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10-08-2009, 08:24 AM   #1
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Kit lens struggle to find focus...

I am really having issues with the DA kit lenses struggling to autofcus on moving subjects. I shoot a lot of what would be considered sports photography: Kayaks, fishing, etc. and have become more and more frustrated with "catching the moment". I tend to shoot in shutter or aperture priority, but have also tried many preset modes. Regardless, I often find myself pressing the shutter for the money shot only to end up listening to the lenses humm while trying to find/maintain the focal point.

Any basic suggestions on improving this, or is it just a matter of ponying up for a better/faster lens?

Thanks.

(BTW, shooting with a K100D and K200D)

10-08-2009, 12:56 PM   #2
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I don't know that a different lens will help a whole lot with respect to capturing moving objects. That's just a hard job. You're probably better off using continuous AF if you wish to use AF at all (I prefer focusing manually in situations like that, personally). Although fishing shouldn't present any major challenges to AF-S, unless this is some fishing technique I'm not familiar with. Are you selecting the focus point or letting the camera do it? The latter contributes to hunting a lot. And in low light (like pre-dawn) AF can always struggle.
10-08-2009, 04:03 PM   #3
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Even faster lens may have a problem with this as your subjects are moving.
Continuous AF helps more if the subject is moving towards you.
If the subject is moving from side to side, then a little panning would be more helpful.
All you need to do is practice.
Another thing is pre-focusing on a certain area and getting the shot once the subject is in the frame.
You need to do a deep DOF so as you are sure your subjects would be in focus.
The problem to this is if these are action shots, it might get blurred.
Flash would also help at times.
10-10-2009, 05:02 AM   #4
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If you are "suddenly" seeing the moment "then" lifting cam to the eye thinking that between you and the dlsr focusing mechanism you will get the perfect capture you are in for many out of focus "moments"

As said above there is much to learn in capturing the "moment"

I use the kit lens a lot and it can get the job done.

Dylan

10-11-2009, 08:10 AM   #5
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If you haven't tried it already, you might give center focus a try - I've found it's better (at least for me) because I tend to keep the moving object in the center of the viewfinder. I also have a K200D.
10-12-2009, 07:54 AM   #6
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Thanks for the thoughts everybody.

QuoteQuote:
If the subject is moving from side to side, then a little panning would be more helpful. All you need to do is practice.
Sorry to ask such a lamer question... but what do you mean by "panning"?

Just to clarify a little in response to the reply's: on two recent occasions I was shooting next to other photographers using cannon/nikon equip. One shoot was hummingbirds, the other was white-water kayaking (lots of movement, weird light from water reflections). On both occasions I would choose focus and wait for the subject to come "in frame". With AF-C and w/o C my pentax was struggling. The guys next to me were getting tons of shots while I was getting far less as the cameras AF searched. On both occasions I asked them if they were shooting MF or AF and both were shooting Auto.

I am starting to think MF seems like maybe the best option in the above scenarios.
10-12-2009, 09:53 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Birdsnest Quote
I am really having issues with the DA kit lenses struggling to autofcus on moving subjects. I shoot a lot of what would be considered sports photography: Kayaks, fishing, etc. and have become more and more frustrated with "catching the moment". I tend to shoot in shutter or aperture priority, but have also tried many preset modes. Regardless, I often find myself pressing the shutter for the money shot only to end up listening to the lenses humm while trying to find/maintain the focal point.

Any basic suggestions on improving this, or is it just a matter of ponying up for a better/faster lens?

Thanks.

(BTW, shooting with a K100D and K200D)
I some situations you can use 'anticipation',meaning have the lens locked and focus on a point where you anticipate where the subject is going to be,ready to click your your shutter.Panning is when you move the camera with the action(left to right or right to left),and at the same time click your shutter button as your 'panning'.The picture will come out with the subject having the look of movement.
10-13-2009, 03:26 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Birdsnest Quote
Thanks for the thoughts everybody.



Sorry to ask such a lamer question... but what do you mean by "panning"?
-A sideways type of movement following your subject.

QuoteQuote:
Just to clarify a little in response to the reply's: on two recent occasions I was shooting next to other photographers using cannon/nikon equip.
Please don't take this wrong, but as a beginneer myself, I suspect that they were not only employing different techniques to obtain the shot than you, I also suspect that their experience level at this type of photography was probably more advanced. That probably had more to do with their success rate at capturing the shot than anything else.

I've been trying to improve my skills at "action shots" and I find taking shots of the dogs at play to be good practice- it does take practice. I'm still not great at it, but I am improving.

10-13-2009, 06:48 AM   #9
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Panning is following a subject that is generally moving at a horizontal plane and at the same distance from where you are shooting from.

It is effective to show a form of movement/speed of the subject in an otherwise static background.

Slower shutter speeds are normally used and using m/drive helpful.

You kinda pivot around your hips - uppertorso just moving left to right or vice versa

Pic attached was at iso 100 5.6 1/100 sec - kit lens

Dylan

Last edited by dylansalt; 01-16-2010 at 12:59 AM.
10-13-2009, 07:41 AM   #10
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I do quite a bit of sports shooting throught the year. I have daughters who compete in crew rowing and freestyle skiing and I also shoot at softball games and some hockey games as well. I always use AF-C mode and shoot stopped down as much as the light allows, trying to stay between f/8-f/11 and the focus point set on center. TAV mode can be helpful getting action shots. You set the shutter you need and aperture needed for the depth of field you want and the camera will change the ISO for exposure, very helpful on partly cloudy days or when the action goes in and out of shadows.

What was probably happening with both shoots you mentioned was that the camera was trying to focus on on other things in the foreground or background as you followed the movement (panning) which is why having center focus set is important and keeping the subject centered. The shutter will fire in AF-C even if the camera isn't focused but shooting stopped down to f/11 gives you a very large depth of field, especially with the kit lens. Sports shooting does take some practice. Shooting hummingbirds takes a LOT of practice. They are very small, move quickly and unpredictably. Burst mode can help with these critters and would work well also following a kayak through rapids.
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