Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
04-28-2007, 05:21 PM   #1
Veteran Member
WMBP's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Dallas, Texas
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,496
slow focus, missed shots

Shooting a couple of volleyball games today with the K10D and a Pentax FA 50mm f/1.4, I missed a fair number of shots because, well, when I went to press the shutter button, nothing happened. Not "shutter lag" properly speaking. I am not sure what was wrong - that's part of the reason I'm posting. My guess is that the camera or lens simply wasn't focusing. I am sure that was the case sometimes (I could hear the lens struggling), but I don't know if that's the whole problem.

I found it fairly frustrating to miss shots this way. In between the first game and the second, I made some changes: switched from the Pentax FA 50mm f/1.4 lens to a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 XR Di. I had earlier tried switching to a fresh battery - although the camera didn't indicate that the first battery I was using was running low. And I tried switching cards, too. I think that the Tamron lens allowed me to miss fewer shots than I was missing with the Pentax lens, although I'm not SURE about that and I can't honestly say that it makes much sense to me.

I am aware already that I can disconnect auto-focus from the shutter button, so I'm not looking for that suggestion. I don't want to do that. An out-of-focus shot isn't worth taking, and besides, focusing with the AF button doesn't work very well, since my nose and my thumb are competing for the same spot on the back of the camera.

I might mention here, while I'm at it, that I also have VERY mixed results with continuous shooting. Sometimes the camera will give me a response that seems close to three shots per second - snap snap snap very quick. Other times, not so much: more like snap (breathe) snap (breathe) snap.

While the gymnasium isn't nearly as brightly lit as I would like, it's certainly not dark. I often try a variety of settings but the average settings for acceptable exposures were approximately f/1.8, 1/200sec, ISO 1100 - somewhere in that vicinity. I was shooting mainly in TAv mode and letting the camera adjust the ISO for me. No flash, of course.

I'm wondering if anybody can help me understand what's going on here or suggest something I might try to improve my response times. I tried changing from spot focus to auto, from spot metering to center-weighted, even switched for a while from TAv to M (hyper-manual) mode. As I said above, I am inclined to suspect that the main culprit is the Pentax 50/1.4 lens. But is that possible?

Will

P.S. Sorry for the careless misspelling of the subject! Looks like I can't fix it after the fact....


Last edited by WMBP; 05-08-2007 at 10:16 AM. Reason: fixed misspelling in thread title!
04-28-2007, 05:29 PM   #2
Veteran Member




Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Washington, D.C., USA
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 417
Will, did you have the camera on AF-S or AF-C mode? That might have made a difference.
04-28-2007, 05:44 PM   #3
Veteran Member




Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Mississippi, USA
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 572
If your camera went into sleep mode it takes a fraction of a second to wake up, you might try setting the meter off time higher.
04-28-2007, 05:48 PM   #4
Veteran Member
stewart_photo's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Heidelberg, Germany
Posts: 1,864
QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
Shooting a couple of volleyball games today with the K10D and a Pentax FA 50mm f/1.4, I missed a fair number of shots because, well, when I went to press the shutter button, nothing happened. Not "shutter lag" properly speaking. I am not sure what was wrong - that's part of the reason I'm posting. My guess is that the camera or lens simply wasn't focusing.

Do what sports photographers have done in these situations for years - set the camera on manual focus and then pre-focus your images. With some practice (the athletes on the court are not the only ones who require practice), you will find yourself easily getting the shots you want.

stewart

04-28-2007, 06:03 PM   #5
Veteran Member
bdavis's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: 'Burque, NM
Posts: 309
Will-
The 'throw' of the Tamron might be shorter than that of the Pentax lens; that is, the Tamron just has less distance to move to acquire the point at which it is focused. I don't have access to either of those lenses, so I'm not really sure, but that could account for some of the time it takes a lens to focus.

Something I've realized is that some lenses are better suited for particular purposes than others, and this may be a bit of what you are running into. To some extent you can overcome this pigeonholing of purposes, but it tends to come from practice. I'm not putting the blame on you and off the equipment, but it could be that you're just better with the Tam because you've used it more. (maybe?)

