Youth Basketball lens: 1.4 vs 1.8?

Discussion in 'Sports' started by chris_s___hampton_roads_va, Nov 11, 2005.

  1. I'm rolling into bball season again, looking ot improve my game shots
    over last year...last year I used an 80-200 2.8, and was really
    dissatisfied with what I got...the color noise was awful, once I sped
    the shutter up enough to freeze the kids. Of course, the lighting in
    these gyms is not great, so my thought is that the 2.8 is still not
    enough,so I should use something faster, in the 1.8 or 1.4 range. My
    question: Does anyone think I'll find an appreciable difference
    between using Nikon's 85-1.4 and the 85-1.8?
  2. I'm considering exactly the same thing for bball and volleyball, altho' I've been using flash to offset the indoor lighting problem.

    The 85/1.4 is considerably more expensive, tho', and f/1.8 is still pretty fast. For the price of a new 85/1.4 AF-Nikkor I could get the 85/1.8 and Sigma's new 35mm f/1.4, which would make a pretty versatile and fast set for some dSLRs.
  3. 2/3 of a stop is nothing to sneeze at when you are shooting in a dimly lit gym. An 800 speed film at f/1.4 is equivalent to a 1250 speed film at f/1.8.

    The f/1.4 lens will have shallower depth of field. This can be used creatively to focus on one player. It will not be good to get a group of players.

    I'm not sure why you chose the telephoto lens. Do you have to shoot from the stands? If you can sit on the floor near the basket, a normal lens will work fine. Here are some shots taken with a normal lens.
  4. ...whoops, make that Sigma's 30mm f/1.4 lens, not 35mm.

    Dunno, Ron, I haven't found any single focal length or zoom that's suitable for every angle and perspective I want. Yeh, I use a 50mm lens a lot. But sometimes the photos can seem a bit static.

    Anyway, it takes a variety of lenses, whether primes or zoom focal range, to capture all the flavor of some sports. With boxing, since it's a confined space, sure, a "normal" focal length for a given format can do the job - it has for decades. Volleyball needs more variety. Basketball a lot more variety. Football and soccer, a heckuva lotta variety - altho' I see some shooters using one body and one lens of 300mm-500mm or so.

    BTW, Chris, you mentioned being unhappy with color noise. I'm assuming that means you were shooting digital. Have you tried some noise reduction software? I've used Noise Ninja, Neat Image and the pro version of The Imaging Factory's plug-in. All of 'em are excellent for separating and reducing different types of noise. For example, you can reduce color (chroma) noise to almost nothing with little or no effect on sharpness, unlke luminance noise control which requires a bit of finesse to avoid softness. I couldn't do without good noise control software for my D2H, which gets fairly noisy above 800.
  5. Chris, IMHO, if I'll be restricted to available light only must make the shots, I'd spring for the f1.4. Every little bit helps. Lex, good point about varying focal length for a given sports. It's quite evident while I shot this volleyball game last Monday (a 2.8 zoom and a fixed 300-2.8.) For baseball, I had to use teleconverters in few occasions and short 85mm f1.8 at first base (for available light at night.) However, if one has to, a fixed 300-2.8 will do as a single setup for soccer, or football. For available light hoop, I will try giving the 85-1.4 a go if there isn't sufficient light for an 80-200 2.8.
  6. Yeah, Lex--I'm proficient with Photoshop, and familiar with the noise reduction tools...some of the noise just seems so excessive, at varying iso & shutter speed. There's one in Ron's gallery (0502MCCBBall16-18a)that looks like many I got last year... I've also had it using certain combinations of iso/shutter speed, while making some test shots at a church.
    Ron, I have a 50mm 1.4, which I plan to use under the basket...I'm just looking for a little more reach & shot variety, to cover the court with no supplementary light.
    Wilson--sweet volleyball shots! that's the kind of quality I'm searching for, though I'm not sure the available lighting will be that kind!
  7. For 'speed' __ Nikon has a VR 200mm f2 lens now __ but you need to find a loan to buy it.

    The AF 85mm f1.8D lens should work.
  8. I have the 50mm f/1.8 with a nikon D70. I tried using it wide open but almost all my photos were out of focus because the DOF is less than a foot at 10 feet, so smaller than a person. When I did get someone in perfect focus the photos looked great, but most of the time they were somewhere between very soft and out of focus. I usually use the 50mm at f/2.5 or f/2.8 with ISO 1600. Yes there is noise, but Noise Ninja does a good job of reducing the noise, better than Photoshop's tools. I have used the 80-200 this way and it works pretty well. The only thing I didn't like was that I had to stay pretty far back so that the 80mm end didn't get too close. I like to shoot right under the basket. This photo was taken before I had noise ninja, so the noise processing softened the image quite a bit. Noise Ninja leaves a bit more detail. So, for this application, I wouldn't spend the extra for the f/1.4. Instead I bought a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 plus Noise Ninja. The 28mm length works great under the basket or right at the end of a volleyball net, and the 75mm reaches about 1/2 of a basketball court for a "full size" athlete. This attached photo is with the 50mm f/2.5 1/250 shutter, ISO 1600, processed with noise ninja. ---mark
  9. Go for the f/1.4. The price differential isn't enough to actually make the consideration of "if I save $X, that's $X towards my next lens". You'll get better exposure with the 1.4, your pictures will probably be exposed a bit better overall, and in the long run, if you use it enough (and well), it'll be worth it to spot for the 1.4.

    The 80-200 f/2.8 is horrible for basketball - AF is far too slow to keep up well with basketball. I switched to the 70-200 f/2.8 VR after a single game with the 80-200. Are you shooting high school or pro? I generally get ~1/250 ISO1600 f/2.8 on the 70-200 for most college games, and 1/320 easily inside notoriously well-lit arenas like Jadwin Gym.

Share This Page