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I have a Nikon D5000, and Nikon 70-300mm VR Nikon 18-55mm lenses.

I am looking to improve my basketball, soccer, football, and baseball photos, and also scenery photos. My pictures in a gym or low light are always blurry. Will a different lens help? Do I need a converter, and if so, what shall I get?

Should I look at Sigma products as well as Nikon? Do I need a converter to attach the Sigma lenses to my Nikon camera?

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4  
Low light indoor sports lenses and and landscape lenses are generally opposites. You'll either need two or pick the one you most care about. –  rfusca Feb 24 '12 at 1:22
3  
The sports photos you mention will require a relatively long lens whereas landscapes the opposite. It doesn't make sense for those two requirements to be put on one lens. There is a reason there are so many lenses to chose from. –  Olin Lathrop Feb 24 '12 at 1:36
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Hello slk, and welcome to PhotoSE. As mentioned by rfusca and Olin, your asking for a single lens that covers two very opposite needs. Multipurpose lenses do exist, however they always have to make some significant trade-offs and compromises, and rarely do anything well...although they generally can do anything. Could you provide some more details about your budget, and whether you are open to two lenses, rather than just one? –  jrista Feb 24 '12 at 2:12
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You may find it more helpful to ask in a forum suited for this sort of question, like NikonRumours, Photo.net or DpReview's forums. –  enthdegree Feb 24 '12 at 3:13
2  
"What do I need to take better low-light sports photos" seems perfectly on-topic here, even if throwing "scenery" into the mix complicates answers. –  mattdm Feb 24 '12 at 12:58

4 Answers 4

I get the feeling that you are not knowledgeable enough about how the camera works - how ISO, aperture, and shutter speed work together to create an exposure.

So my first recommendation is to learn how it works, e.g. from the book "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. Before proceeding with anything else, learn this.

For Sports

If you get blurry pictures when shooting sports you are probably using a too slow shutter speed. So you need a faster shutter speed. To get a decent exposure you would probably then have to increase the aperture and the ISO. If you get a lot of image noise due to high ISO, you could combat that by getting a new lens with a larger aperture.

You could also get a new camera that performs better under low light. I don't know much about Nikon models, so I don't know where in the field that the D5000 lies on that account.

Regarding converters, you don't need a converter to mount a Sigma lens on your Nikon. Sigma makes all their lenses in different versions for different brands of cameras. So you just need to make sure that you get the version made for Nikon cameras.

You also ask generally "Do I need a converter". Well, no. I can think of two kind of converters: extension tubes, and teleconverters. Extension tubes are used for macro photography, so they are no good here. And teleconverters steal your light, making the lens work as though it had a smaller aperture than it really has. And you don't want that under low light.

But before investing in new equipment, I would recommend that you shoot lots and lots of pictures with the gear that you already have in order to learn how to use it, how to use your camera in manual mode etc. Perhaps you will learn that you can get decent pictures from the gear that you have. But if not, by shooting and learning, you will get to the point where you, yourself, is able to determine exactly what gear you need to get the result that you are after.

For landscapes

I think that the 18-55 is enough to get you started shooting landscapes, though some shots call for a wider lens. You could try getting a polarizer or ND grad filter.

But again, before you do that, I would seriously suggest that you shoot a lot of pictures first to get a feeling for the gear you have. Getting a polarizer or an ND grad will not magically make your pictures great. You will have to be able to pick a great subject and create a great compisition first. Once you are able to do that, the two filters can help you overcome the limitations of your camera.

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+1 for book recommendation. (Borrowed it from library, it was great, considering buying so I can read it again at leisure.) –  khedron Feb 24 '12 at 18:08

If you're on the sidelines at the basketball games, a fast 50mm lens will serve you well. Soccer, football, and baseball fields are quite a bit bigger and you typically can't get near as close, so a much longer lens is likely needed. Landscapes are typically shot with wider lenses.

However, in your position I wouldn't start with more lenses. For basketball, I bet you can get good results using the 70-300 at 70mm/f4 and with a high ISO (3200, maybe 6400), and hopefully that'll give you a shutter speed edging towards 1/200.

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For Free:
Are you focusing properly?
Take continuous pictures, chances of getting a sharp image increases.
Increase your ISO speed at the expense of noise.

Cheap:
Get a tripod for landscape, sports and low light indoor photography if space permits to use them.
Get a monopod for low light indoor photography if you do not have space to use a tripod.

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First of all. DO NOT BUY any more gear. A lot of amateur photographers just buy gear thinking it will improve their skills or improve photos they take. But trust me all you'll end up with is unused gear sitting on your shelves and of course lighter wallet.

Limit your self to the gear you have and learn how to use that gear.

Once you have mastered all of your gear then figure out how that gear is limiting you. By this time, you will gain enough experience and knowledge to make better, educated and well-informed decision. You will know what gear you need based on your photographic needs.

As for the original question(s): Based on your gear, I would suggest:

I am looking to improve my basketball, soccer, football, and baseball photos

Take your camera, set it to highest ISO possible. Set your aperture to its widest possible setting (opening). Ex. f/2.8 is wider and will allow more light in than f/4. Set your camera to A- Aperture priority mode. Then go to your local high school or university and take pictures; practice. Think of getting some kind of support, monopod, tripod to limit the movement you impose on the camera. Sports photography requires anticipation to get the shot you want. Search Google for panning, sports photography.

SIDE NOTE: ISO - Think of ISO as workers collecting water with buckets. More workers you have, more water you'll collect. So increasing ISO will 'collect' more light and give you ability to shoot in low-light, fast moving, etc scenarios. Just be careful, ISO has direct relationship with noise. So increasing it will sometimes create unacceptable image.

and also scenery photos:

Again based on your equipment: I would suggest:

You're pretty much all set to shot this kind of photography with 18-55 lens. When it comes to scenic photography think of: mood, composition and leading lines. Also know that any lens is at its sharpest at the mid aperture range. Usually around f/8. For scenic photography i would: get a tripod (a must IMO), set you camera to LOWEST ISO setting, set your camera to A-aperture priority mode and set the aperture to f/8. Shoot away.

Again this is just quick-to-get-you-started advice. When it comes to photography there are so many things not mentioned in this short answer. But don't be alarmed and don't worry too much about getting 'perfect exposure' but instead experiment and just take photos.

One book I would recommend though is Understanding Exposure, search for it on Amazon.

Hope that helps.

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