Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body

Started 2 months ago | Questions thread
ericbowles Contributing Member • Posts: 987
Re: Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body

Tom SilverSpring wrote:

I am a novice photographer with a Z6 body. I am interested in getting a lens that would allow me to get crisp, close-in shots of dogs in motion. One specific scenario taking outdoor photos of my dogs catching frisbees. This generally means the dogs are about 50-75 feet away from my vantage point. Bear in mind that dogs routinely hit 30 - 60 mph (a few Border Collies hit this speed), but 30 would be a maximum typical speed for my applications. In addition to frisbees, I want to photograph dogs at indoor obedience competitions. There the max distance would be about 60 feet and speeds would be slower.

I would be satisfied with a lens that did a good job in those two scenarios, but a bonus would be one that could also cover indoor agility competitions. There the distances can be substantially greater (the standard venue is 100x100 ft and I would be maybe 20 feet back from the field). However, most shots would be taken with a predetermined focus point and I could always focus on a relatively nearby obstacle.

I would prefer to not spend $2800 on the Z 70-200 and am hoping that I can get something suitable that will do a good job for under $1000. It is also not clear whether 200 mm is sufficient for my needs (advice welcomed on this point). Lenses that look like they might be suitable are the Sigma 100-400 F mount (using the FTZ adapter I already have) and the Nikon AF-P 70-300. Are these good options? Are there others I should consider?

Please give me whatever advice you might have -- including the possibility that results with these relatively slow lenses will likely be unsatisfactory (I would rather get nothing than spend money on lenses that yield poor results),

Thank you!

You need a Nikon 70-200 f/2.8.  There are several options.  Look for a VRII model which should be selling used for just under $1000.  You can add a TC14E III or II teleconverter if you need a little more reach.  While the dogs are fast, they are predictable so they should be reasonable to follow with sharp focus.  You'll have to get used to the lead time for the shutter release - it's about double a DLSR lead time.  It's probably not a problem with a predictable subject.

I would not expect the 100-400 or 70-300 to do the job.  You could look at a Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 but that's even more expensive.  the Tamron and Sigma 70-200 lenses are options, but I think a used VRII model is more reliable on a Z body.

The thing most important is fast focus - which is a lens feature based on the AF motor in the lens.  All the 70-200 lenses are designed for this kind of work.

I would use Wide Small or Wide Large AF mode.  I think High Extended would work, but you could fall back to High if you saw any issues with rolling shutter.

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Eric Bowles

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