Lens recommendations for indoor sports

ac12

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There are some sports like gymnastics where action happens in one place and MFT body with said Sigma 56mm f/1.4 is really all you need for great shots assuming that competition is not held in a dimly lit boiler room at midnight.

But at the opposite end of the scale is something like soccer (at least 95m*65m) which is played also indoors here in the north. Situation outdoors might be even worse during winter months because only major stadiums have really good lights. The only practical way to shoot anything with primes is to select one end, position yourself so that you can take good action shots from that goal and ignore 80% of the events in the game because players are just too far away (or they are directly in front of you). Even in this case the Sigma 56mm f/1.4 is the only affordable option for low light sports shooting.

In the linked youth sports thread someone had taken good shots with Olympus 75mm f/1.8 which might be even better focal length for most but it's more than twice as expensive as Sigma and Sigma is as sharp wide open as they get. F/2.8 just isn't fast enough for MFT indoor sports shooting which is a huge problem because there are no zoom lenses faster than that. If I'm ever going to invest more for sports shooting, I just have to cough up the money for FF body and 24-200 f/2.8 zoom which will set me back by 3500€
Yes, at my local high school, for soccer, my night time exposure is ISO 6400, 1/500 sec, f/4 on an APS-C dSLR. I shoot with the Nikon D7200 and Nikon 70-200/4. The faster 70-200/2.8 was 2x heavier than the f/4 lens. Carrying the extra weight for 5 hours, was the reason I did not get the f/2.8 lens.
I will sometimes use the EM1 and 40-150/2.8, but I prefer using the Nikon 70-200/4.
We don't have snow here, but we do have RAIN. Once I was so soaked before the game even started, that I quit and went home.

The major reason that I use the EM1-mk2 for sports is the 19fps frame rate, which is 3x faster than the 6fps on my dSLR.
 

ac12

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Exactly. It seems the cheaper option, and perhaps the Sigma 56mm really will work, too. I'm coming round to selling my S60mm and the P42.5 to fund the purchase - a couple of reviews have convinced me the S56 will work well for the indoor tennis and will also very adequately replace the two lenses. At some stage I still want to buy the O60mm for macro, but I think that just means it will be just a macro lens and I'll use the S56mm for standard use.

I have to do something as the Champ is starting ITF this winter (she's now 14) and I am guessing that as we will be doing just the French ITF tournaments (no flying on planes during COVID) I may be going along for one or two of them if they're close enough to home - it would be a shame to miss out on some of the opportunities that will be coming along. I can see a PL50-200 looming on the horizon for the outdoor courts...... sigh. Which kidney should I sell?
I use the Olympus 75-300 when shooting the length of the court. The 12-100 is not long enough, when shooting from off the court. With the net blocking the lower half of the player I just shoot waist up, at 300mm. When I can shoot over the net from a higher position, I use the zoom at a shorter FL, maybe down to 100mm, to get the full body.
 
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I use the Olympus 75-300 when shooting the length of the court. The 12-100 is not long enough, when shooting from off the court. With the net blocking the lower half of the player I just shoot waist up, at 300mm. When I can shoot over the net from a higher position, I use the zoom at a shorter FL, maybe down to 100mm, to get the full body.
This is outdoors, I take it?
 

ac12

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There are some sports like gymnastics where action happens in one place and MFT body with said Sigma 56mm f/1.4 is really all you need for great shots assuming that competition is not held in a dimly lit boiler room at midnight.

But at the opposite end of the scale is something like soccer (at least 95m*65m) which is played also indoors here in the north. Situation outdoors might be even worse during winter months because only major stadiums have really good lights. The only practical way to shoot anything with primes is to select one end, position yourself so that you can take good action shots from that goal and ignore 80% of the events in the game because players are just too far away (or they are directly in front of you). Even in this case the Sigma 56mm f/1.4 is the only affordable option for low light sports shooting.
THIS is so true, at least for basketball and volleyball.
 
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Typically tennis takes place in such a way and in a good area for a prime lens. Outdoors I have no problems with the S60mm in single shot mode ( I don't do burst), and indoors neither - just the damn light and high ISO :D
 
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ac12

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Typically tennis takes place in such a way and in very much in a good area for a prime lens. Outdoors I have no problems with the S60mm in single shot mode ( I don't do burst), and indoors neither - just the damn light and high ISO :D
Lucky you.
High school courts here are difficult to shoot, as they are not made for spectators. And only playing players and coaches are allowed on the court during a match.
So I shoot through the fence, from an open door in the fence, or from a raised position on a corner of the court.

