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06-06-2011, 02:08 PM   #1
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Kx and going to a Formula 1 race - which lens?

Hi, I'm a newbie

I'm also rather a newbie to the world of SLR cameras!

My husband bought me a Pentax Kx for Christmas and I've been experimenting but blindly getting some good shots by luck I think. I do want to learn though and will put myself on a course very soon.

We're going to the British Grand Prix in 4 weeks time and I want to take some rather awesome pictures if I can. We've got seats on Club Corner which I understand has a bend and a straight bit of track.

I currently only have the lens that came with the Kx - a 18mm-55mm. I want to buy a longer lens and have read up a bit on here that the Pentax 55mm-300mm is a sweet lens but it's a little out of my price range currently due to an expensive holiday booked a few weeks ago (which I might add is to San Fran/Las Vegas/Orlando/Miami and of course I will be taking pictures there too if that affects anyone's opinion on lenses?)

What would people's current suggestions be and why? Any other lenses that you would recommend too? What about filters? I heard that any Pentax lens will work on my Kx - to what extent is this true?

I really don't know much at all so please be patient and thank you in advance!

06-06-2011, 02:13 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Run_Lola Quote
Hi, I'm a newbie

I'm also rather a newbie to the world of SLR cameras!

My husband bought me a Pentax Kx for Christmas and I've been experimenting but blindly getting some good shots by luck I think. I do want to learn though and will put myself on a course very soon.

We're going to the British Grand Prix in 4 weeks time and I want to take some rather awesome pictures if I can. We've got seats on Club Corner which I understand has a bend and a straight bit of track.

I currently only have the lens that came with the Kx - a 18mm-55mm. I want to buy a longer lens and have read up a bit on here that the Pentax 55mm-300mm is a sweet lens but it's a little out of my price range currently due to an expensive holiday booked a few weeks ago (which I might add is to San Fran/Las Vegas/Orlando/Miami and of course I will be taking pictures there too if that affects anyone's opinion on lenses?)

What would people's current suggestions be and why? Any other lenses that you would recommend too? What about filters? I heard that any Pentax lens will work on my Kx - to what extent is this true?

I really don't know much at all so please be patient and thank you in advance!
Not sure what the situation is in the UK with rentals, but over here you can rent a nice heavy f/2.8 tele zoom for a weekend for ~$100 or so. Probably a better idea than bypassing a quality lens and spending money on a subpar one just for one event.

edit: if you do want to buy a cheapo lens, I think the Tamron 70-300 is a pretty good value, and is decently sharp if you stop it down a bit.
06-06-2011, 02:24 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum.
You will be limited to what you can get given your budget, but the Tamron 70-300 is a decent consumer AF lens. Otherwise, a manual focus lens like the Pentax M 200mm f/4 isn't a bad choice, but they can be hard to find. Try your luck on this forum's marketplace and you might find what you're after.
06-06-2011, 02:51 PM   #4
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I doubt a manual-focus lens will provide good results at a race. Perhaps after using one for some time to get used it, though.

My lens suggestions for that event are more expensive than the Pentax 55-300, so just get the Tamron or Sigma 70-300 and it should provide acceptable results - but not the rather awesome ones you want.


Last edited by SpecialK; 06-06-2011 at 04:42 PM.
06-06-2011, 03:00 PM   #5
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I would second the option of renting lenses. Here is one company in the UK. I have seen their website. No idea of how good or bad they are. There may be other options. Google and see.

Hire - SRS Microsystems

Try the Pentax DA 50-135, it is a fast lens but its not huge like the 70-200 lenses. Or you could rent the 55-300 which would be cheaper and you could possibly get acceptable results with this slower lens even though it has a longer zoom.

Try the following settings:
Mode: Shoot in Tv mode, set it at 1/1000
ISO: Auto ISO setting-keep the range from 100-1600 or so
AF-C for focus but I am not sure how the Kr does with this, so you may just not want to fool with the auto-focus setting. Plus you need some practice shooting with AF-C.

