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10-13-2013, 03:25 PM   #1
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Getting Started Questions

Hi, I'm about ready to make the first all important first major DSL camera purchase, and I very much interesting now in the K3. I've been using a one piece mini-dslr, those kinds with the equivalent of a 35 - 400mm built in zoom. And it's just soooo slow to focus and zoom, that it drives me insane.

When making a purchase like this, I realize I'm really getting into the "economy" of that manufacturer (just the same is if I would be int the Nikon economy if I were getting a Nikon 7100).

So with that thinking in mind, the real reason I'm looking at a camera like this is for the low light conditions of sitting on the track surrounding high school football games. I do a lot of photography of the cheerleaders. So lets assume that it's a given I'm getting the body, but then what would be people's experience with the lens systems?

The lighting is poor (and at visiting high schools, sometimes there's almost no direct lighting on the track where the girls are standing). So should I just start with the basic camera and the 18mm - 135mm lens? Or should I be looking at a faster lens (I'd absolutely love an 18 - 200 F2 lens!).

So it really comes down to seeing what other people have experienced. I'm in close quarters with the cheer team, but have been there long enough that they ignore me most of the time (that's good). But a good quality lens should out perform any thing regardless of speed I would think. How much light do the fast lenses (those at f2.8) really 'gather?' Should I just get a fast 85mm and crop on the computer, or take the 'kit' lens?

Also, what is everyone's experience with third party vendors (Sigma, Tameron etc)? From the film world, I had a great Sigma lens I used on a Canon AE1 (1980's), and I even have an old family Nikorromat with a Sigma (1970's), and it still works well. But in the digital age, will these vendors be as sharp (or will be be sharper) then Pentax lens?

Will the higher ISO range of a camera like this more than make up for a lens system (after all, where's the best place to get that extra stop, in the camera through the ISO settings, or faster lens, assuming that there will be resolution lost at the highest settings)? Should I just forgot the Pentax 18-135 and just go with a Sigma or Tameron 18-200 (I noticed that Sigma does have a F3.5 18 - 250: should 'perfect' for outdoor season if it gathers enough light).

Now also realize that I will be going indoor for competitive season, and that is under gym lighting, but the action is higher - and for that I'm thinking a good 70 - 300 type would be ideal for that. Or (on the smaller sensor), is the 18-250 more than adequate especially with a 24meg sensor that I can just crop.

I will look forward to some thoughts. Thanks!

10-13-2013, 03:57 PM   #2
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No such thing as 18-200 f/2 and if there was you could not carry it.

What focal length do you need? 18-135 is a good general purpose lens but if don't need the wide end for this there are other options.

Both Sigma and Tamron have some good lenses Sigma in particular has really upped their game.

The 18-250 you mention is only 3.5 at the wide end I think it is 5.6 on the 250 end.

It also depends on your budget and quality requirements.
10-13-2013, 04:47 PM   #3
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If you are thinking of a non mainstream camera like Pentax--and you have almost no relevant experience--I suggest you buy an older pentax (e.g., K20d or K-x) for $200-250 about, and a older lens (maybe a zoom like the 28-70 mm f/4 FA for $70.) that will give you a start. And after few months you will have learned a lot about your needs. Then you can decide if you want to buy into the Pentax brand. Or Nikon, Canon, etc. One nice thing about Pentax is you can enter pretty cheap. But not for the fast zoom/latest camera/ etc.
10-13-2013, 04:49 PM   #4
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I am guessing that with the dark field and gyms, you are going to need a f2.8 aperture, going out to about 200mm. You really do not say what the distance is, but I think that this is probably the best you can do.Another suggestion would be rather than the k3, going with the K5II that will also focus in very low light situations should save a reasonable amount of funds.

For focal lengths less than 70mm, again it appears that f2.8 is the key here also.Depending on the lighting, you may need to go up to ISO 800 in order to get a sufficiently fast shutter speed to freeze the action. Going to a K5 you loose the low light auto focusing, and a K7 or K20 are not going to be very good with the combination of low light and fast action, also the ISO is going to be noisy.



10-13-2013, 04:57 PM   #5
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I think the K-3 would be up to the task. I would however suggest a fast tele lens with snappy AF like the newest 70-200 f2.8 from Sigma or even just the DA* 200/2.8 or 300/4 if you were pretty sure of the fixed position you would be shooting from. But others have obtained great low-light results from far less fancy lenses.

