Thom article and the 200-400mm

Started May 20, 2008 | Discussions thread
Thom Hogan Forum Pro • Posts: 13,659
Re: Thom article and the 200-400mm

Mike Neary wrote:

if you say you'd use two bodies to cover the pitch, I'm assuming
you'd shoot the 300/2.8 VR + 1.4 on one, and a 70-200 VR + 1.4 on the
other - correct?

Well, we're imagining where I'd be. I don't shoot organized soccer, so don't know how much positioning flexibility I'd have (probably little, like basketball; American football you have a fair amount of flexibility).

So are you saying the IQ of the 300/2.8 with 1.4 is better than the
200-400 at 400mm?

No.

And are you also saying, the IQ of the 70-200 VR + 1.4 is better than
the 200-400 in the 200-280mm range?

No.

Most likely I'd have the 400mm f/2.8 on one camera. What I'd have on the other body would depend a bit on where I'm at, but the 70-200mm without converter is what I'd want, if possible. In American football, you generally use a 300 or 400mm lens on one body and position yourself with that relative to the action, and then have a mid-range zoom (24-70) on the other body for when the action comes to you on the sidelines.

Sports break down into three basic categories, and your lens choices get made around that:

1. No position flexibility, action moves considerably relative to your position.

2. No position flexibility, most action stays relatively constant relative to your position (baseball is a good example).
3. Position flexibility.

Only in #1 do I tend to consider a zoom first, and even then I'll first consider whether I can get what I need without one. In #3 I don't tend to use zooms ever.

I should point out that one of the reasons why some pros went to Canon bodies for sports was that they were using pixels for zooming. The 1DII versus D2h was a perfect example of that. With a D2h and a 200-400mm zoom I could have 4mp 300mm equivalent and 4mp 600mm equivalent images. With a 1DII I could shoot with a 300mm lens and have 8mp 390mm equivalent or a cropped 4mp 550mm equivalent. The Canon lens was faster by a stop (good), not a zoom (good), and less expensive (good). Add that to a camera that didn't have near IR problems and was arguably slightly better at high ISO values and it all comes out Canon. These days the tables have turned, and we're back to debating the 200-400mm. Though on a D3, we're losing some reach we used to have.

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Thom Hogan
author, Complete Guides to Nikon bodies (18 and counting)
http://www.bythom.com

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