QuoteQuote:
I might mention here, while I'm at it, that I also have VERY mixed results with continuous shooting. Sometimes the camera will give me a response that seems close to three shots per second - snap snap snap very quick. Other times, not so much: more like snap (breathe) snap (breathe) snap.
Please don't take offense; I noticed this when I first got the camera, but this feeling has gone away as I've become more familiar with it, and internalized how it feels. Practice, practice, practice isn't very satisfying advice, I know, but I also know that most of my troubles with the camera come when I'm trying to force it to do something. You can act on the shutter, or you can act with it.
(Or not. Try just stepping on the button for two exposures, rather than three. )
04-28-2007, 06:27 PM   #6
Veteran Member
WMBP's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Dallas, Texas
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,496
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Wethphotography Quote
Will, did you have the camera on AF-S or AF-C mode? That might have made a difference.
Normally, I leave it on AF-S - but I tried both, thinking it might make a difference.

It didn't - at least I didn't notice a difference. I ended up putting it back on AF-S. My sense is that, when I'm really moving around a lot (as I am when shooting sports), keeping it on AF-C just causes the camera's focus mechanism to go crazy. AF-C seems designed for keeping the focus on a subject that's moving in a direction - say, a runner who is running at me as I shoot. But with these volleyball shots, I'm chasing the ball, jumping from player #4 ten feet away to player #11 twenty feet away, etc. As I move from one player to another, AF-C seems to want to keep focusing, but I don't really care about the focus until I try to shoot. And when things are working, the camera focuses more or less instantly as I press the shutter button....

Will
04-28-2007, 06:32 PM   #7
Veteran Member
WMBP's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Dallas, Texas
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,496
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by thazooo Quote
If your camera went into sleep mode it takes a fraction of a second to wake up, you might try setting the meter off time higher.
Thanks for the suggestion, but I don't think that's it. The camera never goes into sleep mode while I'm shooting a game. The problem I am talking about here occurs within, at most, a few seconds of a previous successful shot. I shoot as #4 on our team returns the ball; ball crosses net and is returned by the other team; and then, when I try to photograph #9 on our team as she goes for the ball, the camera just sort of locks up.

Will
04-28-2007, 06:42 PM   #8
Veteran Member




Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Washington, D.C., USA
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 417
QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
Shooting a couple of volleyball games today with the K10D and a Pentax FA 50mm f/1.4, I missed a fair number of shots because, well, when I went to press the shutter button, nothing happened. Not "shutter lag" properly speaking. I am not sure what was wrong - that's part of the reason I'm posting. My guess is that the camera or lens simply wasn't focusing. I am sure that was the case sometimes (I could hear the lens struggling), but I don't know if that's the whole problem.

I'm wondering if anybody can help me understand what's going on here or suggest something I might try to improve my response times. I tried changing from spot focus to auto, from spot metering to center-weighted, even switched for a while from TAv to M (hyper-manual) mode. As I said above, I am inclined to suspect that the main culprit is the Pentax 50/1.4 lens. But is that possible?

Will

P.S. Sorry for the careless misspelling of the subject! Looks like I can't fix it after the fact....
Will, I am trying to remember from my experiences shooting in a gym. (I haven't in about 2 months.) Beth could be on to something with her comment about acting with the shutter. I have had times where I depressed the shutter all the way without initially going half way to lock focus when the camera would not take a picture because focus had not been obtained. If the players are moving slightly it may be hard to lock focus and release the shutter when the button is depressed all the way. As I recall it happened more with my Ds and FA*28-70. Just now I tried depressing the shutter all the way without first locking focus and the delay was pronounced...but it did finally focus and shoot. If you haven't you might try reproducing the problem at home or outside to see if it the FA 50, the low light and contrast in the gym or a combination. I wish I could be more help.

