Need Advice - Which Lens Best For Shooting Local MX?

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8/21/2018 9:03 AM

Ok, I've done a search on Vital to see if this has been discussed before, but mainly found older posts discussing older equipment / camera models.

I am going to be purchasing a Sony A6000 mirrorless camera. I would like to purchase ONE good lens for it, that would be good for me to shoot local Motocross races with. Mainly action shots of riders going by, while I'm standing near the edge of the track.

I would like to have a very fast lens, but can't really afford something really, really fast right now. I have ran across this Sigma art lens that goes down to 2.8 and has about a 90mm equivalent focal length (on the a6000). https://www.dpreview.com/products/sigma/lenses/sigma_a_m_60_2p8 It's fast, but also inexpensive. My question would be the focal length. Will 90mm get me close enough to properly frame riders coming by? If not, which fixed focal length should I go for, assuming I do not want to use a zoom lens?

Thanks for anyone that could give me some insight.

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8/21/2018 9:38 AM

You get what you pay for when it comes to glass. Buy cheap a cheap lens, you'll get cheap results. If you want crisp sharp images, you need to spend a little money. Sigma makes pretty good middle of the road stuff but you'll want to buy their top of the line. Canon and Nikon's high end lenses are expensive for a reason....because their really really good.

90mm will not get you close enough. You want to find a 70-200mm or even a 70-300mm but I don't know if you'll find one fast enough. If you're shooting MX, an F4.0 should be good enough unless you really want a shallow depth of field (which means you'll need to capture the rider in the correct place or the shot will be out of focus.) Ask yourself if you really need a 2.8. This might help with your budget as well.

Invest in a good 70-200. I've had mine for over 9 years and it's paid for itself many times over.

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8/21/2018 9:44 AM

70-200 2.8 Nikon or Canon

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8/21/2018 9:56 AM

70-200MM 2.8 fo sho

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8/21/2018 9:59 AM

2.8 is plenty fast enough. Any wider of an aperture than that, and you'll find that DOF is too shallow to get the whole bike/rider in focus. I'll usually stop down to ~3.2

Then 90mm is pretty short for moto, and I think you'll really struggle with it, as your only lens. I use a 200mm 2.8 prime (I shoot Canon, FF sensor) 99% of the time.

Your best option is going with something like the Sigma 70-200 2.8, but I'm guessing that is out of your budget? So, you're probably looking at going with the Sony 18-135mm...but the IQ will leave you wanting to upgrade rather quickly...


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8/21/2018 10:18 AM

Can you share "why" you would suggest he spend the extra money on an f2.8? (I know why I did but I'd like to hear why you guys think he should.)

I say this because for the type of shooting he described, a medium to high end f4.0 lens will actually work quite well due to lighting and depth of field forgiveness.

For example, when I shoot action, I'm usually shooting at f5.6 or smaller (aka a bigger number) and typically around 600-2000 Shutter depending on if the rider is coming, going or moving across and if I want motion blur.

The only time I shoot f2.8 is if I'm shooting an stationary object. Very, very rarely do I shoot high speed anything at f2.8 because you have to hit the mark perfect or your shot is out of focus.

Again, for his application, I don't think you can go wrong with a f4.0. (That being said, if you spend the money on a f2.8 now, it might hurt a little to your pocket book, but in the long run, you'll have it for a long long time.) Buying glass is an investment.

If you want to save money, you still won't go wrong with a f4.0 as they're about half the price of a f2.8. Search CL in your area and you'll see what I mean.

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8/21/2018 10:47 AM

Zaugg wrote:

Can you share "why" you would suggest he spend the extra money on an f2.8? (I know why I did but I'd like to hear why you guys think he should.)

I say this because for the type of shooting he described, a medium to high end f4.0 lens will actually work quite well due to lighting and depth of field forgiveness.

For example, when I shoot action, I'm usually shooting at f5.6 or smaller (aka a bigger number) and typically around 600-2000 Shutter depending on if the rider is coming, going or moving across and if I want motion blur.

