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11-18-2013, 02:17 PM   #1
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Sports Images with the K-3

Well, my camera is not yet in, but in the end it will be used for sports images. So after the thread in the K-5 section, just starting a new collection for the K-3.

Enjoy it and make it a succesfull thread...

11-18-2013, 02:56 PM   #2
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that's because uou ordered the silver one. Stay with black and Edwin has them on stock ;-)
11-18-2013, 03:05 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Franc Quote
that's because uou ordered the silver one. Stay with black and Edwin has them on stock ;-)
I know, but I'm waiting very patiently. My next planned sportscovering is after X-mass with volleyball, so I'm not in a hurry at the moment.
11-18-2013, 04:12 PM   #4
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11-18-2013, 05:11 PM - 5 Likes   #5
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K-3 Soccer

Below are several of the better shots taken from a youth premiere soccer match. The lens used was the Sigma 100-300mm f4. The time of day provided a good test for both the K-3 and the lens as the first half was in diminishing daylight, and the second half was under the lights.

To level-set matters, both the camera and the lens were new to me. I've been shooting outdoor soccer regularly for the past four years with a Canon 7D and the Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L lens.

The 7D + the 100-400mm are pretty much the best APS-C performance body and reasonably priced super-telezoom combo going. It gives me a standard to judge most aspects of the K-3 + Sigma against.

This was also my first time using the K-3 grip. Things started off poorly as the camera immediately froze, leaving me flabbergasted and a bit nervous as I wanted to test a few things out in those 10 minutes prior to the match. I quickly removed the grip and did a quick in/out with the battery and things were OK. I've never had a DSLR freeze before so it's an unwelcome item to stash in the back of my mind with this camera,

That said, I'm very happy to have the grip. To me it is essential to help balance the large size and weight of the Sigma lens. Without the grip the camera felt too small and unstable. For chaotic sports like soccer I eschew camera supports with these sized lenses.

One of my objectives this evening was to test out the different AF modes and menu settings, as well as pay attention to how usable the Pentax menu and button interfaces are. Having owned three prior Pentax DSLRs I was fairly familiar with the Pentax way and routinely switch between using the 7D and my K20D for all sorts of photography. But I know things have changed.

I also want to set some scope here: my impressions of the K-3 are very preliminary. Shooting sports (and birds) is not easy at all. It takes a lot of time to configure any camera to match one's particular shooting approach, and then for the user (me this time) to develop that seamless feel with the camera. I pretty much shoot on trained instinct as I've learned the movement of soccer well, and I'm also aware that half the time I'm uncertain if what looked good in the viewfinder will transform. Stuff happens too fast and too much: typically I'll generate about 1500 shots.

A bit about expectations. First, neither the 7D nor the K-3 is among the best sports cameras out there. I'm just not good enough, and there isn't anything close to a ROI, to make it worth purchasing a Nikon D4 or a Canon MKIV and comparable superfast AF glass. But if I can freeze action, have it in focus, and have enough keepers to convey the event accurately, then I'm a happy man.

The AF settings Iím still figuring out, but this is what I used:

16. 1 Release priority

17. 1 Focus-priority

18. 3 medium


I started off mistakenly with AF.S mode but decided to go with it for a short while just to see. The results weren't terrible but having to keep pressing the AF button to track action was too much of a hassle. I always use back-button focus (that's a Canon world term).

Next I chose AF.C and somehow the spot focus was my mode. It responded OK to slower action but was outpaced overall when I simply held down the AF button and changed targets. So I again had to keep pressing the AF button to capture action in close proximity to the original target. This felt like too much nursing for fast action.

Most of my time was spent with AF.C and the Expanded Area Small setting or the Expanded Area Medium setting. I didn't see a significant difference between both of these modes.

Unlike the spot AF, I was able to keep the AF button pressed for extended periods, tracking action in and out of frame. Both modes missed about half the time, especially the first shot of a sequence. Looking at the EXIF, it seems like the AF system needed about 2 seconds to lock on the target of a moving soccer ball or player; once acquired, it would stay on target rather nicely. In comparison, my 7D would be about 20% more accurate right away. Where this really matters is when I quickly swing the camera about 30-degrees to capture a quick header 30 yards away. Once target is locked however, both the K-3 and the 7D performed about the sameówhich is saying a lot for the K-3.

