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Question about subject isolation.
  
 
goosemang
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Question about subject isolation.


Ok, so I've always been a wide shooter.... my longest lens is a 50mm. But my kids are playing sports now and the 50 isn't cutting it.

So here's my question: I know a 70-200 is probably long enough for my needs, which are kids baseball and soccer where I'm usually fairly close to the action. My question has to do with maximizing subject isolation. Am I going to see much of a difference with a 70-200 f2.8 vs f4? Would I be better taking a step back and shooting at a longer focal length for more isolation, even if it means a slower aperture?

Thanks



Edited on May 18, 2017 at 01:40 AM · View previous versions



May 18, 2017 at 12:52 AM
morris
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Question about subject isolation.


It will depend of subject distance and focal length. At 70mm f4 don't cut it and can be OK at 200mm if your subject is close. f2.8 is a huge advantage though it does way more.

Morris



May 18, 2017 at 12:58 AM
goosemang
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Question about subject isolation.


I wasn't sure if you got more isolation from the aperture or extra focal length. Like 200 2.8 vs 300 4 or 5.6


May 18, 2017 at 01:10 AM
Vcook
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Question about subject isolation.


70-200 is too short for field sports on full frame, I hope you're shooting a crop. As soon as the sun starts to set you're going to want that f2.8 if only for the light gathering.


May 18, 2017 at 01:22 AM
goosemang
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Question about subject isolation.


I'm shooting full frame. But my kids are still little.... all the games are during the day time and at most I'm like 100' away.

Would I be better with one of the zooms that covers more range, like a 70-300 or 80-400? Those are slower than the 70-200's though.




May 18, 2017 at 01:33 AM
goosemang
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Question about subject isolation.


Oh, I'm shooting Nikon, for what it's worth.


May 18, 2017 at 01:37 AM
Spectro
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Question about subject isolation.


If your interest is just them in the frame then 2.8 is better. If you want more of an environmental photo with multiple players in the frame then you might find yourself in the f4 - 5.6 range anyway to have multiple players in focus.


May 18, 2017 at 02:00 AM
Spectro
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Question about subject isolation.


If your interest is just them in the frame then 2.8 is better. If you want more of an environmental photo with multiple players in the frame then you might find yourself in the f4 - 5.6 range anyway to have multiple players in focus.


May 18, 2017 at 02:01 AM
Lauchlan Toal
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Question about subject isolation.


Background blur depends on the distance your subject is from the background, the aperture, and the focal length (and the actual diameter of the aperture).

Let's take the 50mm f1.8, 200mm f2.8, and 300mm f4. If your subject's less than one meter from the background the 50mm will blur the background the most, followed closely by the 200mm f2.8, with the 300mm f4 blurring it the least.

At 1m, the 200mm f2.8 pulls ahead of the 50mm, and still leads the 300mm. When the subject's 2.5 meters from the background, the 300mm f4 starts to blur the background more than the 50mm f1.8.

Past 30 meters, the 50mm lens is no longer increasing the amount of background blur in a noticeable manner - if you're subject's 30m from the background or 200m it'll look roughly equally blurred.

At 50 meters, the 300mm f4 pulls ahead of the 200mm f2.8.

At around 250 meters the 200mm f2.8 has hit max blur, and at around 400 meters the 300mm does the same.

So basically, longer lenses require more space between the subject and the background to blur the background more, but if you do have that space they can blur the background quite a lot.

The maximum background blur is correlated with the physical aperture size of the lens. A 50mm f1.8 lens has a physical aperture of 27.8mm (50/1.8), a 200mm f2.8 has a 71.4mm aperture, and the 300mm f4 has a 75mm aperture.

So based on that, you can tell that both the 200mm and the 300mm will have far more background blur than the 50mm f1.8, but the 300mm f4 only has a little more blur than the 200mm f2.8.

The faster the lens, the less distance you need from the background to achieve more blur though, hence why the 50mm f1.8 is able to blur the backdrop more than the others if the subject's within a meter of the backdrop.

However, if you had an 85mm f1.8 lens, it would beat the 50mm f1.8 at every distance, since it has the same aperture and also a larger physical aperture. Likewise, a 300mm f2.8 beats the 200mm f2.8 at every distance. A shorter lens can only have more blur than a longer lens at some subject to background distances if it has a faster f-stop.

However, there's the additional factor of background compression. This doesn't actually influence the blur, but a longer lens will show less of the background so you're less likely to get distracting elements in it, and any elements will be larger in the frame and thus appear more blurred than they would with a shorter lens. Hence, even if the shorter, faster lens might theoretically blur the background more, a longer lens could give a result that appears smoother simply because there's less going on.

