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Shooting photos at basketball game

will the 35mm f/1.8 or 55-200mm lens work well for taking photos at highschool basketball game ?


  • I'd say it depends on how close you are and how good the light is. The 35 gives a pretty wide view if you're in the stands. It's likely to give you full court shots all the time, and won't allow you to zoom in on individual players. The 55-200 will give you a lot more range. It's slower, though, and could have problems focusing if the light is poor. You'll need to use a higher ISO to keep the shutter speed fast enough to stop motion. I'd ordinarily suggest the 55-200 but if you have a good big pocket you might want to keep the 35 on hand if you find it too difficult to get good exposures with the zoom. If the court is well lit you should be able to get a usable shutter speed even on the 200 without going to the extremes of ISO, and action shots of people are likely to be less bothered by noise than things like scenery. But if the lighting is poor, you may miss a lot of shots with slow focus and the need to slow the shutter speed. The 35, even though its viewpoint is less dramatic, might end up getting more sharp shots.

    If you crop very much the sharpness advantage of the prime lens and the ability to use lower ISO might not make up for the loss, but the D3200 has a nice dense sensor and a good sharp shot can be cropped quite a bit and still stay good.

    Once again, if you have time, try taking nice sharp shot with the 35 at something like ISO 400, and then experiment with the image in the computer, cropping to see how far you can go before it gets nasty. You might be pleasantly surprised. This is especially true if you use a Raw editor like View NX-2 and crop before converting to JPG. The loss will be less.

    Although the D3200 has a rather small buffer for Raw shots (about 6 as I recall), that's enough to shoot short bursts, and if you're pushing the limits of shutter speed owing to the poor light, you should take more shots if you can, on the assumption that there will be many misses, but occasional good ones. You don't want to overdo the "spray and pray" approach, especially if you don't know what's about to happen, because you don't want the camera to stall at the wrong moment, but try shooting bursts of three or four at a time. If you're shooting JPG you can do many more at a time, but Raw will allow a little more correction in post, including exposure compensation, white balance, and sometimes cropping.

  • Occasionally something in the software here interrupts a post and I have to back out and delete a part. I was going to add a link to a picture to show how much a D3200 can crop in a pinch. This image is cropped down from the original 24 megapixels to 980 x 652 with no sharpening or other processing. The original intention was to show off the amazing VR of the Nikon 200-500 lens, because this was shot at 1/25 second at 500 millimeters handheld, having no right to be even recognizable, much less sharp. But in this case, it also shows how much you can crop an ISO 400 shot and still have something approaching tolerable clarity.
  • Hello Bruto thanks so much for your tips, I will give it a try tonight, fingers crossed I can do this. I've learned practice makes perfect.
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