A Site for Photographers by Photographers

Community > Forums > Nikon > Nikon Lenses and Optics > Which lens for football

Which lens for football

Gabe Souza , Aug 19, 2008; 01:23 p.m.

Recently I got the full-time photography job for my newspaper for sports, which means shooting at low light football games. I have a D60 with a 55-200 AFS f/4-5.6, but am looking to upgrade soon to something that has a little more reach but won't break the bank. I see that Tamron makes a 70-300 f/4-5.6 for around $175 which is what I have been considering. What would anyone suggest for a lens in this situation? I'm hoping to stay under $350-$400. If it is an amazing lens I might be willing to go slightly above but not much. Thanks, I appreciate all the feedback, Gabe.


    1   |   2   |   3     Next    Last

David Chu , Aug 19, 2008; 01:31 p.m.

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 AF-S IF-ED VR? Around $500 on B&H.

William Pahnelas , Aug 19, 2008; 01:36 p.m.

that's a pretty challenging gig you've got yourself, gabe, considering what you've got to work with. even if you push the D60s ISO to it's highest acceptable setting, trying to shoot in poor light with an f/4-5.6 lens is probably going to yield pretty marginal results. if that. you really need to be looking for a zoom capable of a constant f/2.8 at least, which is going way over your budget. you might want to give this some more thought.

Ralph Berrett , Aug 19, 2008; 01:42 p.m.

To be blunt even with an SB-800 flash none of those lenses you mentioned will work for high school football.

For most of the sports a 70-200m f/2.8 VR would be ideal but that is a $1600 lens.

Here are some lens suggestions with various prices: Nikon Zoom Telephoto AF VR Zoom Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8D G-AFS ED-IF Autofocus Lens (Vibration Reduction) - Black Cost $ 1,624.95

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 II EX DG APO Macro HSM AF Lens for Nikon Cost: $799.00

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro AF Lens for Nikon AF Cost: $699.00

Zoom Telephoto Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 ED AF-D Autofocus Lens with Tripod Collar Cost: $914.95 Sports: football, Baseball, softball, waterpolo, swimming, basketball, volleyball, track and field, and cross country.

Telephoto Nikkor 180mm f/2.8D AF ED-IF Autofocus Lens cost: $749.95 Sports: football, Baseball, softball, waterpolo, swimming, track and field, and cross country.

Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 II EX DC HSM Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cost: $749.00

Zoom Normal-Telephoto 50-135mm f/2.8 AT-X 535 PRO DX Autofocus Lens for Nikon Digital Cost: $649.95 Sports: football, Baseball, softball, waterpolo, swimming, basketball, volleyball, track and field, and cross country.

Telephoto AF DC (Defocus Control) Nikkor 105mm f/2.0D Autofocus Lens Cost: $924.95

Tokina Telephoto 100mm f/2.8 AT-X M100 AF Pro D Macro Autofocus Lens for Nikon AF-D Cost: $399.95 Sports: football, Baseball, swimming, basketball, volleyball, track and field, and cross country.

Nikon Telephoto AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D Autofocus Lens Cost: $309.95 Sports Basketball, volleyball, some track and field, and cross country.

Matt Laur , Aug 19, 2008; 01:53 p.m.

Full time gig, but you have to use/risk/wear-out your own gear? Or is this hardware that the newspaper owns? Tell them that you're up against the laws of physics, here, and that poorly lit night games simply can't be captured well until you're armed with faster glass. Any of those f/2.8 in the 70/80-200 range will be a big help, but even f/2.8 is poor light is dicey. Be sure you have a good monopod at your disposal, regardless.

John Vanacore , Aug 19, 2008; 01:56 p.m.


All i can wish you is good luck, becuase there is nothing that will yeield anything useable with low lighting in that price range, with any kind of reach.now, if you want to go at least 2 times your budget, then you can find a decent used 3rd party lens in the range of 70-200 f2.8

And again, depending where you are allowed to shoot from at the high school fields, you may need even more reach 300mmf2.8 is the choice of working pros at minimum (400mmf2.8 better yet.)

You are now reaching the multi thousand dollar range (as your probably guessed.)

I beleive you should be up fromt with the publication you are working for, and let them know before heading out that you are very limited in capabilty at this point. It's better than surpirsing them with sub-par results afterward.

This is MHO. Again good luck

Steven King , Aug 19, 2008; 01:58 p.m.


I've been shooting high school and college football for my newspaper for the past ten years. Most stadiums, especially high school stadiums, are tombs — very little light, and most of it concentrated between the 30-yard lines. You will need a shutter speed of at least 1/250 of a second to avoid blur — even with a flash. Unfortunately with your budget, you are at a real handicap. The lens you need at a minimum must have an f/2.8 maximum aperture to get the shutter speed you'll need. If you are forced to shoot with an f/4-5.6 zoom, then get lots of batteries to power your flash, because you'll need them.

Search hard, and perhaps you'll be able to find what you need used. VR isn't a requirement because camera shake won't blur your pictures as much as full backs running downfield.

Anyway, good luck.


Matthew Smith , Aug 19, 2008; 02:36 p.m.

To be even blunter,

I took excellent high school football pictures (while in high school) witha 70-300 5.6 lens and 3200 film.

So with your budget,

I would recommend the Nikon 70-300 5.6 VR, a monopod, and rachet your camera up to 3200 ISO.

The pictures may not be perfect but if you can't afford a 2.8 lens it's the best you can do, better than not getting the shot, or going with nothing.


Matthew Smith , Aug 19, 2008; 02:38 p.m.

Take as many pictures as you can per game!

Bruce Margolis , Aug 19, 2008; 03:13 p.m.

Gabe, you are trying to shoot a fast action sport in low light with a camera not well known for high ISO and you want a lens that will delivery spectacular images for under $400. Well......

You need a fast lens with AF-S or equivalent, unless you are exceptional at manual focus. That limits the choices even more.

Look at the new Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 with HSM. Yeah, it's more expensive than you want but keep looking for one used. It might get closer to where you can afford it. Oh, and this assumes you will be shooting from the sidelines, not from the seats or press area. If you are up there, a 400mm+ lens is probably more appropriate and you won't want to hear what those would cost.

Another thing that would help is flash but I have never seen a game where it is allowed. If you can use a flash -- and maybe with a better beamer -- that would give back to you some other options.

And just another thought....... if the newspaper really wants you to do this, maybe they could cover half the cost. That way, both of you win.

    1   |   2   |   3     Next    Last

Back to top

Notify me of Responses