New camera suggestions for football games

mjda

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As the title says, I'm on the hunt for a new camera/lens combo for shooting football games. Some games are indoors, some are outside. Some good lighting, some terrible lighting. I'd like to keep the budget under $3,500. What would you all recommend?
 

Warfarin

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Are you a brand loyalist? Or does it not matter to you?
 
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mjda

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Are you a brand loyalist? Or does it not matter to you?
Doesn't really matter to me. Both of my older cameras are Canon, and my bag is Canon, but I also don't mind putting a Nikon camera in a Canon bag. :lol:
 

ac12

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Who are you shooting for?

IMHO, you will struggle to meet your budget.
Your primary issue and constraint is LOW light.

There is a high school where I will NOT shoot a night game. The field is too dark for my gear.
That is what I mean by LOW light will be your primary constraint.

Camera:
Find the camera with the best LOW light performance. You want the max ISO AT LEAST 25600.
The easy method is to see what the max ISO is. If you need ISO 25600 or 51200, and you only have 6400 or 12800, you are stuck.

The Nikon Z6ii would be my choice.
I am not a Canon or Sony guy, so no idea of their specs. You have to research them.
But . . . Canon has slammed the door on 3rd party lenses for their RF mirrorless cameras. Which means only expensive Canon RF lenses on the RF cameras. The Canon RF cameras will kill your budget on the lens.

dSLR alternative are used dSLRs with a high max ISO, of at least 25600.

Lens:
"In LOW light, FAST glass wins."
For LOW light, you REALLY NEED a f/2.8 lens. Even with a camera with a high max ISO.

Which lens depends on WHERE you are. IOW how FAR are you from the field.
On the sidelines, a 70-200/2.8. For your budget, I suggest either a Tamron, Sigma or used Niikon/Canon/Sony. Check KEH for prices.
Up on the bleachers, a 300/2.8 or 400/2.8. But, the 400/2.8 is EXPENSIVE. A used 400 is over $5,000. So forget the 400. You will just have to use the 70-200/2.8. Or try to find a used 300/2.8 or Sigma 120-300/2.8 at a price that meets your budget.

My recommendation would be a used (KEH) Nikon Z6ii + Nikon 70-200/2.8. That will just about fit under $3,500.
But that leaves you with little/no extra $ for a short lens, for shooting the sidelines.
 

Warfarin

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Doesn't really matter to me. Both of my older cameras are Canon, and my bag is Canon, but I also don't mind putting a Nikon camera in a Canon bag. :lol:
I had a Canon camera in a Nikon bag for 40 years. Finally went the back pack route. Anyway what is said about the 2.8 lens is correct. But I took LOTS of sports photos in gyms with ISO 1000 and 800 film and they worked out. I have also used lower ISO digital cameras with some success. For sure find the camera that has the highest ISO and noise you can live with. Millions of great photos were taken in stadiums all over with lower ISO but for sure they had FAST lenses to compensate. For Canon you can pick up the 70-200 2.8 for around $700. You may also want to consider a camera with a fast FPS to capture all the action. Also you want a camera with a fast write speed. Nothing is worse then watching the action waiting for the buffer to clear so you can start shooting agIan.
 

Space Face

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But . . . Canon has slammed the door on 3rd party lenses for their RF mirrorless cameras. Which means only expensive Canon RF lenses on the RF cameras. The Canon RF cameras will kill your budget.
Not true. There's an adapter which allows you to use EF lenses on the RF mount and they work absolutely flawlessly.
 
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mjda

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Who are you shooting for?

IMHO, you will struggle to meet your budget.
Your primary issue and constraint is LOW light.

There is a high school where I will NOT shoot a night game. The field is too dark for my gear.
That is what I mean by LOW light will be your primary constraint.

Camera:
Find the camera with the best LOW light performance. You want the max ISO AT LEAST 25600.
The easy method is to see what the max ISO is. If you need ISO 25600 or 51200, and you only have 6400 or 12800, you are stuck.

The Nikon Z6ii would be my choice.
I am not a Canon or Sony guy, so no idea of their specs. You have to research them.
But . . . Canon has slammed the door on 3rd party lenses for their RF mirrorless cameras. Which means only expensive Canon RF lenses on the RF cameras. The Canon RF cameras will kill your budget on the lens.

dSLR alternative are used dSLRs with a high max ISO, of at least 25600.

