Best lens for shooting basketball

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by glen_woodman, May 22, 2011.

  1. My wife buys me season tickets for the SDSU Men's basketball team every year. The seats I have are on the floor not more than five
    feet a way from the court. I currently have a D300 with a 20-200 3.5. Which doesn't do well with the lighting conditions. What would
    be the best lens to use for this type of shooting?

    Thanks for your input!


    Glen Woodman
     
  2. Glen, a 50mm 1.4/1.8, 85mm 1.4/1.8 or a 70-200mm 2.8. You also should be cranking your ISO up a bit. I usally start at 1200.
     
  3. I do not know the 20-200 lens at all, but if it is a fixed f/3.5, then it should be okay if you crank your ISO to around 1600 (which, under circumstances, should be okay on your D300).
    Otherwise, you really should be looking at a fast zoom lens (depending on how far from the action your seat it). Have a look at the 70-200 f/2.8 (from whichever manufacturer you can afford) or, if you're further away, have a look at Sigma's new 120-300 f/2.8...
     
  4. Glen - assuming that, by "20-200 3.5" you mean "18-200 f/3.5-5.6" (a common lens), I suspect you might struggle a little with the amount of light it lets in at the long end, and it might be a bit slow to follow the action. It'll depends how well the venue is lit, though - I've only photographed amateur games in dim conditions.

    I would expect 200mm - especially on a crop-sensor camera like the D300 - to be plenty long enough from your position unless you're trying to get close-up head shots, and that's tricky during a game. I'd second the idea of hiring a 70-200 f/2.8 idea (on a D300, Nikon's older one is almost as good as the latest version, if that saves you money); that's a "Nikon ED AF-S VR-NIKKOR 70-200mm 1:2.8G" according to the plate on the lens, and mark 1 vs mark 2 doesn't matter much. I'd take your 18-200 along as well, because it'll be decent for wider shots of the action - I suspect that hiring a very wide lens would be overkill (although if you feel tempted by a Nikon 10-24mm so you can get some shots of the whole court, don't let me dissuade you). It depends on the style of shots you like and how much money you want to spend on (hiring) kit.

    I suspect an AF-S 200mm f/2 would be a nice lens to use as well, but it'd be a bit of a one-trick pony, and they're not cheap to hire (or light to carry). Good luck.
     
  5. Perhaps what you need really depends on where the seats are and what type of shots you are trying to get. And of course your budget. And the lighting, which is usually not great at these venues. I would recommend you choose from the following, the 50mm f1.8, 35mm f1.8 and the 85mm f1.8. If your budget affords it, all three would be nice.
     
  6. I'm going to throw my two cents in here...
    If you're on the floor, the 50mm f/1.8 or 50mm f/1.4 should be fine. I also like the 85mm and my personal favorite for basketball is the 105mm f/2.
    If you don't want to be fumbling with lenses and don't have two camera bodies, the 70-200mm f/2.8 is phenomenal, but you'll need to crank your ISO up to 1600 and nail the exposure.
    My suggestions:
    • Turn AUTO-ISO ON and set a max ISO for 1600. This is just one less thing to think about.
    • Shoot in Shutter Priority (S) and try to get 1/500 sec of faster shutter speeds...faster stops motion.
    • When checking/changing shutter speed, try to keep your aperture at f/4 or larger (smaller number) to maintain shallow enough DoF to make the subject player stand out.
    Hope this helps,
    RS
     
  7. IMHO, a 2.8 is too slow to shoot in some of these poorly lit venues... even cranking the ISO up to 3200. Basketball gyms at night can be terrible.
     
  8. I have very limited experience in doing this, but I'm a little surprised at the suggestions to use short primes. I can see the benefit to a faster aperture, but... If only so I can learn: do people really not feel restricted using primes to cover action moving around basketball court? I used most of my 150-500 Sigma's range when trying to cover action (from a little farther back and on a full-frame camera - and f/5-6.3 wasn't really enough even with a D700). I'd have thought a 70-200 at f/2.8 would be better than trying to crop from a fast but very short prime. The primes are much cheaper, of course, and it may not be such an issue if you're perfectly placed to get every hoop shot.
     
  9. I agree completely with Elliot in starting up a f1.8 collection. I would just start with the 50mm f1.8 and go from there. In the days of older, I used to shoot a lot of college bb. My two workhorses using 2 Nikons were 85mm f2 on an F3 with MD and and the small pancake 50mm 1.8 Ais on an N2000. That N2000 with the small 50mm was one of my all time favorites for fast shooting indoors. They were both good and sharp wide open and using 1600 Fuji color film I could cover whatever I needed. With the D300 crop sensor of course it's a bit tighter so you might find the 35mm 1.8 a better choice for you in your seats. When autofocus became more reliable I bought an N90 with the 85 1.8 AF which was really sweet, again the 85mm on the crop is a bit tighter than the 35mm. Enjoy your games and post up some shots.
     
