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Archive 2012 · Advice on investing my next $1000
  
 
LA_Sportsman
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p.2 #1 · p.2 #1 · Advice on investing my next $1000


I second the recomendation for Bryan Peterson's book on Understanding Exposure.

Also, you mentioned the 85/1.8 but the 50/1.8 is a great indoor lens that won't break the bank. No, it's not going to give you reach. You might be able to find a 105/2.8 non VR version for around $300 as well. That would give you macro options as well if you want to branch out.

Part of my logic is if you can get by with less than $300 now, you might be able to get the 70-200 VR1 down the road. I have the nonVR 105/2.8 and love it. Sure VR would be nice but at the focal length, you can live without it to save money.

I do have a bias for sticking to Nikon glass.



Dec 06, 2012 at 06:46 PM
each
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p.2 #2 · p.2 #2 · Advice on investing my next $1000


LA_Sportsman wrote:
I second the recomendation for Bryan Peterson's book on Understanding Exposure.


I'm about a 1/3 of the way through it now!



Dec 06, 2012 at 07:04 PM
grenadier2002
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p.2 #3 · p.2 #3 · Advice on investing my next $1000


Check out http://www.keh.com/ for awesome used gear. If you go with the flash make sure you can use it at the events you intend to use them at. Nothing like buying an awesome flash and having a coach or official come over and asking you not to use the brand new flash.


Dec 06, 2012 at 08:35 PM
DontShoot
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p.2 #4 · p.2 #4 · Advice on investing my next $1000


I would get a monopod, a plate, and either an 80-200 AF-D or 80-200 AF-S
then practice, practice, and more practice



Dec 06, 2012 at 09:02 PM
each
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p.2 #5 · p.2 #5 · Advice on investing my next $1000


DontShoot wrote:
I would get a monopod


I would think that since my shutter speeds will need to be fast to freeze action that I can get by hand holding. Is that not the case?



Dec 06, 2012 at 09:26 PM
hijazist
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p.2 #6 · p.2 #6 · Advice on investing my next $1000


each wrote:
I would think that since my shutter speeds will need to be fast to freeze action that I can get by hand holding. Is that not the case?


Using a monopod will reduce shake (blurriness) regardless of shutter speed. Looking at it the other way, you can use lower shutter speeds with a mono for same results when handheld



Dec 06, 2012 at 09:37 PM
LA_Sportsman
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p.2 #7 · p.2 #7 · Advice on investing my next $1000


each, I agree with you that your shutter speeds need to be fast enough that hand holding will work. You would still benefit from a monopod but seems your issue is subject movement.

Perhaps post a photo in question to help folks here evaluate. If say a balance beam is crisp but your daughter is blurry, it's shutter speed, not hand shake.



Dec 06, 2012 at 10:59 PM
theater_dad
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p.2 #8 · p.2 #8 · Advice on investing my next $1000


each wrote:
Thanks again for all the feedback. Lot's of great responses. It's astonishing how much it costs to do it right. Ignorance sure was blissful!

Regarding all the recommendations for a Nikon 70-200mm VR1, that was my initial plan (I had a WTB posting on the Buy Sell forum) but the price is a little out of range. I really don't want to go beyond $1000. Since I'm on DX, the Sigma 50-150mm will result in a 75-225mm equivalent. I'm afraid the 70-200mm would be too long on the short end once the crop factor is added. I know the IQ and
...Show more

I started in your shoes...so here is just another amateur dad's perspective/experience (who has struggled with similar circumstances)....buyer beware.

3+years ago I bought my very first DSLR camera (refurbed D60...still have it) and both of the lenses you have. I used the 18-105 to shoot one of my daughter's after school theater shows in a room that doubles as the school cafeteria. Similar to your gymnastics event, it turned out to be a very unsatisfying experience. I sat probably 30-40 feet from the stage and the 18-105mm just didn't cut it from a reach or aperture perspective. Little did I know that $500 worth of gear didn't get you very far if you are trying to shoot non-stationary targets in poorly lit rooms.

6mos later, said daughter is cast in a show which was performed in a real auditorium....a real dark auditorium with real theater lighting. Being the "frugal" type (my wife says "cheap") ...I borrowed a 70-200 from a photographer friend (it was either a Sigma or Tamron....can't remember, but it did have AFS, just no stabilization)...and I gleefully shot the show at f/2.8 the whole night. Nearly all of them at 1600 ISO (D60 doesn't go any higher), and I think the fastest SS I got was around 1/125 and that was only with all of the stage lights lit up...most of them were around 1/80. Lots of blurry finger tips, and lots of 1600 ISO noise (thank goodness for PP noise reduction). But I managed to get enough shots that I still felt like it light years ahead of my experience in the school cafeteria. key learnings: good technique is a must and fast glass is your friend (so is spot metering, but that's a theater thing, not a gymnastics thing).

