1. Welcome to NikonCafe.com—a friendly Nikon camera & photography discussion forum!

    If you are thinking of buying a camera or need help with your photos, you will find our forum members full of advice! Click here to join for free!

Basketball Lens

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by gbenic, Oct 23, 2005.

  1. Okay, I read the thread about the best lens for indoor basketball. I even asked a question and had it answered. Now, I have more questions.

    I have decided that I would like to purchase a zoom lens. I am shooting with a D70 and it is 6th grade intramural basketball. I am not a pro nor do I desire to be. I am working in a tight budget. The suggestions to use a 50mm and an 85mm sound good, but I want the ability to zoom to help with framing. I also believe that I need a "fast" lens. I am considering the following:

    1. Used Nikon 35-70/2.8 for ~$450 USD
    2. Nikon 80-200/2.8 AFD used for ~$600
    3. Sigma 24-70/2.8 used for ~$325 USD
    4. Tamron 28-105/2.8 used for ~$450 USD
    5. Sigma 28-70/2.8 used for ~$285 USD
    6. Tamron 28-75/2.8 new for ~$400 USD
    7. Tamron 35-105/2.8 used for ~$310 USD

    I know that the list is long. That is why I need your help not only with the brand and quality, but with the focal length. Would 70mm be long enough to frame an individual player at mid court? Is 80mm too long at the short end? Are there any other lenses I should be considering? I would consider a combination of zooms or a main zoom and a prime if I could keep it in the $500 and under range. Perhaps I should just hang it up and use my kit lens?

    Please help me, I am driving my wife nuts!

  2. twig


    May 23, 2005
    Either budget for a flash and use that for all event or you MUST buy a prime that is faster than f/2.8 , unless your daughter plays her games at the Staples Center or Madison Square Garden.

    If you will use a flash then you can go for an 80-200 if you cannot get close on court, or for shooting from corners, or something like a Tamron 28-75 if you are on the baseline in form the corners.

    You need to buy nothing and rent or borrow and experiment. a 200 is too short for across court action, but it works when shooting form the corner from half court inward. After a day on the court you will get a feel pretty fast for where you liek to shoot form and how much lens you want.

    You should use your kit lens and the pop up flash on the D70. Shoot at ISO 400-800 f/4.5 and hopefully the flash is enough to help out depending on your gym for 1/250. You will stay on the baseline and probably shouldnt be going wider than 50, or say 30mm, even if the lens goes that far, it's just too wide, unless you want an atmospheric shot.

    If you want to avoid using flash then you must use a faster lens than any available zoom.

    I use a 50 almost exclusively under the hoop. I hate flash, but it really is mandated in the situation I bet you have, in which case look for a zoom lens with HSM (or AF-s) and since it is stopped down you don't need f/2.8 but you want something with a built in focusing motor so you do not rely on the D70 screw.




    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 23, 2005
  3. I'd start with 50 1.8 + 85 1.8 (1.4 versions even better...).

    I see you don't have those 2 lenses and they are pro quality. A much better addition then any lens you enumerated.
  4. Okay, so I am wrong to think that I can use a zoom lens efficiently. The combo of the 85/1.8 and 50/1.8 is doable financially and they are on my wish list. I am concerned about the reach of the 85. I guess I need to get to the gym and take some test shots with one of my zooms to find out. I am guessing that it may work out to a quarter of the court if I am in a corner. I do own the SB-600, but really didn't want to use it unless I had too. It sounds like if I use a zoom lens, I will have to use the flash though.

    If all goes well, I should be the "official" photographer. The only pay would be standing at the sidelines instead of sitting in the bleachers!

    Thank you for your replies. If there are any other thoughts, I'll take 'em when you have 'em because this doesn't happen until November.
  5. pcjr


    Sep 19, 2005
    I have used my SB-800 and 70-200mm f2.8 for volleyball. The flash pictures are much sharper than those without. The high ISO I have to use without the flash makes for some very noisy pictures.

    To get a feel for the court, try shooting practices. When I first got my D70, I started going to my daughter's soccer practices. I figured that I needed the practice as much as the team did!

    I have become the official photographer as well. Its nice not being limited to the bleachers!
  6. Hm, I've used my 70-200 from the stands of a high school football game with good results. In an indoor event with such fast paced play I'd go with a 28-70 zoom. It can be done without flash with practice. I'd also like to point out that it would be much better to get glass with an AF-S or equivalant focusing system. Slow focus makes the job so much harder.
  7. Peter and Andy, thanks for the additional information. I am going to go to the practices and practice my photography. I will use each of my lenses to see what focal lengths I will need. I am hoping to make a purchase and not have to use a flash, but if I do, it is not the end of the world. Whichever lens I purchase will be an AF-S lens or equivalent, I hope! I did notice that the 50/1.8 and the 85/1.8 don't mention AF-S though. The 85/1.8 has rear focusing which I assume is a similar focusing speed. If I go this direction, I hope it focuses fast with a D70.
  8. twig


    May 23, 2005
    neither prime is AF-S and both will focus ok but noticably slower than an AF-S lens on d70, that;s life.

    From the corner an 85 is a bit short, but the best you can do unless you want to buy a 135/2.
  9. mf44


    Jun 4, 2005
    NJ & MD

    I don't think the 85mm will be too short. Since you're shooting for a specific team you'll generally want to get them coming towards you, and good action with them looking at you will put them rather close if you sit on the baseline right under the basket. If you want some stuff of the other guys simply switch sides.

    Your biggest problem with be with available light. Keep in mind that even though the 50 and 85 have larger apertures, the depth of field is going to be rather small, especially when they are close, and sometimes for fast sports this can get a bit more challenging if you don't have a ton of experience. Because of the low light, I generally avoid assignments in high school gyms, etc. My only other suggestion would be flash, or even better, a few strobes setup around the floor or above, if possible.

    Personally I shoot basketball with my 17-55 2.8 on a D2x in High Speed Crop. I've found this is a perfect combination with respect to focal length when shooting players on my side of the court. I've got a 70-200 on my other body if I need shots from the other end, but generally I like to get them coming at me. I sometimes will switch to the 70-200 for the near side, however, to try some different shots, and working from the corner that focal length is pretty good, too.

    Here are shots I took w/ D2x, 17-55, ISO HI-1 and no flash or strobe:



    I fear, however, you gym will require you to flash. Any more questions, please ask.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.