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robbo Aug 16, 2011 7:12 PM

Good midlevel camera for sports
Hello, everybody,

I am looking for a slight upgrade to my Pentax K-x. I would like a slightly faster burst mode and at least equivalent low light image quality.
I am thinking of getting a Sony A55, Sony A580, Canon 60D, or even a Pentax K-r. The advantage of the K-r is that I wouldn't have to sell my current lenses.
I like taking pictures of sports, both daytime and evening. I know that it costs a pretty penny to get good shots at night. I am unwilling to pay what it costs to get pro grade pictures of games/matches at night.
Anyway, I would appreciate any feedback.

mguffin Aug 16, 2011 7:21 PM

The K-r seems like a nice camera, and any time you can use existing glass, the better. I recently switched from Canon to Olympus, and buying new glass is worse than convincing yourself to switch bodies...

TCav Aug 16, 2011 9:34 PM

What lenses do you already have? Do you think any of them would be appropriate for what you want to do? If so, then, yes, the Pentax K-r would probably be a good choice.

But if not, and unfortunately, there aren't many lenses for the Pentax mount that are especially good for what you say you want to do, then I think that Pentax might have been a bad choice to start with. And while Sony is a little better in that respect, Canon and Nikon have the best selection of lenses for that kind of photography ... though I warn you that they aren't cheap.

TCav Aug 17, 2011 8:36 AM

For the most part, lenses for "pictures of games/matches at night" will cost more than cameras for "pictures of games/matches at night". If cost is a concern, first, find a lens you can afford that will do the job, then buy a body that will fit it.

tacticdesigns Aug 17, 2011 11:35 AM


I was looking at getting the Pentax K-r as an upgrade to my Pentax K100d.

I've been to the store to try it out and I tried one side by side with a Pentax K-x. With a modest Pentax 55-200mm f4-5.6? lens on it, I tried to see if it was faster at continuous focusing than the Pentax K-x (Which I'm guessing is a lot faster than my K100d.) and it did seem faster.

I was going to see if I could capture my daughter at gymnastics (with no flash allowed) at higher ISO and a modest lens like a Pentax 55-200mm f4-5.6 or Tamron 28-200mm f4-5.6 and see if I could live with the noise of ISO 12,800 or 25,600.

But I ended up being told by my wife that I had a bigger budget, so I ended up getting a Nikon D5100 and planning to get a Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 (next month?) and Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 (by the end of the year?).

Are you allowed to use flash at the night games? What type of games are you shooting?

If you can use flash, that might be a way around expensive lenses.

I know with my Pentax K100d at ISO 3200, an old manual focus 70-200mm f4 lens, and my Vivitar 285HV flash firing at full blast, diffuser removed and zoomed out all the way, I was able to photograph a car derby at night (albeit under bright lights) from about a football field away. A guy behind me that happened to have a Pentax K200d with a 55-200mm lens and only using built-in flash wasn't able to freeze the motion nearly as much.

Take care, Glen :)

robbo Aug 17, 2011 4:28 PM

Thanks, Mguffin, TCAV, and Glen,

I have the Pentax 55-300mm, kit lens (18-55mm), f/1.4 50mm autofocus, the Tamron 17-50mm and 18-200mm lenses.

I don't plan to take that many pictures of indoor basketball, wrestling, track and field, hockey, etc. When I go to a college football game, it's in a very well lit stadium and the K-x does ok. I wish the K-x were one stop better in low light. In other words, I wish its image quality were better at ISO 3200 and 6400 (although it's ok for me at 3200). What I would like about the K-r is its reported 6 fps burst mode.

The other thing that I would like is the K-r's faster focus. I sat on my roof for several hours two weeks ago, trying to snap the Blue Angels flying overhead. After an hour they showed up and streaked by. The camera would not focus fast enough so I barely got one shot. That may be partly due to the lens (55-300) and me.

If I win the lottery, I might go for a pro level camera. However, I would be happy with a mid level camera for now. I might, in the future, pay $700 or $800 for a Tamron or Sigma f/2.8 70-200mm lens. I can't see myself paying over a thousand for any lens right now.

I have a Casio ZR-100, which does 30fps and takes decent pictures in good light. I paid about $250 for it. For me, it's a better bargain than a really good DSLR with a top class lens. However, it would be nice to have an ok DSLR with a pretty good lens for less than an arm and a leg.

I am leaning toward the K-r now.

Thanks for your input.

shoturtle Aug 17, 2011 4:48 PM

Go with the K-5 if you want a true upgrade. The K-r really does not offer you much more then the K-x.

But I would not go with the tamron 70-200 2.8. The sigma 70-200 2.8 HSM is a faster focusing lens for sport shooting. This and the sigma 50-150 2.8 HSM are the only real option for sports shooting with the pentax. The other options does not have a fast AF motor for sports.

tacticdesigns Aug 17, 2011 8:34 PM


How do you have your camera set-up focus mode wise when shooting?

Do you fix the focus point on the middle point sometimes?

Not meaning to insult if you do, but if you don't, that may be a way to squeeze a little more performance out of even your K-x.

As for the K-r, even though I didn't get one this time around, I still "want" one. I just have to figure out how to slip it in the queue <grin>

shoturtle -- I hear you on the Sigma, but for me, that's just beyond what I want to put down right now. As long as the new(er) Tamron is as fast as my old Tamron 28-105mm f2.8, then I think I'll be able to live with it. I was getting pretty close to what I was hoping for with my old Tamron, its the motion blur being at ISO 1600 that I was up against as well as 105mm being too short.

Take care, Glen :)

robbo Aug 17, 2011 8:40 PM

Glen ,
Yes, I have the K-x center point focused. I think that lens (55-300mm) simply doesn't focus as fast as some. I had no such problem with a Sigma 28-300mm lens although it wasn't as sharp a lens.

Shoturtle, thanks for the heads up on the 70-200mm lenses. I will keep your advice in mind.

tacticdesigns Aug 18, 2011 6:25 AM


If you haven't, maybe try your 55-300 on a K-r. You may notice it to be faster.

That was the purpose of my experiment in-store. I found the K-r to feel faster than the K-x with the same lens.

Take care, Glen :)

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