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03-07-2020, 04:13 PM   #1
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Basketball and Soccer Sports Photography Camera Body Recommendation

Totally amateur photographer here shooting my kids basketball and soccer games. I typically distribute the e-photos to families throughout the season but nothing that gets printed or anything.

I shoot with a K30 and a sigma 70-200 lens and a tamron 17-50 lens. I am considering upgrading to something better but not sure how much improvement I'd get with something else - I don't consider myself a skilled photographer. I read another forum that recommended the K-3 II for sports photography. But not sure how much of an upgrade that would be over the K30 or maybe the K-3 would be almost as good at a cheaper price. The idea of having two camera bodies by my side is appealing though - the K30 with the 17-50 and the Kxx with the 70-200.

I'd like to stick below $500 for the body and buying used is fine with me.

Thanks for any input.

03-07-2020, 05:30 PM - 1 Like   #2
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At the moment a KP is the fastest new camera and with the Accelerator Chip would do well at ISO 3200 keeping your shutter speed up shooting basketball. The price isn’t in your range right now, but a K-5iis is, has a fast enough frame rate and excellent DR, but possibly not good enough tracking AF for fast moving sports. You could try to split the difference and buy this K-3ll at KEH ($487 BGN) for shutter speed and AF or this K-3 in the Markletplace with an 18-135 for $398..

I would try to stretch and get a used KP.

Last edited by monochrome; 03-07-2020 at 06:52 PM.
03-07-2020, 06:43 PM   #3
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+1^. With AF and Pentax, every camera has better AF than it's predecessors, and the newest is always the best. For under $500 a K-3ii is your best option.
03-07-2020, 10:34 PM - 1 Like   #4
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The K-3II has 27 AF points vs. 11 for the K-30 and a higher level processor. The KP has the same 27 AF points and SAFOX processor as the K-3II and it also has the accelerator chip, which is reported to improve tracking AF. But the camera body is only half of the equation. You also need a zoom with a useful focal length range and it needs to find focus quickly. At least the lenses you have are f2.8, so for indoor sports you can maintain a shutter speed of 1/250 or 1/320 second indoors without needing extremely high ISO settings. 17-50mm is not a useful focal length for either basketball or soccer in my opinion, but 70-200mm on an APS-C camera will work as long as the players are at least 40 feet away and will also work for players on the far side of a soccer pitch or far end of a basketball court. If you can zoom in on the player you want to focus on in the middle of the viewfinder and then pan your camera to follow that player, you will get better results, regardless of how good your camera's AF is. Soccer is much easier to follow with your camera than basketball, but if you use continuous shooting while you are following a basketball player, you should get more keepers than trying to time your shots (same applies to soccer). The K-30 has very poor tracking autofocus, upgrading your camera body has got to make a difference.


A bit of advice from a parent whose kids are now in their late twenties. It is really difficult to follow a game in your viewfinder; my suggestion is to alternate between putting the camera to your face and just being a fan, so you get to enjoy the experience. Take pictures during warm-ups and practices to get shots where your kid has the ball by him/herself instead of in the middle of a scrum; depending on the level of competition, if you are taking pictures of all the players, warm-ups might be the only chance to get a picture of some of the players in action. As long as the player's face and jersey are not blurred, it is a good picture, don't worry about motion blur in their hands or the ball. It is almost impossible to get good pictures of a player making a basket or scoring a goal; try to get pictures of the player kicking or throwing the ball and then it doesn't matter if that was the kick or shot that actually scored.

03-07-2020, 10:53 PM   #5
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I recall shooting my son playing Lacrosse (faster than soccer): 1/250, f/5.6, focus centered on the the belt line and keep grass in the bottom of the frame. The top of the frame will take care of itself (the player will be vertically centered). In Lacrosse I focused a little higher than in soccer or kept more grass at the bottom because the stick head should also be in the frame. I kept my left hand on the zoom ring to keep grass in the frame.
03-07-2020, 11:03 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies. There's a KP with an 18-135 lens for $675. I don't need the lens but could maybe sell it to help bring the price of the body down. For basketball, I sit under the baseline close to the action on offense so my 17-50 is my go to lens from that position. Pentax KP w/ 18-135 *PRICE DROP* - PentaxForums.com
03-08-2020, 05:16 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by schnur07 Quote
There's a KP with an 18-135 lens for $675
That's a great deal, and if you try the 18-135 lens you may find you want to keep it for events out-of-doors.

