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Newbie dSLR advice (especially sports photography)
Hi there,.

I'm looking at getting my first dSLR soon and need a bit of advice to help guide the choice. Have had a bit of experience using an SLR in the past (10 years ago when at uni) but not for a long time. Been doing heaps of research so I'm slowly getting an understanding of the ins and outs - but still need a bit of advice to help out..

This will just be a hobby for me, so I won't be going overboard with super expensive gear. Will be trying a bit of everything (portraits, landscapes etc), but particularly want to do a bit of sports shooting - mountain biking, surfing, football and cricket mainly..

I'm not brand loyal, so looking at most brands, particularly the Canon Eos 450D, Nikon D60, Sony A350 and Olympus E-520..

Anyway, the questions I could do with some advice on are:.

- What are the main features I need to be looking at for sports photography?.

- Is there anyway way of working out what length lenses I need for certain distances? For example, what would I need (35mm equivalent) to shoot a close in shot of someone standing 100m away?.

Thanks in advanceAshes..

Comments (14)

Hello. Here is a link of images from a 200mm-400mm at 300mm on a 35mm camera. This is a very expensive lens and so I would instead recommend the 70mm-300mm lens with a 1.4 teleconverter. Nikon camera and lens. The D300 would be nice or perhaps a less expensive model from Nikon..

Http://forums.dpreview.com/...30&message=27818379&q=300+feet&qf=mWill..

Comment #1

Last thing first: a lens focal length calculator can be found athttp://www.compumodules.com/...image-processing/focal-length-calculator.shtml.

The cameras you are considering have an APS-C sensor, dimensions about 25 x 16 mm. So for something 100m away (= 100,000 mm), assuming the person is about 2m tall (2000 mm) and you want them to fill most of the sensor (say, image size on sensor = 20mm) then you need a focal length of 1000mm. Which is seriously big and expensive .

... to turn it around, with a consumer 70 - 300 lens at it's longest setting, a 2m tall person will more or less fill the frame (i.e. image size 20mm on the sensor) at a distance of 30 meters..

For sports you will need a reasonably long tele zoom: fortunately there are plenty of 70-300 (-ish) zooms around, some of them remarkably cheap (and pretty good) like the Tamron 70-300 f/4 - f/5.6 which sells in the UK for 130 and will be fine for outdoor shooting. As to the camera body, it doesn't really matter - they all do the same thing. A fast burst rate might help. Most of the mid-range cameras you mention like the Canon 450D manage about 3.5 frames per second: to get more than that you need to go a step up in price, like the Canon 40D (6.5 fps)..

If you ever get into it seriously and want long, wide-aperture (and very expensive) lenses like the pros use you are best to go for Nikon or Canon as they have the best lens selection. if you are sticking to conusmer-type cheaper lenses (like the Tamron) it doesn't matter which brand of body you get..

Hope this helps.

Best wishesMike..

Comment #2

Sports is a FAST LONG lens. Now how fast and how long is dependent upon how much light you have and how close you are to the action. Any of the cameras you have listed can do a good job of sports photography with the right glass. I would suggest you would want at least a 200mm F2.8. if you are going to shoot any sports in low light. Also think about weight of the camera and lens together.



One feature I would look for in the body is Image Stabilization. It is great to have when you are shooting long and there is not a lot of movement (like during an entire cricket match  ) Another feature would be the burst rate of the camera for shooting continuous shots. I think all the cameras you have listed would be about the same. Image Stabilization does NOTHING for you when the subject is moving (except it is somewhat helpful if the camera has a Panning Mode.) I like in camera because ALL the lenses you get have this feature rather then having to pay extra for it built into the lens..

The last feature is the speed of the autofocus. Obviously the faster the better..

Don't forget that you can also crop the image which will effectively give you the ability to get closer. Here are a couple "action" shots I took with my E-510. I don't have much experience shooting sports..

Jim.

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

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

Olympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #3

I understand that you were atempting to show the lens magnification but please keep in mind that the shots on the link above were taken with a D2h which is a Pro camera. Don't expect the same performance out of any the entry level cameras you have listed..

That doesn't mean that you can't get similar shots. You can. What it means is you will have to take a whole lot more because you won't get close to the burst rate or AF speed with the bodies the OP has listed as potential choices..

JimOlympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #4

Actually, what I was trying to show was just the length necessary to fill a frame with a person at 300 ft. It is about a 300mm lens on a aps sensor camera. There is a review of this lens here:http://bythom.com/70300VRlens.htm.

