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Panny 45-200 for sports?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Judasmac, Dec 5, 2011.

  1. Judasmac

    Judasmac Mu-43 Rookie

    Aug 31, 2011
    I've been using an old Minolta 80-205 manual zoom for shooting my kids' soccer and lacrosse games. (Using a G2, sometimes G3.) Not only is it heavy but manually focusing on the fly, by sight only through the viewfinder, means a fair percentage of shots come back out of focus. I'm getting better at it, and it's actually working out pretty well, but still I naturally wonder about picking up the Panny 45-200 native zoom, which isn't expensive but isn't free either, like the Minolta. What I'm wondering is if I'd be trading one set of frustrations for another -- slow autofocus, misplaced autofocus. How much could I expect my hit rate to improve for sports photography?

    I understand that there's nothing like trying it in order to find out, but I'm looking for help deciding whether to pick up this zoom or the 20mm as a Christmas present to myself. I know I'll get the 20mm at some point.
  2. dagaleaa

    dagaleaa Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 4, 2011
    Naples, Fl
    I own this lens, and I do like it outdoors. I am not so sure about using it for sports action shots...someone else with that type of experince will have to answer your question regarding that area. I was going to say you could always rent this lens and give it a try yourself. I've rented several lens from: Rent professional cameras or camera lenses for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Leica and Pentax
    Also, no I don't work for this company or have anything to do with them---just a happy customer who has rented lens twice and now own one of the lenses I first rented... I feel renting a lens gives you a chance to try it out and make a smaller money mistake then buying a lens that turns out to be wrong for you. If you live in Calif. you might also be able to pick up the lens you want to rent, because the shipping does make it more expensive. ALso, if you rent a lens on Thursday and only rent it for three days you get an extra day out of the deal----because you can't send it back on a Sunday.
  3. drewbot

    drewbot Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I own both the 20 mm and 45-200mm.

    For sports, you may still find shots to be out of focus (depending on light availability and speed of subjects), but it'd be definitely much better than a manual focus lens.

    I've been able to capture my dog in motion and freeze him while running, albeit with 2/5 frames being keepers.

    With the release of the new 45-175 X, a 45-200 can be found for cheap.
  4. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I took mine to a women's championship lacrosse tournament, and didn't have much problem WITH THE CAMERA doing what I needed. Now, the camera operator on the other hand ...
  5. pjohngren

    pjohngren Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 15, 2010
    The 45-200 is a great lens and on the G3 focusses very fast. In fact it focusses better and faster than my Pan-Leica 45. As to accuracy, contrast autofocus (which is what the G3 has) is more accurate and reliable than the phase-based focus found on Nikon and Canon cameras (I was a long time Nikon user).

    While I don't have any real sports shots, here is a shot of three girls running and dancing and a crop of the same shot so you can see how sharp the auto focus is.


    The 45-200 is an absolute steal - a terrific lens. And the G3 takes pictures at ISO 800 that are essentially indistinguishable from ISO 200, so you can ramp up the "film speed". Also, it has image stabilization. An incredible buy for under $300.

  6. FastCorner

    FastCorner Mu-43 Veteran

    May 28, 2011
    If you're shooting with a manual focus telephoto, I think you already realize that technique and prefocusing is a big factor in getting a good shot. Combine a little bit of that with focus automation and image stabilization and I think you'll be happy with the results. I've found that I can fire off shots quicker and more reliably with the 45-200 than I could with my Canon FD 70-210; IS is an immense help.

    Here are some shots of "sports" with the Panasonic 45-200.

    At 45mm (outdoors, overcast):

    At 200mm (indoors, stadium lighting):
    • Like Like x 1
  7. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
  8. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    I think it comes down to what kind of sports you're talking about, and how you want to shoot it. The lens AFs pretty fast, but continuous AF performance is kind of a weak spot for m43.

    Nonetheless, people have posted good images of auto racing taken with m43 cameras. If you work within the limits of the camera, you can definitely use this for sports.

    The most difficult subjects to AF are people moving directly towards or away from the camera, and doing so at erratic speeds. Even an EOS 1D MkIV may struggle with this kind of motion, simply because it can't be protected.

    Next most difficult for any CDAF camera is an object moving directly towards or away from you at high speed.

    But there are tricks to overcome these issues. If you're shooting people sports, shoot from the sideline, panning with players as they move past you. The change in distance as the player moves past you is small, and much easier for the camera to handle. With motorsports, the same technique works.

    Panning helps hide the deeper DOF of m43 bodies and lenses, too.

    Another trick that seems to help is to put the AF mode on Single AF (AF-S) instead of continuous. For whatever reason, my GH2 at least seems to do better with moving subjects this way.
  9. Judasmac

    Judasmac Mu-43 Rookie

    Aug 31, 2011
    Sounds like it's worth a go. Thanks, everyone. It may have trouble focusing on an object coming toward or away from you, but so do I using MF! Starting from 45 mm instead of 80 will also be a help as the action gets close.
  10. AxeGrinder101

    AxeGrinder101 New to Mu-43

    Nov 19, 2011
    Homestead, FL
    For the price, the 45-200 can't be beat. Auto focus on the G1 is fast enough. In bright daylight, it's very easy to use. But it's not very forgiving in low light scenes. It's a cheaply priced lens with limitations that you learn to work with.
    These are straight ouf of camera, with cropping on some.







    • Like Like x 5
  11. pjohngren

    pjohngren Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 15, 2010
    Great shots of the cars - the 45-200 is a winner in my book.
  12. robertro

    robertro Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 22, 2010
    The 45-200 is a nice lens, and the gains you see will depend on what sport you are shooting and under what conditions. Here are some of my observations - YMMV...

    You will likely increase your keeper rate using the 45-200 AF if you are shooting in bright lighting and the point of focus is constantly changing; e.g. outdoor soccer or football.

    You will not see much of a difference from a manual focus lens if your point of focus is not changing; i.e. when you are shooting movement parallel to the sensor plane such as car racing, motorbikes, hockey fight. In those cases, I'd prefer a fast manual focus lens like an 85, 100, or 200mm f2 or f2.8 lens, rather than the slower 45-200, to increase the available shutter speeds or reduce the ISO.

    If you are shooting sports where the point of focus changes rapidly (e.g. hockey, soccer) and you are in amateur arenas where the lighting is poor and you want to capture key plays (goals, passes, ...) then, much as I enjoy my M4/3 system, I wouldn't want to set your expectations too high. The AF of any M4/3 system remains accurate under these conditions, but greatly slows down as the light level drops, and you will watch plays unfold while the lens is hunting. As others have mentioned, follow-focus is also not a strong suit of M4/3.

    I recently changed DSLR bodies and while waiting for my newer body, I used my M4/3 system with the 45-200 to photograph two kid's hockey games - essentially, I had to rely on instinct and guesswork on position of key plays - e.g. "focus on the net and forget". Because the game moves too quickly for the AF system to catch any rapidly moving plays, I shot more face-offs and net plays. I also had to ensure that I shot from the sidelines and not from behind the net because again, the AF system would not keep up with an approaching player. I found that there was very little that was gained from having AF available and for the second game, I moved to an f2.8 manual focus lens.

    Hope this is useful!
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