New lens or camera?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by travis_childs, Feb 12, 2014.

  1. I shoot with a D5100 and have mainly been focusing on sports photography, I have been debating which way to go and would like some opinions from others. Either buy the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 $1250 and use it with my D5100 or get the D7100 $1150 and keep shooting with my 18-55 & 55-200 mm kit lenses for now, I know there are benefits from going either way. In my mind I go with the D7100 as I think it would benefit me more to have the good focus system and faster shutter rate plus the much better high ISO capability of the 7100 to get the shot.
  2. What sort of sports are you shooting, with what sort of access, in what sort of light, with what sort of image use?

    Meaning: priorities are different when you're planning on selling large prints from indoor hockey, shot from the stands, played in typically bad light ... as opposed to, say, show jumping (horses) shot in bright sun, with most images likely to be used 800 pixels wide on Facebook.

    Your existing lenses are slow. A faster lens (f/2.8) drags in a lot more light, but you get quite shallow depth of field (making focus errors common). Both the D5100 and the D7100 allow you to use fairly high ISO settings, provided you expose properly and don't mind using a little care in post production. But the difference between f/5.6 and f/2.8 is pretty dramatic - that's a lot more light, and it will let you speed up the shutter quite a bit.

    But not knowing what you're shooting, it's hard to say what's the right strategy. You might be better off with an 85/1.8, depending on your typical working distance and whatever the sport is.
  3. Matt,
    I mainly have access to Hockey with horrible light, nighttime soccer in not the best light and some lacrosse in ok light at night, I know most people would says well then go with the f/2.8 to get more light in. I did just buy the old Tamron 70-200 F/2.8 $780 and shot some hockey but still had to have my iso @ 1250 ,1600 to get 1/400 - 1/ 500th sec and the images are pretty noisy even there I think I came to the point of out shooting my camera capability not the lens. Does that make any sense? I sent back the Tamron as the focus is pretty slow and am now debating the new lens or camera. you can see some of my stuff @ to get an idea what I shoot.
  4. So you're shooting in poor to ok light. With these newer bodies I would expect you to get good results noise-wise well above iso 1600. Are you cropping them pretty hard? A 2.8 lens would generally be standard equipment under these conditions. You might consider a 7100 and the 80-200/4. Keep the frame filled so you don't have to crop as much. Frankly an 80-200 is barely long enough for most sports that gets farther away than 40 yards or so.
    Rick H.
  5. I suggest fast aperture prime lenses. The 35mm f1.8, 50mm f1.8 and 85mm f1.8 lenses (new AF-S versions only) would be excellent choices, giving you sharp images, lower ISOs and reliable AF.
  6. I had the D5100 and bought the D7100 and kept the same lenses. Those lenses really can't do justice to the D7100. The 55-200 is not so bad, but it is slow. It's good outside in natural light. The 18-55 is now on a shelf. I replaced it with a Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 which really brings out the best in the camera. My 35mm 1.8 is also very good with the camera, but wouldn't be good for what you want. I was also thinking of getting the Sigma 70-200, but I think I might want more reach. The lens has good reviews.
  7. Hmm. Tough call. I have a D5100, D7100, Nikon lenses 55-200mmm VR, 70-200mm VR. I have shot some sports indoors and also outdoors at night (softball.) The D7100 with 70-200mm f2.8 VR and it's just a killer combo! If I could only go with one for what you are doing, I'd keep the D5100 and go for the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR-1, used from ebay etc. The lens will make the bigger difference, speaking from my own personal experience with exactly this same equipment.
    Kent in SD
  8. To those with both the D5100 and the D7100, how much better is the AF with-respect-to sports in dim halls? My D5100 is not so hot on stationary targets in the dark interiors of churches even with a Sigma 18-50mm 2.8 (non HSM)
    I already have the 70-200mm VRII for my D700 for horse action stuff and wondered how the D7100 would do for longer range shooting (with the crop factor)?
  9. The D7100 isn't much improvement at high ISO over the D5100. You must be confusing camera models.
    Dxomark measurements says that these cameras are within 1/3rd of a stop when it comes to noise. To get any real improvement in noise you need to go to the FX cameras.
    So you'll get the most out of getting a good lens instead of the camera. f2.8 compared to f5.6 is a two stops improvement - that's huge.
  10. In terms of high ISO, DX cameras aren't going to be vastly better than your D5100, so for that aspect, a body won't cure your problems. The open question then is to which extend the AF is your problem... but since the AF module sits behind a lens, it also suffers from a f/5.6 lens in front of it (less light, less speedy and decisive AF).
    So, as a first step, a f/2.8 lens (or faster) is going to bring a lot more benefits than a body will. The 85 f/1.8G is something I would really consider, the Sigma 70-200 you mention won't make a bad choice either, though. But the extra 1,33 stop the 85mm gives can come in handy in lousy light.
    When you say your images are "still" noisy at ISO1600, I would not immediately put that as a problem of the D5100 - it could also be a lighting problem. In many arenas and outside open sports fields, you can end up with rather flat and dull lighting, which can render images looking grey-noisy-dull. With good lighting, a D5100 at ISO1600 really shouldn't be a problem (and a D7100 will not do much better). A second thing there is not to pixelpeep too much, you will always find noise at that level; but that amount of noise wouldn't ruin a pretty big print nor a web-sized image.
  11. "My 35mm 1.8 ..... be good for what you want."

