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09-12-2017, 09:02 AM   #1
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Been away for awhile....best lens for high school marching band photos?

My current kit includes a K20D, DA16-45, TamronSPAF28-75XRDi, TamronAF70-300LD. I have been using the 70-300 for daytime photos from the stands but I have a love/hate relationship with this lens. Great reach and cheap but not so great final results, slow to focus and missed/blurry shots and purple fringe, ugh! I don't even attempt pics once the sun goes down and the lights come up, it's a no win situation. LOL

So my two choices are new Pentax 50-300 or a used Pentax 50-135. I plan on taking pics on the sidelines and in the stands. If I go with the faster lens I will shoot in the evening under the lights also, otherwise I will stick with day time when possible. I've always wanted that 50-135 but could never afford new pricing so settling for used if I can find it would satisfy that long urge.

Marching band has been the only times lately that I pull out the old equipment which makes me sad, but I can't bear to let it go for the times when I need faster and sharper and longer photos than an iPhone can get. I loathe that I mostly use a stupid phone for photos anymore but it is what it is. I would not get enough money on my used equipment to cover the cost of a smaller, newer system with telephoto capabilities. OR is there a solution I'm not aware of such as a nice mirrorless that would be under $700?

Help an old timer who has grown out of touch out!

09-12-2017, 04:21 PM - 1 Like   #2
mee
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I just went to the Full Frame side and thus sold my 50-135mm (for a song).. it is my most favorite lens I've used in terms of optical performance. Sharp, nice colors, and a lovely rendering.

But I'm not entirely certain it will be long enough, if you're in the stands, to take photos of kids on a football field.

Focal length-wise you're better off with a 55-300mm lens if you must sit in the stands. But, as you know, it is not a fast lens.

If you can get right up front, in the stands, then the 50-135mm might work. Better yet on the sidelines.

My advice for you would be to take your 70-300mm out to the football stadium and lock it at 135mm then take some sample photos to see if that is enough reach for you.

Also, your K20D is very long in the tooth. The autofocus system has come a long way from olden tymes... notably in terms of low light focusing. High ISO performance has also improved quite a bit. I wouldn't doubt if Shake Reduction has improved too. It has been almost a decade afterall. So I'd recommend a look at a K-70 just as something to consider also.
09-12-2017, 05:35 PM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by mee Quote
I just went to the Full Frame side and thus sold my 50-135mm (for a song).. it is my most favorite lens I've used in terms of optical performance. Sharp, nice colors, and a lovely rendering.

But I'm not entirely certain it will be long enough, if you're in the stands, to take photos of kids on a football field.

Focal length-wise you're better off with a 55-300mm lens if you must sit in the stands. But, as you know, it is not a fast lens.

If you can get right up front, in the stands, then the 50-135mm might work. Better yet on the sidelines.

My advice for you would be to take your 70-300mm out to the football stadium and lock it at 135mm then take some sample photos to see if that is enough reach for you.

Also, your K20D is very long in the tooth. The autofocus system has come a long way from olden tymes... notably in terms of low light focusing. High ISO performance has also improved quite a bit. I wouldn't doubt if Shake Reduction has improved too. It has been almost a decade afterall. So I'd recommend a look at a K-70 just as something to consider also.
If you follow this advice and upgrade to a K-70 then that upgrade opens the door to the DA 55-300 PLM. The PLM has super fast and quiet autofocus and even though the aperture range is a little bit slower, the newer cameras make up for it.
09-12-2017, 06:19 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Don't think the fast focusing new PLM version of the 55-300 will work on your K-20, MacGirl - something to think about.

The 50-135 takes glorious pictures but by the sound of it you need the extra focal length.

09-12-2017, 07:57 PM - 1 Like   #5
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You can get a new K-70 for a very reasonable cost. It is a huge improvement over your old camera. The combination of better stabilization and better high iso performance may allow you to get better photos with your 70-300 lens.
If that lens still doesn't work for you,
and since the 50-135 is likely too short, you could get a DA* 200 used for a reasonable cost. Its faster than the Tamron and has better image quality.
A K-70 is a lot of fun to use and it might re-ignite your interest in DSLR photography.
09-12-2017, 08:09 PM - 1 Like   #6
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The older DA 55-300mm HD is a very good lens. Its AF is not really slow if you are working at or around the same FL and not going from near to far back and forth. The focus turn is long rather than short, causing a bit slower AF under those circumstances, but good for MF tuning.

The DA * 50-135mm is one fine lens. If you are not at a great distance up in the stands, it should do well, and with its IQ a bit of cropping afterwards should be doable. From the sidelines you would not have the elevation to get the whole band in at once, but maybe fine for getting individual and partial group shots.
09-13-2017, 06:52 AM   #7
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Original Poster
Thank you all for the wonderful and insightful comments!

For my purpose the longer focal range would be ideal and the new body upgrade sounds like an improvement overall. I may need to save up some money for next year and take the plunge but man I have always loved that 50-135 but felt the range would be too short for the situations I find myself taking photos. I just like fast glass though since I usually find myself indoors at distance and now outside at night!!

I remember walking in the Botanical Garden many years ago and seeing people using mobile phones to take photos of the beautiful views and told my friend, "I'll never take photos here with an iPhone." Never say never....LOL
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