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05-31-2016, 07:23 PM   #16
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I've got three daughters who do ballet/dance, and the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 and the 85mm f/1.4 have been indispensable, but I've actually been surprised with how much use I've gotten out of the Sigma 100-300mm f4. It's nice being able to get those close shots without having to be standing right in front of the stage.

With decent stage lighting, I'll be somewhere between 1/320 and 1/640 at ISO 3200 and f4, just depending on the level of the light for a particular scene. For the older dancers who move more quickly, there is definitely a sharpness advantage to shooting at 1/500 or higher. And with some noise reduction, ISO 3200 looks really great from my K-30.

06-01-2016, 09:00 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Edgar_in_Indy Quote
I've got three daughters who do ballet/dance, and the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 and the 85mm f/1.4 have been indispensable, but I've actually been surprised with how much use I've gotten out of the Sigma 100-300mm f4. It's nice being able to get those close shots without having to be standing right in front of the stage.

With decent stage lighting, I'll be somewhere between 1/320 and 1/640 at ISO 3200 and f4, just depending on the level of the light for a particular scene. For the older dancers who move more quickly, there is definitely a sharpness advantage to shooting at 1/500 or higher. And with some noise reduction, ISO 3200 looks really great from my K-30.
Thanks for your observations. I wish I'd seen this a week ago, but that's life!

I might try this next year, top the ISO shift at 3200 and bring the dark stuff up in post. Certainly the shift to Raw has made rescuing the imperfections far easier.

By recital time next year, I hope to be the proud owner of a K-1. If for some reason this does not eventuate and I stay in APS-C land, I will be buying a 50-135 instead. I've shot this venue enough times now to know that this will be all I need. There may even be something to be said for getting the 50-135 anyway and shooting in crop mode, as that density of focal points in the crop zone cannot hurt my cause at all, and coming from a K-5 I would be giving away very little in terms of pixel density over what I already have. What little I lose might be well worth sacrificing for the improved AF performance.

There were a few moments, especially with the taller dancers, when I was selecting focal points in portrait mode to put the focus on the head and compose on the centre of the body. That did not prove at all difficult. When things got fast, it was easier just to flick over to centre point, especially when going with a higher burst rate through leaps and cartwheels; the K-5's burst rate even in Raw was more than fast enough, and I never needed enough shots in a row that it choked the buffer.
06-01-2016, 12:45 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
By recital time next year, I hope to be the proud owner of a K-1. If for some reason this does not eventuate and I stay in APS-C land, I will be buying a 50-135 instead.
The 50-135mm is a very nice portrait lens, but I've heard that the AF speed is a bit leisurely for action shooting. I don't know if you've considered the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8, but it's a terrific lens with quick AF, and it would also give you just a bit more reach. I believe the two lens are pretty much equal in terms of size, weight, price, and image quality.

QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
There were a few moments, especially with the taller dancers, when I was selecting focal points in portrait mode to put the focus on the head and compose on the centre of the body. That did not prove at all difficult. When things got fast, it was easier just to flick over to centre point, especially when going with a higher burst rate through leaps and cartwheels
I do the same thing at times, but I've also had pretty good results just using the center point. If you think about it, the center of a persons body is fairly close to being on the same focal plane as the face, and with a dancer moving around you'll need a little bit of luck anyway regardless of which focus point you're using. That's where taking a lot of shots and having a deep buffer can come in handy, and that is one of the few areas where I wish my K-30 were better.

QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
Thanks for your observations. I wish I'd seen this a week ago, but that's life!

I might try this next year, top the ISO shift at 3200 and bring the dark stuff up in post. Certainly the shift to Raw has made rescuing the imperfections far easier.
It's always tempting to keep the ISO low for clean files, but I've learned the hard way that a little extra noise is better than an otherwise perfect shot getting ruined by motion blur...especially when you're at an event where you only get one shot at it.

I'm not at home, so I can't post samples from this year's performance last week, but here are some images I've shared in the past showing how good ISO 3200 can look with a Pentax APS-C. These are from my daughters' ballet school performance of "The Nutcracker" a couple years ago. I shot in RAW, applied a little noise reduction, and then down-sized them to a vertical resolution of 2160 pixels (the native resolution for 4K displays), so they're still fairly large image files. To me, they look very good when viewed at 100%. Lots of detail and not too much noise evident. And the dynamic range at ISO 3200 is still impressive. This is especially evident in the shot of the soldier boy with the Bieber hair, where you can see detail in the bright white sequins on his chest, and yet there is still enough details in the dark area to make out the zipper-fly on his pants when viewing the image at 100%.