    Why not?

    Fast aperture lenses are the best solution for poorly lit venues. For the really poorly lit venues, I always rely on f1.8 lens which do a fantastic job under even the worst locations. For these, even f2.8 is sometimes not fast enough!

    Travis, are you shooting RAW or JPG? Your camera can produce good quality, noise free images up to ISO 6400 (IQ will vary depending on the print size and amount you are cropping obviously) IF you shoot RAW and have decent post processing software..
  12. Rich's quote was actually "My 35mm 1.8 i.... but wouldn't be good for what you want."
  13. Travis, First, welcome to A brief visit to your website tells me your contribution here would be of great value. Seriously consider posting some of your favourite images here for comment\critique and to inspire other wannabe sports photographers. I have only a few month's experience with the D5100 and only one hockey game under my belt using it and the kit 55-200mm so take my comments with a grain of salt. I agree that you've had to deal with some crappy lighting but I think that most of your shots that I see on your site could be greatly improved with a minimum of post manipulation in your program of choice. (mine being photoshop) My image quality expectations will likely be different from yours but if the decision were mine I think I'd opt for faster glass. Fast primes, as suggested, would likely yield superior results but would probably drive you whacky switching lenses at a game. That leaves fast zooms which would buy you two stops at the long end. My recent shooting experience at my one & only hockey game was under great lighting but even so most shots were at ISO 6400 (to keep the shutter speed near 1\640 sec) For me, even with some cropping, my D5100 did a more than satisfactory job providing fine image quality. Have a look at my most recent posts to see where I am coming from. Best, LM.
  14. Thanks for your opinions everyone and I will be putting up some images on here soon. This was my first time here and plan on coming back often seems like a great community.
  15. I would buy the lens first. Buy the best lens that you can afford. Consider that a good lens will hold its value, meaning you can always resell it later for practically what you paid for it. Meanwhile a camera body will quickly devalue over 3-4 years.
    Also consider using a monopod. You can gain up to an f/stop by doing so. A half-decent monopod will only cost about $100.
  16. "I did just buy the old Tamron 70-200 F/2.8 $780 and shot some hockey but still had to have my iso @ 1250 ,1600 to get 1/400 - 1/ 500th sec"

    In the rinks where I shoot, ISO 1600 and 2.8 gets you somewhere between 1/125 and 1/250. ISO 1600 is not a problem for excessive noise even on my D200 so I wouldn't worry about it on a 5100.

    I have the old Tamron and find that it cannot focus fast enough under typical ice rink conditions (low light plus fast action). I rent a Nikon 70-200 2.8 VRII when I need to shoot at rinks. Can't speak to the Sigma -- I presume it is better than the Tamron but I doubt it's as good as the twice-as-expensive Nikon.

    At any rate, I would go with the lens before I would even think about the body. You might need both, but you absolutely need the lens. You can't shoot what you're talking about shooting with kit lenses and consistently get good results.
  17. <<To those with both the D5100 and the D7100, how much better is the AF with-respect-to sports in dim halls>>
    As I said earlier, I do have both D7100 and D5100. I am mostly an outdoor photographer and have done little indoor sports photo'ing indoors with the D7100. (Have done a number of weddings--different sport!) I have used the D5100 as back up camera in night time weddings and it was OK. However, the D7100 is NOTICEABLY better. Further, I've found the D7100 can actually focus outdoors at night by moonlight! D5100 could never do that. It's the best AF I've ever tried on any camera, any brand.
    Kent in SD

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