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05-18-2007, 09:59 AM   #1
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Suitable lens for football (US) stadium?

Hi all, jumping in with a question about shooting in a college football stadium... My wife & I both used to shoot film with my old K1000 and her ME, using an SMC-M 1:3.5 135mm prime and an SMC-M 1:4.5 80-200 zoom she had when we got hitched. Took a lengthy detour down the point&shoot trail until I got a K100D this last Christmas. I have been shooting and practicing and playing around with both of these old lenses, relearning a lot of stuff I had forgotten (or never knew, since my K1000 was darn near 100-percent manual...).

Anyway, I am interested in opinions on whether the zoom lens is suitable for shooting in a football stadium under evening-game lighting conditions. More useful bits of info: I am shooting pics of the marching band primarily, not the game itself (slower action, etc). I have a walking stick/monopod I have used with previous P&S. I've taken some indoor concert photos with the 18-55 kit lens, and the images are acceptable quality at ISO1600, so hopefully 800 or 1600 in the stadium with the old glass would be acceptable too.

I have found that the lens seems very 'picky' about focus, and it's darn hard to get it right, but our seats are wayyyyy up in the stands so it should be right around infinity.

So, might this work, or should I think about maybe the newer da 50-200 or another similar zoom?

I also like doing landscapes and frequently use the zooms to get particular features as opposed to panoramic shots. And birds, critters, etc, so the more lens the better (up to the point where the ol' budget says STOP...)

Any thoughts, discussions, pointers, advice, etc... appreciated!

TIA,
Jim

05-18-2007, 10:44 AM   #2
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The Iowa State Cyclones? Great band! (actually all the Big 12 bands are great). Anyway to your questions, I don't own either of those lenses, I do own the Pentax DA 50-200, but I'm one of the few that doesn't like it much. My copy at least is markedly soft at the long end of the zoom at infinity focus, anything more than 200 yards out is fuzzy. My advice would be to try the 80-200, the reach won't be any longer than the DA 50-200 any way. One question: Is this a one-time-only outing? Or do you regularily go to the games? If the latter, I'd say definitely stick with the two lenses you have, and if they're not enough, you can upgrade. The Pentax SMC 300mm F4 regularily makes it onto the second hand market, and it will definitely meet your requirements. The lens is big but definitely hand holdable. for some samples check out this link:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/5813-kites-lots-images-some-replies.html
Not all the images are from the 300 but the lenses are listed.

NaCl(hope that helps, Big East supporter and former band member)H2O
05-18-2007, 11:15 AM   #3
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Yep, ISU - our son is a 'Clone...

We hit all the home games in order to satisfy our marching-band addiction... I have a rather large collection of photos from the last 3 years, and since this will be Josh's last year at ISU I'd like to get as many good band pictures as I can. Previous camera was a Canon Powershot A80 that takes decent shots if you're careful. Definitely not a low-light performer, though.

I'll have 7 chances to practice with the lens, I ought to get some of 'em as keepers.

Jim
05-18-2007, 11:25 AM   #4
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Some thoughts from another Big 12 fan (OkState) and occasional sports shooter

Personally, I think 200mm is too short to get anything reasonable if your seats give you a nosebleed. If your budget can swing the cost (around $900), probably a good choice is the Sigma 50-500 zoom (aka the "Bigma"). It's a bit large, but there are a lot of people here who get good results from it, especially on a SR camera like the K100D or the K10D. That's assuming you can get in the gates with it.

Sigma - Lenses

05-18-2007, 01:02 PM   #5
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$900 definitely outside the budget...

Hopefully this works, and if the images are posted incorrectly my apologies...
These two shots are representative of what I can get from the little A80, taken on a rainy gloomy afternoon.

We like to try for shots where our son can actually be identified among the sousaphone players (this one was taken at max 3x optical zoom), and ones where we can catch the whole band (taken as wide as it'll go). I don't normally bother taking pictures of the game itself. Not what we're there for...

I'm not sure if I could get a big honkin' lens like that Bigma into the stadium. I'm quite sure that I cannot afford it so it's kinda a moot point. :-)

If I can get photos better than the A80 could get, I'll be happy.

Jim

Last edited by RoxnDox; 07-16-2007 at 10:35 AM.
05-18-2007, 01:41 PM   #6
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Don't we all want the Bigma !!!! I have a Sigma 70-300 (see sig) that was relatively inexpensive which will be much easier on the budget. I have used it for some widlife photos and have been realtivley happy. It is not a fast lens so it will not be a great perfomer in low light (bumping up the ISO will certainly help). There are several manual focus lenses that might fit the bill. Others speak well of the Pentax DA 50-200.

I think if you gave a range of your budget that might help others offer some suggestions

As a side note any chance you can walk down and get a little closer at half time ? Pull the "My Son is in the Band card" ?
05-18-2007, 01:46 PM   #7
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I'm going to throw 3 lenses at you and see if these meet the budget (crosses fingers) and if all you're looking for is better than the P&S then these will be just fine and fairly budget friendly.

1. Tamron 70-300mm Di LD Macro $190

2. Sigma 70-300mm DG Macro $140

3. Pentax FA 80-320 $ebay

All three of those should give you the length you need and all have decent sharpness and color. I'm a fan of the Sigma but the Tamron is rated fairly well for an all around zoom in most periodicals. The Pentax is discontinued but can be found on ebay here and there for a decent price and is a very sharp piece of glass.

