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03-25-2009, 07:33 AM   #1
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Little League lens

I'm still a beginner, and was hoping for advice on a telephoto lens for my k200d for both baseball and football.

Here in the Pacific NW, it's often overcast or grey during the sports seasons, and the boys are rarely closer than 40feet and move quickly. The 18-55 kit lens just isn't cutting it.

My original plan was a zoom telephoto that fills the range past the kit lens like the sigma 70-300.

Ultimately, prime or zoom, I need a fast lens that can get some closeup shots of the boys on the run, even when the sun isn't shining.

I don't want to spend more than 200$ or so, since there's a decent risk this lens will get wet or dropped in the mud over the course of a couple seasons.

Ideas? Do I need a zoom (I think I do), any budget winners out there?

Thanks for the help.

03-25-2009, 09:19 AM   #2
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If you haven't already, I suggest you use the search function to find similar threads in this forum for helpful advice about the quality of the zooms in this range. There's a lot of good information there.

The Pentax branded choice is DA 50-200 which can be had new for $150-200, or used for about $100. You'll find debates in this forum about whether the DA 55-300 is worth the additional $100, but that will put you out of your price range. Many people in earlier threads insist that the DA 50-200 is underrated. You also have the choice of the Tamron 70-300, in addition to the Sigma. For your needs, you might find the "quick shift" focusing feature on the Pentax models to be useful for times when you want to manually tweak the AF focus.

You're not going to find a fast (either in aperture or AF speed) zoom in the sub-$200 price range. You're better off with a prime if that's a primary concern, but I'm not sure what fast AF prime options you have for under $200.
03-25-2009, 09:41 AM   #3
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QuoteQuote:
Here in the Pacific NW, it's often overcast or grey during the sports seasons, and the boys are rarely closer than 40feet and move quickly. The 18-55 kit lens just isn't cutting it.
QuoteQuote:
I don't want to spend more than 200$ or so, since there's a decent risk this lens will get wet or dropped in the mud over the course of a couple seasons
Can you get around well with a manual focus lens? Or are you willing to learn the successful handling of a manual focus lens? For baseball more than football, you could get some great shots, inexpensively, through this means.

There is a lot of nice, older, manual focus glass out there which could do the job and have you pocketing most of your budget money for ice cream after the games. This is just an idea--I know it will not work for everyone.

For example, here is a nice lens: Vivitar 135mm f2.8--- VIVITAR AutoTelephoto 135mm f/2.8 lens Pentax mount - eBay (item 230332028277 end time Mar-25-09 20:43:51 PDT) it will probably go for around $20 and it is in near mint condition. It is capable of doing the job, especially for the Little League where you will be able to get closer. A lot more can be done with MF than a lot of people realize. Some shooters actually shoot birds in flight with manual glass. Just an idea--surely low cost.
03-25-2009, 10:45 AM   #4
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Zoom is mandatory: go cheap

Iíve been shooting youth baseball and soccer for the past 4 years as an assistant coach. This year Iím the head coach of the baseball team and, sadly (the only sad thing about it) I wonít be able to handle the camera end.

Iíve had excellent results with the Tamron 70-300mm. Itís cheap and the optical quality is plenty good enough for snapshots of kids. I throw the shots on Smugmug and the parents get very happy. You don't need a pricey lens for this job.

The alternative is the Pentax DA 55-300mm. That extra width will help on closer infield plays. You really need a zoom because you cannot zoom with your feet. You are too constrained by the bleachers or the sideline or the field next door hosting the other game. You also need 300mm to reach the outfield or the other corner of the diamond. Most likely you will be on the first or third base line.

For one game this year Iíll turn the coaching over to my assistant to allow some shooting. Iím thinking of using my Bigma just to reach the outfielders.

I live in the Pacific NW too. You should be able to do well enough from ISO 400-800 on those dark days. Use a monopod and watch the game through the viewfinder. Keep the other eye open. Anticipate the action. Decouple the shutter-based AF from the shutter by using the AF button for focusing. And make the focal point the center of your viewfinder. You will capture action better that way. Use AF.C.

