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10-13-2011, 08:25 AM   #1
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K-x Newbie needs help selecting lens for long distances

I am VERY much a newbie but somehow got volunteered to take action photos of my son's football team. I have the Pentax 50-200 lens but am finding it is not zooming in as much as I'd like. Thinking of getting an AF lens that could go as high as 400 or 500. Recommendations? Brands to look at besides Pentax? Help appreciated!

10-13-2011, 08:42 AM   #2
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I would recommend the 55-300. If you go longer than that, you will find that it becomes very difficult to hand-hold, and unless you spend a bunch of money, the IQ will drop off. 300 should be long enough to do football, and the 55-300 is a screaming bargain as far as IQ for the money.
10-13-2011, 09:04 AM   #3
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I agree, the 55-300mm should give you the most reach at the most reasonable price. Are you shooting football in daylight? Or are these games during the evening? In any case, the lenses at 400mm and beyond are available, but they are not cheap and they are BIG. Most of the available ones are from Sigma and they include:

120-400mm $999
150-500mm $1069
50-500mm $1659

So if you go that route, you'll need a good monopod or tripod at the games as well. Contrast that to the Pentax 55-300mm at about $350 new or look for used ones here in the marketplace.
10-13-2011, 10:46 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by stlnovice Quote
I am VERY much a newbie but somehow got volunteered to take action photos of my son's football team. I have the Pentax 50-200 lens but am finding it is not zooming in as much as I'd like. Thinking of getting an AF lens that could go as high as 400 or 500. Recommendations? Brands to look at besides Pentax? Help appreciated!
Lenses are much more expensive than getting closer.

You can do some simulations and calculations based on photos you already have. Crop a photo taken at 200mm to see what it would look like at 300mm. Look at the exposure information too. If you are handholding the camera, minimum shutter speed must be faster with a longer lens. To compensate for that, the aperture has to be larger or sensitivity increased or both. So if you have a photo at 200mm, f5.6, 1/250 and ISO 200, using a 300mm lens in the same light means a shutter speed of 1/350, probably going to ISO 400 and 1/500 to be safe. You can buy a lens that opens to f4 at 300mm but they aren't cheap.

Above 300mm, it's either a used Pentax or another brand, and a substantial cost. That's why you'll have a lot of suggestions for the DA 55-300mm f4-5.8.

10-13-2011, 11:52 AM   #5
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I have shot pictures of football games just fine with the 55-300mm.
10-13-2011, 12:06 PM   #6
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If you *really* want to close in, a Sigma superzoom Bigma 50-500mm, or Lil'Bigma 150-500mm or 170-500mm, will certainly do the trick. These are long and heavy and fairly expensive, except an older used Lil'Bigma 170-500mm which you may find for under US$400. (I bought mine retail and now can't afford to take a huge loss selling it, alas.)

For much less money and weight and a bit less reach, there's the fine old FA100-300/4.7-5.8 (silver, not black) which you can probably find for around US$100. It looks and sounds cheezy but has brilliant optics. I'm no birder but it's given me my best bird shots.

These all are slow (narrow-aperture) lenses, but with your Kx's high-ISO performance that's not a hindrance. Faster zooms are available; VERY big, heavy, costly. They're the kind that SI toggers have on tripods at pro games. Such a shooter's basic kit may cost US$100k. Ouch.
10-13-2011, 02:51 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by rockmaster1964 Quote
I have shot pictures of football games just fine with the 55-300mm.
Same here. The difficulty is not getting close enough, but rather timing the right shot.
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