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12-15-2007, 10:17 PM   #1
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What lens...

...would you suggest for me?
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Earlier this evening, I took my K10D and two owned lenses (FA 50mm f/1.4, and Tamron 18-200mm 3.5-6.3) to shoot the Nutcracker Christmas program, that three of our children were participants in. It meant a lot to me, to be able to get some nice shots, and I'd hoped to be able to do just that. But that wasn't to be the case. Only one of the many shots taken was usable, and that was only after a great deal of PP in Lightroom & ACDsee Pro. It turned out that my 50mm was too long, and my 18-200 just couldn't handle the low-lighting of the theater.

We also have a daughter who's playing basketball, now, and I am finding that my setup is lacking even for those shots. I am talking about the capability for capturing those 'freeze-motion' shots. The K10D is a fine camera, which does very well in those areas where low-lighting, or action-shot requirements would not be of an issue. If there is a lens out there (which wouldn't equate to "K"-costs) that would enable me to stand tall in the above mentioned areas - please inform.

Or could it be that Pentax doesn't make a lens truly capable of the need that I am requiring, and that I should (though I hope not) sell out, and jump ship for another brand which can be married to really fast lens? I love the fit & feel of my camera, and kinda know my way around it. I hope that I don't have to look elsewhere. But, please share your opinions & suggestions with me.

12-16-2007, 02:30 AM   #2
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I'm sure Pentax makes a lens capable of handling these situations. I mean the 50 would have worked fine right, aside from the incorrect focal length? I would say put your Tamron on your camera to see what focal length you'll need in each scenario then get a prime that fits the need. I'm thinking either the 31mm or 35mm along with either then 70mm or 77mm for the basketball.
12-16-2007, 04:23 AM   #3
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Sounds like you're placing too much blame on the camera. The K10D/K100D are perfectly capable of being married to fast lenses. You already have one of the world's finest....you just found the focal length too long. And the f3.5~6.3 aperture range is pretty dismal to be trying to shoot indoors with, especially by the time you get far enough into the zoom range for shooting sports.

Basketball courts aren't nearly so well illuminated as our eyes lead us to believe. I shot this on a basketball court:



That's a Super Takumar 200/4 shot at ISO1600, wide open at f4.....and with a flash.

I've never shot basketball myself, but I've seen several threads on Flickr's "Strobist" discussion group that lead me to believe that even after mounting multiple remote-controlled flash units around the court lots of them are tickled to be getting a good solid f2.8 worth of illumination. The impression I get is that basketball is notoriously difficult to shoot, primarily due to the lousy lighting. You're going to want fast glass for that, probably a couple of primes.
12-16-2007, 06:47 AM   #4
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Nathan,
Unfortunately, lens speed is expensive. For low light indoor shots you should be using at least a f2.8 lens. For your theater shots, if you don't know what focal length you need, something like the DA*16.50 f2.8, or the Sigma 18-50 f2.8 EX DC Macro (pretty decent lens, 1/2 the cost of the DA*). Good primes like the FA35 f2.0 or the FA28 f2.8 would work also. There is also the DA35 on the lens roadmap, rumored to be a F1.8-f1.4 lens.

For Basketball, if you are shooting from the stands, you will probably need a 70-200 f2.8. That means at least US$1000. If you can get to court side, the DA* 50-135 (or 3rd party equivalent) would suffice. The key is fast glass.

12-16-2007, 07:41 AM   #5
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I would have to start by saying I am surprised you found the 50mm too long.

I have shot a lot of my daughter's performances (in high school, and also her dance school) they have always been in a large auditorium, where I have found my Sigma 70-200 f2.8 the best lens.

There has been only 1 exception, in a small theater, where the 70mm was marginally too long, and my SMC 50mm f1.4 would have been a better selection.

I would think any of the modern f2.8 constant apature zooms, from 16-50mm(pentax) to 24-70mm (sigma) and all others in between wouold be good, if youo are always that close.

For sports, in a high school gym, 50mm might be a little too short for action at the other end. so again I would go for something like 24-70mm

Be aware that when the venue gets bigger (as your daughter gets older) you may still want a longer fast lens. in that case BRING CASH, as any 70-200 f2.8 will cost you a lot.

You could also go the route of finding some older fast primes, to go with your 50mm f1.4. For example I also have a 24mm f2.5 (tamron) and a 135 mm f2.5 (SMC Pentax) and am looking presently for an 85mm F1.8 (SMC Pentax). Although not as flexible as zooms, the exter stops are great to have, bith for focusing and shutter speed
12-16-2007, 01:57 PM   #6
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Thanks to everyone who responded. Also, I must correct a mistake that was made in my initial post. I had stated that my 50mm was too long, when I meant to say it wasn't long enough (from where I was sitting). The one shot from it,that I kept, was usable only because of the artistic filters (amongst other PP treatments) that was applied to it. There were a number of other shots that were exposed nicely - as far as lighting was concerned - but they could not be used because of the blurriness caused by the dancer's movements.

