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08-22-2015, 01:34 PM   #1
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basic questions about telephoto and blurry photos

This is my first time shooting sports
Last week I took photos at my daughters soccer game with the K3 and 18-135 lens. I barely had any usable shots, some looked like camera shake even when I had the shutter speed at 1/1000, some were out of focus every where. I mostly shot at 135mm, and f/5.6

Compare to this week, I shot with my Nikon d200, with the sigma 18-250mm lens, and I only had 2 missed focus (focus somewhere else), none looked like it had any camera blur, only 1 was completely out of focus. most of them were shot at 155-185mm at f/6

So here are my (maybe really basic) questions:

-Is this typical of being at the extreme of the lens? so I should probably get the 55-300mm lens?

-if not typical of being at the lens extreme, what could be a reason I looked like I had camera shake with shutter speeds at 1/800 or above on the k3?

-Did I notice the focus/blur issue more on the K3 because of the better sensor/higher mp? (sorry not I am not technical, is it basically because I can enlarge it more in lightroom?)

-What camera settings should I have to improve the number of in focus shots?

Thanks for any help and advice

08-22-2015, 02:11 PM   #2
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What were your AF settings? Single point, auto 5, etc and af-s or AF-c?
08-22-2015, 02:21 PM   #3
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Yep, suggestions are possible if you post an example complete with EXIF data.
08-22-2015, 02:33 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by skierd Quote
What were your AF settings? Single point, auto 5, etc and af-s or AF-c?
I can't remember offhand (and I am sure part of the issue) but on the pentax, I think it was single point, af-s

for the nikon I seem to have it set at "Group-dynamic AF." (not intentionally, I just picked up the camera and didn't look at those settings)

08-22-2015, 02:43 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Yep, suggestions are possible if you post an example complete with EXIF data.
Here are images from pentax and nikon. Pentax one is first. I trashed most of the images, but kept a few to compare. oops, this one was taken at 1/320, so slower than I though, but she is basically standing still. Nikon is the second one

Last edited by Murfy; 09-23-2015 at 08:13 PM.
08-22-2015, 02:52 PM   #6
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I suggest that you post photographs with blur. I have a K-3 and DA18-135mm, and I have no problem to shoot actions in outdoor during day time.

First are you sure that it is blur or simply out of focus? This is not the same IMO. Was the focus indicator (green hexagon) on in the view finder at time of shot?

Second was shake reduction SR on when you shot? In the affirmative, did you wait to see the SR confirmation before shooting? The SR confirmation symbol is the 'hand' symbol in the view finder.

Since Pentax uses in-camera SR, you need to wait (~1 s) to have focus indicator on and SR confirmation on. When shooting sports/actions, it is good practice to pre-focus the camera by 1/2-pressing the shutter release button.

Hope that the comment may help.
08-22-2015, 03:05 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Murfy Quote
-Is this typical of being at the extreme of the lens? so I should probably get the 55-300mm lens?
No, for most sports 135 mm is perfectly fine. In fact, the 55-300's AF is considerably slower than that of the 18-135, making it a worse choice for sports.

QuoteOriginally posted by Murfy Quote
I can't remember offhand (and I am sure part of the issue) but on the pentax, I think it was single point, af-s
Single point is fine (as long as you keep it on the subject), but AF.S is definitely the wrong choice for sports. When taking shots of fast moving subjects, shoot in servo AF (AF.C), that way the camera tries to keep the focus on the object as long as you keep the shutter button half-depressed (or the AF button). As your Pentax was set to AF.S and the Nikon to group-dynamic AF (which I assume is essentially AF.C with tracking enabled), that is most likely the reason why the Nikon outperformed the Pentax.

QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
Second was shake reduction SR on when you shot? In the affirmative, did you wait to see the SR confirmation before shooting? The SR confirmation symbol is the 'hand' symbol in the view finder.

Since Pentax uses in-camera SR, you need to wait (~1 s) to have focus indicator on and SR confirmation on.
At 135 mm max. and high shutter speeds there is no need at all for SR. There is no visible shake to reduce at 1/1000th of a second, as long as you are not using something like a 500 mm lens.
08-22-2015, 03:09 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
I suggest that you post photographs with blur. I have a K-3 and DA18-135mm, and I have no problem to shoot actions in outdoor during day time.

First are you sure that it is blur or simply out of focus? This is not the same IMO. Was the focus indicator (green hexagon) on in the view finder at time of shot?