To come back around to the options you're considering, a 70-200 f2.8 will give noticeably better subject isolation than the 70-200 f4, but the 70-200 f4 will still give better isolation than a 50mm f1.8 or even 50mm f1.4 past a certain subject to background distance.

The 400mm f5.6 will not give as much blur as the 200mm f2.8 at any distance, except for when the subject is infinitely far from the background when they're then equal. However, at 7 meters or more of subject to background distance the 400mm f5.6 will yield significantly more blur than the 200mm f4.

The 300mm f5.6 is very close to the 200mm f4 - a bit less blur from 0-30m, and a bit more from 30-infinity. But not a big difference between the two.

Now, that was just fun stuff to write about. What would I actually recommend depends on your budget, but from what you're talking about it sounds like $1000-$2000 isn't too unreasonable.

If you want a 70-200 f2.8, the new Tamron 70-200 f2.8 G2 looks amazing. I haven't yet tried it myself, but all the reviews heap praise on it. At something like $1300, it's the best deal on an f2.8 70-200 out there. If you want some more reach too, the new 1.4x Tamron teleconverter seems to work well with it. (Note that the earlier Tamron 70-200 f2.8 VC lens did not work with teleconverters on Nikon cameras, and also wasn't as good as the new G2 version, so I wouldn't consider that earlier version unless budget's a serious concern and you find a good used lens.)

For a 70-200 f4, the Nikon VR is the way to go. Great lens, roughly on par with the Tamron 70-200 G2 in every way except for aperture, and I think it's a bit lighter. But if you want to maximize subject isolation, or ever need to shoot in darker conditions, that f4 might be annoying.

For a 70-300 or 80-400 lens, there are the Nikon versions, and they're okay. The 80-400 has fantastic AF, but neither of those lenses have really excellent image quality. The Tamron 70-300 VC is a bit better than the Nikon, but I might also look at the new Sigma 100-400. Reviews are trickling in, but it looks like it might be better than any of the 70-300 lenses, and rival or beat the 80-400 in many ways for less than half the price. Not bad. But it is an f6.3 at 400mm, so while not a huge difference it is a difference.

So in order of budget, my recommendations are Tamron 70-300 VC, Sigma 100-400, Tamron 70-200 f2.8 G2, Nikon 70-200 f4, Tamron 70-200 G2 with TC (could also go with a 2x TC if you want more reach at the expense of two stops of light), Nikon 80-400.

Personally, I'd go with the Tamron 70-200 f2.8 G2, and add a TC later if you want. From all reports it's an amazing lens, and once I fill up some of the other gaps in my lens line it's going to be on my buying list for shooting sports and portraits.



May 18, 2017 at 02:17 AM
goosemang
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Question about subject isolation.


That's a great post and that info on how blur/bokeh changes due to various factors is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you.


May 18, 2017 at 02:27 AM
 

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goosemang
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Question about subject isolation.


I'm thinking 70-200 2.8. Would you think the Tamron is a better bet than a used Nikon 70-200 vr ii?

Not willing to spend for the new Nikon 70/200



May 18, 2017 at 02:33 AM
Lauchlan Toal
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Question about subject isolation.


goosemang wrote:
I'm thinking 70-200 2.8. Would you think the Tamron is a better bet than a used Nikon 70-200 vr ii?

Not willing to spend for the new Nikon 70/200


Hmm, that's a tricky question. I think the Tamron has slightly better image quality, but overall they're pretty similar in most respects. The biggest difference might be ergonomics - the Nikon has the focus ring up front, whereas the Tamron has the zoom ring up front. I think you'd get used to either, but you might find one's more natural.

Another factor could be the warranty - Tamron has a 6 year warranty, whereas the Nikon has a 1 year warranty, extendable another 4 years on registration - and with a used lens that's going to be less if it's even transferable.

Ultimately, hard to go wrong with either. From the comparisons I've seen I'd go with the Tamron, but ergonomics can make or break a lens and if you don't enjoy shooting with a certain zoom ring configuration than it doesn't matter how good the lens is, so if you have a strong ergonomics preference go with that.



May 18, 2017 at 02:54 AM
Kevin T
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Question about subject isolation.


I shot my sons soccer for 4-5 years and I found the Sigma 50-500 aka "Bigma" to be the best tool for the money. You can sit at the mid field line and cover the whole place and if the action is right in front of you it's yours. If you are talking about bokeh, you will be able to get some of that just because of the distances but for my money it's the kids faces and expressions of challenge and pursuit of sport that is most important and for this you are going to need REACH.


May 18, 2017 at 03:21 AM
CGrindahl
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Question about subject isolation.


