Budget DSLR for indoor sport?

Started Jul 29, 2013 | Discussions
BobK77
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Budget DSLR for indoor sport?
Jul 29, 2013

I have been looking for the budget DSLR set up for indoor sport - mostly ice hockey. I do hockey videos and have some experience with figure skating going back to 35mm, and understand how difficult this task is, but developed severe itch for it

Don't want to spend arms and legs for FF camera and thinking of Nikon 5200 or Pentax K-30.
I have tried Canon T2i some time ago and was not impress much even with Tamron 70-200 F2.8 set up. Also had a chance to play with Sony A57 and had very mixed impression. BTW I found Sony video quality very overrated.

So, do you think I can get something decent with Pentax K-30 and Something like Pentax 50-135mm f/2.8 glass - or I am just pipe dreaming?
BTW - I still have a few PK mount lenses from the good old days and a few Canon FDs.
Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

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fakuryu
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Re: Budget DSLR for indoor sport?
In reply to BobK77, Jul 29, 2013

From what I know, the Tamron 70-200 f2.8 on Canikon sucks because of the motor but very fast on a Pentax because of the screw drive.

As far as what you will be shooting, a 135mm DSLR could be the best for what you need and a 5DmkIII but could be far off your budget.

The K30 might fit the bill and a Tamron 70-200 f2.8 or you can also check the K5ii/s and AFAIK is very confident with its AF. Mine should be arriving tomorrow

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BobK77
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Re: Budget DSLR for indoor sport?
In reply to fakuryu, Jul 29, 2013

Actually I was OK with Tamron 70-200 Focus Speed on T2i. IQ was really bad. I did not expect Sport Illustrated quality, but at ISO 1600 pictures were barely acceptable and ISO 3200 not at all.

BTW how is Kit lens quality for Pentax? Costco sells K-30 with two WR lenses for $849.

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howieb101
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Re: Budget DSLR for indoor sport?
In reply to BobK77, Jul 29, 2013

I'd stay clear of Pentax 50-135mm F2.8.  Great image quality but too slow focus for sport.  Try and get a 2nd hand Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 HSM II.  Better reach and faster autofocus.  Also good picture quality despite what some of the reviews say.  Very heavy though so not suitable as an everyday lens.

I have both these lenses.  Another benefit is that the Sigma happens to be full frame should Pentax ever release such a camera.

Howie B

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DNScott
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Re: Budget DSLR for indoor sport?
In reply to howieb101, Jul 29, 2013

howieb101 wrote:

I'd stay clear of Pentax 50-135mm F2.8. Great image quality but too slow focus for sport. Try and get a 2nd hand Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 HSM II. Better reach and faster autofocus. Also good picture quality despite what some of the reviews say. Very heavy though so not suitable as an everyday lens.

I have both these lenses. Another benefit is that the Sigma happens to be full frame should Pentax ever release such a camera.

Howie B

People think they have to fast frame per second, and fast tracking autofocus to do sports.  I use to do enduro motorcycle races with a Pentax H3v film camera, auto-nothing.  Learn the sport, use trap focus when needed (preset manual focus), and to shot at the peak of the action.  The 1600 ISO on the K30 is clean, the 3200 and 6400 are decent.  You need a lens that allows to use a minimum of a 1/125 sec in the venue you are shooting in, and has the reach you need.  The 50-135/2.8 is a lot easier to handle any brand of 70-200/2.8.

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Chalootz297
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Re: Budget DSLR for indoor sport?
In reply to BobK77, Jul 29, 2013

Hi Bob,

Based on photos I've seen and the reviews, the K-30 is one of the best bargains going, and prices are coming down since the release of the K-50. For all-around features and performance, I think the K-30 is your best bet.

But the kit lenses (18-55mm and 50-200mm) are too slow for indoor sports, you'll need f/2.8 or thereabouts to keep any reasonable shutter speed. One thing to think about is whether you can use a monopod or not. The 80-200mm's (Sigma + Tamron) are a real handful without support, but the DA 50-135mm can be handheld pretty easily. Will a max of 135mm give you the reach you need?

Just some ideas to think about...

Ron

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John_A_G
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nonsense
In reply to DNScott, Jul 29, 2013

People think they have to fast frame per second, and fast tracking autofocus to do sports. I use to do enduro motorcycle races with a Pentax H3v film camera, auto-nothing. Learn the sport, use trap focus when needed (preset manual focus), and to shot at the peak of the action. The 1600 ISO on the K30 is clean, the 3200 and 6400 are decent. You need a lens that allows to use a minimum of a 1/125 sec in the venue you are shooting in, and has the reach you need. The 50-135/2.8 is a lot easier to handle any brand of 70-200/2.8.

Autofocus that is fast and accurate is tremendously beneficial.  There is a huge difference between racing - where you're setting up and capturing someone at a specif spot on track and more random action of a human sport like hockey.  Oh my, there's a pass and another pass - too bad, your waiting for someone to skate over the spot on the ice you're focused on.  Talk to any pro sports photoog - anyone earning entire income from sports if they'd trade their Nikon D4 or Canon 1dx for the "good ol days" of manual focus.  None of them would.

