Which lens for football

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by gabesouza, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. Recently I got the full-time photography job for my newspaper for sports, which means shooting at low light football
    I have a D60 with a 55-200 AFS f/4-5.6, but am looking to upgrade soon to something that has a little more reach but
    won't break the bank.
    I see that Tamron makes a 70-300 f/4-5.6 for around $175 which is what I have been considering.
    What would anyone suggest for a lens in this situation?
    I'm hoping to stay under $350-$400. If it is an amazing lens I might be willing to go slightly above but not much.
    I appreciate all the feedback,
  2. Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 AF-S IF-ED VR? Around $500 on B&H.
  3. that's a pretty challenging gig you've got yourself, gabe, considering what you've got to work with. even if you push the D60s ISO to it's highest acceptable setting, trying to shoot in poor light with an f/4-5.6 lens is probably going to yield pretty marginal results. if that. you really need to be looking for a zoom capable of a constant f/2.8 at least, which is going way over your budget. you might want to give this some more thought.
  4. To be blunt even with an SB-800 flash none of those lenses you mentioned will work for high school football.

    For most of the sports a 70-200m f/2.8 VR would be ideal but that is a $1600 lens.

    Here are some lens suggestions with various prices:
    Nikon Zoom Telephoto AF VR Zoom Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8D G-AFS ED-IF Autofocus Lens (Vibration Reduction) - Black
    Cost $ 1,624.95

    Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 II EX DG APO Macro HSM AF Lens for Nikon Cost: $799.00

    Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro AF Lens for Nikon AF
    Cost: $699.00

    Zoom Telephoto Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 ED AF-D Autofocus Lens with Tripod Collar
    Cost: $914.95
    Sports: football, Baseball, softball, waterpolo, swimming, basketball, volleyball, track and field, and cross country.

    Telephoto Nikkor 180mm f/2.8D AF ED-IF Autofocus Lens
    cost: $749.95
    Sports: football, Baseball, softball, waterpolo, swimming, track and field, and cross country.

    Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 II EX DC HSM Lens for Nikon Digital SLR
    Cost: $749.00

    Zoom Normal-Telephoto 50-135mm f/2.8 AT-X 535 PRO DX Autofocus Lens for Nikon Digital
    Cost: $649.95
    Sports: football, Baseball, softball, waterpolo, swimming, basketball, volleyball, track and field, and cross country.

    Telephoto AF DC (Defocus Control) Nikkor 105mm f/2.0D Autofocus Lens
    Cost: $924.95

    Tokina Telephoto 100mm f/2.8 AT-X M100 AF Pro D Macro Autofocus Lens for Nikon AF-D
    Cost: $399.95
    Sports: football, Baseball, swimming, basketball, volleyball, track and field, and cross country.

    Nikon Telephoto AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D Autofocus Lens
    Cost: $309.95
    Sports Basketball, volleyball, some track and field, and cross country.
  5. Full time gig, but you have to use/risk/wear-out your own gear? Or is this hardware that the newspaper owns? Tell them that you're up against the laws of physics, here, and that poorly lit night games simply can't be captured well until you're armed with faster glass. Any of those f/2.8 in the 70/80-200 range will be a big help, but even f/2.8 is poor light is dicey. Be sure you have a good monopod at your disposal, regardless.
  6. Gabe,

    All i can wish you is good luck, becuase there is nothing that will yeield anything useable with low lighting in that price range, with any kind of reach.now, if you want to go at least 2 times your budget, then you can find a decent used 3rd party lens in the range of 70-200 f2.8

    And again, depending where you are allowed to shoot from at the high school fields, you may need even more reach 300mmf2.8 is the choice of working pros at minimum (400mmf2.8 better yet.)

    You are now reaching the multi thousand dollar range (as your probably guessed.)

    I beleive you should be up fromt with the publication you are working for, and let them know before heading out that you are very limited in capabilty at this point. It's better than surpirsing them with sub-par results afterward.

