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Showing 1-15 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 21, 2012 12:47:00 PM PDT
Marydea Rowe says:
I have bought a Nikon D5100 just for fun. I have no intentions on going pro, but would love to take "WOW" photographs. The two lenses with it is 55 to 200mm and 18 to 55mm ( I think those are the right numbers). My problem is that I want to buy a new lens b/c I love taking photos of my husband who is a football Coach for our local high school. Is that really necessary? Do I REALLY need a new lens? I am just learning my camera but I do want to learn it well so I can take good photos for my pleasure.


Coaches Wife

Posted on Sep 21, 2012 6:55:00 PM PDT
T. Campbell says:
Why would you think you "need" a new lens?

The 55-200mm (which is what you'd use to shoot football) is an f/4-5.6. That's fine for daytime use, but it'll struggle at night under artificial lights.

To "freeze" action you need a shutter speed at around 1/500th... but you might get away with 1/250th if the action is headed toward you rather than sideways. At the 200mm end, the lens is an f/5.6. An f/2.8 zoom (which would be a very expensive lens, btw) collects FOUR times as much light as an f/5.6 lens. That means if the best shutter speed you can manage at f/5.6 is 1/125th, then the f/2.8 lens would be able to do 1/500th in the same lighting.

Again... I'm talking about night games (played under artificial lighting). This doesn't apply to daytime games where you'll have plenty of light.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2012 8:43:59 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 21, 2012 8:44:54 PM PDT
Neo Lee says:
Upload a picture or two that you think you're not satisfied with the current lenses, the photos that you think a new shiny lens would improve. Upload the original files to, so that the EXIF image information is intact so that we can examine.

If you don't want to upload for any reason, you should at least describe what is wrong. What do you want to improve? Zoom too short? Blurry image?

Posted on Sep 22, 2012 6:50:06 PM PDT
S. Owens says:
Have you tried taking pictures yet and if so what is the problem? If distance is NOT the problem then it is probably light and there are two ways to deal with that. The cheaper way may be to get a good flash unit for your camera instead of relying on the built in flash; the problem with that can be that flashes are distracting and thus may not be appreciated plus they may not have enough range. That leaves you with the need of a faster (smaller F number) lens which will collect more light.

I got a Sigma 70-200 f2.8 for purposes like that which may be about as inexpensive as you can go. I like the lens but it is a monster to carry around.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 1, 2012 7:00:41 PM PDT
Marydea Rowe says:
Sometimes zoom is a problem because I want close ups when action is at the end of the field and I am at the other. When I do take a picture of Coach at the other end his face is blurry. Is there anything I can do to fix that.

Thank you so much for your input. I will download some to flickr.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 1, 2012 7:06:57 PM PDT
Marydea Rowe says:
All my pictures will be at night under artificial lighting. I shoot in sports mode b/c when I try manual they are way to dark. I can usually freeze motion. My pictures seem fine until I zoom in on them. They look blurry. Also, everything around his face is in focus but the face isn't.

I feel a new lens is really what a need one with 2.8 aperture. Trying to get myself to get the expensive lens I can't see spending that much since I won't be a pro.

Thanks so much

Posted on Nov 1, 2012 7:34:31 PM PDT
T. Campbell says:
An f/2.8 lens would certainly collect a lot more light than your current lens (at least 4 times as much) and that'll help with shutter speeds. BUT... telephoto zoom lenses with a constant f/2.8 focal ratio are VERY expensive.

Keep in mind that "zoom" is not a substitute for walking. Any pro will tell you that a major element which contributes to getting a good shot is "knowing where to stand". Football players usually don't migrate down the field very fast (well.... sometimes they do, but mostly it's a game of inches). Given that... if the line of scrimmage is migrating down the field, then you should be migrating down the field.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 1, 2012 10:09:03 PM PDT
EdM says:
"When I do take a picture of Coach at the other end his face is blurry. Is there anything I can do to fix that."

Several things. First, learn to optimize your skills with what you have, including [but not only] moving down the field as T. Campbell says. For a blurred face, perhaps a monopod might help, which is used for shooting sports at times. Otherwise, learn to hold the camera "still", to a better extent, so that camera motion is minimized. For example:

Second is to try to shoot at a higher ISO so the shutter will be quicker to cycle, and/or to use a wider aperture - lower number f stop, like f2.8, f2.0. etc. Sadly, the longer and faster [wider aperture] the lens is, the more it costs. These will allow for a faster shot, so your camera will not move [perceptibly] during the time the shutter is open, to freeze the action. Combine this with better camera/lens stability, and you make good progress. Actually, your lighter telephoto lens is easier to handhold than a heavy "pro" lens.

Lastly, buy/rent/use a longer focal length, telephoto lens, but this is extremely expensive, e.g., compare the Nikon 500mm f/4.0G ED VR AF-S SWM Super Telephoto Lens for Nikon FX and DX Format Digital SLR

When you look at the costs, it quickly becomes evident that moving yourself, along the sideline, e.g., is much more economical, using your current telephoto lens. For football, some use the 70-200 f2.8 "pro" zoom Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lens For Nikon Digital SLR Cameras, although some people use third party lens to save cost. Comparing to your 55-200, you will have a higher quality lens that is faster, but at a high cost w/ no improvement in reach as the max focal length is still 200mm.

