Arenacross advice

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#1
I may have my first opportunity to photograph an arenacross event. I have been mainly doing outdoor district club events and I would appreciate any advice on equipment and a heads up on what to expect.

It does look as though I will be needing a flash from photos from previous events have shown.
 
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#3
Pentax IST DL, 18-55 stock kit lens. Pentax 28-80 auto. I also have an old Tokina 5.6 400 mm. Its completely manual and heavy. How close is allowed to trackside at these types events? I regularly get great shots at my regular races as I can get near the edge of the track. I know this will not be the case at the arenacross.

I do not have any flash other than the bitty one on the camera body. and I think I can afford about 400 for a new, longer lens and maybe the $200 or so needed for the TTL flash.
 

Chili

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#4
How close to the track will depend on the series and what kind of access you are granted by the promoter. Any AX I have shot in the past was with photo credentials and I was able to shoot anywhere on the floor I wanted. You don't list whether those first two lenses are a constant or variable aperature lens, unless you are shooting with a constant aperature F2.8 lens you are likely not going to be very happy with your results. The 400 will be useless at F5.6. The AX I've shot is is in a decently light rink and even then it was shot between F2.8 and 3.5 at 800-1600 ISO to have any chance of decent results.
 
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#6
the lenses are variable, I had a tough time shooting hare scrambles in the woods on a sunny day unless I found a skylit area on the trail. The pentax shows good resolution to about 800, but I would rather use 400. I am going for all access credentials so if I have complete floor access, I will be thrilled. I have done some pro hockey (sabres) in the past with good results at 400 and I think the arena where the event is being held is also used for a minor league hockey team. I wonder if the on camera flash will be good enough to fill or if I should look into a better flash to match the camera, I will be upgrading this winter to the pentax K10d so anything I invest in now will be compatible.

What should I expect from the promoters?
 

Chili

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#7
I expect you are going to be wildly disappointed in the conditions you'll find. Shooting the Sabres at HSBC arena with a white ice surface to reflect the full lighting capacity of the facility and shooting a mud filled AX in a somewhat lesser facility are an apples to oranges comparison. The link I provided was an AX at the MTS Centre here in Manitoba where the Vancouver Canucks farm team plays, it's a well lit nearly new facility. As you can see from the exif on those shots dang near everything was flashed and shot no more stopped down than f3.5 at ISO 800.

To hope to shoot at ISO 400 with a variable zoom lens in my opinion is unrealistic. Not saying it can't be done but you are going to have to look for creative ways to shoot with motion blur and things like second curtain sync etc.

As far as what to expect from the promoters, it will all depend on who the promoters are, if this is a National round of the AMA series I don't imagine you will find much success without a publication requesting your credentials. If this is a regional event or local event a lot of times you'll be welcomed with open arms as they are looking for anyone who may give them some coverage.
 
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#8
its the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series. Held at the Sabres farm club arena (lol) I am being recommended, sponsored, given a referral by an AMA Congressman so that may help.

I do have an older, completely manual Sigma lens, a constant 2.8 35-70 zoom, however it frightens me to use it as I have become spoiled by the auto focus and auto exposure of the digital...maybe its back to basics unless I can cough up some big bucks.
 

Chili

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#9
My first instinct was to tell you to rent some equipment, however unless you are prepared to rent a body as well it looks like you're more likely to find the proverbial needle in the haystack than a Pentax rental outlet.

I understand the reliance on AF, however hoping to rely on the camera to give you the correct exposure indoors especially if you're using a flash, may lead to some heartache. I found the usually excellent metering of the Canon 20D I was using in the past struggled indoors and forced me to shoot full manual most of the time at the AX.
 
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#10
I cant find a place that carries a good assortment of pentax in general in the Buffalo area. Looks like I will have to bite the bullet on this one and retrain myself into manual for this one if I get the photo pass.

I do have an old Vivatar flash I could use, but I have read some "stories" posted that some older flashes have fried the digital camera's electronics. Any truth to that?
 

Chili

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#11
kenc1959 said:
I do have an old Vivatar flash I could use, but I have read some "stories" posted that some older flashes have fried the digital camera's electronics. Any truth to that?
I know a few guys using old Vivitars as off camera slaves but I don't know enough about them to offer any comment on the subject.
 
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#12
I'll chime in.

As Chili has stated, if you plan to shoot ambient at an AX with a lens that is not at least a constant 2.8 you are going to have troubles....Serious troubles!

With the gear you listed, I would say you are going to have to get a flash of some sort. Without a flash you are going to get a keeper rate that is going to make you wish that you just stayed home. It's that important. Make sure that the flash and or camera has the option to use 2nd curtain sync to get the motion blur going in the correct direction for slow shutter stuff. You should be able to achieve some stuff like the photo below.



The other thing you can do is use your flash to freeze the rider. The shot below was taken at something like 1/250 f5.6 ISO 200



Good luck and post up some shots after the event.
 
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#13
I am shopping around and looking at my options....BTW I GOT THE PHOTO CREDENTIALS for ALL THREE DAYS!!!! yippee!!!
 
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#14
Just curious, why Pentax? I don't really know anything about them, but when I look online at lenses and stuff for the Pentax system, it seems to me that you are limiting yourself to a rather small selection of accessories as compared to Nikon or Canon. The lenses you have now will still be mediocre at best with a new body, so the upgrade that you mentioned MAY not be as big of a step forward as you may think. Now like I said earlier, I know absolutely nothing about Pentax, so I may be way off base here, but I would recommend you go with something like the Nikon D40x, or D80, or the Canon Digital Rebel XTI, or 30D. Either way, pop on a 70-200 f2.8 and a flash, and you’re off to the races.

Now as a side note, I wish I would have spent some time online and had heard some advice from others before I bought my first camera. I decided to go with the original Digital Rebel with the intention of taking motocross photos, and regretted getting it about 1 week after I purchased it. If I would have done some research I would have know that this camera had no AI servo in any setting other than “sports mode” For like $100 more I could have had the 10D and would have been way better off.

Just trying to help is all, so please don’t take this as anything negative. Just trying to make sure you weigh your options before you lay down a bunch of cash.

Oh ya, congrats on the credentials. You'll have a great time.
 
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#15
I have had Pentax all my photography life.... everything is still interchangable, even with the 50mm from my first 35mm camera which gives me 6 manual lenses to choose from and I have 2 lenses built for the digital. I am happy with the photos the camera takes, though not as sharp as I would like (probably the cheaper lenses) the colors are great. I read a lot of reviews for the D40x where they were compared side by side with other cameras, the pentax topped it, I do not have the links to prove it.

I was considering a jump to the Nikon as they were on sale recently, but changed my mind after I saw the comparisons.

I am pushing 50,000 photos in 2 years and 3 months....half of my IST DL projected shutter life, so do I go for better glass for this and hope it dont fall apart or do I upgrade the camera and work with the glass I have. Either way I need to get a flash. Tokina, Tamron and Sigma also make pentax mount lenses so I have too many options to consider in 2 months......

I will try to get something online to post here probably this weekend so you can see why I am happy with Pentax.