Allright Ferguson .. and all: Insight on 200MM f2 for basketball

Started 11 months ago | Discussions
ZurichPhoto Regular Member • Posts: 446
Allright Ferguson .. and all: Insight on 200MM f2 for basketball

based in large part on Ferguson's 3Desque basketball pics taken with the Nikon. 200MM f2, I used a lens rental gift certificate to try one for a basketball tournament this weekend. Really looking forward to it,

Just looking for tips  on best-use strategies for this lens in the gym for the painfully short time I have it in hand. Open to advice from any/all who have used it. Thnaks

 ZurichPhoto's gear list:ZurichPhoto's gear list
Nikon D3S Nikon D500 Nikon D5 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2G ED-IF VR +7 more
Tim Reidy Productions
Tim Reidy Productions Senior Member • Posts: 1,924
Re: Allright Ferguson .. and all: Insight on 200MM f2 for basketball

if at baseline, a 200 is useful for the far end of court.  It generally is too much zoom up close.   but a lens is as only as good as your position is.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Pentax K-50 Pentax K-3 +1 more
wasserball Veteran Member • Posts: 3,984
Re: Allright Ferguson .. and all: Insight on 200MM f2 for basketball
1

Basketball is a fast moving game, particularly if you are behind the baseline near the paint to get those close up facial expressions. Therefore, I want a lens that is light so that I can move from a shot to rebound quickly. I use a 85mm f1.8G on a D3s.

 wasserball's gear list:wasserball's gear list
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/2.8G ED-IF VR Nikon D3S Nikon D600 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8G ED VR II +4 more
OP ZurichPhoto Regular Member • Posts: 446
Re: Allright Ferguson .. and all: Insight on 200MM f2 for basketball

Thanks. I'm competent with basketball and related positioning ... just wondering about the use of this particular lens. Like to hear from anyone who has one and uses it regularly on the court. Any different approaches/hints to get the most out of it as it does have some unusual characteristics.

 ZurichPhoto's gear list:ZurichPhoto's gear list
Nikon D3S Nikon D500 Nikon D5 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2G ED-IF VR +7 more
Ferguson
Ferguson Senior Member • Posts: 1,141
Re: Allright Ferguson .. and all: Insight on 200MM f2 for basketball

ZurichPhoto wrote:

based in large part on Ferguson's 3Desque basketball pics taken with the Nikon. 200MM f2, I used a lens rental gift certificate to try one for a basketball tournament this weekend. Really looking forward to it,

Just looking for tips on best-use strategies for this lens in the gym for the painfully short time I have it in hand. Open to advice from any/all who have used it. Thnaks

Gesh, didn't know anyone was paying attention.

I shoot it in two ways -- as 200 at the baseline, and with a 1.4 from up above. The 280 (aka 300/f2.8) is a good length from the mezzanine level if your arena has one, and saves needing a 300 prime. I have tried it at 280 from the baseline to the far end, but find it a bit confining.

It's heavy. You will feel like the 70-200 is weightless when you shift back to it.  Sitting it down (I keep mine body-forward against my side on the floor) and picking it up is great exercise.  I'm finally getting OK just grabbing it around the barrel near the body, but it is also quite awkward, as the lens foot (if you get a RRS that will stay on when the hood is in place reversed) is not really a good handle.  You will get used to it, but that first night this is likely the most annoying factor, just physically handling it with a second body as well.

Here's an example from above.  It gives just enough clarity on the far side that if it's an interesting bench cheering (this one wasn't as it was the opposing), it adds something. It's wide enough to get good full body shots, but also close enough on a decent resolution to crop down to just the chest-high portions at the basket to see the faces of life above the rim.  I prefer to shoot it the second half, when the team is in the background, but... the crowd is less manageable to find a good place to shoot from in the second half - bigger, more on their feet (old folks vying for position to get a head start on the traffic).

The obvious shots are at the basket at the far end, but frankly for those the 280 would be better if you have the light to give up the stop. Example below of a block at 200. It's fairly sharp, but was with a D4 and required some cropping, plus the audience is pretty busy even at F2 since they are close. This actually works well if the audience is engaged and cheering, not so much here where they are just kind of sitting still. So if you want the full range of experience it may be worth shooting for a while from there at 280. I used to shoot these with a D800, and loved the resolution - the 200 is plenty sharp for extreme crops with it.  But I like the D4's speed better.

It is a VERY good length for shots at about 2/3rds the distance though, as the audience drops out more, and it is nice for highlighting defensive play. The biggest issue here is making sure you are focused on the background player. The D5's new D-9 more (which is half the size of a regular D-9) is really helpful, though I mostly shoot the 200 on the D4 and a shorter near-court lens on the D5. Though these rarely show a lot of action, I find they get used a lot as they highlight one specific player, so any time there's a story about that player, they often grab these shots. And it's a good length for top of the key from the other baseline.  Had a bad background here again -- I get so sick of most shots showing the audience looking at their phone!

