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09-12-2007, 02:59 PM   #46
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QuoteOriginally posted by GaryML Quote
Are you using the Bigma for the soccer photos? Do you get accurate focus with AF-C using that lens?
9 times out of 10 I get spot on focus. If I am trying to get facial expressions then I will use Auto-point AF.C and have the subject filling the frame a lot. If I am going for the whole person I'll set it to centre point AF.C and go from there.

I'm not going to sugar coat it, the camera will miss focus sometimes. As others have said, that's just an inherent flaw in the Pentax AF system. I deal with it and get great results 90% of the time. The main time I find I miss focus is if I'm trying to capture the whole person with Auto-point AF.C on then every now and then it will pick a point which is off the person and hit the background. Thus I use centre-point for full person stuff.

QuoteOriginally posted by ricardobeat Quote
Taking your finger off the button and pressing it again only makes it even slower. Right?
No, if I have something coming towards me quickly then I tap the shutter button about twice a second, this wakes the AF system up and it definately focusses faster for oncoming high-speed subjects.

I will attempt to prove my theory next weekend when I visit the race track.

09-12-2007, 05:26 PM   #47
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tom M Quote
Two things.. Make sure you're using AF-C (Auto-Focus-Constant) and USE Shake Reduction. I don't care what the manual says. 300mm on a tripod with fast shutter speeds works great with SR ON. My personal experience.
That's interesting to hear, not that I have SR yet, one day. I use a monopod for the rugby shots and I'm sure SR would help me out when it gets darker in winter.
09-12-2007, 08:36 PM   #48
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QuoteOriginally posted by regken Quote

However, for us non professionals that need as much help as we can get equipment does play a roll in our success or lack thereof. From the reading I've done it appears the Canons and Nikons are slightly better than the Pentax but I really have my doubts if there is that much difference in AF speed and accuracy unless you reach into the top end models. The Nikon D300 just might be a different animal. The specs indicate it will be capable of giving you what you want. IMO if I were you I'd keep on working on your skills until the D300 is available.
I think I have done the same reading. Before I spend the money to switch, I will try to rent the alternative gear and shoot a game to test the difference. This upcoming game I will experiment with the DA* 50-135mm and see how that works when the action gets close enough to use it. Maybe a longer SDM lens will be a more satisfactory solution overall.

I think that the Nikon line is more appealing in some ways as compared to Canon, especially in the design and operation of the bodies. I compared a D80 side by side with the Canon 30D, and I have to say that I liked the Nikon better in terms of control layout and operation. Maybe it was just that the Nikon was closer to the Pentax that I'm used to, but I did like it better. I'm sure the D300 will be a very fine camera, but probably out of my price range for the short term.

The problem with Nikon is the the lens line-up doesn't match what I need and can afford. The 200-400mm f/4 would be perfect, but it is $5000. I can't justify that kind of expense for snapshots of kid's sports, and it is too big and heavy for me to use it for most other applications. The 80-400mm is a nice size and focal length, but the slow, screw-drive AF isn't going to be much of an improvement from my current set-up. A 70-200 f2.8 VR with a 1.4X converter is a possibility: it should focus fast and the reports are that this combo give excellent results even wide-open. This combo will be close to $2000 however, and at 3+ lbs is a bit heavy for general use. By comparison, my Pentax DA* 50-135mm and the Canon 70-200 f4 IS both come in at about 1 1/2 lbs. I don't want to lug a 3 lbs lens around all day on vacation, but I can handle a 1 1/2 lbs lens.

I think you are right about working on the skills. Maybe developing superior photographic ability is a better approach instead of spending a ton of money to buy my way out of my limitations. It's like the amateur golfer who spends a fortune on the most expensive "Big Bertha" drivers instead of improving his skills with extra practice.
09-12-2007, 08:42 PM   #49
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QuoteOriginally posted by GaryML Quote
I think you are right about working on the skills. Maybe developing superior photographic ability is a better approach instead of spending a ton of money to buy my way out of my limitations.
I agree completely. I actually have to work to get the photos I want, I find this really satisfying. Once I've reached true limitations of this body then I will change systems if Pentax doesn't have something that suits. But, there are a lot of SD cards between now and then!

