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Old Jun 1, 2009, 10:50 AM   #1
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Default Little League with DL

Hello, I am much more of a lurker than a poster but I thought you would like to see what patience can do with a DL and a cheap lens the lens is a Pentax SMC 80-200 f/4-f/5.6 I believe as it is not right in front of me at the moment. Stop Action !!! caught this ball in flight. I was behind the plate (outside the fence) I know its not the best pic in the world but it does illustrate that there is more to photography than equipment. It seems that those who bash pentax cameras because they are not "pro" quality have forgotten how the pros get good pics. They shoot hundreds of pictures to get a few to turn into the editor who then picks the best one or two for publication. Now I do understand that skill increases the chances of getting keepers but they indeed do blast away.
I tried several shots to get this one. I preset the focus so I could concentrate on timing the shutter release.
Not quite sports illustrated but as good as any my local paper prints from local photographers. Sorry for the ramble. Have a nice day bock1965
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Old Jun 1, 2009, 11:45 AM   #2
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Here we go again

First off - very nice capture. You timed the shot very well and came away with a nice shot. But I'd like to address some of the misconceptions in your post:
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but it does illustrate that there is more to photography than equipment. It seems that those who bash pentax cameras because they are not "pro" quality have forgotten how the pros get good pics.
Without doubt - there is much more than equipment. But there is more to pro quality photos than just timing. Let's talk about this very excellent capture and where the right equipment could have made it better:
1) the background is very distracting. A major difference between consumer glass and pro glass is the ability to create a shallow depth-of-field and diminish that distracting background. Now, there is no focal length or aperture information in the exif - so not sure if that is due to the lens not reporting the info to the camera or something else. But you can reduce DOF by shooting wide open and at long focal lengths. But having longer focal length and f2.8 capable lens will certainly blur that background more.
For example - the fence is right behind this player but look how out of focus it is - not nearly as distracting as in yours:


with an outfield fence behind the pitcher, a wider aperture / longer focal length really helps diminish the annoying background:

2) Purple fringing - there is a significant amount in this photo in the pants and shirt.
3) sharpness wide open. Again, without focal length and EXIF info I can't say whether the photo was shot wide open or at what focal length. Better quality lenses (in any brand) are sharper wide open than their consumer grade counterparts.

Now, as to how the PROS get quality pics. I think you're a bit misinformed. For a HS or below game, a pro will come for maybe 2-3 innings and will likely go to at least 2 different games. It is unlikely they'll take 100s of pics. Why? Because they have to go through them and that takes time. The volume they do shoot doesn't come from trying dozens of frames to capture one type of shot. The volume will come from shooting a variety of players. BUT, what separates them from the masses is they also catch the plays that occur during that time frame. In that 2-3 innings there may be 5 plays in the field (most major newspapers rarely publish the typical batter at plate shots even with ball in frame - much like a photo of a free-throw in basketball). The pros get those shots.

Now, that's for media publication. There are pros that also shoot for sale. In that case, it's not uncommon to take several hundred photos. I'll take 400 photos of some games - but I publish a gallery of about 100-200 for sale.

The point I'm trying to make is - pros do not 'spray and pray' and take 500 shots so they get 10 worth submitting. They may take 100 frames to pick the 10 out if they're media. But again, a lot of those 100 are 'safety' shots - of players just in case the article requires certain players in it that aren't necessarily involved in a great play during the duration of the photographer's on-site presence.

Quote:
Not quite sports illustrated but as good as any my local paper prints from local photographers.
Again - it's a very nice shot. But if this is the quality of your local newspaper then it doesn't have a very good photo staff or very good equipment.
Also - this is a shot of a pitcher. Now, if the story in the paper is the pitcher they might use a shot like this - otherwise, it is again like the free throw. For any other story they'll want actual plays in the field. THAT takes skill and in many cases the ability for the gear to focus fast (i.e. sometimes you can pre-focus for a play at a bag but many times you can't).

Now, getting your timing down and having your gear autofocus in time and diminish those horrible backgrounds - that's what pro shooting is about. And note - I'm not even using the best lenses out there - but still bottom of the pro rung





But if pitchers are your thing - especially from a distance (taken from the stands) - it's nice to have high quality optics so you can get great detail:


So, in summary: you've got a very nice shot. Better optics would have reduced the purple fringing and allowed you to reduce the very distracting background. BUT, the issues I pointed out with Pentax is it's AF system. You mitigated that risk by pre-focusing. Great job on your part working within the constraints of the gear. Very good move. But, pros usually have to capture the action that occurs quickly on the field. That doesn't often allow you to pre-focus. And, unlike a pitcher or batter, you don't get 100s of oppportunities for the fielding shots - so the photographer AND GEAR has to get the shot the first time.

