Traveling Light

Allen vs Stonewall basketball action shot with my 180mm: despite being nearly 30 years old and having an ugly scratch on the front element, this lens definitely delivers sharp action photos with the right technique.
Allen vs Stonewall basketball action shot with my 180mm: despite being nearly 30 years old and having an ugly scratch on the front element, this lens definitely delivers sharp action photos with the right technique.

A photon goes into hotel. The bellhop asks, “Do you have any luggage?”

The photon answers, “No, I’m traveling light.”

A year and a half ago, I penned a piece about working indoor sports like basketball, wrestling, volleyball and cheer using smaller, lighter, cheaper lenses than the full-time professional zoom lenses I often carry.

Fans greet their players during introductions at a high school basketball game recently. I used my 28mm held high over my head to make this one.
Fans greet their players during introductions at a high school basketball game recently. I used my 28mm held high over my head to make this one.

Now that this year’s basketball season is entering the playoffs, I am using those big, heavy zooms, since they are more versatile and the situations are more diverse; not only action, but celebration and dejection, coach and player features, and fan reactions. But for much of the regular season when I just needed action and the occasional coach feature, I again tried to lighten my load. Since my 85mm died, however, I’ve switched up my gear for basketball a bit.

I’ve had immense success this season with my AF-Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 combined with an AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8. Both weigh a third as much as their zoom counterparts, and both are capable of excellent image quality. The only caveat is that when you shoot primes (non-zoom lenses), you have to be willing to “zoom with your feet.” Fortunately, I not only enjoy mobility, I am the kind of person who doesn’t really sit still anyway.

The 180mm plus the 28mm are a good team for basketball and similar sports action and features.
The 180mm plus the 28mm are a good team for basketball and similar sports action and features.

One thing the 180mm forces me to do since I can’t zoom out toward the short end is shoot really tight, really filling the frame. That can be challenging, but challenges are one way we can improve our skills.

Go Cougars! I made this cheerleader feature from the baseline with my 180mm.
Go Cougars! I made this cheerleader feature from the baseline with my 180mm.
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