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How to choose the right DSLR lens
I'm a beginner. I read some of the lens threads. How do you know what focal length to get? I'll be shooting hockey events inside and mostly stills not actions. I see Nikon has lots of options for cameras and lenses. What focal length would be equivalent to a 10x zoom or am I mixing two different topics?..

Comments (11)

10x zoom merely means that the long focal length of a zoom is 10x longer than the wide end (Ie, 7mm-70mm). First thing about DSLR - get the 10x (5x, 3x) zoom line of thinking out of your head - it's all mm from here on out..

Shooting sports indoors is very tricky and typically requires very expensive gear... but if you're shooting stills and can set up a tripod and flash you can get great results with even the kit lens..

Cool9 wrote:.

I'm a beginner. I read some of the lens threads. How do you know whatfocal length to get? I'll be shooting hockey events inside and mostlystills not actions. I see Nikon has lots of options for cameras andlenses. What focal length would be equivalent to a 10x zoom or am Imixing two different topics?.

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Comment #1

Yes, you have to drop the 10X talk and start to describe your photography plans in much more appropriate terms. The language used to sell point and shoot cameras to people who want nothing more than snapshots of family events is not useful when you start to talk about very demanding forms of photography like shooting inside hockey arenas..

The right lens depends on the uses that it must fill. What exactly are you planning to do? Then a recommendation might be relevant..

Nothing is enough for the man to whom nothing is enough...

Comment #2

Cool9 wrote:.

I'm a beginner. I read some of the lens threads. How do you know whatfocal length to get? I'll be shooting hockey events inside and mostlystills not actions. I see Nikon has lots of options for cameras andlenses. What focal length would be equivalent to a 10x zoom or am Imixing two different topics?.

Here's a 10X zoom on a DSLR..

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

This monster Sigma lens goes from a focal length of 50mm to a focal length of 500mm, a ten times multiple..

But it's heavy and slow and inappropriate for shooting hockey stills indoors..

What becomes important for a DSLR lens is how much light it lets in. Look for "Influence of Lens Aperture" about 2/3rds of the way down this page.http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/camera-lenses.htm.

If it's stills you want, I suggest looking for a short zoom, say in the 18-75 range, but with an f stop of f/2.8 for speed of autofocus and low light situations..

The other thing to consider with indoor stills is whether you want to rely on the on-board flash, or get a wireless remote flash that'll give your subjects more flattering shadows...

Comment #3

So "optical zoom" is only relevant to point and shoot cameras and it's light path? Light path is different for single reflex lens?..

Comment #4

Cool9 wrote:.

I'm a beginner. I read some of the lens threads. How do you know whatfocal length to get? I'll be shooting hockey events inside and mostlystills not actions..

That's an oxymoron, right? Hockey stills? .

More info please - just how close will you be? What sort of stills are we talking about?.

If you are sitting in your seat and wanting to get "out on the ice" you'll probably need something that goes to the 200mm range or more. If you are closer, then you can get away with less focal length..

I'd advise you to visit a camera store and try out a few zooms in the appropriate range, to get a feel for the different focal lengths..

So you might be looking at something like a 55-200 zoom, or 80-200, or perhaps 70-300. Or maybe even the 18-200 VR for ultimate coverage..

Now - having settled on a focal length (range), you have further options - the main ones being (1) maximum aperture and (2) VR. Both of these will cost you more $..

The value of the wider maximum aperture is that it allows you to use faster shutter speeds and therefore be more likely to freeze the action and/or reduce blur due to camera shake (especially at the longer focal lengths)..

For example, the AF-S DX 55-200mm f/4-5.6 G ED is quite a cheap lens, but it's max aperture is f/5.6 at the 200mm end. The AF-S 80-200mm f/2.8 IF-ED on the other hand, is 2 stops faster (wider aperture) at f/2.8 which allows you to use a 4 times faster shutter speed (each stop doubles the exposure basically). So that's a big advantage, BUT the faster lens is a LOT more expensive (it's also a different level of quality in other areas too but let's leave that aside for the moment)..

