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08-12-2010, 08:32 PM   #1
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High School Sports: Needed Focal Length?

I will need a zoom lens soon as a photographer for my high school newspaper to cover all the various sports games. I think I have it narrowed down to either the Sigma 70-300 APO DG or the DA 50-200 (though I'm open to any more suggestions, minus the faster glass that's way out of my budget.) I think I'm leaning towards the DA 50-200, but would that be long enough or do you think I'll need the extra reach to 300mm? I should be either at or very close to the sidelines at all the various sporting events, so I think the DA would be enough, but I just wanted to make sure.

Thanks!

Kevin

08-12-2010, 09:52 PM   #2
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Its going to come down to how good the "Saturday Night" lights are. That's the biggest limitation I see for you with the lenses you suggested. Given adequate light, the DA 55-300mm lens would have you covered.
08-12-2010, 10:37 PM   #3
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I know that nighttime football games will pose a challenge, but I'll also probably be at other daytime events like soccer, baseball, track, etc. The DA 55-300 looks to out of my price range though; I'm trying to stay in the $200 area. Do you think the DA 50-200 would give me adequate reach since I'll be at the sidelines?
08-12-2010, 10:45 PM   #4
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I shot sports for my junior high and high school way back when. A 200mm on a digital sensor would give you the reach you need to do the job adequately. There's also an affordable FA 80-320 zoom you could consider. I have used one of those in the past and while it's not an optical wonder, it does the job well enough.

08-13-2010, 01:42 AM   #5
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If I was doing what you are planning on doing, I would get the longest, fastest lens I could afford. No matter what, I would strongly suggest shooting 2.8, otherwise you will be forced to shoot at high ISO's in order to get what is going to make you happy. This will be especially true if you are shooting night time sports (football games?) or inside with less than optimal lighting.

Take a look at this recent article:
8 Tips On How to Photograph Sports

Good luck and dont forget to post some pics soon!

Jason
08-13-2010, 02:29 AM   #6
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I thought I'd show you this just in case, a ton of money, yes, but not really

it's also an investment that will keep it's value for a long time

Used Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro AF Lens AF001P-700 -

Have you considered manual focus?
08-13-2010, 06:12 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tomzee93 Quote
I know that nighttime football games will pose a challenge, but I'll also probably be at other daytime events like soccer, baseball, track, etc. The DA 55-300 looks to out of my price range though; I'm trying to stay in the $200 area. Do you think the DA 50-200 would give me adequate reach since I'll be at the sidelines?
Given your budget, your choices are pretty much the DA 50-200 or some older manual focus glass. If it were me, I'd probably look for an M 200/4 and do some lens changes. If you are on the sidelines in good light, I would expect the DA 50-200 to be adequate for a school paper, especially since cropping would be an option. When I used the DA50-200 for sports, I found it was at 200 all the time, so the manual lens would give you quality and speed without giving up much except the automatic functions.

I shot this a few years ago at a baseball game a few rows up, and quite a ways down the third base line with the DA50-200.
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Last edited by GeneV; 08-13-2010 at 06:20 AM.
08-13-2010, 07:13 AM   #8
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Another choice is the DA L 55-300. This is the less expensive DA L series with plastic mount, no quick shift and no hood BUT, it is optically the same.
I love this lens. I'm always looking for an excuse to use it....
I've seen it in the $250 range.

08-13-2010, 07:40 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tomzee93 Quote
I know that nighttime football games will pose a challenge, but I'll also probably be at other daytime events like soccer, baseball, track, etc. The DA 55-300 looks to out of my price range though; I'm trying to stay in the $200 area. Do you think the DA 50-200 would give me adequate reach since I'll be at the sidelines?
The DA 50-200 would work well for you from the sidelines as far as focal length is concerned. Try looking threw the market place here at PF for a good used lens. That may get yo back into your budget.
08-13-2010, 09:01 AM   #10
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Also does your newspaper print color or BW for the pictures? What body are you using?

The tamron 70-300 is about $160 on Adorama. If the photos are going to be BW, just boost your ISO as much as you need to and you should be fine. If you are printing color, then you might need a manual lens and to learn how to pre-focus like they did in the old days.

Use a monopod if you can.
08-13-2010, 10:00 AM   #11
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I'd love to get that Tamron 70-200 f/2.8, and $620 really isn't too bad for such an investment, but the bottom line is I just can't afford it, especially since I've greatly cut back my hours at work for the school year.

I'm using a K-x, which will give me a little more leverage with the ISO. I also have a manual focus Tamron 80-210 f/4, but I'm not sure my manual focusing skills are up to par for action shots. I do somewhat understand the concept of pre-focusing though; do you think this is worth a shot?

The photos will be in color, I believe.

Thank you all for the help!
08-13-2010, 10:19 AM   #12
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First, good for you for sticking to a budget that is reasonable for your situation. I think the Tamron 70-300 might be the best choice for you. I have used it for high school football (daytime) and soccer, and for the money, it works well. It’s slow to focus, but for $160 there’s always going to be compromises. Very good sharpness, and for the large field outdoor sports, the extra 100 mm will help a great deal. The K-x is a pretty darn good budget sports camera. Realize that all of these budget lenses we’re talking about here will be useless for indoor sports. Even with the K-x, you’ll need 2.8 in almost any HS gym. Good luck to you. My one other piece of advice, try to position yourself so that your background is as uncluttered as possible.
08-13-2010, 10:41 AM   #13
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If you can find a used FA 100-300 f4,7, get that one. It's inexpensive at around 100$ used, and it delivers. I got two football shots in the PPG with it.
08-13-2010, 11:10 AM   #14
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Since this question is about lenses, not cameras, I'm moving it to the proper forum.

For your purpose, and given your budget, I'd recommend the Tamron 70-300. I prefer the DA50-200 personally for my own purposes, but I think you'll really want the option of going to 300mm. Maybe that plus the M200/4 for use in lower light situations.
08-13-2010, 11:35 AM   #15
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I'll second the suggestion of the under-rated FA100-300/4.7-5.8 zoom (NOT the other one). I overpaid at US$120, but I'm not bitter. I also think you should give your T80-210/4 a shot. Yes, be sure to prefocus, and also try Catch-In-Focus. But one issue with manual zooms is SR (shake reduction), deciding what focal length to tell the SR robot. In good light, no problem. In not-so-good light... well, it's hard to beat a tripod. Or just brace yourself.

Your Kx gives you a lot of ISO leeway for shooting at good speeds with the slower lens. If you can handle lens changes, various old manual 300/5.6's are available cheap, like for well under US$50, and with no SR issues. On your budget, don't worry about a fast lens; focal length and SR are more important concerns IMHO. Good luck!
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