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Action Photography 120 Lens Virtually all of the readers of this book will be using zoom lenses rather than fixed focal length lenses. Today, all non-SLR digital cameras are furnished with a zoom lens, and even dSLRs with inter- changeable lenses are usually used with a zoom of some type. However, action images are one type of photography that does benefit from the use of specialized lenses, so if you do have a digital SLR you can make the swap. For example, a fixed focal length telephoto with a large maximum aperture can help you shoot in lower light levels. For digital SLR sports photographers, an 85mm f1.8 lens or 400mm f2.8 lens can be a godsend. Fast wide aperture prime lenses can be a lot cheaper than zoom lenses with the same speed, too, because they are simpler to design. The three things to consider about a lens used for action photography are the focal length, aperture, and whether the camera uses optical or digital magnification. Focal Length Your best bet is a camera equipped with a zoom lens that lets you adjust your field of view as the action moves around. I recommend a lens with at least a 3:1 zoom ratio, although the magnification doesn't tell you everything. One 3X zoom might provide the equivalent range of a 32mm to 96mm lens on a film camera, while another 3X zoom might offer the equivalent of 39mm to 117mm. The former would be great for wide-angle sports, but have little in the way of telephoto reach, while the second would provide a little closer view of action that's farther away. So, in addition to zoom ratio, you should compare the effective focal length of your lens with that of a 35mm camera, because the field of view provided by an actual focal length varies from camera to camera. A true focal length of 25mm may be a telephoto setting on one digital camera, or a wide- angle setting on another, depending on the size of the camera's sensor. (The smaller the sensor, the longer the effective magnification at a particular focal length.) All digital camera vendors supply this equivalency information. For example, one camera I use has a 7.2 to 50.8mm zoom lens; that provides roughly the same field of view as a 28mm to 200mm zoom lens on a 35mm camera. You can see the difference in viewpoint between a wide-angle lens and a telephoto setting in Figures 5.8 and 5.9. Figure 5.8. A wide-angle shot shows you the big picture.