09-12-2007, 11:09 PM   #50
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I know I am coming into this a bit late, and hopefully I can provide some insight into what I have experienced in my sports shooting being an ex Pentax user and a now Canon sports 'tog.

My experience with Pentax AF is very touch and go, my biggest concern with the Pentax was the focus speeds and inconsistency as mentioned especially when tracking fast moving objects such as I do. It wasn't always horrible, but the focus time was really annoying when you would try to capture a split second occurence. I used both Pentax and Sigma lenses for sports shooting, I never had the opportunity to try an SDM lens so I can't speak on behalf of any of those.

As for your prefocussing suggestions, it works if you want still frames but in all honesty we know that in most sports situations there is never a 'designated' path whether it be motorsports, soccer, football or whatever (ok, baseball is an exception).

Now for the dark side (Canon), currently right now I am shooting with a 400D and 40D setup thanks to my girlfriends father who owns one and let me use it as a test-bed. Initial impressions of both bodies are fatastic, ISO performance is very nice, shutter is quiet on the 400D and almost silent on the 40D. Focus speed is most impressive when using USM lenses and is astonishingly quiet (doesn't matter noise wise to me). I shoot with a 70-200 f4 L and have also used the 100-400 L, both of which are stunning glass and rank highly among sports photographers (the 70-200 f4 is the sharpest and highest IQ lens Canon has in its arsenal of available lenses).

AI Servo mode on both bodies works a treat, the 40D sports a nice feature for fast aperture lenses with center weighted focus allowing much faster focussing speeds with a 2.8 or faster lens (for those night shooters). I used a borrowed 75-300 lens initially to shoot Le Mans cars and while the lens itself wasn't acceptable in my books, the USM achieved a solid lock in AI Servo with spot on focus and within a split second. My 70-200 focuses in an eyeblink, as does the 100-400 (another perk to the L series glass) and I've yet to hear any complaints about either lenses. IQ is astounding on both lenses, even with a 1.4x TC on my 70-200 f4 it holds up amazingly well with a very minimal loss of IQ and hardly any noticeable focus speed drops.

Overall, the 40D is a cool body with lots of great features however if you are looking to stretch your money to the absolute maximum I would suggest going with a 30D (they can be had up here for $999.99 with the 18-55 kit lens) and dropping the rest of the money into your lenses. A 100-400 on the grey market will set you back roughly $1100, a 70-200 f4 about $500, 70-200 f4 IS $700-800. Another worthy opponent in the Canon field is the Sigma 100-300 f4 EX lens (much like what you already own), an extremely solid contender and tack sharp with superb IQ (Sigma stuff I tend to bump my settings +1 with though).

Both systems are great, I still love the IQ I got from my Pentax lenses but the decision for me was simply made because I was taking my motorsports photography more seriously and needed equipment that could keep up with the demands I had. Hopefully some of the information provided was useful, if you need any tests of sorts or want some test shots feel free to let me know and I will snap some for you
09-13-2007, 09:09 AM   #51
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QuoteOriginally posted by smcclelland Quote
I know I am coming into this a bit late, and hopefully I can provide some insight into what I have experienced in my sports shooting being an ex Pentax user and a now Canon sports 'tog.

My experience with Pentax AF is very touch and go, my biggest concern with the Pentax was the focus speeds and inconsistency as mentioned especially when tracking fast moving objects such as I do. It wasn't always horrible, but the focus time was really annoying when you would try to capture a split second occurence. I used both Pentax and Sigma lenses for sports shooting, I never had the opportunity to try an SDM lens so I can't speak on behalf of any of those.

...