I used to shoot single shot, since I started with expensive film.
But for some sports, like tennis, I learned to use burst. Because the racket moves so FAST, I often miss the shot that I want, if I shoot single shot. But my dSLR at 6fps wasn't fast enough, the Olympus at 19fps works much better to catch the shot of the ball next to the racket.
 
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I don't think one needs burst for tennis - not for what I want. For me the quality of SAF beats CAF hands down, every time. There's only one shot I want each time at her end and I'm getting close to getting it each time. It also means I do not have to sift through 5000 shots after an afternoon of tennis!
 

ac12

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The ball next to the racket are the kinds of shots that I need the faster burst rate for.
In the past, I was lucky to get ONE shot like this in a game. Interestingly, I did better in single shot mode with my dSLR than at 6fps.
Now at 19fps, I can expect at least one each game.

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I know what you mean. I normally shoot about 500 shots with the dSLR. First time out with the EM1 and I shot over 1,000 frames, and I think I shot over 3,000 at one match. The culling down was a pain. :( The huge amount of culling is the flip side of a fast frame rate.
 

slmoore

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I use the 35-100 2.8 for indoor basketball. I'm typically shooting 1/640th and ISO 5000-6400. I use DXO prime noise reduction to help out a bit with the high ISO. Topaz Denoise I'm sure would be another option. Personally I don't mind the high ISO if it helps get the shot.

Typical focal length is often around 75-90, but sometimes quite a bit shorter (usually if someone is close to me in the corner of the court, they have their back to me looking at the basket).

There are still plenty times that I still miss focus at 2.8, so I think I need to work on my technique more than having a wider aperture and less DOF. In any case, I feel like you can get another stop or so out of good denoising software so I thought I'd mention it.
 

ac12

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I use the 35-100 2.8 for indoor basketball. I'm typically shooting 1/640th and ISO 5000-6400. I use DXO prime noise reduction to help out a bit with the high ISO. Topaz Denoise I'm sure would be another option. Personally I don't mind the high ISO if it helps get the shot.

Typical focal length is often around 75-90, but sometimes quite a bit shorter (usually if someone is close to me in the corner of the court, they have their back to me looking at the basket).

There are still plenty times that I still miss focus at 2.8, so I think I need to work on my technique more than having a wider aperture and less DOF. In any case, I feel like you can get another stop or so out of good denoising software so I thought I'd mention it.
I have not used a denoising software. I need to look at them.
My experience has been that I can get away with running at a higher ISO level outside under lights (football, soccer, lacrosse) than in the gym ( basketball, volleyball). The smooth floor and walls, show up the noise much more than the turff and varied outside background.

Yeah, I have lots of pics with a perfectly in focus background.
I swing the camera too fast and overshoot the subject when I press the shutter.
 

Holoholo55

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I used a 45 f1.8 to shoot volleyball inside a gym. This was before I knew that software like Denoise AI would deal with the noise of high ISO shooting, and I didn't shoot at high enough shutter speeds to avoid motion blur, but still got some decent shots. The 45 was good when I moved close to the court near the net, but was too short to catch action in other parts of court. I got a 75 f1.8 later and that is often considered a good indoor sports lens. The Sigma 56 f1.4 would also be a good choice. I don't use FF systems and don't know if it would be worth the investment of another camera and lenses to get a little better noise performance. I think using your M43 with good noise reduction software would make it more than usable with an appropriate lens.
 

John M Flores

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Here are some samples with the Lumix 35-100 F2.8 Mark II with a GX-85. ISO between 1600 and 3200. I often keep shutter speeds pretty low - 1/100 to 1/250 - as I don't like pushing beyond ISO 3200 and think that a little motion blur adds something to the shots. Keeper rate is much lower though.


Logan drives
by John Flores, on Flickr


Splitting the defense
by John Flores, on Flickr


Logan drives
by John Flores, on Flickr


Jump
by John Flores, on Flickr

Tennis is a little more controlled than basketball, with just one subject on half the court that you're typically focusing on, so a prime may actually work for much of it.
 

PakkyT

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with a 35/1.8 and 50/1.8. That is a stop faster than the 35-100/2.8.
(Sorry to nit pick but) a stop and a third faster.


THIS is so true, at least for basketball and volleyball.
For hockey too. Another advantage of using this (pick a spot and shoot only when the play is optimal for that spot) is it also allows you to remember you are their to see your kid play and sometimes you miss out on some of that if you are always focused on getting the shot. So when it goes the other way, you can actually just watch and enjoy the game.
 

