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02-14-2010, 08:37 AM   #1
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Focus problems

I have a K2000 that I am still in the process of learning how to use. My last posts have been asking for help with taking pictures at my son's basketball games. Unless I'm in a very bright gym, I'm unable to get a fast enough shutter speed using my zoom lens, and even then, it's not great. At this time, I'm unable to afford the a faster zoom lens, but did find an older prime lens that works as long as I'm not sitting too far away. The lens I purchased (for $10) is a Pentax Asahi 50 mm f/2. I have gotten some pretty decent shot that once cropped, look like I was using a zoom. I'm working on exposure/shutter speed, and sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don't. My biggest problem is focus! I seem to get very few shots that are in great focus. Anybody have advice on focusing with manual lenses?
Thanks,
Sheri

02-14-2010, 01:22 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by sherib Quote
I have a K2000 that I am still in the process of learning how to use. My last posts have been asking for help with taking pictures at my son's basketball games. Unless I'm in a very bright gym, I'm unable to get a fast enough shutter speed using my zoom lens, and even then, it's not great.
Yep, that's why these lenses are called "slow".

QuoteQuote:
The lens I purchased (for $10) is a Pentax Asahi 50 mm f/2. I have gotten some pretty decent shot that once cropped, look like I was using a zoom. I'm working on exposure/shutter speed, and sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don't.
Are you just guessing at exposure, or are you using the button as described in the sticky thread at the top of this forum on how to use manual lenses?

QuoteQuote:
My biggest problem is focus! I seem to get very few shots that are in great focus. Anybody have advice on focusing with manual lenses?
Depth of field is very shallow at f/2. You need to accept that very little of the picture will be in focus. Expect the viewfinder to lie a little - it will show *more* in focus than will actually end up in focus in the picture. Practice focusing on objects on the ground at different distances and paying attention to how much of the ground in front of or behind the object is in focus. The more you do this, the more you should see your focus skills improve.
02-14-2010, 06:34 PM   #3
Goz
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You didn't mention anything about using a tripod. This helped me a lot when I photograph basketball games. The best thing to do is get yourself set up close to 90 degrees to the net set your camera up and pre-focus on a area under the net that where most of the action will take place. I would try going back to using the zoom lens and see if it works better with the tripod this way you can take advantage of Pentax fast auto focus. Use the spot focus. I had no problem setting up the tripod in the bleachers I set one leg up on the bleacher in front of me where people will set and the other two where your feet are. . this should help on focus and motion blur.
02-15-2010, 02:31 AM   #4
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Welcome to photographic reality! As Marc said, a fast lens, wide open, always has a thin Depth of Field (DOF) -- but this allows for faster shutter speeds. Stop the aperture down and the DOF increases, so a much deeper range of distances are in focus, but now you must use slower shutter speeds, so more movements are blurred. There are various ways to deal with these tradeoffs:

* As mentioned above, use a tripod at slower shutter speeds when the aperture is stopped down, and wait for pauses in action, like when a player is JUST ABOUT to make their move.

* Use a higher ISO setting. But this increases noise in the image. If you're serious here, and want minimal noise, you may need a camera with better high-ISO function, like a K-x. Or tell yourself that it's much more important to get a noisy dramatic shot than to miss the shot entirely.

* Stop down the aperture for greater DOF, and learn to track a subject in motion. The background blurs into insignificance while the subject stays in focus, if they don't twitch too much.

* If the aperture is wide open and the shutter fast, pre-focus on a point where you expect action to occur. Does a player often make a move from a certain spot? Pre-focus and wait.

* If possible, use a flash or three. If not possible, find the best-lit area(s) where play occurs, and concentrate there.

I'm not a sports photographer. I don't have a bag of tricks (or lenses) specific for athletics and games. The above are just general ways of dealing with moving subjects in imperfect light. You might want to look for books and websites dealing with the how-to's of shooting sports. Good luck.

02-20-2010, 06:37 AM   #5
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Original Poster
Thanks everyone for your advice. As my son's school basketball season has just ended, and he is not currently on an AAU team, I'll have to wait a while to start practicing again. My hope is to be able to get a faster zoom lens before next year, or at least before he starts playing in high school! I've gotten some decent shots with what I have (enough to impress some of the other parents!), but I'd rather enjoy taking the shots and not having to work quite as hard at it!
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