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11-28-2010, 07:24 AM   #1
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Camera or lens?

I have been shooting with a K2000 for over a year and have some questions. I have been researching lenses to try to get a good sports lens for shooting indoor basketball games. I have been using a Sigma 70-200 4-5.6 with less than stellar results in most situations, due to the bad lighting in most gyms. We've had a couple games recently in a gym with skylights, and those are better. Anyway, I also have issues with taking pictures with the camera set to "auto." My feeling is that anyone should be able to pick up a camera and take pictures with it on automatic! Mine either end up too dark or blown out highlights. I picked up a friends Nikon the other night at a basketball game and just shot a few pictures with hers on auto and played around with some of the settings and seemed to get some pretty good photos. Also, I've noticed that the built in flash is not very effective at more than just a few feet. I'm interested in hearing opinions on whether I should concentrate my efforts on a new lens or start over with a whole new system. I know I could just use the manual controls, but that takes me a little longer and is not always practical for me for just taking snapshots at family gatherings, etc.
Any advice is appreciated!
Sheri

11-28-2010, 07:45 AM - 1 Like   #2
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If the Nikon in "auto" gives better results than a Pentax in "auto", get the Nikon. Another lens will not help.
11-28-2010, 08:36 AM   #3
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If you are getting under/over exposed pictures on auto, it is most likely that the camera isn't metering what you think it is. I am trying to find a polite way to suggest that your understanding of how the metering works may need improving. The difference between your and your friends could be a difference in metering mode, FL, etc. "Automatic" doesn't mean "magic". the camera doesn't know what your subject is, or what your intent is. It only knows what light is coming through the lens and what portion of that light it is set to pay attention to. You are less likely to get the image you are looking for on auto, than with the other settings. (that's why the camera manufacturers put them there )
Before investing any big money in any more equipment, I think you should invest a small amount in some books on photography.
Sheri, please forgive me if that all sounds even a little snippy, as I truly don't mean it to. I just think that once you have a little better understanding of what goes on inside the camera, you will get a lot better pictures of what's going on in front of it.

Last edited by Parallax; 11-28-2010 at 08:43 AM.
11-28-2010, 08:38 AM - 1 Like   #4
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I wouldn't jump ship just yet. Auto not mean auto everything. There are lots of factors that could affect your photo and the nikon. AE meter style (Spot or Center Weighted or average). LCD brightness setup, I know I turn mine down and if I were to compare it to another person's K2000 it'd look dark. ISO setup. I know in auto mode the camera will generally crank the iso to the maximum level which will produce lots of noise.

I'm not sure how experienced you are with SLRs but those are possible reasons why your pictures aren't looking as good. If I were you I'd try a new lens and it would be a world of difference I think.

11-28-2010, 10:28 AM   #5
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If one does not want to put the effort in and the other camera gives the better results for the way the user wants to use it, Sheri must just go for it.

PS
Any built-in flash has a limited range unless one cranks the ISO up; at ISO 100 and f/4, the reach is about 3 meters
11-28-2010, 11:20 AM   #6
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If some of your shots are underexposed and others overexposed then it's the camera settings and not the lens. The metering mode will affect exposure quite a bit. Spot metering can give extremely different readings in shooting a fast moving sport like basketball. A different exposure will result if you are exposing on different parts of clothing such as a white shirt or dark blue shorts. There's nothing wrong with using an auto mode BTW. I would say most of us use it as a starting point and for fast action sports, if the auto exposures are close to right on, leave it there and concentrate on capturing the action. Take a few shots and look at the histogram and LCD and then adjust your camera to what's needed. A faster lens than the one you are using will probably give better results for indoor sports. You need shutter speeds of at least 1/250 for action and faster is better.
11-28-2010, 05:33 PM   #7
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For the basketball, I've been using shutter priority mode, setting the shutter at 1/250 if possible, but sometimes 1/180, and pushing the ISO as high as I need to do that. In the well lit gyms, 800 ISO is fine, but those are very few and far between. The last game I went for the 3200 ISO! A few pictures were good, others were very noisy, which I expected, but thought I would take the chance.
I'm still figuring everything out and seem to learn things every time as I use it. It sometimes amazes me that I take better pictures when I don't use the auto setting. I think for now, a new lens is the way to go. Since I have taken some fairly decent photos (as far as the rest of the parents/coach, etc. are concerned), the coach and AD seem to expect them at all the games for the season! If I switched to a new system, I would probably still need more than just the kit lens, and I certainly don't want to drop that much money right now.
Now, what lens should I buy?
11-28-2010, 05:45 PM   #8
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if you don't want to spend too much and want new. Go with the DA 35mm F2.4 that just came out. $199.99 Canadian. Definately a bargain for the speed and I think you will get much better pictures with it since it's so much faster than a kit lens. If you want cheap and not worried about AF and everything go with a 50mm F2.0 They can be brought for a low price. Should be fast enough for your purposes.

11-28-2010, 06:30 PM   #9
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A faster lens like 70-200 1:2.8 would help, also, shooting RAW you should be able mitigate the high ISO noise in post processing. If you don't use the full focal range of the 70-200 you could probably find a faster lens cheaper, so determining what focal lengths you need (most) would be the first thing to do.

