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Without spending a fortune, what camera and lens can I buy for horse show photos?

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  • #21
    With the megapixels cameras have now, you're better of learning to get the focus you want with a shorter lens length and cropping for the shape you want. A fixed focal length is going to be faster and easier to get in focus in general than a long lens which isn't meant for speed. Sure there are the massive ones you can't hold on your own, but that's a pain!

    I have a T1i and mostly do concert photography, but am trying to learn to get horse shots at the right timing - I am the queen of awkward moments in the horse's movement.

    For motion shots I always have the center set as my focus point. In this shot, I auto-focused on the center rail before the horse (my horse, but long before I bought him) was there, then set it to manual and kept the focus it was on, and framed the shot as I wanted it as he came up.
    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2762/4...427b7033d7.jpg

    Same image, cropped:
    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2650/4...1724f46b3e.jpg

    Had I tried sport mode and tried to just focus on the horse, the shot wouldn't have worked as well as he doesn't have much contrast on his no-white body for the camera to focus on. That was with a borrowed 28-80 lens before I had bought any of mine.


    This is from an indoor show using my fixed length 80mm lens I use a LOT. This is the stadium at WestWorld (think Scottsdale Arab Show), and I'm in the stands on the other side. Obviously, I cropped it.
    http://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphoto...21519982_n.jpg

    The white wall actually made post-processing more of a challenge, but anyway you can tell it seems "up close" despite not being there and not using a zoom. That's the advantage of megapixels.

    I used the same lens at a mounted shooting event. Indoors, no lights, just sunlight out both ends of the arena. Again, no zoom, just cropping. This is how much of the arena I could see from my location with my lens:
    http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphoto...07098462_n.jpg
    Note the red balloon to the right of the screen farthest from you. This is the same horse/rider as she shoots at that balloon:
    http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphoto...06161632_n.jpg


    Because you have the camera you have, I agree you should just work on your skills and get a quality lens. If you're used to Nikon I'd say stick to Nikon when you get a new camera body, assuming it feels comfortable for you to operate. I find Nikons extremely uncomfortable to hold and operate so I have a Canon, but both are quality and can work well.
    Originally posted by Silverbridge
    If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

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    • #22
      Check out the Fujifilm super-zoom cameras. They can do sports photography on a budget. They have models that are for advanced photography and ones for people who want ease of use but great quality.
      Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!

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      • #23
        I take professional horse photos and use the Canon 7D with various L lenses, however, I just bought the Panasonic DMC FZ200 compact for my own personnal use. It is much lighter, can take 10-12 frame per second bursts, does 1080P video with auto focus, can shoot RAW, has a super zoom with stabilization and takes great photos! It is available at Amazon for $550-600, depending if it is on sale.

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        • #24
          Thanks, Jack, I was just going to mention the Panasonic Super Zooms.

          My pro gear is Canon Mark IV and a variety of Canon 2.8 lenses. But when I'm "off duty", I carry around a Lumix DMC-FZ150. Here's a link to a comprehensive review:

          http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Pa...mix_DMC_FZ150/

          I really like having the completely articulated LED viewfinder - you have no idea how useful this will be until you have one! It is possible to time horse photos with this camera, although coming from the Mark IV, which has a shutter release that is so sensitive that feels like an extension of my brain, it takes a bit of practice. It will shoot in a 12 frame burst: remember that it will take a while to process that burst afterwards. Its image quality is consistent from wide angle to fully zoomed, which says something for the advances in both lens design and image stabilization over the past few years!

          If I put the images from the Lumix side by side with the images from the Mark IV, I'll know instantly which came from the Big camera, and which came from "Mini Me", but that's one of the reasons there is another zero at the end of the Mark IV's price tag! But the Lumix is a great "tourist" camera, and a great noodle-around-the-barn camera, and BTW, it's very useful as a video camera as well.
          www.TerriMiller.com
          Photos & Commissioned Paintings

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          • #25
            Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
            That seems like a wise plan. I really like my Nikon a TON other than the problem with timing (which I can learn) but more than that-- the distance issue which a lens would solve.
            Just to clarify, you will not be able to buy a new lens for your existing camera. If I have understood your posts correctly, it is a point-and-shoot with an integrated zoom lens.

            I get my best horse action photos by far using SLRs (Canon 7D and 60D), but I am kind of a photo geek and don't mind the money/weight because I use the gear for non-horsey photography, as well. For someone who just wants decent show photos and isn't really looking to push back the boundaries of photography, I think one of the Lumix dealies would be better because they are smaller, lighter, and cheaper. I have legions of friends who buy SLRs and then never use them.