When I can remember to flip horizontal fast enough, it's also a good length for getting the fast break shots up to somewhere near center court, which if I just keep shooting will usually get a good ball position as well as a more full frame which helps if the lights are dim. I like these shots a lot more than the above, but oddly I find they do not get used much. But I really do have to work on the reflexes, to flip back to landscape fast enough, as often I was just in portrait mode on a shot when it gets blocked or otherwise turned over.  Though it's also good for getting a sportrait-type shot of someone charging as they pass half court, something I find gets used a bit as well when they want to isolate a player for a story.

Speaking of sportraits.... I also find these somewhat boring shots get used a LOT for posters, marketing, etc. The 200 is just right for a head shot at the free throw line, and the F2 just makes the whole background a colorful blur.  Definitely more of a sportrait than an action shot, but it's a heck of a portrait lens if you have a big studio.

And it also pulls out the detail on the far end bench nicely, somewhat dropping out the background.

Final comment and I know some people don't like to hear it but... with the tiny DOF, you really do need to check if you need to fine tune.  It's a nicely behaved lens (at least mine is) in that fine tune at 12' and at 100' is about the same, but I did find mine off a bit on all three cameras, and it will show up if shooting wide open.  You may get lucky and land near zero, but I'd suggest trying it.  And with the 1.4 as well if you use it. Just focus on something like the side of a stairway and look at the floor zoomed in, make sure the DOF is kind of centered on the focus point.  Try a few targets.  Something good to do during warmup.

But... caution -- it's addictive, and expensive. If the size and awkwardness doesn't drive you away, the sharpness and contrast will suck you in and you will end up owning one.

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OP ZurichPhoto Regular Member • Posts: 446
Re: Allright Ferguson .. and all: Insight on 200MM f2 for basketball

Thanks, a lot! This is really helpful. If all goes as planned I'll have it for 2 HS  and a D1 women's game over the weekend. Pairing it with a D5 should help me work through the learning curve a bit -- in theory the fastest-focusing camera and fastest-focusing lens.  I'll be very curious to see how it works out. Honestly, the weight has me a little intimidated. I hand-hold a 300/2.8 on occasion for brief periods, but I'm just never 100% comfortable with it. Maybe the stubbiness of the 200 will play to my favor.

While my intent is to use it primarily for action, I want to do a lot of pre/post game work as well -- really trying to push it while I have for an oh-so-brief time.

 ZurichPhoto's gear list:ZurichPhoto's gear list
Nikon D3S Nikon D500 Nikon D5 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2G ED-IF VR +7 more
Ferguson
Ferguson Senior Member • Posts: 1,141
Re: Allright Ferguson .. and all: Insight on 200MM f2 for basketball

ZurichPhoto wrote:

Thanks, a lot! This is really helpful. If all goes as planned I'll have it for 2 HS and a D1 women's game over the weekend. Pairing it with a D5 should help me work through the learning curve a bit -- in theory the fastest-focusing camera and fastest-focusing lens. I'll be very curious to see how it works out. Honestly, the weight has me a little intimidated. I hand-hold a 300/2.8 on occasion for brief periods, but I'm just never 100% comfortable with it. Maybe the stubbiness of the 200 will play to my favor.

Maybe, though I find the reverse, on a monopod; it's just kind of short.  Helps to have the lens hood on, gives a bit more leverage.  But of telephotos, it is probably the least ergonomic of them all.

While my intent is to use it primarily for action, I want to do a lot of pre/post game work as well -- really trying to push it while I have for an oh-so-brief time.

we had a nighttime event, under much reduced lighting, and I wandered around with either it, or a 85/1.4, just getting face shots.  When you can lower the shutter speed (and it's VR is quite good), you can get shots in really dark conditions, which helps for individual fan shots.  Not so much for groups for obvious reasons.  But it's a heck of a portrait lens, and the working distance makes it great for ad hoc portraits.

Some people are put off by that monster lens pointing at them from (even relatively long) portrait distance, but I find most college kids are so fascinated by having their picture taken it actually becomes something of a lure.  Unfortunately some (particularly the cheer squad) run up and pose and are WAY too close.

You'll have fun.

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scokill Veteran Member • Posts: 4,280
Re: Allright Ferguson .. and all: Insight on 200MM f2 for basketball

ZurichPhoto wrote:

based in large part on Ferguson's 3Desque basketball pics taken with the Nikon. 200MM f2, I used a lens rental gift certificate to try one for a basketball tournament this weekend. Really looking forward to it,

Just looking for tips on best-use strategies for this lens in the gym for the painfully short time I have it in hand. Open to advice from any/all who have used it. Thnaks

I got the $25 for taking the survey and it's burning a hole in my pocket even though it will just cover shipping!  I've been meaning to rent the beast for a couple of years now.  I'll look forward to your shots and experience.

 scokill's gear list:scokill's gear list
Nikon D4 Tamron SP 24-70mm F2.8 Di VC USD Nikon AF-S 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR
OP ZurichPhoto Regular Member • Posts: 446
Re: Allright Ferguson .. and all: Insight on 200MM f2 for basketball