VR also costs, but not as much as wider apertures (IMHO). For example, the AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED is a bit more expensive than the other 55-200 I mentioned above, but a lot cheaper than the 80-200 I mentioned above. It still has the same limit on maximum aperture, but the VR will allow you to use faster shutter speeds without camera shake. The VR pretty much cancels out the difference in maximum aperture. But it won't stop subject movement, a a faster shutter speed (and therefore wider aperture) is the only answer for that..

I hope that gives you a bit of info about the options and choices..

I see Nikon has lots of options for cameras andlenses..

Yes, but so do Canon and other makers. I doubt that you would be able to base a choice of brand on your stated requirement. Any camera brand should be able to meet your needs. But hey, as a Nikon owner, I can only say you wouldn't be making a mistake if you settled on Nikon..

What focal length would be equivalent to a 10x zoom or am Imixing two different topics?.

As other posters have explained, yes, you are mixing topics..

So "optical zoom" is only relevant to point and shoot cameras andit's light path? Light path is different for single reflex lens?.

No. Optical zoom applies to both P&S and DSLRs. It refers to the fact that the elements in the lens move to change the focal length. The principles are the same whether you're talking P&S or DSLR. Only the light path to the viewfinder changes and that is not relevant to the question of "optical zoom"..

The term "optical zoom" is for comparison to "digital zoom". Digital zoom is a trick used by some P&S cameras (and rarely if ever a DSLR) to increase the zoom range of the lens. This is done by - basically - digitally enlarging the image inside the camera. It's like blowing up a digital image on your computer - the larger you go, and you start to see the jaggedness of the individual pixels..

Digital zoom is not by any stretch a susbtitute for optical zoom. It is only (IMHO) useful for "desparation" shots where image quality is not as important and getting the shot. And in a lot of cases you will get the same result by taking the picture with maximum optical zoom and then blowing it up on your computer later. Digital zoom is (IMHO) really only for people who don't know how to edit photos on a computer. It is (IMHO) a "feature" you should ignore when camera shopping..

Hope that helps..

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window..

Comment #5

For stills you need tripod. Set camera at apperture prority f/8 - f/16,timer and make a shot. Flash will create strong shadows. I do stills with 50mm f/1.7 prime or Tamron 90mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro. If surfaces have strong reflections - use Circular polarizing filter to control them (rotate external element of filter).

For hokey you need fast prime lens something like 85mm f/1.4 or 200mm f/2.8http://www.stan-pustylnik.smugmug.com..

Comment #6

Cool9 wrote:.

So "optical zoom" is only relevant to point and shoot cameras andit's light path? Light path is different for single reflex lens?.

Optical zoom is appropriate to any camera with a zoom lens. The problem is that the zoom factor doesn't give you as much information as you might like..

1. A 6 mm - 18 mm lens (on a point-and-shoot) is a 3x lens.2. An 18 mm - 55 mm lens (on a DSLR) is a 3x lens.3. A 50 mm - 150 mm lens (on a DSLR) is a 3x lens..

Now, in "35mm-equivalent" terms, camera/lens combination #1 probably gives you a range of something like 35-105mm or 38-114mm..

On a Nikon DSLR, lens #2 would give you a "35mm-equivalent" range of 27-81mm and lens #3 would give you one of 75-225mm. (The ranges would be similar, but not quite the same, for a Canon DSLR.).

All three of the camera/lens combinations give you "3x zoom", but #1 and #2 are largely the same (with #2 having more wide angle, #1 having more medium-range telephoto). #3 starts with medium-range telephoto (no wide angle or "normal" setting) and goes further into telephoto than either of the others..

Let's say you buy a DSLR body with lens #2 and lens #3. You could then say the system as a whole has an 18 - 150mm zoom range (8.3x zoom), although you do need to change lenses to go from one end to the other..

See why talking about zoom factor is less useful on DSLRs? The "starting points" of the lenses you can buy are all over the place, and without fixed starting points, the zoom factor alone doesn't tell you enough about telephoto vs. wide angle...

Comment #7

Cool9 wrote:.