Thanks
QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
focus centered on the the belt line and keep grass in the bottom of the frame. The top of the frame will take care of itself
Thanks for the tip, I haven't shot too many sporting events, but I intend to change that as warmer weather arrives.
03-08-2020, 07:27 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by schnur07 Quote
Thanks for the replies. There's a KP with an 18-135 lens for $675. I don't need the lens but could maybe sell it to help bring the price of the body down. For basketball, I sit under the baseline close to the action on offense so my 17-50 is my go to lens from that position. Pentax KP w/ 18-135 *PRICE DROP* - PentaxForums.com
I am amazed that that camera is still available. It is a very good deal especially if you can sell the lens. You are unlikely to be disappointed in the KP.

03-08-2020, 09:30 AM   #9
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I just got a hold of the seller and he lives close enough that we can meet in person. I believe the lens he has is the one below. I'm not sure if it would be fast enough for basketball but I suppose worth trying to see how it goes.

SMC Pentax-DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] DC WR Reviews - DA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
03-08-2020, 10:51 AM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by schnur07 Quote
not sure if it would be fast enough for basketball but I suppose worth trying to see how it goes
Good luck. Some things to consider:
1. With the KP you can easily go to ISO 3200 without fear of too much noise, so f5.6 at the long end would likely be adequate, and 135mm will give you some options when the action is at the far end of the court.
2. When shooting with a zoom, the DOF is very thin at the widest aperture, so shooting at around f5.6 to f8 would allow for more of the fast moving subjects to be in focus.
3. The 18-135 lens is extremely versatile, as many of these pictures demonstrate
4. A WR lens is great to have, the game might not get cancelled on account of rain.
03-08-2020, 11:15 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by schnur07 Quote
Thanks for the replies. There's a KP with an 18-135 lens for $675. I don't need the lens but could maybe sell it to help bring the price of the body down. For basketball, I sit under the baseline close to the action on offense so my 17-50 is my go to lens from that position. Pentax KP w/ 18-135 *PRICE DROP* - PentaxForums.com
You could probably net $275 - $300 for the lens ($475 New ATM per Lens Review) which would bring the KP into your price range . . . . . .
03-08-2020, 12:46 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
You could probably net $275 - $300 for the lens ($475 New ATM per Lens Review) which would bring the KP into your price range . . . . . .
keh has one in "bargain" condition for $133. That is without caps and the hood. I think they sell "excellent" in the 180-190 range often with the hood and caps. I think their normal warranty is 180 days.

I think the price of these have dropped since they have started to be included in the kit packages.

I would probably keep it. It is a well liked lens. I would use it for raining soccer games
03-08-2020, 03:29 PM - 2 Likes   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by schnur07 Quote
I'm not sure if it would be fast enough for basketball but I suppose worth trying to see how it goes.
It depends on how much post-processing you are willing to do. The levitating basketball was shot at ISO 6400, first without noise reduction, then using Topaz Denoise.






The image above was at 1/160 second, the only reason the ball is not blurred is because I was panning. Here is another photo taken at 1/160 (ISO was 5000 this time):



Here is a shot taken at 1/250 and ISO 6400:



The last two photos have no noise reduction applied, I also have the last photo with noise reduction and adjusted white balance, but I wanted to show you a comparison with the K-30 you are used to. The accelerator chip in the KP should give you the equivalent of a full stop stop of noise reduction without you having to do anything, in other words ISO 6400 photos should look like ISO 3200 photos from lesser cameras. I took these photos 5 years ago and I was experimenting with a lens I had owned for 9 months, so my 10% "keeper" rate can surely be improved on, using the same lens on a KP. My son graduated from high school in 2011, I had even worse results with ISO 400 film and a manual focus Super Program; back then a Canon 5D and an f2.8 70-200mm was the only way to way to get high quality results and that combo would cost a lot more than $675.
03-08-2020, 05:51 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by schnur07 Quote
I just got a hold of the seller and he lives close enough that we can meet in person. I believe the lens he has is the one below. I'm not sure if it would be fast enough for basketball but I suppose worth trying to see how it goes.

SMC Pentax-DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] DC WR Reviews - DA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
With that deal, you'd be best advised to keep that very versatile lens, very useful for many situations, and has very fast AF. Very good IQ, and its remarkably compact design is in keeping with the KP's concept. The superior higher ISO performance of the KP will make your lenses perform as if they have a faster aperture, since you can up the ISO and get higher shutter speeds.

That price s quite a deal.
03-08-2020, 07:39 PM   #15
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This review doesn't speak highly of the autofocus for sporting situations using focus tracking -AF-C. But maybe the k3-ii is in the same boat? It appears the KP would do much better in low light/high ISO situations like in crappy lit basketball gyms. But also wondering about its smallish size with a 70-200 2.8 lens on the end of it. I realize pentax is known for sports photography, but it's what I have and I'm not going to change.

Pentax KP Review: Digital Photography Review

Last edited by schnur07; 03-08-2020 at 08:28 PM.
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