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12-01-2009, 09:06 PM   #1
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Best lens for basketball

I recently purchased a KX 2-lens kit with the 18-55 & 55-300 lenses. My application is youth indoor basketball. They only play 1/2 court so my distances range from about 5-35ft. Light is 90% florescent 10% natural. My experiences so far have been;

DA-L 55-300 @55-70mm,f/4,3200iso,1/125-1/160 Av - noisy, moderate blurring on feet etc.
DA-L 18-55 @55mm, f/5.6,6400iso,1/125 Av - v. noisy, worse see above
M 50/f1.7 50mm,f/1.7,4000iso,1/320-1/1000 Av - little if any noise, manual focusing v. difficult (90% were not in focus). No blurring, focal length a little too short.
Sears 135/f2.8 - untested

I bought the 50/1.7 more for portraits, but also to gauge focal length (it was only $25 too!). Based on the above I'm concluding a 70-100mm prime may be my best option, but it has to be fast to avoid the noise issues. Also AF is a must. Ideally an FA 77mm/f1.8 ltd would be my first choice at $600-650used, but are there any other cheaper options I should consider?

Thanks,
Jon.

1st pic DA-L 55-300 @63mm f/4,6400iso,1/125
2nd pic M 50mm f/1.7 - f/1.7,4000iso,1/500

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Last edited by gti5notrkt; 12-01-2009 at 09:16 PM.
12-01-2009, 09:52 PM   #2
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I've been wrestling with the same challenge . I've been using my F 50mm f/1.7 to shoot from the sidelines (not the stands.) It's a bit short but gives me a bit of leeway in following the action. I do end up cropping a fair amount, though, which reduces IQ. I might try the 77mm now that I've gotten a bit more experience.

I don't use flash so It's a real balancing act between aperture, shutter speed and ISO in these dim gyms--with pp strategy factored in. I've been getting good (or at least improved) results using the ACR noise reduction, trading off a loss of detail for reduced noise.

It's sort of a "pick your poison" situation: there are just limits to IQ in those conditions. Although I try to keep improving, I figure a fair amount of image imperfection can be forgiven if it's a good action capture.

Here's one of today's (TAV, 1/200s, f/4 ISO=1600.) I might open up a tad more next time.
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12-01-2009, 09:55 PM   #3
Ash
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Hi Jon.

Before I started using my Tamron 70-200 (a fine fast telezoom) for indoor events, I used my excellent Pentax FA 100 f/2.8 macro. The FA is very good value - don't know how you can get one nowadays and I don't know what it sells for but I got mine for about $350 and it is sharp right from f/2.8. Same can be said about the Tamron (which costs $680 new from B&H), but given its versatility, it's more suited to fast-moving objects like kids on a basketball court.

You may consider also the Sigma 70mm macro...

Hope this helps.
12-01-2009, 10:17 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Hi Jon.

Before I started using my Tamron 70-200 (a fine fast telezoom) for indoor events, I used my excellent Pentax FA 100 f/2.8 macro. The FA is very good value - don't know how you can get one nowadays and I don't know what it sells for but I got mine for about $350 and it is sharp right from f/2.8. Same can be said about the Tamron (which costs $680 new from B&H), but given its versatility, it's more suited to fast-moving objects like kids on a basketball court.

You may consider also the Sigma 70mm macro...

Hope this helps.
They are available - starting at $525 from about 50+ resellers...

Pentax SMC P-D FA Macro lens - 100 mm - F/2.8 - Pentax K

12-01-2009, 10:43 PM   #5
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That's the DFA version. I was referring to the FA version.
But I couldn't see the DFA version lacking in such conditions either...
12-01-2009, 11:46 PM   #6
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I have had pretty good sucess with my FA 50mm 1.4 with iso800 in the really dim gyms. I just need to position my self in the right spot on the edge of the court.
12-02-2009, 10:49 AM   #7
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The DA*50-135/2.8 would probably be perfect, but it's not cheap, either. Not particularly much more than the FA77, though, and far more versatile for sports.

Any of the various 90-105mm macro primes would be pertty good too, but AF might be slow unless the lens has a focus limiter, and I think that might be too long just often enough to make it not a great choice. If you're going to go with a prime, it should probably be shorter, I would think.

The DA70 is slightly cheaper than the FA77 and is said to focus faster - maybe not by enough to matter "most" of the time, but basketball might be an especially demanding case, so it's worth keeping in mind. The Sigma 70mm macro is also a less expensive option.

While I'm not really thinking you'll like MF for this, I wouldn't entirely give up on it because you had problems at f/1.7. Try shooting your 50 at f/2.8, where DOF is noticeably larger. And practice. Like I said, you probably won't ever really be satisfied with that for basketball, but you should be able to improve quite a lot over your first attempts.

I say this because there are a few inexpensive lenses that could become attractive if MF is an option: the M85/2 ($250-ish), the M100/2.8 ($100-ish), and the Samyang-made 85/1.4 that is sold under a variety of different names on Ebay starting at around $250.
12-02-2009, 10:58 AM   #8
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None of them Bounce very good.

12-02-2009, 12:25 PM   #9
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Following up on Marc's comment: Don't dismiss MF, actually--I've gotten credible results (relative to my standard) by prefocusing manually in specific areas (usually, about 3' in front of the basket.)
12-04-2009, 09:54 AM   #10
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I will also chime in for a 135. I have the M135/3.5 and while I haven't tried it at an indoor basketball game I wouldn't hesitate to use it. I use catch focus using it for sports and would probably not use it wide open as the DOF is narrow. A lot depends on the light in the gym, some are better than others. It might be a little too long for courtside but should work fine in the stands. This is a shot I took at a youth hockey game last winter from the other end of the rink with the 135.

Last edited by reeftool; 07-20-2010 at 08:39 AM.
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