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09-11-2016, 07:53 AM   #1
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Focus issues Tamron 70-200 with Pentax k-30 soccer

I'm having focusing issues with my Tamron 70-200 for my girls' soccer games. I'm sure much of it is just my lack of skill. But I attached one photo where the center is out of focus when I'm sure that's where I was focusing. I've attached a few other examples. I'm lucky to get 50% in focus. Sometimes there is nothing in the photo that is in focus. I shoot at f2.8 to try to blur out the background so I'm sure that makes focusing more challenging. Any thoughts on autofocus settings would be greatly appreciated. I've tried a number of different settings but I haven't noticed much difference in my in focus percentage.

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09-11-2016, 10:24 AM   #2
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looks like you had plenty of light so you really do not have to shoot wide open.

I've never shot soccer, but personally i would want greater depth of field.

shoot in manual mode auto iso, expanded af mode with the lower part of the frame selected, set shutter around 1/800 and aperture at least f4
09-11-2016, 10:27 AM   #3
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Yes, you have obviously missed focus. A few considerations:
  • In other than single point mode, you are asking the camera to read your mind as to where to place focus. The camera seldom does a good job reading your mind. When using auto-5 or auto-11 AF, be aware of where the red dot is relative to your subject.
  • When using AF-S (release priority) or AF-C the shutter will release regardless of whether focus is attained. The beep and green hexagon are your guides.
  • Your camera will not track and hold focus very well on moving objects in AF-C mode. In AF-S, it will not track at all (focus locks once attained).
You might want to experiment a little with a willing subject on the field on other than game day. Plan in advance the AF options you want to use and then have your subject move back and forth (running and walking) as well as toward you. Put the goal behind your subject for some of your tests. (The camera loves a high contrast regular pattern and may be fooled if such is present.) Make written notes of what combinations were used and how well they worked.

Good luck


Steve
09-11-2016, 10:43 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ratcheteer Quote
shoot in manual mode auto iso
On the K-30, the camera will default over (switch) to TAv mode for that combination (the two are fully equivalent). To avoid confusion, I generally recommend that users avoid auto-ISO unless it is needed for the particular shooting situation.


Steve

09-11-2016, 11:18 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
On the K-30, the camera will default over (switch) to TAv mode for that combination (the two are fully equivalent). To avoid confusion, I generally recommend that users avoid auto-ISO unless it is needed for the particular shooting situation.


Steve
thanks for that steve, its been a few years since shooting with a dslr and my last pentax dslr was a k200d which lacked the TAv mode
09-11-2016, 12:17 PM   #6
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I'd say your biggest problem is the narrow aperture, it's cutting your DOF way too thin, especially using a zoom lens.
In full daylight, start at f8, that gives you more DOF but will still isolate you subjects from the background. If you need more DOF, try f11, less, f7.1 or f6.3.

I agree with using single point AF, and in manual mode use "Catch In Focus".
09-11-2016, 12:32 PM   #7
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I've shot several soccer games with this exact combo or with a K-50 and the Tamron. Soccer is a sport that changes direction of play often, and the younger the kids the less predictable anything is. I would recommend staying with AF-S release priority just as Steve suggests. By shooting at 2.8 you really lower your chances of in focus shots since the focus plane is now narrow. and soccer is not a straight line sport. At the distances you're shooting there won't be much blurring anyway, it will jus look out of focus. In daylight I try to get as much shutter speed as possible while having as much depth of field as I can. However, the games I shoot are generally in the evening and the lighting changed drastically as the games go on. On those games I'll usually have to switch to TAv mode. Also for some situations, like a corner kick, I will go into Continuous Shooting High, focus on something about 12 yards from goal (right between the spot and the 18).

Just a couple of months ago I changed my auto focus from the shutter button to the AF button, as I've gotten used to that my keepers have increased for action shooting. I have to think I must have been pushing the button and refocusing when I did not mean to. Anyway after changing to this button I recently kept 205 or 262 exposures. Most of the ones deleted were mostly for being too similar, some of those burst shots where nothing happened.

Once I shot a game with the camera set to AF-C and that was a disaster, very few in focus. For some reason on this lens the AF seems to wander when you are in AF-C, even when you stay on a stationary object.
09-11-2016, 12:49 PM   #8
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It seems to me like you haven't done your AF fine tuning properly. I hade to adjust the setting quite a bit with this lens.
And as others have pointed out, it isn't dead sharp wide open. try f4 to f5,6 for these kind of shots.

09-11-2016, 01:12 PM   #9
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Hi,

I shoot a lot of soccer and field hockey games and use the K-3 and Tamron 70-200.
I usually shoot manual mode and sometimes go the TAv route.