Where the K-3 really excels--and this is the big gain for me--is its ability to work in lower light.

I put my 7D away if I cannot get 1/500 at ISO 3200. That means rainy grey Pacific Northwest days, and times when stadium lights are being used at dusk and later. With the K-3 I was able to get acceptable shots at dusk at ISO 6400 and then under the lights at ISO 12,800. Some of that is the Sigma's constant f4 compared with the 100-400's f4.5-5.6. But a lot is the superior sensor. It was quite satisfying being able to shoot under the lights and most likely reason enough to keep the K-3.

I have not yet performed any lens AF calibration or testing. I do use faster memory cards that claim 90+MB/second speed.

Other factors: In changing the AF and focus point modes I really started to dislike the info screen. It's annoying. There are too many unimportant options there and the presentation is too cramped. The 7D's QuickScreen has about 15 items; the Pentax, 19. The graphics on the Canon are simply easier to read and act on.

While the K-3's viewfinder is pleasant and good, the 7D's is a little larger and noticeably brighter. And the on/off grid is excellent.
The push/pull zoom control of the Canon 100-400m lens lets you change focal length a little quicker than the Sigma. That matters in a fast moving sport.

During an injury break or after a questionable call Iíll chimp to see what happened. It took way too long for a string of five shots to appear on the rear LCD immediately after the shot. I have been spoiled by the 7Dís two processors. I hope Ricoh can speed operations along some with a firmware update.

Summary: Overall,the K-3 AF is competitive with the 7D using the lenses I noted. While the 7D's AF seems 20% quicker and more accurate in good outdoor light, the K-3's superior sensor allows it to be used in darker, stadium-lighted venues. That opens significant new territory for Pentax shooters. Now Ricoh has to focus on hiccup-free performance.

I abandoned Pentax for shooting sports four years ago, so the reality that the K-3 is "good enough" for my needs is indicative of what a fine camera the K-3 is overall. Ricoh (and third parties) has to fulfill the whole promise of this good camera by releasing modern zoom super-telephoto lenses.

I hope you find this useful.

M




1/750 @ f5.6, ISO 3200



1/750 @ f5.6, ISO 3200




1/500 @ f5.6, ISO 3200



1/500 @ f5.6, ISO 3200



1/750 @ f4.5, ISO 6400



1/1000@ f4.5, ISO 6400





1/750 @ f4.5, ISO 6400



1/750 @ f4, ISO 6400




1/500 @ f4, ISO 12800




1/750 @ f4, ISO 12800

M
11-18-2013, 05:25 PM   #6
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Miguel great comparison of the 7D and K-3..
11-18-2013, 05:57 PM   #7
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Nice shots Miguel.

So reminds me of the shots I didn't get with my son, who played soccer for years at a fairly high regional level.

The thing that I'll be able to do is actually get off some shots of indoor competitive cheer at my daughter's high school. For that, the action is quick (think gymnastics like tumbling and stunting). But that's a different kind of action shot with motion more vertical then the constant away and towards motions of soccer.

I'll be back in December with some of those. Maybe I'll show some of the better pictures I took last season, and compare them to what I can get with the new camera. I'll be watching this space to see what other peoples experiences are in setting up optimal metering modes and focus modes will be. Although I am thinking I won't have to go much higher than 6400 iso for indoor/gym lighting. Not only is there no comparison with the lens just due to size, I won't be waiting for the camera to zoom in and out either with a little button surrounding the shutter release!

So, kind of begs the question. Would most people rather go with a smaller lens, and crop at the output processing stages, or a more expensive zoom to crop in when exposing?
11-19-2013, 02:18 AM   #8
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Nice comparison, I've tried the K3 for sports including soccer and rugby and found these settings work best for me

16. 2 Focus Priority
17. 2 FPS Priority
18. 3 Medium

11-19-2013, 03:02 AM   #9
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
Below are several of the better shots taken from a youth premiere soccer match. The lens used was the Sigma 100-300mm f4. The time of day provided a good test for both the K-3 and the lens as the first half was in diminishing daylight, and the second half was under the lights.

