Shooting Volleyball - Best Lens

Discussion in 'Sports Photography' started by haze2, Jun 3, 2007.

  1. haze2

    haze2

    780
    Mar 18, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    I've been shooting my daughters high school volleyball the last two years with just mediocre results. At the end of this season I rented a Nikkor 85/1.8 and was amazed at the improvement from this fast lens. I could use even more speed, but the 85/1.4 is just too expensive. So I'm trying to decide between the Nikkor 50/1.4 or the 85/1.8. If you shoot volleyball, or other indoor sports, I would appreciate your insights regarding these two choices.

    I should point out that I also shoot high school basketball, but the "need for speed" in volleyball is far greater than basketball. It's not difficult to freeze a basketball in flight, but the volleyball flys much, much faster. Ergo, the need for a very fast lense. Thanks.
     
  2. Hey, I am interested in opinions on such a lens too. I shot some indoor handball matches and was pretty much happy with sigma 70-200/2.8 lens. Not perfect but usable. Thinking of 50-150/2.8 or something fixed in f/1.8 for next season. But for voleyball (at least for gyms in my area) I am guessing a 50/1.4 would be apropriate, maybe 30/1.4 as I have unlimited access. I haven't tested none of them yet but how limiting are fixed lenses for events like this?
     
  3. acena

    acena

    Mar 14, 2006
    New Jersey
    With a small investment in strobes, you will get far better results than you would with the most expensive lenses money can buy. You can either go with a few on-camera flash units or you can go with AC strobes. Each has its pluses and minuses,

    http://www.pbase.com/acena/volleyball

    Here is how you do it

    http://shaleridge.net/wordpress/?p=3
     
  4. Listen to Alex, his advice made a huge improvement in my keep rate.

    I ended up with the 85mm 1.8, usually shot from top of bleachers, and either SB800 on camera...which I hated because I couldn't see the action, or off camera with the D50 onboard flash to trigger. One venue even has lighting and this really nice white ceiling to kill for. Just shot the flash straight up!
     
  5. +1 Alex is a Genius with the indoor fast stuff. As is Geno & Mike Mac.
    LISTEN TO ALEX !
     
  6. haze2

    haze2

    780
    Mar 18, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Alex, that's a great setup you have! I'm just trying to photograph my daughters games and I'm afraid I can't justify that kind of investment for a recreational pursuit. That's why I'm trying to find the best lens for using available light.
     
  7. acena

    acena

    Mar 14, 2006
    New Jersey
    You can do the same thing with two SB-800s. Since you already have one, your incremental investment is one more SB-800 plus three Pocket Wizards. You can take the included AS-19 base and tape the SB-800s to the bleacher rails.

    If you really just want one lens, you may have to go with the 200/2 VR, but it all depends. I am not a big believer in the "best" lens. It depends on where you will be situated, what shots you want, the action, etc. I normally use the 200/2 but sometimes I use the 105/2.8 and even the 300/2.8 as well as the 28-70
     
  8. Mainuh

    Mainuh

    242
    Feb 20, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Haze,

    I have the same dilema. My daughter does Volleyball in the fall, and indoor track in the winter. Both are nightmare venues for getting fast shutter speeds, and as you mentioned, the volleyball really demands speed. I found I need 1/250th or faster to avoid blurring. I've also been looking at faster cameras with higher FPS shooting rates as well as higher ISO limits, but am also considering lenses. I've just been using the Nikon 18-200 VR, but it's definately not fast enough even at ISO 1600 for the poor lighting in the high school gym. This will be my daughter's senior year and she will be one of the main hitters for the team and I'd really like some nice shots for the college recruiters! Her team is undefeated for the past 4 years with an impressive 65-0 rating in the state. I've been looking at the 85mm 1.8. I thought of the 50mm 1.4 but during a game, I doubt it would have the reach needed for an effective shot. Like you, this is recreation and I can't justify sinking $1000-1500 into more flashes and pocket wizards etc. And I won't need them much anyway after this next season.

    I'll be curious to see what you decide on this. Good luck.
     
  9. haze2

    haze2

    780
    Mar 18, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Don, thanks for the reply. Actually I like alex's idea of using SB-800's, but it's still a lot of equipment to purchase. Also, I don't presently use flash in my photography so there would be quite a learning curve involved. I would like to learn more about it, but I don't think it's going to happen for next season.