The only time I shoot f2.8 is if I'm shooting an stationary object. Very, very rarely do I shoot high speed anything at f2.8 because you have to hit the mark perfect or your shot is out of focus.

Again, for his application, I don't think you can go wrong with a f4.0. (That being said, if you spend the money on a f2.8 now, it might hurt a little to your pocket book, but in the long run, you'll have it for a long long time.) Buying glass is an investment.

If you want to save money, you still won't go wrong with a f4.0 as they're about half the price of a f2.8. Search CL in your area and you'll see what I mean.

I recommended he goes with a 2.8 mainly because Sigma doesn't make a 70-200 f4. Also, because having a 2.8 is going to be more versatile than a 4. All of these lenses are out of his price range (assuming he wants something priced similarly to the Sigma 60mm he listed), so I listed the Sigma 70-200 because it is the ideal focal length/aperture or moto, and because it (a used one) is the most reasonably priced 70-200 option out there (for Sony mount)...gives him an idea of what he'll need to save for.

Now, personally, I love a shallow DOF, so I'm almost always in the 2.8-3.5 range. Yes, it is a little harder to hit your mark, but I think it makes for a more dramatic shot.

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8/21/2018 11:40 AM

jmf535 wrote:

2.8 is plenty fast enough. Any wider of an aperture than that, and you'll find that DOF is too shallow to get the whole bike/rider in focus. I'll usually stop down to ~3.2

Then 90mm is pretty short for moto, and I think you'll really struggle with it, as your only lens. I use a 200mm 2.8 prime (I shoot Canon, FF sensor) 99% of the time.

Your best option is going with something like the Sigma 70-200 2.8, but I'm guessing that is out of your budget? So, you're probably looking at going with the Sony 18-135mm...but the IQ will leave you wanting to upgrade rather quickly...


I was thinking the 90mm was probably not going to be long enough. I do like the idea of a 70-200, and especially one that will go 2.8, but I was trying to come up with a basic system, that would cost me less than a grand for both the camera and a basic lens.

After continuing my research, I've decided that one of the entry to mid level Nikon or Canon DSLRs is probably going to be better than the A6000. You have so much better lens choice with those 2 main brands, than with the Sony mirrorless cameras. I just really liked the idea of having a really small camera body that could still perform well.

So maybe a Nikon D5600 with a Sigma 70-200 2.8. That's going way over budget, but I'm thinking I would be able to get some excellent MX action shots with that combo. I'm going to spend a lot more money though. Might be able to find some good used gear though, to save a few bucks.

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8/21/2018 11:47 AM

Zaugg wrote:

Can you share "why" you would suggest he spend the extra money on an f2.8? (I know why I did but I'd like to hear why you guys think he should.)

I say this because for the type of shooting he described, a medium to high end f4.0 lens will actually work quite well due to lighting and depth of field forgiveness.

For example, when I shoot action, I'm usually shooting at f5.6 or smaller (aka a bigger number) and typically around 600-2000 Shutter depending on if the rider is coming, going or moving across and if I want motion blur.

The only time I shoot f2.8 is if I'm shooting an stationary object. Very, very rarely do I shoot high speed anything at f2.8 because you have to hit the mark perfect or your shot is out of focus.

Again, for his application, I don't think you can go wrong with a f4.0. (That being said, if you spend the money on a f2.8 now, it might hurt a little to your pocket book, but in the long run, you'll have it for a long long time.) Buying glass is an investment.

If you want to save money, you still won't go wrong with a f4.0 as they're about half the price of a f2.8. Search CL in your area and you'll see what I mean.

Well I missed this reply before. I do like the idea of saving a little money on the lens, and I also think an f4 would be fine for outdoor MX in most cases.Something to think about. Thanks for everyone's feedback on this.

