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07-11-2008, 08:51 AM   #1
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Amateur sports photography...on a Pentax?

Can anyone shed light on available lens options for me? I'm interested in getting into sports photography - will be shooting mainly field sports; hockey, football, rugby and netball. Particularly the football and rugby will require high IQ at 300mm I would have thought, although as of yet I have no real experience.

I want to be able to shoot floodlit matches... but maybe my conclusion will be that i have to settle for only shooting day time stuff.

Zoom seems ideal - I can't imagine primes being usable in reality in the 300mm range, although i love my 24/50mm primes. Anyone with any experience feel free to correct me.

Bigma would be an option, but seems slow... and I would rather spend less and not have 500mm(?). I don't mind any size of lens as I will be using at least a monopod.

Obviously there needs to be a spec compromise in some respect to keep the cost reasonable, but I can't decide what to prioritise! I would also consider any realistic second hand options.

07-11-2008, 09:20 AM   #2
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70-200mm f/2.8 with a quality 1.4x TC when needed. That would give you 100-300 at f/4 with the TC. I think that's about as fast you'll get at those focal lengths. Depending on where you can position yourself, and if it's permitted, a good high-powered flash should help. For daylight stuff, the Bigma should be fast enough, easily giving you 1/1500-1/2000 with an ISO boost.
07-11-2008, 09:24 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jodokast96 Quote
70-200mm f/2.8 with a quality 1.4x TC when needed. That would give you 100-300 at f/4 with the TC. I think that's about as fast you'll get at those focal lengths. Depending on where you can position yourself, and if it's permitted, a good high-powered flash should help. For daylight stuff, the Bigma should be fast enough, easily giving you 1/1500-1/2000 with an ISO boost.
I second that choice, I use a SIgma APO 70-200 EX and Sigma APO 1.4x TC for things where I need real range., BUT I also use fast primes, (specifcially 50mm F1.4 and 135mmF2.5) and my Tamron 28-75 F2.8 depending on venu.

The primes are good in low light, and if th esubject remains roughly the same distance, zooms are goods if youo need flexibility, and I like the shorter range of the tamron for some sports because the 70-200 is just too long.
07-11-2008, 09:35 AM   #4
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Most of my sports shooting has been at high school baseball games. I've also shot a lot of tennis and football (American), some volleyball, basketball, and a little wrestling. Was also able to shoot one major league baseball game from the photographer's pit (used a M400/5.6 for that one) and a lot of professional tennis (at Indian Wells).

Volleyball, basketball, and wrestling were in dimly lit school gymnasiums and I found that one needs fast glass. My most used lenses for these three, (in no particular order) were the FA77/1.8, FA50/1.4, A50/1.2, K135/2.5, Tokina 28-80/2.8 and Sigma 70-200/2.8 (on rare occasion).

Baseball, football, and tennis have been outdoors. For tennis, what worked best for me is the Sigma 70-200/2.8 lens. For Football, I used a Sigma 100-300/4 until it got too dark to use when I switched to the 70-200/2.8. The 70-200 is a little short, but fastest I have at that focal range. On a second body, I used the Tokina 28-80/2.8 for sideline shots.

For baseball, I had good luck with a M400/5.6 and the K300/4. Also both Sigmas. The sweet spot for baseball is a 350mm focal length, but nobody makes a lens at that range. (I used to have a Sigma 170-500, but found it unacceptable for sports work.)

Bottom line...one needs fast glass, if the goal is to freeze action. High ISO helps, but can only take you so far. For newspaper photos, noise isn't that big of a problem and can easily be reduced to not be a factor. More important to get proper exposure.

Also, the newspaper publisher only wanted pictures with faces. He said that if you can't recognize the player, he wouldn't print the image, no matter how good it was or what type of action it captured. People want to see faces.

07-11-2008, 10:48 AM   #5
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Thanks for the responses. A teleconverter was something I hadn't really considered because I have a 2x vivitar teleconverter and it quite noticably degrades IQ using my 50mm f1.7. Can someone give me teleconverter/lens combination examples as I'm a little sceptical?maybe you could help out here Lowell?

@volosong: could you explain what problems you had with the 170-500?

