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10-10-2013, 07:51 PM   #16
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Actually, you did quite well with the DA 55-300 which I also have and like it very much. I don't usually shoot anything beyond 200mm because I do a lot of event photos; my favorite lens is the DA*50-135mm f2.8. If you are good with MF lens, I recommend something like a Vivitar 200f3.5 (tokina make) which can be quite cheap from fleabay. But then it depends on you comfort level. Or alternatively you can try to get a used Tamron 70-200f2.8 which may be more affordable AF lens.

10-10-2013, 07:52 PM   #17
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Try the Tamron 70-200/2.8. It's a STUNNING lens. Used in the $600 ballpark.
2.8 is a little soft at 200mm at longer distances, but it's sharp at 200/f4 or 150/f2.8 Heck, it's even sharp at 200/2.8 at closer focus distances (nice for butterflies, not so much for horses!).

Here's ~115/f2.8. My dog is almost as big as a horse. (ha ha).



160/2.8



180/2.8

10-10-2013, 07:52 PM   #18
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Catch in focus is not easy, but can be done. Just needs practice.

Also, 32Gb cards are relatively cheap these days (got a SanDisk 32Gb cards at Costco for about $35 a little while ago).
10-10-2013, 07:58 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Fast, auto-focus, or cheap. You can have any two
LOL, this is pretty much what I expected hear, I think, deep down XD

Whew, more lens suggestions!!! Thank you guys a ton!! ("fleabay," heeheehee).

+Oh man, that tamron does look awesome (your dog is adorable!). It would definitely still be one I'd have to save up for, but at half the price (*cries more*) of some of the ones jatrax posted that I would have RIGHT NOW if I won the lottery, hehe...

I graduate and get a real, grown-up job soon (I hope?? I hope I'll be able to find a real job?) so perhaps it would be best to hold out for something in the $600 price range. Maybe if I end up with money from Christmas I can pick up the 200mm prime and see if I can work with it a bit until then? Otherwise - and thank you, aleonx - I guess it's not like my kit lens produces *terrible* results lol, and in looking at a lot of other pro pics that people have had done of their horses, I guess I'm really being a bit picky, since a lot of the ones I strive towards are like.. the best photographers in the industry, who fly all over the world shooting at the top show barns. :P

Fortunately I can do a good job in photoshop :P it is just more time-consuming than I generally like to bother with XD

*writes down lenses*
*eyes bank account*

10-10-2013, 08:07 PM   #20
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Nothing wrong with being picky, thats how you keep getting better.
If this is just a hobby fine, but if you are getting paid then you are a `pro` and you should think that way. How many shoots, how many sales, could I charge more if I had better pictures?
And good glass is an investment. Cameras come and go, good glas is forever.
10-10-2013, 08:15 PM   #21
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I definitely agree!
I just don't get paid often enough or well enough to do much investing at the moment, hahaha. yet. It's just part-time to spend on things like going to the movies or to put into credit card payments... I don't make very much, but even if it's mostly just my peers who can't afford a real pro hiring me, I want to give them the best photos I can! When I start making enough money to do more than just my my rent and feed my pets, better lenses are at the top of the to-buy list
10-10-2013, 10:14 PM   #22
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Great pictures by the way Elisha,

first and foremost, you seem to squeeze the most out of your 55-300.

secondly, speaking from experience I shot sports with my DA 50-200 f4~5.6 WR indoors and i got decent shots. same with you, i was displeased with the bokeh and lack of separation with the background. I've recently upgraded to the Tamron 70-200 f2.8 (screwdrive one, the newer silent drive one is not available for pentax) and I bought mine new around 700 USD. Used is definitely in the 600+- range but I like my stuff (especially something of this caliber) new. Some people complain about the focus, but I've been shooting volleyball, basketball and soccer and the speed especially when the subject is far from you is nothing to complain about. Only when the subject is about 1 meter in front of you is when the lens starts to hunt.

but anyways, good luck and keep up the good work!
10-11-2013, 09:02 AM   #23
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If you can live with manual focus, you can get 200mm at f/3.5 for cheap, and if you're patient, 200mm f/2.8 also cheap. "Cheap" here means $150 or less.

