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06-12-2011, 07:03 AM   #1
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Lens for Gymnastics, Dance Recitals, and Soccer (kids) for K100

So tried shooting a gymnastics event yesterday with my Kit lens and also my 55-200 but got alot of blurred images and ghosting with my K100D.

For the future want something better suited to this task and am looking for lens or body suggestions if need be.

Don't want something "insane" as I am not looking to shoot pro events, but just something nice and fast good in lower light for these types of events

Any suggestions appreciated.

06-12-2011, 10:14 AM   #2
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More than one issue

In order to avoid blurry pictures when photographing a moving object, you must shoot at a fast shutter speed. 1/100 is probably the slowest you would want. This can be difficult indoors when there isn't a lot of light.

One way to get more light to the camera is to increase your ISO, but that can lead to noisy (pixilated) images. I have a k100D, and I found that 800 ISO is highest I can go and get acceptable images. If you were to invest in a K-X or newer camera, you could take pictures at 1600 ISO or perhaps 3200 ISO and get the same image quality.

The next strategy is to open your aperture to the widest setting, which leads us to your original question about a new lens - one that can open the aperture wider than your current lens. I have a Tamron 90 F2.8 that I would probably use in that situation. It's inexpensive, produces crisp and beautiful images, and focuses fast.

Please note that shooting at F2.8 will reduce your depth of field, so that if you aren't focused correctly, your images will be soft, which is different than blurry, but still ruins your image. This can be exacerbated by a dancer that is moving outside the area in focus. At that point, your best solution is to take lots of pictures. Unfortunately, the burst rate on the K100D is slow, so again, a newer camera will be helpful.
06-12-2011, 10:43 AM   #3
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Gymnastics is probably one of the toughest sports to shoot, so it's no wonder that the 55-200 couldn't handle the job.

If you're not looking to get an f/2.8 tele zoom (i'm assuming that's what you mean by "insane") then perhaps the best and cheapest thing to do is pick up an old 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm 1.4 manual focus lens and get closer to the action. Try to get out on the floor- as long as you don't get in the judges way, it's usually not hard to get access. Prefocus on where you know the action is going to be and fire away!
06-12-2011, 11:00 AM   #4
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I've been using my FA50/1.4 to shoot my kids at basketball and gymnastics. I have to get a lot closer but its been up to stopping the action inside at ISO800-1600. Indoor lights in non-pro settings are really bad in most instances and our eyes just dont realize that because they are much more capable than our cameras. Use the fastest f you can find at the highest ISO your camera can handle with descent output. Also, USE A HOOD - I know it sounds weird inside but I have found that some of those spots can really mess up metering without a hood. Good luck.

06-12-2011, 11:12 AM   #5
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Harmonic2 is right that the most cost effective thing to do is to get a K-x body. Its high ISO will be equivalent to adding two stops to your existing lenses.

Of course there's nothing wrong with getting fast glass either - it'll just cost more.
06-12-2011, 11:38 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by harmonica2 Quote
In order to avoid blurry pictures when photographing a moving object, you must shoot at a fast shutter speed. 1/100 is probably the slowest you would want. This can be difficult indoors when there isn't a lot of light.

One way to get more light to the camera is to increase your ISO, but that can lead to noisy (pixilated) images. I have a k100D, and I found that 800 ISO is highest I can go and get acceptable images. If you were to invest in a K-X or newer camera, you could take pictures at 1600 ISO or perhaps 3200 ISO and get the same image quality.

The next strategy is to open your aperture to the widest setting, which leads us to your original question about a new lens - one that can open the aperture wider than your current lens. I have a Tamron 90 F2.8 that I would probably use in that situation. It's inexpensive, produces crisp and beautiful images, and focuses fast.

Please note that shooting at F2.8 will reduce your depth of field, so that if you aren't focused correctly, your images will be soft, which is different than blurry, but still ruins your image. This can be exacerbated by a dancer that is moving outside the area in focus. At that point, your best solution is to take lots of pictures. Unfortunately, the burst rate on the K100D is slow, so again, a newer camera will be helpful.
The K100 will do iso 1600 pretty well and even will do iso 3200 with some noise reduction, but yes, pushing iso and a faster lens are the way to go.