            My pocket camera is a Sony RX100 and it has a darn good 10 fps burst mode and is the size of a pack of cards. It is the first point-and-shoot that I've ever gotten decent action/sports photos with. The sensor is smaller than in the low-end APS-C SLRs, but between the 20 megapixels and the nice bright lens it still generates totally usable image quality. I take a LOT more photos with it than with the SLRs simply because it is always with me. It is also a good option for folks that like the idea of improving their photography skills because it has an extensive set of manual/creative control options. The only substantial annoyance I've found with it is limited manual flash options, which I am trying to develop workarounds for. Only a photo geek interested in using off-camera flash will care about this, though.
            Last edited by visorvet; Nov. 10, 2012, 08:53 PM.

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            • #26
              I got my Nikon D5100 on special for about $750 and then bought used lenses. There were some fantastic deals on eBay. So far, it's been an amazingly easy and fun camera.... More than I need.
              The rebel in the grey shirt

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              • Original Poster

                #27
                Originally posted by visorvet View Post
                Just to clarify, you will not be able to buy a new lens for your existing camera. If I have understood your posts correctly, it is a point-and-shoot with an integrated zoom lens.
                I have this...

                http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-Coolpix-.../dp/B00061RXO4

                They seem to sell different lenses for it? I'm no expert...
                ~Veronica
                "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

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                • #28
                  I got a Nikon J1 this summer to use taking pics of my daughter's soccer games, the kids riding, etc. I also blog for Horse Junkies United, and took pics at the US Dressage Olympic Selection trials and the Pfizer Million. The camera does really good work, even though I'm no artist. I got the package with several lenses and spent around $600.
                  http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/acil/lenses/
                  Me&MyBigGirl
                  My Blog: A Work In Progress

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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
                    I have this...

                    http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-Coolpix-.../dp/B00061RXO4

                    They seem to sell different lenses for it? I'm no expert...
                    I don't think so - it is a standard point-and-shoot with a built-in zoom. I think the best you could do would be add-on converter lenses, which i would definitely not recommend for your purposes.

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                    • Original Poster

                      #30
                      Originally posted by visorvet View Post
                      I don't think so - it is a standard point-and-shoot with a built-in zoom. I think the best you could do would be add-on converter lenses, which i would definitely not recommend for your purposes.
                      Well back to the drawing board for sure then!
                      ~Veronica
                      "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                      http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

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                      • #31
                        well if your back to the drawing board and want to stick with nikon, the D3100 is a cheap entry level that is really pretty decent... As good as any amatuer needs.
                        then you can go up from there. I only know nikons though sorry so cant help you with others

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                        • #32
                          Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
                          Well back to the drawing board for sure then!
                          With 8 megapixels and 85mm zoom you don't need a different lens. You need to learn how to focus/time the one you have.
                          Originally posted by Silverbridge
                          If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

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                          • Original Poster

                            #33
                            Originally posted by netg View Post
                            With 8 megapixels and 85mm zoom you don't need a different lens. You need to learn how to focus/time the one you have.
                            I literally cannot get shots across the ring without using the zoom feature. Especially if it's even a little overcast.

                            When I'm taking shots of the jump RIGHT in front of me (like no more than 5-6 feet away max), the timing is actually ok (or getting to be ok) and so is the focus...

                            http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y19...urrent=096.jpg

                            http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y19...urrent=094.jpg

                            http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y19...urrent=078.jpg

                            http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y19...urrent=084.jpg

                            http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y19...urrent=121.jpg

                            http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y19...pbrickwall.jpg

                            http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y19...ug62-1-051.jpg

                            http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y19...ug62-1-053.jpg

                            The problem is that I can't take shots of anything other than the jump right next to me on the rail, which is very limiting. At any given show, if I stand in one place I have maybe 2 jumps I can hope to take a photo of at a decent angle. And if they're too far off the rail, I can't really crop in to get a nicely framed shot, I get too much background in as well.

                            Anything that isn't either the jump on the outside line right by where I am standing or a diagnonal a few feet inside of that-- I can't shoot it. If I do, it's either so far away you can't tell what's in the photo or else if I zoom-- blurry, out of focus, and ill-timed.
                            ~Veronica
                            "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                            http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              I believe the optical zoom on this camera is only 3.5X (maybe I read that spec incorrectly), if you go into digital zoom, this can become blurry with "used" cameras, eg, I have a similar aged Canon that still takes OK stills if optical zoom, but ask for anything digital & all you get is garbage - my solution was to upgrade a friend with alot more invested in her camera chose the frustrating World of Camera Repairs (some was covered by warranty, some not), succinctly put, camera never returned to it's original abilities & was finally scrapped ...
                              processing speed (including writing to memory card) IS relatively slow on this camera (even by 2004 standards it was notable in the reviews).