To level-set matters, both the camera and the lens were new to me. I've been shooting outdoor soccer regularly for the past four years with a Canon 7D and the Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L lens.

The 7D + the 100-400mm are pretty much the best APS-C performance body and reasonably priced super-telezoom combo going. It gives me a standard to judge most aspects of the K-3 + Sigma against.

This was also my first time using the K-3 grip. Things started off poorly as the camera immediately froze, leaving me flabbergasted and a bit nervous as I wanted to test a few things out in those 10 minutes prior to the match. I quickly removed the grip and did a quick in/out with the battery and things were OK. I've never had a DSLR freeze before so it's an unwelcome item to stash in the back of my mind with this camera,

That said, I'm very happy to have the grip. To me it is essential to help balance the large size and weight of the Sigma lens. Without the grip the camera felt too small and unstable. For chaotic sports like soccer I eschew camera supports with these sized lenses.

One of my objectives this evening was to test out the different AF modes and menu settings, as well as pay attention to how usable the Pentax menu and button interfaces are. Having owned three prior Pentax DSLRs I was fairly familiar with the Pentax way and routinely switch between using the 7D and my K20D for all sorts of photography. But I know things have changed.

I also want to set some scope here: my impressions of the K-3 are very preliminary. Shooting sports (and birds) is not easy at all. It takes a lot of time to configure any camera to match one's particular shooting approach, and then for the user (me this time) to develop that seamless feel with the camera. I pretty much shoot on trained instinct as I've learned the movement of soccer well, and I'm also aware that half the time I'm uncertain if what looked good in the viewfinder will transform. Stuff happens too fast and too much: typically I'll generate about 1500 shots.

A bit about expectations. First, neither the 7D nor the K-3 is among the best sports cameras out there. I'm just not good enough, and there isn't anything close to a ROI, to make it worth purchasing a Nikon D4 or a Canon MKIV and comparable superfast AF glass. But if I can freeze action, have it in focus, and have enough keepers to convey the event accurately, then I'm a happy man.

The AF settings Iím still figuring out, but this is what I used:

16. 1 Release priority

17. 1 Focus-priority

18. 3 medium


I started off mistakenly with AF.S mode but decided to go with it for a short while just to see. The results weren't terrible but having to keep pressing the AF button to track action was too much of a hassle. I always use back-button focus (that's a Canon world term).

Next I chose AF.C and somehow the spot focus was my mode. It responded OK to slower action but was outpaced overall when I simply held down the AF button and changed targets. So I again had to keep pressing the AF button to capture action in close proximity to the original target. This felt like too much nursing for fast action.

Most of my time was spent with AF.C and the Expanded Area Small setting or the Expanded Area Medium setting. I didn't see a significant difference between both of these modes.

Unlike the spot AF, I was able to keep the AF button pressed for extended periods, tracking action in and out of frame. Both modes missed about half the time, especially the first shot of a sequence. Looking at the EXIF, it seems like the AF system needed about 2 seconds to lock on the target of a moving soccer ball or player; once acquired, it would stay on target rather nicely. In comparison, my 7D would be about 20% more accurate right away. Where this really matters is when I quickly swing the camera about 30-degrees to capture a quick header 30 yards away. Once target is locked however, both the K-3 and the 7D performed about the sameówhich is saying a lot for the K-3.

Where the K-3 really excels--and this is the big gain for me--is its ability to work in lower light.

I put my 7D away if I cannot get 1/500 at ISO 3200. That means rainy grey Pacific Northwest days, and times when stadium lights are being used at dusk and later. With the K-3 I was able to get acceptable shots at dusk at ISO 6400 and then under the lights at ISO 12,800. Some of that is the Sigma's constant f4 compared with the 100-400's f4.5-5.6. But a lot is the superior sensor. It was quite satisfying being able to shoot under the lights and most likely reason enough to keep the K-3.

I have not yet performed any lens AF calibration or testing. I do use faster memory cards that claim 90+MB/second speed.

