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01-14-2007, 05:53 PM   #1
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better basketball photos with K100D?

My fifth-grade daughter's basketball team played another game yesterday and once more I did my best to take some decent photos. Here's a link to the entire gallery (31 photos), but I wouldn't ask anybody to bother with the whole gallery. Would be grateful for comments on the following shots:
  1. ISO 1600, f/6.3, 1/100s @ 130mm. I'm not too unhappy with this shot. I don't mind - kind of like actually - the hands of the girls being out of focus. Good to have the players running right at me. Bit grainy, but it was high ISO and 130mm zoom, so I guess that's not surprising.
  2. ISO 1600, f/5.6, 1/160s @ 110mm. What's wrong here? Is it simply that it's not quite focused?
  3. ISO 1600, f/4, 1/160s @ 28mm. I'd be happy if I could get a picture this sharp and clear most of the time. Even when I cropped this shot dramatically as an experiment, what I was left with was satisfactory.
I'd especially be grateful if anybody could give me some GENERAL advice on the best way to shoot this subject with my equipment. I have the Pentax K100D. All of these shots were taken with the Tamron 18-200mm DiII lens. I also have the Pentax 50-200, Pentax 75-300 and the Pentax kit lens that came with the camera.

I don't expect to be able to match the quality of the photos taken at NBA games by photographers from Sports Illustrated! I realize that I have one very big problem - the lighting in the gyms where my daughter's team plays just isn't very good, and of course flash is out of the question. Nevertheless, I think I should be able to do better than I'm doing. And I can't figure out how.

I tried shooting with a monopod - that didn't work. So in order to keep all the shots from being blurry from movement (mine or the players') I feel I have to keep the shutter at or above 1/100s - preferably above 1/200s. That makes me push the ISO up to 1600.

I'm thinking that perhaps I should give up trying to use the telephoto capability of my lens. Perhaps take the 18-200 lens off completely and put the kit lens on instead. Keep the aperture as wide open as possible at all times. One problem with this is that I can't really run up and down the court with the players, so I park myself down at the end of the court where our team is trying to score. With the telephoto lens, I have SOME hope of getting a half-decent shot across the length of the court, like this one. But if giving up telephoto is the Right Thing to Do, I'll give it a try next game.

Anyway, I'm open to any and all suggestions and/or critiques.

By the way, I hope to get the white balance right next time using the ExpoDisc that's on order and should be delivered this week. I'm not asking here for help with color so much as with focus and noise.

Thanks,

Will

01-14-2007, 06:30 PM   #2
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best bet is getting a faster lens...you are not gonna get away from motion blur. as steady as you are going to be, if you dont use a fast enough shutter speed, your gonna get motion blur no matter what. to add, you can plant yourself in one spot, and use the kit lens as you said..and just move from one side to another between quarters
01-14-2007, 07:09 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by -=JoN=- Quote
best bet is getting a faster lens...you are not gonna get away from motion blur. as steady as you are going to be, if you dont use a fast enough shutter speed, your gonna get motion blur no matter what. to add, you can plant yourself in one spot, and use the kit lens as you said..and just move from one side to another between quarters
"Faster lens" means a lens with an aperture that's better than f/3.5, right? Have a particular lens to suggest?

But until I get a better lens, are the photos I've taken really the best that I can hope for?

Will
01-14-2007, 07:16 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
"Faster lens" means a lens with an aperture that's better than f/3.5, right? Have a particular lens to suggest?

But until I get a better lens, are the photos I've taken really the best that I can hope for?

Will
yes something that can do better than 3.5

the photos aren't that bad, i mean it's clear enough. and yeah, thats pretty much the best you can do with what you have, and the lighting.

as for lens i'll look for some links i a bit

01-14-2007, 07:26 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by -=JoN=- Quote
yes something that can do better than 3.5

the photos aren't that bad, i mean it's clear enough. and yeah, thats pretty much the best you can do with what you have, and the lighting.
Oh, dear. The thought that I'm already doing as well as I can do is discouraging. :-)


QuoteQuote:
as for lens i'll look for some links i a bit
What about this one:

Pentax Digital SLR Cameras :: Lenses :: FA 43mm

If I knock off a small branch bank, I might be able to get it. If not that one in particular, is that the kind of thing I should be looking for? Maybe this Sigma 18-70 f/2.8 (which I might actually be able to afford)?

Does it really make that big a difference?

Anybody have any idea what kind of lenses pro photographers use at pro basketball games?

Will

Last edited by WMBP; 01-14-2007 at 07:32 PM. Reason: Added a second lens to consider
01-14-2007, 07:33 PM   #6
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Hi Will,

My old Fuji shoots at low ISO. With poor lighting like a gym, prefocusing on a certain area was a must because of the slow focusing of my camera (pretty much hold the shutter halfway until I can shoot). I don't try to zoom beyond half way because that slows down my shutter a ton and I get ghosts. So I sit in the bench area or at extreme ends of the gym. I try focusing in the areas below the net and wait for the action to arrive. If I wanted different shots, I would try to predict where the action is going, prefocus on that spot then shoot when the action arrives there.

I'd try these settings with my K100D if in the same situation:

Manual Mode, RAW, ISO 1600 (800 if at all possible), Aperture wide open not zooming past 135mm (if I had your lens, and even then maybe even not past 70mm). Shutter as fast as possible to get at least 1.3 step underexposure to prevent blurs.

I know you've got the expodisc coming in. Kudos on that considering the windows and the lighting in the gym. In the meantime I would try the index card trick.