Second was shake reduction SR on when you shot? In the affirmative, did you wait to see the SR confirmation before shooting? The SR confirmation symbol is the 'hand' symbol in the view finder.
.
I posted photos above, and here are other links to compare

This is the sigma lens on the d200 at the extreme 250mm and widest aperture


This is pentax 135mm at widest, the image has been cropped


I have it on focus priority because I was getting to many blurry shots and I wanted to make sure it was not a focus issue, I hope that is correct way of doing that, but my camera won't shot unless not in focus (hopefully)

No. I don't tend to use shake reduction. I have it off on the lens of the 250 on the sigma. I did shot at a lower shutter speed with the pentax but I was sitting in the same chair both times and I have a pretty steady hand, I would think 1/360 would be sufficient, but maybe not?

---------- Post added 08-22-15 at 06:13 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by FantasticMrFox Quote
No, for most sports 135 mm is perfectly fine. In fact, the 55-300's AF is considerably slower than that of the 18-135, making it a worse choice for sports.
Thanks for the suggestion, I posted two links to flicker images above, the pentax definitely looks 'hazy' or blurry to me and I am not sure then what I am doing wrong. I will make sure to use Af-c for action, would that be the cause?

08-22-2015, 03:33 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Murfy Quote
I will make sure to use Af-c for action, would that be the cause?
I am pretty sure it is the cause. In AF.S when you half press the shutter the camera acquires focus on whatever you are aiming at, and that's it. If the subject moves towards you or away from you, out of the focus area, the camera will do nothing, even if you keep the shutter half pressed. If you do that in AF.C, the camera will continuously adjust focus in order to keep the subject in focus.

In sports your subjects are always moving around, and if you use AF.S you are bound to get blurry (i.e. out of focus) shots. Use AF.C and your problems are solved.
08-22-2015, 04:06 PM   #10
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Maybe an issue with the lens, a bad copy?? Are normal still-life shots with it also bad?
08-22-2015, 04:11 PM   #11
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High shutter speeds and sports = SR *Off*

I see no blur in your first PENTAX photo above (daughter standing still). The background is a little soft but that's fine and correct for F5.6 in that scene.
I also see little wrong in the last PENTAX example above that a little post sharpening can't fix. In any case, you have photos of your daughter. Smile and be happy.
If you want everything in sharp focus go for sunny 16 or above with your aperture and Auto ISO. But should razor sharp photos be the goal of a photographer? Or capturing moments , beautiful colours and light, recording something to remember for years to come be the point?. Too much is made out of 'sharp'..

Last edited by Steve.Ledger; 08-22-2015 at 04:17 PM.
08-22-2015, 04:30 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Imp Quote
Maybe an issue with the lens, a bad copy?? Are normal still-life shots with it also bad?
I can't figure out what is going on, when I first got it about a year ago, a stationary object at 135 looked pretty good. It seems to be now something that happens at the higher end of the telephoto, from 115mm to 135mm will look like the image image posted from flickr. I don't know what happened? maybe I knocked it by accident?
08-22-2015, 04:47 PM   #13
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The Sigma/Nikon combination is providing more saturation and contrast, which might give an impression of greater sharpness. I suspect if you processed the Pentax shots to match, the difference might not be as great is you think.
In your first examples, the Pentax shot is overexposed, which also doesn't help. It looks reasonably sharp though at the size I see it.
In the second post, the Pentax shot does look a little soft, despite being in reasonable focus. It is not unusual for a consumer zoom to need stopping down a little.

Do some more testing.
08-22-2015, 05:08 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Steve.Ledger Quote
High shutter speeds and sports = SR *Off*

I see no blur in your first PENTAX photo above (daughter standing still). The background is a little soft but that's fine and correct for F5.6 in that scene.
I also see little wrong in the last PENTAX example above that a little post sharpening can't fix. In any case, you have photos of your daughter. Smile and be happy.
If you want everything in sharp focus go for sunny 16 or above with your aperture and Auto ISO. But should razor sharp photos be the goal of a photographer? Or capturing moments , beautiful colours and light, recording something to remember for years to come be the point?. Too much is made out of 'sharp'..
I am pretty sure I had SR off, i set it off and I don't tend to turn it on for any reason.

Those pentax images are sharpened at 116 in lightroom, the nikon images are not sharpened or sharpened very little. I'd like to figure out why I can't control the sharpness or focus because I do volunteer certain causes, aside from entering into juried art shows, which I enjoy doing. These images are more for practice and learning how to take sports images than a memory of my daughter, LOL, (I have so many images of her that I think she is fine with that ) I spent a lot of money for the camera and lens and I would like to know why I can't seem to get over this hurdle of not getting decent shots above 115mm anymore, this is all part of the learning experience for me, and I am curious and want to learn why there is such a difference in sharpness of my images, whether it is from lens, the sensor, the camera or my own silly mistakes. I don't think there is anything wrong with improving my work or abilities or asking others how I can improve something.
08-22-2015, 06:24 PM   #15
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Are you shooting jpeg or raw? If it is the former, different in-camera processing can also make a huge difference.
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