Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body

Started 3 months ago | Questions
Tom SilverSpring New Member • Posts: 9
Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body
1

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!

ANSWER:
Nikon Z6
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carl_g
carl_g Regular Member • Posts: 233
Re: Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body
1

In my opinion if you want to take action photos and I assume you will want to isolate your subject then  you need fast glass. And since you said indoors are a possibility those others lenses you mentioned will be too slow. If you only have a budget of 1k then you can find nice used versions of the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR II for that and use it adapted. Good luck!

 carl_g's gear list:carl_g's gear list
Nikon D4 Nikon D500 Nikon Z6 Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm F2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II +7 more
OP Tom SilverSpring New Member • Posts: 9
Re: Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body

Thank you for the suggestion. Yes, that lens seems like a good candidate (nice and fast and used is within budget). Do you think 200 mm suffices for my needs?

curiousmike1300
curiousmike1300 Contributing Member • Posts: 926
Another alternative - 70-200 f/4

If you're looking to spend even less, then 70-200 f/4 might be an option.

200mm _reach_ could be enough for what you describe.

If you need more reach, you start giving up light (aperture... or go up in cost 300 f/2.8) or focus speed (or go up in cost 300 f/2.8)

You will have maximum success if you can have the dog running parallel to you and you do the panning.

If the dog is running directly at you, I find I get a LOT of misses on a D7100, D610 and the Z6 body.  I have not explored all focus modes - I typically shoot AF-C with center point.

I saw some photos on the Z6/Z7 stream on Flickr where a Z6 user got very good results with a dog running at him.  I cannot replicate those results consistently... and my dog is nowhere near as fast as the dogs you describe.

 curiousmike1300's gear list:curiousmike1300's gear list
Panasonic G85 Nikon Z6 Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II Samyang 14mm F2.8 ED AS IF UMC Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.8G +12 more
IainD Senior Member • Posts: 2,353
Re: Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body
2

Tom SilverSpring wrote:

Thank you for the suggestion. Yes, that lens seems like a good candidate (nice and fast and used is within budget). Do you think 200 mm suffices for my needs?

Tom, I think 200 may still be a bit short for what you want. The newer model of 70-300 with the FTZ adapter might be a better choice. I have never used this lens myself but my co-shooter at my dog club always used an elderly 70-300 and had success.

Iain

OP Tom SilverSpring New Member • Posts: 9
Re: Another alternative - 70-200 f/4

Wow, great photo! This is what I aspire to achieve. Thanks for the shooting advice.

curiousmike1300
curiousmike1300 Contributing Member • Posts: 926
Re: Another alternative - 70-200 f/4

Tom SilverSpring wrote:

Wow, great photo! This is what I aspire to achieve. Thanks for the shooting advice.

Thank you.  I must say that is the exception, not the rule.

Typically when a dog is running at me (even at a slight angle),  the focus is more on the dogs neck and the eyes are soft.

 curiousmike1300's gear list:curiousmike1300's gear list
Panasonic G85 Nikon Z6 Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II Samyang 14mm F2.8 ED AS IF UMC Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.8G +12 more
OP Tom SilverSpring New Member • Posts: 9
Re: Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body

It's great to have input from someone who shoots dogs (that has a horrible ring to it, LOL). What events do you (and your partner) photograph?

j_photo Veteran Member • Posts: 4,958
Re: Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body

200 mm is the minimum that you can get by with. But there are certain to be many times when you will wish you had greater reach.

Minimum aperture depends on light levels. For outdoors on a sunny day, f/5.6 at the long end of the 70-300 could be fine. Other times, this will be too slow. For indoors, f/2.8 is going to be the smallest aperture you want to consider. And even then you will sometimes find yourself wishing for more light.

A used 70-200 f/2.8 lens is one good idea as already suggested. There are even some older but very sharp, fast focusing 80-200 mm models to be had. I used to shoot with an 80-200 f/2.8 AF-S that was a joy to shoot with--looks like they can be had for about $500. (You will want to avoid any 80-200 AF-D models that won't autofocus on Z bodies.) Most of these lenses can also accept Nikon's teleconverters. Then on a bright day, you can add a TC to get out into the 300 to 400 mm range, though with reduction in aperture.

And don't worry about lack of VR on older models. VR doesn't help when shooting things that move fast.

 j_photo's gear list:j_photo's gear list
Nikon Df Nikon Z7 Nikon Z6
IainD Senior Member • Posts: 2,353
Re: Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body

Tom SilverSpring wrote:

It's great to have input from someone who shoots dogs (that has a horrible ring to it, LOL). What events do you (and your partner) photograph?

I took over from the club professional a few years ago. He allowed me to shoot with him and taught me a lot. I am no professional!,
It is an obedience dog club, with some running but not at the speeds you are seeing. Most of my events are agility but some of the dogs are quick.
I normally used two bodies and a backup. D850 with a 24-70 zoom and D5 with 70-200, but I was able to get as close as I liked. Past tense as no meetings now with COVID😢

Mostly I took images of the dogs with handlers and the indoor puppy competition. 
The pro who taught me also used a 70-300 zoom. You can’t beat a zoom for events. I have used my 300 f2.8 on a tripod but it is not so convenient!