The first three shots are from my Sigma 100-300mm, and show the flexibility of that range for performances, allowing you to get right in the dancer's face, and also get full body shots if you aren't too close.

Click on each picture for the full-size version:








Last edited by Edgar_in_Indy; 06-01-2016 at 01:30 PM.
06-01-2016, 01:56 PM   #19
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RE: Pentax DA* 50-135 and SIgma 50-150 - I have used both I wasn't in love with the 50-150 but did find it slightly faster focusing. I think many of the reports of the slow focus on the DA* lens are exaggerated a bit by failing SDM which tends to slow down during failure.

I certainly would be happier with either of these lenses than without them. They really fit the stage shooting world quite well if your seating position is rationally close. The 100-300 f/4 shots posted are impressive - I may have to try my DA* 60-250 in that environment at some point also.

06-01-2016, 02:18 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
RE: Pentax DA* 50-135 and SIgma 50-150 - I have used both I wasn't in love with the 50-150 but did find it slightly faster focusing. I think many of the reports of the slow focus on the DA* lens are exaggerated a bit by failing SDM which tends to slow down during failure.
You may be right. I've read several anecdotal accounts over the years claiming that the 50-135mm is not very speedy, but who knows where those particular lenses were on the spectrum of SDM health.

QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
The 100-300 f/4 shots posted are impressive - I may have to try my DA* 60-250 in that environment at some point also.
You should really give it a try. When I bought the 100-300mm, I was not expecting to get much use out of an f4 lens for freezing action indoors, so I've been pleasantly surprised with how useful it has been. The sharp, close-up shots are a big contrast to what most other parents at the shows are able to eek out of their consumer telephotos and superzoom cameras.

The lens is sharp as can be, and I can't wait to try it on a K-1. True, it will need some cropping to get as close, but the 36MP sensor certainly seems to be up to it. But there will be just as many occasions where the wider angle of view will actually be an advantage, since the 100-300 can be tight in some cases on APS-C.

Has the 60-250mm been tested to work well on FF?
06-01-2016, 02:37 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by Edgar_in_Indy Quote
The lens is sharp as can be, and I can't wait to try it on a K-1. True, it will need some cropping to get as close, but the 36MP sensor certainly seems to be up to it. But there will be just as many occasions where the wider angle of view will actually be an advantage, since the 100-300 can be tight in some cases on APS-C.

Has the 60-250mm been tested to work well on FF?
The DA* 60-250 appears to be FF to about 200mm without any modifications. Several people have demonstrated that there is a rear tube with a restriction that if removed or modified allows pictures over the full range without issues. Some have expressed concerns that this may lower contrast or otherwise cause minor issues. I wonder personally if it changes the wide open performance from f/4 to a higher f/stop at the 60mm end of the lens. However A/B comparison is difficult for most people as most do not own two copies of the lens! I wish Pentax offered an official modification path for this lens to remove and replace this tube with something designed to permit full use on FF. Sometimes I think they are very short sighted in their actions. Sigma's efforts on the K-1 scratches seem so much more rational and appropriate than Pentax's actions on other issues like the K-30/50 aperture block and SDM in general.
06-01-2016, 02:51 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
The DA* 60-250 appears to be FF to about 200mm without any modifications. Several people have demonstrated that there is a rear tube with a restriction that if removed or modified allows pictures over the full range without issues. Some have expressed concerns that this may lower contrast or otherwise cause minor issues. I wonder personally if it changes the wide open performance from f/4 to a higher f/stop at the 60mm end of the lens. However A/B comparison is difficult for most people as most do not own two copies of the lens! I wish Pentax offered an official modification path for this lens to remove and replace this tube with something designed to permit full use on FF. Sometimes I think they are very short sighted in their actions. Sigma's efforts on the K-1 scratches seem so much more rational and appropriate than Pentax's actions on other issues like the K-30/50 aperture block and SDM in general.
I figured it would work okay, since my understanding is that the image circle for most APS-C telephoto lenses also works for FF. Not that I understand much about lens design, but something about how at longer focal lengths the size difference for lenses designed for APS-C vs FF is not very drastic.
06-01-2016, 03:16 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by Edgar_in_Indy Quote
I figured it would work okay, since my understanding is that the image circle for most APS-C telephoto lenses also works for FF. Not that I understand much about lens design, but something about how at longer focal lengths the size difference for lenses designed for APS-C vs FF is not very drastic.
Yes but also the 60-250 patents specify full frame from what I understand. The baffle may have been added since it improved something - hard to know. Reports are much more mixed with the 55-300 - and the DA* 200 and 300 were based on FF designs as well.

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