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08-10-2013, 02:19 PM   #1
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Appreciate your opinion.

I am shooting a Moto X park using the K5 & 50-135 or DA* 200. The photos taken are sold on site and post event, it is a weekly shoot.

Attached are few shots and what is bothering me is the amount of near misses I get with the auto focus, when the focus locks on it is great...could not ask for more; but too often I am getting the "almost" shot.

Is it me ? I Pan, keep a close watch on shutter speed, usually up around 1/1000th+ and AV will vary from f2.8 - 8 keepers or near misses show no pattern across these settings.

Or is it the tool? The one thing I note is that I seem to miss most when the subject is coming towards me and I don't have a high contrast background.

Has anyone any hands on experience with the K5ii....is it any better in AF stakes ?

Appreciate your thoughts or experiences and which way you would (or have ) gone in getting a better AF system for this type of work. I am leaning towards Nikon.




I pre focus on the earth lip and then track the bike as it comes into view, speeds are relatively quick so it is all happening in a blink.

Attachment 183590


I have noticed that when it locks on and is not in focus and I shoot a few frames the whole set is out.
Attachment 183591


When it locks on its great.
Attachment 183592


Have tried the K20 as well, and while this shot is ok, it is definitely worse than the K5.
Attachment 183593


Last edited by Mallee Boy; 07-25-2014 at 03:45 PM.
08-10-2013, 03:11 PM   #2
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Here are my thoughts:

I see your ISO is set at 100. A higher ISO would allow a faster shutter which would stop action better, and a smaller f-stop which might give a larger focus field. Since it is unlikely your customers will be asking for super size prints an ISO of 400 to perhaps 600 would not generate excessive noise. Also, I personally have had very little luck with continuous focus, with or without panning. While continuous focus is great in theory, it rarely gives me any sharp photos. If you have been using continuous focus you might want to try single focus. Finally, panning works best when the subject maintains a regular distance from the camera.
08-10-2013, 03:28 PM   #3
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My suggestion would be to try shooting in Av or TAv mode (TAv if you want to lock down a fast shutter speed too) with an f stop that gives you a greater DoF. There will be more chance of catching the rider in the focus 'zone' then. On a bright sunny day like that I would have thought f8 would have been a minimum.

Do you have the camera set to auto-focus or is it turned off? I know you said "I pre focus on the earth lip and then track the bike as it comes into view" but if it's still set to AF it will change whatever you set when you press the shutter button (unless you have disabled the half-press AF feature of course).

I shot events like that many years ago using either a Spotmatic or Spotmatic II film camera and all manual lenses and my 'keeper' rate was remarkably high considering the challenges involved. I tended to use ASA 200 or 400 film and then I would juggle the shutter speed and aperture depending on light to get a fast enough shutter speed to stop the action with a f stop high enough to give a deep DoF.
08-10-2013, 03:43 PM   #4
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If the bike is in a predictable space in the air, then your focusing should be accurate. If they are, as you say, coming at you then I'd suggest that you are perhaps pushing the capabilities of the Pentax AF systems. Compared with Nikon & Canon, action shooting with Pentax is a couple of generations behind. In addition, your zoom lens, while optically very fine, is not as responsive as a Canon USM model from my own experience.

A minimum shutter speed of 1/1500-1/2000 should work better for you. As noted above, ISO 100 is unnecessary. I've shot outdoor sports comfortably up to ISO 1600 to get the shot. It is not like this stuff is fine art. I would also recommend using the back-button AF technique.

If you shoot action as your primary photography gig, then spare yourself the frustration and switch systems. Just make sure you know what lenses you will need before you commit to a body.

M

08-10-2013, 03:52 PM   #5
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Thanks guys.
I have used iso 200, but can not see any difference in keepers but take the point on going higher still.
AF....have used both continuous and spot and again can not honestly say I can point to any advantage in either.
Manual focus.? haven't gone there....but philosophically in 2013....should I have to ?

Miguel...do you know what Nikon offers? Change is something I don't relish and want to avoid Canon if I can.
08-10-2013, 04:07 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mallee Boy Quote
Manual focus.? haven't gone there....but philosophically in 2013....should I have to ?
If it gets you the shot almost every time then YES!!!!!!!!!!

You have to 'guess-timate' how far away the subject will be when in the position you want to capture it. Then focus on something the same distance away (it could be a tree, post, hay bale, piece of litter, whatever works) and recompose to take your shot without touching the focus ring again. The beauty of digital is that you can check your results immediately and adjust the focus as required, back in the film days you had to hope you had it right and wouldn't know for sure until you got the film/slides back from the developer.
08-10-2013, 04:17 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tako Kichi Quote
If it gets you the shot almost every time then YES!!!!!!!!!!

You have to 'guess-timate' how far away the subject will be when in the position you want to capture it. Then focus on something the same distance away (it could be a tree, post, hay bale, piece of litter, whatever works) and recompose to take your shot without touching the focus ring again. The beauty of digital is that you can check your results immediately and adjust the focus as required, back in the film days you had to hope you had it right and wouldn't know for sure until you got the film/slides back from the developer.


