lens for wrestling

Discussion in 'Sports' started by adam_earley|1, Sep 4, 2009.

  1. I dont know if I should post here or the beginners section, because I am a beginner, but I would like to know what is a good lens for wreslting. I just want some nice pictures of my son. I can get right next to the mat so Im anywhere from 1-30ft away. I have a Nikon D40 with the kit lens 18-55 and the 55-200 lens as well. I was told to get a prime lens, maybe f/2.8 cant remember. Also any tips on shutter speeds and ISO's. I did some research on it but it seems a little outdated so I thought Id refresh it. Thank you in advance
  2. The 50 mm lens is good in terms of aperture (f1.8) for a low light level, not so good for following action over a range of 1 to 30 feet. If the wrestling venue is a school gym or other place you can access in advance, go and take an exposure meter reading with the lighting that will be used for the wrestling and see if you can get pictures with your existing zoom lens (55 - 200) and an high ISO setting. A professional would use either a pro zoom with a constant maximum aperture of f2.8 or else a prime lens of 85 mm or so with a maximum aperture of around f1.2, both of which would be great for you but very costly. The affordable option is to crank up the ISO setting, preferably to a point where you can use a shutter speed of 1/250 or so at full aperture - probably better to have noise from a high ISO setting than blur from too low a shutter speed.
  3. Use your zoom lenses to get a sense of what focal length(s) seem to be a good fit. Remember that when you're focusing at less than infinity (like the horizon), that when the zoom ring on your 18-55 says "40mm" that you're actually a little shorter than that - closer to 30mm. Likewise with your 55-200, where a zoom ring position of 100mm might be more like 85mm in reality.

    If you're finding - as you might indeed - that those lenses are too slow - in terms of their light gathering ability - then you'll know what focal length prime lens might help you out.

    Your D40 can't autotocus with the inexpensive 50/1.8, but you can use Nikon's new 35/1.8 AF-S, which might work well if you really are, literally, next to the ring.

