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Customer Discussions > Digital SLR forum

Best DSLR for action and low light settings

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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 14, 2012 3:57:33 PM PST
I want to start taking my own photos of my daughters gymnastics meets, however I need a camera that will take great photos in low/poor lighting as you are not allowed to use flash at the meets. It will also need to handle fast action shooting as well. My budget is $700-$1k for camera and lens. I am a rookie at this so looking for some guidance - Thank You!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012 8:19:08 AM PST

Another request for a low-cost camera suited to the most difficult shooting style around: ambient indoor sports...

Given the "no flash" criteria, you'll be looking for a lens with an f2.8 or faster aperture (no variable f3.5-5.6 consumer zooms should be considered; at typical zoom, these lenses are at their worst f5.6 -- two stops slower than an f2.8 zoom).

Image stabilization is NOT a requirement -- it doesn't stop subject motion (and may even compound it -- traditional [35mm/full-frame] rule is that the shutter speed should be 1/effective_focal_length... For a 100mm lens on an APS-C body, that means 1/150s or faster). Normally the shutter speed needed to stop action will be fast enough to stop hand shaking/muscle twitching.

You'll want to anticipate the shots: set the camera for "follow focus" (servo, predictive, continuous) and follow the subject with the shutter button partly pressed -- the camera will continue to adjust the focus through the moment you press the button all the way down (don't let up and then press, that would start the focusing system from scratch). You want to catch the subject at points where the motion is minimized -- at the top of a flip, say.

I can't recommend a focal length as I don't know the distance... If you are near the edge of the mat, and the subject is on your side of it, an 85mm f1.8 might be ideal (a stop faster than an f2.8 zoom)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012 4:01:56 PM PST
EdM says:

> My budget is $700-$1k ...

for indoors, most likely inadequate, depending on the distance from your location to the subject. Plus, in gymnastics, various events may be on at the same time and at different locations.

The best DSLRs for low light/sports are likely the
Nikon D4 16.2 MP CMOS FX Digital SLR with Full 1080p HD Video (Body Only)
or the
Canon EOS-1D X 18.1MP Full Frame CMOS Digital SLR Camera

[plus one or more lenses] OTOH, passable, if not "best" are the
Nikon D7000 16.2MP DX-Format CMOS Digital SLR with 3.0-Inch LCD (Body Only)
Canon EOS 7D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3-Inch LCD (Body Only)

You'll need a lens, which should include a "kit" lens, maybe an 18-55, e.g., plus a prime lens such as the
Nikon 85mm f/1.8G AF-S NIKKOR Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras.

There are other possibilities, but they will likely push you even further over-budget. The location [e.g. distance to the action] is likely the most important thing for choosing a lens focal length. Here's an article on sports photography, which is about the most difficult kind of photography there is [excepting some esoteric things like using tilt and shift lenses].

This 7 page article [plus comments] is good background, starts on the first page with the importance of location, and includes a section on the 5th page on gymnastics.

If your indoor arena were well lit, perhaps a 70-300 zoom for ~ $500 might work, but that's unlikely. A 70-200 pro type f2.8 zoom [big and heavy] would likely be helpful, but these tend to cost a price going on $2k for a new lens. Perhaps a used lens or secondary market lens ..., but that's risky for a person not knowledgeable about photography in case something is not right.

Possibly a 50mm f1.8 lens, a 100mm f2.0 lens, a 135mm f2.0 lens, etc. might work, but the wider the maximum aperture [f2.8 and smaller number = larger aperture] and the "longer" the focal length [50mm, 85mm, 100 mm, 135 mm, and so on] the greater the cost of the lens. A 300mm f2.8 lens, e.g., runs in the $4000-5000 range.

Perhaps if you know or meet someone local to you [maybe at a camera club or at a local school with photography classes] who is knowledgeable on photography, they could explain this better, with what you can do at various price levels.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012 7:00:06 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 15, 2012 7:58:53 PM PST
Neo Lee says:
For a budget of 1k or less, your ideal camera setup is:

$600 Canon EOS Rebel T4i DSLR with 18-55mm EF-S IS II Lens (OLD MODEL)
$360 Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras - Fixed

It won't magically shoot action by itself. You will need to set the shutter speed to 1/250s or faster (i.e. 1/500s, 1/1000s, etc), and because of this, you may have to increase the ISO to meet the fast shutter speed demand. Increasing the ISO will degrade the image quality by introducing grainy noises and blurry blobs into the photo. Depending on the use of the photo, you could acceptably shoot at ISO 3200 or even ISO 6400. The photos at high ISO should look just fine when resized down to 800x600 for monitors.

