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View Poll Results: New body, New Flash, or New lens?
K20D 116.67%
Flash Unit 233.33%
New Glass 350.00%
Voters: 6. You may not vote on this poll

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12-07-2010, 02:41 PM   #1
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"new" body or new flash?

Ok, so I'm in quite the pickle here. I currently have a K200D body and a couple lenses, a Sigma 17-70 and a Tamron 70-300 4-5.6. Love these lenses and the combinations; that's not the problem. In fact, for outdoor sports, this is a great combo.

For indoor sports, however, this ain't cutting it. Even at ISO 1600 (the max ISO on the K200D), I can't get the shutter speed fast enough to properly exposure a shot. In basketball, there's too much blur. Using the pop-up flash gives TERRIBLE results.

So I have two options, as I see it. Get a new body or get a flash unit.
1. New body
I'm currently saving for a K-5 (who isn't right?) but that's some time down the road. I thought about "transitioning" to a K20D which has a max ISO of 6400. I'm not sure how this translates into shutter speed though. With the K200D, I can shoot around 1/80 with a lot of motion blur. I know that if I could shoot at 1/150 or 1/180, I could freeze the action no problem. Would the increase in the ISO of the K20D accomplish such a large increase in shutter speed? I don't want to spend the money to find out that this isn't a good solution.

2. Flash unit
Specifically the Sigma EF-500 DG Super or its upgrade. Pros: This is something that I can use when I upgrade to the K-5 in a year or two. Cons: I hate shooting with flash indoors, at least from my experience with the lousy built-in flash. Is the flash unit that much of an upgrade that I'll be pleased to shoot with flash when necessary? BUT there's the possibility that the flash won't "fill" the gym or that the flash will yield poor results in the situation/environment I need it for. Will I be able to use this flash at 1/180 to freeze action indoors with moving subjects? Of course, there's the learning curve, but I'm a pretty smart guy; I think I can figure it out. With the flash comes the bracket and cable for off-camera shooting. Is this a better solution? It would be slightly cheaper than the K20D upgrade, saving me more money towards the K-5. So that's a plus. Of course, I don't want to look like a dork as the only parent in the stands shooting this huge DSLR with an off-camera flash. Do ya'll that do this get "looks" from others?

Getting a new lens is not really an option at this point, unless that's the only option. Any recommendations for fast glass around $200-$300?

12-07-2010, 03:00 PM   #2
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Two things:

1) How far away are your subjects? The newest Sigma flashes have a maximum guide number of 61m. That means it has a 10.9m "reach" at f/5.6, at ISO 100. (Every two stops of increase in ISO doubles this reach.) That doesn't mean the flash won't be annoying or that it will look good, but you will light the subject.

2) You don't need to have a shutter speed of 1/180th or faster, because the flash burst will be around that duration or less, and it's the principle factor in exposure when it's the main light.
12-07-2010, 07:24 PM   #3
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You may not be allowed to use flash at indoor events.

Flash will not evenly illuminate a whole gym, and likely not even your subject. At 15 feet your subject may be properly lit, but the background at 30 feet will be a couple stops underexposed.

Faster lenses, my friend...and for $200-300 it will probably be used, if not manual operation. You could try a 50mm in the f1.4 variety, but then the thin depth of field will be your focusing problem.

I'd go with the K-x instead of the K20D for the interim - it has better high-ISO performance to gain a stop or two.
12-08-2010, 07:17 AM   #4
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Matt, I checked your fantastic website. It was a lot of help. I appreciate the time and effort it must have taken to put that together. If I buy a flash, do you get $$$ if I click through your website? AND...if I were to use ISO 500, would that mean the "reach" of the flash would be
~55m?

Special K, I have an M-50 1.7, which I love. But the 50 is too wide for this purpose. That's why I have the 70-300 on the camera through the whole game. Thus, my requirements. But I will peruse the lens database here to find a suitable lens. That's not really what I want though.

If I buy the K20D, I know I'll sell it for half it's value in 2 years in order to upgrade to the K-5. At least with the flash, I could use it in other applications and keep it forever, presumably. But I soooo hate to shoot with the flash now (the pop-up flash on the the K200D) that I'm worried that I will hate the flash unit as well, so I'll spend $250 for a solution that doesn't satisfy. For those that have upgraded to a flash gun, was it worth the money?