QuoteOriginally posted by kjg48359 Quote
So it really comes down to seeing what other people have experienced.
I'd suggest looking at some example sports and event photo threads on this forum, like:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-k-5/115277-k-5-sports-photography-104.html

and threads like this:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photographic-technique/237353-military-ta...echniques.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/237545-misc-kzn-military-tattoo.html

These threads cover the K-5, but I would be very surprised if the K-3 wasn't a better performer in low-light and for sports than the K-5.
10-13-2013, 06:50 PM   #6
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Thanks.

I appreciate everyone's thoughts.

Jatax: I appreciate it - I also know there's no such thing as a f2 18-200. Just wishing. As for what I think would be an appropriate range, I'm usually on the track next to the field (think about 7 or 8 lanes) and the cheerleaders use the whole width from stunting to just line chants. Those distances are usually from 10' out to about 100' by the time I stand on the end of the end zone and look down to about the 50 yard line.

When indoors, I'm usually sitting near the judges table, and the team uses the back 2/3rds of their mat which usually is the width of a full gym. That's why I don't think I'll need to go much past a 300mm on a "c" sensor. So would there really be much of a difference between a sigma 18-250 and Pentax 18-135 in terms of quality? If not, I would think I'd want the extra power. I don't want to get too strong on either end of the zoom range, but I can't loose wide angle (the 70-200 would be good for indoors as it gives me up to equivalent of a 300 in normal 35mm range). Plus I think the lighting should be bright enough that I don't think I'd need to use much faster than a 6400 ISO, I did 'ok' with my other camera which only went up to 3200 w/ its f4 lens.

(thanks for the thoughts DMS, but I'm not a beginner, just have had too many other things in the past to keep up with DSLR cameras - I enjoyed photography for over 30 years, have a Nikkormat, a Canon AE1 with winder/multiple zooms, filters etc) and for a while started going down the Minolta digital line up. I'm just getting embarrassed with all in one 35mm-400 non-interchangeable lens camera of late). Hopefully they'll see on ebay and give me a little more operating range!

What appeals to me about the upcoming K3 is (1) it does have an extended operating range over the 7100 (down to about 14 degrees) and (b) the in-camera stabilizer helps keep the lens costs down. Plus it looks like it might be stronger and better sealed for those rainy and cold football games that I 'suffer' through.

Interested-Observer those are great suggestions, I've looked at all of them of course. Which leads me to ask, How good would it be to get a used lenses? Think there might be something really good (I don't think at AF on a lens is a must if the view finder is good for the indoors). Will this only take the KAF mounts? I am starting to see that Pentax has some relationships with other vendors, but does the parent company possible extend some lens options without the Pentax name?

True to photography is a skill, not a mechanical process - but better equipment can lead to better results!

(this is all part of my research of course! - I figure what ever I start with is going to last a long time, many camera bodies and lens systems, and flash systems to go through over time!)

Thanks folks!
10-13-2013, 06:56 PM   #7
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On traditional thought - I realize that extenders will reduce speed usually by a factor of at least 1 to 2 stops (a 1.4 extender would be closer to a 1 stop loss, a 2x would be closer to a full 2 stops). But I was also reading that on the Nikon's, they won't work with some of the AF lenses. Do those restrictions apply with the Pentax lenses as well? Sometimes those are great ways to extend range simply and cheaply, and might be useful except at night time games of course.
10-13-2013, 07:52 PM   #8
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Faster Or Slower?

Hello kgj48359,
First off, I'll try to explain something that you've mentioned in a couple of posts. You keep referring to the 18-250mm and 18-135mm lenses as 'f/4's' . They're not f/4.0 lenses. This type of lens, often called 'Superzooms' because they go from wide-angle to medium telephoto, are all variable f/stop lenses.
What this means is they are ONLY f/4.0 at the widest focal length, in this case, 18mm. They are f/5.6 (the Sigma is F/6.3) at maximum focal length and variable f/stops in-between.
They might be f/4.5 at 50mm, f/5.0 at 100mm, etc. How this effects your intended shooting situation is that at full telephoto 'reach', you're TWO full stops slower than an f/2.8 lens. The same as the difference between ISO 1600 and ISO 6400.
To put it another way, a superzoom is not going to get you where you want to go. They're all variable f/stop lenses and most are f/4.0 to f/5.6.
What you'll need is a constant-aperture lens, preferably an F/2.8, possibly an F/4.0. No slower.
You're trying to shoot human movement, sometimes fast movement, in a low-light environment. Every f/stop you can gain, whether through faster glass, higher ISO, better timing of the action, flash, will mean better photos. Sacrificing 2 F/stops for a single do-everything slow lens isn't a worthwhile tradeoff. You'll end up with (either) high-noise photos that look like blown-up newsprint reproductions, or subject-motion blur caused by slow shutter speed. Or, both.
Several people have suggested f/2.8 (constant aperture) zooms. If indoor sports were a card game, these lenses are the ante. Without them, you can't play.
There is no such thing as an F/2.8 or even an F/4.0 (constant aperture) superzoom.
Like it or not, you'll need an f/2.8 wide-to-normal zoom and an F/2.8 tele zoom. Possibly, a second choice would be the same length zooms in constant F/4.0.
You might find a couple of used fast zooms on eBay or the marketplace here.
Good Luck!
Ron


