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09-02-2010, 10:26 PM   #1
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New user needs help with affordable lens selection

I know this question has probably been asked and answered a thousand times, but i am bleary eyed from searching and reading on the computer. Sooo...
I need an affordable Lens for shooting indoor sporting events with ranges varying from 10 ft to probably 300 ft. I know there are some awesome lens for $700 to $1500.. but I am not a rich man... i need to know what the general concesus is for the best lower end lens. 200mm or 300mm.
I am currently using the K-X and the 18 55 kit lens. Which is good enuf for me if I can get close to the action, but usually that isnt the case.
My budget would preferably be <$400.


Thanks for your patience and help.

09-03-2010, 12:43 AM   #2
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If you're getting enough light for your purposes with the 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 lens zooming in as close as you can, you might be happy with something like the FA J f4.5-5.8 75-300mm zoom. I have one, and it works well, although it does have the annoying habit of having its zoom tube slowly extend on its own when the camera is pointed down. (Lens database entry: SMC Pentax-FA J 75-300mm F4.5-5.8 AL Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Review Database)


I also had an FA 80-200mm f 4.7-5.6 zoom, and was quite happy with the pictures I got out of it. This lens gets a lot of hate on the lens review database (SMC Pentax-FA 80-200mm F4.7-5.6 Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Review Database) so it's possible I lucked out and got one that happened to be good.

I don't think either of these lenses set me back more than $100 on Ebay.

If, however, the kit lens gives you the kind of pictures where you say "Gee, I wish the motion in this were stopped better," then neither of those two lenses is going to be any better for you.

-JRS
09-03-2010, 10:30 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by doeknoe1 Quote
I know this question has probably been asked and answered a thousand times, but i am bleary eyed from searching and reading on the computer. Sooo...
I need an affordable Lens for shooting indoor sporting events with ranges varying from 10 ft to probably 300 ft. I know there are some awesome lens for $700 to $1500.. but I am not a rich man... i need to know what the general concesus is for the best lower end lens. 200mm or 300mm.
I am currently using the K-X and the 18 55 kit lens. Which is good enuf for me if I can get close to the action, but usually that isnt the case.
My budget would preferably be <$400.


Thanks for your patience and help.
General concensus is that the Pentax DA even the DAL 55-300mm is a very good tele at a low cost. The DA will run you low 300s and the DAL about mid 200s (used).

I have the tamron 70-300 and I like it but do not love it. It is really sharp and has a macro feature that is 1:2. It has a ton of purple fringing but that will not be a problem when shooting indoors.

Now that bring me to my next point. Shooting with indoor light with a tele can be difficult since there are not many teles that are fast and cheap but your best bet would probably be the DA 55-300.
09-03-2010, 10:44 AM   #4
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I concur with the idea of the 55-300 as the best affordable telephoto for situations where you've got plenty of light. But that's seldom the case indoors. So I'd keep $50 or so in your budget aside to get a manual focus (yes, manual focus - if it was good enough for my parents, it's good enough for me) faster prime to use in cases where the 55-300 doesn't cut it. A 135/2.8 is very easy to come by at any pawn shop, on Ebay, or on KEH.com. I personally like my M135/3.5 which is slightly slower but much smaller & lighter than most 135/2.8's. Might not be longer enough a lot of the time, but you can always crop, whereas you can't go the other way if the lens is too long. Actually, the 135 *will* be too long some of the time with some sports depending on where you are shooting from so a shorter prime like a 50 makes sense to (another $50 for that).

09-03-2010, 12:22 PM   #5
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Look out - math involved!

Marc, I know you dislike math, but here we go again

For all to remember,

Image size = Subject size X focal length / Distance

If I take the OP's criteria, and consider that they would like a ful length shot on the long axis of the sensor (24mm roughly) and we want a full body shot, so a person on average 1.7 meters tall, his stated working distance of 10 feet to 300 feet result in a lens that is a zoom 42mm to 1400mm.

Clearly this is not achievable. and at 1400mm, to get a reasonable shutter speed I would question needing at least F5.6

Now look at what that implies in terms of diameter of the front element. Even if something like this could be made, I doubt very much that it could be lifted.

OK so we cant have it all, let's be more reasonable.

the 42mm short end is practical.

on the long end, we will assume horizontal shots only, and perhaps image height at 1/2 the frame, not full frame height.

with these 2 considerations, we would come to 42mm-470mm zoom.

Now we are talking practical, this is looking a lot like a BIGMA to get useable images over the entire range.

This is what the OP has asked for, but it is out of his budget.

the 55-300 you have recomended will reach out to perhaps 180 feet as opposed to 300 feet, all other criteria unchanged.

this lens plus pushing ISO with a newer camera might just do the trick, at least within budget, but will fall short at the long end the OP has asked for.

I guess the real question is, where will you be 300 feet away in an indoor venue, except perhaps a baseball park or way up/ back in the stands of a professional hockey arena (200 feet end to end) and even then you are at the opposite end of play. Is the OP's request for 300 foot range practical?
09-03-2010, 12:24 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by KxBlaze Quote
General concensus is that the Pentax DA even the DAL 55-300mm is a very good tele at a low cost. The DA will run you low 300s and the DAL about mid 200s (used).

I have the tamron 70-300 and I like it but do not love it. It is really sharp and has a macro feature that is 1:2. It has a ton of purple fringing but that will not be a problem when shooting indoors.

