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Old Aug 28, 2009, 9:05 PM   #1
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Default Pentax 77 Limited question

Has anyone shot indoor/low light sports/action with this lens?

I need a large aperture medium telephoto and am tired of waiting for Sony come up with one that doesn't require me to take out a second mortgage. I know Canon's and Nikon's 85/1.8 lenses are very nice and cheaper, but I like the sensor shift image stabilization for other stuff.

Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Aug 29, 2009, 2:41 AM   #2
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It's fast enough, the optics are as good as it gets, the only question is if the focal lengt is enough for your intended use (low light sports). The alternatives (A*/FA* 85mm 1.4, A*/FA*/DA* 200mm 2.8, A*/FA* 300mm f2.8) all takes a chat with your financial advicer. If you can go shorter, the A/F/FA 50 mm 1.4 and the FA 35mm 2.0 are a lot cheaper but still marvellous when it comes to optical quality.

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Old Aug 29, 2009, 7:06 AM   #3
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I shoot equestrian sports, both outdoors and indoors. For outdoors, I've been getting along with my Minolta 70-210/4 on my KM5D, so any of the 70-200/2.8 lenses would have me covered there. Indoors is the problem. Indoor riding arenas are not well lit. In the best lit arena I ever shot in, I used a 135mm f/2.8 wide open at ISO 800 and only got shutter speeds of 1/60 and 1/80 which were too slow. I need something f/2.0 or better and long. Canon and Nikon have a better selection in this range, but I want IS in the body, and Sony's olny choices start at $1370. The longest large aperture, medium telephoto for the Pentax is this 77/1.8 which I can live with. The 50/1.4 and 35/2.0 would be handy as well, but my decision depends on the 77.

Previous Pentax camera bodies were a disappointment since their AF performance for sports/action was nothing to brag about, and they maxed out at 3 fps, but the new K7 looks like it has bested both of those.
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Old Sep 1, 2009, 3:14 PM   #4
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TCav - I saw your other thread under the what camera to buy section and you indicated that you shoot mostly dressage. What very little experience I have shooting equestrian events (most of it in the 1980's with a Pentax ME film camera and either a 50mm or a 135mm lens), I would think the 77 would be too short for anything but dressage. If your indoor ring isn't much bigger than a dressage ring and your stands/shooting area are reasonably close to the action (I can think of an indoor ring just like that in Dallas where I used to ride) then the 77 should be fine. It focuses significantly faster with the K-7 than it does with the K20 (it's a screw focus lens, not an SDM) in my opinion. Your post makes me want to go shoot a horse show, just for the practice and fun - I'd really like to know if this combination would work well. As far as indoors goes - I'll have to wait for a day when the marine layer is in and they have a horse show at the one covered area I know about. That's the closest thing I can come up with to an indoor ring. I'd also like to try a f2.8 lens under those conditions - the one time I tried an indoor show (beginning jumper class), I didn't have anything fast and it taught me that you might as well not bother if all you have is the kit 50-200.
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Old Sep 1, 2009, 9:23 PM   #5
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Dressage doesn't have any action as fast as in show jumping; there's only walk, trot and canter, so the shutter speeds don't have to be really fast. 1/320 is plenty.

Dressage rings are 20m x 60m and few indoor rinding rings are that big. The indoor arena where my wife boards her horse is 60ft x 120ft, which is typical. Making an indoor Dressage ring is very expensive (making an open indoor expanse 60ft wide is expensive; making it 70ft wide means you can't use wood frame so it gets a lot more expensive), and few riding stables have one. Some riding rings have seating on one side, but usually it's on an end.

Lighting is poor, and uneven.I need a lens with a large aperture and a camera that can handle high ISO settings. It sounds like the K7 with the 77/1.8 ltd might do the trick.

BTW, wherever you are, you can find a local Dressage association at the USDF website: http://www.usdf.org/clubs/list.asp?TypePass=GMO From there, you can find the website of a local organization, where you'll find the calander of events in your area. You'd be welcome anywhere, but clinics that charge admission for riders may also charge people who want to audit, so check first.
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Old Sep 2, 2009, 11:00 AM   #6
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Ah yes, the old "walk, trot, canter in circles and figure eights" comment. How easy that is to say and how hard it is to actually do! I used to do a little bit of combined training (about 15 years ago) and found jumping a cross country course much easier than riding a good dressage test, even at the low levels I competed at. I suspect that I'd find the same thing if I were to try to photograph dressage - jumping is most likely easier.