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8/22/2018 8:36 AM

I'm glad this thread was started and sorry to kinda hijack. The GF and I have been playing with my camera (Canon EOS Rebel SL1 here is a link Camera) and we're trying to find some good settings for it. I have two lenses that came with it a EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM and a EF 75-300 f/4-5.6 III. What kinda settings do you guys recommend?

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2018 KTM 250sx
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8/22/2018 10:48 AM

A 2.8 lens, while nice, is not necessary for outdoor motocross. And you will find a fixed focal length to be quite restrictive.

My recommendation - a Nikon D5600 with the AF-P DX 70-300 zoom. You should be able to get this kit for less than $1000. For shooting action it will have a much better autofocus system than the A6000, and the zoom will allow much more flexibility with framing your shots.

The lens is slow (it will be f/4.5 at 70mm and f/6.3 at 300) but outdoors that will mostly be ok. For a few hundred extra there is the FX (full frame) version which is slightly faster aperture and reportedly a better overall lens.

With good technique and practice there is no reason you can’t get excellent shots with a setup like that.

Note the Canon equivalent would do equally well, but I use Nikon gear so I’m familiar with their options.

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8/22/2018 10:59 AM

I have the a6000 and you can do some nice stuff with the 55-200 it comes with. But you need to anticipate the shot. Great little camera!
I also use it to shoot skateboarding and it is perfect for upclose action shots.

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Greg D.
2018 yz250f

8/22/2018 11:09 AM
Edited Date/Time: 8/22/2018 11:09 AM

Jaybird67k wrote:

70-200 2.8 Nikon or Canon

One lens only? I'd second that.

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8/22/2018 3:16 PM
Edited Date/Time: 8/22/2018 3:17 PM

Keep in mind that if you’re buying a camera with an APS-c sensor you have to account for crop factor with some lenses. With your budget I’d recommend the Canon sl2 or t7 along with a 70-200mm f/4L lense. The 70-200 f/4 can be found super cheap and is gonna give you an effective zoom range of about 112-320mm on a crop sensor camera. Paired together with your 18-55 the camera will come with and you’ve got a good budget kit.

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8/22/2018 3:23 PM

70-200 2.8 or 4... can't go wrong! Next lens suggestion would be a 24-70.

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8/22/2018 3:30 PM
Edited Date/Time: 8/22/2018 3:34 PM

Zaugg wrote:

Can you share "why" you would suggest he spend the extra money on an f2.8? (I know why I did but I'd like to hear why you guys think he should.)

I say this because for the type of shooting he described, a medium to high end f4.0 lens will actually work quite well due to lighting and depth of field forgiveness.

For example, when I shoot action, I'm usually shooting at f5.6 or smaller (aka a bigger number) and typically around 600-2000 Shutter depending on if the rider is coming, going or moving across and if I want motion blur.

The only time I shoot f2.8 is if I'm shooting an stationary object. Very, very rarely do I shoot high speed anything at f2.8 because you have to hit the mark perfect or your shot is out of focus.

Again, for his application, I don't think you can go wrong with a f4.0. (That being said, if you spend the money on a f2.8 now, it might hurt a little to your pocket book, but in the long run, you'll have it for a long long time.) Buying glass is an investment.

If you want to save money, you still won't go wrong with a f4.0 as they're about half the price of a f2.8. Search CL in your area and you'll see what I mean.

Speaking for Canon, the af system works with the lens at its widest aperture, and the lens only stops down to the selected F stop for exposure when doing taking the image (or manually shifted for DOF check).

Regardless of what the aperture is set to for exposure, an f 2.8 lens wide open admits twice as much light for purposes of autofocus operation as an f 4 lens wide open, which allows faster and efficient af pick up tracking. This may or may not matter depending on the capability of the body, which may be an issue with mirrorless.

Generally as well the build quality will be better the faster the lens simply because of the demands of higher optical performance. $$$$ too

With respect to the DOF at which you shoot, I rarely stop down beyond 5.6 for action unless I am trying to capture a wider image or I am getting close to a rider group with the 300 on and want them all sharp.

Either a 2.8 or 4 70-200 is pretty much the foundational lens for an MX kit.

