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10-18-2012, 06:29 AM   #1
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Pentax K200 - pictures in low light

I take a lot of pictures in low light. They are action shots for my sons' sports teams (football at night, wrestling in a gym). Short of buying a 28mm lens, what can I do? The pictures come out without focus. I have tried all of the settings on the camera. I hate to say that my little point and shoot camera sometimes takes better pictures in low light/with action. What am I doing wrong? Should I be programming a setting?

10-18-2012, 07:57 AM   #2
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The K200D is a very good camera, but low light performance is not its best feature. If you use 1600 ISO and a fast lens you can get decent shots, but you'll also get a lot of noise that you'll need to clean up. A 28mm lens won't help you unless it's a fast one. I recently took some night-time shots of a roller hockey game that took place under lights but was still pretty dark. I used ISO 1600 and a 50mm f1.4 lens (stopped down a little bit) and I got a good handful of keepers (and quite a few blurry discards).
10-18-2012, 10:21 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by nosliwmit Quote
The K200D is a very good camera, but low light performance is not its best feature. If you use 1600 ISO and a fast lens you can get decent shots, but you'll also get a lot of noise that you'll need to clean up. A 28mm lens won't help you unless it's a fast one. I recently took some night-time shots of a roller hockey game that took place under lights but was still pretty dark. I used ISO 1600 and a 50mm f1.4 lens (stopped down a little bit) and I got a good handful of keepers (and quite a few blurry discards).
Agree with the previous poster. I have the K200D and it's great for well-lit situations, but not so much for high ISO. I don't think buying a 28 mm lens would solve much at all, unless all you want pictures of is the whole field. If you want to take somewhat closeups of your son from the bleachers, you'll need longer focal length, not wider. If you want to take mostly pictures of your son but also get wider context shots, consider a good all purpose zoom (which specific one depends on how deep your pockets are). What lens(es) are you using?
10-21-2012, 08:40 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by mnacker Quote
I take a lot of pictures in low light. They are action shots for my sons' sports teams (football at night, wrestling in a gym). Short of buying a 28mm lens, what can I do? The pictures come out without focus. I have tried all of the settings on the camera. I hate to say that my little point and shoot camera sometimes takes better pictures in low light/with action. What am I doing wrong? Should I be programming a setting?
First, there is absolutely no way a P&S shold do even 1/10 as well as the K200D in low light, so your first step should be understanding what you are differently between your P&S and K200D. Perhaps you are using flash with the P&S and not with the K200D? If so, then the solution is pretty obvious - start usng flash with the K200D as well. But posting pictures would help. you say the pictures are "without focus", but what you presumBly mean is that the focus is somewhere, just not where you intended. Shooting fast action in low light is difficult and takes skill with focus, whether using AF or MF. So you might also describe how you the photogrpaher chose to control focus.

Others have observed the K200D's high ISO abilities are not as good as more recent DSLR's, and that is certainly true. But the differences are often overstated. The difference in quality between K200D and the best DSLR are *minuscule* compared to the differences between the K200D and the best P&S. So if you aren't getting mich better results with your K200D than with your P&S, you need to start by posting pictures, with Exif intact, and describing how you were shooting (in particular, how you controlled focus), and then maybe we can see why you aren't getting the most out of your K200D. Because simply changing DSLR's and then makng the same mistakes won't help.

10-21-2012, 12:57 PM   #5
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Marc
Thank you so much for your offer of help. I will post the difference between the high light pictures and the low light. I am wondering if I also need to invest in a better lens? 2.8 with a zoom? Any help is great!
10-21-2012, 01:14 PM   #6
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Examples of the low light

Files 6561 and 6569 are taken at night under the lights
Files 4139, 4157 and 4165 are taken during the day and worked out great.

Thanks for the help. User error? or a need for a better lens?
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10-21-2012, 03:53 PM   #7
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The first one looks like it's blurred due to slow shutter speed, especially considering it was 1/15. At a focal length of 138mm, you're going to get a lot of camera shake. Same with the last one. You're only shooting at ISO 400; I would try shooting at a higher ISO and I think they will come out more in focus. A faster lens might also help some, like a Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8.
10-21-2012, 04:00 PM   #8
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You should be able to go a little beyond ISO 400, depending on what you want to do with the shot, even ISO 1600 should be usable. There will be noise, but I'd take a sharp noisy picture over a blurry one any day.

A faster lens would definitely give you a faster shutter speed and reduce motion blur, but your DOF is going to shrink, which might not help your situation.

10-21-2012, 05:20 PM   #9
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Don't go lower than 1/500s, or in emergency cases 1/400s, if you want to freeze action. What mode are you in? In that kind of lighting you have to take control over your camera.
10-21-2012, 05:28 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by mnacker Quote
...What am I doing wrong? Should I be programming a setting?
Nothing!

The camera you're using isn't proficient at this particular type of photography. And of course, some people will argue until the cows come home that the K200D can do everything perfectly. Though you can rest easy knowing that we don't all share such sentiments. The simple fact is that there have been many models and improvements with respect to low light shooting since the K200D and so you might want to look into those(SEE: K-30, K-5, Kx etc).

Hope this helps
10-22-2012, 07:45 AM   #11
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Here is an example of a pictures I shot at an ISO of 1600. Still very bad quality. Should I be using a tripod?
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10-22-2012, 07:53 AM   #12
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It's impossible to freeze any action with 1/20s tripod or not. It's almost too long even for panning. You need higher ISO and or a lens with a bigger aperture to cope with that, no way around it.
10-24-2012, 09:26 AM   #13
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I'll jump in to say that all the images are not out of focus, but blurry due to a combination of camera and subject movement. You can reduce the camera movement problem if you have for any reason turned shake reduction off by turning it on. If it is on, you need to half press the shutter button long enough for the shake reduction to boot up. It's about 1/2 second most of the time. Here are a couple of things you might try, but with the kit lens, you are never going to get really good shots because the lens is so slow.

  • Set the camera to use only the centre autofocus point. The bench is a bit sharper than the players.
  • Set your autofocus to AF.C rather than AF.S so you can hold the half press on the shutter button without locking focus and enable SR.
  • Make sure you press the shutter release gently. Many of us, in the heat of the moment, stab the button, moving the camera.
  • Follow through. Wait until you see the mirror drop back into positionbefore taking the camera away from your eye.

As the others have said, though, with that (lack of) light you are beyond the capabilities of your current equipment.
10-24-2012, 03:16 PM   #14
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All good advice, the biggest improvement that you will see, is from a newer body like the K5 or the new K5 II.
Here is a shot with ISO 8000, AFC, no noise reduction and not run through Topaz De-noise, just re-sized j-peg.

edit: AFS, not AFC.

Last edited by Ex Finn.; 11-11-2014 at 05:46 PM.
10-24-2012, 03:38 PM   #15
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This is starting to push the limits with a slow lens. At ISO 12800 things will need some cleaning in PP. Re-size jpeg as shot.

Last edited by Ex Finn.; 11-11-2014 at 05:46 PM.
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