Now that bring me to my next point. Shooting with indoor light with a tele can be difficult since there are not many teles that are fast and cheap but your best bet would probably be the DA 55-300.
If money is Really tight, the Tamron isn't a bad way to go. Yes it has PF issues on high contrast situations (depending on the actual lighting), however, it's a quite capable lens.

Show Tamron - a set on Flickr

I don't love it as much as I would like to meaning it doesn't get used very much but I keep it around just as a beater (that never gets abused ).

09-03-2010, 07:53 PM   #7
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Another way to go is Tokina lenses. Tokina was started by some Nikon lens engineers who wanted to do zoom lenses years ago and Nikon did not do zooms. Tokina and Pentax have teamed up in the past to do a number of lenses (10-17, 12-24, 16-50, 50-135). They are good quality. See the third party lens review here...Due to the association with Pentax, Tokina no longer does K mount lenses (the newer lenses, but the older lenses are available), but they did in the past. So there are a lot of them out there. They are manual. The EL is their entry level. The AT-X, Pro and RMC are their best. Most are built like a tank - metal and glass. I have some friends that use them and love them. They are also relatively inexpensive, especially for Pentax since no one really follows them.I would use the user reviews and prices as a guide here on the forum. Wait and watch. You can also google the lens and see what the Canon and Nikon shooters say about that particular lens - since Tokina produces them for Canon, Nikon and Pentax.


Last edited by interested_observer; 09-03-2010 at 08:07 PM.
09-03-2010, 08:31 PM   #8
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I would go with the Pentax 55-300 for around $350 . But if you want to save half that money and willing to put up with heavier/larger zoom, you can get a used Pentax 80-320, but that leave you some gap between 55mm to 80mm .

09-04-2010, 02:47 AM   #9
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300 ft would be the extreme maximum and i was considering the length of a soccer or football field... Indoor max shooting range would be under 200 ft, probably closer to 150-75.
Thanks for the equation...
09-04-2010, 04:25 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by doeknoe1 Quote
300 ft would be the extreme maximum and i was considering the length of a soccer or football field... Indoor max shooting range would be under 200 ft, probably closer to 150-75.
Thanks for the equation...
Given your answer, a lens that tops out at 300 mm should do

Personally I would want faster than the 55-300 but that is just me, and if you are on a tight budget I can understand

Regarding the equation I thought it would be useful to explain why I took the position I did. I have used this equation many times when planning what to bring
09-04-2010, 09:44 AM   #11
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I should not that I do have a degree in math, so I'm not completely opposed to its use :-). But still, I tend to prefer relying on my empirical observations where possible when it comes to this kind of thing. I don't do a lot of sports, but I *have* done more than enough to know that filling the frame with a person from across an outdoor field takes way more than 300mm - that much more so if you are not right on the sideline. And also enough to know that if you *are* close, and want a full person to even fit in the frame, you want something below 100mm. And also enough to know that even at ISO 1600 or higher, you'll often be struggling to get fast enough shutter speeds to stop motion indoors with a typical consumer zoom.

Those three data points, combined with knowing what I know about the general availability and pricing of lenses, is what led me to the answer I gave - you'll want something like the 55-300 for maximum focal length flexibility outdoors, and assuming you don't want to shell out the bucks for a fast AF zoom indoors, a manual focus prime or two for indoor situations where the 55-300 isn't cutting it. Some might choose to pass on the MF primes and just keep raising ISO higher and higher and stick to the zoom, and that *can* work, but I personally would probably put the zoom away indoors. Then again, I'm pretty comfortable with MF, particularly with telephoto lenses (I find it harder with wider angle lenses, as subjects usually aren't rendered large enough).
09-04-2010, 10:14 AM   #12
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Indoor sports means a faster lens and that rules out many of the consumer priced zooms. A lot depends on the indoor venue you are shooting. At our local high school gym, I use the M135/3.5 Marc mentioned for basketball games with good results. That won't work for nosebleed seats in a large arena built for professional sports. Whether or not you need 300mm will depend on where you shoot.
09-04-2010, 12:35 PM   #13
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I answered the way I did because the OP said his existing 18-55 was okay, just not long enough. Based on the specs of that lens, I assumed a consumer long zoom that is only slightly slower would be good enough. I also assumed that the OP would continue to want AF. I chose the 75-300 because I have one in my bag, and I've used it and gotten good pictures through it.

Having saved the OP half his budget, I would recommend saving it and saving up more toward the purchase of a fast(er) normal to short telephoto prime. The 40mm f2.8, 50mm f1.4, or my personal favorite, the 100mm dfa f2.8 macro lens. Any of those will set you back between 350 and 600 bucks or so, even on ebay (I checked).

If the OP isn't averse to manual focus, the world opens up, but that's a whole other topic.

I'm not an expert photographer (and the experts in the crowd are going "no kidding" here), so take my advice with that grain of salt.

-JRS
09-05-2010, 05:28 AM   #14
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Marc. Was just having a little fun here

Main point I was making is that while experienced photographers know what is practical and may be able to try things because they have a lens selection, new photographers don't always have either experience or a lens to try with. In that case the formula is a good tool. It also showed the impracticality of the op's initial shooting range

In many cases a little thinking like this can go a long way to help guide someone in the right direction
09-05-2010, 11:33 AM   #15
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Very good points, and yes, I realized that your comments were in jest.
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