  10. I`m not a sports shooter but I use to shoot basketball from time to time (school courts). I use to be located at the corner of the court, side by side with the coach and pro-staff. I use a D700 (FX) + 70-200VRII.
    My setup is fine for the closer half of the court and near basket details. For the other half-court area, it`s simply a bit short to my taste; I`d like to have a 200-400/4 here. For that slam dunk shots from behind the basket, at least a 24-70 is needed.
    If your seats are placed at the center stand area, and I suspect in a NBA sized court, with a 70-200 in a DX camera you`ll have good overall coverage, I think. With a FX camera I`d certainly miss to have anything longer too, but on a D300 I think you´ll be fine.
    In my experience, shooting wide open require experience and skills tht i don`t have, my keeper`s rate is really low; action runs so fast, the only way I found right is to raise the ISO to have a correct "freezing" speed, and shooting at least f4 or better f5.6. I prefer to shoot f8 at higher ISO than f5.6 at lower ISO. Many courts are "reasonable" lit around here, others are simply "caves" (specially in cloudy days).
    You have to disable the AF switch from the shutter release button. Use the dedicated AF-ON button, and press it as many times as you want to shoot. The battery grip is a great accessory here, as well as a good monopod (tripods don`t).
     
  11. here's a shot i got on sunday with the d3s and 24-70, shooting about 5-10 feet from the basket.
    00Ym61-361657584.jpg
     
  12. "I have very limited experience in doing this, but I'm a little surprised at the suggestions to use short primes. I can see the benefit to a faster aperture, but... If only so I can learn: do people really not feel restricted using primes to cover action moving around basketball court? I used most of my 150-500 Sigma's range when trying to cover action (from a little farther back and on a full-frame camera - and f/5-6.3 wasn't really enough even with a D700). I'd have thought a 70-200 at f/2.8 would be better than trying to crop from a fast but very short prime. The primes are much cheaper, of course, and it may not be such an issue if you're perfectly placed to get every hoop shot."
    Agree, absolutely.
    With a prime, I`d be too much restricted, not only for the pics I can take but even to have fun while shooting. I like to frame just the highlights of the game, to avoid junk, and without a long enough zoom it`d be impossible (unless cropping, obviously). Also, the 70-200VRII focus so fast, I`d think that at least faster than my primes.
    Prime switching is something I also avoid, first of all. If I were working with two cameras, it could be feasible... but no. I`d then prefer to have a 70-200 and 200-400 attached (and a 24-70 available, inside the bag).
    The differences I have found in my own pics shooting at f2.8 and at f8 are simply -huge-, At f2.8 many of them are blurred, at f8 most of them look plenty sharp (but sadly, full of noise... ). As mentioned above, I finally opted to have noise instead of unsharp (due to poor focus) images.
     
  13. Eric, great funny shot! :)
     
  14. My son plays high school basketball, in gyms that are pretty new and fairly well lit. Even so, I find my 50mm / 1.4 works best. I have a d7000, so the 50 in the DX format works great.
    I agree with Jose on focusing though. THAT can be where the real challenge comes in, especially shooting wide open (& players moving in and out of the frame). Also, getting the correct WB in some of these gyms can be tricky as well.
     
  15. Glen- Great advice here, but I have to agree, prime will work but they are not very flexible. I have used a Micro Nikkor 60 afs for basketball, and it worked well with limitations. With your seats a 70/80-200 or a sigma 50-150 and such will probably work best.
    00YmFE-361821584.JPG
     
  16. Thanks everyone for the suggestion's! They have been a great help.

    Andrew - you are absolutely correct, it is "18-200 f/3.5-5.6"

    I have $3,000.00 to work with. I'll make a post when I have made the purchase and let
    everyone know what I did.....thanks for the help.

    Glen
     
  17. Glen - with that budget, I'm sure you can find something that works for you. Still, I'd suggest hiring something and seeing what works for the style of photos you like - clearly there's a differing opinion of how to go about shooting this kind of event, and it'll come down to the type of photos you want to capture. Good luck with it!
     
  18. I'm going to solve all of your problems (and spend all of your money for you :p).
    You can pick up a AIS 200mm f/2 for under $1800. Get one of those and a 50 1.4. That leaves you enough for a brand new D90, used D300, or D7000 if you don't mind going a little over budget.
    :D
     
  19. Ah, with that budget i'd give it a shot either with a d7000 , to get better High Iso performance, and add a 70-200 VR to get versatility and a lens fast enough for the task.. ( not sure about USA prices, but it would spend your budget "clean"out here i guess.).
    Or id'go for a Sigma 120-300 2.8 , and still bump up the ISO to 1600 ....
     

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