180mm f/2.8 good for shooting indoor sports?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jr stevens, Sep 25, 2009.

  1. Hi there i would like to get a fixed focal length lens for shooting indoor sports (primarli hockey) and the 180mm f/2.8 IF-D seems like a good one..but i want to get soemone 's opinion who has used it to shoot sports indoors first before sinking a bunch of money...primarily- how fast is the AF? will it track and lockon to get good sharp photos?
     
  2. AF is, um, "leisurely". But with a good AF system and a strong motor in the body to drive it (D200/D300/D700/D2/D3) it's tolerable, particularly if you can pre-focus on the approximate distance you need.
     
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Right. Since the 180mm/f2.8 is not an AF-S lens, AF speed will highly depend on how powerful the AF motor in the body is. You are better off with an D2 or D3 type body. I don't think the AF motor in the D700 and D300 is as strong.
    Further down the chain, AF will be even slower on the D80/D90 to no AF on the D40, D60, D3000 ....
     
  4. John - don't know anything about the lens you've asked about, but I have the 70-200 2.8 and am very happy with it. If you're shooting from the stands, you might be okay with the 180 - I was at ice level on the goal line shooting thru the glass, and found the zoom to be a real plus when the players came into the corner near my position. The 200 range was also ideal for shooting action at the opposite end of the ice. As a side note - I also have a 300mm lens I'd hoped to use for HS football. I found the fixed focal length to be a real pain when the players headed straight for me on the sidelines - I went back to my 70-200 with a 1.4 TC - much better results. Hope this helps.. Glen
     
  5. I've used an 85/1.8 and a 180/2.8 for basketball. The 180 is definitely slower to focus but still quite usable. In general, tracking a player for a brief period is necessary anyway for a good shot, you may just have to track slightly longer with the 180 than a faster lens.
    Relative to the 70-200/2.8, the 180 is easier to use for extended periods at roughly half the weight, but obviously lacks VR and the zoom and focus speed.
    If you can find a good used copy, it can be a very good deal. I found on on the local list by craig a couple of years ago for $300 (a non-D version) and am very happy with it. My experience is with a D90.
     
  6. I've used the 180/2.8 AF to shoot indoor basketball with my D700 when I can't shoot from the baseline under the boards. The AF isn't fast, but it's fast enough. Just be aware that DOF is shallow wide open, so you may need to stop down a bit. I prefer to get closer to the action with an 85/1.8.
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  7. The 180/2.8 AF-D has got a weird AF/M switch that should be left on the AF position when shooting AF. If set to M and the camera body is set for AF, it will try to focus in AF but rather sluggishly. Normal AF operation isn't bad but not as fast as modern AF-S lenses.
     
  8. Sure you can. I find autofocus of the 180 quite satisfactory for sports also, but you do have to pay attention to what you're focusing on. Image quality is very high.
     
  9. The 180 might be too much if you are shooting close to the action all of the time. Of course it depends on what sport you are shooting as well.
     
  10. I have found the autofocus on the 180 f/2.8 to be pretty fast with my D200, I'm sure it would be even better on a pro body (D2/3). My 300 f/4 AFD is a bit faster. The lens is great when it is stopped down a little bit, with excellent results at f/5.6-8.

    A monopod is also a must at this focal length, especially if you drop below 1/250th.
     
  11. The 180 is very good for shooting basketball from the sidelines or from the corners. Just be prepared to crank up the ISO so you can freeze the action.
     
  12. It is a great inexpensive lens for indoor sports. I've used it for basketball and volleyball, and, as other people said, as logn as you're careful with focusing, it is very useable.
     
  13. I love my 180 for many things. I mostly manual focus like in the "days gone by"..... That way my sensors don't get fooled.
     
  14. Just a quick question John. Why a fixed focal length lens?
    If you are shooting from the sidelines and using one camera you will find the 180 cramped when the action is near you as others have said. You will miss quite a few shots this way. If you must have the fixed focal length then I agree with David that the 85 f1.8 would be better. You didn't say which camera. I am assuming a good digital with fast motor.
    The obvious choice and the one you would probably see the pros using the most is the 80 - 200 F2.8 to keep the price affordable and the 70-200 AFS VR if price it not a problem. This is my favorite lens and I use it constantly for indoor and outdoor sports. On the D300 it is the hot ticket.
    As for the image quality....between the 80-200/70-200 and the 180 you will see no difference at all.
     
  15. "If you are shooting from the sidelines and using one camera you will find the 180 cramped when the action is near you as others have said. You will miss quite a few shots this way."
    I'm not John, but I have an opinion. The 180/2.8 works well for basketball on FX, but it would be probably too long on DX. I don't find the fixed focal length a problem, but it dictates different framing based on player proximity. I can get really tight shots when the action is near. Open court play, when the players are farther away, results in full-body shots. The single focal length actually produces great variety in framing.
     
  16. I agred with David K. Shotting basketball is an art but my newpaper editor wants hoop action shots, so I can get away with using my 85mm f1.4 to get the available light action shots he wants. I don't have to shot past the foul line and the 85mm works very well with just a little Photoshop cropping to tighting up the shot. The basketball game mostly moves too fast that you can't afford to be zooming in and out and hopeing that the camera will focus fast enough. The only mid court action I now shot is the tip off at the beginning of the game. All this works well f you can get courtside floor space. If not, you just might have to use a 135mm or 180mm to get up close.
    If you shoot available light photos, the real killer of indoor sports is the lighting and the gym floor. If the lighting is just okay you paid for it with dark shadows in the players faces (my editor wants to see faces). The light bouncing off the floor can also be the real killer. I did a basketball game in a gym that must have had 100 coats of finish on it. The players faces all had a very yellow tint to them. A lot of photoshoping to correct the color balance.
     
  17. I agred with David K. Shotting basketball is an art but my newpaper editor wants hoop action shots, so I can get away with using my 85mm f1.4 to get the available light action shots he wants. I don't have to shot past the foul line and the 85mm works very well with just a little Photoshop cropping to tighting up the shot. The basketball game mostly moves too fast that you can't afford to be zooming in and out and hopeing that the camera will focus fast enough. The only mid court action I now shot is the tip off at the beginning of the game. All this works well f you can get courtside floor space. If not, you just might have to use a 135mm or 180mm to get up close.
    If you shoot available light photos, the real killer of indoor sports is the lighting and the gym floor. If the lighting is just okay you paid for it with dark shadows in the players faces (my editor wants to see faces). The light bouncing off the floor can also be the real killer. I did a basketball game in a gym that must have had 100 coats of finish on it. The players faces all had a very yellow tint to them. A lot of photoshoping to correct the color balance.
     
  18. I'd suggest that you rent before you buy. This might be a great lens for you, but my experience shooting my kids in hockey is that I get all my best shots when I'm positioned near one of the goals and the action is in that zone. At that distance 180 is too long, especially for DX. As other posters have said an 85 or so works best at that distance, so an 80-200 2.8 or an 85 1.8 would do the trick. From the stands, which is problematic since you're often shooting through banged up plexiglass or mesh, a 180 would be just about right for action not too far away. The problems of shooting hockey are documented elsewhere, but the combination of high speed, low/bad lighting, glare from the ice make it a difficult sport to photograph. Getting close to the action and low with respect to the players to minimize ice glare and shooting with fast shutter speed is what you want.
     

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