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01-15-2011, 03:06 PM   #1
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Indoor gymnastics lens

I am trying to make a final decision for a lens to shoot indoor gymnastics where we can't use a flash and the distance can be far. I have a Kx and while my 55-300 has the distance, it often doesn't have the speed for these low light conditions. I have pretty much eliminated the 50-135 (people say its focus is too slow..unless you can convince me otherwise) so I am down to a) sigma 50-150 f2.8 (~$750), b) tamron 70-200 f 2.8 (~$730), or c) maybe the DA 200 f2.8 (but this is about $950). (The Sigma 70-200 is way too expensive...why?) Any thoughts? Thanks!

01-15-2011, 03:14 PM   #2
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I'm not sure about the others, but I have a DA*200 f2.8 and it gives beautiful indoor sports pictures. I've never tried gymnastics but have great luck with basketball and hockey. Good luck!
01-15-2011, 03:26 PM   #3
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I would ask do you really need fast autofocus? Gymnastics is a very predictable sport, you pretty much know where the action is going to be, so you are able to prefocus. I have gotten good results with the FA 50mm, but then I've had floor access, so distance wasn't an issue.

Another things is that most halls I've been to have been absolute dungeons, so a 2.8 lens simple wouldn't have cut it. Depending on age level, you need really high shutter speeds to freeze motion. Newer bodies help a bit, but most people I have seen shooting gymnastics have been using fast prime lenses. I envy Canon their relatively cheap 85mm f1.8 and 135mm f2 lenses! (...and the 200mm 1.8, but that's not exactly cheap!)
01-15-2011, 04:21 PM   #4
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Ive taken shots using a zeiss 50 1.7 , but I was able to get close, within 3 metres

01-15-2011, 07:16 PM   #5
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I'm a newbie so how do you get a prefocused shot of a gymnast in a floor routine doing a running handspring and summersault and catch her in mid-air? {Getting the "posing" shots (that are close) is not the issue I have.} I'm jealous of those that get to be on the mat but in the two years that my daughter's been in competitive gymnastics only coaches are allow there in our meets. I think even if I could get real close I wouldn't want to as I think it puts another level of pressure on the kids...especially your own...I know I would be petrified if i was on the bar and my dad was 5 ft away taking a picture of me....yikes!!!! Anyway...thanks everyone for your comments.
01-15-2011, 08:24 PM   #6
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Sigma 70-200mm with HSM and a healthy boost of iso should give you a decent exposure + shutter speed to freeze the action as well.

edit: Also sigma makes teleconverters just in case you need added telephoto.

If you have the K20D, can use the 21fps mode. Each picture is ~2 megapixel but is higher resolution compared to video so is print-able and enlarge-able to a certain extent.

eg,
[YT]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_gyPZys7_A[/YT]
185 pictures were stitched.



Havent got any gymnastic jobs but if there is one constant in all sports, definitely need the speed.

Last edited by Reportage; 01-15-2011 at 10:15 PM.
01-15-2011, 09:20 PM   #7
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It doesnt have to be 100% in focus, as long as its a decent shot that conveys the action, well IMO

01-15-2011, 11:55 PM   #8
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Its all about the Sigma 70-200mm HSM.

01-16-2011, 02:36 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by lkjr Quote
I'm a newbie so how do you get a prefocused shot of a gymnast in a floor routine doing a running handspring and summersault and catch her in mid-air? {Getting the "posing" shots (that are close) is not the issue I have.} I'm jealous of those that get to be on the mat but in the two years that my daughter's been in competitive gymnastics only coaches are allow there in our meets. I think even if I could get real close I wouldn't want to as I think it puts another level of pressure on the kids...especially your own...I know I would be petrified if i was on the bar and my dad was 5 ft away taking a picture of me....yikes!!!! Anyway...thanks everyone for your comments.
Yeah, floor is the exception I usually just go for the pose shots on the mat. If you are dead set on a fast 70-200mm, the Sigma is your best choice. What version did you check the price on? They recently released a new version with image stabilization, which is pretty expensive. However, you should still be able to get the old version for much cheaper, here's one for $750:

Amazon.com: Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG HSM II Macro Zoom Lens for Pentax Digital SLR Cameras: Camera & Photo

It's a great lens, but unfortunately not the best at 200mm wide open, which is presumably where you'll be using the lens the most.
01-16-2011, 01:34 PM   #10
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I am doubtful about whether any AF will enable you to catch a running handspring somersault in the air. For my daughters' early gymnastics I have used an A50/1.2, and a SMC Tak 135/2.5, with mixed results, but some worth keeping. As dude said, more about catching the idea of the action than the action itself.
01-16-2011, 02:03 PM   #11
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To stop the action, though, there is no substitute for fast 200-300mm lenses. f/2.8 is a great advantage. That's where the Tamron 70-200 and Sigma 70-200 does well. Pentax also have the FA* 80-200 and FA* 300/2.8 (if you can find them, then if you can afford them!). Best value for money is the Tamron 70-200, and it performs quite well wide open in that setting.

Any better and you're going to a fast FF camera like a 1D or D3 with even faster lenses - e.g. this gymnastics shot by this Canonite with an 85mm lens at f/2:

Last edited by Ash; 01-16-2011 at 02:16 PM.
01-16-2011, 06:58 PM   #12
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I use my DA* 200 for indoor gym and I am very satisfied. AF is fast and acurate on my K10D and f2.8 is very welcome. I sometimes use my DA* 50-135, but find it a little short.
01-16-2011, 07:09 PM   #13
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I bought a Sigma 50-150 just before christmas especially for my son's gymnastics competitions. I have only used it once so far, but I am impressed with the performance of the lens. It is very sharp, even at f/2.8. I did have to adjust focus (-10 on my K-7) to get it sharp at 150mm, and even then it front-focused below 75mm (the lens is parfocal, however, so I work around the FF by focusing at ~100mm and zooming back out). The lens is now at Sigma service to get the focus adjusted.

The lens is very solidly built, it's completely internal zooming and focusing, and it is not too heavy. The focal range was great, although I did have to crop some shot from farther away. The perfect range would be 50-200/2.8, but that would be a monster of a lens.
01-17-2011, 02:38 AM   #14
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As said before, the Sigma 70-200 F2.8 HSM II (without the OS) is the lens you need for gymnastics. With the K-x you even get cleaner images then I can get with my K7. here a few samples.




If you are close enough you could even use something like the FA 50 F1.4
01-17-2011, 06:48 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by lkjr Quote
I am trying to make a final decision for a lens to shoot indoor gymnastics where we can't use a flash and the distance can be far. I have a Kx and while my 55-300 has the distance, it often doesn't have the speed for these low light conditions. I have pretty much eliminated the 50-135 (people say its focus is too slow..unless you can convince me otherwise) so I am down to a) sigma 50-150 f2.8 (~$750), b) tamron 70-200 f 2.8 (~$730), or c) maybe the DA 200 f2.8 (but this is about $950). (The Sigma 70-200 is way too expensive...why?) Any thoughts? Thanks!
You mention a 50-150 as an option. If that is long enough you might consder the Takumar 135:2.5. It is manual but very good and inexpensive compared to your listed alternatives. A good way to wet your manual feet!

Dave

PS I'd try increasing ISO a lot with the DA 55-300 first. At 200mm the lens is f:4.5 - not too bad.

Doubling ISO is equivalent to adding a stop. So if you find that f:4.5 at ISO 3200 is ok from the standpoint of motion freeze, f:3.2 would be ok at ISO 1600, f:2.3 at 800, etc.

Similar tests can be done to determine what ISO is good enough for you. Just shoot an ISO series ( perhaps varying noise reduction settings too) of a static subject & decide what's good enough.

These simple tests will help identify what lens you actually need to do the job you want done.

Or just buy a good 200:2.8 and be done with the agonizing.

Last edited by newarts; 01-17-2011 at 07:12 AM.
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