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Old Sep 16, 2009, 10:04 AM   #1
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Default Color me impressed

I know some of you are going to be shocked by this post, but color me impressed. I just came across a thread from one of the latest K-7 users taking some nighttime footall shots. Keeping in mind the photographer is still learning the ropes, the shots look very impressive. Without a doubt there's a huge improvement in the quality of the K-7 and DA 200mm 2.8 lens over anything I've seen in the past from Pentax. This is really great to see. It's a small sampling, to be sure. And I'll be interested to see what things look like when shot at ISO 3200-6400 (which is unfortunately the ISOs that low ligth sports need to be shot at when there's no dusk or indoors). And also seeing the results as shooters get more experienced. But the focus performance and sharpness are a definite improvement over what I've seen in the past.

I think anyone shooting sports in the Pentax system should be very excited about this camera.

And contrary to what some here may believe, I really do think that's a good thing. Pentax providing good sporting solutions not only benefits Pentax users but other systems as well because competition pushes the other manufacturers to improve. So, hopefully I'll get to see more and more sports images from the camera. I would honestly look forward to the day when I could recommend this camera as a good sports solution. It's off to a good start.

One final note to people in Pentax land: remember, the camera is only part of the equation. You need to have a good, fast lens paired with it. And you need to be shooting from the right vantage points and certainly need to develop the right skillsets. But a camera body that is up to the task is a big part of it. So Kudos to Pentax for listening to your sports and wildlife shooters and spending some R&D $$$ on your focus system.

Edit - forgot the link to that post:
http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...ens-holic.html

Last edited by JohnG; Sep 16, 2009 at 10:22 AM.
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Old Sep 16, 2009, 1:07 PM   #2
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I think that shows you have class, John.
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Old Sep 16, 2009, 2:29 PM   #3
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I've always known that John was a classy guy - he's shown it over and over again.

Competition is always good for the consumer, so I think that the future for dSLR cameras looks very bright right now.

I'll also be interested to see how many people start shooting sports with the K-7. My own feeble attempts so far have only been one day shooting surfing with the K-7 and DA*300 and I was really impressed. However, it's easy to impress me as my only other experience doing this was with the manual focus A*300 - this was my first experience shooting sports with an auto focus lens!
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Old Sep 16, 2009, 8:45 PM   #4
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That certainly sounds encouraging. There are a number of K7 shooters here now. I am curious to how big a difference you are noticing in AF speed? I only have the 50-135mm as an SDM lens, but on the k20d it really is not much faster than the older style AF (though I also don't have any other AF lenses in that focal length range for direct comparison). Is the AF speed with SDM significantly faster?

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Old Sep 16, 2009, 10:00 PM   #5
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I'm not the best one to answer an AF speed question, as it's not something that I am normally concerned with very much. It seems to me that the DA*50-135 focuses a bit faster with the K-7 but it's not a lot, if any. The screw-drive lenses I have seem definitely faster. The big thing is that the whole camera seems faster - write time, shutter, etc. so the AF speed might actually be faster than I perceive, and I didn't notice it as much.
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Old Sep 17, 2009, 10:20 AM   #6
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Tim,

I don't shoot Pentax, but I wanted to talk a bit about the topic. I'm not sure it's valid to assume a lens with SDM is faster than a lens with another drive. I forget which review I was looking at for a Pentax lens and it talked about slow focus speed - and it was an SDM lens (wasn't a lens I would consider a sporting lens but not sure which lens) - the real purpose behind SDM was silence.

A couple other points - focus speed is a difficult thing to judge, AND you also have to be specific as to the circumstances. For example, some DSLRs out on the market are very quick to focus in good light, but not so in bad light. Some are quick to focus even in bad light but that doesn't mean they can TRACK focus well - two separate things. Which is why focus tracking is not something you usually see in reviews. They can do timings of initial focus but it's tougher to scientifically test how well the camera tracks a moving subject. That's why, in my opinion I prefer to see photos. And, the REAL kicker for determining how well a camera/lens does for sports is looking at a gallery. It's not very impressive if a person has two nice shots but that's 2 shots out of 500. No one wants to take 500 photos to get 2 keepers. For sports, people typically end up with a whole gallery of shots. THAT is what is interesting to me - seeing what a gallery of 70-150 shots from a single game look like.

The challenge there is - like any other type of photography, the person's skill comes into play. As I mentioned, sports shooting isn't the easiest type of photography. So, just because a shooter has a gallery of poor shots doesn't mean it's the gear that's bad. But, if they've got a gallery of 70-150 ACTION shots and the gallery is good it's a good indication the gear is good.

But there are keys to look for. For example, shots of a person swinging a baseball bat aren't difficult for gear to get. The subject is staying in the same focal plane - you don't even need continuous focus to get the shot. It will let you see sharpness of a lens or timing ability of photographer but won't help you judge focus ability. Similarly lots of shots of objects moving perpendicular to the shooter don't help - again, the subject isn't changing focal planes. So those types of shots are more indicative of sharpness and photographer timing. What you want is sharp results of people moving toward the photographer or changing direction - things that challenge the camera's ability to track a subject across focal planes and quickly recover from a direction change. And you look for things to be sharp. Look at the photo like you would a still photograph (i.e. a photo of the person standing still). How sharp is it? Do you make out good details?