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Twitter: @ftemoto
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8/22/2018 4:03 PM

Jaybird67k wrote:

70-200 2.8 Nikon or Canon

GuyB wrote:

One lens only? I'd second that.

X3 Canon 70-200. Find one used that is in good condition, it's worth the extra money.

I've bought so many cheap lens, if I would have just got the nice stuff to begin with I prob would have saved more money.

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8/22/2018 5:28 PM

MXWebmaster wrote:

Ok, I've done a search on Vital to see if this has been discussed before, but mainly found older posts discussing older equipment / camera models.

I am going to be purchasing a Sony A6000 mirrorless camera. I would like to purchase ONE good lens for it, that would be good for me to shoot local Motocross races with. Mainly action shots of riders going by, while I'm standing near the edge of the track.

I would like to have a very fast lens, but can't really afford something really, really fast right now. I have ran across this Sigma art lens that goes down to 2.8 and has about a 90mm equivalent focal length (on the a6000). https://www.dpreview.com/products/sigma/lenses/sigma_a_m_60_2p8 It's fast, but also inexpensive. My question would be the focal length. Will 90mm get me close enough to properly frame riders coming by? If not, which fixed focal length should I go for, assuming I do not want to use a zoom lens?

Thanks for anyone that could give me some insight.

One way to save some money is to go with a fixed 200mm f2.8 and an 85mm f 1.8. You give up the convenience of zoom but I bet shooting MX you are at 200mm most of the time. I always was. Still you need to increase your budget.

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8/22/2018 6:58 PM

These two articles from F Stoppers showed up in my Facebook feed over the last couple of days. I'm not sure if the author is a member here or not, but there's some decent info on gear, as well as tips for shooting both SX and MX.

https://fstoppers.com/education/equipment-recommendations-photographing-motocross-279647

https://fstoppers.com/education/tips-how-photograph-motocross-277694

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8/22/2018 9:45 PM

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8/22/2018 10:11 PM
Edited Date/Time: 8/22/2018 10:12 PM

I don’t know the first thing about photography outside of getting my iPhone to focus by tapping on the screen so this whole thread is jibberish to me. My only takeaway after reading is “damn, I’d love if some of you guys would post some of your all-time favorite MX shots so i can see how all that jibberish translates when it comes to end results”. That and I’m curious to find out if i possess a discerning enough eye to appreciate the difference..,

So what have you?

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8/23/2018 12:49 AM
Edited Date/Time: 8/23/2018 12:52 AM

MXWebmaster wrote:

Ok, I've done a search on Vital to see if this has been discussed before, but mainly found older posts discussing older equipment / camera models.

I am going to be purchasing a Sony A6000 mirrorless camera. I would like to purchase ONE good lens for it, that would be good for me to shoot local Motocross races with. Mainly action shots of riders going by, while I'm standing near the edge of the track.

I would like to have a very fast lens, but can't really afford something really, really fast right now. I have ran across this Sigma art lens that goes down to 2.8 and has about a 90mm equivalent focal length (on the a6000). https://www.dpreview.com/products/sigma/lenses/sigma_a_m_60_2p8 It's fast, but also inexpensive. My question would be the focal length. Will 90mm get me close enough to properly frame riders coming by? If not, which fixed focal length should I go for, assuming I do not want to use a zoom lens?

Thanks for anyone that could give me some insight.

"to shoot local motocross races with....."

Well, the go-to lens for most moto photographers (not me!) is an 80-200 or similar. However, for local moto stuff, I'd imagine you can get close to the track pretty easily and that 90mm would work. I will tell you that your bigger hassle will be getting a clean back ground and interesting light. You have to shoot pretty shallow to get the background to go soft but shooting around 2.8 is dicey for sharp focus. Honestly, for shooting moto, where you are shooting out in the sun
so the viewfinder is going to be pretty bright anyway even at f4, those extra stops for the 2.8 may, or may not, be worth the $$$.

