Recommendations for tennis from the sidelines?

Macroramphosis

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I have a daughter who plays tennis to a relatively high level (she plays on the European Junior circuit) and I've been asked to start taking photos of her for various social media pages. I have a rather abused G6 as a body and a 14-140 mki that shoots relatively decent photos of her on outside courts, but as I am sure some of you know only to well, this particular lens does not do too well indoors.

Have any of you shot tennis indoors, and if so, do you have any recommendations for a lens that will fall within a relatively tight budget. I was thinking a second-hand 75mm Olympus might be a decent shout - the focal length will be about right and as a 1.8 lens I should get some light, plus a little room for cropping. Any other lenses that might fit the bill? Am I even going in the right direction? Is there a chance the Zuiko 60mm macro might even do a job in this situation?

All advice very gratefully received. Oh - there is zero chance of changing the G6 in the budget, unfortunately - it's an eBay lens or nothing.... :)
 

Wisertime

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75 would probably work and come in handy for portraits or the 40-150 F2.8 Pro for versatility. I used to take Tennis photos (just for fun) when I had just the 43rds system (50-200 & 70-300). I went to one indoor tournament and results were decent, so M43 would be even better for Higher ISO. 60 is a superb lens too and would probably work. The 40-150 kit lens could be a 2nd cheap addition for outdoor games if you get one of the primes.
 

Macroramphosis

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The 14-150 is probably going to be out of budget, but the 60mm appeals to me as I do like my macro, and the 30 Panny I have is limiting in its working distance occasionally. If the 60mm is a serious possibility, it'll be a win win for me! :D

Thank you very much for your reply, by the way. Much appreciated!
 
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JensM

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Depends on the range I think, I have shot some casual tennis games from the stands with the 35-100, and most of that could have benefited with something a bit more reachy.
 

ac12

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I really depends on how much light you have.
I shoot basketball in a dimly lit gym where I am pushing ISO 3200, 1/640 sec, f/2.
If the indoor tennis arena is that dim, the Olympus 75/1.8 is the better choice.
If you can shoot at f/2.8, I would go with the Panasonic 35-100/2.8. It is cheaper than the Olympus 40-150/2.8, and had the flexibility of a zoom for a wide or tight shot. Of course if you can shoot at f/2.8, then you can also shoot with the 60/2.8 macro.
 

Macroramphosis

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Thanks for the reply - ISO is a bugbear with the G6, and I rarely shoot anything above 400 as the noise is terrible. With the 14-140 this means I have to shoot around 200 or lower shutter speed, as wide open as I can. It's not an ideal situation, but is what it is.

There is no way to shoot court-side at tournaments - at this level these events take place in the larger clubs where any access to the court is limited to a plastic chair at one end, normally. There are no spectators, as such. So - most of my activity will be at the local club during training, and there I can stand where I want, typically at the net where I can use the net post as a rest with a bean bag if I want! So the opportunities for some good shots exist, provided I find a lens that works with the light I have, and can talk nicely to the G6.

I might try taking my Panasomic 30mm 2.8 along next time and see what that can do in terms of the available light - if it works then the 60mm may be the route I go. I also know the 60mm will be cheaper than the 30-100 2.8 (which I understand your advice about totally). I'll also shoot some (bad) photos at 60mm with the 14-140 to see what the framing is like.

At some stage I shall win the lottery of course, and then come back to you all for fresh advice. I realise that I may be titling at windmills by using the G6, but I don't have anything else to hand. In an ideal mu4/3 world I would be buying an E-M1 mkii, or a G9, and a slew of PRO lenses to go with them.

To give you a better idea of what I'm after, this is what I currently get indoors with the 14-140 mkii,
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and this is what I get outdoors, which is fine for what I want to use the photos for (at the moment)...
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JensM

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Having re-read the OP, and considered the various options, how about keeping the 14-140 and look for a second hand GX80?

I noticed the stating of not stretching the budget to a new camera, but anyhow a GX80 should be cheaper than the 75mm, a little more expensive than the 60mm and would have 5 axis stabilisation, works with ISOs to 1600/3200 and gives quite a bit more leeway in the raw files than the GF6 if I understand a variety of tests.
 
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Macroramphosis

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Having re-read the OP, and considered the various options, how about keeping the 14-140 and look for a second hand GX80?

I noticed the stating of not stretching the budget to a new camera, but anyhow a GX80 should be cheaper than the 75mm, a little more expensive than the 60mm and would have 5 axis stabilisation, works with ISOs to 1600/3200 and gives quite a bit more leeway in the raw files than the GF6 if I understand a variety of tests.
That's an interesting thought. I suspect you are thinking the 14-140 mkii will be enough glass if we upgrade the other end of it then?
 
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A body upgrade would be good, but I would still recommend a fast prime. Gx80 or omd 10ii would gain a little better image quality , but faster glass would allow faster shutter speeds and better subject isolation.
 
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@Macroramphosis , your best bet is to get some faster glass. A recommendation of another 16MP m43 body is not going to make an appreciable difference in the images regarding high ISO noise performance.

In the two images you posted, you were at 41mm/ISO 800/f 5.8 and 103mm/f 8/ISO 160

The Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN is a good lens, and would allow you to shoot at ISO 200 instead of ISO 800 in the first image, while maintaining the same shutter speed.

There are two other options IMO:
  1. Sigma 56mm f/1.4 - shooting it wide open would allow for ISO 200 and a 1/800 SS in the first image, helping freeze the motion a bit better in the racquet.
  2. Olympus 45/1.8 and 75/1.8 - Two lenses, but it would give you better flexibility for indoor vs outdoor. Shoot them at f/2 indoors and you'd be at ISO 200 with a 1/400 SS in the first image. Shooting outdoors at the wider aperture would allow for softer backgrounds as well.

Regardless of which way you go, my suggestion would be to get some faster glass rather than getting another 16MP CDAF m43 camera. You'll see more difference in your images with better glass than you would a newer camera.
 
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Macroramphosis

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I never thought about using the 30mm macro for this lark before, but at lunch I went up to the court and shot my daughter during a midday training session with it as I mentioned I would earlier, and I'm pleasantly surprised by just how capable it is. I'm therefore almost certainly - to start with - going to buy a Sigma 60mm 2.8 and see if it will do the job. A quick half hour on Google gave me enough info to think it will also do better than the Olympus for tennis and general short telephoto work. The Oly 60mm macro will have to wait for another day. I'm thinking some sunshine will make it really capable outdoors as well - it was quite gloomy up there.

Please tell me if I am doing, or thinking, things wrong here.

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ac12

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I shot a bit of tennis for the high school yearbook, and here are a few ideas:
  • Before/during practice, get in front of her and between her and the net. This gives you a close position for the 30 and you don't have the net in front of you, which messes up a lot of front shots. And you get a clear shot of her face. The big caution is that she has to be careful to not hit the ball low, and hit you. IOW it can be a dangerous staged shot if not done carefully.
    • I went in front of the net post and had the player on that side of the court, so I was almost in front of her, without actually being on the court.
  • Serve from the side and front quarter.
    • VERY hard but try to get the racket as it hits the ball. It is a neat pic to see the ball compressed into the racket.
  • I found some of my best shots are in the second before hitting the ball (like your #2 shot). On some of those shots, you see the power in the stroke releasing.
 

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