View Full Version : Choosing a camera for action photos?

06-15-2007, 07:03 AM

I'm a Cross Country and Track & Field Coach and I'm looking to upgrade from my current camera (which is now broken). I have a Kodak P850 (5.1mp, 12x, IS), but now it doesn't work.

I have a feeling what I want will cost more than I'm currently willing to spend. I need a camera that can take high quality pics of fast (sometimes very fast) moving people. The ability to take continuous shots is a huge plus too. Please give me options that fit my "wants" and options that fit my "budget". Thank you in advance for any suggestions.


* What budget have you allocated for buying this camera? Please be as specific as possible.
I could go as high as $1,300, but I'm really looking to stay under $1,000. This includes the camera and lens.


* What size camera are you looking for? Or does size not matter at all to you?
The size doesn't really matter.


How many megapixels will suffice for you?
My current camera had 5.1, so I would like more I suppose.

* What optical zoom will you need? (None, Standard = 3x-4x, Ultrazoom = 10x-12x, Other - Specify)
I recently had a Kodak with a 12x zoom that worked well, but more would be ok. Some pics I take could be from as far away as 300 feet.

* How important is “image quality” to you? (Rate using a scale of 1-10)

Do you care for manual controls?
Yes, I need to be able to adjust some settings for a wide range of lighting (indoor to outside in bright sun).

General Usage

* What will you generally use the camera for?
Taking photos of people moving fast; running, jumping, throwing, etc.

* Will you be making big prints of your photos or not?
I don't see myself going bigger than 8x10, but maybe.

Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos?
Yes. During the Indoor season (November-March), the lighting is fairly poor (for camera standards).

Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos?
Absolutely. Main priority is taking action photos.


Are there particular brands you like or hate?
Not really.

Are there particular models you already have in mind?

I've been looking at mostly Canon DSLRs. For some reason, I have been really interested in the D30, but it may be a bit out of my price range when a good lens is added in. I haven't looked at the Rebel line too much, since I heard they aren't that great with action shots. However, I don't know how accurate this is.

(If applicable) Do you need any of the following special features? (Wide Angle, Image Stabilization, Weatherproof, Hotshoe, Rotating LCD)

Image Stabilization would be nice, as most of my photos are not taken with a tripod. I have considered getting a monopod (more compact, easier to carry).

06-15-2007, 10:08 AM

I would think that when one considers the variety of lighting conditions that you will encounter that a DSLR camera will work best for you. A pivotal factor is how low the indoor (non flash?) lighting environment will be.

Did you previously take indoor photos without flash with your Kodak P-850? I think probably not, but only you can answer that question fully. On the indoor photos are you going to need a long zoom? How about the outdoor photos, do they also need a long zoom. How much of the P-850's zoom capacity did you previously use with your outdoor photos?

Here are some DSLR camera to consider:

Canon XT
Canon XTi
Nikon D-50
Nikon D-80

Take a look at these two cameras and see if they look feasible for your use. Then knowing more of your photo environments in terms of zoom and light, perhaps we can make more specific suggestions.

Thanks for your help.

Sarah Joyce

06-15-2007, 12:20 PM

Thanks for the info. I read the reviews of the XTi and the D80.

To answer your questions. I normally did not use the flash on my Kodak P-850. The main reason being my subjects were too far away for the flash to even help (other times you're not allowed to use a flash in some events).

The max distance I would ever need indoors is 100 feet. Outdoors can be further, as I said up to 300 feet. Normally I would be 50-100 feet away.

I used all 12x quite a bit and other than me shaking, the photos came out good.

I'll have to go to our local camera store to check out these models, but one advantage I see for the Nikon D80 is it uses SD cards, which I already have from my Kodak (a 1GB and a 2GB).

Thanks again and I welcome anymore feedback.


06-15-2007, 01:53 PM
Thanks for your post, Mark-

It is a great idea to do some hands on testing in your local camera shop. It also sounds like you ought to be also taking a good look at what kind of Burst Mode each of these cameras have.

Finding a lens to match the reach of your Kodak P-850 in a DSLR camera configuration, could be a rather expensive proposition. When at the camera shop, you might also discuss what lenses would be ideal for your personal application.

Sarah Joyce

06-15-2007, 07:26 PM
If you can find a Nikon D50 (about $500 or so) you can almost afford a 70-200 f2.8 zoom that will work in low light (more or less).

Low light and sports are the more expensive types of photography.

06-16-2007, 07:30 PM
Thanks SpecialK. Today I just found that one of my coaching friends has a Nikon D70 and loves it. He highly suggested the D80, so I'll look into both the D50 and D80.

06-20-2007, 04:49 PM
Over the past 5 days, I think I've decided on the Nikon D40x. I went to our local shop (Rowe Photo) and after much discussion with the salesman, I think the D40x will do nicely. I'm also going to buy a Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED AF-S DX Zoom as well.

Now here is my new dilemma. Should I buy this at the local store from the guy who was real helpful and also said they are having a promotion to give an extra 2-year warranty and a Nikon kit (bag, lens cleaner, etc) for free or should I buy it online for cheaper.

The price at Rowe is $1,134.00.
I've found very similar items online for around $903.

What do you think?

One other question. With buying the D40x, it only takes DX lens', correct?


06-20-2007, 05:16 PM

The D-40X along with the 55-200mmVR lens is a nice combination. As long as your Track & Field events are out of doors you will be fine. However, it will not be suitable for indoor sporting events, as the lens is not bright enough.

As to where to purchase your camera, that is a personal call. It sems to be that the local guy was pretty helpful and friendly.

Sarah Joyce

06-20-2007, 05:39 PM
Ask how close the local guy can come to matching the price. But make sure that bag etc is really what you want as many are crap and have a zipper right where your LCD rubs it...