K100 at iso 3200. (Not exactly a high action moment, just a low light moment)

Last edited by Rondec; 06-12-2011 at 11:58 AM.
06-12-2011, 01:52 PM   #7
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I use my DA* 200 f2.8 for these kind of events and it never let me down.
06-12-2011, 02:05 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by wshi Quote
Gymnastics is probably one of the toughest sports to shoot, so it's no wonder that the 55-200 couldn't handle the job.
I would agree. The lighting in most gymnastics facilities is pretty poor, and often with a terrible color cast.

I don't know if this would be considered "insane" or not, but I have never regretted buying a Tamron 70-200/2.8 for these uses. It's a little slow to focus, but with a little practice, I have been able to get some keepers with my K20D.

I missed focus slightly on this one.
1/200, f/3.5, ISO3200


1/500, f/8, ISO200


This is not a dance recital, but lighting is probably similar. I did some noise reduction in post on this one.
1/40, f/5, ISO3200


06-12-2011, 02:25 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by klh Quote
I would agree. The lighting in most gymnastics facilities is pretty poor, and often with a terrible color cast.

I don't know if this would be considered "insane" or not, but I have never regretted buying a Tamron 70-200/2.8 for these uses. It's a little slow to focus, but with a little practice, I have been able to get some keepers with my K20D.

I missed focus slightly on this one.
1/200, f/3.5, ISO3200


1/500, f/8, ISO200


This is not a dance recital, but lighting is probably similar. I did some noise reduction in post on this one.
1/40, f/5, ISO3200
I just don't see how, in that lighting and with the movement involved, one can really get anything good with a f4.5+ lens. I know that its probably possible with hyper-ISO and a tripod but for most parents shooting occassionally under those conditions a lower f-stop is the answer. I haven't regretted the FA50/1.4 at all but wish I had a 50-300 zoom that had a similar f-stop
06-12-2011, 03:50 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mathew J Quote

Don't want something "insane" as I am not looking to shoot pro events, but just something nice and fast good in lower light for these types of events

Any suggestions appreciated.
I'd suggest a K-x plus a Tamron 70-200 f/2.8. Each option gives you 2 stops, and together they give you 4 stops, over you current kit.
06-12-2011, 06:20 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mathew J Quote
So tried shooting a gymnastics event yesterday with my Kit lens and also my 55-200 but got alot of blurred images and ghosting with my K100D.

For the future want something better suited to this task and am looking for lens or body suggestions if need be.

Don't want something "insane" as I am not looking to shoot pro events, but just something nice and fast good in lower light for these types of events

Any suggestions appreciated.
The least expensive option is to buy a fast MF prime or zoom lens and be very selective when and where you shoot. I shoot with Tamrom Adaptall-2 lenses a lot; Tamron SP 19AH, 70-210/3.5 is probably the best zoom lens with a constant f3.5 maximum aperture at all focal range and most affordable. You still need to shoot at high ISO, and relatively high shutter speed to freeze the athlete's movements, and you can also underexpose by one stop and bring it back in PP later. The one stop gain can be used to boost your shutter speed or close the lens down to gain more DOF.

Gymnastics is one sport where most of the action takes place at one particular, and predictable spot. On the balance beam for example, most of the action happens in the centre. Pre-focus the lens to that spot and leave it there. Pan the athlete along until she gets into the pre-focused zone, click the shutter and continue to pan along. Panning allows you to use lower shutter speeds giving you a chance to boost the DOF or lower the ISO to minimize noise. The same shooting method can be applied to just about every discipline of gymnastics.

Don't try to chronicle an athlete's routine with your camera, this is quite impossible to do, even with the latest and the greatest equipment. Instead, concentrate on obtaining one or two high point of the routine. In film days, getting two, three successful shots per roll was acceptable. Shooting with manual focus lenses and three, four generations old DSLR camera, choosing to shoot selectively with proper discipline and technique, can still get the job done.

