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Lens suggestions for Low light sport/action shots

Lumani

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Good day!

Sorry if I have posted in the wrong area, I am still learning the forum and this is my first post. ^_^

I specialize in Equine photography and currently use a 55-200mm AF-S Nikkor Lens for the majority of my work. It works very well for most of my shoots, however I am looking for a lens that will work well in low light areas. Yes, I can use strobes or flash units, however these are banned at most shows as they spook the horses.

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Inside:
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A 70-200mm f/2.8 lens would seem a natural for this type of photography.
 
My GF is a professional equestrian photographer so I can answer this: Nikkor300mm f/2.8VR2
 
chuasam said:
My GF is a professional equestrian photographer so I can answer this: Nikkor300mm f/2.8VR2

Does your girlfriend also shoot a small, crop-frame Nikon? 300mm is awfully restrictive on a 1.53x camera unless the distances are fairly long. I've been to a handful of horse arenas here in the western USA...a 300mm prime indoors on a crop-frame camera is very constricting. Only one focal length for eight thousand dollars. Great choice for a beginner. Not. Even though a Nikkor 300/2.8 is a nice lens with fabulous optics, it's not the be-all,end-all. I own one. It's too long for a lot of situations. The 200/2 VR-G is actually a better bet if a person is on a limited budget; used ones are $3,500 or so here in the US, and it's faster by a full stop, AND it makes a pretty passable lens with the 1.4x added for a 280mm f/2.8...it's an ultra-speed 200mm f/2 AND a very useful 280mm f/2.8...again, indoors, absolute length is often a drawback, not a positive. Still, if you're stuck at f/2.8, the focal length flexibility of the 70-200/2.8 is very very hard to deny.

Moving from a 55-200 means the person is obviously a crop-frame shooter. It makes sense to take each individual person's equipment into consideration before recommending equipment to them.
 
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I've a 120-300mm f2.8 and a 70-200mm f2.8 and when I've done indoor arena showjumping and dressage I nearly always end up using the 70-200mm.

Regardless of focal length for indoor you need f2.8 and I've been in a good few situations where I've been at f2.8, ISO 12800 and still underexpose at shutter speeds of 1/500sec and 1/620sec (at 1/500 I already see motion blur in the hooves and any slower it gets worse and worse - 620 detail is still sharply captured and its what I aim for as a min for action).

Focal length wise the 70-200mm is a very popular catch-all for this kind of photography. Being light enough for most people to hand-hold for long periods and being able to vary its length within a range of very useable focal lengths for equine photography.
Going longer is always an option - the Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 is a heavy beast (monopods help a lot or tripods if you're really fixed in location) but gives a bit more range. A straight 300mm f2.8 prime I'd use but only in larger arenas and likely I'd want to be using a two camera system so that I'd have the 70-200 on one and the 300mm on another.
Heck if you're going for close-ups or at a very big centre you could go longer still with a 400mm f2.8 - but again I'd always want something shorter on another camera ready to grab and use.


So a big part is having fast glass with that wide aperture for light gathering; another is having an understanding of the places you go to and the kind of shot you want which will help dictate what kind of focal lengths you want to work with.
 
If you're comfortable with the 200mm range, then I too would suggest a 70-200mm f/2.8. Back when I was still a Canon shooter, I used a Tamron and while the focus wasn't nearly as fast as a comparable L lens, it was actually sharper than the Canon's costing twice the price. I used it for a good deal of stage photography...local bands and such...and I had no complaints about it at all.

And btw...yea...don't use flash with horses (or other critters for that matter). It's been my experience that most horses don't mind the flash, but every now and then you may find one that's REALLY startled by it. Rules/regulations or not, I always try to avoid using flash with critters...it's just NOT worth it for the sake of a silly picture.

Just my $.02 worth.
 
Let me add my 2 cents...when I shoot sports or outdoor wildlife (other than birds), I am usually shooting with a Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 with the ISO up higher in order to get fast shutter speeds.

I understand why the professional equine photographer uses a 300mm prime...you're trying to capture detail, and rider/equine expressions. But Derrel's right--300mm is going to be too limiting for a focal length (unless you're carrying two bodies).
 
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chuasam said:
My GF is a professional equestrian photographer so I can answer this: Nikkor300mm f/2.8VR2

Does your girlfriend also shoot a small, crop-frame Nikon? 300mm is awfully restrictive on a 1.53x camera unless the distances are fairly long. I've been to a handful of horse arenas here in the western USA...a 300mm prime indoors on a crop-frame camera is very constricting. Only one focal length for eight thousand dollars. Great choice for a beginner. Not. Even though a Nikkor 300/2.8 is a nice lens with fabulous optics, it's not the be-all,end-all. I own one. It's too long for a lot of situations. The 200/2 VR-G is actually a better bet if a person is on a limited budget; used ones are $3,500 or so here in the US, and it's faster by a full stop, AND it makes a pretty passable lens with the 1.4x added for a 280mm f/2.8...it's an ultra-speed 200mm f/2 AND a very useful 280mm f/2.8...again, indoors, absolute length is often a drawback, not a positive. Still, if you're stuck at f/2.8, the focal length flexibility of the 70-200/2.8 is very very hard to deny.

Moving from a 55-200 means the person is obviously a crop-frame shooter. It makes sense to take each individual person's equipment into consideration before recommending equipment to them.
She has a D810; also borrows my D810 if we don't have clashing schedules and puts either the 70-200/2.8 or the 24-70/2.8 on it.
 
If you shoot DX, consider:
  • Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G
  • Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 VC
If you shoot FX, consider:
  • Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 VC
  • Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8
  • Nikkor 300mm f/2.8G
 
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I've a Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 and a 70-200mm f2.8 - of the two I would take the latter over the former if you can only get one unless you're shooting fairly long distance most of the time.

120-300mm is a lot heavier and bulkier which tends to mean if I'm shooting indoors or up to the ropes the 70-200m is more than I need most of the time (shooting on crop sensor - fullframe might find the extra 100mm a deal breaker and more important).
 
Good day!

Sorry if I have posted in the wrong area, I am still learning the forum and this is my first post. ^_^

I specialize in Equine photography and currently use a 55-200mm AF-S Nikkor Lens for the majority of my work. It works very well for most of my shoots, however I am looking for a lens that will work well in low light areas. Yes, I can use strobes or flash units, however these are banned at most shows as they spook the horses.

18493_836665893075061_4403517677619836620_n.jpg

11988537_864949866915552_3092251147821164774_n.jpg

12009617_912575415484108_432996693369846383_n.jpg


Inside:
11885229_863632887047250_5293693306270632524_n.jpg

I would opt for the 80-200 2.8D, instead of the 70-200VR, as the VR does not enhance fast motion shots, it can not keep up, and all the parts are prone to problems. The 80-200 2.8D was brought back into production because it was in demand. Sometimes less is more, VR might work good on a tripod, but following a horse with that is difficult. I know some will argue, but I have two VR lenses and they are lackluster performers, I will never buy one again.
 

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