Now for the dark side (Canon), currently right now I am shooting with a 400D and 40D setup thanks to my girlfriends father who owns one and let me use it as a test-bed. Initial impressions of both bodies are fatastic, ISO performance is very nice, shutter is quiet on the 400D and almost silent on the 40D. Focus speed is most impressive when using USM lenses and is astonishingly quiet (doesn't matter noise wise to me). I shoot with a 70-200 f4 L and have also used the 100-400 L, both of which are stunning glass and rank highly among sports photographers (the 70-200 f4 is the sharpest and highest IQ lens Canon has in its arsenal of available lenses).

...

Both systems are great, I still love the IQ I got from my Pentax lenses but the decision for me was simply made because I was taking my motorsports photography more seriously and needed equipment that could keep up with the demands I had. Hopefully some of the information provided was useful, if you need any tests of sorts or want some test shots feel free to let me know and I will snap some for you
Thanks Shawn for the information. This was precisely the comparison that I was interested in.

Looking at the specs for the 40D, it appears to be well worth the additional expense for the enhanced AF. I was also looking at the specs for the Nikon D300 and it also seems to have significant enhancements to the AF system. The real issue is the lens line-up, and I haven't come close to sorting out the best choices in either Canon or Nikon for my non-sports needs.

I still plan to test the SDM lens on Saturday to see how that works. And I still plan to try some of the suggestions made here to coax better performance out of my existing system. In the meantime, I'll be saving up my money as a new system will be a big investment (even if I sell my Pentax gear). If I decide to stick with Pentax, then I might have enough to get that new laptop I was thinking about (and perhaps a DA* 300mm).
09-13-2007, 12:17 PM   #52
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Well, depending on what you shoot you can typically outfit your canon bag for roughly the same cost I've found Obviously if you're an "L Freak" then the story changes and you'll be spending significantly more than expected. A common kit in the Canon camp that I've seen frequently is:

Canon 10-22 (some replace this with a Sigma for better price)
Sigma 17-70
Canon 70-200
Canon 1.4x TC
Canon Nifty Fifty (50mm f1.8)

Glass I can highly recommend for Canon equipment... the Sigma 10-22, Sigma 17-70, Canon 24-105 L (big $$$ but phenomenal IQ), Canon 70-200 f4 L (IS or non-IS), Canon 100-400 L, Canon 300mm f4 L, Nifty Fifty and the new IS kit lenses are looking really nice. DO NOT FALL FOR THE "DO" CRAP!

I don't want to advertise other sites or anything, but use this link as a means of obtaining some good lens information for Canon stuff.

-=Lens Sample Images Archive=- (work in progress) - Canon Digital Photography Forums

Don't always believe the L freaks either, there's some stunning Sigma glass available at a fraction of the cost of it's Canon counterpart and the money saved can always be put to better things (used mine for a 24" iMac to compliment the macbook )

Goodluck and again, if you need anything you have my email address or PM me and I will do my best to help out!
09-13-2007, 02:17 PM   #53
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Ive been shooting rugby league and union all winter and ive had gr8 pics with the k10d and Tamron 80-210. Ive found the best shots are the impacts and emotion in faces .Even when i first started i was pleasantly surprised by the amount of keepers i got. Im shooting a grand final this weekend and ive just bought the pentax 80-320mm for more reach, Naturally im hopin for a sunny day for light but the tamron was a 4.5 lens as well so im sure il get some good results. I find u have to anticipate the action and pan with it focused in ready for the shot Il use shutter speeds from 1/250 up to 1/2500 adjusting iso accordingly.the last shot in my gallery is a pretty good example if ne one wants to see. Anyway i rekon the k10d is pretty good for sports just practise it it will all come together.

09-13-2007, 11:41 PM   #54
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QuoteOriginally posted by smcclelland Quote
Well, depending on what you shoot you can typically outfit your canon bag for roughly the same cost I've found

Glass I can highly recommend for Canon equipment..

use this link as a means of obtaining some good lens information for Canon stuff.