Thanks,
06-13-2011, 10:44 PM   #12
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I went on a hunt for a lens for my kids doing Tae Kwon Do using my K200d. All of the advice here is good.

For the camera body - I used to have a K-x, which I sold and bought the K200d for outdoor stuff. This was a good trade except for indoors, where the K-x really kicks the K200's butt. The K-x is totally usable at 3200 ISO with light noise reduction. I may have to go buy another one now. But the K100d will work with some noise reduction. OK, lots.

The best lens I've found is the FA 50 f/1.4. It's a little short for a big gym but very fast and very sharp. Today for Tae Kwon Do I brought the DA* 16-50 f/2.8 and I'm really disappointed with the shots I got. The FA 50 does much better. In fact my old manual M 50mm f/1.7 was better if not for missing so many shots due to missed focus.

For gymnastics it might be easier to use catch-in-focus with a manual fast 50mm, in which case you could get off cheap. It depends on whether the subject is moving in a predictable path.

For soccer your 50-200 is just fine so long as you have daylight. I took hundreds of baseball pictures this year with the 50-200 and they look awesome. I love this lens.
06-14-2011, 01:05 AM   #13
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My daughters' dance recitals have been very challenging to photograph. The lighting is often dim and frequently dynamic changing in both intensity and color at a moments notice. You could possibly "cheat" a bit and photograph a dress rehearsal where they may have all the lights on. Of course, you'll also learn where to be to take your shots.

My main lens I use for recitals is a Pentax K 135mm F2.5. At the venues I've been at, if I can use anything closer then peoples heads are in the way, but I've also made use of my Pentax DA 70mm f2.4. I'd considered the Samyang 85mm f1.4 , but I've not picked one up yet. The 135mm is of course a MF lens, but with the challenging lighting and all the motion, I find it best to be just use MF at all times even with the DA 70.

Other possible lenses:

Pentax-M 100mm F2.8 Reviews - M Series Primes - Pentax Lens Reviews & Pentax Lens Database
Pentax-M 120mm F2.8 Reviews - M Series Primes - Pentax Lens Reviews & Pentax Lens Database

Last edited by wasser; 06-14-2011 at 01:16 AM.
06-14-2011, 06:11 AM   #14
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I have done very well shooting dance in a gym with an FA77. This is also not a cheap option, but it works well for me. As Rondec pointed out, the K100d is not bad at higher ISO (800-1600)--better than some of the later bodies. Moving to the K-x would get you a very usable ISO 3200, but most gyms seem to be lit well enough for ISO 1600, especially by day. For action, IMHO, there is no substitute for ISO or flash. Fast lenses give you another stop, but at the cost of depth of field. Shooting action at F/2 and wider is very tricky.

My other go-to lens for indoor events where I can't get as close is the SMC K135/2.5. There are less expensive and physically smaller lenses in this length that were made later, and many would say they don't shine quite as well optically as this classic, but I doubt you would be disappointed in the M or A lenses in this focal length range if you are comfortable with manual focus.

Last edited by GeneV; 06-14-2011 at 06:20 AM.
06-15-2011, 08:13 AM   #15
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I forgot to say that your technique is also important in shooting action in low light. Invariably, even with faster lenses, you'll still have to contend with motion blur. One way around this, or going with it rather, is panning.

Mastering Panning Photographing Moving Subjects

Set yourself up parallel to the action, set your shutter speed sufficiently low (varies depending on speed of object and your distance to it), track the object with your lens as it moves, and then shoot while panning with it. Oh, and turn shake reduction.

The other tip is to find the moments of "rest". It's not just about when they do a pose. Dancers doing turns will face the crowd for an instant, all while in motion. If you jump vertically, then for a brief instant at the top of the jump you'll be practically stationary. Reversing direction as you run will cause the same pause.
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