Monday, November 1, 2010

Shooting with the Zeiss 135mm instead of the zoom

How does the Sony Zeiss 135mm F1.8 compare to the Sony 70-200G F2.8 zoom lens when it comes to shooting hockey?

This first shot is done with the Sony A500 and the Sony 70-200G F2.8 lens at F2.8. I shot this during the pre-game skate zoomed in at 200mm. It's also cropped.
These shots were done during the game using the Zeiss 135mm F1.8 on the same camera. I always use the zoom lens from this angle but wanted to mix things up a bit.

The lens is a F1.8, but I was shooting at F2.8 at ISO 1600. I thought, hey why not shoot wide open at ISO 800 and get a boost in quality with the lower ISO setting. I tried this for a while but when looking at the final results found the F2.8 shots a bit sharper even though the ISO was higher.

I found the 135mm a bit tight on the goal. You would have no chance in horizontal keeping the goalie entirely in the frame. On a vertical you can just fit him in from the normal goal-line shooting position that I use. If there was a huge play in front of him, it's not likely that you would see it while keeping so tight on the goalie. Also if you plan to shoot an entire game in vertical you'll want to buy a vertical grip and save your shoulder.

Besides shooting the goalie I take a lot of photos of the guys in front of the net jostling for position either as defense or forwards. This is my bread and butter shot and I get a ton of these isolated action shots from every game... they are the reason that I'm shooting the game.... and yes they all do look the same.... so you don't have to tell me. LOL.

Since the 135mm is tight on the goalie, it's also tight on these shots. Not likely that you could get a head to toe of a guy in front of the net but overall you can get a nice half length.... you know the face, the gloves and the stick. So I enjoyed using the 135mm for these shots.

Now across the ice at the far face-off circle is too far for the 135mm. If I was using the zoom I would just reach over and grab a shot from the far boards.... with the 135mm I didn't even bother to take a photo since it's just too far. This would eliminate a nice head to toe from the far boards as well as any of the great hits in the far corner. So the zoom would be better in this situation.

Another area of concern with the fixed length lens was behind the net. It's just too long with a 135mm when the play goes behind the net. Again if I was using the zoom I could just dial out a bit and get the play behind the net.

Finally the jubo shot is hard to get with the fixed lens. When they score you never know where the players will celebrate.... sometimes across at the far boards (too far), sometimes behind the net (too tight) and sometimes right in front of the hole in the glass (way to tight).

Now it sounds like the 70-200 F2.8 is a better choice than the Zeiss 135mm for hockey, but I really enjoyed using the fixed length and was very happy with the selection of shots I got from the game.

The other point with the 135mm is that it's a stop and a third faster than the zoom. Not needed at the rinks where I work, but it sure would be handy in some of the barns my son played in growing up.

More testing is needed. Now when do the Penguins come to town?

The shot above is cropped but the goalie is almost the full frame and is tight on the stick and butt.

Rob Skeoch

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