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Thread: Advice on sports lenses with A77

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    Senior Subscriber Member Mike Hatam's Avatar
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    Advice on sports lenses with A77

    I currently use a Canon 7D with a Sigma 120-300 / f2.8 lens as my primary sports setup (mainly shooting soccer).

    I've ordered an A77 to give it a try. I'd like some recommendations on sports lenses to use in Alpha mount primarily for soccer.

    Sigma has announced that they will eventually release the 120-300/2.8 in alpha mount, but it's not available yet.

    I'm currently looking at the 100-300/f4 or 120-400/4.5-5.6 as possible options. The Sony G 300/2.8 is more than I want to spend (want to stay around $1,500 or less.

    If anyone here has shots sport/action with one of these longer sigma zooms, I'd love to hear your impressions and recommendations.

    Thanks,
    Mike
    Mike Hatam
    Sony A99, RX1, RX100

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    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    Hey Mike

    posting here to hear what the Sony gurus have to offer! cheers, KL

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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    The Sony 70-300 G lens is very good. I find it works well even wide open. Don't know if the aperture is fast enough. I haven't used one, but from everything I've read, the 70-400 G is even better.

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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    check out the dyxum lens catalog

    stereotypical choices would be the Minolta 200/2.8, Minolta 300/4, sony 70-200/2.8 or the Sony 70-400/4.0-5.6

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    Senior Subscriber Member Mike Hatam's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    Thanks for the responses. I've ordered the Sony G 70-400, and will be shooting a couple of soccer games with it this weekend. I'll report back here next week...
    Mike Hatam
    Sony A99, RX1, RX100

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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    I got the 70-300 to use with the a850 and it's a good lens, but for some reason AF was very spotty. And I don't mean moving targets - just point it at a street sign and sometimes it couldn't get a good lock no matter what. Must be something about the camera + lens combo, because either by itself would suggest otherwise. I ended up returning it (only lens I think I ever returned) and got a 70-200G.

    What kind of sports? The Sony 70-200/2.8 is excellent. There's also a SAL 55-200 cropper that seems to be as much of a steal as the Nikon one (which Adorama sells right now refurbed for $150 with Nikon USA warranty if anyone here has a DX body). The Nikon is the best value I've ever seen in a lens... For indoors I'd want the speed of the f/2.8 though, for outdoors that's not important. If the a77 plays well with the 70-300G then that's a sweet lens. Lightweight, compact, very easy to use, reasonably fast to focus. It could probably use a tripod foot though.

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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Hatam View Post
    Thanks for the responses. I've ordered the Sony G 70-400, and will be shooting a couple of soccer games with it this weekend. I'll report back here next week...
    Looking forward to seeing some shots with that lens on the a77!

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    Senior Member dhsimmonds's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Hatam View Post
    Thanks for the responses. I've ordered the Sony G 70-400, and will be shooting a couple of soccer games with it this weekend. I'll report back here next week...
    Great lens, I doubt that you will regret getting it! Nice reach for sports or natural history on the A77 too.
    Cheers, Dave
    www.simmondsphotography.com

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    Subscriber Member Chuck Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    Mike I'll be interested in seeing your shots with it. I'm going to need something long for my A77 as well, and this looks to be a sweet lens....

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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    This is what I got from this combo

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    Subscriber Member Chuck Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    Dang, hard to want anything better than that! Nice image!

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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Jones View Post
    Dang, hard to want anything better than that! Nice image!
    +1 Fantastic Image!

    Just this guy you know

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    Senior Subscriber Member Mike Hatam's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    Thought I'd share some observations and a few images from the weekend...

    I shot 3 soccer games this weekend (my daughter's club team is in the State Cup) with the A77 / 70-400 combo. I'm used to shooting Canon bodies (1D series, and most recently the 7D) with a Sigma 120-300 f2.8 lens (awesome sports lens), so the Sony combo took some getting used too.

    In general, once focus was locked on, the continuous tracking focus on the A77 performed about equally to the 7D. The 7D has two advantages over the A77:

    - "thumb focus" can be used with AI Servo mode (continuous tracking) on the 7D, which when combined with center-point focus gives very precise control to determine the subject of the shot.

    - Sigma makes the 120-300 / f2.8 for EOS mount, but not Sony Alpha mount. If they made that lens for the Sony mount, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

    Let me discuss the thumb focus issue for a moment...

    Sony does provide a "AF/MF" button on the camera, and the ability to assign a function to the button. But unfortunately, there's no combination of settings (at least that I can figure out) that will allow me to couple the continuous focus to that button when pressed and held, and decouple focus from the shutter release. Canon allows this combo, and it's an ideal way to shoot sports. Best I can tell, Sony supports this combo for static (single-shot) AF, but not continuous AF.

    In terms of lens options, the Sony G 70-400 is decent as a sports lens, but not excellent. The DOF is too deep, and aperture too slow (f5.6). But in good light, it's acceptable.

