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06-03-2010, 10:45 AM   #1
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Backpacking, help me choose lenses

I'm going for a short-notice 2-day backpacking/camping trip this weekend in the western mountains of Virginia (Mount Rogers Recreational Area in Jefferson National Forest), and I'm having some difficulty in choosing what lens(es) to take. Of course, weight is a concern for these types of adventures, since I'll be carrying whatever I take everywhere we hike. The hikes we are doing are relatively short, not more than 10 miles total. The weather should be generally pleasant.

I will be taking a K-7 (w/ 2 batteries) and most likely some form of tripod. The tripod I have now is a full-size tripod so I may buy a smaller one tomorrow at a local camera store if they have anything decent.

Here are my goals for the trip:
1. Capture the beauty of the surrounding landscape. This will require at least a normal-ish lens. Short telephoto for intimate landscapes would be useful. Wide angle for broad vistas would be helpful, although stitching can be done using a normal lens if necessary. Macro lens would be nice for smaller flowers, although a dedicated macro lens may be overkill.

2. Capture the adventures of my fellow backpackers (and myself). Mostly just need a normal-ish lens for this. If I wanted to do any better portraits w/ decent smooth bokeh, then a short telephoto lens would be helpful for that.

3. Capture any wildlife we run into. This one is tough, because wildlife generally needs 300mm to get decent shots. But then again, I hate wasting good photographic opportunities that don't come about very often.

Here is the equipment at my disposal. New lens purchases are out of the question because I need the lenses by tomorrow and no local shops carry Pentax stuff (sigh).

WR Zooms:

DA* 16-50
DA* 50-135

Minimalist Primes:

FA 20
A 28/2 (or F 28/2.8)
FA 43
FA 77
K 85
F 135
K 135

Macro options:

F100/2.8. Heavy & bulky. No WR. (I need to buy a 100 Macro WR...)
FA50/2.8. Decent compactness. Heavy. No WR.

Telephoto options:

F*300/4.5 : Good for Birds + Large mammals. Heavy, limited use.
F1.7x TC : Lightweight. Compact. 135/2.8 becomes ~230/4.5. Loss of IQ particularly at large apertures. Requires fumbling with multiple items to change lenses.



OK, so that's what I have. What would you take?

Here are a couple possibilities that I have come up with:
16-50 + 50-135. good all-rounder but sacrifices w/ bulkiness.
FA20 + FA43 + F135. good focal length coverage but no WR and more lens changes.
A28 + FA77. Sleek & light, but no AF on normal.
16-50 + F*300....in case I see that black bear (hopefully far enough away to need the 300mm )

Ok your turn! Tell me what you think would be a good idea.

06-03-2010, 10:59 AM   #2
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I'd go with the DA*16-50 and 50-135. Gives you a lot of range and the 16-50 is going to be your most used lens. I'd slip the TC in as well. The only thing your missing is real macro close ups.

If I had a 12-24 lens as a choice I'd have suggested that.

$0.02
06-03-2010, 10:59 AM   #3
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It's far easier to make these choices for somebody else!

16-50, 77, F135

16-50 -- WR, all-rounder, v. handy to have the wide end vs. stitching; not THAT big

77 -- fast, sharp, prime; candids of other hikers. Just a freakishly beautiful lens.

F135 could double as pseudo - macro because of its close-focus, and the 77 and 135 are lighter than the 50-135 but still give you coverage. If you can fit your TC in there, great!
06-03-2010, 11:00 AM   #4
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I like your FA primes selection, Option 2.

It's not like you won't have time to change lenses.

06-03-2010, 11:09 AM   #5
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If it were me, I'd go with either: 20, 50 macro, F135 or else 16-50, 100 macro, 1.7 extender.
06-03-2010, 11:16 AM   #6
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in looking at the objectives, I might be inclined to leave the 50-135 at home.

I would consider the 16-50 as the overall workhorse lens, being on the camera most of the time, and then consider something special for other events. Here I will make some WAGs because the equipment list is not specific about apertures.

I would take eithe rthe K85 or the FA77 because an F1.8 aperture woud be handy to have for low lights,

Similairly, I assume hope the K135 is the F2.5 version, this is a wonderful lens and an excellent performer and FAST for the focal lenght. You could couple this to the 1.7x TC and have a reasonable and fast 250mm+ F4 tele eliminating the need to carry the F300F4.5 which will, as you state get minimal use.

the other option would be to take the 16-50, plus either 77 or 85mm and the FA300F4.5, I would lean to the FA77 to keep everything AF.

I would also take a flash, and a monopod, but leave the tripod at home, too much weight too little use IMO, and look into some close up lenses, +1 and +2 dipoter as a substitute for macro, and use them on the FA-77
06-03-2010, 11:57 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
in looking at the objectives, I might be inclined to leave the 50-135 at home.

I would consider the 16-50 as the overall workhorse lens, being on the camera most of the time, and then consider something special for other events. Here I will make some WAGs because the equipment list is not specific about apertures.

