..

Tamron makes an 18-250 f/3.5-6.3 that you could start with..

A slow lens just doesn't work for indoor sports..

That still leaves you $150 for a monopod - which you'll need..

...so that you can capture shake-free images of blurry athletes..

Seen in a fortune cookie:Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed..

Comment #7

I agree with the above. Used 30d, or 20d will be fine. get a 1.8 50 or a 1.8 85 and bump the iso way up to get a fast shutter speed. Zooms won't cut it unless you have an exceptionally well lit venue. You'll want something wider for other photography. In fact you could just use the 50 1.8 and see how you like it.

-Bruce..

Comment #8

I have the 18-200 VR as one of the lenses in my S5 kit and for certain applications it is great. Super versatility in a light carry around package, but there is no substitute for fast glass for low light sports. You shouldn't even consider anything slower than 2.8 for your primary lens...

Comment #9

His budget is $1000. Yeah, a 400mm f/2.8 is a better choice, but if you can't afford it then it really doesn't matter..

No one said VR was going to help him with the moving subjects. The point was the 135mm isn't enough reach and 200mm is longer. Besides, he has other uses for the gear and the VR does work well in the right circumstances. Also, while certainly not ideal, the f/5.6 is an improvement over the Tamaron f/6.3 at maximum length..

Lenses that you have on your camera while faced with a shot *ALWAYS* take better pictures than the ones still in the catalog...

Comment #10

I read the OP. He asked about shooting indoor sports. I think that most knowledgeable photographers would agree that a fast lens is paramount for that. No, a $7k 400 2.8 would not be in his budget, and would be too long anyway. However, I fail to see how a 18-200 3.5-5.6 (a wonderful little lens I have posted good reviews of many times) would be better than a 80-200 2.8 ED for $100 more (dang..wouldn't work with D40 though, would have to go Sigma 70-200 2.8 hsm), or even the Sigma 50-100 2.8 for $100 less. Obviously it would be more versatile if it is his only lens, but it certainly wouldn't be as good for what HE posted he wanted to do...

Comment #11

Replied at the wrong level. It was the guy ahead of you that I was wondering about.....Sorry..

I figured a couple of assumptions in my answer. Primary among those is that he's only going to be able to afford one lens (if it's an even passable zoom - he could look for 2-3 primes as they tend to be bargins) to go along with everything else. I know, his post says he's looking for two. Remember though, he needs not only the body, but the memory card, and probably a bag or case of some kind. He's really gonna wish for that monopod after about the 10th game too..

I'm assuming that the high ISO performance of a body in his price range is going to be acceptible for his purposes. He's not marketing these things to Sports Illustrated. Some noise isn't going to mess up his "4x6's and occasional 8x10s"..

Lastly, I'm looking at the entire list of things he wants to use the camera for and deciding that I can't recommend he only have one lens that starts at 70 or 80mm on a crop body. Particularly for parties, that's simply not usable on the wide end..

However, if he really wants to start off with the best stuff he can afford for the sports and worry about the rest of it later (and that would be in line with the subject of his post) then yes, the Sigma is a far better choice. It's really going to pinch his budget for everything else, but it's doable...

Comment #12

TheMadTexan wrote:.

His budget is $1000. Yeah, a 400mm f/2.8 is a better choice, but ifyou can't afford it then it really doesn't matter..

Nobody has mentioned 400/2.8, except you right here. For most indoor sports such a long focal length is nuts..

No one said VR was going to help him with the moving subjects..

It was implied in your answer. Otherwise, why tout a slow lens with VR?.

The point was the 135mm isn't enough reach and 200mm is longer..

For volleyball, which the OP asked specifically about, 85mm on APS-C is about right. You can get a 85/1.8 for about half the price of the lens you mentioned. And it will actually work for the intended purpose..

Besides,he has other uses for the gear and the VR does work well in the rightcircumstances..

Sure, just not what he said was "mostly" interested in..

Also, while certainly not ideal, the f/5.6 is animprovement over the Tamaron f/6.3 at maximum length..

Yep, a whopping 1/3 of a stop. OTOH a f/1.8 lens is 3 1/3 stops faster than f/5.6..

Lenses that you have on your camera while faced with a shot *ALWAYS*take better pictures than the ones still in the catalog..

How about interior shots with a 600mm lens? Bird-in-flight shots with a 10mm lens? Fisheye killer bee macros?.

Sometimes the lens you have just isn't right for the shot you need..

Seen in a fortune cookie:Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed..

Comment #13

TheMadTexan wrote:.

I figured a couple of assumptions in my answer. Primary among thoseis that he's only going to be able to afford one lens (if it's aneven passable zoom - he could look for 2-3 primes as they tend to bebargins) to go along with everything else..

