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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr. 13, 2010
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    Question Help Me Choose: Digital Camera for Horse Sports

    Yes, I've looked through the archives for camera recommendations. And I've been reading camera reviews of different brands and models. But I still need input.

    What is a good digital camera for shooting horse sports? These are the things that are important to me:

    ***Clarity/crispness/sharpness of photos produced (Yes, I realize much depends on the photographer! ;D But I want to be able to shoot high quality images, not just *passable* pictures.)

    ***Shutter speed -- it's SOOO frustrating to miss a shot because the camera is too slow! I want to be able to shoot fast movement shots: horses running, jumping, etc. What speed would you recommend?

    ***Zoom -- range to a minimum 200 mm or equivalent, preferably 500 mm or equivalent. Initially, I thought I'd have to have an SLR for a decent telephoto, but, from what I've been reading on camera sites, maybe that's not a requirement??

    That said, I don't know what other features are *really* important, what would you not want to do without?

    Are they any really nice point-and-shoots/compact digitals available or should I look at DSLR's?

    I can be flexible on the budget to get a *good* camera, but it's not important to me if it's a new camera. I'd be happy with a used camera too if I can get a better quality model that way.

    What brands/models would you look at?

    I looked at B&H's website (got my last film camera from them), but ads always make every model sound wonderful. I need better input from people who actually USE the equipment.
    Last edited by Horsenred; Dec. 10, 2010 at 11:29 AM.



  2. #2
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    Mar. 30, 2007
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    You need a DSLR and a solid f2.8 (or better) zoom lens if you want to shoot sports, especially horses. While the advanced point and shoots with a CMOS (the kind of image sensor used in a DSLR) can get you the occasional good shot of your horse jumping if you're close to it, they cannot come close in any significant way to a DSLR paired with a fast and well built zoom lens.
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!



  3. #3
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    Feb. 1, 2001
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    Finally...back in civilization, more or less
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    11,674

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    My DH uses a Nikon D300s and loves it. He has a variety of lenses for it; his current favorite is a Nikkor 70-200mm. He's consistently gotten great shots of us in all sorts of venues with it and the first question my friends ask when we are planning the show schedule is, "When is Mr. L available?" LOL
    **********
    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
    -PaulaEdwina



  4. #4
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    Nov. 6, 2002
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    Henrico, NC 36 30'50.49" N 77 50'17.47" W
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    The cost of a real camera just significantly dropped. Puts everything else, including those costing several times more, to shame.

    http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/d7000.htm

    Use the links on Ken's site to Adorama to buy one. His site is how he makes his living, and it's a big help to people looking for real world advice on cameras.



  5. #5
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    Oct. 14, 2000
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    Now In the Sandhills, NC mostly
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    What's your budget?
    Are we talking 500 or 5K?



  6. #6
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    Jun. 3, 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
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    I shoot a lot of horse shows. I use a Canon Rebel Xti, but the most important thing is the quality of the lens. Don't just go by length--you want something that opens to F2.8 and that costs a lot.

    The body of my camera cost around $600; the lens was almost $2000. Here's mine: http://bit.ly/gXkP4H.

    And here are examples of the photos it takes: http://www.vsdressage.com/competitions.html
    Daxia Digital: for all your social media and online marketing needs
    www.daxiadigital.com



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct. 27, 2010
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    Midwest
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    DSLR, all the way. Like I told my mom when she was looking, if you are specific about the features you want in a point-and-shoot, you're going to outgrow it in less than six months because you'll want low light shooting, or you'll want fast shutter speed. When you start getting picky, time to move up.

    I bought my Canon 30d for $700 gently used on Amazon, and it came with a $400 IS lens, a bag, two batteries, a filter, and the charger. You can get a used Rebel for a few hundred dollars if you don't want to make a big initial investment, and they're great cameras that really hold your hand. The rule of thumb is to go with the best lens you can afford and the cheapest body you can get away with, because glass will last you forever but the camera itself won't.

    Nikon or Canon, get a DSLR from either one and you can't go wrong. Unless you'll be shooting only in beautiful sunny outdoor arenas, you want a DSLR for shooting horses.



  8. #8
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    Apr. 13, 2010
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    Budget...WEEELLLL, hmmm. I *was* hoping to stay closer to the $500 mark, but, geez, that Nikon D7000 looks nice --!

    I wonder if my old Pentax lens would work on it...

    SBrentnall -- Lovely photos!



