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  1. #1
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    Question Nikon lens for sports photography

    What do you guys recommend? I have a D70 and about $1500...

  2. #2
    Junior Member
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    Re: Nikon lens for sports photography

    anyone........?

  3. #3
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Oct 2004
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    Re: Nikon lens for sports photography

    Glad to see you have a suitable budget for a good sports lens.

    You need to evaluate how much light you will have and how much reach you want.

    The bread and butter lenses for most sports photographers are 70/80-200mm f/2.8 zooms or 300mm primes. The high end would be the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VR. You will go slightly above if you buy new from some places, but you could always buy used. I picked mine up just now for $1275 in mint condition. More typically, you'd see them in the $1350 range.

    For significantly less you could opt to get the previous version, the AF-S 80-200mm f/2.8D ED-IF, which is not the current 80-200mm f/2.8D AF ED, but is a more complex optical design with optical quality very similar to the 70-200mm VR, with the same ultra fast AF-S motor but no VR. These go used for anywhere between $800 and $1000 depending on condition.

    The previously mentioned current 80-200mm AF ED f/2.8D (2 ring version) is somewhat smaller, but uses the slower screwdrive AF system which in my experience is also overall less accurate particularly with bodies like the D70. These go for less than the 80-200 AF-S models.

    You also have the option of 3rd party lenses. Sigma makes a 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM, which is like AF-S, but I'd suggest the AF-S nikkors above this.

    Sigma does, however, make a fascinating lens of very high quality : the 100-300mm f/4 EX DG HSM. It sells new for $1099, but can be had for less used. Just be careful that if you buy one used, you buy either the EX HSM or the EX DG HSM version, not an earlier inferior version.
    The only issues are the starting 100mm focal length (150mm equivalent in DX, versus 105mm equivalent for the 70-200mm), and the f/4 maximum aperture. If your light is limited, you might want to go with one of the f/2.8s.

    Nikon also has the AF-S 300mm f/4.0D AF-S ED-IF, a fixed focal length 300mm lens that is extremely sharp and high quality. It isn't as versatile as a zoom, has the f/4 max aperture, and is fairly expensive, but you can probably still afford some sort of 80-200mm zoom, perhaps one of the earlier versions, if you want something to fill the gap.
    It retails for $1100 for the USA version, you could buy the import version (not serviceable by Nikon USA) for about $950ish, or buy used.

    Now for any of the 70/80-200mm zooms, you have the versatility of adding a teleconverter. The Nikon TC-14E/II is the Nikon teleconverter for the *AF-S* 80-200/2.8D or 70-200 VR, and will give you an effective reach of 280mm f/4.0 with minimal degradation. Kenko's Pro 300 DG series of teleconverters is regarded as the best 3rd party TC, and will work with the AF-S and regular AF versions for less money.

    I shot sports with the 80-200 AFS and then the 70-200 VR for the whole time I had my D70, and then when I upgraded to the D200 with great success. I added a TC and then additional pro long telephotos when things got really serious, but the 70-200 remained one of the most important parts of my lens lineup.

    Recently I've been shooting with the 80-200 again and loved it, I'm just about to upgrade back to the VR version because my hands are a bit shaky when I shoot without a monopod. I'd suggest you get a good monopod for sports regardless- you can get a great one for about $40.

    Hope this helps!
    Harrison
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