If you need REALLY cheap, they I think you're stuck at f/4. A manual focus 70-200/70-210 f/4 constant can be had for $50-ish if you try.

If you really need autofocus, it's going to be tough. The really good fast lenses with AF are really expensive, even second hand.

I didn't check your shots for EXIF. Are you shooting in Av mode? Make sure you've got the widest aperture you can to help with that subject isolation. Unfortunately, at 200mm and 200ft from target, even f/2.8 gets you DOF 35 feet deep.
Maybe you should go for a longer "slow" lens. 400mm f/5.6 gets you half the DOF of 200mm f/2.8. Manual focus 400mm f/5.6 are cheap ($50-100). Autofocus 400mm prime or 500mm zoom can often be had for $150-$300 in the f/5.6-6.3 range. All these prices are used, and with some patience.

Check keh.com often.

OH, and large memory cards are cheap. 32GB Class 10/UHS-1 are often on sale for $20-$25.


Last edited by thornburg; 10-11-2013 at 09:08 AM. Reason: memory cards
10-11-2013, 09:24 AM   #24
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I am afraid I can't be much help beause I use at Sigma 50-150 f2.8 for my horse shots, or the 55-300. TAv mode is great for this kind of shooting too.
10-11-2013, 10:02 AM   #25
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Thanks again for the suggestions, all - I shoot in M only and keep the aperture as wide open as it will go.

Thornburg, I was thinking regular-cheap, yeah, around the $150 range The 400m prime is an idea... I kind of doubt I could get anything usable with consistency, being realistic, out of MF given just how freaking fast they move/change directions/suddenly turn and come toward you, etc. I might see if I could borrow one, or rent one cheap and try out a couple of different things and see what I get.

Thank you very much, too, dollarbill I think I will ultimately end up saving for the Tamron. It looks like that's really the best bet for the results I'm after, and if I can possibly manage to just set aside $50 a month, I could at least have one in a year. It'll depend a little on how broke I am after I graduate since my animals suck up lots of money, haha. I really appreciate the help and the direction!
10-11-2013, 10:48 AM   #26
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Having re-read the explanation of why Catch-In-Focus might not work so well, I have a comment that might help you out with your current lens.

If you position yourself carefully, so that the background elements aren't too close and there aren't bright highlights in the background, you can crank up the DOF and just shoot in "continuous" drive mode (whatever it's called on the camera you use). If you've got at least 3-4 frames per second, then you should get some that are in the "correct" position. It also helps with camera shake, because most of it happens right when you press the button (continuous drive means you're holding the button down, so after the first frame or two the camera shake is less of a problem).

This all just guesswork on my part, since I've never done any horse photography. It *is* something that interests me, so I'd like to learn. Can you recommend a good book, or is it something you have to be taught by "horse-people"?
10-11-2013, 11:39 AM   #27
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Yeah, see, I don't really use/need continuous or burst mode anymore because I know exactly when to press the shutter to get the right stride, and I save myself a ton of space and time that way.

I actually don't know of any horse photography books... I've never read any, just grew up immersed in horses and the horse world and got into show Arabs as an adult, so I saw the photos in the horse magazines I devoured and the ones my trainers featured on their website etc etc. I've seen ONE or two on amazon but can't vouch for them since they are likely pretty general, and the horse world is very specialized.

The tricky thing is that a lot of what is wanted in a photo differs A LOT by breed - for instance, at the trot, Arabs want a shot with the base of the neck held high and the neck itself hooked, the tail flagged in the air, and showing as much knee action as possible, so you press the shutter right as the horse lifts its inside leg to get the 'look' of the most knee action as possible, vs quarter horse people want a shot where the horse's frame is long and low (head down), the tail FLAT against the buttocks, and they take the shot right in the moment when the leg is extended and about to touch the ground again because they want it looking as flat as possible (no knee action). Jumpers want a more powerful jump with more bascule, hunters want a flatter more 'pleasant'-looking jump with snappier knees. Most breeds want photos where the inside leg is in motion or forward because it makes the shoulder look more sloping, since the shoulder blade rotates back when the horse lifts its leg, and a more sloping shoulder makes for a longer stride and is generally considered more desirable.