A powerful flash is also a very valid suggestion I hadn't considered - mainly because I avoid flash use in general for what I normally photograph.perhaps someone could suggest the cheapest feasible options for this application as this would be an additional cost i hadn't considered?

thanks
07-11-2008, 11:18 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by pixelpruner Quote
...Can someone give me teleconverter/lens combination examples as I'm a little sceptical?maybe you could help out here Lowell?
I have the Sigma EX 1.4x and 2x converters to go with the Sigma EX 70-200 and 100-300. There is no noticeable image degradation when using that combination together. Be aware that the Sigma EX converters will not fit all lenses due to a protruding front element. The Sigma web site lists which of their lenses work with their converters.

QuoteQuote:
@volosong: could you explain what problems you had with the 170-500?
Two, well three I guess, "problems" with that lens. 1.) It 'grows' awfully long at its longer focal range, which unbalances the 'rig'. It becomes very front heavy when extended fully, possibly upsetting the balance on a tripod. Forget using a monopod (my normal sports shooting mode). 2.) zooming throughout the range is not 'smooth'. As one would zoom, there are little 'catches' that disrupt the flow. Not bad, but enough for me to notice. The EX lenses are perfect in that regard. No catches or hesitations at all. The less expensive lenses aren't so smooth. and 3.) at the extreme zoom ranges, images have been said to be very soft. That is not my own personal experience. Then again, I don't make large poster prints. Just for newspaper reproduction.

QuoteQuote:
A powerful flash is also a very valid suggestion I hadn't considered - mainly because I avoid flash use in general for what I normally photograph.perhaps someone could suggest the cheapest feasible options for this application as this would be an additional cost i hadn't considered?
Like you, I have an aversion to flash. I don't like them going off in my face, so just assume others don't like it either. That's why I really like the high ISO capabilities of today's digital cameras. Be wary of using a flash at sporting events. It may not be allowed, and could potentially affect the vision of the competitors. As a photographer, you want to be 'invisible'. Using a flash will draw attention to you, and not the type of attention you want.

QuoteQuote:
thanks
Glad to be of service.
07-11-2008, 11:32 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by pixelpruner Quote
Thanks for the responses. A teleconverter was something I hadn't really considered because I have a 2x vivitar teleconverter and it quite noticably degrades IQ using my 50mm f1.7. Can someone give me teleconverter/lens combination examples as I'm a little sceptical?maybe you could help out here Lowell?
like volosong, I use sigma APO EX teleconvertters with my Sigma APO 70-200 F2.8 EX. While not sports, I have attached an image I took this year with the 70-200 and 2x TC https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/187646-post19.html This is right out of the camera, shot on K10D with no PP or crop, and stored only as JPEG.
QuoteQuote:
@volosong: could you explain what problems you had with the 170-500?

A powerful flash is also a very valid suggestion I hadn't considered - mainly because I avoid flash use in general for what I normally photograph.perhaps someone could suggest the cheapest feasible options for this application as this would be an additional cost i hadn't considered?

thanks
I would never take a flash to a sporting event.,

first of all, and I do use flashes with my sigma and also my 300F4 plus 1.7x AF TC, I use them for wildlife. Birds don't seem to mind. Athletes might
Second, using a 400+mm lens on a bird means it still might be within flash range, Birds are only a foot or so high, an athlete is 6 times larger (as a minimum) and usually 6 times further away. Unless you have a flash that is as bright as the sun, you won't get proper exposure, and if you do have one powerful enough, it will probably take the paint off the opposite side of the gym or arena.

When I do indoor sports, I push the ISO up, It is unusual not to shoot at 1600 ISO.
07-11-2008, 12:30 PM   #8
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1600 ISO! wow do you use PP to reduce noise? its pretty severe on a k10d at 1600.

anyway...lowell and volosong thankyou... you have pretty much convinced me that this would be the best setup. my next problem is that i'm looking at more than 650 ($1300) for the lens and 120 ($240) for a 1.4x teleconverter.

any ideas on bringing this cost down? what prices would you expect to pay at the other side of the pond? i could possibly import them.the last 2 lenses i bought new I got from hong kong and the US but im not back in the US till next year and i can't wait that long

otherwise i might have to settle for an inferior setup.i've seen the bigma for 650 i think but that is very much the top end of my budget really

07-11-2008, 01:09 PM   #9
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Well as with everything deals are to be found but you have to search and act fast for the good stuff.

I shoot mostly motorsports so I use a different variety of lenses (see sig), but I use a 80-320mm 4-5.6, and a 400mm f/5.6(I got for $150) and I have found bothe to be great in my applications.

It really depends what you're looking for in the outcome.

