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01-11-2014, 04:19 PM   #1
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Fast focusing lens for action shots

Hi. I'm still fairly new to my Pentax.... around 6-7 months now. My son is playing basketball but my photos are still blurring-I'm mainly using a 18-250 lens and I tried my 35 to 105 lens. Any suggestions on minimum settings to try? I was also wondering if a prime lens would be a good choice? I've heard they are faster focusing? Any suggestions for stopping action and crisp clear shots? Setting helps would be a nice place to start as I am new but also wondered about the new lens? Hopefully something under $300? Does that exist? The next lens I was considering purchasing was a 35mm auto focus prime lens? Would this one be a good choice? I've heard it's a good one but don't know if it will be good for action or not? I am using a K-x.

Ideas?

Thank you?

01-11-2014, 05:08 PM   #2
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Shutter speed can make a big impact on action shots. Depending on the available light can be tough. Faster shutter speeds freeze action slower shutter speeds can blur action. Both can be used to different advantages. See my 2 examples below. What you think might be focus issues may be motion blur which faster shutter speeds can cure.


Taken at 1/1500 sec. Notice the tires and guardrail.



Taken at 1/90 sec. while panning the camera. Now note the tires and guardrail.



One other thing to remember. The larger your F-Stop the faster the shutter speed BUT the smaller your depth of field. I tend to play with different things to find what works right with my motorsports photography. The instant feedback of digital helps a bunch. Both the above shots were taken with a Pentax DA-L 55-300mm zoom.


I'm just starting into serious flash work. Basketball being an indoor sport a flash may help but giving the distances involved it would need to be fairly powerful. You might want to try higher ISO speeds also. Maybe see if you can attend a practice so you to can practice. Just some thoughts.
01-11-2014, 05:09 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hope9811 Quote
Hi. I'm still fairly new to my Pentax.... around 6-7 months now. My son is playing basketball but my photos are still blurring-I'm mainly using a 18-250 lens and I tried my 35 to 105 lens. Any suggestions on minimum settings to try? I was also wondering if a prime lens would be a good choice? I've heard they are faster focusing? Any suggestions for stopping action and crisp clear shots? Setting helps would be a nice place to start as I am new but also wondered about the new lens? Hopefully something under $300? Does that exist? The next lens I was considering purchasing was a 35mm auto focus prime lens? Would this one be a good choice? I've heard it's a good one but don't know if it will be good for action or not? I am using a K-x.

Ideas?

Thank you?
What shutter speeds are you using?
01-11-2014, 05:28 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by kkoether Quote
Shutter speed can make a big impact on action shots. Depending on the available light can be tough. Faster shutter speeds freeze action slower shutter speeds can blur action. Both can be used to different advantages. See my 2 examples below. What you think might be focus issues may be motion blur which faster shutter speeds can cure.


Taken at 1/1500 sec. Notice the tires and guardrail.



Taken at 1/90 sec. while panning the camera. Now note the tires and guardrail.



One other thing to remember. The larger your F-Stop the faster the shutter speed BUT the smaller your depth of field. I tend to play with different things to find what works right with my motorsports photography. The instant feedback of digital helps a bunch. Both the above shots were taken with a Pentax DA-L 55-300mm zoom.


I'm just starting into serious flash work. Basketball being an indoor sport a flash may help but giving the distances involved it would need to be fairly powerful. You might want to try higher ISO speeds also. Maybe see if you can attend a practice so you to can practice. Just some thoughts.
These are some very nice shots. I tried panning at a Formula 1 race last year and none of them turned out. It seems it requires a lot of practice.
Did you even use auto focus for these? I got my best results with manual focus anticipating where the cars would be.

01-11-2014, 05:39 PM   #5
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For basketball, you probably won't be happy with auto focus, for the same reason it's not great for birds. WIth things moving that fast it "hunts" too much. It may also tend to focus on the background rather than the intended subject. My only auto focus lens is the kit lens (18-55) and it's not great for birds at all. Even at close range. Manual focus does a lot better but takes a lot of practice. Most of my manual primes focus pretty slow, but I have a Makinon 135mm that has a fast focusing ring. Took me ages to get the hang of it, since I've always used much slower focusing lenses, but it's been getting me a lot of good shots lately.