Again - very nice shot. Well timed and sharp. But the background and the purple fringing keep it from being a great shot - much less pro quality.

So is a Pentax camera capable of getting a good sports shot? Sure it is - as you've demonstrated. But there's a difference between a good shot and a great shot. And there's a difference between being able to leave with a couple good shots and being able to nail great shots in a short amount of time. And that's where any pro will tell you, gear makes a huge difference. Skill does as well - you need both.
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Old Jun 1, 2009, 12:18 PM   #3
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And if you still insist on the notion gear doesn't play a part - take that same camera and lens and try to shoot an indoor volleyball game at the local HS or middle school without any daylight:


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Old Jun 1, 2009, 2:16 PM   #4
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great series and explanation

thanks for sharing

Ronny
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Old Jun 1, 2009, 2:24 PM   #5
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Once again, a great explantion John (G)! The dialog on this topic reminds me of the movie "50 First Dates"!
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Old Jun 1, 2009, 5:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bock1965 View Post
Hello, I am much more of a lurker than a poster but I thought you would like to see what patience can do with a DL and a cheap lens
Hi bock1965,

Very Good Capture!!!

It looks to me like you should lurk a little less and post more often!

John's critiques are valid, and the tips are great, but I think he might be a little sensitive about the subject of shooting sports. . . and maybe a little too Pro sports shooter oriented for Little League. . . You showed in this shot that you could work around some of the limitations of your gear, but may need a bit more concentration on the "details" to bring up your game.

If you don't mind, here's what I'd do to help with some of the "problems" that he brought up. . . and you don't have to buy anything to make some changes.

1. About the purple fringing -- most lenses, even those that are infamous for exhibiting this, will control it a lot better when the lens is stopped down one to two stops. This will also give you better Depth of Field, so focus wouldn't be quite as critical. You can compensate for this by using a higher ISO -- with the DL, you can get really good results at 800, so if you shot this at ISO 200 and f5.6, then you could have gotten equivalent exposures at ISO 400 and f8, or ISO 800 and f11, keeping the same shutter speed to stop the action. . . but really, the PF in this shot isn't all that bad.

2. The background -- I still have this problem. Sometimes I concentrate on the subject so much that I don't even see the background, and then when I bring the pic up on the computer monitor, it's one of those "If only I'd taken a step to the right or left. . .". What I try to do is remind myself of this and consider the background first, looking at the scene from different angles, then choose the angle that gives me the best background and shoot from there. Remember that this means not only move from side to side, but also consider different heights to shoot from.

I do find the cars and the partial scoreboard distracting, but the fence -- not so much so. If it were just the fence with a clear stretch of trees in back of it, the regularity of the fence across the background wouldn't have been too much a bother, even if it wasn't really thrown out of focus. Being very conscious of backgrounds is a real major step in getting better images, regardless of your subject, IMO.

Another possibility would be to make the scoreboard a larger part of the background -- if you backed up or zoomed out, you might have been able to frame the scoreboard so it showed the score and count, centered above the pitcher and ball -- unless, of course, your guys were getting killed. . .

The real thing here though -- is that only photographers REALLY look at that stuff -- how many "civilians" even really notice bokeh or know what it is -- they may know they like "professional" images, but they usually can't really put their finger on why. . . The best trick is to get the image you want with the equipment that you have. . .

. . . my 2

Scott
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Old Jun 1, 2009, 8:51 PM   #7
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Sorry but I disagree-knowing the sport and anticpating the action is just as important as the equipment-getting one good shot from 500 is just the law of averages.
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Old Jun 2, 2009, 5:49 AM   #8
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Quote:
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Sorry but I disagree-knowing the sport and anticpating the action is just as important as the equipment-getting one good shot from 500 is just the law of averages.
Knowing the sport is very important. But without the proper gear, you still get a poor shot or miss it entirely. But it's naive to think it's 100% one thing. Good sports shooting requires the correct gear to consistently get good results. It won't guarantee success but it is required.
If you're getting 1 out of 500 you're doing something terribly wrong - it's not the law of averages - it's just plain stubborness and unwillingness to admit to yourself you're doing something wrong. And results like that are born out of not seeking out and listening to help. They're born out of believing that any shot taken with a camera with the same brand is a good shot and has no room for improvement. When you're getting 200 out of 500 shots - THEN that's the law of averages.

Quote:
John's critiques are valid, and the tips are great, but I think he might be a little sensitive about the subject of shooting sports. . . and maybe a little too Pro sports shooter oriented for Little League. .
Not really sensitive. But just like landscapes, wildlife, macro, sports shooting can be done well or poorly. Do you shoot a small bird more poorly than a large one? The idea that little league should be shot "less well" than bigger kids or professionals doesn't make any sense. For certain there are different types of shots - but sharpness, clean backgrounds, good exposure, action, expressions are elements of a good sports photo regardless of the age of the subject in question.