    I rented a Nikkor 85/1.8 last season and got some great shots during the day when windows and skylights provided extra available light. But as night came the quality took a hit. I will probably go ahead and purchase the 85/1.8 and start to look into flash photography for the future.

    The picture below was taken the day I rented the Nikkor. As you see, I can freeze the player and her hair, but can't stop the rotation of the ball. I usually need 1/500 sec for that. Of course a flash would freeze it too. I guess it's all a compromise. By the way, the hitter isn't my daughter, this is just a shot I had quick access to.

    Nikon D-80, Nikkor 85/1.8, ISO 1600, 1/320 sec, manual exposure
    78526202.
     
  10. acena

    acena

    Mar 14, 2006
    New Jersey
    to save money, buy old SB-26 and SB-28s. You do not need the SB-800 if you plan to set the units off with PWs. Also. you can just hire someone with all the gear if you do not want to spend the money.

    It's all a compromise. You can 1) spend a pile of money on lights either buying or renting so you can get some tack sharp images; 2) you can hire someone who already has a complete lighting set up to get tack sharp images; or 3) settle for whatever images you can capture with whatever you equipment is in your kit. You can spend $4000 on a 200/2 and the pictures still will still not look great given most high school venues.

    BTW, you can spend the money at the beginning of the season then turnaround and sell everything at the end of the season. You'll lose some of your investment but you can always look at it as rental fees.
     
  11. GBRandy

    GBRandy

    Feb 28, 2006
    Green Bay, WI
    I shoot indoor gymnastics....a flash is not allowed. Getting SS worth mentioning in a YMCA gym is near impossible. ISO 1600 is pretty much the norm.

    You need reach in a lens as cropping only exaggerates the noise. The 200 f2 would be ideal, but it is damn expensive. IMHO, you do not want the 85 f1.4...it is a killer portrait lens but the AF speed is not really up to snuff for sports...I know some folks will say I am insane, etc etc....but I want AF-s speed....not mechanical focus speed.

    The 50mm will not get you the reach you need either....The 70-200 f2.8 is not a bad lens for this....but you do loose some speed.

    As Randy from NC says...even f2.8 is too slow for indoor sports....and he is right.....f2.8 is one the edge.

    I tried everything for a year to get the noise right on my D200.

    Some 70-200 examples in low light at ISO 1600:

    RandyTess173.

    RandyTess128.
     
  12. This was on camera flash...which I learned to hate because I couldn't see the action
    http://www.hecksel.com/images/Kortlyn/volleyball/2007_03_19 ypsi east/a/index.html

    This was off camera flash, triggered by my D50 onboard flash
    http://www.hecksel.com/images/Kortlyn/volleyball/2007_03_14 ypsi west/a/index.html

    I found in most cases the 85mm 1.8 focused fast enough. Two SB800 would have worked in the gym nicely. Talk really nice to the coaches...show them some pictures, after the first game or two give them a CD of jpg's. It initially went from, there might be some parents who don't want pictures of their kids taken, to, what can we do to help you get the pictures you need, LOL. Go to the practices and shoot, learning the flash. It also gives your kids a chance to ignore the flash unit. Be cognizant of the fact you're shooting a blinding light in their eyes. Alex has talked about how the AB's shoot such a quick flash, it literally can't be seen.

    Remember, your worst snap shot will be better then every parents best picture. I sold a video of the season's best 300 pictures, to several parents. Had a couple ask me about doing the same for track, but life got in the way of processing photos. Barely got a CD to the coach, two days before the end of school. It took me all season to get to the point where I could get some decent keeper shots. Just keep shooting and learning. Sad part, because of a lawsuit happy daddy, my daughter won't do VB in HS next year :( Because MI didn't follow almost every other state's schools pattern for sports, he sued. Sad part, MI had the better plan...<sigh>.
     
  13. haze2

    haze2

    780
    Mar 18, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Sad part, because of a lawsuit happy daddy, my daughter won't do VB in HS next year :( Because MI didn't follow almost every other state's schools pattern for sports, he sued. Sad part, MI had the better plan...<sigh>.

