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Old Feb 24, 2009, 7:53 PM   #1
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I recently purchased a Pentax K200D and it arrived in the mail last week, but I haven't shot at all with it because I've been reading about Pentax's poor autofocus performance.

I have until Friday to decide whether or not to return the camera for a refund and get a Rebel XSi instead.

Little bit of background - I used to shoot a variety of subjects for a weekly newspaper in a small town. I shot with an older Rebel and was fairly happy with the results. That is, I was happy with the camera's performance generally - any problems were with my shooting, not the equipment.

I haven't used a DSLR in a few years, though, and I've been wanting to get back into it for a while.

Initially, I was planning on buying the XSi, but someone mentioned the K200D and it looked interesting. My first film SLR was an old Pentax I used in college, and I had a lot of fun with it.

I had to drive an hour and a half to find a store that had on hand. As soon as I held it and took a couple of shots, I was pretty much sold.

It's probably a stupid reason to buy a camera, but it felt very comfortable and reassuring. The XSi felt a little too light and small in my hands - not so on the Pentax. I also like the fact that it's powered by AA batteries. A lot of people seem to hate this, but it's a bonus in my book.

So I ordered one, but, yeah, the autofocus is bothering me. I couldn't find a place willing to rent one of the camera's so there's no way I can test it out first.

Here's what I'm anticipating shooting:

People - Especially candid photography, people moving, doing things, etc.

Sports - Not professionally, but I would like to be able to take pictures at high school basketball games, etc.

Of course I'd like to experiment with other things, but those are the two primary types of shooting I'd like to do. In particular, there is a professional wrestling promotion nearby that I'd really like to shoot.

Advice? Should I just go ahead and open her up and try her out this weekend? I guess I could always try selling it if I absolutely hate the performance.

The small buffer of the K200D isn't a concern for me, by the way. I shot lots of sports while working in newspapers and I always took one shot at a time. I would focus on a player, wait for the moment I wanted, and then release the shutter. Taking 20 shots in a row might be better, but I was taught one-shot-at-a-time and am comfortable with that, so the buffer isn't a problem.

Thanks a ton for any comments.
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 7:59 PM   #2
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EDIT: I realize the XSi is probably better suited for action. I guess my question is how *much* more is it suited for action?

I realize that you can get a good shot from pretty much any camera, but below is an example of the shots I'd like to be able to take. Below was taken with an older Rebel with flash.

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Old Feb 24, 2009, 8:08 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum. Try visiting our Sports and Action Photos section, and post your pic there. Ask a few questions, and take a look at what some other members are doing with their cameras.

the Hun

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Old Feb 24, 2009, 8:14 PM   #4
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Edward, the XSI has the POTENTIAL to take better shots for 2 reasons:

1. Better AF

2. Better selection of sports appropriate lenses

But, the key there is POTENTIAL. If you want to shoot sports you need the right lenses to go along with the camera. If you're going to use on-board flash and the kit lens then you're not using the potential.

Even having said that, the XSi is still going to be somewhat limited. For instance if you want to shoot HS football for the paper as well, a budget lens and on-board flash isn't going to cut it - not even as a hobby. You're looking at either ISO 3200 (which the xsi doesn't have) AND an f2.8 lens or using external flash which brings it's own challenges.

So, if you're just going to exchange k200 kit for xsi kit you're still not going to get good sports shots. You need the right lenses and/or external flash. And I would still say if HS sports is a big part of what you want to shoot, the ISO 1600 will be a limiting factor. For outdoor sports in good light, with the right lens, the XSi is the best sports performing camera in the entry level market. BUT, the lens plays a part too. If you don't have a lens with Ring USM or sigma HSM the lens' focus speed will be the limiting factor.

So, that's a long-winded way of saying the Canon SYSTEM is much better at sports but you need to be able to invest in the other system components (lenses / flash)and possibly a higher end camera with ISO 3200 if you want to shoot low light sports with a degree of success worth publishing.
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 9:02 PM   #5
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I actually shot HS football as well as track, baseball, volleyball, and soccer. Mostly with a Rebl, although I did use a 20D as well.

Football was, by far, the most difficult to shoot for me. Partly because most games were at night.

Believe me, I realize the on-board flash is a severe limitation. The next thing I purchase will be a flash.

That said - this is going to be primarily for a hobby - I'd like to shoot some sports for the local paper, but it's not going to be my profession and, initially, I am not sinking a lot of cash into this. I'd like to pick up a flash and a telephoto zoom, but I'm not sinking a ton of money into the system to make it a lean, mean, sports-shooting machine.
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 9:26 PM   #6
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Of the entry level dSLRs, the Canon XSi is the best for sports, but if you don't like the feel of it, then it's not the camera for you either. Takea look at the Canon 40D.
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 9:30 PM   #7
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Out of curiosity, have you actually tried the auto focus yet (or are you restricted by shutter count for returning it?)? Lots of people have lots of opinions and they aren't always right. They often are splitting hairs, rather than pointing out differences you are likely to actually experience/see. If YOU find the AF lacking for what YOU want to do, then you have your answer - return the camera.

I do agree that the Pentax's AF isn't as good as the 40d or Nikon's D300 or a camera like that, but I don't think it's as bad as many claim. I'm not convinced that the xsi is significantly better than the K200. But if you are always going to hate the camera (for any reason, including because you suspect something else is better), if you are always going to regret your purchase, then definitely pack it up and return it immediately. If you think you'll want to upgrade to a really good sports camera, then go Canon now, because switching platforms gets expensive.

I've been very happy with Pentax cameras, they are outstanding for landscape, street scenes, macros, etc. I'm not much of a sports shooter, and my only experience (track, tennis and surfing) has been with a manual focus lens (it can be done, but you have to work much harder at it). So I don't have any way to really judge the Pentax AF system when it comes to sports. As far as everything else, I've never felt like it was limited.
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 9:51 PM   #8
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Yes, I am restricted from trying the camera out. Like I said, I did manage to try one out at a retailer, but I was obviously limited as to the type of shots I could do in the store.
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Old Feb 24, 2009, 10:23 PM   #9
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I'm another K200D owner and so far the only sports I've used the camera for is auto racing - with great result. But, then again, I've been using f/2.8 lenses in daylight or under bright lights as well. Still, I've never felt limited by the K200D.

It sounds to me like this is going to bother you, so maybe you should make the switch now - before you buy big into the Pentax system. I suggest you grab a Canon 40D while you can still buy one brand new. Yes, it'll be more money than the XSi, but if you really want to do the kind of sports you're talking about, you're going to need the equipment.

I am interested in the kind of lens that was used with the Rebel when the girls' basketball shot was taken. That's because I was about to warn you that you'll probably need to be spending about a grand on each f/2.8 lens that you would need. But maybe you'll tell me that was taken with the Rebel's kit lens and that you're completely happy with the photo! :lol:
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Old Feb 25, 2009, 7:39 AM   #10
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Actually.... yeah, the photo was just taken with a kit lens, and I was happy with the result. There's a yellowish cast to the pic that I'm not thrilled about, but the focus, sharpness, etc., I'm happy with.

That's my problem... when people talk about getting the best results from sports pictures I'm not sure what they're talking about, exactly. Like I said, I enjoy taking sports and action shots, but I'm not going to be doing that exclusively.

That said, I think you may be right. It might be better for me to go ahead and buy the Canon instead of going with Pentax and wondering if the Canon would have made a difference.
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