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good lens for shooting swimmers?


rob_jackett
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<p>I use a 70-200 2.8 to shoot swimming. The light in indoor pools is usually terrible with high contrast due to varying light depending on window placement. 2.8 aperture is important. Sometimes the lightig is so poor that I use flash set at a 200th. (not during starts as it interferes with timing). The lens is usually at 200mm which is plenty if you have deck access as I do. </p><div>00S23R-104127684.jpg.2a1f5defd3f52951868ea65ba3707052.jpg</div>
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<p>I use a Canon 70-200 2.8L. You can get one used for around a thousand US or less. Go to KEH. The lens I use is 12 years old and works as good today as when I got through thousands of pictures. 70-300 is ok. I don't know how you feel about flash but at places like Harvard and Boston University I use flash because the light can be so poor particularly at Harvard. Try it with your current lens. Make sure you use the fastest shutter speed on your camera available for full flash power for your camera and try to keep the ambient exposure a stop under the flash so you don't get ghosts. </p>
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<p>The best lens on a budget is the Nikon 180/2.8. Even on deck you won't likely need a zoom and if you had one it would likely be at 200 all the time. 180mm should do everything you need from on deck. From the stands you'd need a 300mm or even 400mm lens. I have used a 400/2.8, 200/2, and 85/1.4 from the stands and the two shorter ones on deck. You need the most powerful flash you can find. I find it brings out the true colours of skin and pool much better. If you can balance the light well you won't get nasty shadows of the water droplets. </p><div>00S2VN-104217684.jpg.49f9486ab41813038bfe6e5cd6847b4d.jpg</div>
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<p>Rob -</p>

<p>70-200 f2.8 is the way to go. I have deck access and I use the full zoom. The 70 is nice for when they are close to you, 200 for when they are further away. You can get a sigma for about half of the price of the Nikon.</p>

<p>It will cover most 6 lane pools - for an 8 lane venue - you need a 2nd photographer or the 80-400. 8 lane venues (at least where I'm at) tend to be better lit so the lighting usually isn't a problem.</p>

<p>Check with the swim officials before using flash - especially when you're on deck. None allow it during the starts, some dislike it anytime and tell you to turn it off, other officials don't care. However the quickest way to get yourself kicked off deck is to fire a flash during the start - even accidentally.</p>

<p>Also keep in mind with flash that it can distract the swimmers. I have two swimmers in my family and they both say they notice flash when swimming and it does effect them. Their teammates and coaches tend to echo that sentiment.</p>

<p>Dave</p>

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<p>I use the 70 mm end of my 70-200 for head shots of the swimmers and that start above was less than 200mm as I recall. I did newspaper sports and the zoom was essential in my mind. I also swim in the meets I photograph and you can really see a flash while in the water but it does not compare to the distracting pain of the last length of a 200 free. LOL. </p>
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<p>Rob - You are not doing badly. Your shutter speed limitations are evident in some of your pictures but, take it from someone who has done a lot of sports for a newspaper, swimming ain't easy. If I am shooting breastsroke my knees are going up and down with the swimmer to try and time the top of the stroke. I miss a lot. The sport that is harder to shoot IMO is hockey because the puck goes so fast. My bio picture in PN was done with flash in a dark Harvard pool by someone whom I gave my camera to while I was swimming. The camera and flash were set correctly. Good luck.</p>
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<p>Great information here. I just started shooting swimming myself, and had no idea what a challenge it would be. I am shooting with a D3 and a 70-200, and don't use a flash. I do spend quite a bit of time in post process getting the right look.<br>

What shutter speeds are needed to stop the swimmers coming off the blocks, or catching a swimming popping their heads out of the water for a breadth during the breast stroke? <br>

Thanks in advance,<br>

Harry</p>

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<p>If I can get a 1/1000 I will take it. I have gotten good pictures at at 1/500 but you will see some motion blur in the swimmers hands in the fly or backstroke. You can sometimes do better head on. I like to get faces in pain, LOL. The above picture I posted was at 1/1600 out of doors in good light with no motion blur. Indoors I usually shoot at ISO 1600 and after the sun goes down at Harvard and BU and no more light is coming through the windows I either go to 3200 or flash. Flash works better as the interior light is bad and quite yellow in some pools although you have to watch out for two different white balances in the same picture if the flash does not cover the whole swimmer. I have a 5D that handles high ISOs much better than my XTi. I have a lot of bad swimming pictures as evidence that I have learned something about doing it some of the time. </p>
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<p>Dick,<br>

Good info and good to know. Sounds like we are in similar situations. Wednesday I was shooting at 1/400 and ISO 6400. Even then some of them were unexposed. I shoot raw and WB was not an issue accept for a few. I would love to shoot at 1/1000 and 1600. D3 does amazing there:)<br>

I really don't like using flash. Much prefer the "natural" look, even if it means slight shadows because that is whay I/spectators see.<br>

Harry.</p>

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<p>One big problem with swimming is high contrast. If the light source behind the swimmer like BU where the windows are north facing and the south start end faces into the windows and you cannot shoot from the yard-meter divider at at the other end you lose facial detail or water detail because the contrast is so great. Flash is the only thing that works for me to kill that contrast. Example below. The water is overexposed and the face is underexposed and grainy at 1600 ISO. I don't like this picture but water really presents some contrast problems. I solve this problem with flash that evens out the contrast. </p><div>00S3dR-104459884.jpg.7d4996fa417311cd94fc3bf0e3865352.jpg</div>
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  • 2 weeks later...

<p>Just popped in to firstly say: I really like "Mixed Start", Dick – the water trail across the body is great.<br>

<br>

I wish I had that light and all the time . . . 1/1600s @ F8 @`ISO800 . . . would just be BLISS :)<br>

<br>

***<br>

<br>

So to the thread: <br>

<br>

Rob, I understand that you like a zoom, and I understand that, as a swimmer you do not mind Flash - but do keep in mind that one day you might come across an indoor pool - (Dark) and a Referee who will turf you out without question or second chance, if a Flash goes off, especially at the Start of a race.<br>

<br>

As an example, here I needed 1/800s @ F1.8 @ ISO3200 . . . that's my 85mm wide open and sneaking behind the 15mtr Judge, to take the shot.<br>

<br>

WW</p><div>00SBPL-106067884.jpg.ed45babe9e8662ebda652e2379544ea6.jpg</div>

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  • 2 weeks later...

<p>I am the chief photographer for Swimming World Magazine. I use the entire range of lenses from 14 mm to 600 depending on the venue, short vs. long course, shooting from the stands or rafters or the deck. I use mostly the 200-400/F4 or the 400/2.8 along with the 70-200 2.8 on Nikon D3. If I have strobes in the pool, it helps a lot. But without strobes, using the D3, I can use the 300/2.8 or 400/2.8 with the 70-200/2.8 with ambient light in most situations.<br>

Get the fastest glass you can afford. Buy used if you have a trusted source. </p>

<p>Good luck.</p>

 

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