Shooting sports and other things with the K5IIs...

Started Apr 1, 2013 | Discussions
mark dimo
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Re: What other lenses?
In reply to Mr Jam, Apr 1, 2013

Mr Jam wrote:

Mark,

Fantastic blog.  I do runway fashion shows using Pentax.  Runway shows are almost like sport photography since you get lots of movements.

I use the K5 original and it is wonderful in terms of color and high ISO.  My "runway zooms" are Tamron 28-75, f2.8 and DA*50-135, f2.8.  However, unlike your experience, 50-135 is slow in focus tracking when the subject is moving toward me.  Tamron also gets frequent soft focus images in lower light with even stationary subjects despite the focus confirmation.

What other lenses besides 50-135 works for you for sports photography?

Thanks in advance

Hi Jam,

I remember doing runway shows and I agree with you that the model moving vertically toward you is a tricky one on previous K bodies.  There was a time when the editors wanted the static pose at the end of the ramp,  then it transitioned to the perceivable mid-step in transit view.  It was those that I had trouble locking tack sharp AF.

I haven't shot runway in a while,  but when I shoot basketball the speed of a point guard of a transition office is manageable with a K5II and DA* 50-135.  It's during the ultra quick charging of a mid fielder or cross to a wing of soccer  that makes tracking difficult.

For sports I use the DA* 200 and DA* 300.  Hands down the DA* 300 is IMO one of the best lenses you can shoot wide open.  The 200,  i stop down to 3.2 or 3.5,  but I can shoot at 2.8.  *Funny thing about the DA 200.  When I haven't used it in awhile, the AF SDM is a bit sluggish.  I often have to massage it with manual twists of the AF barrel and with near to far AF-lock drills before it primes itself to full working ability.  -Makes me worry if the SDM might drop on me. (but it hasn't yet,  so knock on wood)

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Ed Jay
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Re: Shooting sports and other things with the K5IIs...
In reply to Joseph Tainter, Apr 1, 2013

Dear Mark,

Thanks for the shout out in your original post. To clarify, I don't shoot for the NFL, but for a sports publication and guide. In addition to NFL, I shoot NBA, MLB, and other pro sports.

Normally I'm shooting next to D4 caliber gear and I learned that so much of sports is anticipation and shooting the action where you think it will be. I'm still a novice. Occasionally, I would iso on a player and luck would have it, the play goes in his direction and I get the shot.

I love the fast paced nature of most sports and that I'm photographing an event with an uncertain outcome. It's a great feeling to be so close to the action.

I'll comment more when I read thru all the posts in this thread.

Ed

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mark dimo
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Re: Shooting sports and other things with the K5IIs...
In reply to Joseph Tainter, Apr 1, 2013

Joseph Tainter wrote:

Mark, nice blog and very nice photos.

I'm just wondering how you do sports shooting using the DA* 50-135. It is the slowest autofocusing lens I own.

Thanks,

Joe

Hi Joe,

I had a well thought out reply, then my ipad died  and was lost.  I hope I can remember what I previously said.

I use DA* 200 and 300 for Soccer and DA*50-135 with Basketball.

Perhaps the perceived sluggish nature of the 50-135 coupled with the archaic pentax 11pt AF array is a serendipitous blessing in disguise. The speed of the SDM motors, and the AF-c tracking ability tend to work harmoniously for the pace and speed of a transition offense coming down court.  I often recall shooting and wondering... "could it be that the lack of sophistication yielded a better result, by accident?"

When I shot a Canon Mark III with 70-200 f2.8L, I felt all my focus woes were going to be solved.  That the machine would perform like a RED and I'd be able to grab tack sharp stills off every frame. AS if the AF-servo was so sophisticated it would shoot stills like a HD cam reels off video.  From my observations, the grass wasn't always greener.

Canon,  has this user definable ability to adjust the cameras degree of sensitivity with regard to AF point selection and priority of FPS vs focus lock.  If I remember correctly,  you can adjust a percentage and tailor make which points in the field you wanted to utilize.  The K5 has this but its over simplified,  with Canon,  it was so intuitive, it often confused me because the range of combinations was almost infinite.  You would need a lab, and utilize the scientific method to figure out which combination of parameters worked best under diverse settings.  Anyone who has shot Canon Mark series knows what I meant.

