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10-10-2013, 06:34 PM   #1
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CHEAP long(ish) auto for shallower DOF? :(

So, I have a K-r, and I primarily use the 55-300 kit lens (f/4-f/5.6), and a 50mm f/1.7. My most frequent photoshoots are horses, so obviously I use the kit since they tend be rather far away. I rely on autofocus (continuous) a lot, what with them zooming around on the other side of the pasture. Unfortunately, at f/5.6, a lot of the shots just come out kind of... mehhh (IMO) due to the depth of field, especially if the background is uglyish. I have seen a lot of people who have horses+money yet no photographic knowledge or skill drop $1200 on a long, shallow lens and get shots with much much nicer bokeh than mine and it is sooo frustrating. I can fake it in photoshop, but it is VERY time-intensive to make it look authentic! Are there any lenses with at LEAST more zoom than my 50mm - even prime, at 135 or 200 or something - that have AF and stop up to f/2.8 or so that could produce nice bokeh on shots of horses from far away, or does everyone with shots like that have a 400mm+ lens? :| I'm getting paid now and would like to produce the best quality I can...

examples from most recent shoot - flickr may oversharpen them a bit, please excuse.

portraits/zoomed in, cool.


zoomed out, not cool. there is fence all over the pasture (all over most pastures) and a less-busy background is typically not an option :| I know people whose lenses would blur everything behind the fence :'(


even shots like this one would be, IMO, just..... more effective with even a slightly shallower DOF


QUICK sloppy photoshop job (lens blur filter + layer mask)....... see what I mean :| The girl+horse just pop a little better and the highlights in the background aren't so sharp and distracting.


I'm a broke college student so I'd have to save up. I'd have to save up for even a cheap, used, beat-up lens haha. :| Those $600+ lenses are shining and golden and sadly out of reach. Am I stuck with photoshop for now???


Last edited by Elisha; 10-10-2013 at 06:40 PM.
10-10-2013, 06:48 PM   #2
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f/2.8 is going to be tough to find cheap. I've been using the Sigma 75-200mm F3.8 Autofocus with decent results.
Here's some examples:









Alternatively, you can get a MF lens and trap-focus: How to use Trap-focus or Catch-in focus
10-10-2013, 06:53 PM   #3
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Hey, that's better than what I get... constant 3.8 is better than 4.5-5, anyway. *strokes chin* Thank you for the link, I shall add that one to my list.

Re catch-in focus - the problem is that equine photography is very particular lol, only certain phases of the gaits are considered attractive so it's important to press the shutter at the right stride AND when the horse is working well (in a frame, working up under itself etc). (the zoomed-out pic I posted is not the best example in the world, the owner did not like that one as much as most of the others but it was a good example photographically of what I was trying to say, please ignore it XD). I pretty much have to be able to choose my own timing. BUT again that 200 looks like it could work better than what I have at any rate
10-10-2013, 06:55 PM   #4
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when you zoom out.. you are using the short end of the zoom, therefore, I assume you are looking for a wider or normal fast lens (probably 2.8 or faster). Are you not having any success using the M 50f1.7 with wide-open aperture and trap focus?

10-10-2013, 06:58 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Elisha Quote
Hey, that's better than what I get... constant 3.8 is better than 4.5-5, anyway. *strokes chin* Thank you for the link, I shall add that one to my list.

Re catch-in focus - the problem is that equine photography is very particular lol, only certain phases of the gaits are considered attractive so it's important to press the shutter at the right stride AND when the horse is working well (in a frame, working up under itself etc). (the zoomed-out pic I posted is not the best example in the world, the owner did not like that one as much as most of the others but it was a good example photographically of what I was trying to say, please ignore it XD). I pretty much have to be able to choose my own timing. BUT again that 200 looks like it could work better than what I have at any rate
Can you not change the shooting mode to Hi-continous and use trap-focus? I do that all the time....
10-10-2013, 07:01 PM   #6
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No, see above post on catch-in focus^ also 50mm is nowhere near enough zoom x.x Usually they are loose or ridden in pastures for the photoshoots which has them a couple of hundred feet away. I'm usually zoomed to about 200mm for the full-body shots and 300mm for shots like this:

10-10-2013, 07:02 PM   #7
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Oh you posted right before me, ahhhh!