You seem to be on the right track with using the Tv mode. With that somewhat longer shutter times might work and enable you to use lower ISO for less noise. I guess you'll have to experiment to find the best compromise, that is something the auto mode doesn't know how to do.
11-28-2010, 07:30 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by sherib Quote
It sometimes amazes me that I take better pictures when I don't use the auto setting.
you should not be surprised or amazed by this. point-and-shoot cameras are made just for that - put it in auto mode and take some pictures. dslr's are made to give you control of how your camera operates. auto mode will just have the camera make the best guess it can which can sometimes yield a good photo while other times failing to do so.

if you want good performance in auto mode i suggest picking up a good point-and-shoot camera. some of those can yield very good results.

if you want to stick with your dslr then i suggest learning about how it works and what you can do to get the shots you want.

as far as equipment goes, for most sports you need a lens with at least F4 aperture in most situations with F2.8 being even better. the reason is that when you have dim lighting (typical) and you set your camera to shutter priority mode your camera will open the lens aperture as much as it can. once that's done it will crank up sensitivity (ISO) to yield a properly exposed photo. so if your shutter speed is constant, and so is the lens aperture (because it's wide open), ISO will go up as lighting decreases. so if you want to lower ISO to reduce noise you either have to lower the shutter speed or get a lens with a higher maximum aperture. unfortunately, fast lenses are not cheap so it's up to you to decide how you want to approach this problem.

with regard to shooting RAW vs JPEG, i've been reading that most sports photogs shoot in jpeg mode since jpegs fill up the buffer slower than raw files. doing so might reduce post-processing options but could mean getting a great shot vs missing it while waiting for the camera to write files to card and free up the buffer.

good luck!
11-28-2010, 07:55 PM   #11
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I can't figure out if the K2K does automatic bracketing, but you might try that if it's available. (Of course the Bracketing Corollary to Heisenberg's Principle states that any single frame of a bracket set may have the perfect moment or the perfect exposure, but no frame may have both.)

Try to see if there are specific situations which are yielding poor pix. Backlit athletes? Dark-complected ones against harshly-lit floors? This might give you some clues as to whether a given metering mode (e.g. spot vs. matrix) is giving you fits.

At what ISO are you shooting? Higher ones narrow the dynamic range (but you might have Hobson's choice -- the available light is all that's available, eh?). If you want to shoot auto, you may need to vary the program line to favor wide-open apertures before it starts pumping up the ISO. This is actually one reason a more-expensive lens may help, if you go for something with a wider aperture than f/4 you may be able to shoot at lower ISOs and still have decent motion-stopping shutter speeds.

A technique I sometimes use when it's really wacky out there is to spot-meter a face (or whatever the critical subject is), check the histogram and reshoot until it's right, then just lock that exposure and use it. Unless the lighting is REALLY spotty, a face at the free-throw line is lit about the same as one at midcourt.

Finally, yes, builtin flashes don't give you much range -- the spec for yours says 11 meters, but mine never seems to really be useful out to its specced range. You can get a pretty sizable flash for not too much money on eBay (but be sure to pay attention to trigger voltages if you buy an old one, you don't want to fry your camera's innards). You could always get a pair of old Vivitar 2800s and a pair of optical slaves to plug them into, put the camera on M, raise the on-camera flash, and blast away. Watch out for the photonic recoil, though >;-)
11-28-2010, 08:56 PM   #12
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Thanks guys. But I think there is a bit of a misunderstanding. I don't ever shoot in auto mode for the basketball games. These were two separate issues I was frustrated about. There is where I know that I need the faster lens.
What I was referring to as far as the auto mode giving me problems is just random snapshots. I think I need to play around with it more in various situations to see when it is a problem and how to fix it. There seem to be some settings I just can't seem to get figured out (and remember), such as focus or exposure lock. I'm guessing I don't want to bail out on the Pentax until I get more experienced with the camera, then decide. My husband says I'm too critical about my pictures, so I'll just try to read more and learn more about how to do the things I need to do and keep working at it.
Thanks again!
11-28-2010, 09:07 PM   #13
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sherib, i think that until you reach the full potential of your camera system switching won't do you much good. that is, doing so might solve some problems but will likely create others.

i think you are on the right track of staying with it and mastering your camera. good luck and remember that there is no substitute for experience
11-28-2010, 10:19 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by sherib Quote
My husband says I'm too critical about my pictures
I've found with my own work that I have two choices: Be overly critical (it especially seems so to my family), or fail to improve.

The trick is switching between the drill sergeant and the art appreciator. If you never step back, turn off the critic, and admire your own work, you won't get the pleasure out of it that you could be getting. Take a breath, appreciate the good work you've done...and THEN obsess over how to do it better!
11-29-2010, 08:04 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by fewayne Quote
The trick is switching between the drill sergeant and the art appreciator. If you never step back, turn off the critic, and admire your own work, you won't get the pleasure out of it that you could be getting. Take a breath, appreciate the good work you've done...and THEN obsess over how to do it better!
Enjoy what you do today, analyse what you did yesterday.
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