I'm a beginner. I read some of the lens threads. How do you know whatfocal length to get? I'll be shooting hockey events inside and mostlystills not actions. I see Nikon has lots of options for cameras andlenses. What focal length would be equivalent to a 10x zoom or am Imixing two different topics?.

Arrowman has summed it up for you. The problem for your hockey shots will be that you may need a shutter speed of 1/500th or even faster to freeze fast hockey. That means a maximum aperture of at least f/2 and preferably f/1.8 or f/1.4..

Then there is the problem of the reach: 50mm or 85mm might suffice if you're in the front row, but I suspect you need something around the 200mm point or longer. Long reach + fast (i.e. wide apertures) means big money sadly, whether you go for Nikon, Canon or elsewhere..

Alex..

Comment #8

No point in me repeating the sensible replies you have had so far. A practical suggestion - Go ask others shooting at ice hockey games a) what lens b) what cam..

I think you will find most are using 80-200 f/2.8 or a fast prime around 200mm but that is a guess..

You will need a DSLR capable of excellent 1600 ISO performance. That definitely means a modern one but it does not necessarily have to be an expensive one. Look for low noise and good dynamic range at ISO 1600 but you also need good low light AF..

A used Nikon D50 and used 80-200 f/2.8 plus monopod would likely make a reasonable combination. That is probably the best you are going to do on price. A Nikon D40x and Sigma 50-150 f/2.8 might work and would be relatively affordable but the reach might be too short (So go and ask!) The 10Mpixels on the D40x would give you some room to crop..

Nothing wrong with Canon etc cams and lenses. I can only speak with any authority of what I know but I doubt you will better the D50 combo on price..

Chris Elliott.

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

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

Comment #9

The feild of view offerred by your Kodak 10x zoom is equvalent to 38mm -380 mm on a full frame sensor or 35 mm film. To get an idea of what this means, take photos at various levels of zoom and note the focal length shown in your exif data. If it doesn't show 35 mm equivalent field of view, (it may only show the actual focal length of 6.3mm to 63 mm) multiply by 6..

Realize though this is full frame or 35 mm film equivalent. Depending on the crop factor (1.5 to 1.6 for Canon,Nikon and 2 for Olympus 4/3 sensors) the actual focal length of a lens for a Dslr will not be the actual field of view. You have to multiply the actual focal length of the lens by the crop factor..

Just like you multiplied 6.3mm -63 mm by 6 to get the field of view fro full frame, you have to multiply by 1.5,1.6 or 2 to get the actual field of view of a Dslr lens..

For example, say you want a zoom lens that will give you the field of view that your Kodak megazoom shows from 17.5 mm to 50 mm. On a full frame sensor or 35 mm film, the field of view would be 105 mm to 300 mm. If you want a Dslr lens with that field of view and the crop factor of the camera is 1.5 then you would need a 70-200 mm lens..

Your cameras actual focal length is 6.3 to 63 mm. The same range in field of view on a full frame camera would require lenses of 38 to 380 mm focal length. On a Dslr with 1.5 crop factor you would need lenses of 25 mm to 253 mm to get this same range in field of view..

So say you look through your kodak viewfinder at a focal length of 50 mm, which is near the long end of your zoom. On a Dslr with a 1.5 crop factor, you will get the same view with a (60 x 6 divided by 1.5) 200 mm lense. Essentially, you mulitply by your meagzoom's focal length by 4. With 1.6 crop you multiply by about 3.9 and with Olympus 4/3 you multiply by 3...

Comment #10

I had a look at the kind of shots you have in mind.http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1011&message=22562466.

Don't know your budget, but if you want Nikon (a good choice), then I'd recommend the D80 (US$ 875 body only) with the Nikkor 18-200mm Vibration Reduction lens (US$ 750)..

Dpreview says one of the strengths of the D80 is it's fast autofocushttp://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond80/page29.asp.

Pop Photo tests show the Nikon 18-200mm VR lens has the best in-lens stabilization system..

Http://www.popphoto.com/...ation-special-stop-the-shake-lab-report-page2.html.

If you wanted to save money, you could consider the Nikon D40 (US$ 490) instead of the D80, or get the D80 with a kit lens (US$ 1,200)...

Comment #11

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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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