Another possibility is this lens Nikon 300mm f/2.8G AF-S ED VR II Nikkor Super Telephoto Prime Lens with an extender, like the Nikon TC-14E II (1.4x) Teleconverter AF-S for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras, although there are other possibilities. If you do the math, a 300 mm lens X 1.4 for the extender X 1.5 for the APSc crop factor = 630 mm equivalent which is quite respectable, and using that extender only "costs" 1 stop of light, so the lens becomes a f4 equivalent, so much more reach and more light both for more distant shots. Still quite expensive, though, so changing your position is much more economical.

See also:

"Location, Location, Location!

"You can only photograph things you can see. The closer you are to someone, the better you can see them. Sports are no different...

"Required Equipment ...

" "Its not the equipment but the photographer who makes the picture" is generally a true statement. However with sports and action photography, having the wrong equipment means not getting the shots you want or need. This relates back to the section on location. The further away, the longer the lens is needed to capture the same image in the frame. Different sports require different lens lengths...

"Lens speed is also a critical factor. The faster the lens, the faster the shutter speed you can use... If you look at the sidelines of any Division 1 college football game or an NFL football game, you will see people with really big lenses. These range from 300mm to 600mm or longer ...

"Most people use lenses that are F2.8 or faster. These lenses are very expensive. A 400mm F2.8 sells for over $8000 US. They are also very heavy and bulky. Using a monopod is a life saver with these big lenses..."

There is helpful info including about specific kinds of sports in the pages of this article. Though it was originally written for film, it is very similar for digital except that with digital you can use a higher ISO rather than change to a "faster" film [having a higher ISO or ASA rating].

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 12:57:46 PM PDT
JCUKNZ says:
Rather than a new lens you need to learn about the game and work out where the action will be and place yourself where you can capture it with the gear you have. With another lens I sure you will miss even more shots as the play moves up and down the field and you are changing your lenses.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 2:40:39 PM PDT
jrdriller says:
no you should be fine has some good advice

Posted on Nov 6, 2012 8:37:09 AM PST
Knowing where to stand, where to look, when to be ready to push the button is what sports photography is all about. The important things in sports happen and they are done in a moment. When you move to a spot, and the action comes to that spot, you know you are doing something right. If you are getting blurry shots with the lens you have, a longer lens will just get more blur. You need to learn your tools and your sport. A longer lens with a larger aperture will help some, but that's a lot of money to solve a problem that could be improved with position and shutter speed.

At a recent fight, after the fight, the other photographers were moving to get into the cage, and I held my camera on the winner. I was costing myself time getting into position, but I could feel it, there was a shot coming. He dropped to his knees, roared like some kind of wild animal, jumped in the air, and did a back flip. The other photographers pointed their cameras at him, but the moment was over.

Posted on Nov 17, 2012 7:03:48 PM PST
Marydea Rowe says:
My problem too is I have to sit in the stands. However sometimes we have tunnel time and I go on the field to watch the players come through the tunnel as their named is called. I seem to get better pictures in Sports Mode than Manual Mode. Of course my Apeture can only go down to 5.6 at 200mm. Some pictures I took I uploaded to Flickr.
Thanks so much for everyone's advice.

Posted on Nov 20, 2012 1:12:17 AM PST
Michael C says:
Anything the camera does in sports mode you should be able to repeat manually. Look at the EXIF info of the shots you took in sports mode. I'm guessing the camera is boosting the ISO to try and get a faster shutter speed. If the camera is using a high ISO it is probably applying a lot of noise reduction as well, which will impact sharpness. If you shoot RAW files, you can adjust NR and sharpness on your computer later to optimize each shot. Each stadium has its own overall light level (and patterns of light and dark spots), but I always get the best shots when I dial it in manually and live with the ISO it takes to use 1/400-1/500 second shutter speed (1/250 in a pinch. The feet and hands of players may be a little blurry but if you learn to pan you can still get sharp torsos and heads). If all you are interested in is getting shots of the coach on the sideline, try to time your shots when he isn't "instructing" a player or waving his arms at the refs! LOL. Don't forget to adjust your screen's brightness level to match the light level you are working in and learn how to display and read the histogram for each shot. With night football there will be a lot of dark background in the scene so the goal is to keep the histogram just to the right of falling off the cliff to the left, rather than in the middle like you would during daylight. If you shoot RAW you can underexpose by a stop or so and boost the exposure on your computer before you convert to jpeg.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 6:09:52 AM PST
Gale says:
To Marydea,
In that case a 200 won't do it. You need to go 300 - 400. Better with a tele converter.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 10:59:41 AM PST
JCUKNZ says:
A Tele converter will reduce the light gathering power of the lens by one or two stops and make her problems worse and add extra instability which she is apparently incapable of handling now. Really I wonder if she should not have got herrself a long reach 'super-zoom' camera with OIS in the lens which would give her 1000mm reach ... coupled with the editing techniques I have mentioned before and the "know it alls" rubbish me for in their ignorance.
Sadly for the DSLR crowd they are not the answer to all problems LOL
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Discussion in:  Photography forum
Participants:  10
Total posts:  15
Initial post:  Sep 21, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 21, 2012

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