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08-07-2007, 09:23 AM   #1
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Kids Soccer - lens options?

My kid is starting soccer (football to the rest of the world) soon, and of course, I'm going to want a million pics of him playing. Dilemma comes that my longest lens is the 50-200.

So I'm looking for a bit longer somewhat affordable options -

Tamron 1.4x AF TC, would give me about 280 - not a whole lot longer but fairly cheap

Sigma/Tamron 70-300 - lots of different choices of models, options etc... What is the consensus on these?

I think most others are out of my price range - I'd love to pick up a 300/4.5 or a bigma or something similar - but I just don't think the fundage exists

I'd prefer to stay with Autofocus - although I could do a manual focus for the right price!

Any thoughts, comments, suggestions?


08-07-2007, 10:13 AM   #2
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There's always a Takumar 300mm f/4.

I'm looking at getting me one.
08-07-2007, 10:18 AM   #3
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I've got the tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 apo macro (non DI version) and I've been pleased with it - especially for the price of it. I've never had a complaint about the sharpness and it's versatility can't be beat. I've also heard good things about the sigma, but I can't speak about that with any personal experience.

I'd recommend avoiding a teleconverter with your 50-200 for soccer. You're f/5.6 at the long end wide-open will become an f/8 and the focus speed will be noticably reduced.

Hope this helps.
08-07-2007, 11:16 AM   #4
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You could look at the 100-300 F4 Sigma. I've heard very good things about it. BTW, I've shot a lot of college level soccer with a 70-200 F2.8 Sigma (on a film Canon EOS 1) without a TC. I was on the sidelines. It would have been easier with a 300mm (on film). 200mm might do it on APS-C. In retrospect I probably should have looked into a TC - oh well.

If I had the choice, I would take a manual focus fast prime over a consumer grade AF zoom for soccer any day. At night games on a well lit field, I used 3200 speed film, and F2.8 was barely getting usable shutter speeds to stop action. IS (SR) won't help you there either.

I wouldn't bother with a TC for the 50-200. It will be too slow and AF probably won't work. KEH had a few used 300mm F4 lenses in stock (MF) a while ago. They are probably gone now, but keep looking and you might find something.

Hope this helps - right now there are a lot of holes in the telephoto end of the pentax lens system and 3rd parties as well. You might be best to wait until the pentax 300mm F4 DA comes out (probably next year). At least you have plenty of time to save up for it, and it should be a very next lens to own anyway.

Oh, I also have a 70-300 F4-5.6 Sigma APO lens for pentax. I've used if for day soccer games on film with good results - but not steller. It would probably perform very well for a consumer zoom on a digital body, but it does get soft wide open on past 200mm.

08-07-2007, 02:07 PM   #5
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Lens for Soccer

In my opinion (fwif) I think the answer to your question boils down to two things: (1) Will you be able to sit on the sidelines as opposed to high in the stands, and (2) Are you talking about both day and night games or night games only? I have a couple of grandkids who've been into soccer for the past two years. Their games are all in the daytime, and there's no problem with sitting on one of the sidelines. Under those circumstances I've had good luck with the Sigma APO DG 70-300 lens on my K10D. At this close range the 300mm length on the lens is seldom used. I can't be certain right off the top of my head, but I'd bet that most of my pictures have been taken around 150mm. If you can locate at the sideline, a 300mm prime would be too long in my opinion.

08-07-2007, 02:19 PM   #6
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Yeah, I'll be on the sideline and all games will be during the day outside - I'm not in a big hurry to get anything longer, just wanted to look into options. I'll be trying with my 50-200 first, see how it works out.

Thanks all for your input and suggestions!
08-07-2007, 02:47 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by ncallender Quote
...BTW, I've shot a lot of college level soccer with a 70-200 F2.8 Sigma...
The big difference is the size of the players. I shot kids soccer on the weekend with my Bigma and was between 250 & 500mm all day. You really need this much length to be able to effectively capture the games, without having to crop every image.

Ccallana, I would really try to save for a 50-500, it is made for this sport. You will still get all the photos on a shorter lens, but you'll need to crop to get the kids to fill the frame.

Imagine the devistation when you child scores a great goal and you want to blow the photo up, only to be limited because you have to crop teh picture heaps to get them filling the frame.