Shoot some test shots, if 1/1000 is too dark, increase the amount of light by lowering the Tv setting to 1/750 or 1/500 until acceptable.

Best of luck.
06-06-2011, 03:02 PM   #6
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Im not sure if the da55-300 or the tamron 70-300 would be fast enough for f1 racing. Dont those cars travel at 180 easily. Weather wise will be a key factor if you use these lenses. Howver for the price range of the tamron lens im not sure what choices there are left. Youd have to look into a used pentax m. Depending on your distace away you could get a 135mm 3.5 or even a 2.5. Both fine lenses and has a little bit more speed.

If you could rent id go for the 70-200 2.8 from tamron.
06-06-2011, 03:12 PM   #7
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since its just a one time thing, i vote for renting a big fast lens.
Save whatever money you have leftover to start saving up for some more fast glass of your own.

the 35mm f/2.4 lens is a great and affordable lens for fun pictures while on vacation thanks to its small size, fast aperture and "normal" focal length (not too wide, not too tele). If you dont mind manually focusing, you can find plenty of great used prime lenses that will also produce great pictures (ie 28mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.7, 50mm f/2) If there is a zoom setting that you find yourself leaving your kit lens at all the time, it might be a good idea to buy a prime lens at that focal length, as the image quality of any decent prime will beat the kit lens at that focal length.

as for using any pentax lenses, if it has a k-mount on it, it will work. Lenses that do not support auto aperture will require you to use stop down metering or shoot wide open in Av mode. You'll also lose pttl functionality for your flash, so be careful when using it with these lenses. M42 lenses require an adapter and function similarly to the lenses without auto aperture.
06-06-2011, 03:17 PM   #8
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Here's 2 photos I took with the K-x + 55-300 at the Australian GP. I used ISO400, shutter 1/640 to 1/1000, wide open aperture most of the time (should have been all the time), Hi-continuous mode, AF-C & jpeg only. The camera did a terrific job, however I did have to quick shift the focus off the debris quite a bit.

You need every mm of 300mm, a 50-200 or 50-135 would not be long enough. I think a 200-400 f2.8 zoom would be ideal

My 2 lessons learned were: 1) I needed to get much closer (within a few feet) to the debris fence and always shoot wide open (I was 4 meters back and that is too far to blur out fence completely). 2) to shoot with a slower shutter speed if I can see the wheels so the cars don't look parked on the track








Last edited by twitch; 06-06-2011 at 03:24 PM.
06-06-2011, 03:35 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by psychdoc Quote
I would second the option of renting lenses. Here is one company in the UK. I have seen their website. No idea of how good or bad they are. There may be other options. Google and see.

Hire - SRS Microsystems

Try the Pentax DA 50-135, it is a fast lens but its not huge like the 70-200 lenses. Or you could rent the 55-300 which would be cheaper and you could possibly get acceptable results with this slower lens even though it has a longer zoom.

Try the following settings:
Mode: Shoot in Tv mode, set it at 1/1000
ISO: Auto ISO setting-keep the range from 100-1600 or so
AF-C for focus but I am not sure how the Kr does with this, so you may just not want to fool with the auto-focus setting. Plus you need some practice shooting with AF-C.

Shoot some test shots, if 1/1000 is too dark, increase the amount of light by lowering the Tv setting to 1/750 or 1/500 until acceptable.

Best of luck.
I forgot to add but someone mentioned it in their post: You need to shoot at Hi continous mode too.

I have not been to a car race but I guess it depends on how far you are sitting from the action as to what length you would need.
06-06-2011, 03:51 PM   #10
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I know you said it is beyond your budget but I think the Pentax DA 55-300 is the best consumer zoom you can get for your two trips. I doubt you could justify it for the race only but with the trip to the states as well maybe you could. It is not as fast as some but it is very small and light which makes it ideal to travel with.