04-28-2007, 06:48 PM   #9
Veteran Member
WMBP's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Dallas, Texas
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,496
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by stewart_photo Quote
Do what sports photographers have done in these situations for years - set the camera on manual focus and then pre-focus your images. With some practice (the athletes on the court are not the only ones who require practice), you will find yourself easily getting the shots you want.
Stewart,

Yes, practice is important. That is precisely what I'm doing out there. I've been out shooting for a couple hours nearly every Saturday for the last eighth months. I took 400 shots today in a two-hour period, not because the photographic opportunities are so rich - most of the time, one shot of a given player returning the ball is pretty similar to another. I'm out there practicing my timing and some other skills. Today I shot for an hour without putting my eye to the viewfinder, that is, I placed the camera up NEAR my face - so I could sort of sight down the line of the lens - kept the focal length at 40mm or wider, and just pressed the button when the time seemed right. The advantage of working this way is that, with my eye to the viewfinder, I have no peripheral vision and can't really see what's going on, what's happening next. Shooting like this, I was able to get a number of shots that I would normally miss. But of course I rely upon the auto-focus mechanism very heavily shooting in this manner.

More than once I've tried shooting a game using manual focus. But with manual focus, I miss more shots than ever, and I don't think it's just because I'm not skilled enough. There isn't any way to predict where the shot's going to be. I could pick a spot on the court, point the camera there and hope that, in the next hour, something interesting happens at that point. But the odds are that, while I'm waiting for something interesting to happen there, I'd miss nine interesting shots somewhere else.

Auto-focus is a feature on the camera and the lens. I not only expect to be able to use it, I do use it and, as I thought I had made clear in my original post, it works very nicely much of the time. My post didn't complain that I just can't seem to take shots that are in focus. It complained that, while the camera works great a good bit of the time, too often it just won't work at all. :-(

Will
04-28-2007, 07:06 PM   #10
Veteran Member
WMBP's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Dallas, Texas
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,496
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by bdavis Quote
The 'throw' of the Tamron might be shorter than that of the Pentax lens; that is, the Tamron just has less distance to move to acquire the point at which it is focused. I don't have access to either of those lenses, so I'm not really sure, but that could account for some of the time it takes a lens to focus.
Interesting thought, Beth. For what it's worth, the Tamron 18-75 is rather longer than the Pentax 50, stem to stern. But I don't know anything about the innards of the camera where focusing takes place. Bottom line is, you seem to be suggesting that the Tamron auto-focuses a little faster. That is kind of what I'm guessing.


QuoteQuote:
Something I've realized is that some lenses are better suited for particular purposes than others, and this may be a bit of what you are running into. To some extent you can overcome this pigeonholing of purposes, but it tends to come from practice. I'm not putting the blame on you and off the equipment, but it could be that you're just better with the Tam because you've used it more. (maybe?)
Two more good suggestions, Beth - and again, in line with what my gut is telling me. I bought the Pentax 50mm because (a) everybody says it's a great lens to have in one's bag and (b) because I thought that getting that extra speed going from the Tamron's fixed f/2.8 to the Pentax's f/1.4 might be worth the sacrifice of the Tamron's zoom. Verdict on whether the sacrifice is worth is still out, officially, but I'm beginning to think that the Pentax may simply not be the right lens for the job I'm asking it to do here. Great lens for other purposes - took a nice shot of some flowers the other day, and I bet it's super for portraits, but for indoor sports, maybe not. I can stand right next to the court - I'm often only five feet from my subject - and the fixed 50mm focal length is actually a bit too telephoto for some shots.

As for being better with the Tamron than the Pentax because I've used the latter more (which you're right about), that's interesting, too. I gather what you're saying is that the Pentax may have a slightly different "feel" to it when it's focusing?


QuoteQuote:
Please don't take offense; I noticed this when I first got the camera, but this feeling has gone away as I've become more familiar with it, and internalized how it feels. Practice, practice, practice isn't very satisfying advice, I know, but I also know that most of my troubles with the camera come when I'm trying to force it to do something. You can act on the shutter, or you can act with it.
(Or not. Try just stepping on the button for two exposures, rather than three.)
If I can get two exposures out in a hurry, I can invariably get three. The problem is always when that second shot is going to come.

