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12-13-2010, 09:44 PM   #1
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Gearing up for travel

Hi everyone,

I very recently bought a used K-7 and I'm trying to figure out what lenses I'll want to have while travelling. At the moment, I only have 2 lenses: the DA* 16-50 that I bought with my camera and a Tamron 70-200 2.8 I literally just bought off a local along with a 540 flash.

Now this entire purchase was more or less made for my planned 2-3 month trip to London, the south of France, Japan, and Vietnam (I know, it's a bit random) and I'm now trying to decide what lenses I'll want/need for the trip.

I originally had planned to simply add a fast prime or an ultra wide to the set, but I'm hoping to get some input on lens choices. I'm starting to think that the Tamron is much too bulky to carry around and would see limited uses despite it being an absolutely beautiful lens.

I'm now thinking of selling the Tamron and putting the money towards different lenses. Right now, I'm thinking the following for the final set:

DA*16-50
DA 55-300
Sigma 30mm 1.4
FA 43mm 1.9

Comments? Suggestions? My budget would be around 1200 (including the potential sale of the Tamron) for extra lenses. I'd also love to get opinions on decent travel tripods and backpacks (currently only have a fastpack 100).

12-13-2010, 10:22 PM   #2
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Will you be staying in hotels? Consider the possibility that your gear will be nicked. I would want a light bag I could have with me at all times to minimize the danger... and of course the trouble of lugging all of that gear around.

The DA* 16-50 is pretty flexible. I would pair it with something longer (DA 70, FA 77, or D FA 100) and call it a day, but that is my philosophy (travel light, not a telephoto fan). The 16-50 with the 55-300 would be a great 2-zoom kit if you feel you need the extreme reach. If you want a fast lens, the FA 43 would bit the bill (for museums and such), but it's probably not really the necessary... the primes might end up adding more weight than they are worth. Just a thought.
12-13-2010, 10:26 PM   #3
hcc
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I just come back from 12 weeks in between Europe, Far East Asia and New Zealand. I took my K-7 with two lenses only:
- DA18-250mm and
- Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4.

That is, I took an all-around lens that was on the K-7 most of the time. And a fast prime for low-light photography.

While traveling, the K-7 and DA18-250mm were in a small top-loader bag (with the battery charger, an adapter and the USB cable). I carried the fast prime Nokton 58mm f 1.4 in my backpack or in my pocket.

The lessons:
- that was the perfect combo for me; it worked great;

- the DA18-250mm is a sturdy lens and it gives great flexibility to 'reach' places where you cannot go;

- the Nokton 58mm is a superb lens and I got great shots; I found that it works also great in foggy/smoggy conditions and gave better contrast than the DA18-250mm in some 'tricky' situations;

- The K-7 is really a rugged camera; I am glad that it has WR;

- the top-loader bag (Lowepro TLZ1) was perfect;

- I had only one SD card but I backed up the data on my notebook computer every 2 days; if I did not have the computer for backup, I woud have taken 2 SD cards.

Hope that the comments will help....
12-13-2010, 10:36 PM   #4
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I would go with just the 16-50 and 55-300. And a 6" mini tripod for low light assistance.

12-13-2010, 11:59 PM   #5
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I think the 16-50 and 55-300 is good combo for travel. I'm not sure what you're reasoning for taking the 30mm and 43mm is though. I could see taking one if you wanted a faster lens but they are too close imo to take both.

Other options
sigma 10-20mm - expand your focal range on the wide end, probably good for european architecture

I would take a small external harddrive to backup photos (if you aren't taking a netbook/similar).