And again, with human sports - unlike racing - there are a number of things that are unpredictable - facial expressions, limb placement, extraneous players in the way.  So, the ability to take more than a single frame and have say 3 frames to choose from that are all in focus - even though subject changed focal planes is extremely beneficial.

I learned photography with manual focus.  Ask anyone that actually uses top notch focusing gear and they'll tell you they are able to capture a lot more today than they ever did before - that they miss a lot less of what they want to capture.

So, OP, when people tell you to avoid a lens because it focuses slow, you might want to pay attention.

Oh, and you want a LOT better than 1/125 for something like hockey.  You want at least 1/400-1/640.

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Barry Pearson
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Re: nonsense
In reply to John_A_G, Jul 29, 2013

John_A_G wrote:

Autofocus that is fast and accurate is tremendously beneficial. There is a huge difference between racing - where you're setting up and capturing someone at a specif spot on track and more random action of a human sport like hockey. Oh my, there's a pass and another pass - too bad, your waiting for someone to skate over the spot on the ice you're focused on. Talk to any pro sports photoog - anyone earning entire income from sports if they'd trade their Nikon D4 or Canon 1dx for the "good ol days" of manual focus. None of them would.

...

So, OP, when people tell you to avoid a lens because it focuses slow, you might want to pay attention.

I shoot outdoor rather than indoor sports including motor sports, and also airshows, birds in flight, etc. I use a K-5IIs and typically use either the DA* 60-250mm f/4 or the DA* 300mm f/4 for these purposes.

I lose more shots because of failure to achieve accurate focusing using AF-C than for any single other cause. (It is probably what I most want Pentax to improve in their next top-end camera). I can't imaging that shooting sports indoors would be easier!

Yes - fast, accurate autofocus while continuous shooting is vitally important.

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John_A_G
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Nikon 5200
In reply to BobK77, Jul 29, 2013

Of the two cameras, the 5200 is the better choice.

You have same sensor performance between the two so there is no advantage there.  The nikon has a better focus system as well as better sports quality lenses should you decide to move up the food chain on your equipment down the road.

As far as your experience with the Canon and Tamron lens - focus performance is a relative thing.  You don't know it's lacking until you try something better.  The 5200 with sigma 70-200 2.8 is probably the best "budget" combo with the 2 cameras you are considering.  I don't have a horse in the race so to speak since I don't shoot either system (I'm a Canon guy) - but I do have a lot of sports shooting experience and I've used entry level gear, mid level gear and pro level gear and gear absolutely makes a difference for sports work.  Can you shoot sports with Pentax?  Sure.  Is Nikon better suited to get you better results?  yes.  So, unless you yourself have a compelling reason to choose Pentax, the nikon solution is a better tool for this type of job.

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miles green
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Re: Budget DSLR for indoor sport?
In reply to BobK77, Jul 29, 2013

I'm sure you know, budget and indoor sport do not go hand in hand.

There are sports where you can get away with manual focus, but i don't think that indoor hockey is one of them. (We don't play hockey here, we don't even have ice!)

I am a big fan of Pentax, and of manual focus lens, which i have used for wildlife and predictable outdoor sports. It takes practice, luck, and it's got to be OK to lose some of the action. But it's possible: see my other post - kitesurfing with a 500mm telescope.

I hate to say this, but if I were serious about low-light sports, i would look elsewhere. It's not a question of IQ: Pentax is leading the aps-c low light market, by a margin too if you ask me. The thing with Pentax is that if the K5ii / K30 + DA* 50-135 or screw-driven 70-200 doesn't track well enough, there is no upgrade path. I have a Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, screw driven. It will barely track my 3-year old running. The dogs are out of the question (sorry that's as close as i have come to indoor sports).

Maybe a Canon 7D? The new Nikon 7100 with high-end AF system (but small buffer)?  How about a used Canon 1D series or Nikon D3 / D700? Get a new 70-200, and you can always upgrade the body later on....

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britcam
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Re: Budget DSLR for indoor sport?
In reply to BobK77, Jul 29, 2013

While this is neither sport, nor indoors, it does nevertheless show that it is quite possible to predict the moment to press the shutter and get good results. Here is a pic of my dog taken earlier today, running at full speed towards me - the ball between his teeth and his leading paw are both tack sharp! The eyes are slightly OOF being behind the plane of focus.

This was using the FA 300 f4.5 and manual focus. I have tried using continuous AF and catch in focus, but in the end, it is only by practice, anticipation and MF that the right moment can be achieved ....

Apply that to whatever other form of shooting you prefer, be it street shooting, equestrian events, or whatever. I do use continuous focus when the plane of focus is constant and there is rapid movement which would be impossible to keep up with using SF shooting. Each method has its place....

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BobK77
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Re: Nikon 5200
In reply to John_A_G, Jul 29, 2013

Thank you all,

There are few reasons I looked at Pentax:
1. I still have a few PK mount lenses I was planning to use (not for sport)
2. $$$
3. I am old Pentax head
4. I found Pentax to be easier to focus manually than Canon - did not really try Nikon yet
and the menu symbols are good size and I did not need glasses to see.
5. Weather proof does not hurt either.