I guess I could try it, in theory, but again 50mm isn't enough zoom regardless ;P but if I got a MF 200mm or something......
It would use a lot of space, though! I shoot in RAW. I've spent all this time perfecting my timing lol, I filled up my card in my last shoot (3 hours) being very selective o.x
I guess I could/should get a bigger card..... but that costs money too, hahahaha

edit: unless hi-continuous =/= burst
if I say dumb things pls excuse, it's been a loooong week of tests and papers and my brain is shot :P
10-10-2013, 07:12 PM   #8
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Panning might be worth trying. It will be tricky because the horse's motion is not all in one plane, like a car. And it's even more timing. I tried it once and got this. I think with some work it could be better:



That's the DA 50-200mm f4-5.6 at f19, 1/45 and ISO 100. I should have used a polarizer or mild ND filter to allow a slow shutter speed, then I could have used a wider aperture. I think the SR was trying too hard here too.

10-10-2013, 07:27 PM   #9
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Be careful dismissing other people as having "no photographic knowledge or skill"... It's not my experience that money alone gets good results.
10-10-2013, 07:32 PM   #10
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Panning is SO HARD hahaha!! I agree it definitely works and is very pretty for artsy shots, but is geeennnerally not what people want when they buy shoots of their horses -- "the look" x___x Like if you look at pro shoots and sales photos you will never ever see it because people prefer crystal clear frozen motion.

Here some examples of some that an internet acquaintance recently had done at her farm (photos by Wendy Peterson, not trying to copyright-infringe, just posting for example!!)



Like I said, horse people are very particular XD

However again I do think that 200mm that Drei posted could be helpful for me? And I do appreciate the suggestions!!
10-10-2013, 07:33 PM   #11
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calsan, I say so based on their own grandma-level emails of "how do I change the brightness on this camera???? help. do I just plug it into the computer to get the pictures off of it?" :P
10-10-2013, 07:33 PM   #12
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Have a look at the DA* 50-135. It's just such a bomb of a lens. Extremely sharp at all apertures, lovely bokeh.

The SDM AF speed isn't as fast as screwdrive, but I think it should still be serviceable for your purposes.
10-10-2013, 07:37 PM   #13
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EarlVon, do you mean *gulp* the f/2.8 that comes up at like $1000 on google shopping? (if so - *cries*)

edit - to be clear, I'm aware I'm not going to get anything amazing on my ridiculous budget.... just hoping for maybe "less bad," LOL. Or at least "less work for me in photoshop"

I think something like that Sigma Drei posted is probably going to be my best bet??? at my budget anyway. Unless you guys really really think MF + catch-in focus would work better than that one if I practiced at it a lot?

Last edited by Elisha; 10-10-2013 at 07:44 PM.
10-10-2013, 07:46 PM   #14
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If you can get your hands on a Sigma 50-150 2.8 (only available used now) that's also a great lens and the focus is pretty fast too!
10-10-2013, 07:48 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Fast, auto-focus, or cheap. You can have any two

There are a number of good manual focus primes that would work, but I wouldn't want to photograph moving horses with them.
There are plenty of cheap AF lenses but unfortunately they are slow.

Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 --> Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database
Pentax 60-250 f/4 --> SMC Pentax-DA* 60-250mm F4 ED [IF] SDM Reviews - DA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
Pentax 200 f/2.8 --> SMC Pentax-DA* 200mm F2.8 ED [IF] SDM Reviews - DA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database


The problem is that as you get into long fast lenses you enter the realm of big, heavy and expensive. It's just optics, a fast, long lens needs a big heavy front element to collect light. For example here is 300mm f/2.8 --> Sigma 300mm F2.8 APO EX DG Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database It costs well over $2,000 and weighs over 5 pounds.

I have the 60-250 and would highly recommend it assuming f/4 will work for you. Otherwise the 70-200 is what you need to look at or the DA*200 but to me for what you are doing a 200mm prime is too limiting.
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