Well, I didn't want to be the constantly borrowing from said friend...so after I convinced myself that my daughter wasn't going to quit theater, I made the decision to get my own glass. I went on a mission to get a bargain 70-200....but I'll be honest ...frugality really got in the way because I wanted the Nikon 70-200 (the one I borrowed had trouble hunting for focus in the low light several times) and I also wanted the VR since monopods aren't allowed in this particular auditorium. But after nearly 12 months I quit bargain hunting and finally bit the bullet ...paid market rate for a VR1. A big financial commitment (at least for me)...but I justified it to myself by crossing my fingers and whispering to myself three times...."glass holds resale a lot better than cameras" just in case said daughter had outfoxed me and did decide to quit...which said daughter has been known to do.....

But you already have a camera that's much better than mine...so you can probably shot at least 2 stops faster than I do with same/better IQ. I will also say that if you can get close and they will let you use a flash....then I really like the suggestion to add more light via flash. More light equals better pictures. It's an option that also appeals to the "frugal" side of me. Unfortunately, shooting with flash is really not an option for theater (unless you can shoot the dress rehearsal....and even then it's not exactly encouraged) So if theater is in your future, consider those caveats as well. If flash isn't a viable option right now...then you're likely looking at the choice between a new zoom or a new prime (or both!).

I'm guessing that you may need much faster shutter speeds for gymnastics than I can get away with for theater (well, maybe not now if she's only 6....but at some point, gymnasts move much faster than thespians). So primes may make a lot of sense here....particularly if you are able to walk around the gym (but watch out for really skinny DOFs at those short subject distances). But if you can't move around or don't like framing with your feet, then maybe consider the zoom.

As far as the 70-200 being "too long on the short end". I can tell you that I try to sit in the same seat as much as possible at the theater and it's about 50ft the the front of the stage. I tend to shoot at 200mm almost exclusively (and this is on DX) ... but I'm going for shots from the waist/shoulders up. I can easily get the entire body in the frame if I back off to 70mm. You may want to get the entire body and maybe even the gym equipment, so the 50-150 may make sense....but try it on your 18-105 and see what you think. I guess what I'm trying to say is be careful "going too short on the long end".

You are also smart to consider what you'll want/need to shoot a couple of years down the road when she's 8 or 10.

Good luck with your choices.....whatever you do, she's going to make it worth it.



Dec 06, 2012 at 11:16 PM
each
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p.2 #9 · p.2 #9 · Advice on investing my next $1000


LA_Sportsman> Everything other than the moving subject is fairly sharp. Not to say I couldn't improve my technique but the main problem I'm trying to solve is subject motion blur.

theater_dad> Our situation sounds very similar. That's now 4 people saying go for the Nikon glass. Ugh! I had just made up my mind! Here come a couple more sleepless nights.



Dec 06, 2012 at 11:59 PM
ckcarr
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p.2 #10 · p.2 #10 · Advice on investing my next $1000


Quality photography can be a hugely expensive hobby. I think conseratively, you can easily drop $15,000 on good glass by the time you're truly happy.. So, I'd just pony up the few hundred dollar difference and go with the Nikon glass.

Sorry...
Especially in the Nikon world.



Dec 07, 2012 at 12:38 AM
 

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James R
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p.2 #11 · p.2 #11 · Advice on investing my next $1000


ckcarr wrote:
Quality photography can be a hugely expensive hobby. I think conseratively, you can easily drop $15,000 on good glass by the time you're truly happy.. So, I'd just pony up the few hundred dollar difference and go with the Nikon glass.

Sorry...
Especially in the Nikon world.


Just as bad in the world of Canon.


Edited on Dec 07, 2012 at 03:06 AM · View previous versions



Dec 07, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Bobat
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p.2 #12 · p.2 #12 · Advice on investing my next $1000


DontShoot wrote:
I would get a monopod, a plate, and either an 80-200 AF-D or 80-200 AF-S
then practice, practice, and more practice


I'd second the recommendation of an 80-200 2.8. Easily under your $1000 budget used, and you won't miss the VR if you're shooting moving subjects. Much better IQ than the Sigma, IMO, and if you ever move to full frame it can come with you.



Dec 07, 2012 at 02:39 AM
each
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p.2 #13 · p.2 #13 · Advice on investing my next $1000


Well I managed to find a good deal on a Nikon 70-200mm VR. I exceeded my budget but I think it was the best move. Thanks again for all the advice.


Dec 07, 2012 at 03:36 AM
LA_Sportsman
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p.2 #14 · p.2 #14 · Advice on investing my next $1000


Congrats! After reading Peterson's book you may find many other enjoyable uses for it.

One more tip, if I just can't get shutter speed fast enough, I'll underexposed to freeze the action and adjust in Lightroom. Not ideal but you can squeeze another stop or two out this way. Are you shooting RAW? Whole other topic but makes it much easier to adjust exposure after the fact.



