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Cameras, Lenses and Accessories: Discuss Ski/Snowboard photography...Hi everyone, I'm new to slr photography and need some advice. Currently I have had point and shoot compact camera ...
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Old 28-11-2007, 15:56   #1 (permalink)
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Ski/Snowboard photography

Hi everyone,
I'm new to slr photography and need some advice.
Currently I have had point and shoot compact camera and for the past couple of years and I have found it to be somewhat inadequate for shooting snowsports (ski/snowboard...well snowboard really, but I don't want to offend all you twin plank piste bound dayglo wrapped speed freaks out there) to say the least. I have done a fair amount of research into digital slr cameras and think that now is the time for me to take the plunge. I am pretty sure I want to buy a Canon eos 400d body and get a superzoom lens to go with it (really don't want to be changing lenses. Ever.) and a Tamron 18-250mm lens which has had some very good reviews.
My questions are;
1) Is this a good Camera/Lens combo for snowsports photography (remember, there's hardly ever a lack of good light up there in the mountains) and for general everyday shots at other times?
2) Do you have any advice/tips for shooting skiers and photographing snowboarders?
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Old 28-11-2007, 16:07   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

I don't think much of superzooms, though appreciate why you'd not want to be changing lenses on a snowy hillside, they have to cut corners somewhere to fit that much zoom range in and its usually crappy apertures at the long end.

If I were you I'd get a 2nd hand camera and weight your expenditure towards a more bombproof lens. Perhaps start with a long lens, like a 70-200, I notice Sigma's just got a 50-150 EX out but no idea what its like, then in the future get a second camera with a wide zoom and take two out with you. I've consistently found that if you get a lens for everything its not particularly good at anything.

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Old 28-11-2007, 17:31   #3 (permalink)
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Old 28-11-2007, 17:44   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

I agree with MB to an extent... but I'm confident you'll get better images with a 400D and superzoom lens than with your point and shoot, if only because of the extra control you'll have. Recent 'designed for digital' superzooms are much better than previous generations (I tried a Tamron model of Silkstone's a year or two ago and was impressed with the sharpness etc).

You'll always get better optical quality (in theory at least) with a shorter-range zoom than a superzoom type lens, just because of the physics and limitations of lens design. And you'll get better quality still with a prime lens. But even a pro lens is useless if it's left at home or in the bag because you don't want to change lenses in the snow, of course! I have seen some impressive images taken with superzooms, so your mileage may vary. If I were you I would read plenty of lens reviews (e.g. in the reviews section at Pixalo or on fredmiranda.com), check sample images (e.g. at pixelpeeper.com) and make up your own mind as to whether you are happy with the compromise in quality for convenience and practicality.

You're right that what MB calls 'crappy apertures' (i.e. maximum apertures of f/5.6 or worse) won't matter as much if the light is good. Where they will be more of a problem is for some of those general everyday shots, where you might need to have a wider aperture either to reduce depth of field - for portraits etc - or because the light isn't up to it (such as in sweaty and smoky apres ski venues!).

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II is a good and very cheap option for shooting in low light in the evenings - costs around £65 and enables some great portraits with blurred backgrounds because of the small depth of field possible with wider apertures. If you got that and a superzoom, you could carry both easily (the 50mm is very lightweight and compact) and you'd potentially only need change lenses once or twice per day - before you did any lowlight shooting.

As for shooting skiers and snowboarders, you should take care over exposure because the default target for most autoexposure systems is the equivalent of 18% gray, which can result in the snow looking too grey and dirty. Conversely, if you overexpose the snow you'll lose all the detail in it. I would investigate the 'exposure compensation' facility if you get a 400D - you should tweak it upwards slightly to correct for the grey snow problem.

I hope some of the above is useful. Welcome to Pixalo!
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Old 28-11-2007, 18:26   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

When I went twin plank piste bound dayglo wrapped speed freaking (sadly without the speed!), I found the autofocus freezing up (literally! I kept camera in a backpack) and the camera wasn't wild about me throwing myself on the ground (OK, falling over!). So, I'm liking MB's advice about 2nd hand cameras and bombproof lenses!
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Old 28-11-2007, 20:39   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

My thanks to you all. Unfortunately I'm more confused than I was before. So, if you were in my situation i.e. wanted to take snowsports shots, had a budget of approximately £700 (for everything including memory card etc), weren't that bothered about low light conditions, didn't want to change lenses very often (if at all, not that it matters as they freeze anyway, apparently), were in danger of falling over (often), you'd heard kit lenses were crap and saw primes too expensive, what would you buy?
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Old 28-11-2007, 21:52   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

If you know for sure that ice gets into the breech and locks the lens in place then I think you'd be ****ing money away buying anything that didn't have seals - that water will melt, trickle inside and cause all kinds of problems!

I was going to recommend getting an old 20D or the likes for £250 and then getting a 70-200 f4 L for about £350 with the current cashback offer, then spending the remaining hundred quid on cards, batteries etc. However if you're certain to get ice inside then I guess you need to consider something like a mark1 EOS 1D or Nikon D2H for around the £500 mark and an equivalently sealed lens, so you'd be looking at closer to £900.

In this case I'd be looking for a fast focusing bridge camera instead. Sounds like this is difficult to do in rough conditions
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Old 28-11-2007, 22:43   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

I faired pretty well with my first DSLR ski trip last year.