Review states that the lens is not compatible with teleconverters and beyond 200mm is is very soft. So perhaps a better lens choice (although more expensive but a constant F/2.8 is the 70mm-200mm. That could be used with a teleconverter, I'm sure..

The 70-300 although a greater length, is hampered by the F/4.5-F/5.6 limit which is why it is not compatible with a teleconverter as it starts with those f-stops. The 70-200 with a teleconverter will have same reach as the 70-300 so that would be a better choice if you can come up with the $1700 because of better image quality.Will..

Comment #5

Image stabilization isn't really very valuable for sports/action. You need a fast enough shutter to freeze the action, at that duration you shouldn't have to worry about camera shake. Monopod can eliminate enough camera shake if you are working at very long focal lengths..

For sports you really want fast auto focus, fast frames per second and a clean high ISO. Lens selection depends on the sport, in good light outdoors you can use a cheaper slow lens. In poor light indoors you will need fast glass..

Did I mention sports photography is probably the most expensive kind of photography to get into....

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

Comment #6

This will just be a hobby for me, so I won't be going overboard withsuper expensive gear. Will be trying a bit of everything (portraits,landscapes etc), but particularly want to do a bit of sports shooting- mountain biking, surfing, football and cricket mainly..

Of these, I would expect surfing and biking to have the easiest conditions expectation of decent light and relatively few possible subjects of interest at any given time, and the ability to select and track one for a while. For surfing, it might be noted that while the subject may be well out thus suggesting a very long lens you may not actually want to crop that closely, since the waves around them might be of interest..

For biking, I note that a panning shot may be of interest, in which case one-axis stabilization (the camera attempting to stabilize against up/down shake, but NOT fight your horizontal panning) would help..

Football and cricket I would expect to be significantly harder. There are more potential subjects on field, and lighting may be... very bad, making it difficult to photograph at evening games. Both sports involve the ball moving quite rapidly, with some attempt at non-obviousness by whomever's deciding where to send it. Thus it becomes much harder to choose an appropriate subject -and- achieve autofocus lock before the choice becomes no longer as interesting..

Long, bright lenses with fast AF motors, coupled with cameras with fast continuous AF tracking, a goodly sized buffer, and a nice largish storage card are good ideas...

Comment #7

BA baracus wrote:.

Image stabilization isn't really very valuable for sports/action. Youneed a fast enough shutter to freeze the action, at that duration youshouldn't have to worry about camera shake. Monopod can eliminateenough camera shake if you are working at very long focal lengths..

Except that on a longer lens (say) 500mm stabilization will give you a useable shot at speeds that that will stabilize camera shake but still be ok for action shots (as long as the "action" is not that fast....ie cricketer, or baseballer or footballer taking a catch for example. Sometimes a little motion blur (hands etc) can make a photo if there is no camera shake blur..

For sports you really want fast auto focus, fast frames per secondand a clean high ISO. Lens selection depends on the sport, in goodlight outdoors you can use a cheaper slow lens. In poor light indoorsyou will need fast glass..

The More/faster/higher of everything, the easier to get good results, I would not say faster frame rate is needed but it helps...I think it is more important to get the reach needed for the shot you want and an aperture fast enough..

Did I mention sports photography is probably the most expensive kindof photography to get into....

Like birds in flight....

If you wanna do this seriously , then you pay for what you get...the most expensive generally will be an outfit that is fast aperture, fast shutter speed, great high iso and reach from near to far....

That outfit would currently be something like a Nikon or Canon pro camera and a Sigma 200 to 500 2.8 ...you MIGHT get change from 30,000 dollars..

Ok most pros would not use that lens, but a decent pro kit would still run to between 5000 and 15000....the new canon 800 5.6 is $15000 alone, that 200 to 500 Sigma 2.8 is $25000..

As to the OP, If someone wants to do sports as a hobby, then you start taking away the things that make it expensive, one at a time...You can go for a lower camera with slower frame rate and get the same standard of shot, but just miss a few (thats what I would do), that means a lower body, and maybe even manual focus for fast lenses...you can do THAT with just about any brand...they all have there strengths and weaknesses....you could go for a mid range camera with slightly lesser glass...that is what many do. It comes down to what you are happy with..

