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01-12-2012, 11:51 PM   #1
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Which lens is best for action shots?

I need advice on a lens for action shots. My son is on his high school's JROTC Drill team. The team spins replica M-1 Garand rifles. Most of the drill meets are indoors with less than optimum lighting. While taking photos I don't like to use a flash because I don't want to mess them up during the routine and close-up photos aren't really an option. He is in 9th grade now so I figure I have 3 more years to practice getting the ultimate shot of him spinning. This would also be a future purchase, I have a feeling I will need to save up for this purchase. What lens would you recommend for this purpose?

01-13-2012, 12:06 AM   #2
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you'd be surprised how fast drill teams can get their cadets good at spinning and tossing rifles anywho, your best bet from my experience is probably a fast mid-ranged zoom like the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 or the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. The range is wide enough to get the group formation shots but lets you zoom in tight enough to get shots of individual cadets.
01-13-2012, 12:45 AM   #3
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Assuming a person 180 cm tall (standing) at 15 meters, you need (roughly) a 135mm lens to make the person fill the frame (camera in landscape position). If you're 30 meters away or if the person is half the size, double the focal length if you want to fill the frame. You can take the maths from there.

If the above option (by adpo) is too short, look at 70-200/2.8 lenses (Sigma and Tamron; not sure which one focuses faster as I don't have either) or the DA*50-135.
01-13-2012, 01:47 AM   #4
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In this case the focus speed may not be as important as shutter speed. In low light you will want to be able to use a high ISO and large aperture so you can maximize shutter speed.
If you are in the bleachers and want a shot of him only vs. the whole team you should check out a 70-200 2.8 as Sterretje indicated above. Sigma or Tamron. .

01-13-2012, 03:25 AM   #5
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My first impulse would be to go with the 70-200mm f2.8 which sterretje mentioned. I've done a fair amount shooting with my Tamron 70-200mm f2.8, and it works fine in a lot of different situations. Small theaters, auditoriums, outdoor concerts, day and night.
At f2.8, it gives you a lot of leeway in shooting existing light, without getting too high up the ASA/ISO scale, so noise can be minimalized. Also, with the large lens opening, you will have a better chance of making your son the main subject of your pictures, by blurring the back and foreground.
By adding a little distance between you and your son, it gives him a chance to concentrate on his drill, rather than worrying about messing up while mom or dad is close by, taking pictures. It gives you both a chance to relax and stay comfortable.
With the faster lens, you will be able to use faster shutter speeds, at a given ISO, so you can freeze the rifles as they are tossed or spun by the ROTC team. If you have time or the inclination, you might want to take a few shots with a slower shutter speed to show the movement of the rifles, while the members of the team stand in fixed positions.
Not knowing all the variables you will be facing, I've got this suggestion:
I've found it really helpful to attend rehearsal/practices. It gives you the advantage of finding the best vantage points for taking the pictures you want. You will know what will happen before it happens, where to be for that perfect shot. You will know which direction people will be facing, where they will be moving, turning, etc., and when. And if you can't move around, hopefully, find the best spot to plant yourself for the event. Bring your camera and take test shots with the lenses you might want to use, from the spots you might want to shoot from. Review these test shots, to see what works and what doesn't.This will also give you a more accurate idea of what shutter speeds, ISO settings, color temp, lens focal length, places and distances you will be shooting from. By doing this, I think you will be able to answer some of your own questions, and establish a personal comfort level for your work. Then when the time comes, you will be as prepared and ready as your son.
Good Luck!
01-13-2012, 06:46 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by adpo Quote
your best bet from my experience is probably a fast mid-ranged zoom like the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 or the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8.
I have the tamron 17-50-2.8 but for what you describe the Tamron 28-75-2.8 would probably fit the bill...

QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
If the above option (by adpo) is too short, look at 70-200/2.8 lenses (Sigma and Tamron;
OR The DA*50-135 2.8... I'd be tempted by this and the Tamron 17-50 2.8

QuoteOriginally posted by DeliaRana Quote
I have a feeling I will need to save up for this purchase.
Yep...
01-13-2012, 07:16 AM   #7
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How far away are you from the action ? What is your budget ?

As far as focusing goes the Pentax 50-135 is one of their slowest (though a wonderful lens) and a better option might be the Sigma 50-150/2.8 with fast silent HSM, a cracking lens that I've used for paid sports shoots (rugby & X-games) with excellent results and very sharp so cropping shots of people 30-50 yds away isn't an issue. The Tamron 70-200 is another excellent, very very sharp lens (so is the Sigma 70-200, not quite as sharp but it has HSM and is near silent if that is important for you).

However IMHO you don't want the fastest shutter speed you can get, you would be aiming for an effect similar to those of prop plane shots, plane sharp and static however the props almost a blur so show the effect of movement - much cooler than everything frozen.
01-13-2012, 06:11 PM   #8
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So far the list includes:
Sigma 24-70 f2.8
Tamron 28-75 f2.8
DA* 50-135
Sigma 50-150 f2.8
Tamron70-200 f2.8 or Sigma equivalent


I went through the photos I have already taken and the focal lengths all over the place, probably because I have the tamron 18-200 on my camera. During parades that lens did well but during the indoor meets not so well. I have a lot of dark and out of focus photos. The focal lengths for the indoor meets ranged between 40mm and 200mm with the majority between 70mm-200mm range. So i think out of all the ones listed the 70-200 f2.8 will probably suit my needs. While saving for the purchase I will still keep track of my focal lengths to see if they change over time and keep all of the lenses listed in mind.
Thanks for all of the suggestions, now I can start researching the difference between the sigma and tamron lenses.

01-14-2012, 07:43 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by DeliaRana Quote
now I can start researching the difference between the sigma and tamron lenses
Find somewhere you can handle them both... Even if it's on a non-pentax body... Check out groups for each of the lenses on flickr.com for image comparisons too...
Good luck...
01-14-2012, 09:52 AM   #10
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You have a K200D and the Tamoron 18-200 lens. If the drill meets are in school gyms and such with lighting typical of them you might be hard pressed to get stop action shots with the f2.8 lenses listed - sorry. When I was trying to get stop action shots of basketball in school gyms last season with my kit lenses it just wasn't working unless I pushed my ISO higher than I understand the K200D can really handle. I went to the FA50/1.4 and found that I was shooting a LOT at <2.8 on it to get the images I wanted. It might be worth trying the FA50/1.4, depending on how close you can get and how tight you want your shots, as it can work with even lower light than the Tamron 70-200/2.8 and it costs less than 1/2 as much. I got mine, used in great shape, last year for $250 and the Tamron goes for $699 right now new.
01-14-2012, 03:40 PM   #11
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A 50mm is a lens that I have been wanting. I may try it first, then work on getting the other lens. I will have to pad the savings account over the next few months.

Thanks
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