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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Nikon Basketball Lens
Jason Miller, Photographer, Assistant
Cleveland | OH | USA | Posted: 12:24 PM on 11.08.09
->> Hi Everyone,

So, the gear head in me is trying to refine my set up for this basketball season. I'm a Nikon shooter with a very standard set of bodies and lenses. I'm typically shooting on the baseline with a 300/2.8 and another body that alternates between a wide lens and a mid telephoto.

I'm mostly curious if anyone has ever used the 18-200 lens on a DX body (D300) to shoot basketball and if so how it performed. Especially for basketball, there are obvious advantages to using a lens with such a large range but, if it just doesn't perform well enough then I will stick with what I've got.

Thanks for sharing your expertise.

Jason
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Darren Whitley, Photographer
Maryville | MO | USA | Posted: 1:26 PM on 11.08.09
->> Your biggest issue will be the f-stop of said lens. Unless you have strobes to allow you to photograph the game at f5.6, then this lens will certainly be too dark to permit shutter speeds required to photograph basketball.

I think you've got itchy feet.

Why not work on your remotes? Also consider your shooting position. Do you always shoot from the same corners? Why not also consider a floor-level camera?

If you want to refine your set up, try looking at a bunch of basketball photos to see what you haven't shot yourself. A trip to the library to go through stacks and stacks of SI/ESPN magazines will cost you an afternoon, but the payback is better than buying another lens. Take notes.
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Jamey Price, Student/Intern, Photographer
Charlotte | NC | USA | Posted: 1:42 PM on 11.08.09
->> This is mildly off topic but I have never shot a pro or D1 college level basketball game. The gym lighting at my small D3 college is...shall we say...poor. So what do shooters usually shoot with to get those super crisp and sharp images at big games? Because my gear and my gym, its all noise and no sharpness. Just curious.

Jason, I also shoot with a Nikon D300 and I have ALL 2.8 lenses. Youre going to be frustrated by the shutter speeds that you get usable images from. You need to invest in glass more then anything. 2.8 is a MUST...
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Dave Prelosky, Photographer
Lower Burrell | Pa | US | Posted: 2:22 PM on 11.08.09
->> In addition to darren's comments, keep this in mind. the 18-200mm is a consumer lens, built for moms with cameras. this construction just isnt made for long term daily use. ive seen a few of these that just fell apart with heavy use.
also pls excuse the lack of caps and punctuation - im working with a cast
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Chris Parent, Student/Intern, Photographer
Baton Rouge | LA | United States | Posted: 2:26 PM on 11.08.09
->> Jamey, most of the time they are using strobes to get those images. 250 f/5.6, 6.3 at ISO 200 leaves some nice images (those are just my strobe settings, not meant to be all).
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Darren Whitley, Photographer
Maryville | MO | USA | Posted: 2:28 PM on 11.08.09
->> Jamey,

At an NBA game, there are typically 3-4 shooters who have strobes in the ceiling to illuminate the arena. The rest have to shoot the game with ambient light.

Using the strobes at the United Center cost $600 for one game in 1997 when I interned at The Sporting News. That was after the team deemed you worthy of their use since there's usually four or fewer sets of strobes available.

Strobes allow the photographers to use lower ISO settings and stop down for slightly more depth of field. During the film days, SI and NBAE photographers also used to use Hasselblad cameras behind the glass and floor-level remotes. The medium format negatives or chromes provided additional sharpness ideal for reproduction as a cover for instance.

The chief benefit of strobes are color temperature control, reduction of distracting background elements by lighting only the playing area, reduced levels of noise or film grain and additional depth of field.
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Jamey Price, Student/Intern, Photographer
Charlotte | NC | USA | Posted: 3:26 PM on 11.08.09
->> Interesting. I've seen the amazing photos of course, just never seen how its done or bothered to ask before. Thanks!
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Princeton | IN | USA | Posted: 3:34 PM on 11.08.09
->> Jason, you didn't mention what kinds of venues you would be shooting most. High school, Div. 1, NBA, what?
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Jason Miller, Photographer, Assistant
Cleveland | OH | USA | Posted: 4:14 PM on 11.08.09
->> Hey guys,

Thanks for all the comments. Let me present a little more info.

I'm in Cleveland, OH and cover most of the pro sports here in town in addition to working with one of the colleges. I'm currently covering the Cavaliers and will be working with one of the other colleges here in town later in the season. I'm not currently using strobes at the Cav's games but I will be when I start shooting at the college arena.

The main reason I'm interested in hearing about the performance of the Nikon 18-200 is it's similarity to the Canon 24-300. I see this lens being used by several Canon shooters who are covering the Cavs. I know the Canon lens is a pro level lens and is much better suited for sports work. Without turning this into a Nikon/Canon debate I'm interested to know if the Nikon 18-200 can function like the Canon version of this lens.

The ability to cover a basketball game from the baseline with one camera is very appealing. It gives me two bodies for remotes and I don't have to switch back and forth between two different focal length bodies. At this point the question is purely academic but, I'm still curious if any one has actually used that lens in that capacity.

Thanks,
Jason
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Jamey Price, Student/Intern, Photographer
Charlotte | NC | USA | Posted: 4:44 PM on 11.08.09
->> I still agree with Darren that you be really feel better with a 2.8. Am I correct in saying that while the 24-300 is a "pro" lens on sharpness, it is also not a fixed aperture lens?
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Dave Prelosky, Photographer
Lower Burrell | Pa | US | Posted: 4:51 PM on 11.08.09
->> i haven't looked for a while but i believe that nikon bodies have a menu setting that calls for constant aperture, thereby rendering the 18-200 as a fixed f5.6 lens. not a perfect solution, but possibly workable with strobes.
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Michael Ip, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 5:43 PM on 11.08.09
->> Dave,
You could just set the lens at the widest focal length at 5.6 and when you zoom out it'll stay constant, wouldn't it? Or would it assume you want wide open at 200 and start changing to wide open apertures at the wider focal lengths?
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Michael Ip, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 5:45 PM on 11.08.09
->> Jamey,

You're right the 28-300 (no 24-300) is 3.5 - 5.6 if I haven't forgotten. I've used a non-fixed aperture lens once before and if you have aperture set to the back wheel, you can just disable that wheel by putting on "on switch" to the middle setting, and you're fine.
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Hal Smith, Photographer
Sedalia | MO | USA | Posted: 6:24 PM on 11.08.09
->> My favorite basketball lenses are the 28mm f1.4, 80-200mm f2.8, 85mm f1.4 and 300mm f2.8.

You can't go wrong with fast glass, most of what I shoot is in old and small high school gymnasiums. In the past I would strobe everything, but I'm older and a bit more lazy than I used to be so I prefer open up and pray.
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Jon Wright, Photographer
Wayzata | MN | USA | Posted: 7:04 PM on 11.08.09
->> My standby has always been my 80-200 2.8S. I have only shot high school games, although some of them have been at the Target Center.
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Dave Prelosky, Photographer
Lower Burrell | Pa | US | Posted: 7:15 PM on 11.08.09
->> michael - variable aperture lenses are slower at the long end of their range, ie f3.5 at 18mm and f5.6 at 200mm. a bitch to use in manual mode, but a condition that a, s and p modes adjust to on the fly. if the camera has a fixed aperture option, the lens could go to f5.6 across the range
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Thread Title: Nikon Basketball Lens
Thread Started By: Jason Miller
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