I would take eithe rthe K85 or the FA77 because an F1.8 aperture woud be handy to have for low lights,

Similairly, I assume hope the K135 is the F2.5 version, this is a wonderful lens and an excellent performer and FAST for the focal lenght. You could couple this to the 1.7x TC and have a reasonable and fast 250mm+ F4 tele eliminating the need to carry the F300F4.5 which will, as you state get minimal use.
You are corrrect about the K135...it is the 2.5. Just to clarify some of the other apertures:

FA 20/2.8
A 28/2 (or F 28/2.8)
FA 43/1.9
FA 77/1.8
K 85/1.8
F 135/2.8
K 135/2.5

QuoteQuote:
the other option would be to take the 16-50, plus either 77 or 85mm and the FA300F4.5, I would lean to the FA77 to keep everything AF.

I would also take a flash, and a monopod, but leave the tripod at home, too much weight too little use IMO, and look into some close up lenses, +1 and +2 dipoter as a substitute for macro, and use them on the FA-77
The main reason I want a tripod is for some night exposure of our campsite and the surroundings. Also maybe if there are any waterfalls or other opportunities for longer exposures where a monopod isn't sufficient. I'm still on the fence regarding this, but if I can find a decent lightweight & compact tripod at the store tomorrow I may pick it up.


Thanks to everyone for the input so far, these are some good thoughts! Keep them coming!
06-03-2010, 12:04 PM   #8
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16-50, 77, and F100 Macro + TC (optional). I have a small LowePro bag with raincover that I attach to the sternum strap of my pack for easy, protected access, mount my 77 and use it almost exclusively while hiking with a group. TBH, in groups the opportunity to see a lot of wildlife diminishes significantly, so it's up to you on taking the additional weight. I rarely go past 100mm on a trip such as you describe...but at this time of year, the macro could get quite a bit of use.

Don't buy a smaller tripod, just go carbon fiber

06-03-2010, 12:06 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by porterHause Quote
16-50, 77, and F100 Macro + TC (optional). I have a small LowePro bag with raincover that I attach to the sternum strap of my pack for easy, protected access, mount my 77 and use it almost exclusively while hiking with a group. TBH, in groups the opportunity to see a lot of wildlife diminishes significantly, so it's up to you on taking the additional weight. I rarely go past 100mm on a trip such as you describe...but at this time of year, the macro could get quite a bit of use.

Don't buy a smaller tripod, just go carbon fiber
I do have a carbon fiber tripod...so it's pretty light for it's size...it's this one plus a PhotoClam ball head. I'll have to see how it fits onto my pack to see if it would be a problem.

FEISOL Tournament Class three-section tripod CT-3342
06-03-2010, 12:15 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by arpaagent Quote
I'm going for a short-notice 2-day backpacking/camping trip this weekend in the western mountains of Virginia (Mount Rogers Recreational Area in Jefferson National Forest), and I'm having some difficulty in choosing what lens(es) to take. Of course, weight is a concern for these types of adventures, since I'll be carrying whatever I take everywhere we hike.
An option is to take one body and one lens: an all-around lens like the DA18-250mm (or its sibbling Tamron 18-250mm). The lens will cover all your needs and it's rugged as shown by earlier posts. The camera + lens + 2 batteries will fit easily in a small top loader bag, and the package will be light and easy to carry. No need to change lenses: you camera is ready anytime.

The two disadvantages of the DA18-250mm are lens distortion and low light performances. The former can be easily fixed with PP (eg with PTLens) while the latter (low light) require really a fast prime.

That is exactly my outdoor package and the one I would recommend it...

Last edited by hcc; 06-03-2010 at 12:33 PM. Reason: Typos
06-03-2010, 12:52 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
An option is to take one body and one lens: an all-around lens like the DA18-250mm (or its sibbling Tamron 18-250mm). The lens will cover all your needs and it's rugged as shown by earlier posts. The camera + lens + 2 batteries will fit easily in a small top loader bag, and the package will be light and easy to carry. No need to change lenses: you camera is ready anytime.

The two disadvantages of the DA18-250mm are lens distortion and low light performances. The former can be easily fixed with PP (eg with PTLens) while the latter (low light) require really a fast prime.

That is exactly my outdoor package and the one I would recommend it...
Problem being...I don't have one!
06-03-2010, 01:13 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
An option is to take one body and one lens: an all-around lens like the DA18-250mm (or its sibbling Tamron 18-250mm). The lens will cover all your needs and it's rugged as shown by earlier posts. The camera + lens + 2 batteries will fit easily in a small top loader bag, and the package will be light and easy to carry. No need to change lenses: you camera is ready anytime.

The two disadvantages of the DA18-250mm are lens distortion and low light performances. The former can be easily fixed with PP (eg with PTLens) while the latter (low light) require really a fast prime.

That is exactly my outdoor package and the one I would recommend it...
except that the OP excluded purchasing a new lens. He wants opinions on what he has not what he could potentially purchase, even though there is no store in his town selling pentax
06-03-2010, 02:51 PM   #13
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I'd take the DA* 16-50mm and FA 77mm. If you think you'll want to take a lot of macro shots add the 50mm Macro.

From my own experience, I doubt you'll need or want a long lens. It might be ok for birds, but trees would obscure most larger animals. Even birds and other smaller animals would be hard to capture given the low light nature of wooded areas. I'd say it might be a similar situation with macro. Then again I don't really know the area. None-the-less, as a bare minimum I'd take the 16-50 and 77. They'll be best for scenics, as well as people shots.
06-03-2010, 02:59 PM   #14
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Double post. Oops.
06-03-2010, 03:53 PM   #15
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I can't hike without a 300 or I'll spend half the trip kicking myself.
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