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  1. #1
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    What to get? Sports photography

    I'm looking to get an SLR to shoot sports primarily. Mainly my kids little league games etc. I'm wanting to get some good action shots but I'm not sure what to get as far as camera, lenses, memory cards, flashes etc. So far I've looked at the Rebel XTI and Nikon D80. There seems to be a lot of kits but I'm not familiar with what would be best for what I'm doing. I'd like something I can grow with, as I can see myself getting into the hobby. I'd like to start with something versatile. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciateed!

  2. #2
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    Re: What to get? Sports photography

    The Nikon/Canon battles will go on forever, but either of those would be a good choice. For baseball, the kit lens (I believe the D80 is available with the 18-135mm) is OK to start off with for batting/infield shots in good light. If it's likely that your kids are going to play indoor sports or night games you're going to want to invest in a good fast (ie f2.8 or lower) mid range zoom like a 70-200 or 80-200mm. These can set you back as much as the camera but are absolutely necessary for sports in anything but daylight.
    Daniel - PixElite Photography

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    I use Nikon Professional gear.

  3. #3
    They call me P-Wac JETA's Avatar
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    Re: What to get? Sports photography

    I too was in the exact same place as you a few years back. I ended up going with Canon and have since upgraded my body twice now.

    Go with the best you can afford if you think you are going to grow as a photographer. I started with the 300D and by one football season I wanted to punt the camera across the field.

    Things that held me up were recovery time of the camera and shots per second.

    A good lens for sports is a must. 2.8 is great because it helps with night time shooting and also in daylight it helps blur out distracting backgrounds.

    Check out the sports forum. There are quite a few people over there with a wealth of knowledge.

    Have fun!
    It's not blurry. It's bokeh.

    Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
    Canon EOS 5D Mark II
    Canon EOS 1D Mark III
    Canon 24-70mm EF f/2.8L
    Canon 24-105mm EF f/4L IS
    Canon Zoom Telephoto EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS
    Canon 17-40mm EF f/4L
    Canon 15mm F/2.8 EF Fisheye Lens
    Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro
    Canon 50mm f/1.8
    Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite
    Canon 580EX Speedlite
    Canon EOS Rebel 300D

  4. #4
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    Re: What to get? Sports photography

    If you are specifically shooting sports or action paced photographs, then a canon 30d is a good choice with 5 fps. Of course, combined with a F2.8 lens will definately be the key.

  5. #5
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Re: What to get? Sports photography

    Yeah, for sports I'd really suggest the Nikon D200 or Canon 30D. They're the best cameras out there for the price for sports. Team them up with a fast, great lens and for about $2,000 you'll have a fantastic kit that can last you for years with minimal additions. If you do get a lower end camera, the D80 will set you back less than either of those cameras, and while you do sacrifice some shooting speed (not always that important if you work on your timing) , the D80 has a huge buffer so it can keep shooting for ages.
    Harrison
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  6. #6
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    Re: What to get? Sports photography

    Thanks for the suggestions! I'm going to go put my hands on the bodies and see them up close before I decide. What lenses do you suggest I start with for both a canon and nikon? I'm not sure how many I should start with, what ranges I should look for etc. Also, what about a flash?

  7. #7
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Re: What to get? Sports photography

    The bread and butter lens for most sports photographers both amateur and for the professionals' zoom is the 70/80-200mm. If you get the D80 or D200, I would suggest the Nikon (2-ring, not push-pull) 80-200mm f/2.8D ED AF Nikkor on the low end, on the high end the Nikon 70-200mm AF-S VR ED. Alternatively, you could try one of the various Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX HSM lenses, which are cheaper than the Nikon 70-200 VR, have similar fast focusing, good build, etc though they lack VR and that really special bokeh from the 70-200. You might want to consider a used Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D AF-S ED, the immediate predecessor to the 70-200, which is optically of the same grade and has the same focusing speed.
    Sigma also makes a 100-300mm f/4 EX HSM lens, which has a pretty good reputation. Gives you longer reach, sacrifices a bit at the wide end, and you lose a full stop of light. For sports you generally want to have as much as possible... particular if you shoot at times when the light might start to fade, or shoot indoors at all. If you get one of the slower lenses, you will want to get a fast prime like the 85mm f/1.8 or something like that.

    For Canon, you have the option of the 70-200mm f/4L USM for a very low price, which offers great build, good focus speed, stellar optics, and saves on size and weight versus the other options. Canon also makes a version with IS and some minor optical tweaks, but it's twice the price.

    Then, you have the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L USM, which is similar in price to the 70-200 f/4L IS, maybe a bit more? It gives you an extra stop of light but is noticeably larger and heavier.
    Finally you have the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, which adds IS for a pretty decent amount more.
    The sigma options I listed before also apply.