One other thing to think about is you might want to get in some practice "panning". This is not a natural process but it will help you get better shots at the race. it might look silly standing by the road side and taking pictures of cars as they whizz but you will be better prepared for what to expect at the race.
06-06-2011, 05:56 PM   #11
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If you think that the DA 55-300mm as expensive, maybe the DA L version would be within your reach since you will only add a couple more dollars from the Tamron ($160-$180).
The DA L version 55-300mm would set you back around $200-$250.
The DA version 55-300mm is around $300-$350+ even upto $400.
It is the same lens formula except for the plastic mount, no quick-shift focus and no lens hood (I think also no distance markers).
06-06-2011, 08:38 PM   #12
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If you're going to be in the states aren't things cheaper for you here? Maybe you should pick up the DA 55-300 while you're state side for your trip. That wouldn't help for your race, but it would help your kit. Otherwise, I'm very happy with my tamron 75-300 for birds and the like and it only cost me 115 US.
06-06-2011, 10:17 PM   #13
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A zoom, and the longer the better, no doubt about it. I use the 80-250 at an oval track (Tipperary motor speedway.) and often wish for something up to 400mm although that would bring another set of problems altogether. All the pictures on this site are taken with a K10 or K5 (bar one) using either the 80 - 200 or 60 - 250mm

Having said that as you can't get particularly close to the action at Silverstone a fixed telephoto will probably do as you will not be varying the distance between yourself and the subject to any great degree. Speed of focussing is not a problem as you can pre focus and I have found with the K5 shooting on tracking mode can lead to dramatic over exposure when chasing a subject anyway. The attached picture was taken with the K10 and 50 - 200mm from about 15 metres, the bike would be doing 60 mph through this bend so many things are possible without great expense.

One thing is for sure, you'll probably take several dozen shots before they start to come right, timing is of the essence and TBH you are better off taking well timed single frames rather than relying on machine gunning a car as then you are just falling back on luck rather than judgement. Anticipation is the key here.

Good luck with it all, enjoy Silverstone and remember there are also some beautiful villages built of the warm Northamptonshire sandstone in the area that are well worth exploring with a camera. I used to live just 12 miles from the circuit but never got to the see a race there!
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Last edited by justinr; 06-06-2011 at 10:35 PM.
06-07-2011, 12:03 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
Here's 2 photos I took with the K-x + 55-300 at the Australian GP. I used ISO400, shutter 1/640 to 1/1000, wide open aperture most of the time (should have been all the time), Hi-continuous mode, AF-C & jpeg only. The camera did a terrific job, however I did have to quick shift the focus off the debris quite a bit.

You need every mm of 300mm, a 50-200 or 50-135 would not be long enough. I think a 200-400 f2.8 zoom would be ideal

My 2 lessons learned were: 1) I needed to get much closer (within a few feet) to the debris fence and always shoot wide open (I was 4 meters back and that is too far to blur out fence completely). 2) to shoot with a slower shutter speed if I can see the wheels so the cars don't look parked on the track





This is the way to go except the shutter could have been slower with more of a pan. Slower would blur the wheels and give that impression of motion.
If you can get out of the stand and close to the fence then do it. Don't think you need a fast shutter speed because the cars are going fast. If you use a fast shutter speed you might end up with shots that look like the cars are parked on the track. You either need to find a spot where something is happening (your corner from the stand might be ok) like cars jumping over the kerb or wheels locking and bursts of tyre smoke and freeze that action with a fast shutter speed or use a slower shutter speed and pan. Panning blurs the background and gives the impression of motion. You don't need a fast lens.
That panning action might be something to practice first. You'll get lots of throwaways.
The support races might be the time when you can get out and get the best shots. Maybe save the main race to watch and enjoy and take a few from the stand just to show "that's Seb in the lead" and "there he is again, in the lead", "look, red bull first and then daylight" ...

I'd go for the 55-300 DA-L. 300 is a bit short for from the stand but the flexibility is there. There might be more going on around the track than on it and times and the flexibility of a zoom would be handy.

Last edited by Bill_R; 06-07-2011 at 12:14 AM.
06-07-2011, 01:20 AM   #15
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Slightly off topic,as you have plenty of good suggestions about lenses, I thouight I'd suggest you have a look here Racing Photography
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