Other factors: In changing the AF and focus point modes I really started to dislike the info screen. It's annoying. There are too many unimportant options there and the presentation is too cramped. The 7D's QuickScreen has about 15 items; the Pentax, 19. The graphics on the Canon are simply easier to read and act on.

While the K-3's viewfinder is pleasant and good, the 7D's is a little larger and noticeably brighter. And the on/off grid is excellent.
The push/pull zoom control of the Canon 100-400m lens lets you change focal length a little quicker than the Sigma. That matters in a fast moving sport.

During an injury break or after a questionable call Iíll chimp to see what happened. It took way too long for a string of five shots to appear on the rear LCD immediately after the shot. I have been spoiled by the 7Dís two processors. I hope Ricoh can speed operations along some with a firmware update.

Summary: Overall,the K-3 AF is competitive with the 7D using the lenses I noted. While the 7D's AF seems 20% quicker and more accurate in good outdoor light, the K-3's superior sensor allows it to be used in darker, stadium-lighted venues. That opens significant new territory for Pentax shooters. Now Ricoh has to focus on hiccup-free performance.

I abandoned Pentax for shooting sports four years ago, so the reality that the K-3 is "good enough" for my needs is indicative of what a fine camera the K-3 is overall. Ricoh (and third parties) has to fulfill the whole promise of this good camera by releasing modern zoom super-telephoto lenses.

I hope you find this useful.

M
Wow thanks for this very usefull review.
11-19-2013, 06:01 AM   #10
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I hope K3 to be really better in Af-c mode than K5 or K5II which I own. I am professional photographer and I shoot often different indoor games - handball, volley, basket, etc ...

Danubius - Rapid - a set on Flickr

Danubius Galati - handball - a set on Flickr
11-19-2013, 01:16 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by dane.dawg Quote
Miguel great comparison of the 7D and K-3..
Thanks dane.dawg.

QuoteOriginally posted by kjg48359 Quote
Nice shots Miguel
Much appreciated kjg48359. Soccer has a lot of vertical action if one is following the ball and timing headers. My daughter is a cheerleader (flyer I think they call it) so I'm familiar with what your upcoming event will be like. I would assess the lighting, if possible, ahead of time and then choose the best lenses to take. I'd want something fast--I wish there was a Pentax equivalent to the relatively cheap Canon 85mm f1.8. I wonder if the FA 50mm 1.4 would focus quickly enough? I would aim to fill the frame about 80%, so you'll have to gauge your proximity with your lens(ses), and then decide whether a zoom or single focal length will work better. Regarding which zoom depends on how close you will be, but I'd always go with an f2.8 model. Usually high school gyms are not well lighted. I'm a big fan of the Pentax/Tokina 50-135mm f2.8 but realize that it may not focus quickly enough. It will depend on how predictable the cheerleaders' individual and group movements are per routine or whatever is being performed or judged.

QuoteOriginally posted by mille19 Quote
Nice comparison, I've tried the K3 for sports including soccer and rugby and found these settings work best for me
Thanks mile19. I'll have to try those settings. I'm working off a knowledge base built on my Canon experience and realize that has limited applicability to using a Pentax system. Gotta start somewhere.

QuoteOriginally posted by RonHendriks1966 Quote
Wow thanks for this very usefull review.
You are welcome Ron. I look forward to seeing your shots a lot.

QuoteOriginally posted by florinlib Quote
I am professional photographer and I shoot often different indoor games - handball, volley, basket, etc ...
florinlib, I liked both of those sets. I think the K-3 would be an improvement, but I'm curious why you haven't just purchased a D4? Quite frankly, if I was making my bread and butter shooting indoor sports, I'd choose the best tool for the job. I added Canon because I needed to shoot mens outdoor soccer matches for my employer who was the team's corporate sponsor. My Pentax kit at the time was simply not up for the job.

M
11-19-2013, 01:19 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
Below are several of the better shots taken from a youth premiere soccer match...
Nice shots and nice comparison... second pic is just epic (facial expressions / body language) .
11-19-2013, 01:28 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by mrNewt Quote
second pic is just epic (facial expressions / body language)
Thanks mrNewt. With kids it really is about their faces and body language. My most popular shots are not of the scoring plays, but of the happiness among the players immediately afterward.

