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Soliciting experienced opinions.... TC or longer lens?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by phydx2, Jun 27, 2007.

  1. I've got a wonderful Nikon AF-D ED 80-200mm f/2.8... the two-ring version... and I'm delighted with it with the exception that it stops at 200! lol.

    I shoot indoor sports (mainly ice hockey) in generally poorly lit venues where a flash isn't generally permitted, so the 2.8 is very handy. I *might* be able to shoot at f/4 and compensate afterwards (honestly haven't tried).

    While I'd love a f/2.8 300mm lens, the expenses incurred by two kids in college limits the available funds somewhat! So, it seems to me that slapping a 1.4x TC on the 80-200 would almost have the same functionality as a f/4 300mm lens.

    - Are there any pros or cons going with a TC over going with a natively longer lens?

    - Beyond indoor shooting where those stops of light are precious, are there issues going with a 1.7x or even 2x TC?

    - And finally, do any of you have recommendations on this TC to use with my particular lens?

    Thanks guys!
  2. Billydix


    Feb 13, 2006
    Most indoor arenas that are not equiped for TV usually require 2.8@200@1600. A TC will do nothing for you. You will get closer to the action, but you will not like the ISO and shutter combination you have to use. If you can not get on the floor of the arena, then invest in a used 300 2.8 from tamron, tokina, sigma or nikon.
  3. CAJames


    Sep 6, 2006
    Lompoc, CA
    In general you are always better going with a longer lens then adding a TC, and that is especially true adding a TC to a zoom. But, if you can't afford long, fast glass (and there is nothing wrong with that) the Kenko Pro 1.4 TC will work with your lens. The Nikon TCs will are only compatible with AF-S and AF-I lenses, you cannot use one with your 80-200.
  4. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    You could try a 300 F4 afs
    Wonderful lens.
    Should be in budget used
  5. Pete


    Jun 10, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I second Gale on the 300 F4 AFS. I have the 300 2.8 but sometimes carry the 300 F4 when I need something lighter. Another possibility is an older AF screw type 300 F4. They have an adjustable focus limiter and can focus pretty fast especially on something like a D200. Both styles have excellent IQ and even work well with a 1.4 teleconverter.
  6. A TC is one of the tradeoffs in life. If you can afford a longer lens and you indeed to want the faster glass then by all means do so. If you can't afford longer, faster glass the TC is a great alternative. It beats missing the shot.
  7. Geoff -

    I have the two-ring 80-200D and am in exactly the same position as you, except I shoot night baseball. The Kenko 1.4x is really excellent at the long end of the 200....no tradeoff in sharpness at all (there is a little if you pull back the zoom, but then if you are doing that why are you using the tele?).

    For me, so long as I keep the iso of the D50 to 800 or below, I can get decent quality even with shutter speeds down to 1/250 f/4.0. However, if you are going to have to shoot at iso1600 you are really going to lose quality, and if you have to underexpose at f4.0, which sometimes happens with the tele, at 1600 the noise level becomes almost unfixable. So if you are serious about hockey and can confirm the light info presented by another here (it seems low to me), then you will want to go for a 2.8, not the extender. If you can shoot at iso800 with an adquate shutter speed, then the 80-200 with the 1.4x will give you all the IQ you will ever need.
  8. slappomatt


    May 13, 2006
    San Diego CA
    I say invest in some large studio strobes! they would be cheaper than a 300 2.8 and probably work better. certainly give you more control over the light you want. (only half kidding...)
  9. Guys (and gals)... thanks for all the input... looks like I'm going to have to resort to pulling soda cans out of the neighbour's recycing bins in the morning to save up for some new glass! :) 

    I've found that I'm generally not getting fast enough shutter speeds at 800 ISO and f/2.8 to freeze the action. In addition to there being adequate light to play ice hockey but not so great light to shoot pictures, I'm also finding that the ice surface isn't lit up consistently with some areas being darker than others. Playing with those darker shots taken at 1600 ISO generally results in less-than-satisfying images. I suspect the goalies might have an issue with a series of large studio strobes going off in their faces just as the shot was coming in :)  Next time out, I'm going to try shooting at f/4 and see if that's manageable... if not, then I'll either make do with what I have or figure out a way to add that chunk of glass to my kit.

    Thanks again! I knew this was the right place to come to!

  10. weiran


    Jan 2, 2007
    Nottingham, UK
    If you have a D50, don't hesitate shooting at ISO1600, the quality is similar to the 10MP cameras at ISO800 and produces perfectly good A4 prints.

    Even if you have a 10MP camera, run Noise Ninja (or compariable) over a 1600 image and you can still print very nice A4 shots that don't exhibit that much noise unless you have lots of underexposed areas.