I post as much as I do about sports because there's a lot of bad information on the web. As an example - while stopping down a lens can lead to less purple fringing, stopping down an f5.6 lens to f8 is going to really make backgrounds a lot worse. If you're only shooting sports once in a blue moon - it's something you just have to accept and live with. But if you're interested in getting better, then better equipment becomes necessary. And 'better' may very well be something like the Sigma 70-200 2.8. Just like a person that shoots birds with only a 200mm lens eventually has to accept they need a lens with more lens to get quality bird shots, so to a sports photographer has to eventually get the gear that helps them get better pictures. Ask Bigdawg if the 50-500 lens has improved his shots at all. Or would he be getting just as good shots with a 200mm lens? Are his standards "too professional" because he realizes the right tool for the job improves his success and his enjoyment of the hobby? And just like taking group shots indoors with a built-in flash produces poor results compared to a good external flash or multiple flashes. That's the whole point of a DSLR system. We're no longer in point-and-shoot land here.

The interesting thing is - nothing I am saying in these threads is new thinking. It's the same advice you'd get from any competant sports shooter. I know because I learned this advice from other competant sports shooters and proved it out through experience.
Good sports shooting technique
Knowledge of game
Right Camera
Right Lens
Right access

They are all necessary. You can delude yourself into thinking they're not all important. But as long as you do, then 1 out of 500 is the best you'll ever get. For me, no matter the subject, 1 out of 500 tells me as a photographer I need to change my approach. I'd hate to be into wedding, macro, wildlife photography or just photographing my son's birthday party and getting only 1 out of 500 shots worth keeping. Sports shooting is no different.

Last edited by JohnG; Jun 2, 2009 at 5:59 AM.
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Old Jun 2, 2009, 6:21 AM   #9
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One more reply-SI send countless photographers to the Super Bowl-they shoot 100,000 frames-they print about 25-they have the best equipment in the world-pretty bad ratio.( I know they have space limitations)-if they and their equipment is that good they shouldn't have to send so many photographers or take that many shots. I think Pentax gets a bad rap-it's too easy to blame the equipment.
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Old Jun 2, 2009, 6:37 AM   #10
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One more reply-SI send countless photographers to the Super Bowl-they shoot 100,000 frames-they print about 25-they have the best equipment in the world-pretty bad ratio.( I know they have space limitations)-if they and their equipment is that good they shouldn't have to send so many photographers or take that many shots. I think Pentax gets a bad rap-it's too easy to blame the equipment.
Now, here's the difference. 95% of their throw aways you would take in a heartbeat. But the proof is in the pudding so to speak. I've posted photos that demonstrate what my advice will produce - and I can post full galleries. Let's see a gallery or a handful of shots of what your sports advice produces. If you don't have any, then I submit that is part of the problem with advice on the web. Too many people that don't do a certain thing having strong opinions on what's required to do it.

I've shot with poor gear and I've shot with medium grade gear and I've shot with some pro gear. Find any 10 sports shooters that have shot over 100,000 sports frames and have shot with all 3 levels of gear and see if any of them tells you gear is irrelevant.

Again, I'm the first to admit I'm far from the best photographer. But if you really know better than I do what is required for good sports shots then you should have galleries of sports photos better than the shots I've posted.

If you want to frame a house, you're going to have a tough time doing it using a wrench. A slightly easier time with a light hammer. A MUCH easier time with a nail gun. The pro can do a good job with a manual hammer but not nearly as good a job as he can when he uses the gun. Now take your average person. Give them a hammer and tell them what to do and they're still going to do a lousy job of framing the house. But give them a nail gun, and the knowledge and they'll do an acceptable job. The right tool for the job increases the quality of your work and your chance of success. You still need the knowledge to succeed but it's just plain silly to think the right tool doesn't make a great difference.

This is the second thread on this subject. And judging from the private messages I've received from several Pentax users, those who understand photography and aren't just looking for an argument can acknowledge the merit of my points. From those that so strongly disagree I see a very definite lack of sports images they've taken indicating they speak from experience. Again, I'm not the best photographer but at least I back up my points and my advice with examples of my own work. So people can judge for themselves whether I know what I'm talking about. 99% of the time I make no mention of what brand camera I use - I mention specific gear only when people question me about the gear I used - precisely because I prefer to leave gear prejudice out of it.

DMJJR, I sincerely look forward to seeing your galleries / photos. With such strong opinions you must have a lot of first-hand experience in the genre.
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