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01-09-2010, 01:23 PM   #1
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Lens Advice for High School Soccer Games

Hi. I would appreciate your advice. We have a K-7 and want to get a lens to take pictures of our kids during high school soccer games -- mostly night games with normal high school stadium lights, but also day games.

We were looking at the Pentax DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED Lens for Pentax and Samsung Dgtal SLR Cameras on Amazon for $349.95 (no tax or shipping). There is a Wolfe camera store down the freeway, and they say they will match any price, so I checked there. They cannot get the lens, but had a "comparable" lens packaged under the name Quantaray but made by Sigma -- 70-300mm F4-5.6 Zoom (for Pentax AF 25-166-6111). They have a 10 day full refund policy so customers can, in essence, try the lens out. Oh, and it was on sale for $149, down from $200. My husband got it yesterday and so far the pictures look too hazy, especially at 300. They are not crisp and clean.

One more consideration, though, is that we are newbies and maybe it's a skill problem and not a lens problem.

Somewhere on this site, I believe, I saw a water skiing pic, and it was awesome! Once we get better at the camera, we want to be able to take awesome soccer action shots.

We will learn and get good at this. So we want a lens that will allow us those nice shots. Any advice specific to these two lenses? Or is there another lens that would serve us better?

Thanks for any help you can offer.

01-09-2010, 02:32 PM   #2
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Can you post a couple of examples of the shots you refer to as hazy--this will enable us to better assist you. Thanks.

BTW, the Pentax lens is better than the Sigma/Quantaray. To get started, you could try the Tamron 70-300 LD (di version too) 4-5.6 Macro. You need to get technique down, but once you do you will get great soccer shots. This lens has to be one of the best bargains in DSLR land. Good and sharp. Achilles heel is PF in high contrast situations, but stopping down greatly reduces the problem. I just sold an excellent used one at the our forum--$80. You can usually get a used one @ have a good reputation. Good luck and keep us informed of your progress.

Last edited by Jewelltrail; 01-09-2010 at 02:38 PM. Reason: adding
01-09-2010, 02:35 PM   #3
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Depending on which Sigma 70-300mm you have really does make a difference I think. There are currently 3 or 4 different version of it. I currently own the Sigma 70-300mm APO DG with the red ring on the focus part of the lens. I found that at the top end of the zoom it doesn't get the sharpest pictures which is generally the case for all zoom lenses. As for hazy, I've never noticed that in any of my pictures. My shots have looked pretty crisp and colourful, imo.

I don't know about Quantaray lens but you mentioned that it's made by Sigma so it should be just a rebranded model from Sigma. Which one however I do not know.

As for what lenses are in that range. You pretty much have a couple of choices the Tamron, Sigma, Tokina, and Pentax.

At 300mm
I think for the best picture quality the Pentax 55-300 is the way to go.
The Tamron takes sharper pictures but I have heard CA is sometimes a problem.
The Sigma takes softer pictures but no problem with CA.
and Tokina I have no idea I currently have no suppliers in my area to get some test shots.

Mind you at the 300mm range (the far end) the picture quality decreases. Actually in both ranges of the selection. One of the drawbacks of zoom lenses I believe. So if you are going to be guaranteed to shoot at the 300mm focal range you should consider a prime lens.
01-09-2010, 03:31 PM   #4
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Example pics

Jewelltrail/everybody -- here are some example pics.

These happen to be daytime shots. Let me know if you have any trouble accessing them.


01-09-2010, 08:14 PM   #5
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The Quantaray lens that you are using is a rebranded Tamron and not a Sigma.
Tamron AF 70 - 300 mm F4-5.6 LD Macro

In my opinion those pictures seem to be out of focus. but yes you are right that there is something wrong. Nothing in the the picture at all is in focus.

I hope you don't mind but I took a look into the Exif data of one of the pictures. There are somethings in there that might be a reason why the pictures came out as they did.

According to my ExifTool, it says that you used Shutter Speed priority as the E-Program, next time try using the preset for fast action. See if it makes a difference. It also says AF-S which in really I don't think it matters. Nor does the ISO speed of 200.

Here is the important part. It says your SR (Shake Reduction) is NOT stabilized.
If the Exif data is right. The problem you are having is right there. At 300mm you should use a tripod if you are not using SR. If you are using a tripod I'm out of ideas. If not in order for you to use 300mm focal without a tripod and SR. You will need a shutter speed of 1/500 or faster. Otherwise turn on SR and see if there is a difference I believe it will fix the problem you are having.

I recall the general rule was 1/(focal length). Or I might be confused with the F16 Sunny rule. It's been awhile since I used my Film camera.

I hope that helps.

Edit: Sorry just noticed the SR is ON but not image is not stabilized. Not 100% sure why it's not stabilized though. Perhaps you are not giving the camera enough time to do it's calculations? I honestly don't have a clue yet.