Understand you and appreciate the sentiment.

They don't always launch from the same place on the ramp and that distance can vary by 10-15 feet, and often you don't see them until they appear over the lip, so as you would appreciate from experience, time for changes is fleeting although sometimes you can get them on the next lap.

My "frustration" is the lack of consistency in the results, if it was consistently bad or out of focus, then I could deal with that, but its the some good (& I mean really good...they sell) and then the "almost" series that has me scratching my head, some of which still sell, but professionally I am not happy with them.

Thanks for the advice, it is appreciated and valued.

08-10-2013, 04:45 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mallee Boy Quote
They don't always launch from the same place on the ramp and that distance can vary by 10-15 feet, and often you don't see them until they appear over the lip, so as you would appreciate from experience, time for changes is fleeting although sometimes you can get them on the next lap.
That is exactly why you need a f stop that gives you a deep DoF so that they can be out of position by a fair distance and still be in focus. You will have to juggle both the shutter speed and ISO speed depending on the available light but it is more than possible to get those settings right especially in the well lit, sunny conditions shown in your sample photos.

If you increase the f stop number (i.e. make the aperture smaller) you will have a deeper DoF, but, in order to get a correctly exposed shot you will then need to either (a) slow down the shutter speed (but given the subject matter don't go too low for obvious reasons, 1/500 would probably be an absolute minimum) or (b) increase the ISO value.

If you shoot in TAv mode you can lock the f stop and shutter speed to what you require and then let the camera adjust the ISO to get a correct exposure. It's so much easier with digital cameras, in the old days we were stuck with a fixed film speed (ISO/ASA) for the length of the roll which really limited options in terms of shutter speed and aperture for the available light.
08-10-2013, 07:30 PM   #9
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It's also much easier if you're further away - so a longer focal length will help. Think about panning these guys as they go past 1m in front of you verses panning if they're 10m away. Obviously, it's easier to pan at 10m.
08-10-2013, 07:39 PM   #10
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That's true too. IIRC most of my motocross shots were taken with a M 135mm and zooming was done with your feet!
08-10-2013, 10:05 PM   #11
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Have you tried "Catch in focus" set the focus manually for an area in the jump zone, hold down the shutter button, when the focus confirms the shot is taken, great way to get this sort of stuff.

When I'm shooting sports, I use 5 point multi with continuous focus, disable anti-shake.
08-10-2013, 10:09 PM   #12
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The K-5 uses a F/5.6 AF sensor. If you a shooting moving subjects at wider apertures then you increase the probability of missed focus. K-5II has an F/2.8 AF sensor so it will be more accurate at wider apertures.

Is SR set prior to shutter release?
Are you shooting from a mono or tripod?

My K-5 can't track a sleeping cat. I hear the K-5II is much improved.
08-10-2013, 10:55 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by cmohr Quote
Have you tried "Catch in focus" set the focus manually for an area in the jump zone, hold down the shutter button, when the focus confirms the shot is taken, great way to get this sort of stuff.

When I'm shooting sports, I use 5 point multi with continuous focus, disable anti-shake.
Yes, have tried CiF, works in some instances...but not all instances are the same.
I will experiment more though. Thanks .
08-10-2013, 10:58 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Winder Quote
The K-5 uses a F/5.6 AF sensor. If you a shooting moving subjects at wider apertures then you increase the probability of missed focus. K-5II has an F/2.8 AF sensor so it will be more accurate at wider apertures.

Is SR set prior to shutter release?
Are you shooting from a mono or tripod?

My K-5 can't track a sleeping cat. I hear the K-5II is much improved.
Actually that puts a piece of the jigsaw into place.
No I'm not using a mono or tri pod...it is a thought though.
Thanks.
08-11-2013, 09:22 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mallee Boy Quote
Miguel...do you know what Nikon offers? Change is something I don't relish and want to avoid Canon if I can.
If you are going to expand beyond the single moto x park and shoot at multiple sites, then it would behoove you to research what tools the shooters who inspire you use. It seems like the few good ones I've spent a few minutes checking out (moto x is something I am not very familiar with, however I got my motorcycle license yesterday so now my interest is stronger) write about what they use. I would email or call them and ask for advice.

I would not lock myself into the tiny mental jailhouse of single brand devotion. All brands have strengths and weaknesses. Go with whatever tools work best for the job. The shot is what matters.

It seems like two popular zoom ranges would meet most of one's moto x shooting requirements: a 24-70mm f2.8 and a 70-200mm f2.8. If you need to better fill the frame (and that is the preferred approach) then an f4 300mm may suffice. A monopod or tripod is only useful for action shots if you are aiming at a predictable spot for a period of time, such as a bend in a track, or starting line. Anything with high variability like the mid-air shots you have shown above requires more physical freedom.

You simply need an AF system that can better track moving objects. It should not be all that hard for a performance-oriented Nikon or Canon if you can have the frame at least 30% filled with the bike and rider. Considering I tend to follow semi-random soccer balls in flight, a bike and rider coming off a ramp seems like a helluva lot easier to me.

Hope this helps.

M
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