M

03-25-2009, 10:46 AM   #5
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I have the Sigma 70-300. I have got some very good shots with it but almost all of the good ones have been in bright sunshine and and stopped down to f 11 or f 16. Wide open it isn't too sharp and its a little soft on the long end also (220-300mm appox) but as I mentioned, it will get you good shots, just raise the ISO. For the price (around $120) its pretty good. I would buy the Pentax 55-300. It's a little more than your 200 budget but not very much. I am considering the Pentax for myself.
03-25-2009, 11:39 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by browntown Quote
Here in the Pacific NW, it's often overcast or grey during the sports seasons, and the boys are rarely closer than 40feet and move quickly. The 18-55 kit lens just isn't cutting it.
Welcome, browntown! I'm just a few miles south of you - can sympathize with the less-than-optimal shooting conditions.

Jewelltrail has the best answer, IMO. See if you can get comfortable with manual focus, then pick up an older, non-AF tele zoom. I've seen some decent f/4 constant aps in the 70-210mm range go for ~$50-$75 on eBay. I don't think you'll need faster than that, especially with the K200D - just bump the ISO up a bit.
03-25-2009, 11:51 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jewelltrail Quote
Can you get around well with a manual focus lens? Or are you willing to learn the successful handling of a manual focus lens? For baseball more than football, you could get some great shots, inexpensively, through this means.

There is a lot of nice, older, manual focus glass out there which could do the job and have you pocketing most of your budget money for ice cream after the games. This is just an idea--I know it will not work for everyone.

For example, here is a nice lens: Vivitar 135mm f2.8--- VIVITAR AutoTelephoto 135mm f/2.8 lens Pentax mount - eBay (item 230332028277 end time Mar-25-09 20:43:51 PDT) it will probably go for around $20 and it is in near mint condition. It is capable of doing the job, especially for the Little League where you will be able to get closer. A lot more can be done with MF than a lot of people realize. Some shooters actually shoot birds in flight with manual glass. Just an idea--surely low cost.
That is a screw mount lens, so it would require an adapter (which will probably cost more than the lens, but it'll open up a door to a whole lot of low cost options!).

Another thing with manual lenses is that you can use "trap focus," where you set the focus distance manually, put the camera in AF and hold down the shutter button. When the camera sees that the subject (whatever's at the center point) is in focus, it fires!

Could get some great shots of kids rounding third by focusing a little closer than the base
03-25-2009, 12:15 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by browntown Quote
I'm still a beginner, and was hoping for advice on a telephoto lens for my k200d for both baseball and football.

Here in the Pacific NW, it's often overcast or grey during the sports seasons, and the boys are rarely closer than 40feet and move quickly. The 18-55 kit lens just isn't cutting it.

My original plan was a zoom telephoto that fills the range past the kit lens like the sigma 70-300.

Ultimately, prime or zoom, I need a fast lens that can get some closeup shots of the boys on the run, even when the sun isn't shining.

I don't want to spend more than 200$ or so, since there's a decent risk this lens will get wet or dropped in the mud over the course of a couple seasons.

Ideas? Do I need a zoom (I think I do), any budget winners out there?

Thanks for the help.
A lens that doesn't much care about the rain is the DA* 50-135/2.8. It's way over the budget you specified, but if you specified that budget on the grounds that your lens was going to end up in the mud, the DA* lenses are the ones you want. Your whole rig would be weatherproof with this lens. Although you might think that 135mm is too short, with the sensor in your k200d, you can print up to 24x36 inches, so cropping is not a big problem. 24x36 inches is what MPix told me was the maximum print size when I uploaded for a couple of 16x20 gallery wraps last weekend. I've shot a whole lot of junior soccer, track and field and baseball with a 135 on film, so I don't see a problem with 135mm on the digital sensor.