Last edited by epqwerty; 01-09-2010 at 08:21 PM. Reason: correction in data
01-09-2010, 08:59 PM   #6
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You do have to wait for the SR icon to light up in the viewfinder after half-pressing and before taking the pictiure in order to get SR. Between the lack of SR and the shutter speed not really being fast enough to sto action either, I'd say openign up thre aperture and/or raising the ISO to get a faster shutter speed wouldhave helped a lot. It's not the lens - althoug to be sure, this lens is *not* as good as the Pentax 55-300. Neither will be very useful in night games, though, unless the lights are incredibly bright. Even at ISO 1600, you will probably struggle to get shutter speeds fast enough to stop blur at f/5.6.
01-09-2010, 09:31 PM   #7
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I shot U7 Soccer last year. This year it will be U8s. I try to shot all players in both sides of the match & both presentations - which can have me running as they often occur simultaneously.

K20D & DA 55-300/F4-5.8 for field shots & DA 16-45 for presentation shots. I use a tripod and it makes tracking & levelling a bit easier.

Try to get the sun behind you - I often can't, and backlighting makes things more difficult. I only shot daytime. Night time (for a demonstration match I watched) was hopeless. Unless the lighting is very good.

I use TAv mode. I have ISO roaming between 100-1600 (typ. 280-560), aperture set at either F6.7 or F8 (perf.) for some DOF, and shutter speed set at either 1/500s or 1/750s to reduce motion blurring.

Some of the shots are in my gallery

All the shots are here


01-11-2010, 02:02 AM   #8
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Thanks! Some improvement.

Thanks for your help and tips.

Amazing epqwerty that you could get all that information, and of course I don't mind.

My husband went to a couple more soccer games and tried the lens some more. Last half of the final game and the shots weren't bad. You guys might be right... possible he was rushing the shot. You were definately right about the pictures looking better as the focal length decreases from the 300. Glad to know that's normal.

I checked out your photos Dan. Good soccer shots -- the kind we want to get with our kids. But most amazing was your Beach 12. Oh my!! How beautiful!! My husband likes shooting the soccer more. I like the nature shots. You have some awesome photos!

I think my husband wants to return this lense and go with the Pentax.

I sure appreciate your help!
01-11-2010, 10:05 AM   #9
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From what I have been told by a friend who used to work for Ritz, The Quantaray 70-300 could eiyther be a Sigma or Tamron. They purchased lenses from both companys through the years. Check the filter size. The Sigma is 58mm, the Tamron is 62mm. Both are capable lenses.

I have the non APO Sigma and I get decent results and consider it a very good lens for the price. I use it for sports shooting mostly and it performs well most of the time. I used it at a night baseball game at Fenway Park once and got some surprisingly good results.
01-11-2010, 01:15 PM   #10
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Sunset Lady, thanks for taking the time to look at my stuff and for your comments. Please post some shots when you're happy with the result.

You may also want to send a PM to Scottnorwo - he shoots high school soccer. Mel shoots youth soccer too.


Last edited by dosdan; 01-11-2010 at 01:28 PM.
01-11-2010, 01:31 PM   #11
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You will see a difference in image quality between the Pentax lens compared to your Quantaray, but it will not offer any more 'speed' (larger aperture) which may still be an issue for you if shooting under any conditions other than full sun.

Perfecting your action photography techniques will certainly help but there's only so much a consumer lens can do in tough conditions.
01-11-2010, 01:56 PM   #12
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get a monopod
01-11-2010, 02:22 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gooshin Quote
get a monopod
i second that. Shoot in RAW if you aren't already - that'll enable you to up the ISO to 3200 and remove the noise afterwards. And a monopod will help with motion blur, which appears to be the case, occasionally.

ISO 3200 gives you twice (technically half..) the shutter speed (1/200 vs 1/100) than 1600 does.
01-11-2010, 03:27 PM   #14
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Sunset Lady, in my opinion both your ISO & shutter speed are too low in the shots you posted.

Here is an analysis of ISO distribution I did back in May 2009 of a match where I tried two different TAv settings:

Setting 1: 1/1000s, F8
Count: 136 shots
ISO 280: 90 shots
ISO 400: 32 shots
ISO 560: 10 shots
ISO 800: 1 shot
ISO 1100: 3 shots (sideline throw-ins with dark backgrounds - due to either the player's face being obscured or the shot being too static, none of these shots was uploaded)

Setting 2: 1/750s, F9.5
Count: 59 shots
ISO 280: 45 shots
ISO 400: 11 shots
ISO 560: 3 shots

According to Exposure: Exposure: Glossary: Learn: Digital Photography Review
those figures indicate a light value (LV) of about 14 LV.


Last edited by dosdan; 01-12-2010 at 01:25 PM.
01-11-2010, 04:51 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sunset Lady Quote
mostly night games with normal high school stadium lights,
Then you're going to need something like a Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 Di LD Macro.

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