Also, you eventually want to see some large images. My judge, honestly, is "how good would these photos look printed in 8x10". I don't worry about 16x20 or that stuff. But if you get a really nice shot, 8x10 is a fairly common size to print.

That's my goal when I take any photo - I don't need it to be magazine quality, but when I take family photos I want the equipment to produce images that look good in 8x10. Now, if I as the shooter screw up, well that isn't the equipment's fault. But, if I'm doing my job right and shooting a sporting event - and I've got good timing, and the exposure looks good, and I've framed tightly and 18 out of 20 shots aren't SHARP enough to print 8x10 then the gear has let me down.

The challenge I think with Pentax will be - there don't seem to be the army of ameteur sports shooters there are with some other camera systems. Within a month of a Canon or Nikon body coming out (at the mid level where the K-7 is competing) you'll see posts from shooters with the camera. And, you'll also get some pros using the camera because they want inexpensive backups. So you get good feedback fairly quickly on how it performs in the field - and, just as important you'll see the photos.

So, what drew me to comment - wasn't someone SAYING how well the K-7 performed, it was seeing some photos. So, look for that. If you want to shoot sports and you see a couple photogs posting or commenting about how the K-7 performs when they shoot sports, ask to see their galleries.

But for people that don't shoot sports, it's TOUGH to determine how much of an improveement a K-7 would do at sports vs. another camera.

So keep looking here and other sites for K-7 sports users. And ask to see photos and galleries. And I'll be brutally honest here (nothing new I know). Any advanced ameteur sports shooter (and remember the K-7 isn't an ameteur camera) has galleries and they're proud of them. If a shooter doesn't have a gallery to show you I'd move along to the next person regardless of whether they have positive or negative things to say about the gear. The PHOTOS tell the story - and they help you judge how good the photographer is. An SI photographer saying the K-7 stinks doesn't help you much. A person that occasionally photographs their kid running around the yard saying it's the greatest camera ever doesn't help you much. Neither does a person who shoots their kids' soccer and the photos stink. Until you see the photos you don't know how much credence to give their opinion. For sports work there simply aren't professional reviews - you have to rely on actual field testing. Hope that makes sense.
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Old Sep 17, 2009, 5:12 PM   #7
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Thanks John for the detailed reply, there is a lot of good advice there. I don't shoot sports very often, really only once a year when the 12 Hours of Sebring is running. My single point of comparison, which is not too fair, was handling a friend's D2x several years back when it was Nikon's flagship. I remember being amazed at how fast the lens (dunno which one) snapped into focus. It may not have done as well on moving targets as my friend ended up switching to Canon for his birding photography. I was expecting the same thing when I got the 50-135mm for my K20d and the same speed was not there. There was, of course, a price difference of thousands of dollars between his gear and mine.

Oddly, all my favorite lenses are old manual focus, all metal classics and Pentax is the perfect line of cameras for using them. I just can't help dreaming of Pentax matching that speed and coming out with a DA* 200mm macro with near instantaneous focusing!

I do appreciate the tips, your posts on this thread are examples of why I find this community so valuable.

Thanks,
Tim
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Old Sep 18, 2009, 9:32 PM   #8
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John,

I have yet to have a chance to shoot night football with the K-7 for a variety of reasons, but there is definite improvement for the sports shooter, particularly in the area of autofocus. I've been seeing it most with bird-in-flight shots, but I've also seen it shooting daytime soccer, the only real sports shooting I've had the opportunity to do.

I'm hoping my knees will let me shoot a couple of games this fall to be able to offer a more knowledgeable opinion. I agree with you that the proof is in the portfolio. Right now, I don't have one with the K-7 under the lights, so I can only give my impressions based on the limited shooting I've been able to do.

Definitely glad to see you're impressed with the possibilities.

Paul
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Old Sep 19, 2009, 8:14 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
Tim,

I don't shoot Pentax, but I wanted to talk a bit about the topic. I'm not sure it's valid to assume a lens with SDM is faster than a lens with another drive. I forget which review I was looking at for a Pentax lens and it talked about slow focus speed - and it was an SDM lens (wasn't a lens I would consider a sporting lens but not sure which lens) - the real purpose behind SDM was silence.
I have a friend who shoots with a Nikon D700. He had the old 50mm f1.4 which used the camera focus motor and has replaced it with the new 50mm f1.4 with the internal lens based motor. It is far quieter but, it focuses significantly slower than the old lens. In fact my *istDL with an FA 35mm f2 lens actually focused faster!!! Needless to say he isn't very impressed, the new lens costs hundreds more than the old one and offers no real advantage other than the low focus noise and the ability to use it on an entry level Nikon (which he does not own).
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Old Sep 26, 2009, 11:47 AM   #10
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I'm learning the ropes of sports photography with my K7 & DA* 200mm SDM. I have to say that this lens seems to not only focus fast, but also tracs better in continuous AF far better than anything I've used before. I have noticed that my DA* 50-135mm doesn't seem to focus nearly as fast at the 200mm.
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