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02-01-2010, 12:04 PM   #1
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Best telephoto lense for indoor sports?

I'm an absolute beginner and want to take action shots of my kids soccer, basketball and hockey games.

What lense would be recommended?
Where should I "start" regarding the main settings?

Thanks for your help!

02-01-2010, 12:57 PM   #2
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what is your budget?
02-01-2010, 01:10 PM   #3
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The F 50mm f/1.7 does pretty well for me but it's a bit short. I'm thinking the DA 70mm might be better (but that may just be the LBA talking. )
02-01-2010, 03:08 PM   #4
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Iím a beginner too, but my understanding is that youíll need a longish focal length (200mm) unless you can sit on or very close to the sidelines, and a wide aperture due to the typically poor indoor lighting conditions. Unfortunately that adds up to needing deep pockets.

Ideal would be a 200mm F2.8. They are $1.5k ish though. If thatís outside your budget then I think thereís a Tamaron 70-200 f2.8 for less, but still $1k ish.

Otherwise the 55-300mm F4-5.8. Thatís less than ideal though due to itís slow speed. A DA70 f2.4 is fast enough, but youíd need to be very close to the action as it typically wont have enough reach.

02-01-2010, 03:46 PM   #5
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For indoor sports you will definetely want an f2.8 lens or better unless the lights are really good or there is a lot of natural light around. a 70-200 f2.8 is perfect. The sigma is the ideal lens becuase it has the HSM motor, but the tamron would do the job if the budget doesnt stretch.
You could go with a slower lens, but you will be shooting iso 3200 to get enough speed to freeze the action.
02-01-2010, 04:04 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
Iím a beginner too, but my understanding is that youíll need a longish focal length (200mm) unless you can sit on or very close to the sidelines, and a wide aperture due to the typically poor indoor lighting conditions. Unfortunately that adds up to needing deep pockets.

Ideal would be a 200mm F2.8. They are $1.5k ish though. If thatís outside your budget then I think thereís a Tamaron 70-200 f2.8 for less, but still $1k ish.

Otherwise the 55-300mm F4-5.8. Thatís less than ideal though due to itís slow speed. A DA70 f2.4 is fast enough, but youíd need to be very close to the action as it typically wont have enough reach.
Right now, it's middle school b'ball and most of the time I'm right on the sidelines. Today's away game was in the stands pretty far removed from the court so I used the Sigma 70-200mm (which is what I use for field sports as well.) Yes, fast lenses are required the lighting in those gyms is pretty awful. I generally shoot in TAv ( f/3.2 or 3.5, 1/320s) and let ISO go where it wants. PP involves some heavy handed NR but as long as I get good action, I'll live with it.
02-01-2010, 05:55 PM   #7
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I suspect even 1/320s might be marginal to freeze the action, at least it would be for me.
02-01-2010, 06:15 PM   #8
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For the lighting you'll need a 2.8 or faster lens.

If you stand at midcourt for basketball (about 50' to the basket), you'll need about a 100mm lens to get a shot that includes floor to basket.

A hockey rink from mid court edge to goal requires about 200mm & a football pitch about 300mm.

Tamron and Sigma have 70-200mm 2.8 zooms that'd be suitable for around $800.

02-01-2010, 07:52 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
I suspect even 1/320s might be marginal to freeze the action, at least it would be for me.
You're absolutely right but in the dim gyms I'm stuck with everything is marginal: at 1/320s, I'm getting 3200 ISO.
Next year, we move to the Upper School Athletic Center.
02-02-2010, 03:20 AM   #10
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save up for the 70-200 f2.8 as well as a teleconverter. At some loss to quality and light, it can increase the "shooting range" within a low light environment but used during bright light, its a handy tool to have.
02-02-2010, 03:40 AM   #11
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I would also emphasize, that one of the 70-200/2.8 lenses is probably the best solution, as it gives more flexibilty than a 200mm prime. If it is too expensive now, look for a used Sigma without HSM - there IQ is even better...

Ben
02-02-2010, 04:17 AM   #12
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If you're really on a budget, look for something along the lines of a Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5 (or f/2.8-4 of the same with A apertures setting) or an SMC Pentax-A 70-210 f/4 for under $150 in good to excellent condition. They require more skill to use (manual focus) but it is very possible to get good results with either at a comparatively low cost. If you can get away with using a flash (depends on the venue, I ran into restrictions once in 4 years of shooting highschool sports) that opens up even more options.
02-02-2010, 04:55 AM   #13
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  • Buy the lens that fits in your budget (a DA* 60-250mm does an excellent job but costs 5x a 55-300mm for instance)
  • I agree that a zoom probably works better, gives you more flexibility.
  • Use as high ISO as you can afford noise wise.
  • Use a good noise reduction tool to reduce the noise.

I'd go to ISO 3200 with my K-7, a K-x must be able to go even faster and apply Noiseware on the photos.
See also: Best Free Photo Noise Reduction Software

Cheers, Bert
02-02-2010, 09:47 AM   #14
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I recently did some shooting at my grandaughters school where she is a cheerleader for the basketball team. I found my best shots came from my 55mm f/2 Tak. Anything longer was a little too much except for shooting at the opposite end of the court. I shot some youth hockey last year and again 55mm worked very well. The rink was outside so I was able to use the kit lens. At the basketball game, I found I had enough light to shoot with a 1/250 shutter speed at f/2.8 which also gave me enough DOF to fire away with my manual lens and most of the action on the floor was in focus. I shot at ISO 1600.

I haven't shot soccer in 10 or so years but the last time I did was with a Nikon aps film SLR which I used a 60-180mm zoom. It was long enough to cover the field from where I was shooting from. There are loads of choices in lenses that will work for these kinds of sports. For inside shooting, a fast f/2.8 would be the best. The Sigma 28-70 EX is affordable and constant 2.8 through the range. That would certainly cover all the hockey and basketball games. A longer zoom for the soccer although you could probably get a lot of shots at 70mm. A Sigma 70-300 is pretty cheap and will work fine for soccer. You could buy both for well under $500 new and much better if you can find them used.
02-02-2010, 04:57 PM   #15
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Thanks to all of you. It certainly narrows the range of lenses that I can try. I think I may rent a lense to try it before I buy it.

Pete
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