I'm taking a guess that the 300mm reach will be very good indeed and the prices should be right in the range of what you'll need.

I have the older Tamron (non-dg) and it works fine, but gets very blah at high ISO and the sharpness is less than perfect (I'm picky now though after buying better glass). Probably going to sell my older one anyway because my next purchase will be something in the long end or the Bigma.

I hope this helps you out a little bit and if you decide to upgrade these 3 are fine choices that will perform well enough for you.
05-18-2007, 03:44 PM   #8
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I like, and agree, with your choices. I think the 50-200 would be "adequate", after bumping up the ISO. All the options you gave are within the budget of most people. I have the Tamron 28-300 and would find it good in a case like this as well.

I'd be interested in the Tamron 18-250 (is that right?) that is just coming out. A little shorter at the long end, but wider at the short end, right?

I think this would allow one lens for the entire game, zooming in where needed, but going wider in order to get stadium shots of the band on the field and the "designs" they make on the field. We're not talking about spotting feathers on birds from afar, but people in a crowd. So, my vote would be a Tamron 28-300 right now, or the new one in a little bit.

Jeff

05-18-2007, 04:25 PM   #9
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Jim

If I understand, you will be using your old film camera lenses on your digital camera.

The photos will be better since the 1.5 digital crop factor will make both your prime and your zoom seem like they have more magnification.

For stadium shots consider getting even longer focal length lenses. Sigma makes (from memory, could be off) a 135-400 and a 170-500 that are around f6 and $600.

You can also get a decent mirror lens (f8, $450, no cheap $200 version). With Pentax the higher f stop can be offset (Compared to your old film camera) with higher ISO, shake reduction, and underexposing then fixing in post processing.

My suggestion: don't buy anything, use your two existing lenses at the first game, review your shots and decide what you want, and order it with next day delivery so you will be ready for the rest of the season.
05-18-2007, 05:34 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by CycloneBandDad Quote
Hopefully this works, and if the images are posted incorrectly my apologies...
These two shots are representative of what I can get from the little A80, taken on a rainy gloomy afternoon.

We like to try for shots where our son can actually be identified among the sousaphone players (this one was taken at max 3x optical zoom), and ones where we can catch the whole band (taken as wide as it'll go). I don't normally bother taking pictures of the game itself. Not what we're there for...

I'm not sure if I could get a big honkin' lens like that Bigma into the stadium. I'm quite sure that I cannot afford it so it's kinda a moot point. :-)

If I can get photos better than the A80 could get, I'll be happy.

Jim
Nice shots Jim, especially the second. I would definitely suggest perusing KEH
KEH Camera: Used Cameras, Digital Cameras, Film Cameras, Laptop Computers and More.
and e-bay for the Pentax SMC 300 F4. It's an all manual lens, but since you shoot with a K1000 that shouldn't be a problem. I don't like eek bay, I got my SMC 300mm F4 at KEH for a little less than 300 USD including shipping. But try your other lenses first! You also might want to think about a Telephoto converter, Kenko makes a pretty good 1.5x TC with an IC chip for about $90. That would bump your 80-200 to 120-300, you would lose 1 fstop (ie an F4 lens becomes a F5.6 lens) but you do get the extra reach.
If you want some really wide shots, I can heartily recommend the Zenitar 16mm F2.8 fisheye, very wonderful little lens, pretty sharp at f4 and above, and the fisheye distortion is not extreme. One of my favorite lenses. It also is a fully manual lens, 125 USD plus shipping from Russia brand new. It's one of the few lenses that is ALWAYS in my bag.

BTW my best friend was a Sousaphone player, I played the piccolo, we were definitely the "mutt and jeff" of the band! I had a great time in marching band, it brings back fond memories

NaCl(looking forward to some band shots come football season)H2O

Last edited by NaClH2O; 05-18-2007 at 05:39 PM.
05-18-2007, 06:23 PM   #11
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I have both a Sigma 75-300 (the 70-300's predisesor) and a Sigma 135-400.
They both take good pictures, and I'd recommend either of them to you.
Although since I got the 135-400 I haven't even touched the 75-300

This pic is done with the 300

(please excuse the water marks )

And this one was taken using the 400

on the day that I got it.
05-18-2007, 08:47 PM   #12
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Thanks to everyone for comments and suggestions.
Budget range - under $250 if possible
I can get closer at halftime, but getting too close to the field loses ability to capture the large formations' patterns.
The Tamron 28-300 certainly sounds interesting. I like the one-lens concept, I'm already carrying a bunch of stuff into the stadium...
I (well, it came with the wife) do have an old 1.4 TC, but it's one that even Google has hardly even heard of. A "ZYKKOR AUTO TELE CONVERTER 2X FOR PK". I've tried it out a few times, but even to my untrained eye the thing has terrible purple fringing, and while the TC locks to the body the lens will not lock to the TC. Not an ideal situation, especially at a sporting event... I'll look around and see about a better one, I think.

Mucho Gracias, all!

(and yes, I'll post some pics when the time comes around again)

Jim
05-19-2007, 08:38 AM   #13
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I have the Tamron 28-300 XR LD (not the DI model). You can find them on fleaBay for around $150. I'm not excited about it, but it does solve the one lens problem if you aren't overly picky about image quality. It's better than using a compact P&S, but it's not up to the quality of the 50-200.
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