  9. #9
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    Oct. 14, 2000
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    Ditto to Cobjockey on the used equipment. I just sold my well used but very serviceable 20D for 350$ including the grip and the kit lens.
    Also ditto to SBrentnall--buy one REALLY nice lens and a cheaper body. You'll keep the lenses forever and bump up bodies.



  10. #10
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    Nov. 6, 2002
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    Henrico, NC 36 30'50.49" N 77 50'17.47" W
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    Shutter lag is such a problem for point-and-shoots.

    I bought a Casio EX-FH100 to shoot slow motion golf swing videos. They solved the lag problem with software. In high speed mode, it starts buffering 20 or 30 shots per second when you half press the button and keeps the last half seconds worth when it's pressed all the way.

    It would be one worth looking at. Adorama is selling them for something around $250. The slow motion video it's capable of is pretty cool too.

    No viewfinder, but a 3" LCD which works pretty good in full sunlight even.

    Decent tele too.



  11. #11
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    Apr. 16, 2002
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    ontario, canada
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    Quote Originally Posted by LexInVA View Post
    You need a DSLR and a solid f2.8 (or better) zoom lens if you want to shoot sports, especially horses. While the advanced point and shoots with a CMOS (the kind of image sensor used in a DSLR) can get you the occasional good shot of your horse jumping if you're close to it, they cannot come close in any significant way to a DSLR paired with a fast and well built zoom lens.
    I don't think *need* is really the right word. Ideal? Sure. But you don't need a 2.8 or faster to shoot horses.

    My recommendation is to pick up a used body. I started with a Canon 10D and now use a 30D. Both were purchased used when they were about a year old and were less than $500. I've been happy with my 30D so I haven't been watching the market closely but you can get easily get a recent DLSR body for under $500.

    Lenses are a whole different issue. It really pays to spend more, but you don't NEED to buy top quality glass to produce good images. I started with an inexpensive zoom lens (100-300 4-5.6) that cost under $150 and I used it for years. I'm not a professional, I've never taken a photography course, but I took fairly good images in all sorts of lighting conditions with that lens. Darker days were definitely difficult, but I was generally able to manage.

    I'm not trying to suggest that they are perfect, but they were decent images. I've since upgraded to a 70-200 f4 IS and it was money well spent. My pictures have definitely improved, but for your average amateur who just wants to get some decent images, I'm don't think the cash outlay is necessary.



  12. #12
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    Mar. 12, 2006
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    I use a Nikon D-40, and like it. My wish list for the future is a big zoom but for now it works well. It was around $500 with 2 decent lens'. Most of the pictures on our web site were shot with this camera. The indoor shots, on the horses for sale page, are in an indoor arena without lights. Shutter at 200 and used the built in flash. I'll attach one shot below. Shot by my sister who is a budding photographer.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	lionettajump.jpg 
Views:	87 
Size:	143.8 KB 
ID:	31473  



  13. #13
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    Apr. 13, 2010
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    Nice shot, NoDQ!

    Can someone translate 1/2000-30 sec into FPS?

    What FPS would you recommend for shooting horses jumping?

    What zoom would you recommend for horse shows? I got used to using a 28-200, so I think if I go less than 200, I'll definitely miss it. But would a 300 be worth it? What about a 500? I know it's personal preference, but, how often can you shoot 200 from general seating at a horse show (in other words, not prime photography position!) and get really NICE close-ups?

    Thanks SO much for all the great info! I'm definitely doing my homework -- I've been reading up on the Rockwell site (thanks for posting it Tom!).



  14. #14
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    Jun. 12, 2010
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    OR
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    You should get a dSLR. Any of the budget/consumer Nikon kits would be great to start with and I believe you can get some of the one or two lens kits for ~$600 at places like Costco. You don't need a fast lens if you're mostly going to be shooting outdoors in daylight. Usually the kits have a short zoom that covers wide to portrait lengths and a longer one with a max of about 200mm.

    The technology evolves so fast that by the time you've "outgrown" the kit (and you might not -- there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with the consumer dSLR kits and most will take photos indistinguishable from pro gear in most situations if you have the requisite skills) there will be something else out there, perhaps more "pro," that you will want to upgrade to, or you can keep using the body but get better lenses, etc.