Lens:
"In LOW light, FAST glass wins."
For LOW light, you REALLY NEED a f/2.8 lens. Even with a camera with a high max ISO.

Which lens depends on WHERE you are. IOW how FAR are you from the field.
On the sidelines, a 70-200/2.8. For your budget, I suggest either a Tamron, Sigma or used Niikon/Canon/Sony. Check KEH for prices.
Up on the bleachers, a 300/2.8 or 400/2.8. But, the 400/2.8 is EXPENSIVE. A used 400 is over $5,000. So forget the 400. You will just have to use the 70-200/2.8. Or try to find a used 300/2.8 or Sigma 120-300/2.8 at a price that meets your budget.

My recommendation would be a used (KEH) Nikon Z6ii + Nikon 70-200/2.8. That will just about fit under $3,500.
But that leaves you with little/no extra $ for a short lens, for shooting the sidelines.
I'm just shooting for myself. There are Texas high school football games at AT&T Stadium next week and I'll be on the field to shoot those games. This will be my first time photographing a live sporting event so I'll be learning on the fly. I'm guessing there will be plenty of light in that stadium (at least it was pretty bright last year) but I was hoping to get something I could use at local games next season too and a lot of those high school stadiums have very low light. I will usually get sideline access to most games I go to, if I request it, including next week.

Thank you for your recommendation! I was looking at the Canon EOS R with the 70-200 f/2.8 + EF-EOS R adapter, which seems pretty close (spec wise) to what you're recommending. It looks like the Nikon combo might just be a little cheaper, and I wouldn't need an adapter, so that vey well may be what I go with. I may also just lease a 300mm lens to go along with whatever it is I get, just to make sure I have better coverage.

Thank you for the reply!

I had a Canon camera in a Nikon bag for 40 years. Finally went the back pack route. Anyway what is said about the 2.8 lens is correct. But I took LOTS of sports photos in gyms with ISO 1000 and 800 film and they worked out. I have also used lower ISO digital cameras with some success. For sure find the camera that has the highest ISO and noise you can live with. Millions of great photos were taken in stadiums all over with lower ISO but for sure they had FAST lenses to compensate. For Canon you can pick up the 70-200 2.8 for around $700. You may also want to consider a camera with a fast FPS to capture all the action. Also you want a camera with a fast write speed. Nothing is worse then watching the action waiting for the buffer to clear so you can start shooting agIan.
Where are you seeing that lens for $700? The cheapest one I could find was a used one for $1,100. If I can pick one up for $700 I might just have to do that, then get a camera/adapter to go along with it. Thank you for the reply!
 

ac12

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Pro and Division 1 college stadiums are built and lit for TV, so you have good lighting.
High school stadiums on the other hand are built with limited public funding, so lighting can be minimal. IOW, enough to get by (for the eye), but not much more (for the camera).

Tip: Keep a notebook with lighting/exposure info of all the stadiums you shoot in.
The more stadiums you shoot in, the less I would rely on memory, to keep it all straight.
 

Warfarin

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I have found them for that price on eBay but of course it is buyer beware.
 

ac12

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I'm just shooting for myself. There are Texas high school football games at AT&T Stadium next week and I'll be on the field to shoot those games. This will be my first time photographing a live sporting event so I'll be learning on the fly. I'm guessing there will be plenty of light in that stadium (at least it was pretty bright last year) but I was hoping to get something I could use at local games next season too and a lot of those high school stadiums have very low light. I will usually get sideline access to most games I go to, if I request it, including next week.

Thank you for your recommendation! I was looking at the Canon EOS R with the 70-200 f/2.8 + EF-EOS R adapter, which seems pretty close (spec wise) to what you're recommending. It looks like the Nikon combo might just be a little cheaper, and I wouldn't need an adapter, so that vey well may be what I go with. I may also just lease a 300mm lens to go along with whatever it is I get, just to make sure I have better coverage.

Thank you for the reply!

Sorry, the Nikon kit WILL need the FTZ adapter, to put the F mount 70-200/2.8 onto the Z6ii.
 

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