OK, how about kit lens + cheap VR/IS telephoto zoom (Nikon 55-200, Canon 55-250) + fast prime..

Remember though, he needs not only the body,but the memory card, and probably a bag or case of some kind..

Your $725 lens recommendation + any current body blows away his $1k limit, not considering these extras. And still doesn't give him what he wants..

He's really gonna wish for that monopod after about the 10th game too..

A $725 lens won't make the monopod any cheaper..

I'm assuming that the high ISO performance of a body in his pricerange is going to be acceptible for his purposes..

You've never shot in a gym before, have you. To get a reasonable shutter speed (like 1/125 or hopefully faster) you often need ISO 3200 f/2.8. f/5.6 isn't going to cut it..

Some noise isn't going to mess up his "4x6's and occasional 8x10s"..

At ISO 12600?.

Lastly, I'm looking at the entire list of things he wants to use thecamera for and deciding that I can't recommend he only have one lensthat starts at 70 or 80mm on a crop body. Particularly for parties,that's simply not usable on the wide end..

So get the kit lens..

Seen in a fortune cookie:Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed..

Comment #14

For the volleyball, you need an 85/1.8 and a body that can focus it - so in Nikon that's a D80 (D40 and D40x won't AF Nikon's 85/1.8) and in Canon it's a 400D. Either way, I think you've already blown past the $1000 budget, but that's really the bare minimum that will give acceptable results. If you can get really close, a 50mm f/1.8 would work. A longer lens would be nice but they get slower and more expensive which are both in the wrong direction. f/2.8 zooms aren't fast enough except in the brightest of gyms. I shoot basketball a lot and most gyms have light from ISO1600, f/1.8, 1/250s on the dim end to ISO1600, f/2.8, 1/350s at the brightest.

The faster bodies (Nikon D200/D300 or Canon 30D/40D) would be nice, but aren't essential and money is better spent getting better lenses..

So about the cheapest thing you can do in buying new gear would be one of those cameras, the kit lens, and the 85/1.8. On the bright side, the 85 is a very nice portrait lens as well, and you'll learn about small DOF and white balance and manual exposure from the work in the gym...

Comment #15

I give up. Have to admit that I don't follow Nikon gear closely enough to realize that the 18-200 is such a hot item. Figured that if it retailed for $700 that a used one was out there for $500. Not a chance - turns out you'd be lucky to find a new one..

I think the other guys may have an alternate idea that's a good plan here. I think the idea of a 2nd hand body + kit lens and then adding a fast prime in the 180 to 250mm range is a solid plan. The only real complication is that the selection of new primes used to be better than it is now. You'll almost certainly be shopping the used market, and you need to watch the compatability. The Nikon D40 for instance would be a poor choice given it's lack of a built in focus motor..

I did, in fact, shoot quite a lot in the gym when I was in high school / college. I did most of it with a Nikon 70-210 f/4-5.6 zoom and ASA200 slide film. The rest I shot on TMAX 3200 with a 300mm f/8 relfex (mirror) lens [yes that was as horrible as it sounds]. I got some blurry shots, and my share of underexposed frames. However, I got a lot of good stuff too..

As for how big the glass needs to be, the "correct" answer is: as big as your budget allows. There's no such thing as a lens that's too fast in this case. f/2.8 or faster is great if you can swing it. Just don't let folks convince you that you might as well leave your camera at home if f/4 is all you can afford. It's about trade offs - not a line in the sand after which nothing works...

Comment #16

Agreed, get the best you can afford. The 18-200 was a real nightmare to find up until the last couple of months. Stores were sending them out hte back door to Ebay for $850-900. That should be over now as I bought one about a month ago for $749 in the local shop who had 13 in stock. I find it capable of really sharp results and hte VR is amazing (200mm at 1/8 or 18mm at 1 sec are doable) but at 5.6 at the long end, it is rally limited in low light on moving subjects (I'm not even talking fast moving ones like sports). The D40s lack of focus motor is somewhat limiting, not sure what Nikons thought's were there especially given the equally low price of cameras with similar image quality like the K100D that offer both a AF drive motor and VR built in. I think D40 with cheap kit 18-55 + sigma 50-150 2.8 HSM is probably his best bet to stay near $1000 going Nikon...

Comment #17

I strongly disagree..

If the gym light is good for ISO1600, f/2, 1/250s, then at f/4 you'll be shooting 1/60s, and at f/5.6 1/30s. The OP's question was about indoor volleyball. At those shutter speeds, you might as well leave your equipment at home...

Comment #18

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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