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12-18-2013, 03:03 PM   #1
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Shooting sports with a fully manual camera?

I'm just curious but has anyone tried shooting wildlife (such as flying birds) or sports with a fully manual camera (like the Pentax K1000)? I was just thinking about this earlier when I was down on at the riverfront trying to get some pictures of the bald eagles flying around with another camera. I imagine it would be extremely difficult if not practically impossible.

12-18-2013, 03:20 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by photographyguy74 Quote
I imagine it would be extremely difficult if not practically impossible.
Photographers managed it for many years before autofocus was invented.
12-18-2013, 03:42 PM   #3
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I sure did. I shot sports with an original Pentax (no letters, 25/50/200 shutter speeds) until 1978 when the shutters wore out. I bought a KX (no automatic, here, either, but it did have a meter needle in the finder) and used that until 1980 when I bought an SF-1 to get the winder. I could not afford an LX.
12-18-2013, 03:42 PM   #4
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It's not that hard at all.
You meter off the ambient light (assuming it's fairly even) and set your shutter speed/aperture to whatever you prefer.


Then you just need to worry about focus, which if you were really concerned you could possibly try using the hyperfocal of the lens fitted (not really sure how it would go, I've only ever used hyperfocal on wider lenses for landscapes etc)



I used to do a fair bit of motorsport photography, and pretty much only used manual lenses. (granted, I shot in shutter priority, but you could also pre-set the camera as above^)
I found that after practice it's a lot easier to track a moving object and hold focus manually. Rather than waiting for AF to stuff around and think what it wants to do.

12-18-2013, 03:46 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by kerrowdown Quote
Photographers managed it for many years before autofocus was invented.
Many years.

Takes skills and practice. And likely is not as easy on digital as it would be on film like the K1000 but certainly doable. Using zone focus, prefocusing and anticipating the action you can make it work. One way I practice is to set the camera at a fairly low f stop (say f/4) and then try to shoot traffic signs from the car. Not while driving, as a passenger. If you can manually focus and get a clear shot of a sign as it flies by at 50mph then you can do action and birds. It trains your eye and hand skills as you learn. I am sure the first few attempts won't look good but practice and you get better.
12-18-2013, 03:50 PM   #6
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Thanks for the input. I was just curious about it. I guess that's what happens when I let my mind wander. I should know that it's too little to wander alone. Haha.
12-18-2013, 03:57 PM   #7
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I know a couple who have made their living doing wildlife photography (including a full book on eagles) since the early 1980s. No AF and initially, no exposure automation either (they shot Olympus OM-1). Worked fine for them.

As for sports. I shot skiing and other snow sports in the early 1970s with a Ricoh Singlex TLS with good success and more recently I did a little with a Pentax SV (no meter...definitely no AF). Here are the results:









All four with the Pentax SV. #1 & #2 with Super Takumar 28/3.5 and #3 & #4 with Vivitar 135/2.8

On the first two, I was caught a little off guard having only a 28mm wide angle mounted, but the borders were close and the SV is actually pretty nimble such that I was able to get both the first guy and his buddy as they flew past.

The second two were pretty easy since with waterskiing and wakeboard the subject is pretty much constant distance

I likely have others in my film archives from back in the day.


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12-18-2013, 03:57 PM   #8
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The lack of automation wouldn't really change anything in most of my sports shooting, except the lack of AF. I shoot in manual mode anyway and actually switch over to MF a couple of times during the games.

12-18-2013, 04:00 PM   #9
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For sports photography, I usually prefer to have a preset manual exposure, and prefocus manually,
then wait for the action to come into the focus zone.

Here's a sample done in very low light, ISO 6400, with a K-x:

12-18-2013, 04:08 PM   #10
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I might have to purchase a roll of film, load it into my K1000SE, and try to experiment and shoot flying birds. I'm sure that most of the shots will end up crappy and I know that it will probably take more than just one time and one roll of film to improve my skills slightly at shooting wildlife photography with a completely manual camera. Maybe I'll try to become more knowledgeable about film photography before I try to tackle this task.
12-18-2013, 04:17 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by photographyguy74 Quote
try to experiment and shoot flying birds
Hmmmm, birds-in-flight? Not the best thing to start with. Squirrels might be easier. Of course, if you sit by a feeder...


Steve
12-18-2013, 04:24 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Hmmmm, birds-in-flight? Not the best thing to start with. Squirrels might be easier. Of course, if you sit by a feeder...


Steve
Yeah, I know it won't be easy, Steve. I was just curious about if other people have done it. It might be something that I will try eventually but it may not be right away. I think I need to become more proficient at film photography before I try to do something crazy like shooting wildlife or sports with a completely manual camera.
12-18-2013, 04:33 PM   #13
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More difficult than with a highly automated camera perhaps, but far from impossible.
I suppose it depends on how much time (and film) you wish to devote to learning.

Sports, nature and action photography existed for 100+ years prior to the advent of AF, autoexposure and digital.
Reflex viewing, high shutter speeds and availability of fast films are great advantages your K1000 offers
that photographers from earlier times didn't have.

Chris
12-18-2013, 04:46 PM   #14
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Ouch, someone is about to get the wind knocked out of them in that shot ... Took me about a minute to figure out whose legs were whose.
12-18-2013, 05:31 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by photographyguy74 Quote
Yeah, I know it won't be easy, Steve. I was just curious about if other people have done it. It might be something that I will try eventually but it may not be right away. I think I need to become more proficient at film photography before I try to do something crazy like shooting wildlife or sports with a completely manual camera.
If you have a dSLR, you might want to try it with that first, before working with film. Your K1000SE might actually prove to be quicker in actual use, but a dSLR will provide you with immediate feedback.

Don't be too concerned about the AF. As noted above, many people leave turn it off for action shots. AF is easily fooled and may not provide the focus point you intended. Start with a wider lens and action that is fairly predictable to develop your skills for timing and panning. The wider lens makes focusing less of a chore and allows you to concentrate on catching the moment. As you gain confidence, you can increase the focal length.

Below is a photo taken with the Pentax-FA 77/1.8 Limited at the local summer bike races. The sun was setting and the guys with the big Canon lenses had put them away. I switched the AF off and continued to shoot with the small/light FA 77 using pre-focus and panning to increase the chances of getting good shot in the gathering gloom despite a fairly low shutter speed. Yes, this is a digital shot, but it could easily have been taken with ISO 400 color film.


K10D, f/4.5, 1/140s, ISO 400, manual focus


Steve
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