my travel kit this winter for Thailand/cambodia (5 weeks)
K-x
18-55 kit lens or ME super with a K 24mm for wide angles
Vivitar 28/2.8 (auto aperture) - at least 90% of my photos are in the 37-50 35mm length (6 years of photos with a 37-370mm equivalent camera)
A 50/1.7
M135/3.5
netbook, 3" mini-tripod and maybe a monopod or short/cheap tripod
12-14-2010, 12:29 AM   #6
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Firstly I would try to get a bag that takes lenses but doesn't immediately signal 'expensive cameras' - anything with a Lowepro (etc.) tag on it says just that. If you are staying in your own room in hotels then find a solid hiding place for your valuables where you can stash lenses you are not taking out with you - look for ceiling panels that can be pushed to one side and a small bag or valuables shoved up there, or often behind the TV there's a good space, if nothing then on the floor behind the curtains with a chair in front is a last resort - these are all spots the maids won't notice too. There are lots of pickpockets around in at least 3 of those locations so always keep your stuff in sight (and I mean in sight - not on your back, a sharp razor will slice a hole in no time). A sling bag would be good when walking around.

I would take 4 - 6 smaller capacity SD cards with me - in the end your memories might be more valuable than your kit and you can easily stow these or even post them home (not from Vietnam). Uploading them to Smugmug or similar when/if you get the chance is even better.

The Tamron is an excellent lense but as others have said - the 55-300 is a great travel lense, small, compact, light and very sharp.

I also endorse the low light lense option - you will need it at times. The Sigma 30 could be a good choice - or even a cheaper fast manual, as you won't be using it as much as your 16-50. I have the 43 Ltd and love it but I also have the FA 50/1.4 and that would be a cheaper and slightly faster option, great lense.

You could consider a Sigma 10-20 - It isn't heavy - but probably the 16-50 would suffice in most situations. Different perspective though.

For a tripod I would take a cheap Gorillapod knock-off - light, very flexible and unobtrusive and you can use it to wrap around fences, railings etc. for stabilisation, on tables, or to take shots of yourself in situ !

Don't let my (reasonable) paranoia get to you too much (but a little is good to have) and have a great time !
12-14-2010, 02:23 AM   #7
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I'd keep the Tamron. It's a big lens but will come handy while travelling IMO. In your place I'd get cheap old manual 50, maybe Sigma 30/1.4 and definitely UWA such as Sigma 8-16 or 10-20.

My 2p
12-14-2010, 05:08 AM   #8
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I'm with hcc -- the DA18-250 and a Fast Fifty -- for me, that's my FA50/1.4. Beyond those, I'd want some fast ultrawide, and a couple other fast utility lenses -- I carry a Vivitar-Kiron 24/2 and a Nikkor 85/2. Those and a Raynox DCR-250 cover most circumstances.

After a lossy encounter with a pickpocket in Antigua Guatemala during Semana Santa, I learned to use a sling Ameribag. Into that I can stuff the camera or a 10-inch Sony Vaio mini-laptop, a couple lenses and some filters, a Velbron #347 tripod, passport, pills, hand sanitizer, collapsible kite, radio, calculator (the universal translator), flashlight, spork, etc.

12-14-2010, 06:12 AM   #9
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My travel kit consists of the 18-250 and the 10-17 fisheye
or
16-50
55-300
10-17
I think you are in the right direction with the 16-50 and the 55-300 in the mix.
12-14-2010, 06:54 AM   #10
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My travel kit consists mainly of Ltd primes, but with the kit of the original poster, I'd definitely go with the 16-50 and the 55-300, and maybe the 43.

When traveling, I find very few occasions where I need something faster than the F2.8 of the 16-50, and it would not be worth carrying another lens, especially one as sizable as the 30. The FA43 is compact, and the reasons to carry it are 1) a shot where the detail is very important and you want the absolute sharpest result or 2) a shot where very shallow DOF is required or 3) a sitiuation when you want one inconspicuous lens around your neck. For low light, I could do without, but the FA43 is one of the few primes that could significantly improve on the DA* under F8.
12-14-2010, 08:20 AM   #11
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For my recent holiday the lenses I used most were a DA15mm Ltd and the Tamron 18-250. I also took the 55-300 kit lens, but I didn't get it out because the 18-250 was so much more convenient. I also took a manual fast 50, but didn't use that much either; didn't have much occasion and it wasn't the sort of holiday where I could take my time messing with a manual lens.

I've since bought a DA35mm Ltd Macro, and I now plan to use that, the 15mm, and the 55-300. Three lenses but two of them are small primes, and the 55-300 is relatively small for a long zoom.