Link to my example pictures: 50-500 + K10Ds first outing! - Soccer - 14 photos.
08-07-2007, 03:28 PM   #8
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get something that can withstand heavy rain. or an umbrella. soccer shots in the rain are defineatly going to look the best. And if you stand behind the goal you might want a sturdy lens just in case :P

08-07-2007, 05:10 PM   #9
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Yeah, I'm shoot the Under 5s (well they are all under 5 as the season starts) -so the guys are pretty little. I'd love a Bigma, but I'm just not sure $1000 is going to magically appear before the first game (4 weeks from now)

I'll take donations

Great shots in your link by the way!!
08-07-2007, 05:57 PM   #10
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I have shot two years of my granddaughters soccer with an olderTamron 70-300. Using my DL it did a fine job if I did my part. Keep in mind I'm not expecting the world from it. I got several good shots of her and the pictures I printed out for her teammates parents were well recieved. My ratio of keepers was low, but who cares, SD cards are cheap.

I think that as small as the field is for 5 year olds, and no faster than they move up and down the field, your 50-200 should do fine. I would certianly try it for a couple of games before I spent the money on another lens, unless of course you are wanting to get a new lens.
Shooting from the sidelines will get you close, shooting from behind the goals will provide better angles for the action. If shooting from behind the goals, you can't cheer for your team, that's considered coaching, no kidding. The very best 'people' shots I got came after the game, win or lose, the players are still pumped up and emotions come to the surface easier(not that 11 and 12 year old girls usually are lacking in public display of emotions) and are less aware of the camera. The very best team shot I ever got was at a pregame meeting with the refs, so have your camera ready, you can also get on the field then.
Good luck, have fun and take plenty of water

Last edited by cencrunner; 08-07-2007 at 06:49 PM.
08-07-2007, 06:03 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by ccallana Quote
Yeah, I'm shoot the Under 5s (well they are all under 5 as the season starts)
Your DA50-200 will be more than enough lens for the size of field that 5 yr olds play on. I had more problems with the sun, as half the games I've shot I've had to face the sun.

Here is a little pre-game warm up from a couple of years ago.

08-07-2007, 08:50 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ccallana Quote
Yeah, I'm shoot the Under 5s (well they are all under 5 as the season starts) -so the guys are pretty little. I'd love a Bigma, but I'm just not sure $1000 is going to magically appear before the first game (4 weeks from now)
Kids' soccer is a tough assignment. My earlier attempts were with a Pentax SMC-M* 300mm f4 lens. The image quality was great, but the manual exposure and the long throw manual focusing made the task difficult. I have some great shots with this lens, but I wanted auto-focus and especially auto-exposure (as lighting varies considerably depending on what direction you are aiming on the field).

I looked at the options and elected to get the Sigma APO 100-300mm f4 EX DG. I also bought the matched Sigma APO 1.4X tele-converter to get to 420mm as needed. The AF is still a little slow on a K10D body, but it is within the acceptable range. The comparatively wide aperture allows sufficient background blur (always a problem since you want the parents on the sideline and the fences completely out of focus). A sample is below, shot at 220mm at f4.5, 1/1600 sec at ISO 800 (using my old *ist DL body).

(Image deleted)

The little kids play on small fields, so a 200mm will be fine for now. But as they get bigger, so does the field. I need the reach of a 300mm now, and will need the 420mm next year when they move to the full size fields. With any lens, you will be doing a lot of "zooming with your feet" to get good lighting and good angles with a blurred background.

The ideal lens for this application would be the Nikon 200-400mm f4 zoom. However, since I don't have $5,000 to spend on this lens (plus another $800 for a D80 body), I decided to go for the Sigma APO 100-300mm f4 EX DG as the best option for the Pentax mount. A less expensive option would be the Sigma 135-400 f4.5-5.6 DG. This is close to half the price of my lens or the Bigma, but the build quality, speed and image quality are somewhat inferior. I would also consider for the future either the Pentax DA* 60-250mm f4 or the DA* 300mm f4. The 250mm may be too short and the 300mm lacks the flexibility of a zoom. But the SDM feature may improve AF speed.

Last edited by GaryML; 08-12-2007 at 05:56 PM. Reason: Image deleted
08-07-2007, 10:34 PM   #13
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We went to our first practice tonite, and if it was any indication of games, 200mm should be ok - I'll probably want a little extra reach at some point, but I think I'll be fine for now. I may have to use it as an excuse to buy something new down the road though

Thanks again for everyones input!!
10-13-2007, 08:53 AM   #14
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I'm searching for lens for the same purpose. What is most important factor; zoom ability or focal value of the lens ?
How Pentax-DA 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 would perform comparing
to Sigma 18-125 F305-5.6 ?

Take care
10-14-2007, 02:16 AM   #15
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I personally wouldn't buy either lens. The Sigma 18-125 isn't a very good lens at all from what I've seen. The Pentax 18-250 is a better lens - at least the Tamron 18-250 is - but f6.3 is slowwwww. Focal length is more important.

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