Often that cutting technology was its own downfall,  having too many points and dialed overly sensitive might actually trick the AF logic into picking the wrong target.  A Mark III can shoot at 10FPS,  so although there were "oof" mid sequence,  there was enough frames for the AF to recover and lock on something.

Basically, the acute technology of the "now" in what was then for me a Mark III,  but now in these modern times a Mark IV, or 1Dx is essentially what you are paying for.  The maker has to recover their R&D money, and always needs a sentimental flagship to hang their laurels on. Hence the very steep price tag. The question is... "Can a good photographer get the decisive moment without having to spend a fortune on gear?"

Technology reaches a plateau, where patents expire and the cost of technology becomes affordable until the next latest and greatest.  My point about the K5II is that it has the AF ability and its other inherent features that offer a really Big Bang for your buck.  Since Pentax seems to be the tortoise vs. the hare,  I always knew they would catch up and we wouldnt have to pay for it.  I guess we paid with our patience.

Final point is that the performance ability of the K5II is a nice foreshadowing of what is coming down the pike.

Happy Shooting!

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Russell Evans
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Re: What other lenses?
In reply to mark dimo, Apr 2, 2013

mark dimo wrote:

-Makes me worry if the SDM might drop on me. (but it hasn't yet,  so knock on wood)

Since you are doing this for money, you might try the SDM lens firmware hack to turn the DA 200mm into a screw drive lens and then turn it back to SDM. Once you know you have a working hack, keep an SD card with the hacked firmware in your bag for emergency use. Who knows, maybe the screw driven AF is even faster?

Thank you
Russell

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korat68
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Re: Shooting sports and other things with the K5IIs...
In reply to mark dimo, Apr 2, 2013

Thanks Mark for your insightful post.  I've had more of my nagging questions answered in this one discussion than all the reviews I've read put together.  Good solid information from someone that actually uses their Pentax in real world situations.  Thanks again for your time and effort in answering everyone's questions.

Mike

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Mr Jam
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Re: What other lenses?
In reply to mark dimo, Apr 2, 2013

Mark, thank you for your detailed response.  I was ready to buy the K5-IIs for the sole reason of autofocus improvements.  Then I read few test results, I think in the other forum, and the conclusion was that K5-II autofocus was better over K-5 but only marginally in terms of tracking and speed and therefore I am still sticking with the K-5.

With your comments I will take another look into this.  I am sure Pentax will further improve the autofocus system in their new models now that they have figured it out.

About SDM failure, my first DA*50-135 died immediately right out of the box in its first assignment in the middle of a show.  I returned it and bought a second one and, knock on wood, so far has performed flawlessly.  I am very pleased with the lens and I almost use it wide open at f2.8 all the time.

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mark dimo
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Re: What other lenses?
In reply to Russell Evans, Apr 2, 2013

Thanks for the SDM hack link.  I hope i may never need this.  However, i do like the speed of my lenses that use Screwdrive.  Im glad to know there is a hack to fix, just in case.

Cheers!

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mark dimo
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Re: What other lenses?
In reply to Mr Jam, Apr 2, 2013

Mr Jam wrote:

With your comments I will take another look into this.  I am sure Pentax will further improve the autofocus system in their new models now that they have figured it out.

When compared with the original K5,  the II definitely has improvements.  It yields better performance when the subject is moving at moderate speeds.  When it gets really challenging and the change in distance is rapid,  only a handful of cameras can cope with that scenario.

Can the K5II handle most sports shooters needs?  Definitely yes, but it will have its challenges tracking when the subject is at extreme speeds. Keep in mind that the performance characteristics and steep price of a Mark IV or D4 are priced for a reason.  If the lower model 7d performed as well as the Mark IV,  there would  be little need to make such a large investment.

I just make the argument,  that this recent release of the II is finally a camera where little excuse has to be made.   The camera is rugged, fast, and can do the job when mated with fundamental skill.

