Shooting BBall (again!)

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by robert_bouknight|1, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. Some of you might remember my various posts about the difficulties of shooting high school BBall with earlier digital gear in the very poorly lit home gym. I did the best I could trying to get images at 1/500-640 (lower seemed to generate motion blur), f2.2 (DOF was just too narrow at more open lens settings with the 85/1.8G). I needed ISO above 5600 to generate usable images, and struggled wtih quality even with a D3s and later cameras, and fast primes. I did have a lot of experience shooting sports at college in the late 70's/early 80's with primative stuff and film so I had a clue as to what to do.
    My son graduated HS in 2014, so I thought I was done shooting BBall. I sold the 70-200/2.8 VR1 I had, and got the much more portable 70-200/4 AFS VR. Camera gear morphed into a D810. Still have a very good 85/1.8g.
    Deja vu all over again. After taking his freshman year off, my son made the JV team at a serious BBall college, and I have access to the floor for game photos.
    Shooting Sunday, I was amazed at how good the results were with the D810 and 70-200/4 AFS VR G. Wow, I can use 1/800 and f/4 at around ISO 2000, which is a piece of cake with the D810! Auto WB seems very consistent from shot to shot in the broadcast quality lighting of the main gym. I did have an 1.8G lens just in case, but did not need to use it.
    So, I took some additional gear with me to game #2 this evening. With my old 180/2.8D, framing was too tight. The 85/1.8 was good of course, but I missed the zoom range of the 70-200. Wound up putting the 70-200/4G back on the camera to generate good results, but the Getty imaging guy beside me got me to thinking.....
    Would a 70-200/2.8 VRII operating at 2.8 or 3.2 have a notably (significantly) softer background/better subject isolation than what I can do with the superb 70-200/4 that I have?
    A second body would be good. I could alternate my 300/2.8 and 20-35 or 28-70/2.8 on the 2nd body for a different prospective. Am thinking that a beater D3 or D700 would be good enough at ISO 2000, but I wonder about the auto WB? My D810 is very good at AWB, maybe I should look at a D610?
    PS, I would not want to have to sort through the Getty Imaging guy's files. He was definitely doing spray and pray, probably shot 10 frames to one of mine. Glad I don't have to sort through his stuff. He obviously never had to develop and proof his own pushed Tri-X, LOL. Just sure I missed some opportunities.
    So, I am looking for second body comments, and thoughts on the 70-200/2.8 VRII. I do have access to borrow a VRII, but have not been all that impressed by the 2.8 I can borrow vs the 70-200/f4 VR G I have.
  2. Would a 70-200/2.8 VRII operating at 2.8 or 3.2 have a notably (significantly) softer background/better subject isolation than what I can do with the superb 70-200/4 that I have?​
    it will have one stop difference on the bokehometer. with a 70-200, distance from background is going to be the biggest factor there. i dont think you'll see that much of a change in subj. iso with less than a 2-stop difference. 2.8 mainly gets you a faster shutter there, but if you shoot at the long end of the zoom, you'll get more compression from background.
  3. The advantage I find with the 70-200 2.8 VRII is in its auto focus abilities. The speed of its auto focus is faster than other lenses I have used in its range. That's why I use it for basketball. Never was concerned with whether at f2.8 it has more isolation that an f4 would have at f4. I get isolation because the players are much closer to me than they are to the background.
    And I'd go a little easier on that Getty photographer, what seems like spray-n-pray to you may be getting a certain expression or light in the eyes of a particular player he has been assigned to focus on.
  4. pge


    Looking at your exposure numbers from the past and today it seems like your son is now playing in a much better lit facility. I agree with you that a D3 or D700 has no problem with iso 2000. Couldn't you just shoot raw to avoid your concerns about AWB?
  5. I use a 70-200mm f2.8 IS with a Canon 6D for basketball and it works very well. I usually shoot with auto iso at 1/500-1/800, ISO is usually 3200-6400 and I am virtually always at f2.8. The zoom is best simply because of being able to adjust the framing, and the IS is nice because occasionally you can drop the shutter speed to 1/250th or so if the subjects are momentarily not running or jumping. I have also used a 135/2 and this works too, but the fixed focal length is limiting. I find an 85mm not long enough in general. Because I shoot a lot of sport and dance, I sold my 70-200mm f4 IS for the f2.8 simply because the f2.8 is just more capable. I can't say I wanted to as it is a lot heavier, but the results justify the effort and it simplifies the lens choosing before a gig. I still have the 85, and 135 but I don't use them for events.
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If you have the budget, definitely get another 70-200mm/f2.8 AF-S VR again, as f2.8 will give you some AF advantage indoors over the f4 version. Although it is still the Multi-CAM 3500, Nikon's AF has improved since the D3/D3S/D700 era. If you can manage it, used D4 is not that expensive any more. Otherwise, the D750 is not a bad sports/action camera but without the D3/D4's 10 fps and ruggedness.
  7. Thanks all so far. I really was just kidding about the Getty Imaging guy. If my job depended on delivering the best images, I would shoot more, for sure!
    I did try the 85/1.8 out for a while last night, but I found that I was missing the zoom range of the 70-200. Looking at EXIF, several of my better images were shot in the 70mm range. Clearly the zoom is ideal for most BBall shooting now that there is enough light in the new home gym. Though the AF on the f/4 is not as fast as with the 2.8, it is fast enough to yield almost all shots in focus. Maybe I will borrow the VRII from my friend to try at the next game .
    I had a D800 and D600 at the same time, and found it mildly annoying to use the differing controls setup. When the D810 came out and my BBall shooting was over (I thought!), those cameras morphed into an 810, which has proven to be a great general purpose camera for me. Had the D750 come out before the D810, I might have gotten a 750. It is a little tempting to swap around and wind up with two 750's. The appeal of a D700 would be low price and similar control setup to the 810. But a used D750 would not be all that much more.
  8. There was a big boost in high ISO performance with the D3s generation - a D3 or D700 is good at ISO 2000, but not as good as the latest models. I agree with Phil that shooting raw and ignoring white balance would be useful, especially in iffy lighting. Off-line processing of noise has taken some steps forward as well - DxO's PRIME is pretty good, for example. Assuming you have storage and buffer space for the raw images, of course.

    My experience of having a D800 and D700 concurrently was that it was very frustrating to switch because of the difference in controls - notably the +/- buttons, which meant every attempt to review an image went wrong, for me. I traded both towards my D810. The ISO control on the right hand of the D8x0 is a big win for me over the D700, but I don't like the D810's position of the metering and AF modes. I've not really used a D750 - I know it feels substantially different from the D810, but the similarity in body shape between the D810 and D700 may not help as much as you'd like. Good luck.
  9. I am going with a tried and true D3s, though I was tempted to get a D750 for a 2nd body. A little more $ than a beater D3 or D700, but a better performer in my experience, especially with artificial illumination.

Share This Page