I have a generic shoulder bag which holds the lenses, each in its own soft pouch. It also holds a water bottle and other holiday supplies, and doesn't look like a camera bag. The camera was around my neck and didn't need its own bag. I have the neck-strap long enough to go under one arm so it's out of the way when not in use. I also took a generic backpack, which on this trip I could leave on a tour bus, and that could hold the unused lenses and the camera when travelling.
12-14-2010, 08:57 AM   #12
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I travel with only the LTDs, but you have a good base if you go 16-50/55-300. My advice would be this:

Get Sigma 8-16mm and a used FA 43 Ltd (you can probably squeeze these just under the budget) to cover wide and low light, and take whatever is left to get a KATA dr 467i backpack (will fit that camera/lens kit perfectly and still have room for batteries, charger, accessories, etc. and more). I'd also highly recommend the Joby Gorillapod SLR Zoom. It is not perfect as a tripod, but I've used it on trips to Europe twice and it's very helpful (will fit in the KATA too!). If you get one, I'd also recommend picking up a ballhead for it to get a lot more range of motion. I use mine with a small Manfrotto head.

Sounds like an awesome trip, have a blast!
12-14-2010, 09:42 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Will you be staying in hotels? Consider the possibility that your gear will be nicked. I would want a light bag I could have with me at all times to minimize the danger... and of course the trouble of lugging all of that gear around.

The DA* 16-50 is pretty flexible. I would pair it with something longer (DA 70, FA 77, or D FA 100) and call it a day, but that is my philosophy (travel light, not a telephoto fan). The 16-50 with the 55-300 would be a great 2-zoom kit if you feel you need the extreme reach. If you want a fast lens, the FA 43 would bit the bill (for museums and such), but it's probably not really the necessary... the primes might end up adding more weight than they are worth. Just a thought.
If I were doing Europe only, I would probably pair the 16-50 with the DA70/FA77 and be done as well. You've got low light and tele covered, and I could count on my fingers the number of shots on a trip to Europe where I needed a longer tele. Mostly, I'd miss something wider. I know nothing about traveling in Vietnam, so I'd be more inclined to take the 55-300 just in case.

I like the Pacsafe bags for travel. They are inconspicuous and have all kinds of reinforcement and locks.
12-17-2010, 03:54 PM   #14
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Thanks for the input everyone, it's given me a good deal to think about. I'm not too worried about having my things stolen while in hotels so I'll look into the Kata DR467 as an option. I looked into the pacsafes, but I got the impression that they weren't really designed for cameras and would be a hassle to use. Multiple SD cards was something I had not thought of and will be adding to my list.

The main reason for carrying the 16-50 around is for the weather sealing, since my plans involve hot springs, waterfalls, sand dunes, and Japan's rainy season.

As weird as this will sound, the telephoto is there for monkeys. There're a number of places I'll be visiting in Japan and Vietnam with monkey populations that while approachable, have a nasty habit of stealing items off tourists. I'm certain there'll be some great shots to be had, but also that it'll be unwise to get too close to them.

The primes are really there for indoor and dark situations. From past experience, Asian countries have a number of shrines or temples that share one thing in common: they're all horribly lit. Photography isn't allowed at many of them, but I think I can slip in some quick shots if I'm discrete enough and don't use a flash.

My goal is really to have to change lenses as infrequently as possible since I find it distracts from the experience, so that's mainly why I haven't been looking at ultrawides or several primes (other than for low light).

Thanks for the comments and keep them coming!
12-17-2010, 11:57 PM   #15
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Living in China I know exactly what you mean about (very) poorly lit interiors of shrines & temples. I've found that most places will let you take photos as long as there is no flash (or no one at prayer).

However I've also found that you need two lenses for this, maybe something like an 85/1.4 for detail (though maybe you could scrape by with a Tamron 90 macro or similar if you have one) and a fast wide lense such as a 28/2.

Even an old manual lense or two would do fine in these situations since we are talking about static subjects, so it needn't be expensive to set yourself up for temples, maybe $100 could get you both.
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