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Archive 2012 · 50mm for low light action?
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · 50mm for low light action?

Hi all,

Among my assignments is the requirement to shoot high school sports for the local paper. The lighting in the circa 1965 gym is abysmal (including one pod at center court that has been out for 3 years). I've just finished the VB season and am gearing up for BB. I shoot indoors primarily with the 85mm f/1.8 and the 135mm f/2.0L. (My f/2.8L "holy trinity" is too slow for this work.) I keep trying to shoot with a 50mm f/1.4 for wider views but my success rate (defined here as simply in focus) with the 50mm is <10%. With the other 2 lenses success rate is ~70%. Aperture (shooting in Tv mode) generally varies between f/1.8 and f/2.4. ISO is between 3200 and 6400. (Shooting with a 1DIV.) Since it's the same camera, venue, and operator, I've become extremely suspicious of the my 50mm and have stopped using it.

So the question? Has anyone had success with the 50mm f/1.4 in fast action? Does my almost new 50mm need repair/adjustment? Is there a 50mm (or other fast normal to wide lens) that focuses quick enough to shoot sports? I particularly need to be able to hang out under the basket trying for shots of players on layups or dunks. 85mm is too narrow. (I'm lucky in that I have absolute access to anywhere in the gym other than on the playing surface.) Please don't suggest a 50mm f/1.2. I don't think it's quick enough and even if it is there is no capital for such a purchase.

Really could use input for folks on this.



Oct 25, 2012 at 04:41 PM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · 50mm for low light action?

OntheRez wrote:
... my success rate (defined here as simply in focus)

That's a fine criterion.

Hi Robert,

Man, that gym must be dark! According to my matriculations, f/2.8 at ISO 6400 gives you a 1/500 shutter speed for 6 EV, which is equivalent to a "brightly lit" home interior. EV 5 would give 1/250, which is a little slow. Oh wait! My* EV table 'equivalent' for 5 EV is "school auditorium"*; you're in the weeds on this one.

I have both the 50/1.4 and 50/1.2L, but I haven't used them for sports, or other fast action situations. I have used the 85L II (which everybody says stinks for this stuff), and it's great for tracking - as long as it's in focus when you start.

Have you tried using flash for 'under the basket' shooting?

Cheers, Jim

* based on http://www.fredparker.com/ultexp1.htm

Oct 25, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Kenneth Farver
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · 50mm for low light action?

have you tried 12,800 ISO on your mark 4 yet? That should give you enough shutter speed and F stop to give you some room for focusing errors. I just shot volleyball at F3.2 at around 1/500 at 6400 ISO this week.
The 1.4 will definitely focus faster than the 1.2 but I would think you could almost zone focus while you are under the basket. I will get my chance soon doing the same.

Oct 25, 2012 at 09:37 PM

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