                              Why not try out some cameras from the local shops to see if you want to go new(er) - spend time on the various (technical) camera review sites & choose a camera that is likely to meet your needs & then try them out, some you'll hate the software or body or button placement etc

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Forgive me I haven't read everything. I've had a canon 20d and a 60d... I love them, I shoot horse shows with a 2.8 70-200 which is enough to get across the ring... My recommendation is to get a better 200 lens than a crappier 300 lens!! And also get a better camera with intention to upgrade lens down the way. Also as a very famous photographer recommended to me buy the best camera/lens you can...I almost didn't spend the $$$ on my 20d and canon lens.... I thought about buying a cheaper lens but cant tell you how glad i am that i sprung for the good one 7 years later, now am so happy I upgraded to the 60d that shoots video too!!!

                                I also would say go to a camera shop and or take a class they may have some equipment you can try..... Perhaps use football as a example of what a horse show is like.... Fast moving and far away!!!
                                www.neighland.com
                                Friend us on FB

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                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
                                  The problem is that I can't take shots of anything other than the jump right next to me on the rail, which is very limiting. At any given show, if I stand in one place I have maybe 2 jumps I can hope to take a photo of at a decent angle. And if they're too far off the rail, I can't really crop in to get a nicely framed shot, I get too much background in as well.

                                  Anything that isn't either the jump on the outside line right by where I am standing or a diagnonal a few feet inside of that-- I can't shoot it. If I do, it's either so far away you can't tell what's in the photo or else if I zoom-- blurry, out of focus, and ill-timed.
                                  Getting a fancier camera will make that harder, not easier. You need to learn better technique. As you get into dSLRs like most folks have recommended on this thread, interchangeable lenses, etc., you find that it's even harder to get a good focus. The pocket cameras the pros have mentioned they choose for themselves would serve your purposes entirely I'm sure, but you'd still have to learn technique for them as well.

                                  Check my pictures again - the indoor taken with an 85mm, and the
                                  outdoor was actually at 55mm focal length. If you learn to focus, cropping to get the pic will work.

                                  Originally posted by alto View Post
                                  I believe the optical zoom on this camera is only 3.5X (maybe I read that spec incorrectly), if you go into digital zoom, this can become blurry with "used" cameras, eg, I have a similar aged Canon that still takes OK stills if optical zoom, but ask for anything digital & all you get is garbage - my solution was to upgrade a friend with alot more invested in her camera chose the frustrating World of Camera Repairs (some was covered by warranty, some not), succinctly put, camera never returned to it's original abilities & was finally scrapped ...
                                  I've definitely always turned off optical zoom if using a camera which had it. The lens is cited as a 24-85mm lens so I'm taking that at face value because 3.5X means absolutely nothing to me. I have no idea if the 85mm range is actually in digital zoom, in which case yeah the camera may not be sufficient. But I just want to echo alto's point with emphasis - don't use digital zoom, it's not going to help pics!
                                  Originally posted by Silverbridge
                                  If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    I typed a big ole post and it posted...but seems to have gone poof when I edited. (Hating new forum...why can't I use the "Post Reply" button? I seemed to be forced to use the wee "quick reply" box in it super sucks)

                                    Originally posted by netg View Post
                                    You need to learck my pictures again - the indoor taken with an 85mm, and the outdoor was actually at 55mm focal length. If you learn to focus, cropping to get the pic will work.
                                    Sorry, but your pictures, save the first, are blurry.

                                    Two Sticks: I have a T2i with three lenses (18-55, 55-250 and 50mm prime) I find that the 55-250 is too slow for across the ring shots unless it is a sunny day. I've got examples from a show that had intermittent cloud cover and the difference in the shots is shocking. Would the 75-300 be that much better or should I just save (and save and save) for a 70-200?

                                    I find the 18-55 fairly useless for my purposes. It's a kit lens and I only use it at home. I do love my 50 prime lens. It's not my go-to for portraits and non-action shots. I'm still learning how to use it (boy, it can be frustrating having to move to frame a shot) and as a pure hobbyist...and maybe not even that: I'm not a photograph hobbyist, but rather a person-who-likes-to-have-pictures-of-their-horse hobbyist, who knows if I will ever learn.

                                    I do agree with you about the burst. You don't get good shots because you have a burst...you get them because you know when to time the shot. When I first starting taking pictures, I had plenty of poorly timed burst shots. These days, I can often take one frame and get the shot. And it saves A LOT of time: there is a lot less deleting to be done.