Dec 07, 2012 at 04:48 AM
each
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p.2 #15 · p.2 #15 · Advice on investing my next $1000


LA_Sportsman wrote:
One more tip, if I just can't get shutter speed fast enough, I'll underexposed to freeze the action and adjust in Lightroom. Not ideal but you can squeeze another stop or two out this way. Are you shooting RAW? Whole other topic but makes it much easier to adjust exposure after the fact.


I do shoot RAW and use Lightroom. I'll have to give that a try. Thanks



Dec 07, 2012 at 01:07 PM
ucphotog
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p.2 #16 · p.2 #16 · Advice on investing my next $1000


I saw some comments above about reachable speeds, but no comments about whether those were good enough. I have only a bit of experience, and the context is a bit different, but perhaps it will help.

I have a springer spaniel. Think boundless energy in a black and white container. Anyhow, at the dog park one day, I shot a series of shots around 1/500th of a second and most of them were good, but not all. I have experimented a bit more and it seems that to capture my dog at full tilt and with his tongue flopping about as he runs, I need to get to 1/650th or 1/1000th.

So, the point of that paragraph is that I suspect 1/320th is going to be just a hair slow. You should get a lot of keepers, but there will still be some motion blur. I would think that if you could get to 1/500th of a second, you would get a very high keeper rate. At least based solely on subject motion. Accurately focusing in a darkish room sounds like another issue.

Perhaps others will chime in and validate or repudiate my shutter speed comments, but I think that somewhere near 1/500th of a second is a good target. It sounds like it might be just beyond your budget, so maybe buy toward 1/320th of a second, keeping in mind as you buy what things you might want to update at some future point to squeeze out another stop (e.g. ~1/640th of a second) the most cheaply.

For instance, going from f/2.8 lens to f/2 lens on a longish lens varies from fairly expensive (135 f/2) to super expensive (200 f/2 to impossible (are there any f/2 long zoom lenses?). However, buying another camera in a year or two that goes to ISO6400 (or even ISO12800) rather than ISO3200 might be relatively cheaper than buying faster glass. So, if you already have a decent f/2.8 lens, you might be set by "simply" buying a different camera down the road.

On the other hand, buying a more expensive camera now and buying faster glass in two years is probably backwards as glass is relatively constant in price while camera capabilities per dollar are growing rapidly.



Dec 08, 2012 at 05:34 AM
LA_Sportsman
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p.2 #17 · p.2 #17 · Advice on investing my next $1000


I think your logic and process is complete but he needs to conduct the same tests to find what speed he needs for his daughter. Very valid to be scientific in systematically changing shutter speeds and evaluating results to find what is acceptable. Perhaps a practice to not miss the great shot?

I shoot my daughter's softball, my boxer in the yard, and F/A 18's. All require different minimum shutter speeds and in fact each has different min's depending on action of the subject, and the angle from which I'm shooting. My advantage over OP, is all of the above are outside so achieving desirable speeds isn't difficult.



Dec 08, 2012 at 01:22 PM
binary visions
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p.2 #18 · p.2 #18 · Advice on investing my next $1000


I agree that he just needs to evaluate the shutter speeds at an actual event. Some events you can get away with 1/200th, some you need 1/2000th.

It's also going to depend on the actual shots being taken. I mean, a quick search of Flickr returned these (and Flickr is a great tool for identifying typical settings for scenarios):

1/400th, ISO3200, f/2.8 - and still getting some motion blur:
http://secure.flickr.com/photos/13351865@N06/5214832417/
http://secure.flickr.com/photos/13351865@N06/5215423934/

Of course, both of those gymnasts are in the air - the fastest movement of a routine.

Whereas this was at 1/60th, and just the fingertips are fuzzy:
http://secure.flickr.com/photos/shelma/3337861170/

So... just depends on the actual shots you're trying to get.



Dec 08, 2012 at 01:39 PM
each
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p.2 #19 · p.2 #19 · Advice on investing my next $1000


At this point, since I ordered the 70-200mm VR, I'll be shooting f/2.8 with whatever light is available so if I'm still getting motion blur it sounds like I'll have to choose:

- Accept a little motion blur
- Bump the ISO to 6400 and accept the noise
- Choose shots at the hight of a jump or a slight pause in the action
- Build an outdoor gymastics gym and host the events there midday



Dec 08, 2012 at 03:10 PM
LA_Sportsman
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p.2 #20 · p.2 #20 · Advice on investing my next $1000


you will not regret buying that lens regardless if it's fast enough for all gymnastics. You can also get great portraits/candids of your daughter with it. When my kids were younger, I liked getting about 50 feet away so they forgot I was there. Great candid's of them playing. Sadly it wasn't with the 70-200 but great memories and expressions none the less.


Dec 08, 2012 at 03:18 PM
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