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09-26-2008, 08:11 AM   #1
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Need Lens Recommendation For Shooting Night Games In Stadiums

I have a Pentax K100D Super. I shoot alot of sporting events, and many of them in stadium lighting at night.

I've been able to get some success with my smc DA 18-250mm (F3.5-6.3), however this doesn't get me close enough to the action. I can usually only shoot the action on my side of the field. And, to get enough light, I have to drop the shutter speed to at most 1/180, which sometimes give me a bit of a blur.

I have an old manual Sigma 75-300 (f4.5-5.6), and I've been able to have some good success with this lens, but I'd really to have autofocus. This get's me a bit closer to the action, but I need to be closer.

OK, cut to the chase .... I need a recommendation for a lens that (1) gets me close enough to the action (I'm often walking around the field on the track), and (2) a lens with the lowest possible f-stop, and (3) a lens with auto-focus, .... we'll, you get the idea.

Any help is appreciated.

09-26-2008, 08:15 AM   #2
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DA (FA)* 300 ??

It's $$$, but thats what you need.
09-26-2008, 08:37 AM   #3
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The DA300 will only be good during the day to stop the action (i guess unless you puck the ISO way up and beyond). What you really need is a 2.8 lens. Maybe a 70-200 Sigma would do the trick if you have some access and it sounds like you do. You will need to shoot high ISO 800 or better I think to get what you are looking for.
09-26-2008, 12:55 PM   #4
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You need faster glass as well as longer glass, hope you have large bank balance, cos you won't when this LBA is satisfied

09-26-2008, 01:35 PM   #5
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About the best you can readily find is the DA*300, but it's really not fast enough at f/4. 300mm is about the length you need, but at f/2.8. The problem is that it costs a lot, and it's not AF, and they're not currently made. The DA*200 f/2.8 may be long enough and fast enough. It's a good lens.

You could try the Tamron or Sigma 70-200 f/2.8. If you can get close to the field, you can probably bump up to ISO 1600 and get a decent shot or two.

Night action shots are just tough to get, and Pentax lenses in this area are limited. The other brands have the lenses, if you have the second mortgage to pay for them.
09-26-2008, 02:30 PM   #6
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i dont know what your budget is, but if you make money from photography, this should be a worthwhile investment, unless you can afford the tele-primes

Sigma - Lenses
09-26-2008, 02:40 PM   #7
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hate to say it but Pentax is not your best choice if you're doing sports seriously
if you need fast long glass, it ain't here
09-26-2008, 02:52 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
hate to say it but Pentax is not your best choice if you're doing sports seriously
if you need fast long glass, it ain't here
Actually Pentax may well be the best choice considering budget seems a high priority. Although Pentax does not make a 1D MkIII or a D3 for low-light action... they remain very competitive in the "bang-for-your-buck" race at low to mid end cameras

My advice is get the longest lens you can afford at F2.8 this photo was taken with 50-135 at F2.8 under stadium lights - ISO 1000. Although I remain unhappy with the ISO noise of my K10D it is still an OK shot

I would seriously look at the DA*200mm or any other Tamron/Sigma equivalent

09-26-2008, 03:51 PM   #9
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the op said that 300mm isn't close enough

might want to consider a body with more resolution and crop

Last edited by k100d; 09-26-2008 at 04:10 PM.
09-26-2008, 08:55 PM   #10
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What are you shooting?

The speed of the sport plays a big part as some sports move faster than others.

Shooting sports and freezing the action at night is a real challenge.

If you are trying to capture the action from a distance you have to either: use a real fast lens like 2.8, use a long lens like 300mm or better, or add light.

Often this means all of the above. Newspaper photojournalists are used to shooting with a 300/2.8 or 400/2.8 at ASA 1600 with fill flash in oder to shoot night high school football. It is not that easy.

If adding a super fast long telephoto is not possible then look into adding light. Having an assistant holding a powerful strobe off to the side that is wired with a PocketWizard radio slave will do the job. Some guys that shoot indoor rodeo for example will light the action with strobes (flash) rather than using super fast lenses to capture the ambient light. Sometimes this can include three or more mounted strobe systems triggered from the stands/sidelines. Not all sporting events will allow this setup though. Obviously folks who go to these lengths are doing it for the money.

But if you are an amateur just wanting to shoot from the sidelines with a budget lens or lighting kit AND want to capture sports action at night your options are very,very limited. To be honest, using the Pentax platform in this case limits your choices as well.

09-26-2008, 09:25 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
the op said that 300mm isn't close enough

might want to consider a body with more resolution and crop

The 14.6mp goodness of my k20d allowed me to get some great results with my new sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 (with a little bit of cropping):
09-27-2008, 07:15 AM   #12
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Bono os right but that looks like a pro type stadium with above average lighting. If you are in a highschool type setting you will face most and more of the issues stated.
09-27-2008, 07:35 AM   #13
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I think the reach on the 300 is fine, and if you need more you can add 1.4 Tele. The IQ of the lens is great so you really can crop. Everyone is right though, F4 is probably not fast enough at night to freeze the action unless you really wanna crank up the ISO especially if . I prefer the motion blur.

This shot at Fenway is from about halfway up the grandstand, night game, no tele. ISO 400, F4, 1/125.

09-27-2008, 07:06 PM   #14
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If the stadia are well lit f4 might be okay (Pentax 60-250/f4, Sigma or Tamron 70-200/f2.8 + 1.4x) while bumping up your ISO.
If they're not well lit you'll need f2.8
09-27-2008, 10:52 PM   #15
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I shot my first night high school football game last night and I definitely could have used a 70-200...I just had to use what I had and that was a f/2.8 Tamron 28-75mm and a f/3.5 135mm takumar lens since the only other telephoto I have is a superzoom and its really slow on the long end at f/6.3. I think you should be ok if you crank the ISO to 1600 and then run the images through noise ninja afterwards which should net you plenty of good results. Most of my shots were at ISO 1000-1250 but the shutter speed of 1/250 was often too slow to really freeze the action, thought it was only my first time and it was a good learning experience. Ideally you would want a shutterspeed of at least 1/500 or 1/750 of a second though as I think a noisy shot is better than no shot at all...and again, just run the shots through some pp and you'll definitely have some keepers.


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