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11-29-2011, 12:09 PM   #1
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Best lens for High School Basketball???

Looking for opinions on a good lens for shooting basketball indoors in your typical High School gymnasium lighting levels. My daughter is entering middle school this year and is a decent basketball player, and she seems dedicated to continuing to improve her game, so I want to be able to get some good shots for her has she progresses through the years.

My first gut instinct would be something in the 85mm range...which I already have a Vivitar (samyang) 85mm f/1.4. However...I'm not that confident in my ability to manually focus on a fast moving game such as basketball....I have a hard enough time on still life So I guess I'm looking for something with Autofocus.

I was thinking something like the 50-135, or a Sigma 50-150mm HSM would be ideal zooms as far as focal length...but I'm wondering if f/2.8 is even fast enough to stop action inside a gym? Camera is a K-5 so I can crank the ISO if need be...but even still I'm wondering if that will be enough? Would I be better off with a prime lens? I could always splurge for the Sigma 85, or an FA77 but I'm wondering if that's even necessary...for most other things when I need an 85-ish lens the Vivitar is great. I'm just not real quick focusing with it. I would think that the fast 50's would be a little short since I might not always get a good position to shoot from.

I haven't had the opportunity to try shooting this game yet....I've been a coach the past 3 years when she was playing youth ball...so I never had the opportunity to take pictures so any thoughts/opinions/experiences shared would be appreciated! TIA

11-29-2011, 12:57 PM   #2
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HS gyms are pretty small, so I think either the 135 or 150 would be more than enough. If the lighting is up to it step down to 4.0 (for extra sharpness) and crank up the ISO with your K-5. With any half decent noise removal software such as the one that comes with LR3, don't be afraid to shoot at ISO 6400.
So to answer your question either the Pentax or Sigma would do the trick. For sports, go with a zoom.
The weak link will be the K-5s pedestrian AF speed, so try to anticipate as much as possible and pre-focus.
11-29-2011, 01:05 PM   #3
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I had a thread on this topic about 8-12 months ago with regard to my son's games. What I found was that f4 and higher is pretty useless unless you want a lot of noise. Why? Unlike professional venues, rec and HS gyms are incredibly poorly lit for anything other than the human eye. I tried some manual focus lenses and they got the shutter speed/ISO combination to a point that was really nice but my focusing ability was lagging. I bought my FA50/1.4 for use in the gym and it made a huge difference. I also learned to use capture in focus for the manual lenses and that helped a good bit. Also, do not disregard the point and shoot with burst approach. Its not elegant and it will not win you any fans among the "purest" photographers but it might just get you that keeper shot of your son! Finally, positioning is a really important consideration. At the end under the basket or on the sidelines? They each have advantages and disadvantages and in some venues one or the other is inaccessible and makes your decision for you. Good luck!
11-29-2011, 02:21 PM   #4
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Something wide and fast is good for under the hoop shots. I always find a spot under the hoop pre focus, turn manual focus off and tilt the camera up off the floor and shoot. Otherwise an 85 on a cropped sensor would be nice if you have the ability to move around alot.

11-29-2011, 02:44 PM   #5
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Docrwm has many good points.
I had a go shooting basketball at my uni and the lighting was pretty poor I was shooting at iso 1600. I used a K5 the FA50/1.4 and a cheap (Huntar MC) manual 135mm at f2.8.

The FA50/1.4 worked pretty well but the auto focus was not perfect, I often missed the shot.
With the 135mm manual I tried to predict the action and set the focus in certain zones ready to fire when something exciting happened in the focus zone.

The shot below was with the FA50mm f1.4
http://www.flickr.com/photos/60074667@N00/6318249349/

Last edited by MDegri; 11-29-2011 at 02:45 PM. Reason: Image not showing
11-29-2011, 11:57 PM   #6
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Every gym is different. Our local school Gym is small and I have shot a few basketball games. I had my best results with my old 55/2 Tak. I needed a fast lens to shoot without flash. From my seat, the 55 was just about the perfect focal length. Stopped down to f/2.8, the Tak gave me enough DOF from my position to cover most of the action as the girls were mostly in the center court. I haven't shot a game this year but I'm planning to and I want to try out the DA 40. Maybe a little short but it's sharp, focuses quickly and the IQ is good enough where I'm not afraid to crop. In a larger gym, a longer lens would work. Bring the Vivitar, it should do fine. My routine is to get my focus set when the players are at the foul line and shoot most of my shots when the action is in that area. This is one of my random snapshots. At f/2.8 there was enough DOF to cover most of the court.

Last edited by reeftool; 12-29-2016 at 04:44 PM.
11-30-2011, 02:08 AM   #7
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I would think that the DA* 50-135 or a Tamron/Sigma/Pentax 70-200 f2.8 would be your better options. for indoor sports, just depends on how close, and how tight you want to shoot.
11-30-2011, 08:25 AM   #8
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I shoot a lot of high school events as my step-daughter plays basketball, volleyball, softball and is in drama and choir.

I've based most all of my lens choices around this. I currently use my FA 50 1.4 and Tamron 70-200 2.8. Both produce great results. Depending on the gym and my position I also use my DA 35 2.4 (mainly for volleyball shots at the net). I'm usually shooting at 800 or 1600 ISO (sometimes 3200) depending on the gym using my K-5. The biggest pain for me was always the white balance as gym lighting is horrible. I got a grey card and set my custom white balance at the beginning of each event and eliminated that headache. I shoot with AF on, in AV mode. I also hand hold my 70-200 (pretty heavy) when I'm sitting up in the bleachers.

Overall I've very happy and would recommend any of these for HS Basketball shooting inside a gym. The K-5 continues to amaze me as I continue to learn and grow in my photography skills!

12-02-2011, 05:31 AM   #9
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I've recently been experimenting with the K5 and DA 70/2.4 combination. 70mm seems to be a good focal length for me when sitting at floor level for high school basketball. I use the DA* 16~50/2.8 for under the basket shots. I'll post some images later.

Tom G
12-02-2011, 05:54 AM   #10
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I use a the Sigma 70-200 at Basketball. At the 150-200 range it gives me the reach end from one end of the court to the other and at the 70mm end for the under the hoop and the free throw line.
12-02-2011, 08:52 PM   #11
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Here's one I liked from the DA 70/2.4.



At the moment this is my longest AF lens. I usually just sit at one end of the court and shoot in that area to deal with the lack of focal length. The DA 70/2.4 is perfect for half court shooting.

It's a great portrait lens as well.

Tom G

Last edited by 8540tomg; 12-03-2011 at 12:02 PM.
12-03-2011, 11:58 AM   #12
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My dad did yearbook photos for many years with his trusty Takumar Bayonet 135mm f/2.5. He did have to use ISO 800 film though. He also usually had a backup body with a fast 50 on it (Pentax K 50mm f/2).

Last edited by miltona580; 12-03-2011 at 12:04 PM.
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