Granted the weather was fab and unusually for the North Americas, very mild ( 2 or 3 degrees iirc).

You'll find a 'Mammoth Half Pipe' gallery on my Pbase site in my sig. This was my first time of trying this sort of thing so I'll pass on what I learnt.

For good action shots you need to either be REALLY close or be able to zoom in. The folk coming out of this pipe were about a metre away......

You need a reasonably fast continous drive as you will waste quite a few shots. Figure 3 - 5 shots for each passing skier / boarder

Be prepared to wait around for folk with decent abilities. I've wasted plenty of time snapping 'indifferent' skiers. I should mention at this point that my skiing is rubbish so anyone who can do a jump or ride a rail is better than me . However you need good people for good shots.

You need to be shoot on your feet, not strapped to some bits of tree. Manoeuvring in a terrain park with camera kit needs a little care.

I've not had any problems shooting in crappy weather but keeping your gear dry, protected and warm is important. I've found that it's not really worth shooting if the weather has closed in.

Keep your hands warm. Taking some thin gloves / liners to shoot in will help. Trying to adjust fiddly camera controls with bulky ski gloves is not fun.

Oh and _MB_'s Canon kit advice is sound and funnily enough what mine was, plus a 17-40 zoom
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Old 28-11-2007, 23:33   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

On the subject of snow and the effects: was out in the Brecon Beacons with a mate and it got a touch windy and we were blown over a few times (only time I've had the wind actually lift me up and move me three feet back!). We managed to stagger/crawl down but my Sigma got well snowed in a few drifts, so I was paranoid about ingress and moisture effects (it was OK). My mate had some sort of Nikon film thingy and was smugly shooting away. Bombproof!

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Old 29-11-2007, 11:32   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

My 20D fared OK when I was skiing but having it in my backpack together with 10-22mm and 17-55mm did have the effect of making me a very cautious skier...

I didn't try falling over or burying myself in snow as I wasn't confident my kit would like it.

I also regretted not taking my 100-400mm, because the instructors spent an evening showing off doing fancy jumps and I ended up having to crop my pics of that quite severely.

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Old 29-11-2007, 15:42   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

Could you explain what you mean by 'bombproof lens' mb? I assume by that you mean some lenses are more 'rugged' than others. What lens would you recommend?
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Old 29-11-2007, 16:07   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

Well ideally you'd want a weather sealed body and lens but that would at the cheapest for what you need be something like an used EOS 1D plus 70-200 f2.8, which is going to cost you upwards of £1000 so not really an option.

If you're confident you can avoid dropping it in the snow too often you'd just want something that you're comfortable can handle taking the odd knock. I'll not make a recommendation as I'd be doing so without hands on experience of what you aim to do; I can ski or take photographs, neither particularly well so can't imagine the prospect of combining them!

General things I would want, given true weather sealing isnt an option would be:
  • As much metal construction as possible, but rubber focus rings so your fingers didn't get stuck!
  • A non-rotating, non-extending lens barrel - a lot of lenses, the thing gets longer when you twist the zoom ring, or focus. A jarring blow could knock a protruding barrel out easily or even snap the thing in half.
  • Some way of tying the camera to my wrist but keeping my hand free.
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Old 29-11-2007, 16:23   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

I've read good things about the canon 40d and I can get one with the 17-85mm f4-5.6 kit lens which has image stabilisation for £817 (I work in an airport). I know that's a good price and it shoots at up to 6.5 fps which would be good for most sports shots I presume. But, it's about £100 more than I have budgeted and it's quite a bit bigger than the 400d. Also, this would be my first slr would it not be a bit 'too much' for a beginner like me? I only mention this as you said as much metal as possible and I believe it to be made of magnesium?
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Old 29-11-2007, 16:28   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

Ah- I was talking about lenses there.

I think as you can't guarantee weather sealing you should be spending as little as possible on the body. Thats why I suggested a second hand 20D, its rugged and gives 5fps, selling on ebay for about £200 if you search around.
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Old 29-11-2007, 16:55   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

Thanks MB. I'll check it out.
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Old 29-11-2007, 17:32   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

I would go with a secondhand 20D and a sigma 10-20mm or a 15mm fisheye you don't need a long zoom because you can get up close, skateboarding is very close to snowboarding and fisheye photos look great and you will have change out of £700, keep you eye out here they had a 20d going a few weeks ago for i think £250 ive bought from them and they are very good Aperture Photographic Tel. 020 7242 8681 Fax. 020 7242 8680
20d £299 here Mifsuds.com Latest Used Prices A-L i have bought from here also very good
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Old 03-12-2007, 15:11   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

My thanks to you all. I'll go check out those classified ads for 2nd hand equipment.
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Old 10-12-2007, 00:12   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

Quote:
Originally Posted by elfranko56 View Post
My thanks to you all. I'll go check out those classified ads for 2nd hand equipment.
We also have our own Classified Section on Pixalo that you may want to check out elfranko.
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Old 10-12-2007, 07:49   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Ski/Snowboard photography

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Originally Posted by GainfulShrimp View Post
I also regretted not taking my 100-400mm, because the instructors spent an evening showing off doing fancy jumps and I ended up having to crop my pics of that quite severely.
Maybe not this time round but for sport this is an excellent lens for a long zoom
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