For basketball, you'll probably be doing things similar to the way I try to shoot birds in flight. (notice I said try...) I keep it usually at f8 aperture, ISO either 200 or 400 depending on ambient light and go for the fastest shutter speed I can get. ISO 800 will work fine if you don't have to crop much, but if you have to crop, noise starts to show up.

Practice a lot. Birds are good practice, they move as fast or faster than basketball players, if you can get pretty good at shooting birds in the yard you should do ok at basketball games. Follow through. DO NOT stop the camera as you shoot, keep panning along with the subject, whether it's a bird, a dog or a basketball player. If you can get shutter speed of 1/250 or better you should be able to stop most motion except for the ball flying as some one takes a shot.

Using a flash (if you can get by with it) might help. In some cases a flash is not recommended because it has a detrimental affect on players' vision. Check with coaches first.

Main thing is to practice focusing "on the fly" as it were. Keeping plenty depth of field will help some, which is why I try to stay at f8. Most lenses also get their sharpest results in the f8 to f11 range too. Practice on birds, squirrels, dogs and cats, kids playing, whatever you can find that is moving, and that will help a lot. Also try a slower focusing lens, you might find you like it better than a fast focusing one. I do, but I'm beginning to like the faster focusing Makinon 135mm pretty well.
01-11-2014, 07:53 PM   #6
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I'm using a Sigma 50-150/2.8 for basketball. Dim gyms force you to pick your poison between motion blur & noise. At the middle school level, I could get away with 1/400, I'm now using 1/800 for HS varsity. For the sake of exposure I never stop down further than f3.5. I use TAv and ISO usually comes in at 6400 or 12800. I get a lot of noise but Topaz Denoise cleans it up pretty well. I do lose some detail but I figure action is more important than detail.

01-11-2014, 11:14 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by maxxxx Quote
These are some very nice shots. I tried panning at a Formula 1 race last year and none of them turned out. It seems it requires a lot of practice.
Did you even use auto focus for these? I got my best results with manual focus anticipating where the cars would be.

Yes they are auto focused. I pick the car up as soon as I can to allow the focus to catch. I set the camera to AF.C so it continuously focuses. The biggest mistake most make when panning is stopping when releasing the shutter. Finish the carry through. Practice helps also.
01-12-2014, 06:48 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hope9811 Quote
Hopefully something under $300? Does that exist?
For indoor basketball under 300$, I'd suggest the DA 50mm f/1.8 lens. You'll need to stay close to the sideline and move around a lot as you won't have the "reach" to shoot from end to end of the court. But that lens ought to give you 1/500 shutter speeds with the K-x.

Regards,
--Anders.

01-12-2014, 07:42 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by asp1880 Quote
For indoor basketball under 300$, I'd suggest the DA 50mm f/1.8 lens. You'll need to stay close to the sideline and move around a lot as you won't have the "reach" to shoot from end to end of the court. But that lens ought to give you 1/500 shutter speeds with the K-x.

Regards,
--Anders.
I think that's good advice. I position myself at the baseline on my team's offensive end. That way kids are generally facing toward the camera.
01-12-2014, 03:33 PM   #10
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Make sure your IS is turned off too.
01-14-2014, 08:28 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by kkoether Quote
Yes they are auto focused. I pick the car up as soon as I can to allow the focus to catch. I set the camera to AF.C so it continuously focuses. The biggest mistake most make when panning is stopping when releasing the shutter. Finish the carry through. Practice helps also.
Sorry for bugging you again. How many focus points do you use?
01-14-2014, 10:09 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by maxxxx Quote
Sorry for bugging you again. How many focus points do you use?

Single then adjust it where I want it in the viewfinder. I don't always leave it centered. I depends on the lay of the track and where best in the frame to catch the car or boat. Multiple then letting the camera decide seems to be a recipe for disaster with fast moving objects.
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