Thatys why I love my lowly K100d, for less than the price of ONE pro lens for my entire kit, I have great high iso, great fast (mostly) manual focus lenses and a wonderful gadget that lets me auto focus them, and they are all stabilized....all I am missing is fast pro frame rates and pro auto focus....mf 300 2.8 with a auto focus adapter gives me a stabilized 510mm 4.8 af lens (centre weighted metering, centre point af).....is my system as good as a pro canon or Nikon out fit....of course not, but for the price....

You will do well with any brand, Oly for the crop factor would be good for sports, A Pentax or Samung 14mp camera will give plenty of scope for cropping so you could get away with shorter lenses (or make the longer ones "longer" still)...if you are prepared to spend more (much) more down the road, the Nikon or Canon..

My favourite lens right now is an old manual focus Nikon 85 1.8 ...love it for everything, and will use it for sports over the coming months..

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

Neil.

Link back to flickrhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/26884588@N00/..

Comment #8

Super DOF on the shot..

JimOlympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #9

Maddogmd11 wrote:.

Super DOF on the shot..

JimOlympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it..

Thanks, but I really did not have to do anything...and this is the easiest sports shot to get..

It was during a criterium race so I just got near a corner, watch them come around and see what line they are taking. set the camera to auto focus single (which it always is in anyway) with the manual focus Nikon lens focus to the point I want and the camera fires when the rider is in focus when they come around again...should work with just about any camera with a mid range 2.8 or even f4 lens. Pentax auto focus may not be the greatest but trap focus is very easy and nice. Over 45 minutes there where plenty of laps..

Neil..

Comment #10

Maddogmd11 wrote:.

Sports is a FAST LONG lens. Now how fast and how long is dependentupon how much light you have and how close you are to the action.Any of the cameras you have listed can do a good job of sportsphotography with the right glass. I would suggest you would want atleast a 200mm F2.8. if you are going to shoot any sports in lowlight. Also think about weight of the camera and lens together.It's difficult to get a tripod into the stadium to see Man U play..

One feature I would look for in the body is Image Stabilization. Itis great to have when you are shooting long and there is not a lot ofmovement (like during an entire cricket match  ) Anotherfeature would be the burst rate of the camera for shooting continuousshots. I think all the cameras you have listed would be about thesame. Image Stabilization does NOTHING for you when the subject ismoving (except it is somewhat helpful if the camera has a PanningMode.) I like in camera because ALL the lenses you get have thisfeature rather then having to pay extra for it built into the lens..

The last feature is the speed of the autofocus. Obviously the fasterthe better..

Don't forget that you can also crop the image which will effectivelygive you the ability to get closer. Here are a couple "action" shotsI took with my E-510. I don't have much experience shooting sports..

Jim.

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

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

Olympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it..

Hi Jim,.

I'm actually leaning towards the E-510, particularly as I'll be taking it with me on a trip around the US later in the year (is a bit lighter with smaller lenses)..

Can I ask what lens you used on those example shots?.

CheersAshes..

Comment #11

Thanks to everyone for the replies, it has been really useful and given me a great idea of what to think about..

I'm in Western Australia so will be shooting in bright sunshine most of the time .

That being the case, would something like a 70-300mm f/4 -f/5.6 do the job for me, or do I need faster glass?.

Also, is there much difference between the E-510, 450D, A350 and D60 in terms of their AF speed?.

I realise there will be limitations that come with cheaper gear, particularly for sports photography, but just trying to make the best decision with the budget I have..

CheersBrett..

Comment #12

Ashes_mtb wrote:.

I'm in Western Australia so will be shooting in bright sunshine mostof the time .

That being the case, would something like a 70-300mm f/4 -f/5.6 dothe job for me, or do I need faster glass?.

In bright light such a lens will be fine. On a sunny day at ISO100 a correct exposure will be something like 1/1000 sec at f/5.6 which should be fast enough to stop the action - you don't need the huge extra expense of an f/2.8 lens. Any modern DSLR has excellent high-ISO performance, so to be on the safe side you could use ISO 400 which gives 1/2000 sec at f/8 allowing you to stop the lens down a bit since cheaper zooms generally improve a lot when stopped down from maximum aperture. Well, that's what I'd do!.

Best wishes.

Mike..

Comment #13

Ashes_mtb wrote:.

For example, what would I need (35mm equivalent)to shoot a close in shot of someone standing 100m away?.

This: http://v.foto.radikal.ru/0703/00610cceadde.jpg..

Comment #14

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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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