indoor sports photography for ~$1000: one solution

Started Feb 4, 2017 | Discussions thread
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Brian Gill Forum Member • Posts: 83
indoor sports photography for ~$1000: one solution

I've had some good advice from people on this forum, so I'm posting this to inform anyone who might be facing a similar challenge.

I shoot my daughter's synchronized swimming team. Synchronized swimming can produce some beautiful photographs, but like many indoor sports it poses a major challenge for most cameras, It requires a fast shutter speed and a rapid frame rate in weak light, usually from a distance.

Existing zoom lenses with an appropriate reach (50-150 or 70-200) never have apertures larger than f2.8. I discovered that f2.8 can't bring in enough light to any sensor smaller than full frame indoors, given that I need a shutter speed of 1/400 of a second or faster. Getting a full-frame camera that shoots at least 6fps and a 70-200 f2.8 lens would run $2500+, which was way out of my price range.

At the suggestion of someone on DPReview, I investigated shooting with a prime on APS-C. I shot for a while with a Sony a5100 and the 50mm f1.8 (75mm equivalent). The results were quite good except that I wanted a bit more reach than what I could get with a 50mm lens. (At the time, the Sony 85mm 1.8 didn't yet exist.) I later sold my Sony kit and replaced it with a Samsung NX500 and Samsung's 85mm 1.4 lens. Now I can shoot indoor sports at 9fps and gather more light than would be possible even on a full-frame camera with a 2.8 zoom. The sensor is 28mp, which gives me the opportunity to zoom in closer by cropping. In effect I can double the reach of the lens to 170mm (255mm equivalent) with 7mp images. The only real disadvantage is that shooting at f1.4-f2.0 creates a pretty shallow depth of field. Until I've got $2500 or more to invest in a full-frame camera, I'm quite happy with the results. Sample below.

Samsung NX500 Sony a5100
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