Let me say again that I totally agree that practice is important - and I think that's true with sports perhaps more than in some other types of photography. Shooting wildlife (if it's sitting still) or mountains or even faces at a dinner party, I have a few seconds to think, compose, focus and shoot. But shooting sports is, well, like shooting clay pigeons, it takes practice, and good reflexes. I am enjoying the challenge, perhaps especially as this is a type of photography I've never tried, although I've been taking photos fairly seriously for 40 years. I find myself looking through Sports Illustrated now, not for the swimsuits, and not for the articles, but for the photos. Curious how very similar one shot is to another - the shot of this guy hanging on the rim of the basket this week looks a lot like the shot of him hanging on the rim of the basket last week. I'm starting to branch out and try to capture the less cliche pictures. The shot I most regret missing today was one where my own daughter had just aced a serve and was being congratulated by a team-mate. The team-mate turned around to offer Catherine a high five. It's hard to believe, but I have NO high-five shots in the thousands of shots I've taken of volleyball this year!! Catherine had a big grin on her face and it would have been a nice picture. Oh, well, I'll be on the lookout for that shot next time.

Will
04-28-2007, 07:09 PM   #11
Veteran Member
WMBP's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Dallas, Texas
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,496
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Wethphotography Quote
Will, I am trying to remember from my experiences shooting in a gym. (I haven't in about 2 months.) Beth could be on to something with her comment about acting with the shutter. I have had times where I depressed the shutter all the way without initially going half way to lock focus when the camera would not take a picture because focus had not been obtained. If the players are moving slightly it may be hard to lock focus and release the shutter when the button is depressed all the way. As I recall it happened more with my Ds and FA*28-70. Just now I tried depressing the shutter all the way without first locking focus and the delay was pronounced...but it did finally focus and shoot. If you haven't you might try reproducing the problem at home or outside to see if it the FA 50, the low light and contrast in the gym or a combination. I wish I could be more help.
This is an excellent complement to Beth's suggestion. I think you may be on to something. I will try the tests you suggest and report back.

Will
04-28-2007, 07:11 PM   #12
Veteran Member
jfdavis58's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: 13 S 0357397-3884316
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 876
How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

I'm not going to analyze your situation-too complex.

I've shot these sports for money or fame: baseball, softball, football, soccer, tennis, racquetball, handball, (singles and doubles) volleyball, swimming, diving, lacrosse, jai-lai, wrestling, golf, some silly stuff with a Frisbee, track and field and cross country running. Biathlon, triathlon, pentathlon, decathlon, field hockey, ice-hockey, competitive skating, bicycling, skiing in several forms, snowboarding and competitive tidily-winks. I've worked events with horses, mice or rats, chickens, dogs, hamsters, and armadillos.

Single-shot, center focus, hyper-program speed bias or manual. Always a constant f2.8 lens: 20-35, 28-80 or 80-200. Sometimes a filter. Some flash including both ttl and pttl. Aways a custom WB and a gray card for checking exposure (sometimes with a hand held meter)and lights--there are nasty hot-spots in school gyms, reflections and shines from things around fields; sometimes a ColorChecker to kick things off. B&W, color film and color slide; now digital.

Ninety-nine percent from a sideline, end zone, or court side, hanging in a basket, on a catwalk over the swimming once or twice, on a lower platform under the divers another time; sitting on a wall or fence. It's the best seat in the house if you have a camera!

I've been run into, run over, hit by a ball or two, a bat, a stick, a rubber chicken and various fan delivered projectiles. My knees, feet and lower back have filed for a separation.

I know every cuss-word, slur and threat because players have said it all. And if they didn't the coach or referee did. Girls swear-catholic girls are the worst. You should hear what s%%t and f%%k sound like from under water!

At one point I knew all the rules and much of the strategy. You don't want to sit next to me, because I'll make the calls before the referees do-it's ugly.

Reset your camera, then increase all the sleep or shut-off times to their maximums. Select your mode. Pre-focus on a spot, line or player, tap the shutter button to keep everything in sync. Learn to pan while checking exposure and making adjustments.

Stay calm and detached from the play, the players, the officials and the fans. Don't panic if the camera tries to out-think you: shut it off, have a cold drink, then take a few practice runs before you get-back-in-the-game.