I agree with the above comments including:

1. Try getting focus during slow action to practice getting your subject in focus.
2. High shutter speed to help stop action
3. Try Af-s and Af-C and see which works better for you.

One point I disagree on is with respect to the depth of field. I usually stay at f2.8 or at most f4 when shooting the action of the game. Sometimes I will increase the aperture to take pictures of the kids on the sidelines and during huddles.
You may not want to stay this low in the beginning, because it is harder to get your target (subject) in focus. But eventually, something to "shoot" for (pun intended).
Of course, this is a matter of opinion...however, I feel most of my best action shots isolate the active players (the ones with the ball) from the other players (foreground and background).
For example, in the second photo included above, if your target was the goalie in yellow - nice shot in my opinion - separating the goalie from the other objects (players, ball, ref...) on the field.

I hope this helps,

radman
09-11-2016, 01:55 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by radman Quote
Hi,

I shoot a lot of soccer and field hockey games and use the K-3 and Tamron 70-200.
I usually shoot manual mode and sometimes go the TAv route.

I agree with the above comments including:

1. Try getting focus during slow action to practice getting your subject in focus.
2. High shutter speed to help stop action
3. Try Af-s and Af-C and see which works better for you.

One point I disagree on is with respect to the depth of field. I usually stay at f2.8 or at most f4 when shooting the action of the game. Sometimes I will increase the aperture to take pictures of the kids on the sidelines and during huddles.
You may not want to stay this low in the beginning, because it is harder to get your target (subject) in focus. But eventually, something to "shoot" for (pun intended).
Of course, this is a matter of opinion...however, I feel most of my best action shots isolate the active players (the ones with the ball) from the other players (foreground and background).
For example, in the second photo included above, if your target was the goalie in yellow - nice shot in my opinion - separating the goalie from the other objects (players, ball, ref...) on the field.

I hope this helps,

radman
the depth of field is a matter of preference
but sometimes its needed to get more keepers on older equipment and 3rd party lens
09-11-2016, 01:56 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by robgski Quote
I'd say your biggest problem is the narrow aperture, it's cutting your DOF way too thin, especially using a zoom lens.
Your point is valid and definitely worth taking, if for no other reason that most lenses performance is relatively poor wide open and better stopped down a little. That being said, f/2.8 is wide not narrow and DOF at 200mm, f/2.8, and 30 meters distance is just over 1 meter on APS-C. That is adequate for the subjects in the example photos, though only with excellent technique. Working at f/5.6 or f/8 would provide a higher "hit rate" and crisper photos overall.

BTW... I really appreciate the input from users who actually shoot soccer and with the lens and/or camera in question.


Steve
09-11-2016, 03:38 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
I've shot several soccer games with this exact combo or with a K-50 and the Tamron. Soccer is a sport that changes direction of play often, and the younger the kids the less predictable anything is. I would recommend staying with AF-S release priority just as Steve suggests. By shooting at 2.8 you really lower your chances of in focus shots since the focus plane is now narrow. and soccer is not a straight line sport. At the distances you're shooting there won't be much blurring anyway, it will jus look out of focus. In daylight I try to get as much shutter speed as possible while having as much depth of field as I can. However, the games I shoot are generally in the evening and the lighting changed drastically as the games go on. On those games I'll usually have to switch to TAv mode. Also for some situations, like a corner kick, I will go into Continuous Shooting High, focus on something about 12 yards from goal (right between the spot and the 18).

Just a couple of months ago I changed my auto focus from the shutter button to the AF button, as I've gotten used to that my keepers have increased for action shooting. I have to think I must have been pushing the button and refocusing when I did not mean to. Anyway after changing to this button I recently kept 205 or 262 exposures. Most of the ones deleted were mostly for being too similar, some of those burst shots where nothing happened.

Once I shot a game with the camera set to AF-C and that was a disaster, very few in focus. For some reason on this lens the AF seems to wander when you are in AF-C, even when you stay on a stationary object.
Holy smokes - thanks for all the suggestions. I've got several questions based on the comments:

1. How does changing the autofocus to the AF button help?
2. I'm not aware of fine tuning? Is there a way to correct the lens if it's not focusing properly?
3. I read an older post where he set his focus as follows for basketball games: Expanded AF (very handy) + selectable point AF + Continuous Focus + Continuous Focus Priority set to FPS over accuracy. Any thoughts?
4. I'm wondering if I'd have better luck with the Sigma 70-200 or perhaps it's just I need a lot more practice...

thanks again
09-11-2016, 04:52 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by schnur07 Quote
Holy smokes - thanks for all the suggestions. I've got several questions based on the comments:

1. How does changing the autofocus to the AF button help?
2. I'm not aware of fine tuning? Is there a way to correct the lens if it's not focusing properly?
3. I read an older post where he set his focus as follows for basketball games: Expanded AF (very handy) + selectable point AF + Continuous Focus + Continuous Focus Priority set to FPS over accuracy. Any thoughts?
4. I'm wondering if I'd have better luck with the Sigma 70-200 or perhaps it's just I need a lot more practice...

thanks again
!. Changing the auto focus helped me it may not help you. I'm pretty sure I was inadvertantly refocusing with my finger on the shutter button.
2. The manual can tell you how to fine tune the lens, make sure you test it first so you're sure it needs it.
3 This does not work with the 70-200 for me
4. Practice, Practice, Practice
09-11-2016, 05:24 PM - 1 Like   #14
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IMHO, I think you've got some real issues with your technique, Schnur.


In your first photo, you've got your focus on the player in the foreground with their back turned to you, instead of the ball kicker. In the second shot, the focus is this time well behind the action - look at how much sharper the players walking at the back are!


If you haven't done much sports shooting, you've got to practise locking focus on a player before you intend to take the shot (listen for the beep!), then use your panning skills to smoothly keep the point on them - watch a good TV coverage cameraman. If you stray off the target, start again, including waiting for the beep.


An issue with team sports is players moving across in front or near your intended target. This is why I won't use 'Auto' for such situations. On the K-1 or K-3 you can choose to adjust the tracking ability to make the camera ignore something temporarily closer to the camera. The K-30 doesn't have that setting but it's still possible to use the back-button focus method to minimize this happening - disengage anytime a distraction is going to happen. Your sense of the game will tell you that when the ball is fairly stagnant in the middle of a cluster of players, this is going to happen a lot, but when it comes out and a forward is one-on-one with defenders in open space you can get fantastic shots, click that button a lot!


When the ball is in congestion, don't be afraid to sense the opportunity for a quick manual focus shot too to get some beautiful subject isolation. Remember, it's the faces you're after, not the actual ball, which moves a lot quicker and more randomly. You are really doing portrait photography at 1/1000s, and remember all the lighting principles are the same.


I shot runners in AF-C no problem with your lens the other day on the K-1 at f4, which is similar to the f2.8 DoF on your K-30.


Your pics are always worth the effort if your kids or friends are involved, and you can achieve what's simply not possible by the other parents with their phones, so best of luck with your practice!

Last edited by clackers; 09-11-2016 at 05:29 PM.
09-11-2016, 05:48 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
IMHO, I think you've got some real issues with your technique, Schnur.


In your first photo, you've got your focus on the player in the foreground with their back turned to you, instead of the ball kicker. In the second shot, the focus is this time well behind the action - look at how much sharper the players walking at the back are!


If you haven't done much sports shooting, you've got to practise locking focus on a player before you intend to take the shot (listen for the beep!), then use your panning skills to smoothly keep the point on them - watch a good TV coverage cameraman. If you stray off the target, start again, including waiting for the beep.


An issue with team sports is players moving across in front or near your intended target. This is why I won't use 'Auto' for such situations. On the K-1 or K-3 you can choose to adjust the tracking ability to make the camera ignore something temporarily closer to the camera. The K-30 doesn't have that setting but it's still possible to use the back-button focus method to minimize this happening - disengage anytime a distraction is going to happen. Your sense of the game will tell you that when the ball is fairly stagnant in the middle of a cluster of players, this is going to happen a lot, but when it comes out and a forward is one-on-one with defenders in open space you can get fantastic shots, click that button a lot!


When the ball is in congestion, don't be afraid to sense the opportunity for a quick manual focus shot too to get some beautiful subject isolation. Remember, it's the faces you're after, not the actual ball, which moves a lot quicker and more randomly. You are really doing portrait photography at 1/1000s, and remember all the lighting principles are the same.


I shot runners in AF-C no problem with your lens the other day on the K-1 at f4, which is similar to the f2.8 DoF on your K-30.


Your pics are always worth the effort if your kids or friends are involved, and you can achieve what's simply not possible by the other parents with their phones, so best of luck with your practice!
This would best mirror my advice. Anticipate your subject and use AF-C to have it in focus before squeezing the shutter release, or use manual focus/AF-S with back button focus and focus on a spot. Practice keeping your moving subject in the center of your frame and if necessary move your focus point to best frame your moving subjects. Use back button focus to either activate auto focus or disable auto focus with the shutter half pressed. Often I shoot with both eyes open so I can see what is happening outside the frame and disable the auto focus when necessary while keeping the subject framed.

While giving yourself a larger DOF might help some, you generally aren't going to gain that much slop, certainly not enough to get your 2 examples in proper focus.
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