Also, Mike Cash was right about my placing too much blame on the camera. I know that he was speaking mainly from the "Lens" side of the matter, but it is true that I still have a lot to learn about 'how' to use my camera. One very refreshing thing, though: It is so good to know that the K10D IS capable (when outfitted with the right lens) of getting whatever shots might be desired.
12-16-2007, 02:03 PM   #7
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There are 100mm and 135mm 2.5 or 3.5 manual lenses, used from KEH Camera: Used Cameras, Digital Cameras, Film Cameras, Laptop Computers and More., that might work for you.
12-16-2007, 02:16 PM   #8
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You were getting blurred motion with the 50mm lens? What f-stop and ISO settings were you using?

12-16-2007, 04:55 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by NLAlston Quote
.
Or could it be that Pentax doesn't make a lens truly capable of the need that I am requiring, and that I should (though I hope not) sell out, and jump ship for another brand which can be married to really fast lens? I love the fit & feel of my camera, and kinda know my way around it. I hope that I don't have to look elsewhere. But, please share your opinions & suggestions with me.
Check your images for the ISO setting that was used. You can use up to 400 with no worries, 800 is ok, 1600 works in a pinch or when you are just taking snap shots for the web for for 4x6 prints. I have a 1600 ISO image here that you can look at. This image was taken at 1600 ISO, 1/20 @ f/2.8, AF, AE, SR, hand held. They are destined for a 600X480 web site, so the quality is more than enough.

One thing that might help you immensely is to use spot exposure metering. That way the camera's exposure will be for the small ( ) area in the center of the screen. This will expose for the best lit part of the scene (or the not best if that's what you need).

User Photo Gallery - Miscellaneous

and here is a 100% crop from the left side.

User Photo Gallery - Miscellaneous
12-16-2007, 07:49 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by TheWengler Quote
You were getting blurred motion with the 50mm lens? What f-stop and ISO settings were you using?
I don't rightly remember which settings were used. I was so disenchanted with those photos that I did away with them, as soon as I saw what they held. But I will try to post a sample, or two, when next I am out & about to take some photos.



QuoteOriginally posted by Canada_Rockies Quote
Check your images for the ISO setting that was used. You can use up to 400 with no worries, 800 is ok, 1600 works in a pinch or when you are just taking snap shots for the web for for 4x6 prints. I have a 1600 ISO image here that you can look at. This image was taken at 1600 ISO, 1/20 @ f/2.8, AF, AE, SR, hand held. They are destined for a 600X480 web site, so the quality is more than enough.

One thing that might help you immensely is to use spot exposure metering. That way the camera's exposure will be for the small ( ) area in the center of the screen. This will expose for the best lit part of the scene (or the not best if that's what you need).

User Photo Gallery - Miscellaneous

and here is a 100% crop from the left side.

User Photo Gallery - Miscellaneous
Thanks. I will most definitely put into effect the information that you have given me. Next time, hopefully, I will fare a great deal better.
12-17-2007, 08:05 AM   #11
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Never be in a rush to dispose of images unless they are just so out of focus as to be hopeless. The image I posted earlier in the thread was one I initially considered unsalvageable, since it was so grainy. But working with the RAW file and running the result through some noise reduction software several months later I managed to salvage it to something at least semi-useful. My processing tools and techniques just weren't there at the time I took the photo.

If possible, go to events/games you don't care anything about just for practice and experimentation purposes. It isn't half so frustrating as trying to figure things out on the fly at events where one does care. Good way to figure out what focal lengths would work best for you, what sort of ISO you need to use, see what post-processing can do about the noise, see if underexposing RAW intentionally will get you some extra shutter speed, practice following the action, etc etc etc
12-17-2007, 10:08 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by NLAlston Quote
Thanks to everyone who responded. Also, I must correct a mistake that was made in my initial post. I had stated that my 50mm was too long, when I meant to say it wasn't long enough (from where I was sitting). The one shot from it,that I kept, was usable only because of the artistic filters (amongst other PP treatments) that was applied to it. There were a number of other shots that were exposed nicely - as far as lighting was concerned - but they could not be used because of the blurriness caused by the dancer's movements.

Also, Mike Cash was right about my placing too much blame on the camera. I know that he was speaking mainly from the "Lens" side of the matter, but it is true that I still have a lot to learn about 'how' to use my camera. One very refreshing thing, though: It is so good to know that the K10D IS capable (when outfitted with the right lens) of getting whatever shots might be desired.
I have the same questions as others, what ISO and What shutter speed.

I generally shoot at either 1600 or 3200 ISO when doing these shots, And using an f2.8 lens, can get almost frozen dancers (when they do a slow spin), Usually above 1/250th.

Grain, yes it is there, but not too bad, when I compare it to 3200 ISO B&W film which I shot in the past.
12-17-2007, 12:37 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Grain, yes it is there, but not too bad, when I compare it to 3200 ISO B&W film which I shot in the past.
Or to the Tri-X 160 I pushed to 3200 back in the dark ages.
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