-=Lens Sample Overprocessed Images Archive=- (work in progress) - Annoying Canon Digital Photography Forums

Sadly no longer a Pentax owner..
Whatever.

Why are you on this forum at all, then? No matter how you 'minisculey' soften it, your over-the-top fanaticism on the FANTASTICNESS of Canon including the crappily constructed 400D is just not the same as most people's experience owning both.

Usually its just more of a middle ground. AF fast, but not as accurate, AF slower, but more accurate, plasticky NR, not enough NR, etc. It goes back and forth.

The Canons of similar price to the K10D are just not as good. The Canon AF has its advantages, but that's about it. Yes, they throw on more NR at high ISO at the expense of a bit of detail (especially with the 400D), but posting here that they are just over the moon phenomenally better than the K10D is just not the case.

Either way, you now only own & swear by Canon. This is a Pentax forum.

Last edited by mutley; 09-13-2007 at 11:46 PM.
09-14-2007, 10:28 AM   #55
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QuoteOriginally posted by mutley Quote

The Canons of similar price to the K10D are just not as good. The Canon AF has its advantages, but that's about it.
...

Either way, you now only own & swear by Canon. This is a Pentax forum.
The topic of my thread was to solicit the experience of those who have used both the Pentax and the Canon systems for action/sports photography. My specific question was limited to AF performance. A number of Pentax users also use other brands of equipment. Given Pentax' small market share, I felt that I was more likely to find those who have used other systems including Canon in a Pentax forum, rather than going to a Canon forum where very few readers have any real experience with Pentax. I feel that the subject is appropriate for this forum, and I specifically stated that this was not to be a "which is better" thread.

I appreciate any and all information relevant to my question, and I appreciate all of the helpful suggestions and comments made by all of the people who took the time to respond. "mcclelland" has used both Pentax and Canon for action photography and his response was completely on-point. I do not think it is appropriate to criticize smcclelland for his enthusiasm in suggesting Canon equipment that might serve my needs. In fact, we have discussed some specific questions I had about Canon lenses outside of the Forum since such as discussion would be off-topic here.

I appreciate your opinion that there are some issues with image quality with some Canon bodies, and I will definitely take some sample images and take a close look at them before buying anything. I have looked at a number of Canon bodies in camera stores, but since I don't own any CF cards I was not able to take sample images with me for examination. I am 100% satisfied with the image quality of my K10D and the controls and construction quality. I just wish it would give me highly reliable AF performance in this specific application.
09-14-2007, 11:17 AM   #56
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I took shots at an air show recently with my K100D and 50-200 and 90% were in focus, even with the jets. I used AF-C, and the main thing was to keep the airplane in the focus point all the time during panning, let it stray out while half-pressing and it's difficult to ever get focus back again in time to take the shot at the magic moment. A friend's Canon 5D was easier to use but then it cost 4 times as much and that's without the huge lens he had. The only shots of aircraft coming towards me were helicopters and they were dead easy to focus on, these all came out really sharp and I think they were travelling rather faster than anyone running:-)
09-14-2007, 12:03 PM   #57
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QuoteQuote:
think that the Nikon line is more appealing in some ways as compared to Canon, especially in the design and operation of the bodies.
Nikon makes a good dependable camera. My work place bought one to use for work related photos. They bought a Nikon D40x with a lens I cannot recall. I used this combination twice. I found the Nikon AF system to hunt more often then I thought it would. Just be sure to try before you buy.
09-14-2007, 12:32 PM   #58
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QuoteOriginally posted by mutley Quote
Whatever.

Why are you on this forum at all, then? No matter how you 'minisculey' soften it, your over-the-top fanaticism on the FANTASTICNESS of Canon including the crappily constructed 400D is just not the same as most people's experience owning both.
Haha, seems I have struck a rather sensitive note with you... might want to watch the knee jerk reactions.

I'm on this forum because even though I used to own Pentax gear, I still like to communicate with the great photographers here and share whatever advice I can in regards to action sports photography whether I shoot with Canon, Nikon, Pentax or a damn disposable camera.