    Now with canon, AF is done a bit differently than Nikon. On Nikon, there is no cutoff aperture defined in firmware. Usually, performance drops off past a lens+TC combination of f/5.6, and AF on the amateur cameras tends to fail past f/8.0 effective max aperture except in really bright light. On canons, however, if the lens+extender combo reports an aperture above f/5.6 as the maximum aperture to the camera, for the amateur/semipro cameras without 45 point AF (not the 1-series, basically), AF will cease to function. However, that's not all. The center "cross-type" sensor, unlike on Nikons, is only cross-sensitive at f/2.8 (if i'm not mistaken, this is what it is for the other amateur cameras) or larger max aperture, so with the f/4 lenses you would lose some precision. It's always there with the D200 and D80.

    Knowing your budget would help, but here are some kits you may want to think about. keep in mind I'm only thinking about the sports aspect, you may want to tell us about other requirements so we can suggest another lens for the wide end.

    Canon Kit 1:
    Canon EOS-30D Digital SLR
    (optional: Canon BG-E2 battery grip/vertical control grip)
    Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L USM for sports
    (optional: Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM for low light)
    Canon EF-s 17-85mm IS USM (generic wide end)
    Spare BP-511a battery pack
    SanDisk Ultra II or Extreme III CF card (2x2GB or 1x4GB at least)
    flash: Canon 430EX or used 580EX

    Canon Kit 2:
    Canon EOS-30D Digital SLR
    (Optional BG-E2)
    Spare BP-511a battery pack
    Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L USM for sports (okay for low light)
    canon 17-85mm IS USM for other stuff
    Same memory cards as above
    Canon 430EX speedlite, or used 580EX

    Nikon Kit 1:
    Nikon D80 Digital SLR
    Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D ED AF
    Nikon 18-70mm DX or 18-135 DX for other stuff
    Spare Nikon EN-El3E battery
    Optional: Nikon MB-D80 battery grip, (if you buy this also get at least 6 NiMH rechargeable AA's for alternate power)
    SanDisk Ultra II/Extreme III or Lexar Platinum II or 133x SD cards: 2x2GB or 1x4GB
    Nikon SB-400 or Sb-600 speedlight

    Nikon Kit 2:
    Nikon D200 DSLR
    Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D ED AF
    Nikon 18-70DX or 18-135 DX for other stuff
    Spare Nikon EN-EL3E (2 would be best)
    Optional: Nikon MB-D200 battery grip, (if you buy this also get at least 6 NiMH rechargeable AA's)
    SanDisk Ultra II/Extreme III or Lexar Platinum II or 133x CF cards, 2x2GB or 1x4GB at least. No need to bother with Extreme IV or 300x cards in these cameras.
    Nikon Sb-600 speedlight

    Nikon Kit 3: for if you decide to have a big budget and get trigger happy shooting...
    Nikon D200 DSLR
    Nikon MB-D200 grip
    2x spare EN-EL3E, 12 NiMH AA's (sanyo eneloop works best- for grip alternate power and for flash)
    Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR, or used Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D AF-S ED-IF
    Nikon 18-70 DX or Sigma 18-50mm EX or Tamron 17-50mm DI II or Tokina 16-50 f/2.8 for other stuff
    At least 4-6GB of high speed memory (1x4GB and 1x2GB)
    Nikon Sb-600 or SB-800 speedlight.
    Harrison
    Nikon Forum / Digital SLR Forum Moderator | moderator bio
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  8. #8
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    Re: What to get? Sports photography

    Thanks for the detailed reply! It helps a lot. I'm really not sure what I'm wanting to spend. However, I am willing to spend a little more up front for equipment that will grow with me so I don't end up buying things multiple times. I went out and looked at the cameras and I think I'm leaning towards the Nikon D200. I really liked the feel of it and the features. It was more expensive, but seems like a body that is fairly easy to use and will meet my needs as I grow. Like wise I will look for a lense that is of good quality but also one that is the most versatile or a go to lense to start with and build off of. Now I need to start pricing things more and look for a reputable place to purchase it from. Thanks again, awesome forum!

  9. #9
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    Re: What to get? Sports photography

    After looking at prices of lenses, I was wondering how important the Image Stabilization or Vibration Reduction feature is? Is there a big difference in performance?

  10. #10
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Re: What to get? Sports photography

    Optical performance is generally unaffected. VR/IS counteracts camera shake. Faster and more accurate focusing is more important. As long as the lens has USM/AF-S/HSM you'll be fine, regardless of VR or IS being in the lens.
    If you use a monopod VR/IS will be not so important.
    That said, it can come in handy....
    Harrison
    Nikon Forum / Digital SLR Forum Moderator | moderator bio
    Check out our new Nikon D300 Pro Review D3 review coming soon...
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