I can usually find lots of outdoor equestrian events just about any time. It's the indoors part of it that I can't find very much in Southern California. My husband will probably not thank you for encouraging me to check out shows because such things bore him to tears.
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Old Sep 3, 2009, 10:24 AM   #7
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Yes. Dressage isn't much of a spectator sport. But they do relish any opportunity for publicity.

And I did not mean to diminish the effort involved in the sport of Dressage. My wife has been seriously competing in Dressage for over thirty years, and is still working on her Bronze Medal. (Two scores of 60% or better, each for a different judge for a different ride, in each of First, Second and Third Levels, each at a nationally sanctioned competition.) She is, I'm pleased to say, closer than many of her friends and acquaintances. I just meant that, since there's no galloping (on purpose ), speed isn't much of a factor, photographically speaking.
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Old Sep 3, 2009, 10:52 AM   #8
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I knew you weren't diminishing dressage at all - my comment was a bit of humor to show that I, too, know what it means to be good at something that looks so effortless to casual observers when done right. It's incredible to watch upper level dressage - the rider looks like they are just sitting there, still, while the horse literally dances under them. That's the illusion, rather than the reality of course.

My congrats to your wife - I never managed to be good enough to even think about showing above 1st level and mostly showed at training. My husband would have been far happier with me if I would have stuck to dressage rather than horse trials/combined training - he hated watching me over fences (which, of course, I liked far better, practiced much more and therefore was better at).

I think in many ways dressage would be hard to photograph well. Hunter/jumper and cross country allow you to pre-focus on a fence and then you just snap away when the rider comes into view. Your main concern would be shutter speed, timing, and focal length. Shoot one fence then go to the next one - what happens in-between fences is important to the horse and rider but not interesting photographically. Dressage is constant motion (other than the bow to the judge before and after the ride). Granted, if you want to capture certain things, like gait transitions, then you could pre-focus where they are to happen since the routine is set, but I don't think that would give you the best pictures. So focus speed and accuracy as well as fps become much more critical. Location, too, if the test involves lateral movements such as half-pass. Interesting thoughts - I haven't tried shooting dressage since I got a digital camera and thinking about all this makes me want to give it a try.

Why is there always too many things I want to do and not enough time to do it all in?
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Old Sep 4, 2009, 11:25 AM   #9
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Actually, Dressage tests call for transitions between two points, not at a certain point, so you can't even prefocus on a location expecting to see something. If you happen to have photographed a flying change, you've very fortunate.

And if you're looking to photograph something specific, you really need to know the tests. A class may only have a few entries, and sometimes classes are combined such that a single class may include entries riding different tests. And all movements are preformed at least twice, once from left to right (from the judge's perspective) and again from right to left, so you have to keep bouncing around, which isn't a good idea (from the horse's perspective.) And Musical Freestyles, which are the crowd pleasers (when you can find a crowd to please) are tests that are constructed by the rider, so only the rider knows what the routine is and where movements will be performed.

I've learned to just shoot continuous, and hope for the best.
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Old Sep 4, 2009, 1:36 PM   #10
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I wanted to weigh on this thread with regards to shooting horse show events. After many years of attempting to shoot these events, I finally gave up and have left it to the hired professional. My problem was specifically in panning and attempting to get a clear horse/rider with a blurred background--and my success ratio was very poor. It finally occurred to me that in addition to panning horizontally to keep the horse & rider motionless, I was completely disregarding the vertical motion of both the horse & rider as they trotted. I haven't figured out a way to pan both horizontally and up-and-down to get a perfectly motionless horse & rider against a blurred background.

I think the pro used a fast lens and a high ISO to freeze everything. Your thoughts about using the 77 mm f/1.8 would suit this purpose very well. Let me know if you have any more success with the panning thing!
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