People's opinions vary, I find Canon benefits the needs of action sports photographers and there's many other people who will back this claim up. As for your little remark about the 400D, I'm open to hearing what your experience is about it's "crappy construction" seeing as it's a quite capable camera and even as my backup it does the job it should.

QuoteOriginally posted by mutley Quote

The Canons of similar price to the K10D are just not as good. The Canon AF has its advantages, but that's about it. Yes, they throw on more NR at high ISO at the expense of a bit of detail (especially with the 400D), but posting here that they are just over the moon phenomenally better than the K10D is just not the case.

Either way, you now only own & swear by Canon. This is a Pentax forum.
This I will challenge you on whole-heartedly. I know the K10D is a good camera, hell it might even push into great territory however when it comes to action sports photography I don't think it is quite so able. K10D is loaded with great features, but a body is not what defines a system or makes the pictures.

My "fantasticness" about Canon was not so much in regards to the bodies themselves but moreso the lenses. I can at least reach into my bag and pull out a fast telezoom without having to call a store rep and hear the typical line of "oh it's coming soon" or "actually it's been discontinued" such as I heard in the Pentax camp.

With that out of the way, would you like to edit your post and actually contribute to this thread now?

Here to stay,

Shawn
09-14-2007, 08:52 PM   #59
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Update: Test With DA* 50-135mm SDM

QuoteOriginally posted by GaryML Quote

I still plan to test the SDM lens on Saturday to see how that works.
The kids had an extra practice this afternoon and this was a good opportunity to test some things. I shot the practice with the DA* 50-135mm f2.8 SDM lens. Since it was a practice, I could get closer than usual and get some decent shots at 135mm.

Most of the time I used AF-C, Av at f/3.5, with shutter speeds around 1/100 to 1/1250 at ISO 100. I shot about 250 frames over 90 minutes, with the sun setting during practice. The remarkable thing is that over 90% of the shots were well-focused using AF-C. The improved performance may be related to the different lens, and part of it may be my efforts to watch and wait for when things were at the best focus and avoid having the kids running directly towards me. It is also surprising that at 1/1250 there is still some motion blur from subject movement: some body parts are blurred while others are sharp. These kids are moving fast!

[sample deleted]

Overall, I am pleased at the improvement. I will test the Sigma lens again and see if perhaps that is a limiting factor. I do think that with the right lens and the right technique, I can get the number of keepers to an acceptable level.

Here's a sample. Shot with the K10D and the DA* 50-135mm f2.8 at f/3.5, 1/1250, ISO 100, AF-C with Auto focus point, continuous drive, highest quality .jpeg capture. The original looks very sharp with tremendous detail at 100% view in Lightroom. I applied some cropping, color balancing, and a bit of sharpening in Lightroom. Not the best composition, but the kids are having fun (and the photo is in focus, so I was too!):

Last edited by GaryML; 09-23-2007 at 05:47 PM.
09-14-2007, 09:49 PM   #60
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QuoteOriginally posted by GaryML Quote
Here's a sample. Shot with the K10D and the DA* 50-135mm f2.8 at f/3.5, 1/1250, ISO 100, AF-C with Auto focus point, continuous drive, highest quality .jpeg capture. The original looks very sharp with tremendous detail at 100% view in Lightroom. I applied some cropping, color balancing, and a bit of sharpening in Lightroom. Not the best composition, but the kids are having fun (and the photo is in focus, so I was too!):
Looking good man! A quick side note for any panning shots you might want to experiment with starting at 1/250 and working down as 250 will still give you some nice background blur and if you can knock it down to the 1/125 range or lower you'll get some awesome effects Photo looks nice and sharp, the 50-135 is a superb lens and I'm sure the SDM probably lends a nice helping hand with the AF-C.

Keep up the great work Gary, look forward to seeing more test shots and seeing how your sports shooting develops

-s
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