03-25-2009, 12:16 PM   #9
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QuoteQuote:
Farfisa: That is a screw mount lens, so it would require an adapter (which will probably cost more than the lens, but it'll open up a door to a whole lot of low cost options!).
Yes, I own one of these lenses and I should have made the need for an adapter clear to the OP because they are new to all this--thanks Farfisa. And I wholeheartedly agree it would open a whole new door to the OP.

Also, I shoot with the screwmount Vivitar 200mm f 3.5 (can be bought under $20). While not as fast as the 135 Viv, it is probably a better lens and would also work for the OP. It is not light, but surely can be worked handheld.
03-25-2009, 12:36 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jewelltrail Quote
Also, I shoot with the screwmount Vivitar 200mm f 3.5 (can be bought under $20). While not as fast as the 135 Viv, it is probably a better lens and would also work for the OP. It is not light, but surely can be worked handheld.
I have the Viv 200/3.5 screwmount too, along with the matched Viv 2x teleconverter. Still has the $14.99 Goodwill tag on the lens cap.

Very sharp lens, I kind of like the weight - they just don't build 'em like that anymore.

I don't have the 135 Viv, but I do have a Beck 135/2.8 in PK mount. Was surprised by the outstanding IQ from a no-name lens. And that one only cost me $4.99. (I'm not giving away any more shopping secrets).
03-25-2009, 01:02 PM   #11
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As someone else posted, your best bet is the DA 50-200. Low price, good enough quality. Even under overcast skies it's fast enough. For big guy baseball/football probably too short, but for little league, I'm guessing you can lean on the fence or stand on the sidelines for access, making 200mm plenty long enough. No messing with manual focus, adaptors, etc. Very light/packable, no need for a monopod/tripod. I think this is the clear choice.

Todd
03-25-2009, 02:21 PM   #12
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Not manual not less than 300mm

In my four years of doing this, neither 135mm nor 200mm is sufficiently long enough to capture the detail of an individual player--say your child--making a play across the diamond. A variable is where they let you shoot from, but I had the luxury of being in the 1st/3rd base coaching boxes and felt that 300mm was good.

My first year and a half I used two manual lenses: an old f2.8 135mm M42 Mamiya/Sekor that was OK, and then the third generation Vivitar Series One 70-210 which is the most highly regarded of the bunch. The latter I found optically overrated. Indeed, after I purchased the cheap Tamron 70-300 (needed something immediately and that's all the local retail shop carried) for another purpose, I ran some comparison tests with the Vivitar. The Tamron smoked it on all counts and that's all I've used for youth sports. Manual focus is fine for seasoned shooters, but AF in this situation is so much easier. As the kids grow up the play gets faster and faster. To deal with focusing as well as capturing the right action is pretty challenging for a newbie.

I have far better optics at my disposal, but the Tamron (and I assume the Sigma) is just right for kids sports.

M
03-25-2009, 02:38 PM   #13
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go with the "or so" and buy the pentax 55-300 for $315 here. it will meet all of your needs at a higher iso and give great image quality.

Pentax DA 55-300MM F4-5.6 Telephoto Zoom Lens NEW! - eBay (item 300288377192 end time Apr-20-09 20:10:09 PDT)
03-25-2009, 05:27 PM   #14
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I didn't suggest MF lenses because I assumed that the OP was looking for AF, given his consideration of the Sigma. IMO, the MF solution that Jeweltrail (and others) has suggested is the best route. It's certainly what I'd do, at least at first, because of the inexpensive costs. That way, you can experiment with different focal lengths until you're sure what works best for the various activities you shoot and you're not out much if they're damaged by the elements--or kids. Even the manual aperture settings of pre-A lenses are easy for your situations: just set it for the conditions and forget it.

I think you'll find the manual lens life to be very rewarding and it'll make you a better photographer, too.
03-25-2009, 09:25 PM   #15
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QuoteQuote:
OregonJim: I have the Viv 200/3.5 screwmount too, along with the matched Viv 2x teleconverter. Still has the $14.99 Goodwill tag on the lens cap.

Very sharp lens, I kind of like the weight - they just don't build 'em like that anymore.
I agree, it is very sharp, especially @ f11 on the K20. And I love its build quality too.
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