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11-12-2010, 08:32 PM   #1
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Lens decision for a special trip

Hi everyone,

In March of next year I will be spending 10 days in Cambodia visiting two orphanages that were built and are operated by the church I'm a member of. It is my hope to capture the experience in a way that helps make it personal for many of the other members who may not get the chance to visit and see the difference their efforts have made. I want to get shots of the kids (40) in candids and portraits, the facilities we have built and the surrounding community. Sorry for dragging on, but I wanted to impress that this is not just a normal lens decision to me and your help is really appreciated. Down to business:

I have the lenses shown in my signature and ordered my K-5 today. I'm planning to pick-up the 18-135 when it comes out as long as the reviews are good. I expect to use that on the trip for the days when I'm not sure what to expect and until I get a bit familiar with my settings. I'll bring the 15 to mostly for interior shots of the facilities and the 70 for candids where I need a little reach or close-up portraits. I don't plan to bring either of the sigma lenses or the 18-55.

What I want is another prime in between the 15 and 70 for visits to town and general shots near normal perspective. Here's what I'm looking at and my initial thoughts:
  • DA 21 f3.2: Probably too wide and close to the 15 I already have **Out of the running**
  • DA 35 f2.8: Would be nice since I don't have a macro, but not sure I need macro for this trip
  • DA 40 f2.8: I'm leaning towards this. Discreet lens until the kids get comfortable
  • FA 43 f1.9: Added this per advice from dgaies. Like the extra speed, but maybe not the extra reach
  • FA 50 f1.4: Might be a bit longer than I want, but would nice to have someting this fast with me **Out of the running**
I'd love to have any of these lenses, but I'm really trying to figure our which will best fill out my bag for this trip.

I will be creating a similar thread in the "General Photography" section for tips on techiques as this is a big departure from the landscape shots I take while hiking. Keep an eye out for that if you think you can help.


Last edited by JamieP; 11-13-2010 at 07:24 PM.
11-12-2010, 08:52 PM   #2
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I'd lean towards the DA40. As you said, the 21 is probably too close to the 15. The 35 is nice, but I prefer the 40 unless I know I want the ability to close-focus. The FA50 isn't a bad choice either, but it's FL is starting to get a bit close to the 70 and would leave a huge prime gap between 15 and 50.

You might also consider the FA43 as it would give you a FL similar to the DA40 (similar physical size too), but also give you a faster lenses as an alternative to the FA50/1.4.
11-12-2010, 09:05 PM   #3
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I have the 15/21/35/70 combo. I think the 21 is very suited for "photojournalism" type photography, but I think the 35 is even more versatile. Great lens plus macro. And it's really not that big (just big compared to the DA 40!).
11-13-2010, 01:05 AM   #4
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My best portraits fill the frame and use a small depth of field, blurring the background. While I use my FA 77 for this, your DA 70 should work well. As gnaztee has pointed out the DA 35 would fill into the range of primes you already own. The DA 35 is equivalent to a 50 mm focal length on my film camera, and that has always been very versatile choice for shooting scenes and portraits.

This sounds like a lot of fun.

Jim

11-13-2010, 01:05 AM   #5
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I think that a 50mm fast prime is a must. It will give some great flexibility with the lighting, ikncl. during rainy periods, cloudy days but also dusks and dawns. I have shot in tropical regions like Taiwan, Singapore, and I know that the weather can become dark quickly....

For special events, I love my Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4. It is not on your list and it is MF, but I would recommend you to consider. The IQ is fantastic, definitely first class, and many Pentaxians have reported outstanding results with that lens. I have used the Nokton 58mm in several special occasions when I did not want to get 'average' or 'crap' photographs. I do not regret my decision and it is still today my 'special occasion' lens.

Food for thoughts...
11-13-2010, 02:03 AM   #6
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I'll be in Cambodia in late January but I'll be on vacation. I've thought about volunteering as an English teacher at various places. But that is what I do as a job and there are so many places to go and photograph.