THE thing to do is to borrow or rent a lens before you buy one. We can sit here and blab about numbers and AF but it doesn't mean shit if it doesn't fit YOUR vision and work flow. Those fugging 70-200 lenses? I hated mine and was sooooo happy to sell that POS. So go borrow a 90mm and shoot with it and see how it feels before you buy one.

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8/23/2018 12:55 AM

Does anyone have some experience with Sonys 70-200 ?

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8/23/2018 1:00 AM

I've had that 60mm 2.8 lens. It's a pretty good lens, especially for the price. It's still a little too wide I'd say for motocross, unless you like to get up close and personal.

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8/23/2018 1:30 AM

If you were to get a canon 70-200, you would have to get an adapter for your sony. Keep in mind that cheap adapters will probably not allow you to use the auto focus which is crucial when shooting actions sports of any kind. Also since the a6000 is a crop sensored camera, so there is going to be 1.6x increase when you shoot.

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8/23/2018 5:40 AM

I have a Nikon d3300 with the 70-300 lens. I use the sports setting which snaps continuous pics while you hold down the button.

I’ve had great pics that I’ve blown up into poster size and they look crystal clear. That’s with no editing.


Photo

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8/23/2018 6:06 AM

I’ve been using a Sony A7iii with Sony g master 70-200 2.8. And in my opinion the 70-200 is the best all around lens. Photo
Photo
Photo
Photo

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8/23/2018 12:19 PM

HusqFan3 wrote:

I don’t know the first thing about photography outside of getting my iPhone to focus by tapping on the screen so this whole thread is jibberish to me. My only takeaway after reading is “damn, I’d love if some of you guys would post some of your all-time favorite MX shots so i can see how all that jibberish translates when it comes to end results”. That and I’m curious to find out if i possess a discerning enough eye to appreciate the difference..,

So what have you?

That's kind of a complicated question to distill down to finished photos for someone learning to then pick apart.
Better to see examples of how those various camera functions specifically show in a photo.

Here's one for aperture: https://digital-photography-school.com/aperture/

And one for shutter speed: https://brentmailphotography.com/essentials/shutter-speed-in-photography-examples.html

But then those are just ingredients that the photographer will play with and mold to fit the given situation.

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8/23/2018 3:26 PM

McLellanMX66 wrote:

If you were to get a canon 70-200, you would have to get an adapter for your sony. Keep in mind that cheap adapters will probably not allow you to use the auto focus which is crucial when shooting actions sports of any kind. Also since the a6000 is a crop sensored camera, so there is going to be 1.6x increase when you shoot.

I think Metabones has an adaptor that keeps all function but its not cheap.

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8/24/2018 8:48 PM

Thanks so much to everyone that replied to this thread, and gave me your advice. It's MUCH appreciated! I've decided on an initial camera body and lens. It's super low budget, because my money is tight right now, but it might work for now.

Ok, here is what I'm going to start with. I already owned an Olympus E-420. Which is an older model four-thirds DSLR camera body. Circa 2010 or so.

I never thought about using it for action photography before, because I figured it wouldn't be fast enough. But it does do 3.5 FPS. And after some Google searches related to whether I would actually be able to catch some good MX shots with a camera capable of doing that, many people are saying that you can, as long as you're good at following the action.

I didn't have a long lens (i.e. 70-200) for the e-420 before though, so I went on Ebay and found a really nice Olympus Zuiko Digital 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5. Which actually translates to "80-300" in 35mm terms, because the Olympus four-thirds have a 2x cropping factor. Double your focal length in other words.

It should be in early next week, and I'm hoping to try everything out at a local race coming up at the end of this month.

Thanks again to everyone that replied to this post and gave their advice. If this low budget setup doesn't work out, I'm leaning towards a newer model "entry level" Nikon, plus 'used' 70-200 f2.8' setup. I don't have anything against Canon's. My first "real" 35mm SLR was a Canon. But I've used some recent Nikons and I really liked the feel of them.

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