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Let me try again.

I am not sure how people know about the unpublished differences between lenses with the same specifications, or age/compatibility, due to my unfamiliarity with lenses and it seems to be a product of experience and experimentation. I have seen enough comments, however, that I know I want to check with experienced people before choosing one.

For the Nikon D7500, I am wanting a lens for martial arts photography. This is going to be indoor but with bright florescent-style lights, with distances of 15-30 ft or 5-10 metres, with a need for good video and fast stills and burst.

Research:

  • 70-200mm is the most commonly recommended range for close-range action.
  • f/2.8 will allow for low light situations, inherent in indoor events or cloudy days.
  • An auto-focus which works well with the base is necessary to maximise fast+clear shots.
  • As sports speeds stabilisation is less important, especially with a tripod. Vibrations from the floor could be minimised with a better tripod or strategic placement.
  • An FX lens will have more longevity in a photographer’s toolkit because as skill and funds improve to full-frame the lens will still work well.

Is the Nikon AF Zoom-NIKKOR 80-200mm f/2.8D ED Lens a solid sub-$500 lens for this use-case with the D7500?

  • @Xiota That is why I am asking. My last ask got flagged and locked, but I need a camera and lens to start getting the experience so I am asking. – Segapuppy Dec 19 '19 at 22:25
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    Thanks for taking the effort to ask again. This is a fine format for this kind of question. The only thing I'd do is take nikon-d7500 off, because it's not really specific to that camera model. – Please Read My Profile Dec 19 '19 at 22:43
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    If you're shooting action under fluorescent lights, flicker reduction (please see the case study at the end of the linked answer) for stills is invaluable. Canon is the clear leader in that area. Nikon offers what they call "Flicker reduction", but other than their latest top tier models (such as the D500 in APS-C land), it's a reference to video, not stills. – Michael C Dec 20 '19 at 0:39
  • @mattdm I had the camera model because the compatibility between the lens and body is a key factor in how certain features work, such as being able to attach natively or use auto-focus. It also is useful because the DX body will alter the use cases for the FX lens. – Segapuppy Dec 29 '19 at 20:27
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Is the Nikon [80-200/2.8] a solid... lens for this use-case...?

I haven't used it, but would expect it to perform similarly to other 80-200/2.8 lenses. Manufacturers tend to put effort into making their 70-200/2.8 (and similar) lenses reasonably good. The lens you're considering is also not a third-party lens, so should perform well. However...

Vibrations from the floor could be minimised with a better tripod or strategic placement.

If you're expecting the floor to move, a tripod will not be very useful. Without image stabilization, 150-200mm would be difficult to use. Image stabilization would also allow you to reposition the camera more quickly than when attached to a tripod. If you don't need it, you can turn it off, but you can't turn it on if you don't have it.

An FX lens will have more longevity... as skill and funds improve to full-frame the lens will still work well.

FX (full frame) and DX (APS-C) are different formats. Moving from DX to FX is not necessarily improvement. While you can use FX lenses on DX bodies, lens behavior will be different.

  • With the same number of megapixels, DX bodies have higher pixel densities that are more demanding of lenses. Images taken with the FX body may appear sharper (in the center).
  • The edge of imaging circles tend to be "weak", so the corners of FX images may appear poorer than DX.
  • The field of view will be different, so the lens of choice will be different when using DX vs FX. This may be frustrating during a transition. Wide lenses on FX aren't that wide on DX. Long lenses on DX aren't that long on FX.

I am not sure how people know... differences between lenses... it seems to be a product of experience and experimentation.

Reviews and sample images are also helpful, but it's hard to beat hands on experience. Old 80-200/2.8 lenses aren't too expensive to try, and since they're already old, they retain their value for resale if they don't suit you.

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I don't have experience with Nikon cameras and haven't used their lenses since ~2006...but wanted to add on some info about your research:

70-200mm is the most commonly recommended range for close-range action.

70-200 is definitely a very popular sports range and it should serve you well. However, 15ft isn't that far away and if you are using an APS-C sensor, you may struggle to get a full body or contextual shot: 70mm at 15ft is just too much focal length.

The supplemental lens to the above tele-zoom is a wide-normal zoom like a 24-70 f/2.8. These are, however, expensive. You can supplement your tele-zoom by using a 50mm f/1.8 or 35mm f/1.8 - both on the cheaper to acquire side of the fence.

f/2.8 will allow for low light situations, inherent in indoor events or cloudy days.

Kinda-sorta. f/2.8 is known because it's the fastest many pro zooms can go (16-35 f/2.8, 24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8). But, indoors is incredibly dim. Really - your eyes say it's okay while your camera cries out in partial blindness.

With how good High ISO noise control is these days, you can get away with an f/2.8 lens and using a higher ISO to maintain fast shutter speeds. I would always, however, recommend having a cheap and fast prime in the bag, just in case (see above point on a 50 f/1.8 or f/1.4...or a 35mm or 85mm sub f/2 lens). Keep in mind that the difference between f/2.8 and f/1.4 is 4x as much light - so if you're ideal exposure says you need 1/125 at f/2.8...that is equivalent to 1/500 at f/1.4!

An auto-focus which works well with the base is necessary to maximise fast+clear shots.

Good autofocus and autofocus tracking helps, but this one is also very skill dependent. Learn about "Back Button Focus", Focus Lock, Exposure Lock, and read up on how to use your camera for sports shooting for tips and tricks to get the most out of it.

Remember, people took some awesome sports photos long before autofocus was a thing. Autofocus will definitely help you get more keepers, but it's no full replacement for skill.

At sports speeds stabilisation is less important, especially with a tripod. Vibrations from the floor could be minimised with a better tripod or strategic placement.

At sport speeds, you probably won't be using any sort of VR/IS. But, it comes in handy for not-quite sport speeds. Say you're shooting at 200mm and 1/125 second. That's a tad slow for handholding at 200mm (you'd normally want 1/200 or higher), and you'll probably get some action motion blur in your shot. But you want this for this shot. The VR/IS will help make sure you don't get camera shake in your shot.

So, it does come in handy. Yes, you can live without it. But, if it's an option on the table, then go for it!

Also, don't use a tripod for sports. You can't move quickly and your rig can be a tripping hazard for others. If you need the extra support, get a monopod.

An FX lens will have more longevity in a photographer’s toolkit because as skill and funds improve to full-frame the lens will still work well.

There is a lot of info on "upgrading" to full frame out there - much of it reading like a full frame is the holy grail. It's just another tool. It's got some pros over APS-C and cons against APS-C. Moving to full frame may not actually be in your future.

Think long and hard about this one.

Should I rent lenses?

I know you didn't ask this, but you should have. And the answer is yes. Yes you should. Find a local shop or website (lensrentals.com for example) and try out every lens you think you want before you buy it. Better to spend $50 taking a lens for a test run to a few matches and realizing that it doesn't work for you than buying at full retail only to have to try to sell it secondhand or stare at it taking up space in your bag.

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  • I'd be tempted to recommend "get one or two extra bodies (maybe secondhand and of a cheaper type), and work with fast primes" :) – rackandboneman Dec 20 '19 at 12:31
  • The lens in question should not be rented. It is old and would retain resale value if it isn't kept. So could be bought and resold for less than a rental fee. – xiota Dec 20 '19 at 17:01
  • "buying at full retail" - The lens in question is old and should not be purchased at "full retail". – xiota Dec 20 '19 at 17:07
  • @xiota Thank you! Good point on the resale value. – Segapuppy Dec 29 '19 at 20:29

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