I was lucky enough to get London Olympics 2012 tickets to the Volleyball, Hockey and Table Tennis

The Hockey and Volleyball will be outdoors and the Table tennis will be indoors. I have seen the camera bag specification which are a bag no bigger than 30cm * 20cm * 20cm so it's a modest size - I have also heard that flash is banned.

My cam is a D7000 - realistically I think I could take 2 lenses

I have 18-270 Tamron
90mm Macro Tamron
50mm Nikon
10-20 Sigma

This is a once in a lifetime experience and would love to get the best shots I can, also want to capture the atmosphere of Olympic park to.

Renting is on the cards, so if someone could recommend a lens that would be great!


2 Answers 2


Once in a lifetime!
Remember that.

The following goes beyond what you asked as there are more factors than 'best lens' - it's also WHY this lens and what else that interacts matters. (Evrything interacs :-) ).

(1) Hire a D3s (world's best) or a D700 (superb but not as good) and lens. Or buy a used D700 :-). If you do get a D700 or even with your D7000, look at shots per second and buffer depth. Note that quality used may effect this. RAW, which is what purists will insist you use, will be slowest. Whether this influences choice is up to you. (Note that as D700 and D3s are full frame you can only use your X lenses in 6MP crop mode). Do NOT be put off by D700 12 mp resolution.

When comparing what you can expect to see with each camera at high ISO lean toward looking at real pictures and not just sensor comparisons. Decide how high and ISO you can go to get an acceptable shot compared to getting a noise free blur.

(2) CRUCIAL: Whatever you take, practice in advance for the sort of shot you expect to be able to take.

This can make a vast difference.

It's not just motion blue but which sorts of shots in a given sport look good or best afterwards.
I've taken numerous volleyball and table tennis shots. No hockey.

With TT and VB what you get can vary widely from what you expect until you have had some experience.
When somebody is setting up the ball to spike it in VB when do you take the shot? What looks best?
What difficulties are caused by ball speed or person speed and what looks most interesting.

In TT when do you shoot?
Where is the ball? How does this affect what you see?
Do you want the ball blurred or crisp. How much difference does this make.
What shutter speeds work.
Without flash, what shutter speeds MUST you have for any sort of quality?
What does that do to the types of shot you can take?
How much must you put up the ISO to get a minimum acceptable shot? What is the noise/blur tradeoff?

(3) Decide if the Tamron 18-270 will take the sort of photos you want. If so, take that.

Issues are

  • Absolute quality - it's a very good lens but not as good as the 50mm and you can certainly higher better lenses IF IT MATTERS. (I suggest that in the context it probably doesn't - other facors are liable to make the Tamron absolute quality good enough).

    • Aperture. Something like 1/3.5 - 6.3 with a strong bias towards 1/6.3 for many shots you'd take, probably. Decide is a fixed 1/2.8 is worth what it will cost to hire AND the reduced zoom range. Light difference from 1/2.8 to 1/6.2 is 5:1 [= (6.3/2.8)^2]. That means that wide open you can get 5 x more shutter speed. eg 1/200s at f/6.3 on the Tamron and 1/1000s at f/2.8 on a fixed 2.8 lens. Whether the reduced depth of field on the 1/2.8 is an issues is something you need to consider.

    • Focusing speed and focusing ability. You own the Tamron. You know if it will do what you want in action shots. If you don't know that already, go and find some games of VB and TT and Hockey and find out. Now ! :-). If you want better find out if a hired lens + your camera will do better focus wise.

The 50mm is superb for interest and low depth of field. At any distance you get no detail and focusing is generally harder.

A prime or short range zoom will restrict the range of shots you can do well. The 10 - 20 is very short range and he 50 and 90 too short for 'action way over there'. Again, practice will show you if this is true (it is :-) ) and how much you care.

If you don't mind cropping the results then a relatively narrow zoom range image then hiring something like the 70-200 etc may improve IQ enough to matter. I'd seriously suggest that you take your 18-270, go out and find some fastish action of the type you expect at the range you expect and ask yourself "what does this lens not do that I must have" and "what would I lose by using a "better" lense with less or far less zoom range. Then for outdoors take the Tamron :-). Indoors MAYBE something faster - but note that depth of field also falls and that's a small & fast moving ball that you want to be sharp.

  • \$\begingroup\$ D7000 is not a full frame camera...you might want to revise that :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 12:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoséNunoFerreira - thanks. Typo. Should have read 'D700'. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 17:33

You have a lot of normal to wide angle lenses there.

You'll probably want at least 100mm for the outdoor hockey and volleyball stuff, so I'd say the 18-270mm Tamron for sure. A 70-200 would probably be a good all-arounder with excellent IQ, and you could probably include a 1.4x TC to extend its reach to 98-280 if you needed to. I think Nikon also has a 1.7x TC, which would give you 119-340mm @f/6.8, which should still reasonably AF on a Nikon body, assuming you needed that much focal length.

If you were a Canon user, with a bag limit that small, I'd recommend looking at maybe a 400mm DO or the 70-300mm DO (both of which are remarkably small, light lenses for their focal lengths.) The 400 might be too long for the olympics unless you wanted very tight shots of say the puck or someone diving for the volleyball, or if you are a good ways from the action.

  • \$\begingroup\$ In my (recent) experience, TCs tend to slow down the AF quite a bit. I'd be tempted, given the once in a lifetime nature of the event, to rent something like a 400mm 2.8. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 22, 2012 at 14:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, the less light AF has to work with, the worse it will generally perform. Keep in mind, though...with a large lens like a 400/2.8, you might want to bring along a tripod with a gimbal head so your arms don't fall off at the end of the day. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Commented Apr 22, 2012 at 14:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ At many sports events here in the US, a spectator can not bring in a huge lens such as a 400/F2.8. And of course, tripods or worse, gimbal heads, are also banned. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 22, 2012 at 14:54
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Pat: Aye, thats why I recommended Canon DO (diffractive optics) lenses for people who do use Canon...they are far smaller, lighter lenses. About as big as a 200mm prime. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Commented Apr 22, 2012 at 15:07

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