    Otherwise, the newer 50/1.4 AF-S would work, and give you some more reach. Definitely get a feel for working distance and focal length, first, using the lenses you have. The next step will present itself in much more real terms, that way, than guessing will do. But you certainly are going to want a lens faster than those kit zooms - indoor sports are notorious for the horrible light. Even with a fast lens, you'll be needing to crank up your ISO as high as you can stand its impact on the quality of the image.
  4. I often wrestle with my lenses. Sometimes even the lens hoods give me problems. The heavyweight 2.8 zooms are the worst of the lot.
    Sorry ... couldn't resist what came into my mind when I read the title of this thread.
    Tom M
    Washington, DC
  5. Matt has the right info for you - using your kit lenses to figure what prime to get. You probably could not ever use your kit lenses inside a gym, with a high enough ISO and shutter speed to get decent results without a lot of 'noise', and motion blur.
    I have an 85 f1.8, got primarily for volleyball, so that would be too 'strong' for mat side wrestling. As Matt suggested the 35 or the 50 1.8 should do the trick. It will probably take a few matches to get the right ISO/shutter speed and aperture combination that works in that gym. Once you figure it out, write it down in little notebook of this info to refer to next time!
    An f1.2 or 1.4 prime gives you more light gathering but the DOF is quite short, esp when you will be so close to the subjects. Make sure you focus on the eyes of the closest wrestler - or atleast the one with the torturous grimmace on his face!
    Keep shootin!
    Oh, the f2.8 lenses are great lenses, ie great glass. Yes, heavy, but sharper photos are result, other things being equal. Inside a a typical, dark gym they also need higher ISO's, maybe beyond the D40's 'reach'. Where you have the light, they are worth their wieght.
  6. Adam,
    The lenses you have are already an excellent starting point; simply use them.
    If, after a few matches, you feel that you’re wanting to do something but the lenses won’t let you…well, then you know exactly what to look for in your next purchase.
    The most significant limitation you’ll have is that the widest aperture of your lenses isn’t very wide. This means that you’ll have to use higher ISO settings in order to be able to use fast shutter speeds so you can stop the action. Higher ISO settings, in turn, mean more noise in the image. Whether or not that becomes a problem depends on a great many factors, including how much light is on the wrestlers, whether or not you can use a flash (and how good your flash technique is), how good the D40’s high ISO noise performance is, how large you print, and how much you like or dislike the appearance of the noise itself.
    The other major limitation of a “slow” lens (one with a small maximum aperture) is the inability to blur objects outside the plane of focus. An extremely fast lens is capable of producing a portrait with the iris in focus but the eyelashes out of focus, for example. You probably won’t be looking for such extremes, but you might want to (for example) have the wrestlers in focus but the far side of the ring out of focus. Whether or not you can do that with your lens depends on a great many factors, but if you find that you can’t do that (and you want to), then you’ll need a faster lens.
  7. Thanx for the help guys. I was already checking into the 50/1.8 but I will now check the 35/1.8. I think the autofocus on the 35 would be worth the extra money and yeas Im litteraly right next to the mat, Im acually kneeling on the mat, doesnt get much better that that.
    With this lens do I still need to crank up my ISO? What other uses would these lens be good for? I dont have alot of money to spend on lens, so I kinda want something I can use for other stuff too.
    Thanx for the help and sorry if these questions sound dumb, Im new to this.
  8. A high school wrestling mat is a 28 foot circle, so if the wrestlers were in the center, about 15 feet from you, your field of view with the 35mm lens would be 10 feet by 6.7 feet.
  9. Thanx David but I have no idea what that means. Or what I do with that info. Like I said Im new to this. Also my kid is only 7 so at the tournys they just put a bunch of mats together and tape off sections. I dont know the exact distance they are away from me, I was just guessing they are no more than 30ft.
  10. I use my Sigma120-300 f2.8 when I shoot HS wrestling. The mat is set up in middle of gym and I and sitting on floor half way between the mat and the bleachers. I also use two 580EX flashes mounted to the bleacher hand rails on left and right side. 1/4 power and 70mm zoom set off with cybersync triggers. Camera settings 1/250, f2.8, ISO 800 These flashes that are attached to the hand rails of the bleachers cross and will light up the whole mat.
    This is examples of shots I get.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  11. mbh


    The advice above is great. If you can swing it, Ben's setup will give you great shots. Like you, I'm very much the amateur. In my opinion, you'll often find yourself limited with your current kit lenses in an indoor gymnasium setting (without flash) to a shutter speed of around 1/125 at best and often more like 1/30 or so, and this is with your lens wide open and shooting at ISO 1600.
    This shutter speed won't freeze the action. Ideally, you want at least at 1/250 (and faster is better). At ISO 1,600, you'll get a lot of noise in your images, but it's not so bad you can't clean it up and still have acceptable prints up to 8x10 or so.
    What I've ended up doing, because we're not big on flash in the gyms where I shoot and there is often action going on at five or six mats at a time, is I use a 50mm 1.4 lens, which lets me get those 1/500 shots when I need it.
    I bought that lens after the end of last season. The shots I got with my 70-300 f4/5.6 weren't cutting it. Below is an example of a cleaned-up shot from a competitive match held this summer. It was taken indoors with available light at f1.4 1/500 and ISO 1,600. There was a lot of noise and I cleaned it out as best I could. It'll give you an idea of what kind of shots you'll get with a 50mm lens.
    Now, the next shot I took last year. This was a varsity match, so there was one spot lit mat. Last season, I ended up with too many shots that looked blurred like this,
    This is another shot I got with my 70-300 lens at 1600 ISO (still some blur). Again, all these shots are by available light. If you can use flash, it will be another story.
    I plan to go with my 50mm 1.4 as my primary lens this season since I can get very close to the action, but I may pull out my slower lenses if needed. If you can afford a nice 2.8 fast telephoto lense or as I said, can use flash, then it's another story.
    Good luck and have fun. I ended up sending a lot of my shots to parents and they used a half dozen or so in the year book. I'm hoping to do better this season. I have a 1.8 50mm lens, but I never tried it out.

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