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11-07-2010, 06:37 AM   #1
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Indoor Basketball - what lens?

My son will be starting basketball next week in the school gym. Its elementary school so the lighting is not great.

I've shot the banquet for Soccer in the gym already and the DALs were struggling. The K-x is nice because the iso and low light performance made it work, but that was slow action at most.

With basketball I'm thinking I will need something at f2 or lower. The Rokinor 85 f1.4 has caught my attention. I'm not afraid of manual focus and 85mm would seem a good length for that venue.

I'd appreciate some thoughts from folks that have experience shooting their kids in that situation. Thanks.

11-07-2010, 07:01 AM   #2
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YMMV, but, personally, I find really fast (<F2) lenses to be a difficult solution for shooting indoor action. You have to nail the focus, and when the light is that low, it is difficult to do so. Even sub-F4, the point of focus is pretty small.

I don't know what kind of enlargements you are after, but my best shots of action in big gyms with the K-x either used flash or very high ISO. With good PP, the K-x is very capable at some pretty ridiculous ISO settings if you are all right with a gritty look. I like the gritty look more than the look of missed focus or insufficient DOF.

Last edited by GeneV; 11-07-2010 at 09:47 AM. Reason: typo
11-07-2010, 07:51 AM   #3
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Morning, Well my sons are slightly passed this stage - paying two college tuitions right now and they are not on basketball scholarships. I think that between the 85/1,4 and 50/1.4 you are going to have just about the best affordable solutions lens wise. Your Kx is obviously just very good in terms of ISO speed (with the only improvement being with the K5). The body and lens coupled together should be a pretty good combination. I would also think that the 50 may be just a touch better than the 85 because of its wider focal length, in that width wise it is able to collect a bit more of the available light. How much difference that will make if any - I do not know.

I would think that given all of that, you would still be challenged in a dark gym, and that autofocusing could be a problem - especially in terms of both speed to lock, along with just the ability to lock (possibly a lot of hunting). The Kx is better than any of the previous bodies. Given the manual 85, that would not matter much anyway.

Just thinking out-loud here, I am wondering if you set "catch in focus" and by working the manual focusing on the lens, if the camera would not catch some opportunity shots. Never tried that myself. It appears that you may need a wired shutter release or holding down the shutter to activate it.Also, for some more ideas and thoughts, take a look at Steve's Digicam forum as they have a sports shooting area. I did a search there on basketball and came up with this....
PS - Some very good noise reduction utilities may help in saving shots in post processing.


Last edited by interested_observer; 11-07-2010 at 07:56 AM.
11-07-2010, 08:08 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
YMMV, but, personally, I find really fast (<F2) lenses to be a difficult solution for shooting indoor action. You have to nail the focus, and when the light is that low, it is difficult to do so. Even sub-F4, the point of focus is pretty small.

I don't know what kind of enlargements you are after, but my best shots of action in in big gyms with the K-x either used flash or very high ISO. With good PP, the K-x is very capable at some pretty ridiculous ISO settings if you are all right with a gritty look. I like the gritty look more than the look of missed focus or insufficient DOF.
GeneV's point is a good one.

Have you tried really high iso? The results might be surprisingly good for small prints or electronic display.
See an out-of-the-Kx photo at 6400 posted here earlier by Ununtu https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-beginners-corner-q/120036-theatre-photography-2.html

Here's the numbers: assuming you can get within 35' of the action to get a 10' wide scene with the 85:1.4, the field depth will be 2 3/4' - this is not razor thin but is certainly not very forgiving. Double the f-stop to 2.8 and the depth is over 5 1/2' - lots easier, double again to 5.6 and we're up to 11'.

I'd probably try my DA 55-300, M 135:2.5, and Rokinon 85:1.4 in that order, but I'm not very mobile so reach for long lenses.

Catch-in-focus and autofocus will probably be sufficient to get more than a few keepers.

The numbers indicate the 85:1.4 is a viable alternative for a small school gym I think.

Dave

PS I think that autofocus & catch-in-focus are more dependent on aperture opening than on lighting levels. This is because of the underlying optics, which rely on off-axis light. Of course focus-detect can't work in the dark, but with low f-stop can work in the dim!


Last edited by newarts; 11-07-2010 at 08:45 AM.
11-07-2010, 03:22 PM   #5
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Thanks for the links and thoughts. Trap in Focus is something I had heard about but did not immediately occur to me, thanks. I have played with it a bit today and its a nice feature and I can see that it has real potential for shooting kids with a manual lens.

Anyone have direct experience with the Rokinon 85 f1.4?
11-07-2010, 08:17 PM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
....
Anyone have direct experience with the Rokinon 85 f1.4?
I am pleased with mine in general; it does a good job for portraits even wide open. Here's an out-of-the-K100D low light, wide open jpg (bottom crop 100% )


I think it'll do nicely in the situation you describe - practice with catch-in-focus before you go to the gym. Two techniques are useful, focus slowly enough to avoid lens overshoot (good): or prefocus and let the subject move into focus (sometimes better, esp for moving sports*.)