If you don't get the FA50/1.4 then you should probably bring a fast MF 50/55mm with. They're cheap and small.
11-13-2010, 06:45 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by abacus07 Quote
I'll be in Cambodia in late January but I'll be on vacation. I've thought about volunteering as an English teacher at various places. But that is what I do as a job and there are so many places to go and photograph.

If you don't get the FA50/1.4 then you should probably bring a fast MF 50/55mm with. They're cheap and small.
Hi Abacus- I'd love to see some of your pics and hear any lessons learned after you trip.
11-13-2010, 07:22 PM   #8
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I spent a few days in Siem Riep near the Angkor Temples and it was quite amazing. The food is wonderful, the people seemed to be pretty friendly (though my interactions weren't that deep), and the place is wonderful to photograph. Of course it's really, really hot and humid. I went in late March and early April and I think this is among the hottest times of the year. So be prepared for that - I actually started spending time in the sauna at the exercise place I belong to

Psychologically, traveling to where there is profound poverty with limited opportunity for advancement is a bit taxing if you let it. I found when we went to a couple orphanages it was both encouraging that there were people who are doing a lot to help them, but knowing that there is so much more need than what can be provided given the limited resources was troubling. But really experiencing this made me feel so much more grateful for what we have here... yeah, we have our problems and disagreements, but most of the time it's really pretty petty compared to the those who happen to be born in a different circumstance.

I don't know if this is your first time travelling so far out of your time zone, but be prepared for some serious jet lag especially if you are unable to sleep on the flight over. My flight to Bangkok (my starting off point) took around 20 hours including layovers. I've been overseas a half dozen times, so I knew it was going to be tough. I spent the 2 weeks prior to traveling adjusting my sleeping and eating times to make it easier - it really worked well for me as that trip was by far the easiest for me to adjust to the new time.

If you're interested, feel free to look at my flickr set when I was in Cambodia - angkor flickr set - it's mostly of the temples, but there are a few shots of people here and there.

As for lenses, your Sigma 24-60 2.8 is a good lens! It's a bit big, but it's not massive either - the focal range is good for casual stuff in many lighting conditions. But perhaps you may want another lens for those special moments or things - I'd say go w/ the da35 macro. It'll give you great near to far coverage, it's super sharp, and is just an amazing lens. I suppose this leaves you without a fast lens... but when you have great high iso, this isn't as important (most of the time anyway).

Good luck on your trip and I think it's great what you and your church are supporting.

11-13-2010, 07:26 PM   #9
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I edited the original post to remove the DA 21 and FA 50. I also added the FA 43, but leaning towards the 35 or 40.

Thanks those who have helped.
11-13-2010, 07:46 PM   #10
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Vagrant- thanks for all the information and the kind words. I took a look at your set and really enjoyed it. I'm not sure yet if I will make it to Angkor as we will mostly be in Battambang, but your shots really make me want to get there.

I hadn't even begun to think about preparing for the time change or any of that, so I'm glad you mentioned it.

As for the Sigma 24-60, I liked it quite a bit until I got the DA 70 and saw the next level for IQ. I think once I get a prime in the heart of the sigma's range where I typically use it, it won't get much use.

Thanks again.
11-13-2010, 08:21 PM   #11
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A Holiday in Cambodia?
11-13-2010, 09:08 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by JamieP Quote
I edited the original post to remove the DA 21 and FA 50. I also added the FA 43, but leaning towards the 35 or 40.

Thanks those who have helped.
Despite the fact that I'm the one who suggested the 43 to begin with (for the extra speed), in the interest of full disclosure I should state that I recently sold my 43 and bought the 40. It wasn't because I think the 40 is better overall lens than the 43, it's just tthat I already had the 31/1.8 and 50/1.2 so I didn't really need the speed and I wanted a super compact, very fast AF lens. Plus. saving a couple hundred dollars to put towards the K5 was nice too
11-13-2010, 11:34 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rory Quote
A Holiday in Cambodia?
Perhaps you missed the Angkor Wat gallery linked above. Overall I'll have 5 weeks in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
11-15-2010, 08:09 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by abacus07 Quote
Perhaps you missed the Angkor Wat gallery linked above. Overall I'll have 5 weeks in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
It was a joke
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