    If you're finding f/2.8 not fast enough then getting an f/4 optic isn't the answer, even if its longer. But any 300mm f/2.8 lens costs a lot so your options are limited to cranking up the ISO or maybe tweaking your technique.
  11. Well... what I'm finding more is that the 200mm requires cropping sometimes. Couple that with the 1600 ISO and any manipulations in PhotoShop, and the results get less and less pleasing the higher the crop. I am shooting with a D50, but I've never tried Noise Ninja, although I've seen lots of people mention it. The 2.8 is definitely fast enough, it's just that the 200mm doesn't always have the reach I want to avoid having cropping accentuate the grain of the 1600 ISO and the noise from the low light. Without a doubt my technique could use tweaking! lol... I've relatively new to photography beyond point-and-click and learn something new pretty much every time I head out or flip though a book or magazine. :) 
  12. Geoff, here is another option for you.

    Look for a used Sigma 120-300 f2.8 HSM. I was an idiot, and sold my first one. Got lucky, found another here earlier this year and re-bought. No, they aren't "cheap", expect around $1600 or so when you find one, but they are super. I use mine for both indoor sports as well as outdoor night high school sports. The f2.8, as you have found, is the thing you really need.

    Of course, you could just buy a 200mm AFS VR f2.0, but you would need a Guiness record number of soda cans for that one :biggrin:

    The 120-300 also gives you a lot of flexibility when shooting sports, much more so than the primes. Focus is fast and I use mine with the Nikon 1.4 TC and the Sigma 2.0 outdoors when the light is good with great results. The 1.4 does not seem to bother AF, the 2.0 does slow it down some.

    Look at the running thread started, I think, by Rich Gibson on this lens for a lot more information.
  13. yamo


    Jun 28, 2007
    Santa Cruz, CA
    One thought that I have when thinking about going longer (I use pretty a 70-200 f2.8 VR pretty much exclusively [uh, it's also the only lens I own right now]) is that I use the zoom a lot for framing shots... So even though the 200f2 VR thread has my salivary glands going, I hesitate in putting dreams to reality given my reliance on the zoom.

    I do have a TC-17E II that I use... at 340mm (200 * 1.7 = 510mm with 1.5 crop factor of my D200) I find it difficult at times to acquire my target without zooming out first.

    Just some thoughts... your mileage may vary.


  14. Ray C.

    Ray C.

    Nov 7, 2005
    Geoff, for indoor sports with a Nikon, strobes are the only answer. They are being used at every level from youth to the pros and the players don't even notice the flashes if placed correctly. A pair of Alien Bees 800's will light up half the rink...four if you need the entire ice.

    Here's some very good info:
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  15. Geoff, there is no cheap answer.
    Apart from bringing your own lighting you can;
    1. buy a 120-300 f/2.8 sigma as previously mentioned.
    2. buy a 200 f/2 vr and a 1.4 TC
    3. buy a 300 f/2.8 VR
    4. buy a used D1H and (300 f/4 Nikon or 120-300 sigma) and shoot at ISO 1600.
  16. tasnim_fahim


    Oct 2, 2006

    if f4 would do the job than maybe the tc combination would be ok. in my opinion tc will lower the optical quality of your lense ( whatever the literature
    might say). it is a good solution if you will be shooting in good light and you
    want to travel light.

  17. Wow... more great ideas!

    I looked up some of the threads concerning strobes and am quite interested in learning more. The indoor stuff I shoot is in you basic suburban municipal arenas.. they generally seat a couple of hundred people on one side and the players benches on the other. If I wanted to start small (and cheap) with the strobes, I'd think I'd want to limit myself to shooting just 1/2 or 1/3 of the ice surface... basing that on the assumption that the strobe needs to be 'aimed' and doesn't just produce a wash of light in all directions! So... one strobe? Two? How would they need to be positioned? One on each side of the ice surface around mid-ice facing in the general direction of the areas that I want to capture the action in? In these arenas I'd generally be shooting from the bench or over the glass, not through it.

    I'm assuming the difference between a strobe and an SB-600 is power? Does the strobe flash faster and is therefore less noticeable? Would an SB-600 be suitable for arena work or would that be blinding or distracting to the players?

    Thanks again! You guys rock!

  18. Ray C.

    Ray C.

    Nov 7, 2005
    Couple of questions for ya Geoff. What is the purpose of your shooting? For example, will you be selling the photos to teams/parents or is this just for fun? Also, how much money are you wanting/willing to spend on strobes?

    A pair of studio type strobes, like the Alien Bees 800's are a great choice. www.alienbees.com. But there are several other options, such as two to four SB-24's, SB-26's etc, that will work as well. One SB-600 isn't enough.
  19. For the moment, it's just to get better at what I'm doing. If I get to the point that I figure out how to do this well, then I certainly wouldn't be upset about making some money doing it! But for now, it's more a hobby than a breadwinning activity.

    I'm at a phase in life where I'm going to be having more time on my hands as the kids go off to school and right now, photography is how I want to fill that time. Do I mind spending some money on this hobby? No... but within reason. My kit covers what I want to do at the moment (Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 ED AF-D, Tokina 28-70mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro, Nikon 50mm f/1.8, Nikon 18-55 kit lens, SB-600, a cheap tripod and a Manfrotto monopod).

    The strobes option seems to let me build up a bit at a time... the super expensive lens option doesn't. From what I've read, the strobes option also offer me an opportunity to try out other types of photography, correct?
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