What about something with a maximum aperture of 3.5? I know it's not as good as 2.8, but it's gonna save me about $200 if I get something at that level. Do you think I would really see that big of a difference.
What lens out there has a max aperture of 3.5 where it matters? 3.5-5.6 does not
count, as it's only f/3.5 on the short end of the zoom. I've never seen a constant aperture f/3.5 zoom.
I'm gonna go to a couple of local camera shops and see if they'll let me rent one of the G series lenses from Sony. That way I can try out both aperture settings and see what works.
Well, I'd recommend that you make sure you have more than just "see
what works" as a plan. If you don't have a plan going in on how you'll utilize different settings available, then your test could well end up being quite suboptimal. To be honest, I'd say work with what you have for a bit. If CA's your main complaint that's going to be plenty manageable for now. It's often easy to correct in software, particularly if you shoot RAW, and you're not necessarily going to be stressing it hard in that way shooting hockey. Use what you have, and figure out where it's really letting you down, where it's adequate, and what you want out of any upgrade. Know what you want before you plunk down your cash, rather than chasing vague ideas with your money. If you're shooting and feel that doubling your shutter speed or halving your ISO setting will give you crisper, cleaner images than f/2.8 (or getting set up with strobes) is the way to go. If you're shooting and feel that you need/want more reach and
can afford to cut your shutter speed in half or double your ISO to get it, then maybe a longer f/5.6 zoom is OK for you. Shoot until you know what settings work for you: What shutter speed do you need to stop hockey action? What ISO value does this mean that you have to use, shooting wide open? Is this acceptable or would reduced noise from lower ISO make the image better? Would a faster shutter speed do a better job of stopping action than just "adequate". Don't just run out and "see what works" with an expensive rental - have a good idea beforehand and use any rental to verify what you already believe.
Remember that f/2.8 means 4x faster shutter speed or 1/4 the ISO setting relative to f/5.6. It could mean going from ISO1600 to ISO400 or from 1/100 to 1/400. Those can really make the difference. f/2.8 is also a lot nicer for portraiture.