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03-06-2007, 02:59 PM   #1
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Help a newbie pick a lens for sports...

Hey, all...

My son and daughter both play sports, and that is my main topic for buying the K10D camera body. I have already purchased the Tamron 70-300 for the outdoor sports (baseball & football), but I am interested in getting input on what would be the best lens to purchase for indoor sports (basketball & volleyball). The 70-300 doesn't get enough light to stop action in the gym, so a local Pentax dealer pushed me towards the Pentax FA 50mm f/1.4 lens that is completely unavailable. Is that a good recommendation for my purposes? What would any of you recommend for my purposes?

Thanks in advance!

Rick

03-06-2007, 03:16 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by krar4 Quote
Hey, all...

My son and daughter both play sports, and that is my main topic for buying the K10D camera body. I have already purchased the Tamron 70-300 for the outdoor sports (baseball & football), but I am interested in getting input on what would be the best lens to purchase for indoor sports (basketball & volleyball). The 70-300 doesn't get enough light to stop action in the gym, so a local Pentax dealer pushed me towards the Pentax FA 50mm f/1.4 lens that is completely unavailable. Is that a good recommendation for my purposes? What would any of you recommend for my purposes?

Thanks in advance!

Rick
Welcome to the forums, Rick!

May I direct you to this thread?

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/2327-better-basket...tos-k100d.html

Hope it helps!
03-06-2007, 04:39 PM   #3
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I find that for sports a zoom is better for being able to frame, and to be able to pull in the action. A fixed 50 may be okay for, say, basketball, where the action doesn't get too far away, but for field sports such as rugby, hockey and soccer, a zoom (for me) is a necessity. Which is why I bought a Sigma 70-200/2.8.

So the focal length you need maybe should be determined first, then look around to see what you can afford in faster lenses. Unfortunately the faster the more expensive, usually.
03-06-2007, 05:31 PM   #4
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I also shoot sports with a zoom. My most recent basketball shots have been shot from under the basket with a 70-200 f/2.8 Tokina. I have also shot basketball with a...slow...100-300 from under the basket with a flash (film-days).

A couple things.
Zooms take practice, and I would say that short(er) zooms in a sports situation take a lot of practice. OP, you didn't mention how old your kids were or what they are doing, but if you can get to the floor, a good 28-80 f/2.8 would be useful. You'll be shooting sidelines and under the basket (probably), and use the long end of that lens. If you want a longer lens (stuck in the stands--most wrestling, martial arts, and cheer comps--, want to shoot across the court widthwise--volleyball outside attacks, basketball breakaways, etc--, medium to long distances away--indoor tennis bubbles, indoor track.), you're probably looking at the (sigma) 70-200 2.8 right now. The Sigma is decent.

Beware that 70-200 f/2.8 zooms are heavy--hit the gym!

I'm not a fan of the 50 1.4 for sports. 50 is a bit too short, unless you've got little-ones in a smaller than normal gym, and can touch the sidelines with your foot. Yes, you can crop. Yes, you can con your way into a primo-shooting-spot (zooming with your feet). Yes, several have used this lens to shoot younguns playing ball. However, I might be convinced to shoot with a fixed focal length, but it wouldn't be 50mm. f/1.4 is pretty good, but it ain't everything. (Most shooters I've been around use a 2.8 zoom of some sort).

If you've got the knowledge, willingness, and ability to use a flash...eh. I've done it (it's a toss up on whether I had the knowledge to do it. haha), there is typically a stigma against it (related to relative amounts of knowledge, IMO), and many gyms/refs/governing bodies don't like it too much. Most on-board mounted external flashes don't do you any good when using the long end of the lens.

FYI, I am currently salivating over the upcoming DA*50-135 f/2.8, for my indoor sports, which are overwhelmingly dominated by HS basketball under the basket, and wrestling where I lie on my stomach at the mat. I rarely use the long 200mm of the 70-200 range, and as I am frequently at 70 and stepping backwards, this seems to be the perfect range (for digital). This is an expensive lens, and not available yet.