    This is MHO. Again good luck
  7. Gabe

    I've been shooting high school and college football for my newspaper for the past ten years. Most stadiums, especially high school stadiums, are tombs — very little light, and most of it concentrated between the 30-yard lines. You will need a shutter speed of at least 1/250 of a second to avoid blur — even with a flash. Unfortunately with your budget, you are at a real handicap. The lens you need at a minimum must have an f/2.8 maximum aperture to get the shutter speed you'll need. If you are forced to shoot with an f/4-5.6 zoom, then get lots of batteries to power your flash, because you'll need them.

    Search hard, and perhaps you'll be able to find what you need used. VR isn't a requirement because camera shake won't blur your pictures as much as full backs running downfield.

    Anyway, good luck.

  8. To be even blunter,

    I took excellent high school football pictures (while in high school) witha 70-300 5.6 lens and 3200 film.

    So with your budget,

    I would recommend the Nikon 70-300 5.6 VR, a monopod, and rachet your camera up to 3200 ISO.

    The pictures may not be perfect but if you can't afford a 2.8 lens it's the best you can do, better than not getting the shot, or going with nothing.

  9. Take as many pictures as you can per game!
  10. Gabe, you are trying to shoot a fast action sport in low light with a camera not well known for high ISO and you want a lens that will delivery spectacular images for under $400. Well......

    You need a fast lens with AF-S or equivalent, unless you are exceptional at manual focus. That limits the choices even more.

    Look at the new Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 with HSM. Yeah, it's more expensive than you want but keep looking for one used. It might get closer to where you can afford it. Oh, and this assumes you will be shooting from the sidelines, not from the seats or press area. If you are up there, a 400mm+ lens is probably more appropriate and you won't want to hear what those would cost.

    Another thing that would help is flash but I have never seen a game where it is allowed. If you can use a flash -- and maybe with a better beamer -- that would give back to you some other options.

    And just another thought....... if the newspaper really wants you to do this, maybe they could cover half the cost. That way, both of you win.
  11. There is very little difference in zoom range from 200mm to 300mm. Image quality will be about the same as well. Neither is the best choice for your application but either will work marginally well.

    You need a faster lens - at least f2.8, if not faster.

    What may work best for you is a D80 with an 85mm f1.8 lens and/or the 50mm f1.8 (these lenses will not autofocus with the D60). These ares probably your best choice for superior image quality in the price range you list. Another option is Sigma's 30mm f1.4 which will autofocus on your camera but would probably not give you the reach you need.
  12. I know of many people who use Nikon 80-200 2.8 ED AF-D. They are all quite happy. I have one myself. It is great zoom....costs around $900. That is if you are looking for a zoom.
  13. If the final result is a newspaper you can probably shoot at ISO1600 or even 3200 and the results will be usable since newspaper print quality is extremely low.