Ive used my friends 100-300mm f4 and I really found it to be a great lense.
07-11-2008, 01:13 PM   #10
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High ISO on the K10D (or any camera for that matter) isn't as bad if you expose the shot correctly. Push the histogram as far to the right as possible without clipping. The noise will be practically invisible in the highlight areas, and usable in the shadow areas. A run throught Neat Image or Noise Ninja will also help.
07-11-2008, 01:19 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by pixelpruner Quote
1600 ISO! wow do you use PP to reduce noise? its pretty severe on a k10d at 1600.

anyway...lowell and volosong thankyou... you have pretty much convinced me that this would be the best setup. my next problem is that i'm looking at more than 650 ($1300) for the lens and 120 ($240) for a 1.4x teleconverter.

any ideas on bringing this cost down? what prices would you expect to pay at the other side of the pond? i could possibly import them.the last 2 lenses i bought new I got from hong kong and the US but im not back in the US till next year and i can't wait that long

otherwise i might have to settle for an inferior setup.i've seen the bigma for 650 i think but that is very much the top end of my budget really
There was a 70-200 F2.8 in the market place about a week ago. I have not looked to see if it is still there. mine is the first generation, really meant for film as it is non DG, but it works great as you can see. Adorama might have the TC's a little cheaper, I bought my 2x there for $199
07-11-2008, 02:05 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by pixelpruner Quote
Can anyone shed light on available lens options for me? I'm interested in getting into sports photography - will be shooting mainly field sports; hockey, football, rugby and netball. Particularly the football and rugby will require high IQ at 300mm I would have thought, although as of yet I have no real experience.

I want to be able to shoot floodlit matches... but maybe my conclusion will be that i have to settle for only shooting day time stuff.

Zoom seems ideal - I can't imagine primes being usable in reality in the 300mm range, although i love my 24/50mm primes. Anyone with any experience feel free to correct me.

Bigma would be an option, but seems slow... and I would rather spend less and not have 500mm(?). I don't mind any size of lens as I will be using at least a monopod.

Obviously there needs to be a spec compromise in some respect to keep the cost reasonable, but I can't decide what to prioritise! I would also consider any realistic second hand options.

My advice?

Bide your time, save your coin and get the DA*200 mm or the DA* 50-135. Great for sports - and just about anything else you shoot as well. Yes, you can get it done under good light conditions with F4 and higher, but once the sky clouds over or you go indoors, you're going to wish you had the 2.8 option.

Personally, I began with the FA 135mm F2.8 and thus "saw the light". Now I use FA 50mm F1.4 for short range like basketball or volleyball. For hockey and soccer I now use my FA*200mm. All with great success and a smile on my face.

Action photos for viewing available by visiting my website.

Rob
07-11-2008, 03:16 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by SouthShoreRob Quote
Bide your time, save your coin and get the DA*200 mm or the DA* 50-135. Great for sports - and just about anything else you shoot as well. Yes, you can get it done under good light conditions with F4 and higher, but once the sky clouds over or you go indoors, you're going to wish you had the 2.8 option.
I like your idea of the 200/2.8, but the 50-135 will be too short for outdoor sports. Perfect for gymnasiums however. Then again, you can purchase the Sigma 70-200/2.8 for about the same price as the DA* 200. Only thing is that you would have to find the Sigma. Those of us who have one don't want to let them go.
07-11-2008, 03:20 PM   #14
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There's also the Tamron, which should hit shelves before the Sigma. So far the IQ is better on it, though it won't have SDM.
07-11-2008, 03:35 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by pixelpruner Quote
Can anyone shed light on available lens options for me? I'm interested in getting into sports photography - will be shooting mainly field sports; hockey, football, rugby and netball. Particularly the football and rugby will require high IQ at 300mm I would have thought, although as of yet I have no real experience.

I want to be able to shoot floodlit matches... but maybe my conclusion will be that i have to settle for only shooting day time stuff.

Zoom seems ideal - I can't imagine primes being usable in reality in the 300mm range, although i love my 24/50mm primes. Anyone with any experience feel free to correct me.

Bigma would be an option, but seems slow... and I would rather spend less and not have 500mm(?). I don't mind any size of lens as I will be using at least a monopod.

Obviously there needs to be a spec compromise in some respect to keep the cost reasonable, but I can't decide what to prioritise! I would also consider any realistic second hand options.
Think Canon and Nikon.
Higher frame rate, faster AF, and overall more responsive cameras.
The only caveat is that you will spend more money on the body than with Pentax.
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