    I have a Nikon D70s that is very long in the tooth in camera-years (it is 6MP and I bought it in 2005) that I took many pictures I really love with. It is still the camera I take with me into the field (archaeology) and still going strong, even though I now use newer cameras most of the time (I am more into street, available light, candid photography than sports or landscapes). About the only problem I really had with it for most of what I consider "dSLR uses" (i.e., outdoors, sports, landscapes etc.) is that the resolution is low for cropping and I didn't have a really long lens for it. Otherwise it is still a great camera. The new budget Nikons are WAY better than my D70s.

    Here are some photos I took with my old D70s and the kit (i.e., cheap) lenses:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/soloriv...7594491326758/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/soloriv...7618409481622/

    Long story short, the "cheap" dSLR kits (and I do favor Nikon) have gotten SO good that 99.9999% of people looking for a camera with SLR capabilities will be more than happy with them and there's no reason to spend more money, IMO. For reference, my other cameras include an Olympus E-P2 (micro 4/3 camera) and a Nikon D300.
    MelanieC * Canis soloensis



  15. #15
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    Mar. 25, 2010
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    I am going to put in my vote for the Pentax starter kits either Kx or Kr (newest) as the Pentax has built in shake reduction so you don't have to pay big bucks for stabilized lenses. I have had quite good luck with my older Pentax and the newer ones have greatly improved autofocus. The two lens kit really gives you what you need to get started.



  16. #16
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    Feb. 6, 2008
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    PA
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    I bought an Olympus DSLR in the spring of this year and I love it. I use the 40-150mm mid to telephoto lens the most but also have the 14-42 mm lens. I picked the Olympus because it was the lightest and smallest in its class of DSLRs and I wanted to be able to take it to horse events and maybe even riding. You can see lots of pics here:
    http://ctgponies.blogspot.com/



  17. #17
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    Nov. 5, 2000
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    10,242

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    My husband gave me a Nikon D5000 kit for Christmas a couple of years ago. Features include 12.3-megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor, shutter speed of 1/4000 - 30 sec, and 4fps continuous shooting burst capability. It also has a bunch of pre-set autoexposure modes if you just want point and shoot capability. I have been getting some really good shots using the "sports" setting.

    The kit was around $500 at Costco and also included a case and battery charger, as well as two zoom lenses (18-55mm and 55-200mm). The 55-200 works okay for ringside shots because I pull the files into PhotoShop and zoom/crop as needed, but I am hoping to add a 70-300mm lenses soon (prob. another $500-$600). The D5000 also has video capability, which I have not played around with.

    Overall, it seems to be a good little camera for the non-pro.



  18. #18
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    Nov. 6, 2002
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    Henrico, NC 36 30'50.49" N 77 50'17.47" W
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    Quote Originally Posted by Horsenred View Post
    Nice shot, NoDQ!

    Can someone translate 1/2000-30 sec into FPS?

    What FPS would you recommend for shooting horses jumping?

    What zoom would you recommend for horse shows? I got used to using a 28-200, so I think if I go less than 200, I'll definitely miss it. But would a 300 be worth it? What about a 500? I know it's personal preference, but, how often can you shoot 200 from general seating at a horse show (in other words, not prime photography position!) and get really NICE close-ups?

    Thanks SO much for all the great info! I'm definitely doing my homework -- I've been reading up on the Rockwell site (thanks for posting it Tom!).
    FPS (frames per second) is a video camera spec. Shutter speed is the length of time the shutter is open during the exposure. Video cameras do that for you automatically mostly, but with still shot cameras you have more of a choice.

    Exposure is dependent on three things-lens opening size ratio (F:2.8, F:11 etc.), shutter speed (1/30 sec., 1/500th sec., etc.), and sensitivity (stated as ISO number these days). With a higher shutter speed, you have to use either a wider open lens, or a higher sensitivity. It's all a tradeoff. You have to get the required amount of light to the sensor or film in order to have detail in a picture. Wider lens opening means less depth of field so focusing is harder or covers less depth. The higher the sensitivity of either a digital sensor or film-the less detail you get in the picture.



  19. #19
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    Nov. 6, 2002
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    I was getting ready to order a D7000, but it looks like you can't find one anywhere right now. Being a $1200 body that's better than everything up to $7000, means that it looks like they can't make them fast enough.



  20. #20
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    Apr. 2, 2009
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    Yup, get a dSLR. I have a Canon Rebel XT, which is prolly all old and out of style now, but put good glass in front of it and it will take beautiful pictures. I've heard a lot of great things about the Pentax too, as a "hidden gem."



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