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Old Apr 11, 2011, 2:25 PM   #1
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Default Sony SLT A-33 or Pentax K-r

I wrote for help last fall and had decided on a Pentax K-x. I didn't end up purchasing a camera at that time but have $750 saved now to purchase one. I'm trying to decide between the Sony SLT A-33 and the Pentax K-r. I am a mom of three and will be using the camera to take inside and outside photos including action shots of football, swimming, basketball, and dance. I also take lots of head shots and nature pictures at the lake. I have no interest in using the movie capabilities. I have read all of the pro and consumer reviews so I know the pros and cons but I could really use your opinion(s) for which one you think is best for me and best use of my budget.
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Old Apr 11, 2011, 2:46 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by jlucier View Post
will be using the camera to take inside and outside photos including action shots of football, swimming, basketball, and dance.
Well, neither camera with kit lens is going to get you indoor swimming, basketball or dance shots. It's just not. You will absolutely need another lens. Which lens(es) you need will depend on specific distances. Without question you'll need an f2.8 lens at a minimum. Then there's football. You'll find that there are lots of opinions on the internet about what equipment is needed for sports shooting. Unfortunately 90% of the people with those opinions don't shoot sports, so their advice is suspect at best. With some additional information, people here with actual experience can give you some options. Realize though, you've got some tough requirements here - so there may not be an option that works given what your budget is. So, here we go:
  1. What is your total budget?
  2. Football: what age? day or night or both? where will you be shooting from?
  3. Swimming: what age? indoor or outdoor? where will you be shooting from (stands or pool deck)?
  4. basketball: what age? Where will you be shooting from (baseline/floor or stands)?
  5. dance: where will you be shooting from -stage or seats? What distances are involved?
Both cameras will fail miserably at the above without the right lenses. And you also have to realize that your shooting position will affect success. If you're trying to shoot varsity football from the stands you're going to get bad results no matter the camera/lens. If you're trying to shoot swimming from the stands, results will be poor in many cases without very expensive lenses - and even then the results can be very poor because of the extreme angle involved (for example you'll never get a decent fly photo from the stands - bakstroke, yes - some freestyle by fly, no; breast, no.
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Old Apr 11, 2011, 4:46 PM   #3
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I bought a pentax k-x (with 18-55mm and 55-300mm lenses) about a month and a half ago. I, like you, have 3 kids...each participates in some sort of sport (baseball, basketball, football, dance, soccer, etc) plus the typical school carnival, school play, etc. I have been very pleased with the results from my camera. Now, as JohnG points out, you could achieve outstanding results with more expensive lenses. However, with my little set-up, I have greatly surpassed anything I could've gotten with my old point and shoot. I think it's all about expectations. I LOVE looking at incredible photos of just about anything. With my k-x and lenses, I'm not going to produce anything of that caliber when it comes to photographing my kids' sports. But for my needs, I am having a blast, and I've enjoyed lots of compliments on what I've done so far. Obviously, I've only had the camera a short time, but so far I've been able to get some good shots at my son's basketball games and a school play, which was in less than ideal lighting conditions. My biggest concern with Pentax is the availability and affordability of additional automatic focus lenses in the future. I do have a stash of old manual lenses, and you can find those very cheaply on e-bay, I'm told. Those are a little trickier for a beginner like me to use, but I'm getting the hang of it and having a ton of fun.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I've been incredibly satisfied with my pentax. As my skills and budget increase, I may decide to give up the pentax and go for canon and it's huge stable of lenses. But for now, I couldn't be more pleased.

As an aside, I've seen some samples of JohnG's work, and it is truly outstanding. I would love to have him join me on the sidelines someday and photograph my kids! If you want to dive in deeply, and shell out some cash, I'm sure he'd be the guy to steer you in the right direction, based on his work!
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Old Apr 11, 2011, 5:06 PM   #4
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1. I have $750 now but could purchase another lens or two in the fall or winter next year.
2. 7th/8th grade - all games are during the day and I shoot from the sideline.
3. I am a collegiate swim coach and have a 10-year-old daughter who swims so I shoot all levels. All indoor so far and all from deck.
4. 7th/8th grade - shooting from the stands.
5. Don't worry about dance - it's not a big priority.

Thanks for your help!
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Old Apr 11, 2011, 6:34 PM   #5
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The swim stuff, like john said you will need a 2.8 lens. Depending on how good and how much action you are taking. You might want to consider a canon system instead. While the pentax can take decent outdoor action stuff. If you really want higher end action stuff the canon system is much better suited for it especially indoors.