12-08-2010, 07:55 AM   #5
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I guess I would agree with the kx recommendation combined with a flash (maybe look at a Vivitar 285?). It doesn't look like you have any sealed lenses at this point and so your benefit moving to a sealed body is probably minimal versus the kx. As far as "bang for your buck," a flash will beat glass any day of the week.
12-08-2010, 11:14 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by tele_pathic Quote
With the K200D, I can shoot around 1/80 with a lot of motion blur. I know that if I could shoot at 1/150 or 1/180, I could freeze the action no problem. Would the increase in the ISO of the K20D accomplish such a large increase in shutter speed? I don't want to spend the money to find out that this isn't a good solution.
From ISO 1600 to ISO 6400 is two stops, so you can increase shutter speed from 1/80 to 1/320. If this is all you need, you're pretty close, so a lot of ideas proposed here would work.

QuoteQuote:
BUT there's the possibility that the flash won't "fill" the gym or that the flash will yield poor results in the situation/environment I need it for. Will I be able to use this flash at 1/180 to freeze action indoors with moving subjects?
Yes, but as mentioned above, the background is going to be darker. You might have enough gym light to get a decent shot, not quite as bad as photos from 40 years ago where the court looks like it's surrounded by a black curtain.

QuoteQuote:
Of course, I don't want to look like a dork as the only parent in the stands shooting this huge DSLR with an off-camera flash. Do ya'll that do this get "looks" from others?
My dad used to say that the photographer is invisible - he was 6'2", 220, with a TLR, giant flash and 10 pound battery for the flash. You'll get looks, just think of them as admiring.

QuoteQuote:
Getting a new lens is not really an option at this point, unless that's the only option. Any recommendations for fast glass around $200-$300?
I would try a cheap 135mm f2.8 manual prime just to see how it worked. You'd have to prefocus, work out exposures in advance, and it would be annoying. But you could try it for maybe $30 and it would give you an idea of what you'd get from the DA 50-135/2.8. (I'm not suggesting the quality of the DA, just framing and exposure data.) There's a handful of lenses within your budget, but if you really need 1.5-2 stops over the Tamron, that puts you at f2.4-f2.8. That puts you more in the $500-1000 category.

QuoteOriginally posted by tele_pathic Quote
If I buy the K20D, I know I'll sell it for half it's value in 2 years in order to upgrade to the K-5. At least with the flash, I could use it in other applications and keep it forever, presumably. But I soooo hate to shoot with the flash now (the pop-up flash on the the K200D) that I'm worried that I will hate the flash unit as well, so I'll spend $250 for a solution that doesn't satisfy. For those that have upgraded to a flash gun, was it worth the money?
I don't consider myself a flash person at all, but I think it's an essential item to have. With your Sigma 17-70, it's an awesome family photo machine. With the 50/1.7, you can make a beautiful studio portrait, if you could make your subject sit still for just another minute. But with a flash, you can take photos of people laughing spontaneously, unposed.
12-08-2010, 11:15 AM   #7
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+1 for the Kx recommendation. I do not see how a flash would help you in a gym and a fast tele lens is going to be much more than a brand new Kx body. I have shot my Kx indoors at 6400 ISO with minimal noise and I think at 6400 with the lenses you already have will suit your needs. You can get a new Kx body for well under $500 or used for under $400.
12-08-2010, 03:10 PM   #8
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Faster Lens is what you need! F2.8 is usually always better for low light, like what you are doing

12-09-2010, 07:19 AM   #9
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No K-x for me. I would almost consider that a downgrade. Great camera, don't get me wrong. I'm sure the K-x would handle everything I throw at it, and its ISO capabilities outshine the
K200D to be certain. The lack of an LCD screen on top is a dealbreaker, though. And it's only a lateral/sideways move at best, moving from one entry-level dslr to another entry-level.

I've about decided on the flash unit and bracket. It's about time I learned to use flash and the holidays approaching is as good an excuse as any. And as I've thought about some of the shots I've missed in the past, I really believe a flash could have "made" those shots. And it's something I can keep and use forever, whereas the K20D body I'd sell in order to upgrade to the K-5.

Bottom line: I'll get the flash now and save, save, save for the K-5 in another year or so. Thanks for everyone's input. BTW, I'm going with the Sigma EF-500 DG Super flash unit, a Custom Brackets folding bracket, a softbox flash cover and one of the hard plastic flash covers, and the sync cord to shoot off-camera. I'm pumped.
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