Sports on the cheap

There are some sporting events where it helps to have an expensive piece of equipment. Those are usually situations are when you need a long telephoto lens with low-light capabilities, such as night or indoor events. Those lenses can cost thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars. There are other times when you can get away with using much cheaper options. You can get a new 75-300mm zoom lens for as little as $200, even less for a used one.

This weekend brings 2 sporting events to Stockton where you might need a telephoto lens but not necessarily a very expensive one.

Horse racing returns the county fairgrounds in Stockton. While there are some situations in racing when only a super long lens (500mm to 600mm) will do, there are some places on the track where you get away with using a much shorter one.

Spectators can get right up against the fence next to the track near the grandstand. One can get a shot as the horses and riders near and pass the finish line with a lens in the 200mm range. You can get away with a shorter lens but you may have to some creative cropping in a photo editing program. The races are run during the day so there’s plenty of light and thus no need for a fast (light sensitive) lens.

Also this weekend, the University of the Pacific will host the EVP World Finals of Beach Volleyball at Pacific’s Raney Sand Volleyball Courts on the UOP campus in Stockton.

The facility, built last year, is relatively small and the spectator seating area is fairly close to the players. A 300mm would be ideal but you could some cropping if you use a shorter lens. Again, the matches will be played during the daylight hours, so a slower (less light sensitive) lens will work.

If you can afford one of the expensive lens that’s great, but you can still some great sports shots even if you can’t.


Here are the rules for the Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Sports

1. Entries can be emailed to Type in “Sports” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be shot between Sept. 25 and Oct 11. It can be of an organized event or just a casual game, but must be sports related.

3. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of camera/lens you used and where it was taken (eg: “John Doe, Stockton. Grupe Park in Stockton. Canon EOS Rebel Ti with 75-300mm lens”)

4. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown) and where they are and what they are doing. (eg: “Jane Smith, 25, of Tracy, hits a forehand while playing tennis at the Oak Park Tennis Complex in Stockton”)

5. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.

6. The deadline for submission is Saturday Oct. 11. The top examples will be published in The Record and my blog at on Thursday, Sept. 16 with an online gallery of all the photos on the same day.



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