    While I wait and pray for Sigma to release their 120-300 f2.8 lens in Alpha mount, I may turn to the Sony 135 f1.8 lens as my sports lens. Still waiting to try out that combination.

    One last thing - the Sony definitely captures colors differently from Canon. In post-processing, I need to slide the Blue/Yellow slider toward Blue, and the Red/Green slider toward Red, in order to more closely align to Canon colors. Not sure which are more accurate, but they are definitely significantly different.

    Now for a few sample images (all shot in RAW, processed in LR, some vignetting added for effect).
    Last edited by Mike Hatam; 14th November 2011 at 14:35.
    Mike Hatam
    Sony A99, RX1, RX100

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    Senior Subscriber Member Mike Hatam's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    And a few more...
    Mike Hatam
    Sony A99, RX1, RX100

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    Subscriber Member Chuck Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    Mike, very interesting observations, and as always, great sports shots! Congratulations on your daughter's team making it to State as well. Man, do they ever grow up fast. Good to see you enjoying yours. I know how hard that must be with your work demands.

    I'm finding the 135 f/1.8 to be a great lens, so far from admittedly limited testing. I'm not shooting any sports or fast moving objects with it yet though, so can't say how it is to track with. My one concern using it for soccer would be is it long enough? Mite be fine for shooting one end, but it won't have the reach to get down into the other goal I wouldn't think. With the crop factored in, it's only a 205mm in full frame terms. Is that long enough?

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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    The Sony APO 70-200/2.8 is an excellent lens as well...

  17. #17
    twm47099
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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Hatam View Post
    Thought I'd share some observations and a few images from the weekend...


    Let me discuss the thumb focus issue for a moment...

    Sony does provide a "AF/MF" button on the camera, and the ability to assign a function to the button. But unfortunately, there's no combination of settings (at least that I can figure out) that will allow me to couple the continuous focus to that button when pressed and held, and decouple focus from the shutter release. Canon allows this combo, and it's an ideal way to shoot sports. Best I can tell, Sony supports this combo for static (single-shot) AF, but not continuous AF.
    I forgot to mention in my other post that the way I generally use the AF/MF button is as follows:

    Set AF/MF to "hold"
    Set front dial to AF-C
    Half press and hold shutter release
    Press and hold AF/MF button - that sets MF
    Manually focus roughly, and track the action.
    Release the AF/MF button (camera switches to AF-C, and since I have shutter half pressed, locks on and tracks.) Then fully press shutter when I like the composition.

    The reason I use that method is because the older Sony (and Minolta) cameras could have trouble locking focus when the subject was mixed in with other stuff (e.g. heron in marsh behind some reeds.) By rough manual focus I was able to get the camera to ignore the confusing stuff in the foreground or around the subject and lock quickly on my primary subject.

    tom

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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    Mike...I am still trying hard to figure out how A77 auto focus works, but I am more familar with my old Canon bodies.
    I believe a faster lens is required for sport event. I saw great images coming out from Sigma 120-300 and really hopes an alpha mount version. If not, I don't mind picking up a 7D bodies just for this...my 100-400L behaves very similar like my 70-400G

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    Senior Subscriber Member Mike Hatam's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    I just took posession of a Sony Zeiss 135/1.8 (thanks to a fellow forum member), and will be giving it a try at a couple of games over the coming weekend. Will post some samples and my impressions after the weekend.
    Mike Hatam
    Sony A99, RX1, RX100

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    Senior Subscriber Member Mike Hatam's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    OK, after shooting just one game with the Zeiss 135 / 1.8, I can tell that I'm going to LOVE this lens. It's not really long enough for soccer (200mm equiv), but the look is so amazing that I'd rather use this lens and just shoot near-field action, rather than the Sony 70-400 to cover the whole field.

    This will be my go-to lens until Sigma releases the 120-300 / 2.8 in Sony mount...
    Mike Hatam
    Sony A99, RX1, RX100

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    Senior Subscriber Member Mike Hatam's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    And some more...

    All RAW images processed in LR, vignetting added for effect
    Mike Hatam
    Sony A99, RX1, RX100

  22. #22
    cabinet blues
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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    Hi Mike great shots! Using the 135 does have a wonderful look for sports.
    Here's a couple of my daughter using the same combo.

    cabinet blues

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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    I think DoF looks fine. But it does require more care when juxtaposing the background!

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    Senior Subscriber Member Mike Hatam's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    A few more from the 135 f1.8...

    I'm really liking this lens, despite the limited reach. The look is worth the trade-off in reach.
    Mike Hatam
    Sony A99, RX1, RX100

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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    Mike, have you ever got 135/2L?

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    Senior Subscriber Member Mike Hatam's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on sports lenses with A77

    Mark - the 135/2L (Canon) was one of my favorite Canon lenses. At the time I owned that lens, I only used FF bodies, so never used it as a sports lens.

    If I were to stay with the Canon system (7D) for sports, I'd probably pick that lens now as a ~200mm (effective) f2 lens for great sports shots.
    Mike Hatam
    Sony A99, RX1, RX100

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