I write and take pictures for a weekly paper. I'm sick to death of using kit lenses to do indoor sports - on a 20D, no less - and though I shouldn't have to consider buying my own equipment, I want to do better work. I'd also like to have something of my own in the event I decide to do stuff on the side, or if I choose to go out on my own. My current setup means I have to pick the lesser evil among noise, underexposure and motion blur. I still manage to get decent enough photos, so I honestly don't think I'm the limiting factor any longer.
I'm painfully aware that newspapers will always be tight-asses, so I'm about this close to breaking down and getting a second-hand Mark III for about $1,500 and a shorter focal length lens to get me by until football season comes back around. What I have works, I suppose, although it would be nice to shoot with fewer trade-offs and compromises required to come back with usable shots. The low-light capabilities of the equipment I have combined with the conditions I shoot in makes for a degree of difficulty I could live without.
Right now it's basketball and wrestling and crappy gym lighting season, so speed isn't negotiable. I'm afraid slightly cheaper f4 zooms are right out, and it would be hard to find a fast prime that would serve equally well for both sports currently in season. Hoops from anywhere along the baseline can be done, loosely framed, with a 24mm or 35mm lens on a 1.3 or 1.6 crop, though neither are going to be ideal for wrestling where I'm farther away and will usually want to use tighter framing. I'm not opposed to primes and would love to be able to use them, but given that most of my shooting is sports, I just don't think I can get away from a zoom of some sort.
The only option that seems to be practical is the 24-70 2.8L, but I've read enough bad reports to go along with the good ones to make me feel less than confident about picking one up. Pricewise, if I can stay below $1,250 new or used on whatever I get, I can probably make it work. Any savings I pick up beyond that is a bonus.
Keep in mind I'm having to use a 17-55 EF-S kitter as my basketball lens, and a slow 70- or 75-300 (can't remember which) for wrestling. Anything is going to be a step up.
Advice and input would be much appreciated.