least expensive for night time action

Started Sep 3, 2013 | Discussions thread
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least expensive for night time action
Sep 3, 2013

Yes, I know that nothing about trying to photograph sporting events at night is going to be cheap, but I'm just looking feedback on what might give me the best bang for the buck; best results without taking second mortgage.

I LOVE my relatively inexpensive 70-300.  It has grabbed the action for me nearly all the time.
Problem is, this year, most of the games are at night, starting just before the sun goes down.
At the 70mm(f4.5), the action gets stopped quite well, even long after the sun has gone down and the only light is from the stadium lighting.   Closer to, or at the 300mm(f5.6) side, it stops the action 95% of the time, all the way until the sun is just about completely down.   After that, not so good at the 300mm side.   I'm using a D3100 body, if that makes any difference.
My first tendency is towards the f4 lenses, since they seem to be nearly half the cost of the f2.8 lenses, so the questions are:

1)  Has anyone had experience in similar conditions where they have been able to manipulate ISO or anything else, to eek out a bit more stopping power out of this lens at the long end?

2) Are there any other zooms, aside from the f4 & f2.8 ones I should be looking at?   I'm gathering that the f5.6 at ANY focal length is what is killing me.

3) I'm leaning towards the 70-200mm f4, because although it means I may have to crop a few of the pics, I'll have better chance of stopping the action more consistently, and not be at a loss when the action moves closer towards where I am standing.    I've found an f4 300mm, but that would prevent me from framing a nice shot if the action came close to me.   Sound like the best solution for under $2,000 ?

thanks, in advance, for any ideas or thoughts!

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'We fail only when we quit.'

 gstadter's gear list:gstadter's gear list
Nikon D610 Nikon D750 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2G ED-IF VR +9 more
Nikon D3100 Panasonic Lumix DMC-F5
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