You would be wise to take a look at a depth of field calculator. Check the link below. The calculator will take into account whatever variables you find important... like aperture, distance FROM subject, and focal length. All will have a bearing on what you get from your efforts. The field of view sometimes referred to as the focal plane, is the area in which what you're focusing on will be IN focus. Everything in front of and behind that focal plane will be blurred to a greater or lesser extent depending on distance from the focal plane.

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

With regard to choice of lens you likely should read a few reviews. If you're shooting sports you will want a lens that gains focus quickly AND accurately. Since I don't shoot with AF lenses I have no opinion on which is best. You'll do well to answer those questions for yourself. That said, I've no doubt the Nikon lens you're considering would be up to the task. I shot with the 70-200 f/2.8L while shooting with Canon and it was a stellar lens. Nikon will do as well I expect.



May 18, 2017 at 04:12 AM
Photozack81
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Question about subject isolation.


Lauchlan Toal wrote:
Background blur depends on the distance your subject is from the background, the aperture, and the focal length (and the actual diameter of the aperture).

Let's take the 50mm f1.8, 200mm f2.8, and 300mm f4. If your subject's less than one meter from the background the 50mm will blur the background the most, followed closely by the 200mm f2.8, with the 300mm f4 blurring it the least.

At 1m, the 200mm f2.8 pulls ahead of the 50mm, and still leads the 300mm. When the subject's 2.5 meters from the background, the 300mm f4 starts to blur the background more than
...Show more


Good info. I was planning to explain the camera to subject, subject to background distance relationship as well as focal length and aperture. You nailed it!



May 18, 2017 at 04:19 AM
wsalopek
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Question about subject isolation.


I own a Tamron 70-200/2.8 and like it a lot...very happy with the focus speed and image quality.

--

Bill




May 18, 2017 at 05:16 AM
ohsnaphappy
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Question about subject isolation.


Used 70-200 VRII's are around these days and it's a remarkably good lens. They're extremely well made and I'd feel safe buying one used. Ours is so beat up and still works perfectly and incredibly sharp. That lens almost never misses.


May 18, 2017 at 06:25 AM
Keiththom
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Question about subject isolation.


Lauchlan Toal wrote:
Background blur depends on the distance your subject is from the background, the aperture, and the focal length (and the actual diameter of the aperture).

Let's take the 50mm f1.8, 200mm f2.8, and 300mm f4. If your subject's less than one meter from the background the 50mm will blur the background the most, followed closely by the 200mm f2.8, with the 300mm f4 blurring it the least.

At 1m, the 200mm f2.8 pulls ahead of the 50mm, and still leads the 300mm. When the subject's 2.5 meters from the background, the 300mm f4 starts to blur the background more than
...Show more

The 80-400 is my lens of choice for this kind of shooting. (The new version) Great post above except I've never heard anyone say the 80-400 has IQ issues. If you can dig up the old 80-400 thread here, it is filled with great images. The 70-200 will be short on focal length on FF. However I switch to it when the light starts getting low.

If I had to get by with just one lens, It would probably be the 70-200 VR II. I'd look for a good used copy.




May 18, 2017 at 09:43 AM
Unclejoe1116
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Question about subject isolation.


goosemang wrote:
I'm thinking 70-200 2.8. Would you think the Tamron is a better bet than a used Nikon 70-200 vr ii?

Not willing to spend for the new Nikon 70/200


Just bought myself a 70-200 VRii from the B&S page here. $1390 after everything, I believe. Fantastic lens, definitely one of the most versatile lenses around. Honestly can't recommend it enough.

Plus, you'll have a great lens if you ever decide to start shooting portraits or weddings.



May 18, 2017 at 12:55 PM
schlotz
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Question about subject isolation.


Having shot soccer for 20 years I will say your best choice, while the kids are on a smaller field, is definitely the 70-200 2.8. This lens is a staple for almost every pro-sports photographer. Word of caution though, the field size is going to eventually change and if you want to continue shooting it's reach will limit you. To further complicate matters the games will not always be in bright sun, i.e. early evening etc and attempting to shoot @f/4 (2.8 lens with a 1.4tc) becomes very marginal. These conditions are the realm of big fast glass (300 or 400mm f/2.8) and are a major wallet drainer $$$

Curtis' point on DoF is spot on. You will quickly discover when shooting at f/2.8 with a close subject, that the DOF (what's in focus) becomes thinner. EX) 120mm @2.8 & subject 17' away the DOF is approx 12" but bumping to f/4 it becomes approx 17". Shooting at f/2.8 requires more skill at maintaining the focal point on the intended target. For those that have had little experience in covering fast action sports, and in particular those with erratic direction changes, I usually recommend starting out with f/4. Assuming of course there is enough light that supports adequate SS to stop the action.

JMTC

Matt



May 18, 2017 at 02:10 PM
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