                                    I was taught to frame the jump how I wanted it, then go to the horse and focus on its shoulder, following the horse to the jump and over. Is that how you do it? I find if I focus on the jump, I have to be perfect in order to avoid a blurry picture.
                                    Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                                    Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

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                                    • #38
                                      I have a Cannon T1i. It's great for horse pictures and it takes great video. It was also easy to learn.

                                      I had the T3i for about 30 minutes and I returned it. It doesn't shoot with the same immediacy as the T1i. It has a little delay which is the difference between getting the shot and missing it.

                                      I also tried the new Sony camera that has no mirror and it was awful for shots of the horses. It is supposed to be fast, but it had serious delay. Hated it.

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                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
                                        I have this...

                                        http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-Coolpix-.../dp/B00061RXO4

                                        They seem to sell different lenses for it? I'm no expert...

                                        This is a point and shoot and not a DSLR, so you wouldn't be able to buy a new lens for it.

                                        I still think one of the Canon Rebels would be a good camera for you, with the 75-300mm lens.

                                        While you will still have to learn timing and the best focusing techniques, you will have a lot more room to work with and better quality overall.

                                        It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got.

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                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by RugBug View Post
                                          Two Sticks: I have a T2i with three lenses (18-55, 55-250 and 50mm prime) I find that the 55-250 is too slow for across the ring shots unless it is a sunny day. I've got examples from a show that had intermittent cloud cover and the difference in the shots is shocking. Would the 75-300 be that much better or should I just save (and save and save) for a 70-200?
                                          The 55 -250 and the 75-300 are going to be the same in image quality. When you say it's "too slow" do you mean you are getting image blur? This can be fixed by increasing your ISO so you can shoot at a higher shutter speed. If you have your ISO low, and it's not bright and sunny, you won't be able to shoot at a high enough shutter speed. Increasing the ISO will let you bump up your shutter speed and still get a correct exposure. Your 55-250 goes to f/4 while the 70-200 will go to f/2.8. When I'm shooting action shots I usually go no lower than f/5.6 anyways. (I do love my 85 mm f/1.8 for portraits though!). I would recommend renting the 70-200mm from a place like borrow lenses (www.borrowlenses.com) and see if it is worth the investment to you. You should be able to get pretty decent shots with your T2i and the 55-250 mm. The 70-200mm is also going to be a much bigger and heavier lens, you will need to shoot a little faster to prevent motion blur (no slower than 1/400, I usually aim to shoot my horse show shots at f/5.6 and a minimum shutter speed of 1/600). If you are shooting purely as a hobbiest, I probably would try and get familiar with your camera settings and exposure - I think this would make a bigger difference than new lens (The 70-200mm Canon IS is going to run you over 2k) for a significantly lower cost. (JMHO of course!)

                                          Originally posted by RugBug View Post
                                          I was taught to frame the jump how I wanted it, then go to the horse and focus on its shoulder, following the horse to the jump and over. Is that how you do it? I find if I focus on the jump, I have to be perfect in order to avoid a blurry picture.
                                          What you are describing is called "tracking" - a lot of people shoot like this. I personally don't, I find my jump and lock my focus on the middle of the back rail. I raise my head a little bit and watch the horse approach through my peripheral vision, when they get 4-5 strides away I look through my viewfinder till I get the timing for the shot I want. It's kind of funny - the timing to me is almost like "seeing a distance." Most people find it much harder to do it the way I do and find it easier to track the horse. Totally a personal thing, neither way is right or wrong.

                                          There are also different focus modes on your camera - if you are tracking you are going to want to make sure that you have the camera set to "Al Servo AF" which is designed to track the moving object.

                                          If you are focusing on the jump and getting a blurry photo- if the jump is in focus - end to end - and the horse is blurry - your shutter speed is not high enough.

                                          If the front or back end of the jump is in focus and the horse and other end of the jump are not, you are focusing on the wrong spot or shooting with too shallow of a depth of field. Decreasing your aperture (shooting at f/11 or f/13 instead of f/4 or f/5.6) will give you a broader depth of field and more of your image will be in focus. F/11 or F/13 is a good bet to have the whole jump in focus. If you are shooting at 5.6 you really have to be right on with your focus to have it be sharp. (And yes, you would be "decreasing" your aperture even though the numbers are going up, because as the numbers are going up, the actual aperture (opening of the lens where the light comes in) is getting smaller).

                                          Sorry for the novel, hope this helps!
                                          It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got.

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