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02-15-2018, 08:58 PM   #1
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Need help shooting HS football with K3-II.....

I upgraded from a Pentax k20d to a k3-ii and trying to figure the best setting for shooting high school football.

My equipment is a k3-ii, and a Pentax smc-fa 80-200 f2.8 usually on a mono pod. Its usually afternoon in good light, but for varsity next year some games will be at night. I can usually get right under one of the goal posts and can get pretty close. If Im shooting midfield I am stuck up in the bleachers.

I always had problems with the k20d, and seem to be late or out of focus, and it was more luck than skill. I also notice there doesn't seem to be a setting to trigger the shutter when someone runs into focus on the k3-ii...

What settings should I set the k3-II for, there is no sports mode. I have plenty of little league and basketball games coming up and I could use some starting points.....

02-15-2018, 09:24 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I've pitched at Adam the idea of writing a beginner's guide to action and sports, Mapguy.

Briefly, I'd say you're better off on the field than up in the bleachers, so you can shoot under the eyeline of the players. If you can roam up along one of the sidelines and back, so much the better, or your pictures will tend to look the same ... it will appear you're not trying.

Only shoot the action in your half of the field coming towards you, anything on the far side of the ground is going to have ugly backgrounds in focus and you'll lose a lot of pixels when you crop.

Because it's an environment where other players will get between you and the subject you're tracking, a combination of AF-C, back button focus, Expanded Area Focus (M) and AF Hold Status (M) may be a good place to start. I do understand that your old K-20 did not do many of these things.

Last edited by clackers; 02-15-2018 at 09:30 PM.
02-15-2018, 10:11 PM   #3
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To be honest I come from the old film days, I understand aperture, shutter priority, and iso. I'm going to have to look up all the stuff you mentioned in the manual :-)

But thats what I am looking for, when I was trying to catch the action by pressing the shutter half way to focus, tracking the action, then taking the shot was not working that well for me. The lens helped me take some great shots, but it was just luck and the f2.8 DOF.

It might help if you can explain why those settings are good, so I can understand how the camera works and how the settings change things....
02-15-2018, 11:41 PM   #4
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G'day mate,

There's some good suggestions provided by clackers and is pretty much what I use when shooting motor racing and surfing, the two sports I tend to shoot. I won't pre-empt clackers response but I will say that back button focus (BBF) is excellent for sports as it allows you to use the back button to lock the focus on and the shutter button is only used to release the shutter. This means none of that half shutter press to get AF to lock on. It is so much more natural when shooting sports as subjects come and go and BBF makes it really easy to track your subjects.

One area I differ to clackers suggestions is to use priority release for AF. I have used focus priority but found this less successful with motorsports. All the setting does is allow the shutter to be released without AF being definitely locked on. If you select focus priority the shutter won't release until it has locked onto something. This MIGHT delay your capture past the point you wanted to capture and then the part it's focused on may not be the one you wanted. I suggest you try both and see which one works for you.

I also often use just the centre focal point and frame my subject in the centre of the frame. This is slightly different to what was suggested above but I also use the expanded area too. Trying both might change how successful you are and the best way of working out which is best is to try both and do some chimping to see if one way works better than another. Something that might work well is to use the expanded area with a mid range aperture of f4 to f5.6 as with multiple subjects you may not get all of them in focus but enough of the important ones to make the shot successful. A wider aperture may not give you this if AF is locked on a less important person in the frame than those you wanted.

I shoot with a K-1 and for sports I like to use constant-high drive mode setting as opposed to single shots. The aim being to capture a sequence of images but it is easy to overfill the buffer so this approach requires a good understanding of when to commence a sequence of shots and when to stop. The better you are at reading a game the more successful you will be when capturing images in either single shot or constant shooting mode. Again I recommend you try both to find your preference and it may be that a combination is going to work best for different stages of a game.

With the 80-200 you have a flexible tool to use when tracking your subjects. I'd suggest that as you take up each new position you work out what the best focal length/field of view (FOV) will work for that spot. I'd then recommend you push the focal length wider so when you start tracking the action you can have better situational awareness of what's going on around your subject. For example you may commence tracking a player with the lens at 80mm and using the back button to focus on your subject. You expect to zoom to say 120mm to get right in on the action but are waiting for a tackle or something similar. By being wider when you start to track your subject you can see more of what's going on around them, can see what's coming into frame and can better anticipate when to release the shutter. Of course the closer you get the less this will work but again being able to read the plays will make all the difference.

I usually shoot in one of two modes, these being shutter priority and TaV mode. When there's good light shutter priority is simple and works well. You can push ISO up if needed to suit if the aperture gets too wide to suit you. Where the light is variable or low TaV mode will let you set your shutter speed and aperture and the camera will set the ISO to suit the light available. In essence ISO is floating to match the conditions. If you are going to use TaV mode I recommend you look up how to set the ISO maximum setting to avoid extremely high ISO's. As shutter speed will be driving this you can choose to go to a wider aperture before the camera automatically selects ISO 12800 or something like that.

I use a monopod when shooting sports. It helps with the extra weight and provides a stable footing for the camera to rotate around when tracking subjects. Sometimes I shoot without it but with heavy lenses and long focal lengths the mono makes a big difference.

I also like to shoot with slower shutter speeds when possible as this accentuates the sense of speed and motion. It's worth giving this a go though expect a lower success rate than keeping speeds above 1/500s or so. If for example you get a footballer running up the side line and you can successfully track him at 1/100s or so you might get something really cool. It's hard to do right but very rewarding when it comes off. Look for a subject running from one side to the other in front of you, and lock onto the centre of the body and keep the AF point in that same position as they cross in front of you. This style of shooting works better with AF focus priority so you get less missed shots. Remember that camera movement must match your subject or this is not likely to work.

Hopefully this novel will be of use, and last suggestion I have is to jump over to this thread: Sports photography - single images - and check out some of those shooting sports with Pentax kit. There's some examples of the type of shoots you're planning to do and hopefully you'll be prepared to share some of your captures with us too.


02-16-2018, 05:25 AM   #5
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That was awesome thanks so much, I read about the back button last night. That seems so much more naturual and should help a lot. A ton of things to play with.
02-16-2018, 01:19 PM   #6
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Tas -
Very good stuff!

It will help (or serve as a reminder for) many here on the forum.

Many thanks for such a thoughtful response. Just another example of why I love this forum.

Last edited by AggieDad; 02-16-2018 at 05:29 PM. Reason: Moved the closed paren
02-26-2018, 10:01 AM   #7
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Here's a thread where I was having some issues focusing with sports shots and a K-3ii: <a href='http://<a href="" target="_blank"></a>' target="_blank">Contrast AF modes? Need help with sharper images. -

Not that I'm an expert sports shooter, but my basic tips for this are:

- Shoot TAv
- Don't be afraid to let ISO float to almost anywhere it needs. A focused shot with high shutter speed (say, 1/1250th) at ISO 12800 is probably going to be better than one with slower shutter than you really need.
- Wide open apertures rarely work for me. Maybe if you have an awesome f/2.8 zoom with a fast focus motor, but my best results are at f/7.1 or thereabouts.
- SEL2 or SEL3 on autofocus seem to give me better results.
- Back button focus is your friend. It took me a while to adjust, and I missed shots in the transition, but now it's second nature and it just works better.

With those things in place and reasonably good technique I get a fair number of keepers even with an old 55-300 screw drive lens.

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