Another example, IMAGINE these are nice photos and not video stills hahahaha

This is a nice-enough photo of my horse set up for Arab halter. His back legs are split, his neck is lifted and curved (ish, he's not perfect but he was really rusty :P), his front legs are inched ever so slightly forward and he's rocked back slightly to improve his shoulder angle


vs if it were a photo taken one second earlier, before he rocked back, it'd be uuugggggly ugly.


If the handler STARTS to lift her hands or makes the slightest move forward, she's rocking the horse back, and usually they rock too far back first and then even it out and stretch EVER so slightly forward again, and right when they start to stretch forward again is the moment to snap the photo. Otherwise you waste a bunch of space on your card and end up with 8 blah photos and the one good one, whereas if you know your timing you can cut to the chase and just get the one good one. :P

The show photographer at the last show we did had terrible timing and didn't get any shots while he was nicely set up at all, and I bought nothing where I went to the show totally excited for pictures and prepared to buy a few of the best.

So it can get pretty technical depending on the breed and the section of the horse world you're catering to. A life full of horses puts you ahead of the game for sure.

Like I said, I doubt it makes a difference for art photography, of course, and sometimes people do want nice artsy shots but even that differs by breed / what different breeds consider desirable. Most horse people want shots that first and foremost show the horses off in their best light + make them look closest to their breed standard, and serious horse people tend to be very picky. Backyard/trail riders probably care less about the technical stuff overall, but again that depends, I know some who are very picky and still want to delete any pic ex. in the last phase of the canter where the horse is on its inside foreleg and the weight is on the forehand, it's almost universally considered ugly. I did a quick google search to get one to show you what it looks like and didn't even see one on the first SEVERAL pages because everyone immediately deletes them, lol!!



I could basically go on for days, sorry this is so long XD

Last edited by Elisha; 10-11-2013 at 11:49 AM.
10-11-2013, 08:36 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by Elisha Quote
I could basically go on for days, sorry this is so long XD
Don't be sorry, very interesting information from an insider. Anyone can point a camera and press a button resulting in a photograph. Only those with the skill and most importantly knowledge of the subject will produce an interesting, eye grabbing photograph except by accident.

A possible parallel would be wedding photography, anyone can do it. But doing it right requires knowing where to be and how to get there at precisely the right time which requires an in depth knowledge of the ceremony, the participants and the location.
10-11-2013, 08:53 PM   #29
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Yes, absolutely!! And you know, wedding photography fascinates me but I really know NOTHING about it and would be sooooo nervous to even try. (The scariest thing to me would have to be that a wedding only happens ONCE! You get ONE CHANCE and if you screw it up you've ruined someone's wedding. FOREVER. :O)

edit: you know something else funny is that I recently read a lot of wedding photographers try to take shots from slightly above because it tends to be a more flattering angle for most people... with horses you do the opposite, you want to always shoot from far away + on the ground because it makes them look taller, but not to the point to where the perspective is distorted. the differences in different types of photography are just really cool/interesting

Last edited by Elisha; 10-12-2013 at 12:47 AM.
10-12-2013, 04:31 AM   #30
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I forget when it was now, but many years ago, in a thread discussing all sorts of tech issues, and better AF faster, or less shutter lag, higher FPS etc, one forum member posted shots from an equestrian event that were stunning, and all shot with an M135/3.5.

His argument was if you know the sport, you can do it all manual. As others have said there are lots of good and fast ling tele lenses, or tele zooms. I use a vivitar series 1 70-210/3.5 and a takumar preset 200/3.5 as well as a K 135/2.5. These are all fine lenses, I personally like the tak preset the best
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