    I almost agree with Arun. The 80-200 f2.8 is a fine lens but you need the more expensive AF-S version since your D60 will not AF with older screwdriver based AF lenses.
  14. Gabe, If you are going to shoot in daylight, I will recommend the Nikon 70-300 VR. For the money you have available, I do not see any other telephoto lens more capable than this one. This lens is very sharp from 70-240 mm and decent in the above range. If you are shooting during nightime or indoor, then you need a f/2.8 lens. But again, telephotos f/2.8 within 500 dollars range is not that easy to buy. In this case, I will buy either the Nikon 85 f/1.8 or the very cheap but very sharp and excellent lens, the Nikon 50 f/1.8. You will not get too much telephoto but then you can crop the pictures and you will be OK. If you can get close to your subject, then I will definitely recommend either the 85 or the 50 f/1.8. You will be very happy how fast can you shoot without loosing sharpness.
  15. Gabe, You need a faster lens (f/2.8, at least) to capture action under poor lighting conditions. While the 70-300 might get you closer to the action, your photos will still be dark (unless the play is close to the camera and/or you use flash). You might find this recent post about using flash or no flash during football to be helpful: http://www.photo.net/sports- photography-forum/00QRj5 I shot high football last year using a Nikkor AF-S VR 70-300 f/4.5- 5.6 G IF ED lens on a Nikon D50. The lighting was terrible. I had to make a lot of camera adjustments (I think I finally settled on shooting at ISO 800 and used an exposure comp of -2.7.) The photos were VERY DARK and I had to do a lot of post-processing to make the photos work (and I only did this because it was my son's senior year). I didn’t like the ISO of 1600 because of the graininess, but it might be acceptable for a newspaper. I wanted a better lens for this season, but money was a BIG factor. I ended up getting the smaller, but faster Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 ED AF-D for about $1,000. I wanted the Nikon AF-S VR 70-200mm F2.8 G with VR, but it was costly ($1,625). We had a scrimmage between dusk and dark last Friday and I was very pleased with the photos using the new lens. I’ll try to post a few tonight when I get home. Since money is an issue for you, you might stick with the 60-200 that you already have and save your money for a lens with a faster f/stop next year. Or consider the 85mm f/1.8 lens and get as close to the action as you can. As far as brands go, I’ll tell you from personal experience that nothing (IMHO) beats a Nikon lens. I might consider a Sigma, but couldn’t bring myself to buy a Tamron. A poor lens is like a cataract--everything is foggy looking. Good luck, Laura
  16. Ditto Ralph's advice. For this specific situation slowpoke variable aperture zooms are a waste of money. Don't bother. There is not enough light at nighttime school stadiums. Been there, done that, got the crappy photos to prove it.

    Given the budget you've specified:

    The absolute minimum is a 300/4.5 AI or AI-S. Even that is pushing it. And you'd have to be comfortable with manual focus. A used 300/4 AF Nikkor might be within your budget.

    A 180/2.8 will be fast enough but will require more cropping. Be sure your camera has enough resolution to withstand cropping, which should be no problem for newspaper reproduction.

    Other than that, the only lenses within your budget are third party primes and zooms, as Ralph listed.

    You'll need either a camera with low noise, high ISO performance or plan on spending some time with Noise Ninja or other noise reduction software. (FWIW, it's possible to use good noise reduction software only to reduce the blotchy color noise without reducing grainy noise and detail at all.)
  17. that's a tough one.
    you need a faster, longer lens that will AF on your camera.
    that means an AF-S or HSM lens.
    it's still a compromise

    the sigma 70-200 gives you 2.8 but no additional reach
    the 70-300 VR gives you more reach but same slow aperture
    given the choice i'd go for the speed over the reach--you can always crop later.

    also, you need an sb-800 or even an sb-900. if you look at laura's pic above, the lack of flash is apparent. you can't see the QB's eye, and his helmet blends into the night.

    if i were you i'd try to get the paper to pay for some new gear,

    ps laura, you wrote "As far as brands go, I’ll tell you from personal experience that nothing (IMHO) beats a Nikon lens. I might consider a Sigma, but couldn’t bring myself to buy a Tamron. A poor lens is like a cataract--everything is foggy looking."

    that all depends. the high-end tamrons and sigmas (SP and EX respectively) generally have much better IQ than consumer-grade nikons like the 55-200. i have the 70-300 ED nikkor you've mentioned, and shot a cal football game from the stands with it (it works ok at night if the lights are bright enough) but in my experience, nothing beats a fast lens in low light. it doesnt matter who makes the lens if its so slow that all your pictures come out too dark..
  18. Everyone has given great info but I have to add one little thing, do you want to be the guy on the sidelines that caused someone to drop the game winning catch because your flash went off in his face? I speak as a photographer and former player. Try not to use a flash, sometimes these guys have enough to be sad about:

    <img src="http://i47.photobucket.com/albums/f158/mharris660/6523410-lg.jpg">
  19. Good idea to be sure flash use is okay. Check with the school district. Even if the district or state policy says flash use is okay some coaches, players or game officials might object. I'll go with the flow but, personally, I don't buy the objection to flash. I was an amateur boxer during an era when flash photography was still common at ringside. I can't say I ever even noticed. If all it took to distract me from my opponent was a bit of camera flash, obviously I shouldn't have been in the ring. Nobody cuts baseball players any slack for the "sun in my eyes" excuses for dropped balls. But sports are increasingly infested with prima donnas who all think they're going to the bigs or at least eligible for a full ride scholarship, so be tender with the delicate little flowers.
  20. To all, thank you for all the suggestions, and believe me I know what I'm up against. But I'm an 18-year old high school senior and budget is a big deal and the same goes for the newspaper I work with.
    However, many of these suggestions opened up options I hadn't considered before and will now be seriously persuing. Some of the faster, bigger zooms that are used at places like KEH seem within reach and if I luck out maybe I can trade in for a D90 soon... :). and that will allow for more compatability with other lenses.
    I have lots of decision making in front of me, so thank you again for all of the advice. It's all useful.
  21. Shoot the day games.

    For TV lighting in pro stadiums, you need 1/500sec, f2.8 and ISO 1600. With an f5.6 zoom, you are two stops off the mark, and
    then you've got poorer lighting.

    Realistically, you need an ISO 3200 tool, and f2.8 glass, or even f1.4 to f2.0 to get quality images. Then there is the question of
    reach. IIRC, 200mm gets you a 20yard arc, 300mm gets you 30yrads, and so forth. You do get the 1.5x multiplier with DX, so that

    With regards to flash, it might work if you are doing balanced fill with -1.3 stops of compensation to get some light under the helmets. That's not too objectionable to the players, etc. However, you are still dealing with the levels of ambient light. Trying to
    light the scene with an on camera flash of going to limit your range to a very short shooting range (relative to a 100yrdx40yrd
    field), and will be generally unsatisfying for everyone involved.
  22. Don't know about you Gabe, .... but I would use a actual ball for football.

    kidding aside... Most of the pundits above have solid advice. f2.8 glass is essential... if its out of budget right now... i would suggest
    renting one for jobs till you can shell out the truck load of money Nikon wants for it. May be you workout a good lease plan with your local
    camera shop.

    Good luck and have fun.
  23. Hum I took photos in Highschool using T-Max P3200 on I think it was a Sigma 70-300 and I can't remember if it was a straight F4 or and f4-5.6. Think it was an F4 though. It's possible to shoot high school sports well with slow glass, though at ISO 1600/f2.8 = ISO 3200/f4. In other words you might have trouble if you can't reach ISO 3200.

    Oh and remember to use a fill flash! Without fill you aren't going to get anything under the helmet.

  24. There is another alternative. Especially if the newspaper wants good shots. I am shooting HS football right now and
    I have found the combination of two bodies, in may case, Sony A700's which go up to 3200 quite well and higher
    using noise supression (I don't like to shoot in Raw because of the bufffer delay) so I shoot in fine .jpeg and can
    shoot at 5 fps as wll as continuous AF at 5 fps. I use two lenses, a 70-200 F2.8 G sony lens handheld (this is where
    the internal image stabilization is very helpful) and a 300mm F2.8 Sony G on a monopod. Because of the conversion
    factor for the smaller sensors, this gives me 105 to 200 at f 2.8 and 450mm at F2.8. Depending on the brand of body
    you have, you can rent from many different places, like Calumet Photo, Adorama, B & H, etc. The last game I shot,
    I rented a Minolta APO 300mm F2.8 from www.alphalensrental.com. I have since purchased the 300mm Sony F2.8
    (gulp!) at $6000.00, but this, with the 1.5 x conversion factors of the apc sensor, and my 2 Sony G teleconvertors,
    1.4X and 2.0X covers a lot of ground with just a few lenses. In fact, with the 1.5X conversion factor, I get a AF, Auto-
    metering, super high quality 630mm F4. So , until I purchase my my first A900's, I have a 600mm + f4 for the
    $449.00 price of the teleconvertor (or 900mm f5.6 using the 2.0X). The same goes for the 70-200, which is 104-300,
    150 to 420mm F4, and 210 to 600mm F5.6. If you have good bodies, rent a 70-80-200, and a 300mm both at F2.8
    and you will be a happy man.
  25. Use a flash. [​IMG] [​IMG]

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