One keeper in ten is about the best anyone can do, but it's statistical. You could get three hot-shots in a row then nothing for three weeks. In three to five 36 exposure rolls, I'd get excited if an editor actually stop while scanning a proof sheet; it's a weeks pay if he picks three or more. It hasn't improved with digital. By the time I hit the office, he's made his selections-I might find it in the paper the next day, might not. I actually have negatives, slides and CD/DVDs with frames totaling more than 250,000 shots--most of it is junk. But it's my junk!

There is one simple reason why you had trouble: not enough practice.
There is one simple fix to make it work in the future: more practice.
04-28-2007, 07:13 PM   #13
Veteran Member




Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Mississippi, USA
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 572
You might try taking your camera and shooting in day light, in a similar fashion. Objects not players.If the focus locks and all shots come out fine, the interior lighting situation is causing the slow focus problem. The fast moving players and low light could make the AF pause or miss. If you run into similar situation in daylight, then I'd call Pentax and have a chat with them.
04-28-2007, 07:33 PM   #14
Veteran Member
WMBP's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Dallas, Texas
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,496
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by jfdavis58 Quote
...there are nasty hot-spots in school gyms...
Didn't mention this myself on purpose - wanted to see if someone else would. In addition to the points made already by Beth and wethphoto, I suspect that the problems I have with quick auto-focus may also at least some times be blamed on dark spots in the gyms. When I started doing this last year, I didn't realize this. Now I can see the bright and dark spots pretty clearly, so that's a bit of progress. Unfortunately, I don't see them through the viewfinder as well as I do just looking at 'em with the ol' eyeballs. So far, I've not noticed a correlation between the camera balking on me and me trying to shoot at a dark spot. But I've suspected that it's a possibility, at least in a few cases.

The variations in the gyms I've been shooting in are pretty dramatic, actually, and this is one of the reasons why I find TAv mode on the K10D so much more useful than M. If I shoot M, the camera has to think a bit less, but some of the shots come out underexposed. Shooting TAv, the exposure is more consistent.


QuoteQuote:
I've been run into, run over, hit by a ball or two, a bat, a stick, a rubber chicken and various fan delivered projectiles. My knees, feet and lower back have filed for a separation.
I've been hit in the head more than once lately by a stray volleyball, in good part because, if I'm glued to the viewfinder, I can't see where the ball went. I'd wear a helmet but I hate it when girls laugh at me. ;-)

QuoteQuote:
Girls swear-catholic girls are the worst.
These ARE Catholic girls, but they're fifth-graders. They're still pretty good girls. If I keep this up as Catherine moves into high school, I expect I will be surprised at some point.


QuoteQuote:
Stay calm and detached from the play, the players, the officials and the fans.
I know how important this is - but sometimes it's hard to do. I missed a good shot today because for one brief moment, during a great volley, I allowed myself to get caught up in the action and forgot that I was trying to do a job.


QuoteQuote:
One keeper in ten is about the best anyone can do, but it's statistical.
Sigh. I'm trying to work my way up to a batting average that good. I have a way go to.

Will
04-28-2007, 07:34 PM   #15
Veteran Member
WMBP's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Dallas, Texas
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,496
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by thazooo Quote
You might try taking your camera and shooting in day light, in a similar fashion. Objects not players. If the focus locks and all shots come out fine, the interior lighting situation is causing the slow focus problem. The fast moving players and low light could make the AF pause or miss. If you run into similar situation in daylight, then I'd call Pentax and have a chat with them.
Dana,

Thanks, that had occurred to me and I'll give it a try tomorrow.

Will
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
button, camera, dslr, lens, mode, pentax, photography, response, settings, shots, spot, times
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Some Bird Shots - Manual focus with Canon 'Frankinlens' on K10D gscara Post Your Photos! 10 04-09-2011 05:16 PM
Machinery Manual Focus nirvana - 2 shots bhairavp Post Your Photos! 1 10-22-2010 07:05 PM
How often has waiting for the SR confimation icon resulted in missed shots? Reportage Pentax DSLR Discussion 38 06-22-2010 03:54 PM
First Shots from the Vivitar 28mm f/2.8 Close Focus (aka K02) deadwolfbones Post Your Photos! 2 07-15-2009 02:12 AM
Shots using my +3 close focus xs400 Post Your Photos! 8 01-13-2008 09:44 AM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 01:54 AM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top