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10-21-2020, 07:09 AM   #1
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Advice for Shooting Gymnastics: Upgrade Body (from K-r to K-70) or Upgrade Lens?

Hi all,

My daughter is in gymnastics and I've been doing more shooting indoors now as a result. Typically in gyms or auditoriums, and I'm usually around 25 yards away (give or take a bit). Been using my K-r with a Pentax-DA 3.5 - 5.6 18 - 135 lens. Images are coming out grainier than I'd like, I'm sure having to do with this being a bit of a slower lens have having to shoot at a higher ISO.

My question is, would I be better off upgrading to a K-70 body and keeping the current lens, or upgrading to a different lens? If a lens, what would you suggest? Not looking to spend a lot of money here, anything over $1,000 is a "no go" for me. Even if the lens isn't adjustable zoom that's fine as long as the image quality is good, I could always crop after the fact.

Would greatly appreciate your suggestions. Thanks!


Last edited by Martowski; 10-21-2020 at 08:20 AM.
10-21-2020, 07:51 AM   #2
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What focal length are you typically using with your zoom? Then, try a fixed focal length lens of about that value.

With a bit of searching, you should be able to get a SMC Pentax-DA 50mm F1.8 for not much more than $100. That would get you almost 2 stops of better low light performance.

If 35 mm turns out to be most useful, try the SMC Pentax-DA 35mm F2.4 AL (not quite as fast, but still a stop or so).

Both of these are well rated.

Are you familiar with the lens reviews here on this site: Pentax Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

Don't forget about older generation lenses, too. F and FA series have autofocus, which you probably want in the gym!!
10-21-2020, 08:05 AM   #3
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You don't say what iso and how large you view/print and if significant how large a crop. At size up to 12"x18" (uncropped) and moderate iso (400 and maybe 800--I limit mine to 400) I doubt if you will see any difference between K-r and the later Pentax ASP-C bodies (likely ~ 1/2 stop less DR, so minor). AF is another story, but you may not be limited by this--75 feet is essentially infinity, for moderate FL. I don't see a (working) difference between my K-x's, K-5's, and KS-2 (but I never do an A to B comparison--as good enough is good enough for me).

A faster prime (e.g., 35mm, 50mm, or 85mm, of about f/2) will make a larger difference--it will allow lower iso. But--and this is the real question IMO--will a larger aperture (if longish FL) lead to more missed focus or insufficient DOF, or maybe also lead to better subject isolation and thus be better on two counts. This you can likely assess from your experience to date.
10-21-2020, 08:08 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by AstroDave Quote
What focal length are you typically using with your zoom? Then, try a fixed focal length lens of about that value.

With a bit of searching, you should be able to get a SMC Pentax-DA 50mm F1.8 for not much more than $100. That would get you almost 2 stops of better low light performance.

If 35 mm turns out to be most useful, try the SMC Pentax-DA 35mm F2.4 AL (not quite as fast, but still a stop or so).

Both of these are well rated.

Are you familiar with the lens reviews here on this site: Pentax Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

Don't forget about older generation lenses, too. F and FA series have autofocus, which you probably want in the gym!!
Thanks! I actually already have the SMC Pentax-DA 35mm F2.4 AL. I just found a couple old lenses my dad had back in the 80s as well (he was a big Pentax guy back then). One is an Asahi Takumar 135mm 2.5-22, the other is an SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2-22. I might play around with these on my K-r in manual mode and see what results I get as well.

10-21-2020, 08:11 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Martowski Quote
Advice for Shooting Gymnastics
Hi,

The luminosity of the lens is the basic requirement, if it is constant throughout the entire focal length much better. E.g. 70-200 f/2.8,
would make you gain two stops that reported are about 800 / 1600 ISO instead of 3200 or 6400,
if it was possible you could ask a teacher or someone you know to approach, you could shoot at a shorter distance and catch more details.
Moreover, if you know your daughter's exercise you can choose the best points to shoot from in advance.
then depends on the focal length a 50mm is little thing if the essay takes place in a sports hall, you need a longer optics, as mentioned above.

Ciao Mario
10-21-2020, 08:16 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Martowski Quote
Thanks! I actually already have the SMC Pentax-DA 35mm F2.4 AL. I just found a couple old lenses my dad had back in the 80s as well (he was a big Pentax guy back then). One is an Asahi Takumar 135mm 2.5-22, the other is an SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2-22. I might play around with these on my K-r in manual mode and see what results I get as well.
You should be able to get lot better results with those once you get used to manual focus. Now you can save money for body upgrade. I'd keep my eyes open for used KP rather than K70.
10-21-2020, 08:18 AM   #7
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Both the 135mm f/2.5 and 85mm f/2 lenses you have are outstanding (I use them a lot for theatre photography), and the M-85 being auto aperture will likely be best.**

You said a K-4? If it is a K-5, the sensor quality is the best of any APS-C pentax dslr. If the K-7, it is not so good and you may see improvement w/ more recent dslr--but I think the lens is first area to change.

