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Help with lens choices ..

Phlodge 11 18
20 Aug 2012 11:43AM
I took some shots yesterday at a (Horse) cross country event and used my Nikon D300 and for most of the time I used a Nikon 70-300m f4.5-5.6G, AF-S VR.
The results were not brilliant, the light was dull and flat and fast shutter speeds were hard to achieve. I played around with the ISO and ranged between 400-1000, but things got noisy.
As the light went worse I put on my only other option a Sigma 85m f1.4, this gave me the light and speed, the results were better but I lost the zoom and therefore the heat of the action.
My other half is into all things equestrian and I finding myself drawn to the action side of the sport such as show jumping and cross country, I am therefore looking to get more out of the photography.

Question is, what are the options. If I was looking to buy a new lens in order to give me the maximum speed for such events what should I be looking at. Would a Sigma (or equivalent in other makes) 70-200m f2.8, EX DG OS make much of a difference, I would have to accept loss of focal length, but the increased speed may compensate.
It could be just a case of tough, the weather is against me and you get what you get.

Any input would be appreciated


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ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
20 Aug 2012 12:03PM
Faster lenses are the way forward - though not cheap. 70-200 F2.8 is extremely versatile and a great investment

I would have thought the D300 would be fine at higher ISO settings than you suggest though
Phlodge 11 18
20 Aug 2012 12:12PM
Just dissapointed with results, not as sharp as would have liked and overall dull.
Took them in RAW so got some wriggle room to play with which may give some improvement.

I may have expected too much given the appalling light, even one of the pro's trying to get a shot admitted failure due to a flat sky.

70-200 combined with maybe a 1.4 teleconverter has been suggested. Sounds okay but not sure !!

Cheers for getting back to me

Nick_w Plus
10 4.3k 99 England
20 Aug 2012 12:17PM
The only downside of using fast lenses on a telephoto, at the long end is the bit that's critically sharp is so small (when wide open, also lenses are nearly all much better optically stopped down a bit)

The other option is to look for VR this will eliminate camera shake ( but not subject movement) the D300 can easily produce great results at ISO1600 with care (shoot to the right etc) any under exposure you will get noise - if your getting noise at ISO400 with the D300 there must be a problem with it. Remember for print noise is rarely an issue, it's only web uploads that show it, if you chose the right paper etc.
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
20 Aug 2012 12:22PM
a 1.4 TC kinda defeats the object of a really fast lens because it takes away a stop of light....
thewilliam 9 6.1k
20 Aug 2012 1:59PM
If you look at professionals covering sporting events, they have lenses like the 300mm f2.8 and the 600mm f4. They wouldn't spend that sort of money if they didn't have to.

Ade's idea of a 70-200 f2.8 is a good one but you'll need to get closer.

Invest in a monopod and test your camera to see just how far you can wind up the ISO and still get good results.
Carabosse 15 41.1k 270 England
20 Aug 2012 2:04PM

Quote:They wouldn't spend that sort of money if they didn't have to.

And if they couldn't set the cost off against their taxable income! Wink (Sorry - had to be said).
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
20 Aug 2012 2:26PM
70-200 has many many uses....

I've got a 500mm which I very rarely take out... too heavy and doesn't fit in my bags

worth bearing in mind really - a 600 F4 is around 8000 I think and it's not that useful in many situations... Wink
Phlodge 11 18
20 Aug 2012 3:09PM
So it looks like a 70-200 f2.8 is my best option. Speed as opposed to focal length being a preferred choice.

I will have a look at whats available, that said its seems to be one of the following ..
Tamron is the cheapest at around 600 but this doesnt have any optical vibration/stabilisation
Sigma is around 900
Nikon is circa 1500

If I sell my Nikon 70-300 f4.5/5.6, I could stretch to the Sigma.

Dont be afraid to push the ISO and practise a bit more with a monopod seems to be the next step, something I will start immediately

Really appreciate the guidance

thewilliam 9 6.1k
20 Aug 2012 3:13PM
Vulgar professionals don't buy expensive long lenses just to prove their manhood!

Even if it's not tax-deductible, we buy whatever is needed to make saleable pictures: pictures that are better than other folk who are taking pictures at the same event. Without sales, there won't be any food on the table.

Lens choice comes down to the needs of the individual photographer. What does he/she intend to do with the pictures and what will the budget allow? Professional status is irrelevant because a wealthy amateur will have better kit than the impecunious pro. An extreme example of the former is the Sheikh who commissioned Zeiss to design and build a 1700mm f4 lens in Hasselblad fitting that weighed about a quarter of a ton.

I'd urge less experienced folk to buy lenses one at a time. The 70-200 is likely to be useful for many tasks so is a good first lens and one that will stay in the armoury. Then the pictures can be scrutinised to see what lens could or should have been used to make the shot. The next purchase is then likely to be a wise one.

If in doubt, hire the lens.
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
20 Aug 2012 3:26PM
Hiring is a great idea - I think it's just 25/day for an L lens from The Flash Centre.

Keep thinking of getting that 17mm tilt shift lens and blitzing a few cities with it....
JJGEE 13 7.2k 18 England
20 Aug 2012 6:43PM

Quote:I think it's just 25/day for an L lens from The Flash Centre.

But do you not have to leave the full price as a refundable deposit, even if only by giving your credit card number. ?
theorderingone 14 2.4k
20 Aug 2012 7:46PM

Quote:I think it's just 25/day for an L lens from The Flash Centre.

But do you not have to leave the full price as a refundable deposit, even if only by giving your credit card number. ?

Not sure about TFC, but I've used Lensesforhire.co.uk and this isn't the case with them. Prices are very reasonable too. They hire by the week, rather than the day.

They tend to run out of teles around large sporting events (like the Olympics that have just passed) though, so it may be worthwhile being mindful of what events are going on at the time.

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