PakkyT

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I have to do something as the Champ is starting ITF this winter (she's now 14) and I am guessing that as we will be doing just the French ITF tournaments (no flying on planes during COVID) I may be going along for one or two of them if they're close enough to home - it would be a shame to miss out on some of the opportunities that will be coming along.
One thought is if only for these one or two events once in a while, why not rent equipment? Depending on what it is like in your area, maybe you can rent that fantastic m43 lens or just try out a FF body with single fast lens. The first time you might want to rent for a couple/few days to familiarize yourself with how it works, but subsequent time, if the renter is local you can pick it up for the event day only for a fraction of what it would cast you to buy the stuff.
 
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Hah! Very wishful thinking, @PakkyT :) I'm afraid there's no renting of camera gear where I am. I think you can hire stuff in Paris , but that's half a country away and it's only top tier gear as far as I can find out, the sort of stuff journalists or film-makers use. In an ideal world I'd know someone nearby who uses MFT gear and I could borrow something for a day, but the truth is in six years here I have never seen anyone with Olympus or Panasonic gear apart from a FZ1000 two years ago. I'm fairly certain there is no camera shop within driving distance that will have a MFT version of the Sigma in it, either - if I want to go and even touch one! They're a funny lot, the camera shops here. I looked at a GX9 for @mauve recently in a place about an hour away, but they wouldn't even open the case to let me look at it -there's nothing on demonstration, loaded and ready to try in any shop I have ever been in, and I always feel very much like an unwashed tramp when I go looking for camera gear here - the assistants become very snooty you start asking about MFT stuff :)
 
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Here's a thought that no one's mentioned. What about the E-System 35-100 ƒ/2 and/or the E-System 150 ƒ/2?

I think you're using a Panasonic body, so the lack of PDAF might kill this idea, but both these lenses focus plenty fast with the Olympus E-M1* and the E-M-5.3, which have PDAF.

These are simply incredible lenses, now available for a fraction of their original cost!
 
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Hi Jan - yes, I'm using a GX8 at the moment and don't, alas, have any option to change to Olympus right now. Thanks for the thought, though. Is this here the lens you were talking about? If so, it is somewhat out of my budget, :). Especially if I have to buy a body to go with it :whistling:
 

BDR-529

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Hi Jan - yes, I'm using a GX8 at the moment and don't, alas, have any option to change to Olympus right now. Thanks for the thought, though. Is this here the lens you were talking about? If so, it is somewhat out of my budget, :). Especially if I have to buy a body to go with it :whistling:
Olympus and Panasonic use the very same MFT mount, you don't need to change to Olympus if you want to use Olympus lenses.

This Olympus 35-100mm f/2 Pro ED Zuiko Digital is however not an MFT lens. It's a Four Thirds lens which was the predecessor of MFT (Optical viewfinder version of MFT).

MFT is backwards compatible with Four Thirds with an adapter just like Nikon Z is able to use F-mount lenses but you also need the adapter called "Olympus MMF-3"

Unfortunately the MMF-3 alone is around the same price range as Sigma 56mm f/1.4 and the best price I could quickly find for second hand Oly 35-100 is over 900€ so it's not an option in this case.

You can actually get the modern MFT successor of this lens: M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40‑150mm F2.8 PRO for the same price but it's only f/2.8 and we already came to conclusion that it's not fast enough.
 
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Olympus and Panasonic use the very same MFT mount, you don't need to change to Olympus if you want to use Olympus lenses.

This Olympus 35-100mm f/2 Pro ED Zuiko Digital is however not an MFT lens. It's a Four Thirds lens which was the predecessor of MFT (Optical viewfinder version of MFT).

MFT is backwards compatible with Four Thirds with an adapter just like Nikon Z is able to use F-mount lenses but you also need the adapter called "Olympus MMF-3"

Unfortunately the MMF-3 alone is around the same price range as Sigma 56mm f/1.4 and the best price I could quickly find for second hand Oly 35-100 is over 900€ so it's not an option in this case.
I thought you said to make the best of PDAF then only an Olympus body will work, which is why I mentioned it. That's what I've always understood anyway, too.

I also understand that the 35-100 is a 4/3 lens. Is the lens I linked to not that one?

I also realise I'd need an adaptor, sigh. That would indeed be just more money :(

Thanks for the reply and help!
 
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