    Bummer.....I hope she isn't coming up on her senior year, that would really stink.
     
  14. kramk

    kramk Guest

    I'll add a vote for strobes ...

    My saga is this (for bball and volleyball)...

    Got fast glass for my d2x ... 50 1.4, 85 1.4, 105 2.0, and 200VR.
    Still not satisified.

    Spent alot of time trying to using a sb-800, both on and off camera.
    Still not satisfied.

    Bought a friggin 5d and 85 1.8, 135 f2.
    Still not satisfied.

    Added a 580 EX and went the on/off route again.
    Still not satisfied.

    Got a single Alien Bee 1600...
    BINGO!
    Here's an example from my first and only try with the strobe (last game of the season) ...
    original.

    I got plently of shots like this using a dang 28-70mm !!!! Didn't need the primes at all. I'm going to shoot bball and vball with two cams, one with the 28-70, and one with the 70-200. Both with Pocketwizards to fire the strobe. Can't wait till next season...

    best, mark
     
  15. kenpr

    kenpr

    41
    Mar 3, 2006
    Puerto Rico
    I agree 100% with GBRandy:

    IMHO, you do not want the 85 f1.4...it is a killer portrait lens but the AF speed is not really up to snuff for sports...I know some folks will say I am insane, etc etc....but I want AF-s speed....not mechanical focus speed.

    The 85 1.4 is dead slow focusing anything in movement. I love my 200vr fast as a bullet.

    469513134_8ad8b92432.

    469513124_90c61a4677.

    441808978_0485d5c177.

    431011596_4fa6d6358b.

    The 70-200 is good choice for volleyball not as fast as the 200vr but very handy on the court.


    Does anyone have sample of volleyball shoots using 28-70? I am considering buying the lens but I will like to know if someone can share some pics.
    Nikon :mad:I want my D3h.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 5, 2007
  16. haze2

    haze2

    780
    Mar 18, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Great shots Ken. Were you using a flash of any sort or were these with available light?
     
  17. kenpr

    kenpr

    41
    Mar 3, 2006
    Puerto Rico
    Haze No flash, this court has pretty good set of lights. But the 200 vr has also served me well on dark courts.
     
  18. kramk

    kramk Guest

    Okay, one last try at strobes ....

    you have three items that all cost about the same .... about $325.
    A SB-800, an AB 800 with stand and bag, and a pair of Pocketwizard Plus II's.

    The AB 800 clearly dominates the flash ... you can use it with just a sync cord if you can shoot from near the setup. If not, for $650, you have the ability to take picts with just about any glass, that like Alex says, will blow away the best glass made.
    Even if you graduate to two AB-800s (and 1 more PW), you're at a total of $1150. Or you could just get a single AB 1600 for $730 total. Any good piece of glass beyond the 50 1.4 or 85 1.8 is starting to approach these costs.... or greatly exceed them.

    IMSO strobes are undoubtably the cheapest (and best IQ) way to go..... one of those "wish I had just gone there to start with places".
    Hope this helps....

    best, mark
     
  19. She just finished MS. But she loves XC running, swimming, and VB. Because of the stupid lawsuit, all three are at the same time. XC coach and swimming coach are willing to work together, but she's decided it's going to be running.

    So now, VB, boys basketball, and girls basketball are all in the same season, competing for the same resource. Plus the school is competing for the same students in swimming and running. Thank gawd for our legal system...:(

    Had a thought about your dilemma today. There's an old adage in aviation, how fast do you want to go...how much money do you have :) Same thing is true in the photography, want fast, you gotta pay more. If you're serious about getting those perfect shots, spend the money on the AB's. Since it was probably I wouldn't be doing any more indoor sports, I chose to not go the route of the AB's. Don't regret it.
     
  20. acena

    acena

    Mar 14, 2006
    New Jersey
    That's no high school venue
     
Loading...
Similar Threads Forum Date
D500 Setup Tips for Shooting Motorsports Sports Photography Jul 25, 2017
Took 105mm f/1.4 to shoot HS Basketball, Here's 7 Images Sports Photography Dec 4, 2016
Critique Shooting in the Rain... Sports Photography Aug 1, 2016
"why do you like shooting women volleyball?" Sports Photography Jul 22, 2009