Ah, I'd look at Fergusons. Mine will be far too early in the learning curve to be instructive in any meaningful way. My goal is to 1) see if it lives up to its billing 2) see if I am up to, ergonomically and photographically. I'm realistic. It may be "too much lens"

 ZurichPhoto's gear list:ZurichPhoto's gear list
Nikon D3S Nikon D500 Nikon D5 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2G ED-IF VR +7 more
garyj Forum Member • Posts: 67
Re: Allright Ferguson .. and all: Insight on 200MM f2 for basketball

Been shooting with the 200 f/2 about 10 years now.  Love it for basketball.  My favorite spots to shoot from are baseline center (lined up with the edge of the key), and rim high 15-20 feet off the court (in the stands).  It's great for getting action around the rim on the far side of the court.   I always shoot wide open.  You need to use the focus calibration because of the paper thin dof.

The shots below are with a D3s, ISO 5000, 1/800.  For night football (high school) I use it with my D500 for the extra reach.

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Gary Jones
www.TheWinningShot.com

BirdieMaker Regular Member • Posts: 436
Agree on the RRS foot

Ferguson wrote:

It's heavy. You will feel like the 70-200 is weightless when you shift back to it. Sitting it down (I keep mine body-forward against my side on the floor) and picking it up is great exercise. I'm finally getting OK just grabbing it around the barrel near the body, but it is also quite awkward, as the lens foot (if you get a RRS that will stay on when the hood is in place reversed) is not really a good handle. You will get used to it, but that first night this is likely the most annoying factor, just physically handling it with a second body as well.

I've only tried the lens once briefly for basketball on a D500. I was center court, next to the official's desk and it was too much FL. I thought I might get some cool "sportrait" type of shoots, but I wanted a little more action. I went back to using a D5 with the 70-200/2.8 FL, which is good from anywhere on the floor, maybe a bit tight for some stuff right under the basket. I do like the lens for volleyball as f2 does nice separation and the extra stop is welcomed in most gyms.

I have the RRS foot on mine and use it to hold the lens. My fingers fit around it and clear the focus ring, but if you have thick fingers, they may not. The lens is the least ergonomic one that I own. Even my 400/2.8G VR is more manageable.

 BirdieMaker's gear list:BirdieMaker's gear list
Canon PowerShot S95 Sony RX100 III Nikon D500 Nikon D5 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED +6 more
Ferguson
Ferguson Senior Member • Posts: 1,141
Re: Agree on the RRS foot

BirdieMaker wrote:

Ferguson wrote:

It's heavy. You will feel like the 70-200 is weightless when you shift back to it. Sitting it down (I keep mine body-forward against my side on the floor) and picking it up is great exercise. I'm finally getting OK just grabbing it around the barrel near the body, but it is also quite awkward, as the lens foot (if you get a RRS that will stay on when the hood is in place reversed) is not really a good handle. You will get used to it, but that first night this is likely the most annoying factor, just physically handling it with a second body as well.

I've only tried the lens once briefly for basketball on a D500. I was center court, next to the official's desk and it was too much FL. I thought I might get some cool "sportrait" type of shoots, but I wanted a little more action. I went back to using a D5 with the 70-200/2.8 FL, which is good from anywhere on the floor, maybe a bit tight for some stuff right under the basket. I do like the lens for volleyball as f2 does nice separation and the extra stop is welcomed in most gyms.

I have the RRS foot on mine and use it to hold the lens. My fingers fit around it and clear the focus ring, but if you have thick fingers, they may not. The lens is the least ergonomic one that I own. Even my 400/2.8G VR is more manageable.

That's in keeping with my comments on trying it with an FX body and the 1.4tc, it's great for up high, but on the floor it's a bit too tight.  I think the OP has FX (or maybe both). It's usable, but limiting.  I still do it occasionally to get some tight defensive blocks or similar, but rarely do it for long.

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Ferguson
Ferguson Senior Member • Posts: 1,141
Re: Allright Ferguson .. and all: Insight on 200MM f2 for basketball

And did you and your verdict?

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OP ZurichPhoto Regular Member • Posts: 446
Re: Allright Ferguson .. and all: Insight on 200MM f2 for basketball

For the first time in a decade, I caught the flu the day it arrived .... and I was unable to use the lens. Ended up lending to a friend -- I'm waiting for another 3-4 day stretch where I can justify the cost. Hoping for March -- still very much looking forward to it!

 ZurichPhoto's gear list:ZurichPhoto's gear list
Nikon D3S Nikon D500 Nikon D5 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2G ED-IF VR +7 more
Ferguson
Ferguson Senior Member • Posts: 1,141
Re: Allright Ferguson .. and all: Insight on 200MM f2 for basketball

ZurichPhoto wrote:

For the first time in a decade, I caught the flu the day it arrived .... and I was unable to use the lens. Ended up lending to a friend -- I'm waiting for another 3-4 day stretch where I can justify the cost. Hoping for March -- still very much looking forward to it!

Hope you are better, but get your friend to share his results, it's called delegation! 

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