Also, noise (grain) is pretty much par for the course. If you gym is especially well lit, you can get away with 800 iso. Usually though, you'll just have to suck it up, heft the lens, and shoot 1600.


Last edited by bdavis; 03-06-2007 at 05:39 PM.
03-06-2007, 08:04 PM   #5
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If you can afford it (I know I can't) I would second the choice of the pentax upcomming *50-135mm 2.8. for volleyball work, around the 50-70mm length is very suitable as the courts tend to be small and most of the better shots are near the net or when they are serving. other shots are difficult as the net tends to be in the way a lot unless you don't mind a lot of shots of the backs of the players or sideways.
I haven't tried basketball, but I would guess the 100-135mm would be of good use.

good luck

randy
03-06-2007, 10:22 PM   #6
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I'll say it again (I'm a broken record), get one of the 135mm f/2.5 or f/2.8 lenses. You can find them on ebay for well under $100. The reach and fairly fast aperture should allow you to get some good shots at ISO400-800. You'll have to practice your manual focus techniques, but you should be able to anticipate and capture some nice shots.

Here's one I took from the other end of the court, plus about 20 rows, at an NBA game. Granted, the lighting is much better in a pro arena, but you'll be much closer at your son's games. Taken with the Pentax SMC-A 135mm at f/4.0, ISO200, 1/160sec.


You can see the full sized image at my Flickr site, see the set of Houston Rockets Preseason Game photos.
03-06-2007, 10:25 PM   #7
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I've shot a few sports; you might be surprised at what actually works.

Obviously, a flash for indoor events-if it's allowed. Ideally you would have a couple of studio strobes on tall stands, triggered via radio. But anything shoe mounted with a guide number in the 150(ft) range (+/-10ft). This would include both the 360 (barely) and the 540 flashes (excellent) from Pentax.

I've got three constant f/2.8 zooms: 20-35mm, 28-80mm, 80-200mm. And two bodies is a big plus; I have pairs in both film (PZ-1p's) and digital (K10d's). And I have primes at 24, 28, 50, 55, 100, 105 (<--f2/8 or better), 180 (f3/5), and 200mm (f/4). But it's not the equipment!

You need to get down close. So close you can see the sweat fly and hear the grunts and groans (and the cussing). That takes a pass or permission; make nice with the coach!

You need to know the players; what they are trained to do and how they do it. Get into a practice or several. You are looking for how high they jump, how serves, passes and free throws are timed. Spikes and smashes as well as jump shots and lay-ups should be studied so you know the climax points.

You need to know the sport as well as the referees (or better). Visit your local athletic association and buy the rule books. Memorize all the signals, the hand and arm motions, and the penalties.

You need to be able to accurately estimate distance-especially with flash, but also to know appropriate shutter speeds for motion across your horizon (near and far), coming to or going away diagonally and moving in and out directly to your front. Here is where you can really explore the joys of 'hyper' modes! And knowing distance will allow you to pre-focus/manual mode; beat the heck out of depending on auto focus!

If you work in existing light only then a gray card, a white balance reference and a Color Checker are essential. You must have some form of noise reduction software-Neat Image or Noise Ninja are both adequate. If sunlight, especially waning twilight are part of the light mix, a custom white balance every 15 minutes or so will be a big help. If you can use flash, figure-out rear curtain sync-puts the motion blur on the right side. A light meter can be used to map lighting hot spots.

If you want to advance your technique also find material on high-speed sync and dragging the shutter-opposite ends of the same equation.

Most sports shooters look for the big finish action shot, but those are easy with a little practice. Don't put that camera down for even a minute and learn to look for 'human interest' shots; look and shoot action away from the net, basket or ball. Don't forget the fans!

Learn your camera; read the manual; carry it in your bag. Pick one technique per game until you can use any at will-including manual modes. Repeat with flash. Know your lenses like you know your eyes-be truthful!

Oh, bring extra batteries and (e-)film.



[Yes, I'm published; books, magazines and newspapers. Spanning 25 years.]
03-07-2007, 03:43 PM   #8
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Thanks to all for your input. I now have several leads to follow!

Thanks,
Rick

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