I

IainD Senior Member • Posts: 2,353
Re: Another alternative - 70-200 f/4

Eric Bowles is on this forum and he is a pro photographer who shoots a lot of dog images and certainly gets the results with his Z6. With any luck he may weigh in with some information. He is seriously good!

ericbowles
ericbowles Senior Member • Posts: 1,013
Re: Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body
6

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.

-- hide signature --

Eric Bowles
BowlesImages.com

 ericbowles's gear list:ericbowles's gear list
Nikon 1 V1 Nikon D800E Nikon D850 Nikon Z6 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm F4G ED VR +24 more
selected answer This post was selected as the answer by the original poster.
dacrema Senior Member • Posts: 1,011
Re: Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body

I had an old, no very old, used 120-300/2.8 sigma and that would be the ideal lens for what you want to do. My used copy cost just a little less than the then current 70-200/2.8 VR2 at the time. A good used copy just might be a good low(ish) cost but slow to focus solution. But still expensive and heavy

Next up would be the 70-300 AF-P but that might be light challenges.

A better solution would be the 70-200/2.8E. Not so good for the distance Your working and with a TC it may or may not make the images you want.

The next better (and very good) solution would be the Z70-200 with set of TCs.

Next a new Sigma 120-300/2.8.  Costly.

The best, a Nikkor 120.300/2.8.  This is for when you are selling your photos and can write off the lens on taxes or have a kid you can pledge to a sweat shop for the rest of his life.

what have you to spend.

 dacrema's gear list:dacrema's gear list
Nikon D500 Nikon Z7 Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm F2.8G IF-ED VR Nikon 200-500mm F5.6E ED VR Nikon AP-F 70-300mm F4.5-5.6E +3 more
OP Tom SilverSpring New Member • Posts: 9
Re: Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body
1

Thank you -- the advice on settings is very helpful, too. I will keep an eye on the used gear sites.

Boudewijn van der Drift
Boudewijn van der Drift Regular Member • Posts: 324
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 can do simple geometry on the focal length part of your question:

FF = 24*36 mm, let's say the real world frame around the dog is 480*720 mm.

Reproduction ratio = 1/20.

60 ft away = 20000 mm --> focal length required = 20000 mm/20=1000 mm,

Use your own numbers and a bit more accurate than me, but you might need to do some water in the wine, maybe smaller reproduction ratio, closer by, generous cropping or shooting in DX. Or a combination of these. Maybe not a zoom.

Looking at the great shot by CuriousMike in this thread, he must have been much closer than 60 ft for FF. And I am not sure, but is the D7100 DX? That already helps by a factor of 1.5. Maybe download it for the EXIF and the actual number of pixels.

Maybe borrow/hire a lens before you buy.

 Boudewijn van der Drift's gear list:Boudewijn van der Drift's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 Nikon Z7 Nikon Z6 Nikon Z 70-200 F2.8 VR +2 more
beatboxa Senior Member • Posts: 7,337
Re: Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body

Tom SilverSpring wrote:

Thank you -- the advice on settings is very helpful, too. I will keep an eye on the used gear sites.

One more I'm going to add, related to the earlier comment about rolling shutter or lag:

Use 12-bit, not 14-bit.

rangel28 Regular Member • Posts: 291
Re: Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body
3

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!

If you are going to shoot indoor and outside, then the fastest lens possible would be best., such as the 70mm-200mm f2.8.  I have had very good sucess shooting a golden retreiver puppy who moves quickly and erractically with the 70mm-300mm AF-P FX lens outdoors in a park setting. It is very light and focuses quickly and silently. And by Nikon standards it is inexpensive.

Luftwalk Regular Member • Posts: 209
Re: Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body
2

I'm getting very good results with my Z6 when shooting my dog. My dog is a mix of spare parts, but can get up to some pretty good speeds I use a Nikon 70-200mm VR2 (the best budget option) amongst my other lenses.

Here are a few examples: https://www.flickr.com/photos/luftwalk/albums/72157706365176231/with/49663944017/

The images in there are shot with either the 70-200 mentioned above, or a 50/1.8 S lens and a 300/2.8 AF-S II Nikon. I mostly use Wide-Small or Large with 12 FPS option. It's not the best camera for action tracking but it can get the job done.

 Luftwalk's gear list:Luftwalk's gear list
Nikon Z6 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.8G Sigma 24-35mm F2 DG HSM Art Nikon 200-500mm F5.6E ED VR +4 more
Holmes375
Holmes375 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,332
Re: Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body
1

Well done! Kudos to you and your fine pooch.

-- hide signature --

Pleasant trails to ya.
~Holmes
WSSA member #103

OP Tom SilverSpring New Member • Posts: 9
Re: Advice on Lens for Dog Sports with Z6 Body

Nice photos! Thank you for the additional advice.

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