Last edited by Alvin; 01-14-2007 at 07:40 PM.
01-14-2007, 07:46 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alvin Quote
With poor lighting like a gym, prefocusing on a certain area was a must because of the slow focusing of my camera (pretty much hold the shutter halfway until I can shoot).
Alvin, thanks for the input. I am glad you mentioned slow focusing. Although the Tamron 18-200 has been doing fine for me outdoors, on at least some of the shots yesterday in the basketball game, I could hear the auto-focus motor searching and seaching. For a good bit of the game, I gave up altogether on AF and switched to MF. Unfortunately I can't really tell which shots were done with which focusing method. Next game I need to take notes.


QuoteQuote:
I don't try to zoom beyond half way because that slows down my shutter a ton and I get ghosts. So I sit in the bench area or at extreme ends of the gym. I try focusing in the areas below the net and wait for the action to arrive. If I wanted different shots, I would try to predict where the action is going, prefocus on that spot then shoot when the action arrives there.
I've sort of been figuring that out myself. I like using the zoom a lot. However, the Tamron at 200mm has a smaller minimum aperture, and of course when the light is low to start with, I end up having to shoot at something higher than f/5.whatever and that doesn't seem to work well.


QuoteQuote:
I'd try these settings with my K100D if in the same situation:

Manual Mode, RAW, ISO 1600 (800 if at all possible), Aperture wide open not zooming past 135mm (if I had your lens, and even then maybe even not past 70mm). Shutter as fast as possible to get at least 1.3 step underexposure.

I think those recommendations are pretty close to the settings I used at least on SOME of the shots. I suppose what I need to do is look at the Raw originals, pick out the ones that seem best simply in terms of exposure and sharpness, and look at the settings.

Thanks, Alvin.

Will
01-14-2007, 07:51 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
Oh, dear. The thought that I'm already doing as well as I can do is discouraging. :-)
Maybe this Sigma 18-70 f/2.8 (which I might actually be able to afford)?

Does it really make that big a difference?

Anybody have any idea what kind of lenses pro photographers use at pro basketball games?

Will
The lens is a great lens, I just feel it was just not designed for this particular situation (small aperture at long focal lengths - not good for indoor action shots). The lens likes brighter lighting so you might do well using it to shoot outdoor soccer during the day.

I believe that sigma should do the trick. If you want to go cheaper, a used, fast telephoto prime will do, but then you are fixed to that focal length until you swap lenses. Tell me what you think while I look for a link.

Pro photogs use BIG, BRIGHT (BIG APERTURE), IMAGE STABILIZED, GLASS that I can't afford in my lifetime unless I win the lotto. LOL.

01-14-2007, 07:58 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alvin Quote
The lens is a great lens, I just feel it was just not designed for this particular situation (small aperture at long focal lengths - not good for indoor action shots).
I presume you're referring to my Tamron 18-200, right?


QuoteQuote:
I believe that sigma should do the trick. If you want to go cheaper, a used, fast telephoto prime will do, but then you are fixed to that focal length until you swap lenses. Tell me what you think while I look for a link.
Or how about this Pentax pancake-style 40mm prime? Not sure whether the Sigma (which has some limited zoom capability and might make an okay all-purpose lens) or this Pentax prime would be better.

Will
01-14-2007, 08:01 PM   #10
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no worries will, some aspects of this we cannot control. I did a shoot of my cousin's basketball game too, and they were worse.

anyway, pro's use prime zooms @ f/2.8 (i have a friend that does this for a living)

nba games or tend to be lit a little better than local games, so thats an advantage to them...

anyway, i'll ask pick his brain some more later...
01-14-2007, 08:01 PM   #11
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Oops. Yes, I failed to mention I was referring to your 18-200.

The 40mm is a fine lens, but I feel you'll be ending up with a lot of "wide" shots that need cropping. I don't know how close you are sitting relative to the action.
01-14-2007, 08:11 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alvin Quote
The 40mm is a fine lens, but I feel you'll be ending up with a lot of "wide" shots that need cropping. I don't know how close you are sitting relative to the action.

I'm so close that if I get any closer they're going to have to stuff me into a uniform. I've been going down to one end of the court and trying to stay out of the way - and to avoid getting hit by a loose ball!

Cropping would not be a problem if the original shot was satisfactory.

Will
01-14-2007, 08:16 PM   #13
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check out some sigma macro's
wide opening of f/2.8, will be pretty decent in price...and you get a macro lens to boot....

thing is, how often will you be doing this sort of shots though?
it can be used for other applications, but, if you dont see yourself using it more than just these games, will it be cost effective?

105mm f/2.8 sigma

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX Macro Autofocus Lens for Pentax FA

those big white things you usually see in sporting events

Canon Telephoto EF 300mm f/2.8L IS Image Stabilizer USM Autofocus Lens
01-14-2007, 08:25 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by -=JoN=- Quote
thing is, how often will you be doing this sort of shots though?
it can be used for other applications, but, if you dont see yourself using it more than just these games, will it be cost effective?
Yes, very good questions. That's why I'm still wondering if I can't simply learn to make do. :-)

If I do buy a new lens, I'll try to buy something versatile. A 40mm or 50mm prime would be pretty versatile, but you are right, a 105mm prime would not.


QuoteQuote:
those big white things you usually see in sporting events

Canon Telephoto EF 300mm f/2.8L IS Image Stabilizer USM Autofocus Lens

HOLY COW:

$3,849.95!

Okay, that one won't be my first choice. Not even if there's a $100 rebate.

Thanks,

Will
01-14-2007, 08:32 PM   #15
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get the lens if it's going to fit your shooting style. I like shooting in indoors/lowlight situations, so my decisions will be leaning towards that side when buying equipment.

just an extra 2 cents....=)

yeah, i think the paper or publication they work for provides them with that stuff (at least my buddy's paper does)
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