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mark dimo
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Re: Shooting sports and other things with the K5IIs...
In reply to korat68, Apr 2, 2013

Thanks for the kind words.  If there is anything specific that you may need answered feel free to ask.  I'm going to shoot a series of a point guard coming at me with various speeds and I will post my results here.

happy shooting!

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Oke Mark. Would it do in boxing?
In reply to mark dimo, Apr 2, 2013

Thanks for your reply! I have used the d300 for some years and in the low lights of sports venues I never had an AF issue. I'm sure it keeps up with the boxers in the ring. Will the k5lls do the same ? And, do you think it will handle the gymnast doing its floor exercises? I'm not interested in cameras shooting at -3EV. I want cameras with fast and accurate AF in anything above +3EV. Although I'm spoiled with the fast lenses, I could live with third party lenses. I know Pentax, because that's where I started digitally. I would not hesitate to go back but the AF must be sufficient.

lock

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Donald B
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Re: Shooting sports and other things with the K5IIs...
In reply to ozdean, Apr 2, 2013

ozdean wrote:

Don they are saying K5II K5 - I think they must mean a K5 - Picture is a II though

Did you buy one?

If it only was a IIs under 1g.

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Regards Dean - Capturing Creation
N.B. All my Images are Protected by Copyright

Hi Dean, been doing some reserch and their is basically no difference in Iq between them , looked close at IR and the differences looks more in the way of cooked contrast and sharpening , noticed more posterisation on the 11s ? tough call which one to choose.

cheers don

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miles green
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Re: Shooting sports and other things with the K5IIs...
In reply to mark dimo, Apr 2, 2013

Thanks Mark for your blog and for all your replies here! It's been an interesting and informative read. I'm glad the K5ii tracks better than my K5. Things to come should be even better!

So thanks also to Pentax for working hard on better AF systems for new cameras, but also for supporting the previous models (K5, and even Q) with firmware upgrades that improve AF performance. 

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Miles Green
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korat68
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Re: Shooting sports and other things with the K5IIs...
In reply to miles green, Apr 2, 2013

Agree

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mark dimo
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Re: Oke Mark. Would it do in boxing?
In reply to lock, Apr 2, 2013

Boxing is pretty straightforward because the athletes cluster together. So if shooting with telephoto you can fill the frame and shoot in AF-S. The ring is typically well lit, so it allows you a few 1/3 stops to stop down and deepen your focal plane.  One the fists start connecting, all you would have to do is initiate a focus lock after they engage and then let the FPS fill the buffer.  Also, what makes it easy, as a ringside photographer, is your proximity to the subject.

When I shot Manny Pacquiao,  indoor AF wasnt' a problem. It was the type of sensor in the K7 that was the shortcoming.  During those days, I shot with the D300 because the CMOS sensor upgrade from the D200's CCD was a big improvement over the K7.

If I could only go back to those days with Manny using the new K5IIs,  I'd probably have a library of photos of which to make a coffee table book and retire.  (Chuckle) Also since boxing is spotlit with high intensity lights,  the AF locks fast.

I believe with gymnasts,  the venues are typically vast and with diffused uniform lighting.  I would pick my spots, and prefocus and take the shot.  I feel AF-C works best when the subject matter can fill the frame.  If there is plenty of dead space, I feel the AF logic can get fooled.

I think Pentax next step in the evolution of the AF is increasing the AF point count and clustering them centerweighted.  Time will tell what the next model might have.

Best wishes for your shoot.

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That would be a great improvement indeed.
In reply to mark dimo, Apr 2, 2013

I have learned to appreciate the 9 and 21 af points closely packed to catch the subject. But I could work with 11 too.

I'm still not sure what to do though. As much as i'd like a modern dx simply for reach, I was very impressed with my oily and dusty D600 with coating coming off the mirror. Although cropped to dx size it only delivered 10 mp, these were high quality mp's. Currently both candidats, d7100 and k5lls, are a good one stop worse in lower light than the d600. But if I crop a d600 picture, I will lose that stop on noise. I may lose another stop if the light is low enough to trouble a certain shutter speed, but the neccesary DOF forces me to close down the aperture.

On the other hand, the d7100 cooks its raws above iso 1250 and pentax does so as off iso 3200. Moreover, the raw buffer of the d7100 is poor...

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