Take a read of this thread form a pentax shooter that found out he want to concentrate on sports and action.

For your starting budget I would look at the canon T2i or T3i. And build form there.
http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...nt-pentax.html

I shoot a pentax at times, but the canon system is the better sport/action system
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Old Apr 12, 2011, 10:32 AM   #6
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Jlucier,

Acscoggins brings up a good point - most of us are not made of money. Sports shooting is probably one of the most demanding types of shooting with regards to equipment. So, most of us often have to settle for "good enough". Everyone's definition of "good enough" is different though. Hopefully Acscoggins can share some of her basketball & dance photos with you (either in this thread or privately) so you can see what kit lens performance can deliver for those low light sports.
Now, when I shoot basketball in HS or middleschool gyms, my exposure settings are often around ISO 3200-6400 f2.8 and 1/400. With an f5.6 kit zoom lens that would mean shutter speeds of 1/100. 1/100 is going to show quite a bit of blur. The alternative is to have shots that are underexposed so they're too dark. Less blur but the faces are just dark.

Here is my opinion as a sports photographer & dad:

The best compromise lens for your needs would be a 70-200 2.8. You need the reach and f2.8 for swimming. You'll need at least 200mm for youth football - more would be better - and you could always add a 1.4x TC to get some added reach. For basketball, since you're in the stands you'll definitely benefit from the reach.

Now, you'll have to be shooting at ISO 3200-6400 for the swimming / basketball. But that can't be helped.

The least expensive 70-200 2.8 option is the Sigma 70-200 2.8 (non OS version. There are now 2 versions - one with image stabilization and one without). Image stabilization isn't an issue for the sports work at all, so I wouldn't worry about that. That lens sells for around $800

Now, on to cameras / systems: For sports work, Canon & Nikon have a decided advantage. Sony & Pentax are a bit behind them. The A33 is a bit odd to shoot sports with because it is an electronic viewfinder - when you're taking burst shots the image you see in the viewfinder is the last shot you took, not live. In future generations they'll probably get that working better. But for now, the amateur sports shooters used to optical viewfinder in Sony and electronic point to that as an issue. Also the focus system in the A-33 isn't on par with Canon & Nikon. The pentax K-R is a little better but sports photography is NOT pentax' strong suit. They have limited offering of sports-capable lenses and the focus performance (especially in low light) for moving subjects still isn't on par with Canon & Nikon. BUT, the K-R is a great camera for everything else. It's a nice all-around camera but if you plan on doing a lot of sports shooting - especially low light, the couple hundred $$ you save now will really cost you in the long run. Right now the K-R with kit lens sells for $650. The canon T2i with kit lens sells for $800. For sports shooting that $150 will be extremely well spent. The newly announced Nikon d5100 will have a $900 price. That would be the choice in Nikon.

But, again, I absolutely think it's worth your time to look at Acscoggins photos as you may very well be happy with the results she is getting. In which case you'll save a LOT of money over taking my advice
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Old Apr 13, 2011, 12:00 PM   #7
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Thank you for all of the advice! I have ruled out the Sony. I would love to see some k-r sports photos if acscoggins is willing to post some. I think I will try to find some in the pentax postings too. Or, maybe I will stretch the budget to $800 and go with Canon. Again, thanks for taking the time to educate me a little on sports photography!
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Old Apr 13, 2011, 1:04 PM   #8
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I will be happy to post some photos for you. But, keep in mind that my camera is a k-x. I'm not sure what the differences are between the k-r and k-x, but I wanted to make sure you were aware of that. I'll see what I can find to post on here in the next day or two. I've never put any photos on here, but I'm guessing it isn't too difficult!
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Old Apr 13, 2011, 1:06 PM   #9
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Thank you! I look forward to seeing them!
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Old Apr 13, 2011, 1:08 PM   #10
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One more thing...in my opinion, which is based on nothing more than what I've read here, spending the extra $$$ on the canon may not be such a bad idea if sports is going to be your main focus. They do have a wider variety of lenses, from what I understand. I don't want to take anything away from pentax, because I love mine, but I take photos of many things besides sports...really, I've been taking pictures of EVERYTHING since I got this camera...landscapes, birds, random shots of my family, vacation photos...you name it! Oftentimes as I drive around, I see things and make a mental note to come back with the camera to take photos sometime. I see the pentax as an affordable, good all-around camera for someone who doesn't want to invest huge amounts of money into their photography habit.
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