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07-18-2015, 03:40 PM   #1
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Fairly new to photography and looking for some pointers

Hey all,

So I've had my K30 for awhile and I get some really good still photos. I would like some pointers on settings for action shots. Both my kids are heavily involved in sports. My son in football/basketball and my daughter in cheer/track. For the close ups I use a sigma DG 55-300 on my K30 and often times my shots aren't as crisp as I would like and blurry at times. I know there are better lenses out there but I can't really afford to drop 1-2k on a new lense so I'm looking for some pointers on what I have available to improve the quality of my action photos. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you to all who give input it's much appreciated.

07-18-2015, 04:40 PM   #2
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Well, the simplest answer is to use as fast a shutter speed as you can, given the light levels. The first kind of blur you want to avoid is subject motion blur, which is always an issue shooting sports. Only you can determine what shutter speeds you'll need for your kids in those sports. So, the obvious question is, what shutter speeds have you been using? Post a photo that includes the EXIF data so we can see the camera settings you used.

Camera operator blur shouldn't be too much of an issue. The K30 has decent shake reduction, which I assume you have turned on and kept on. If you are moving, you'll need to find a way to brace yourself or to put the camera on a tripod or monopod. But that's a later concern; first assume your shutter speed is too low.
07-18-2015, 05:52 PM   #3
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Out at the 300mm end any movement of the camera/operator is exaggerated. I usually use a tripod or monopod for anything over 200mm. But then I am not as steady as I used to be. As Sholtzma said the fastest shutter speed the light will allow will help.
07-18-2015, 06:54 PM   #4
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Hi, I use that lens on a K-7 and lately K5 IIs. I find its reach is satisfactory and it is very light and has acceptable IQ. The limitations are the maximum aperture of f4-5.6 and relatively slow focusing speed. I also use Sigma 70-200 f2.8 HSM which beats the 55-300 hands down except for the focal length. I am saving up for a Bigma or equivalent.

For sports I generally use widest possible aperture and fastest possible shutter speed. If that blows ISO out, well so be it. I would prefer some noise to no shot at all. On a really dull day however it is sometimes difficult to get good results. Sometimes i use TaV or fully manual after taking a couple of test images to check exposure.

Getting good focus is the hardest part. ofter by the time the lens locks focus the action has moved on. Try to prefocus as much as possible. I don't know the K-30 but if it has a back focus button and AF.C, explore that mode of operation. There is a recent thread on the forum discussing this.

I find a tripod too restrictive and much prefer hand held or a monopod for support.

Hi speed continuous shooting is also very useful.

I also tend to frame the shots wide and crop in pp rather than try to capture the close-up action in camera. Again I am prepared to sacrifice image quality for the action shot.

One important thing is of course to practice, practice and practice, learn to anticipate the action and be ready.

I hope this is of some help and hope to see some results soon.

07-19-2015, 07:58 AM   #5
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I have a K-30 and have used it several time to catch action in soccer and basketball. I have used a Pentax DA55-300, DA 18-135, and a Tamron 70-200/2.8. The Tamron was made for this kind of shooting and of course does the best job because of the 2.8 constant aperture. I'm pretty much here to reinforce the advise that has already been given in this thread. Use the fastest shutter speed you can, and set your ISO to 100-6400, or higher. I would also recommend continuous shooting (Hi). And as stated earlier practice your technique, longer focal lengths are harder to hold steady, and the lower the light, the slower the speed, which magnifies that even further.

Of course the biggest problem in shooting sports can be the lighting. Unless your kids are playing professionally, chances are they are in dimly lit outdoor fields of even worse gyms, that may even have windows letting in outside lights to create bright spots in the daytime. Get as close as you can to use shorter focal lengths if possible. If you have a shorter faster lens it may be better to use that than your slower Sigma.

Individual lens experiences. The DA55-300 is OK in daylight, but you have to use quickshift to get close and the AF, or it's too slow to focus. The DA18-135 was OK in daylight. The Tamron 70-200/2.8 is fine, even with it, on an overcast day you may be shooting at 2.8 just to get a shutter speed of 1/250.

I did try to shoot indoor soccer once with a K-20D and M50/1.7 in a poorly lit arena, it was disastrous, everything blurry, the K20D didn't have the low light ability of the K-30, and my manual focus skills were poor. But I think if you had an autofocus fast 50 you could get good shots, especially the closer you could be, and even with manual focus if you're good and prefocus.

Samples
This was taken with the K-30 and Tamron 70-200/2.8 at f2.8, 1/200, ISO 800 (100mm) in a high school gym from the last row, probably about 20 rows, maybe 70-80 feet from the subjects


This was taken with the K-30 and Tamron 70-200/2.8 at f14, 1/250, ISO 100 (140mm)


This was taken with the K-30 and PENTAX-DA 18-135mm at f5.6, 1/200, ISO 400 (135mm) on an overcast day



This was taken with the K-30 and PENTAX-DA 18-135mm at f5.6, 1/200, ISO 1600 (135mm) at a professional soccer game under the lights from the seats at the other end of the pitch.
07-20-2015, 03:14 AM   #6
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Wow great...thanks for the advice everyone. I'll post up some pics a bit later as my son and I are at a football camp the next three days so I'll have plenty of time to experiment.
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