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02-11-2010, 05:19 PM   #1
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Pentax K-x and sports events

Hello!

I'm a future/new DSLR user, currently owning a Canon S5 IS. I'm ready to press "Place Order" on Amazon for the Pentax K-x with 18-55mm and 55-300mm lenses at 643$.

Main reasons for replacing my S5 IS:
- very poor ISO performance
- average image quality
- not enough manual controls

What I want to keep from the S5 IS:
- good zoom
- decent for sports events

My questions:
1- Is the 55-300mm lense somewhat equivalent to the 12x zoom on my S5 IS?
2- How is the auto focus on the K-x and 55-300mm for, let's say, wakeboard or car racing pictures under day light? Will I be able to follow the subject and take decent pictures even after 2 or 3 beers?
3- Can I get any better bang for the buck at 643$? I don't think so.

Thank you.

02-12-2010, 05:15 PM   #2
Ole
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Your Canon's lens has a focal length range of 36mm - 432 mm (in 24x36 format terms).

The two Pentax kit lenses which you mention have a 24x36mm equivalent of 27mm to 450mm combined (a 16.7x zoom ratio), so the two lenses combined surpasses the Canon at both ends: Wider wide angle, and longer telephoto. The 55-300 alone has an 24x36mm format equivalent of 82 - 450mm (about a 5.5x zoom ratio). So with the two lenses you're good, except that you may have to switch lenses from time to time.

The Pentax kit lenses have a relatively modest maximum aperture at the long end, f/5.6 and f/5.8, respectively. This means that you need decent light or else you cannot use a freeze-action shutter speed.

I'm not into sports photography so I can't recommend a specific alternative lens. In general, if you want to spend more to get a larger maximum aperture (like f/2.8 for example), look for a lens with IF (Internal Focusing) - they autofocus faster.
02-14-2010, 01:47 AM   #3
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If I was wanting to get into sports photography seriously I would not buy a Pentax and if I had a Pentax I would not buy the 55-300.

Pentax SLRs are slower to focus and not as good at tracking as the big 2. I have a K-7 and find it adequate, not great, not sure how the focus speed compares to K-x.

The 55-300 is a slow lens, as Ole says, as it doesn't let much light in, making focus and high shutter speeds more difficult (note - not impossible).

For sport you want a f2.8 lens, prime or zoom. This also lets you defocus the background more.

The 55-300 is a decent lens, but not really for serious sports.

In saying that I am happy with my K-7 as it's weatherproof, small and light. I use a Sigma 70-200/f2.8 usually with the Sigma 1.4x EX teleconverter on it. See my website in my signature to see what is possible for me with this combo.
02-14-2010, 02:36 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Arpe Quote
If I was wanting to get into sports photography seriously I would not buy a Pentax and if I had a Pentax I would not buy the 55-300.

Pentax SLRs are slower to focus and not as good at tracking as the big 2. I have a K-7 and find it adequate, not great, not sure how the focus speed compares to K-x.

The 55-300 is a slow lens, as Ole says, as it doesn't let much light in, making focus and high shutter speeds more difficult (note - not impossible).

For sport you want a f2.8 lens, prime or zoom. This also lets you defocus the background more.

The 55-300 is a decent lens, but not really for serious sports.

In saying that I am happy with my K-7 as it's weatherproof, small and light. I use a Sigma 70-200/f2.8 usually with the Sigma 1.4x EX teleconverter on it. See my website in my signature to see what is possible for me with this combo.
The OP is looking for a cheap DSLR and lenses. At the lowest end all DSLRs and cheap consumer zooms aren't really suitable for "serious sports." I'm not sure whether the OP is looking for a $5k+ body (1D IV or D3s) and equally expensive f/2.8 lens kit. The slower kit zooms will probably disappoint.

02-14-2010, 01:31 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Arpe Quote
If I was wanting to get into sports photography seriously I would not buy a Pentax and if I had a Pentax I would not buy the 55-300.

Pentax SLRs are slower to focus and not as good at tracking as the big 2.
OK, but let's put this into perspective: he's not trying to become a professional sports shooter. He's just looking to upgrade from the P&S he currently uses. The K-x + 55-300 will do this very nicely (and he can always upgrade the lens later if he gets serious enough to want to carry around a behemoth like a 70-200/2.8 (and shell out the $$$ it will cost).
02-14-2010, 04:29 PM   #6
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Yeah I know, that's why I put "seriously". Forewarned is forearmed.

More detail on what type of sports events, where he/she will be stationed etc., and at what level the OP is at would be good.

How good is the K-x AF speed compared with K-7?
02-14-2010, 05:49 PM   #7
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Thanks for the feedback. Here are two examples taken w/ my S5 IS:



So the two main sports will be wakeboarding w/ friends and family, and car racing. I liked my Canon, but I want something a bit better in term of ISO performance and lenses potential. If you look closely at picture #1, there's noise even at ISO 200. That's pathetic.

If you tell me that I won't get any better pictures than these w/ the K-X, well I'll reconsider my purchase.
02-14-2010, 10:06 PM   #8
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Here are a couple of shots with my K200D and an old 70-300mm manual zoom. I learned on my old ME Super using this same lens. A lot depends on technique. I try to use the highest f-stop I can to maximize depth of field then try to focus on where I plan to get the shot. It takes some experimenting but after a while it starts to come naturally.





Good luck with whatever you decide to buy.

02-14-2010, 10:35 PM   #9
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Any dSLR will be better than a P&S for noise at the same ISO. I don’t see either pic as suffering from too higher noise to be honest.

Having only recently got my dSLR, I’ve realised the previously unquantified “better image quality” in my mind actually actually translated to pictures with a much narrower depth of field for the focus, something both your shots could do with.

Pic #1 is a challenging one for a camera to meter, your subject is under exposed against a bright background, any dSLR would probably do the same job in auto mode. A bit of post processing would be able to brighten the shadows. Knowing how to meter correctly would avoid that need, you’d either dial in some EV compensation or shoot in manual for correct exposure of the rider. For Pic #1, a K-x with a 55-300 would do a great job and produce a better result. Being able to shoot in burst mode would also help for that type of action.

One thing a dSLR wont help you with though is composition, something pic #2 is handicapped by, for that one you needed to take it from a different vantage point to eliminate the distracting background. I don’t think a dSLR in that situation would help you too much, maybe a bit of blurring of the background but not enough, given how far you were from the scene, to remove the distractions.
02-14-2010, 10:39 PM   #10
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For what you are looking to do, the K-x should be a step up. The Pentax lenses may not let in as much light at the long end as the S5 but you should be gaining significantly better high ISO performance. Take a look at samples here on the forum, but you will likely find ISO 1600 and possibly even higher acceptable.

You may already have seen this thread (with samples from a variety of lenses): https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/88994-show-us-your...k-x-shots.html
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