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Old Apr 11, 2009, 11:19 PM   #1
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Reviews of Pentax DSLRs often note that for sports shooters photographers "should look elsewhere." Covered the pond skim at our local ski park and got great results. Focused on an area with K10D and Sigma 18-50 2.8, and just held the button down. Crops worked very well. Continuous also kept the focus. Here's two.
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Old Apr 11, 2009, 11:20 PM   #2
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The second.
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Old Apr 12, 2009, 12:07 AM   #3
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Awesome shots! I really like both of them, though I think the people doing that must be a bit nuts, aren't they? How cold was it?
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Old Apr 12, 2009, 9:34 AM   #4
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Wonderful shots! These people must be crazy. I can imagine that water is quite cold.

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Old Apr 12, 2009, 9:45 AM   #5
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Cold? They were pulling chunks of ice out of the pond just before the event.
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Old Apr 13, 2009, 1:30 PM   #6
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First, let me say these look like really fun shots. Had to be a very entertaining event. But, let me say as sports photos they do not recommend pentax as a sports shooting system. I'm not going to say Pentax isn't a good system, just want to point out some aspects of these photos from a strict sports photograph perspective. I do so only in the context of your assertion the photos demonstrate sports shooting capabilities of your gear. You might be tempted to call me a troll. But I think if you look at my posts in the sports forum I concentrate on the shot and mention the gear only in so far as it might be limiting the shot (i.e. not long enough lens and too much cropping, not wide enough aperture, wrong white balance) - usually things that apply to any and all systems. It's why I'm a big fan of the genre sections here vs. the gear sections for comments on photos. I would rather have a competant wildlife photog who shoots Oly provide feedback on my shots than another Canon user say it's great just because it was taken with the same brand camera that person uses.

So, on the shots and their merit as sports shots:

Shot 1: Timing works nicely on this shot to illustrate the moment. What doesn't work is the shot is underexposed (with snow you often have to use exposure compensation as the camera will try to meter the snow as grey). Also the background is distracting. A big part of sports photography is not just what you include (an interesting subject) but what you exclude - usually distracting backgrounds. The people watching don't add to the shot - there isn't enough of them (such as in a crowd shot of a mlb baseball park) or they're not doing anything interesting (like rowdy college students waving things behind the basket for free throw) to be part of the subject. The interesting subject is the boarder and the spray. The rest of the background distracts. So, tighter framing on the boarder and shallower DOF would help to isolate your subject and reduce the adverse affect of the distracting background. Also, you're shooting down on your subject - you want to be lower to the ground - at the same level. For a shot like this, sitting or kneeling on the ground would provide a better angle for the shot.

shot 2: To me a more interesting subject because you can see the boarder - people are more interesting than water. But the shot is also underexposed. Additionally you've got too much distracting elements in the shot - again too much of the background is in focus, too much empty frame in front of the boarder and even too much of the trailing tail of water because it leaves too much uninteresting space above and below the water. A tighter frame would remove the distracting elements with enough of the tail to give context but not allow so much distracting dead space into the frame. Also, because you were using such a short lens your subject (the boarder) lacks sufficient detail. Good sports photography isn't just capturing a moving subject it's capturing it with sufficient clarity and detail to make it pop out at the viewer. That detail, and the shallow DOF provides a three dimensional aspect to the image.

Sports photography is not just having a moving subject that that is reasonably in focus. Exposure has to be correct, white balance, the frame should draw the interest to the subject and, as much as possible you should reduce the distracting elements (by your positioning as well as shallow dof).

Again, none of these comments really have anything to do with the camera system used.

As to whether these shots demonstrate a given camera has the chops for sports shooting: These same shots could have been taken with any number of digicams on the market. The dof involved and the fact yoursubject is moving perpendicular acrossyour frame (i.e. the subject never changes focal planes during your shooting)in reasonable lighting is not challenging. Again, this is gear independent. But speaking to whether gear is good or bad for sports use you typically want to see how it perform in shallow dof situations, tracking moving subjects across focal planes and how much detail/sharpness there is. As snapshots the shots you posted have detail. As sports photographs they do not.

The shot below is simply to illustrate my points about sports photography. It could have been produced out of any number of camera systems. The point is to illustrate the importance of tight framing, shallow DOF, subject detail, exposure on a sports photograph.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Edit: forgot to add one of the crucial elements - FACES. In this shot, the facial expression makes the shot. That's the case with many shots. In your second shot, he's obviously wearing the mask. Seeing the details of that mask would make theboarder a much more appealing subject (just like the details of a hockey goalie's mask does). Facial expressions and emotions make good photographs better.Those expressions are another difference between a snapshot and a good sports photo. Not all sports allow facial expressions andin some cases the action is enough to compensate. But in almost every case - DETAIL makesa shot better. It justso happens, faces when they're visible, are often the most insterestingpart of the subject.







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Old Apr 13, 2009, 1:37 PM   #7
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My recommendations are - if you are interested in taking quality sports photos you look at Steves, and other forums for sports photo examples - don't limit yourself just to Pentax forums. For an event like this a 50mm lens is simply too short. You have too much dof and not enough detail and your framing is way too wide. Use a longer lens and frame tighter in-camera without as much cropping. Tighter in-camera framing will retain detail lost when you frame so loosely and at infinite focus of a lens. Seek out opinions and advice of other sports shooters - not just pentax users. The comments I provided are independent of system - and you'll find in most cases useful comments are. It really is only a small subset of instances (lens recommendations, focus mode or custom functions recommendations) that are brand specific. 90% of all constructive advice can come from anyone in any system. But that's only if you're actually interested in getting better shots. Some people aren't and that's OK too.
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Old Apr 13, 2009, 4:01 PM   #8
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JohnG wrote:
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But that's only if you're actually interested in getting better shots. Some people aren't and that's OK too.
Funny you should mention this last. I spent a half hour yesterday shooting some surfing pictures. By the time I finished processing them I came to several conclusions: First - they were nice, but not great. Second - that what I got was as good as I was going to get with my current knowledge and equipment because I couldn't think of anything Ishould have done differentlythat would have made them better, other than a few framing changes on some of them. Third - so, in order to get better surfing pictures, I was going to have to hang out with surfer photographers to learn much more than I know now. Finally, I should just be happy getting the nice, but not outstanding, pictures - taking this type of pictureonly every 4 months isn't enough to become really good at it and I'm really not that interested in surfing and the beach to do what I should to become proficient. It's fun for a change, but I'm not ready for the commitment. As you say, that's OK too.
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Old Apr 13, 2009, 5:28 PM   #9
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Harriet,

I'm glad you took my comment in the spirit in which it was intended. As you mentioned there's a point of diminishing returns regarding how much time and money you're willing to invest to get better shots. It just doesn't make sense if it's just an occasional thing. While it would be fascinating for me to learn all the tools and techniques for strobing / reflecting / posing / etc. for portrait work, for the amount of portrait work I do I'm happy with the OK shots I get. So I don't spend my time seeking out advice on how to do the portrait work because I'm not going to have the time to invest in it anyway.

And, your mentioning of surfing brings up a great point - each sport is different and has it's own challenges. Without experience I would be very challenged to get high quality surfing shots. I don't know the sports - I don't know what to look for in a good shot or how to position myself, etc. So if I were going to do that I would reach out to whoever shoots the sport and get tips on it and view photos to see what types of shots people are taking at the prosumer level. But, it interests me. Portrait shooting is a passing interest to me so I won't do as much research and I rarely post portrait shots because I know they're just OK and I'm not going to get a lot better without the practice.
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