You will have to sit as close as possible to the actions, because 85mm focal length could be rather short for your needs. That's the best $1k can do. If the subject look small, you may want to crop the images little.

If you could spend $1500 in total, you should definitely go for the Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM Lens for Canon SLR Cameras - Fixed

Posted on Dec 19, 2012 8:28:58 AM PST
Tigerrr says:
Check out the Olympus OM-D ...that's a great mirrorless camera!! (around $1100)
And it has built in image stabilization which would be good for action and video shots!!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2013 1:22:38 AM PDT
Matt says:
Nikon and Canon both make great cameras but most pros will agree that NIkon handles high ISO (low light) shooting better than Canon. You can buy a cheap camera and put a good lens on it and get better results than if you put a cheap lens on any camera. Don't ever buy the lens that comes with the camera. All of the previous answers had good information but they're basically saying no you can't do it for that price unless you find a good deal on some used equipment. The lens you need, at a minimum, is going to put you over budget. The most affordable lens I can suggest is the Tamron AF 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD IF Macro Lens with Built in Motor for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras (Model A001NII) then buy as much camera as you can possibly fit into your budget. Come back and let us know what you decide :-)

Posted on Apr 6, 2013 8:43:04 PM PDT
P. M. Blakie says:
What is a good easy to use camera for Astro Photography. SLR .

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2013 9:27:20 PM PDT
This is a category of its own, and should have been a new thread.

Problem is "Astrophotography" covers everything from simple shots of constellations (wide aperture, tripod mounted, remote or timer release, and exposures of only a few seconds at higher ISO [depending on focal length -- the criteria is how long it takes for earth rotation to move the stars over the pixels of the sensor]); longer shots using "barn-door" tracking systems; piggy-back on top of a telescope with an equatorial mount; t-adapter at prime focus of said telescope (prime focus basically means the telescope IS the camera lens); eyepiece projection (where you record the image projected by an eyepiece in the telescope).

I suggest perusing one of the many books:

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2013 11:03:14 PM PDT
EdM says:
I agree with Dennis. OTOH, for a certain limited kind of astro shooting, you could consider the Canon EOS 60Da 18.0 MP CMOS Digital Astrophotography SLR Camera with 3.0-inch Vari-Angle LCD with whatever lenses that are appropriate to your specifics. As well as tripods, mounts, etc. Consider:

"Canon EOS 60Da: the return to astrophotography"

as an example of articles about this camera and usage. OTOH, the reality is that shooting at night is never "easy", but requires specific technical skills developed by practice, instruction, and perhaps consulting with others similarly oriented, maybe a suitable club.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2013 1:16:56 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 17, 2013 1:28:49 PM PDT
No sir, we are a studio with 8 employees. It is well known that Cannons produce better low light images both at photo and video. Its not even fair to compare the two. The Nikon produces too much noise in low light making their shots almost unusable for print and low light video looks pretty bad as well (if you care about that). The Nikons are the best at everything else but they are not as flexible and you have to be careful where you deploy them. Take some indoor shots at a church at night with both and look at some shadows and you will notice what I am talking about. For low light shoots and any uncontrolled event (wedding, birthdays, etc) you should take a Cannon because you never know what to expect and need to be able to shoot even under the worst lighting. In a controlled shoot where you know that there will be good light, a Nikon is better.

Every company seems to have a niche at this time. For low light, it is well known that Cannon is the best and this is true of both their DSLRs and Camcorders. Nikon gives the best images under normal and lots of light. Sony is well known for having the absolute best auto-focus and stabilization on their camcorders. Panasonic camcorders are middle of the line on everything but do not excel at any.
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Discussion in:  Digital SLR forum
Participants:  8
Total posts:  10
Initial post:  Dec 14, 2012
Latest post:  Jun 17, 2013

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