It'll also do nicely for candids in low light.

Dave

* I've used this method successfully for track & cross country even with AF lenses.

Last edited by newarts; 11-07-2010 at 08:31 PM.
11-07-2010, 09:09 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by newarts Quote
I am pleased with mine in general; it does a good job for portraits even wide open. Here's an out-of-the-K100D low light, wide open jpg (bottom crop 100% )


I think it'll do nicely in the situation you describe - practice with catch-in-focus before you go to the gym. Two techniques are useful, focus slowly enough to avoid lens overshoot (good): or prefocus and let the subject move into focus (sometimes better, esp for moving sports*.)

It'll also do nicely for candids in low light.

Dave

* I've used this method successfully for track & cross country even with AF lenses.
Thanks for the information and the photos. It's sounding better the more I read about it and see the results. The price is certainly right.
11-07-2010, 09:37 PM   #8
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F 135mm F/2.8

Fastest AF of any pentax lens I've used, and sharp wide open. Thats what I'd use at least

i have used my M 85mm F/2 for a few games, which turned out pretty good but obviously focusing on moving subjects at F/2-2.8 is a difficult task resulting in a small percentage of keepers.

11-08-2010, 03:47 AM   #9
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Any chance of being able to shoot from the sidelines? (Maybe you can volunteer photos for the school.)

If so, I would go much wider and shoot low, from a crouching position.

And when I say wider, I'm talking about like the 15 limited! You'll get incredible DOF for better focus, the shots will have that dramatic 15 look, and you can always crop later anyway. (There's a guy in the "15LTD Blows My Mind" lens club that did outstanding--and I mean outstanding--soccer and other sports stuff. Granted, his lighting set-ups are complex, but that lens really works for that stuff.)

If you can shoot on the sidelines, remember that you can position yourself in one spot right behind or off to the side of one of the baskets and stay there, more or less. In other words, you won't have to chase them--they'll all eventually come to you. And remember that most kids are righties, so from their perspective, most will approach the basket from their right side (your left when facing them) for lay-ups. Now, a kid that can approach from the left side and reverse under is ready for the NBA!

I also don't think catch focus is going to be all that handy, since you're going be shooting at least two kids in every shot. I may be wrong on this, but my instinct is to just go with reasonable depth of field (F8 and smaller), use continuous shooting, and prefocus when appropriate.
11-08-2010, 06:49 AM   #10
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how about an older lens

I used a Series 1 70-210F3.5 with my *istD.

There are two issues, 1 is shutter speed, and the other is the ability of the AF to focus etc.

I found with the series 1 that because it is a one touch zoom, it was easy to track the play and remain in focus at all times,

the lens is sharp enough wide open also to suit your needs.

with the newer high ISO capabilities, I would be amazed if you cannot get better shots than I got years ago with the *istD
11-08-2010, 06:52 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote

I also don't think catch focus is going to be all that handy, since you're going be shooting at least two kids in every shot. I may be wrong on this, but my instinct is to just go with reasonable depth of field (F8 and smaller), use continuous shooting, and prefocus when appropriate.
That was my issue with the whole concept of the fast tele at a large aperture in this situation. I don't think the plane of the subject is flat enough in most cases. Pair it up with some high ISO and give yourself some DOF, and you've got something.

I do like the suggestion of a 135mm lens. When I shoot dances in a large building or gym, the SMC K135 2.5 pretty much stays attached to one of my DSLR bodies. I've used the K135 2.5 for numerous action shots in a gym but very seldom at F2.5. I usually want more than one person in focus.
11-08-2010, 07:32 AM   #12
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I have an M135/3.5 that I have used for Soccer outside and like. It has a very nice color rendition to it and I have several shots that have an almost 3D feel to them with it. The built in metal hood is also a nice plus. I was afraid that stopped down a bit it might not prove up to stopping the motion in the gym lighting.
11-08-2010, 07:46 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
I have an M135/3.5 that I have used for Soccer outside and like. It has a very nice color rendition to it and I have several shots that have an almost 3D feel to them with it. The built in metal hood is also a nice plus. I was afraid that stopped down a bit it might not prove up to stopping the motion in the gym lighting.
I was thinking about F4 or so. With low light, you either bump up the ISO or you will get a blur either from motion or insufficient depth of field. My only hesitation with the M135/3.5 is the ease of manual focus if the light is dim.
11-08-2010, 08:25 AM   #14
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Looks like I'll be experimenting at practice next week

Just got the SuperTak 50/1.4 in the mail a minute ago. Wonder how that will change the equation?
11-08-2010, 08:44 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
Looks like I'll be experimenting at practice next week
Good plan! It is the only way for most of us to really figure it out.
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