I wonder if Pentax kit lenses are OK - not for sport (Canon t2i kit is junk)

As of hockey - I am not going to use any manual focus lenses – don’t even want do discuss this.

I still planning to do more videos than still photography

Ones again this is just another itch I should probably stop scratching

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John_A_G
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Re: Budget DSLR for indoor sport?
In reply to britcam, Jul 29, 2013

britcam wrote:

While this is neither sport, nor indoors, it does nevertheless show that it is quite possible to predict the moment to press the shutter and get good results.

... but in the end, it is only by practice, anticipation and MF that the right moment can be achieved ....

... Each method has its place....

I would like to address this post as it applies to the OPs situation - shooting hockey.  First, in your photo you have a single subject running linearly.  Yep, you are correct - with practice you can get great results with manual focus for that type of activity.  That is not representative of a situation like hockey though - subjects don't travel in strait lines and your subject switches often.  The fact that you are unsuccessful relying on AF with your gear is exactly why the OP needs to look at different gear.  If the OP were shooting track and field then MF would be fine.  But there's no reason to rely on such a method when modern AF systems exist.  By the way, the below images are from an outdated 1dIII (whcih can be had for about $1,000 on used market) - which coincides with the other post that a second-hand pro camera is a great alternative for the OP.  Use a DSLR and lens with quality AF tracking and fast focus motor and the idea that manual focus is "the only way the right moment can be achieved" is simply false.  You'll miss far too many "moments" for the type of sport we're discussing here.

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John_A_G
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Re: Nikon 5200
In reply to BobK77, Jul 29, 2013

BobK77 wrote:


I still planning to do more videos than still photography

Ones again this is just another itch I should probably stop scratching

If you're doing more video than stills, neither solution is great.  AF performance in video is poor in both cameras.  Sony still has the best implementation of live view focus on the market.  The newly announced Canon 70d is probably the only other camera to watch with regards to AF performance for video.  But it won't hit the streets for another month and then it's another 2 months before you have a good idea of how it performs.

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BobK77
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Re: Nikon 5200
In reply to John_A_G, Jul 29, 2013

John_A_G wrote:

BobK77 wrote:

I still planning to do more videos than still photography

Ones again this is just another itch I should probably stop scratching

If you're doing more video than stills, neither solution is great. AF performance in video is poor in both cameras. Sony still has the best implementation of live view focus on the market. The newly announced Canon 70d is probably the only other camera to watch with regards to AF performance for video. But it won't hit the streets for another month and then it's another 2 months before you have a good idea of how it performs.

I have a completely separate video set up.  
BTW I found Sony A57 video abilities way overrated.

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BobK77
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Re: Budget DSLR for indoor sport?
In reply to John_A_G, Jul 29, 2013

Agreed. 
I spent a few years with figure skating photography. This was not just predictable  - I exactly new what was suppose to happen and where - manual focus worked just fine.
Hockey is a completely different story.
I guess this comes down to $$$

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GP Bob
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Re: Budget DSLR for indoor sport?
In reply to BobK77, Jul 29, 2013

I shoot some indoor hockey. Use k-x or K-30 with Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 lens. Up loaded a picture to my gallery if you care to look. GPBob

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BobK77
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Re: Budget DSLR for indoor sport?
In reply to GP Bob, Jul 29, 2013

Looks good. I like the skin color on closed up picture. That was the biggest problem with the Canon 2ti - skin color was not unified.

Based on EXIF data we should have a similar light conditions.

Do you hand held Tamron 70-200?
Have you tried to shot trough the glass?
Have you tried a video?

Thanks.

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GP Bob
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Re: Budget DSLR for indoor sport?
In reply to BobK77, Jul 29, 2013

Often handhold the lens but usually use a monopod.

Can shoot thru the glass by putting lens hood against glass but finding unscratched glass is hard.

Generally shoot from above the glass. If friends with coach, sit with players but watch out for pucks.

Need good f2.8 lens. The Tamron f2.8 70-200 does a good job for me. Sorry have not tried video.

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JNR
JNR
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Re: Budget DSLR for indoor sport?
In reply to GP Bob, Jul 29, 2013

On a tight budget, shooting indoor hockey mostly in video AF, you simply can't do that properly with a dSLR unless you have a very substantial budget (pro body, fast lenses). I like my Pentax cameras, but none of them are up to that huge task (K-30 probably comes closest, but the 5200 would be better - but still not good enough).

Your most economical solution is a cheap dedicated video camera, and lower-budget still camera. Then the K-30 makes sense. It probably performs better than the other Pentax bodies for challenging sporting events (apparently more accurate than the K-5/II et.al. except at the absolutely lowest light levels below what you get for sports).

By eliminating MF for hockey, you put yourself in a very difficult situation. If you are willing to shoot relatively wide from above the boards in the stands, you will find MF pretty easy to master using a relatively long throw lens designed for MF. Video focus is not nearly as critical as your stills focusing.

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