M
11-19-2013, 01:54 PM   #14
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Nice shots. What memory card are you using? Could that be limiting the buffer?
11-19-2013, 04:37 PM   #15
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Miguel, here's some comments on your shots. First a question, are these final versions you give to the players or just SOOC? I've shot a lot of soccer and athletics with a K-5. I use raw and take quite a while (4-8 hrs) to whittle down say 1100 shots from a match to 300 and PP them. (I'm doing it for love though, not money). I'd rarely shoot above ISO1600. ISO2000 if the situation is dire. By ISO2500 I'd be desperate. Output size for SmugMug or Google+ distribution would be 1500px (max width) x 1000px (max. height). I crop freely and don't feel bound to keep to 3:2 or 2:3, particularly in a wide situation like the start of a race or in hurdles,

Shot 1. Unusual lighting conditions for me in Brisbane. No definite shadows for a shot taken at 15:44:23. 9.5 LV situation. Fully overcast? I understand why you've used f/5.6 here, but it shows the DOF problem with youth team sports where you're often interested in getting a group reaction. I'd crop this shot more to concentrate the interest and best utilise my 1500x1000 (max) final pixel budget. The sharpening here delineates the player outlines from the background, but doesn't reveal much detail. The NR at high ISO doesn't help either. I would have exported a developed, but unsharpened 16-bit TIFF of this from SilkyPix Developer Studio Pro 4, loaded that into PSP X4, created a 3-layer to 5-layer mask. I use FocusMagic, look at each player separately and see the the focus correction radius that FM suggests I use. This would determine how many separate layers I'd need. I suspect 3 (main player, other 3, background) might not be enough here. (Sometimes I create a separate layer just for the ball.) I 'd then use Topaz Labs Remask3 to mask the subject of interest in each layer (except the background layer) and apply FM selectively to just the subject(s) in that layer. The ball, if in motion at 1/500s or 1/640s, may require two different applications of FM, one for motion blur and another for focus correction.

Shot 2. I'd crop this to just 2 players, level it and increase the contrast.

Shot 3. Adjust Back Point.

Shot 4. Definitely adjust BP. I'd level this, either on the two goal post uprights (1.9į), or possibly on the top edge of the red track (1.2į)

Shot 5. It's a pity that the player on the left, who has the most interesting facial expression, is a bit OOF. I think I'd mask him and apply FM just to him. I'd also crop horiz. & vert.

Shot 6. I'd crop this to just 2 players and try increasing the sharpness, but at ISO6400 that may not be possible.

Shot 7. Nice goal shot. I think a 2-player crop would be sufficient. This would focus the attention to just the dramatic elements. Probably a close crop too. No need for the top of the goal, and in this case not much of the netting needed to the right of the ball either. However, not sure if an ISO6400 shot would stand up well to the close scrutiny after a close crop.

Shot 8. Great facial expression, pity the top of the ball and the bottom of the boots were missed. But that happens. I'd crop this to portrait orientation. No need for all that empty space on the right. The question is "What to do about the foreground player?" He's not doing much of visual interest and you can't see his face. I would either leave him fully in or just include him partially.

Shot 9. I'd definitely crop out most of the foreground grass, and maybe some of the top too.

Shot 10. 16:47:16. Shot under lights. Light down to 6.9 LV. (Actually lower when you consider the lens transmission loss.) Don't you hate it when a foreground player gets in the way? I'd crop here. Player #11 would probably get the chop as he's not directly involved near the action. At 6.9 LV (a desperate level for action), I'd be using a f/2.8 lens fully open, 1/500s & ISO3200. Possibly only suitable (for me anyway) for smaller (800x600) final images. The K-5 would not be focusing well at this light level and, with f/2.8 there would be no DOF safety margin, but I'd expect the K-3 (and perhaps the K-5II) to give a good result.

Dan.

Last edited by dosdan; 11-19-2013 at 05:07 PM.
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