Time to be with your loved ones

Time to be with loved ones

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I've gotten the opportunity to shoot pro hockey games. My current gear doesn't cut it:

Nikon D70
Nikon 18-70mm F/3.5-4.5 Kit lens
Nikon 70-300mm F/4-5.6 D
Nikon 50mm 1.8D
Monopod

From where i'm positioned, I found that 200mm is the best focal length to shoot at. I had to shoot between ISO 640 - 800 in order to get a fast enough shutter to stop most of the action, but a lot of my shots still had some blur. My camera is pretty old and has low burst mode, no live preview, and no video (not important for this, but a nice feature to have).

I'm between a D5100 or D7000 or a new VR zoom lens.

Anyone have any suggestions?

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See also photo.stackexchange.com/questions/3576/…. FWIW, I ended up buying a 70-200mm F2.8 Sigma (no VR) and it does a great job. –  seanmc Nov 1 '11 at 14:19
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3 Answers

If this is a one off opportunity then I would suggest renting a fast 200mm lens so that you get both the faster shutter that you need and the better quality optics. If it is something that is going to happen regularly then I would suggest purchasing the same.

If you buy a better camera body to get faster burst then with your current lens you're simply going to get more blurry shots, unless you crank up the ISO but the optics will still be inferior in comparison. The live view will not help with fast moving subjects, the reaction time of firing the shutter in live view would be a hinderance so discount that as a reason for a new camera.

At the end of the day, money invested in superior lenses will last you throughout your career as you upgrade the camera body in the future.

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+1 - The fast lens is the first step. Photographers have been shooting hockey for a long time with camera bodies considered antique by today's standard so the secret to that is the lens and, well, the ability to follow the play. :) –  John Cavan Nov 2 '11 at 3:21
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I don't think VR is going to be very helpful shooting fast moving sports. You need the widest aperture possible to get the shutter speed up. A D7000 with better high ISO performance would also be good, so you can push the ISO to 1600 or 3200.

I would say the lens is the top priority, but I would imagine in the lighting conditions you'll need both a faster lens and better low-noise body

Not sure if this is a paying gig, or how many games, but you could rent a fast pro lens for a weekend and try it out.

Not to state the obvious, but if you can position yourself near the goal area to get shots as they are skating towards you, you ought to get less motion blur.

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Get a 200mm f/2.8 lens, and also update the body so it has better ISO performance.

Of course if you are willing to spend that much you wouldn't be asking the question, but lets compare the two options for a second.

1) Get a fast lens With the wide aperture you should be able to double the shutter speed (say 1/250 to 1/500) This is an expensive, and very specific lens.

2) Get a better body Typically you will get better burst rate and better ISO performance. Using ISO 1600 instead of ISO 800 would double your shutter speed too. With a newer body, you get a better sensor with a higher resolution too. It doesn't matter which lens you choose, you will still benefit from the improved resolution, ISO, burst rate and ergonomics etc.

I would say, unless you shoot a LOT of sports and not much else, you should get a better body first. Because you will enjoy the performance boost in all situations. 200mm f/2.8 is a very specific lens and it is not very versatile in general everyday shooting.

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