Last edited by rbefly; 10-14-2013 at 04:37 AM.
10-13-2013, 09:15 PM   #9
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I was going to say pretty much the same thing. I've had a several of the super-zooms (well, my wife has) and they can be decent lenses, but not for what you need them to do. I think you need a 70-200, and probably a Sigma as the Tamron is pretty slow focusing, though has excellent IQ. At a minimum, you may be able to get by with a Sigma 50-150, no longer available new. It's IQ is not quite as good as the Pentax 50-135, but it's AF is faster and the IQ is still very good in a "journalistic" sense. Plus the little extra reach would probably be useful to you.
10-13-2013, 10:28 PM   #10
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Woah, guys, let's keep it realistic here - the OP has been shooting just fine with a bridge camera (which one kgj48359?). I don't think expensive pro zooms are a must.
10-13-2013, 11:25 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by kjg48359 Quote
I appreciate everyone's thoughts.
....
Interested-Observer those are great suggestions, I've looked at all of them of course. Which leads me to ask, How good would it be to get a used lenses? Think there might be something really good (I don't think at AF on a lens is a must if the view finder is good for the indoors). Will this only take the KAF mounts? I am starting to see that Pentax has some relationships with other vendors, but does the parent company possible extend some lens options without the Pentax name?
Good Evening, A good 50% of my lenses have been acquired used - in fact, I just purchased one this evening off the Marketplace.

You are also asking about AF. I use a lot of manual lenses in very low light - you would refer to it as in the "dead of night". Most of the time I can just let the shutter speed go for however long. If you are photographing cheerleaders, they will be moving across lighting conditions and in and out of focus. That is why I suggested autofocus lenses.

10-13-2013, 11:46 PM   #12
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Let's throw in another factor: weather sealing. Just because a body is weather sealed does not make the system weather sealed. You're going to want a WR lens for your rainy outdoor football shots. Fortunately, Pentax just announced that the DA55-300 will be available in a WR version - release date approx Nov 2013 and rumor has it around $400. Now this is a variable aperture zoom that is not terribly fast, but it should do the trick. If you can afford it, the DA*60-250 f4 has the best weather sealing Pentax offers and it has excellent optics. But I would have to agree with the others that suggest a good f2.8 lens would be ideal though it does have some compromises with larger sizes and a narrower range. Low light photography with high shutter speeds is really pushing the limits which often means pushing one aspect at the expense of another.
10-14-2013, 09:25 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Giklab Quote
Woah, guys, let's keep it realistic here - the OP has been shooting just fine with a bridge camera (which one kgj48359?). I don't think expensive pro zooms are a must.
Well, no, the OP has not been shooting "just fine" with a bridge camera. They are unhappy with it's performance and looking to make a significant step up, hence the contemplation of a K-3. They are not a complete beginner at photography. All of these factors warrant the suggestions made. The OP could waste time, money, and frustration by trying to get what they want with super-zooms, or they could buy what they actually need from the start and get results. Besides, nothing suggested here approaches the expense of true pro-zooms, a la Nikon or Canon.
10-14-2013, 01:21 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by DogLover Quote
Well, no, the OP has not been shooting "just fine" with a bridge camera. They are unhappy with it's performance and looking to make a significant step up, hence the contemplation of a K-3. They are not a complete beginner at photography. All of these factors warrant the suggestions made. The OP could waste time, money, and frustration by trying to get what they want with super-zooms, or they could buy what they actually need from the start and get results. Besides, nothing suggested here approaches the expense of true pro-zooms, a la Nikon or Canon.
Well, just fine was an overstatement, I just wanted to say that they'll be getting another 2 (3,4,5?) usable ISO stops. This alone of course doesn't mean that nobody needs pro f/2.8 zooms anymore, but maybe the OP can't just plonk down >$2500.
10-14-2013, 02:14 PM   #15
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For these kinds of shots, would a K-30 or K-50 be functionally as useful as a K-3 at a far lower price? The DXO sports ISO rating is doubtful to be all that much different (we don't really know but the 30/50 were pretty close to the K-5). Though I don't know his budget, if the OP pours the price differential on the bodies into a lens, he might come out with a better overall result.
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