_____
** Actually I am likely wrong (not M42 mount) and think you mean the later bayonet mount 135mm. An auto aperture lens, and a good enough one from what I read.
10-21-2020, 08:23 AM   #8
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Sorry, I mis-typed in my original message. I have a K-r currently. Sounds like the lens is the first thing to change, as sticking my current lens on a k-70 might not make that much difference. I am going to play around with these older manual lenses, and keep my eye out for a deal on a faster AF lens as well!

10-21-2020, 09:40 AM   #9
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1 I have never attempted photography of gymnastics, however I have take photos of other sports and wildlife

if you can predict where the " action " will be, you have won half of the battle - the start or finish of a tumbling run perhaps, a pose on the balance beam or uneven bars where there is little or slower movement

is continuous shutter ( burst mode ) important

some of the info in these articles might be of help:

QuoteQuote:
Guide to Camera and Autofocus Settings for Shooting Sports
Read more at: https://www.pentaxforums.com/articles/photo-articles/dslr-sports-autofocus-s...#ixzz6bWbR4p00
QuoteQuote:
DSLR Guide for Shooting Sports II
https://www.pentaxforums.com/articles/photo-articles/sports-shooting-focusin...se-racing.html

2 the aperture of your lens could be very important

3 budget ??? looking for new equipment or is " experienced " equipment ok

the forum's marketplace can be sorted by country:

The Pentax Marketplace | Buy & Sell Pentax Cameras and Lenses (United States) - Page 2 - PentaxForums.com

4 be sure to use all of the forums' tools

the users reviews

the in depth reviews

the side by side comparison tool:

Pentax KP vs. Pentax K-70 vs. Pentax K-3 II vs. Pentax K-r - Pentax Camera Comparison - PentaxForums.com

5 continue to ask questions and discuss

Last edited by aslyfox; 10-21-2020 at 09:46 AM.
10-21-2020, 09:51 AM   #10
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I would encourage you to upgrade to K-70 or other more modern body. I have been shooting my sons indoor sport events witk K-x, K-5 and K-70 with manuals 135/3,5 and 50/2.
While K-5 is my favourite to shoot, the K-70 is definately better than K-x. Pentaprism makes a huge difference in focusing and usable ISO up to 3200 does not hurt.
Prefocusing of course works with K-x, but changing the focus is quite painful. And of course later bodies give more room for cropping. (and im little jealous of your 85mm, that would be perfect )

Choises, choises, never easy
10-21-2020, 09:52 AM   #11
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I have been using the Sigma 50-150 on my K5IIs for shooting volleyball. It works pretty well, but I am shooting up to 1600 iso. Not sure if that would help.
10-21-2020, 10:08 AM   #12
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Thanks. Definitely going to play around with the manual lenses and, while I could definitely benefit from a new body, I think i might be better served picking up a used Tamron or Sigma 70-200 f2.8 lens.
10-21-2020, 10:33 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Martowski Quote
I think i might be better served picking up a used Tamron or Sigma 70-200 f2.8 lens.
Wise decision, I own the Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM,

but if you find another Sigma/Tamron at a fair price, with that focal length and brightness you'll make a great buy, and you'll need it on many other occasions.

Mario
10-21-2020, 10:36 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Martowski Quote
Asahi Takumar 135mm 2.5-22
QuoteOriginally posted by Martowski Quote
SMC Pentax-M 85mm F2-22
The 135/2.5 bayonet Takumar is actually not a bad lens even if it was targeted at consumers. I have one and gave it a good test for astro and wasn't pleased with it for that task but in playing with it in more normal light I would agree that it is a great value for a lens. Being fairly fast at the long end would be good and likely a reasonably substantial improvement over what you currently have. I haven't used any of the 85mm lenses but 85/2 again would be an improvement over what you are running speed wise. Granted you will need some practice focusing and using them as they are manual lenses so stick them on you K-r and practice with them. Any skill you develop with those lenses will also translate to using them on a more modern body so nothing would be lost.

Since you have the 35/2.4 you have something on the wide end that is fairly fast. If you have in that bag from you father a 50/1.4 or that would be be another good spot to have. Getting one of the SMC FA 50/1.4 used would be fairly easy and not too expensive and if you don't like it you would likely lose only a few dollars on resale (think of it as a long term low cost lens rental). So with 4 low cost lenses you own or could acquire for cheap you would have a big speed boost even if you sacrifice the short end entirely.
10-21-2020, 03:03 PM   #15
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I think upgrading your lens would be the first step. If you can get a f/2.8 or better, that will be a big help. I used to shoot basketball with a full frame film camera with a 28-90 f/2.8 at ISO 800 and ~1/250th sec (~18-55mm for crop K-r.). I was shooting from the floor, so I was usually closer than 25 yards.)

I think you could get away with a manual lens. As mentioned above, I would pre-focus where the action would be In manual and put the exposure in manual. If you do that, there will be no trigger delay when you take your shot (or several shots in burst mode). My K-5 has fairly low noise at ISO 800... if I have to go higher than 800, I will get grain/noise. The f/2.8 lets me stay at ISO 800.

Upgrading the camera body should let you reduce grain/noise at your current settings with your current lens. If you like your lens, go for upgrading the body.
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