Chasing a decent but inexpensive zoom

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Oct 3, 2006
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Hello. I am sure this topic has been discussed before but I am apparently ham fisted with the search function and can't find the info I am looking for. I am looking for a decent but inexpensive (less than $500US) zoom with which to take pictures of the kiddies playing baseball and doing karate. A 80-200 f 2.8 is too much for the budget, even used. I am not adverse to used nor am I wedded to Nikon glass only.

I am thinking of a 70-210 constant, but am worried about the focusing speed. I know this is not such a problem with baseball, but it will be with karate. Can anyone tell me their experiences with the 70-210 constant shooting indoors sans flash and whether the focusing speed is better, equal to or worse than the current crop of 70-300's?

Any thoughts on third party zooms.

Thanks.
 
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Sep 9, 2006
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I have the 70-210 f4. I've only used it outdoors on a D70s. It focuses fast enough for my needs in shooting youth football and soccer. I believe that technique is more important than focus speed.
 
G

Gr8Tr1x

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Wolfcamera.com has Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 HSM's brand new for $650. Worth it....save a few extra dollars and spend it on this.
 
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I'd say look for a Nikkor AF-D 70-210 F4-5.6

Make sure to look for the D-Version (faster focus!) should be around 200-300$ used.
 
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If you'd like something really inexpensive (less than $50 on fleaBay), the Vivitar 70-210mm Series 1 zoom answers remarkably. Get the first or third iteration; IQ is very close to modern Nikkors. Though MF-only, and heavy, bang-for-the-buck is prodigious, and probably unmatched. More here...
 
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Thanks everyone. I "borrowed" a 70-210d from my father yeterday to play with for a bit. I am thinking that a "bit" may extend for awhile since I don't think he has taken any pictures in ten years. If the d works out okay outside, I may just get a 85 or a 105 prime for the indoor stuff. Unfortunately, my dad had neither.
 
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Hello. I am sure this topic has been discussed before but I am apparently ham fisted with the search function and can't find the info I am looking for. I am looking for a decent but inexpensive (less than $500US) zoom with which to take pictures of the kiddies playing baseball and doing karate.
Baseball is played outdoors in good light, so you don't need a "fast" lens to do the job. You'll need a bit of reach though so you can get some close shots. I'd say the AF 70-300ED would do well for this. It's decent optically and not too expensive.

I guess Karate is usually done indoors where light levels are poor. Here you will need a fast lens so you can keep shutter speeds high enough to avoid camera shake and motion blur. Depending on how close you get to the action, I'd suggest either a 50/1.8 or 85/1.8. If you really want a zoom, consider a used AF 35-70/2.8.
 
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Charlottesville, VA / Palo Alto, CA
Baseball is played outdoors in good light, so you don't need a "fast" lens to do the job. You'll need a bit of reach though so you can get some close shots. I'd say the AF 70-300ED would do well for this. It's decent optically and not too expensive.
Not always! Here in the US, even the kiddies sometimes play under the lights. I think the 70-300/f4-5.6 does fine during the daytime, but if you're shooting under the lights, I am quite certain that it won't be enough. Last month I was at a AAA night game, and after the sun went down, I was stuck at f5.6, 1/125th, ISO 3200 - the noise was terrible, and I don't mean crowd noise! In the US, AAA is the last stop in the baseball minor league systems before the Major Leagues, and they're definitely true professional teams with real (but smaller) stadiums and lights that are easily sufficient for playing ball. I can't imagine kiddies with better lighting. A faster lens definitely helps a LOT. If I'd have had my 135/f2 with me, I would have had f/2, 1/125th, ISO 400 - a VERY different situation.
 
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Thanks guys. There is one field that is lit at the local sports complex, but it is a regulation sized field so my kids won't be on it for another 4 or so years as they move up the chain. The internal debate started between the 70-300 and the older 70-210. I'm just not sure which focuses faster or how much that will effect what I am doing. I am going to shoot a CYO football game with my dad's 70-210 d on Saturday and figure that will give me an idea of what kind of focusing speed I really need. I am pretty much settled on a 85 1.8 for karate which is not only indoors but usually horribly lit.
 
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May 13, 2006
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San Diego CA
not sure how far away you are going to be but 85mm MIGHT be a bit tight for indoors shooting. maybe try that focal length with your dads zoom and see what length works for you. the extra length of the 85 over the 50 will allow you to have a little bit shallower DOF for some nice effects.
 
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I have the 70-300G and the 70-200vr. I hadn’t used the 70-300 since I bought the 70-200. The 70-300 defiantly won’t cut it in low light. I went to a homecoming parade last Friday and took the D70 and 70-300 just so I wouldn’t have to carry the D2H and 70-200 (you know, little kids in a parade don’t move too fast!). All I remembered about the 70-300 is that it “focused like a dog”…that’s what I thought anyway. I was pleasantly surprised enough that I took the 70-300 and D70 to a football game Saturday.

Here is what I thought about the 70-300 focus for daytime football: Not too bad for the price, as long as you were panning and didn’t have to focus farther than across the field. With the Autofocus set to continuous, it would keep up most of the time if you prefocused before the play. That however was mainly side-to-side action. If you have a lot of near to far action…baseball maybe…I don’t know what it would be like, but probably not too good. BUT…the G version is about the cheapest zoom lens you can buy, so I won’t complain.

Here is a link to a few D70 + 70-300G daylight football pictures. Not the best…but not bad considering.

http://masonm.smugmug.com/gallery/1979987/1/100878193
 
Joined
Oct 13, 2005
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Richmond BC
I would grab a 70-200 2.8 HSM from Sigma (even if its just the non DG version) which can run pretty cheap used nowadays. While you can get great shots using the 70-210, 70-200 (1 or 2 touch).. a lot of "will I get a good shot" depends heavily on technique.

The HSM certainly doesn't make it idiotproof but it will help a great deal in low light and when the action is fast and you don't have time to think.
 
Joined
Mar 4, 2005
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Los Angeles, USA
Get a Nikon 80-200 1 touch. Cheaper and slower to focus than the 80-200 2 touch, but just as sharp. Don't bother with those slow variable aperture lenses or third party lenses. I had a Sigma 70-200 and could not get a usable shot at f/2.8. Once you go Nikon, you'll never go back. :wink:
 

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