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02-10-2011, 01:00 AM   #1
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Dilemma RE which lens to buy for a trip!

Hi Everyone,

My wife and I are going on a trip to Africa in the middle of the year. I am about to pull the trigger on a K-5... finally! But i need help choosing a lens. Usage will be lots of landscapes and street photography, as well as portraiture and candids - all while traveling in possibly less than ideal situations weather-wise (and dust, etc). I'm not toooo worried about weight. I will be carrying at least 2 lenses with me anyway.

At first I was sold on the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8. This would be a good starting lens for me, and I could add a telephoto zoom later when I could afford it (I still have an old Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 APO that I can use in the meantime. However, i'm wondering whether i'll miss the 50-70mm range).

Now i'm also interested in the 18-135mm WR as well, for several reasons: Firstly, it's WR. Which will be good for travel and general robustness. Secondly, I think it would probably have better IQ than my Sigma 70-300mm at focal lengths between 70 and 135mm (albeit slightly slower).

My issue is that if I get the 18-135mm, will i end up wanting a faster, better quality wide angle zoom later on? I'd prefer not to be buying and selling lenses all the time. I want to build up a collection that will suit my needs. What do you think the quality difference is between the 18-135mm and the 17-50mm at focal lengths between 18 and 50mm? Would the Tamron be noticeably better?

Also, even if I get the 18-135mm I will probably still be wanting to lug around my old 70-300mm for the extra reach it provides, and for the fact that it's slightly faster at the longer focal lengths. That's two reasonably hefty lenses to carry.

I would really love the Weather Resistance of the 18-135mm for my travels, but i'm a bit afraid it will become a double-up lens when I start buying better quality longer and shorter lenses.

So it really boils down to this: Does the 18-135mm match the IQ of the Tamron at wide angles? Do i really need f2.8? If I decided I don't need the Tamron I can save my money and buy an ultra-wide angle lens later down the track (which I probably will do eventually anyway).

Will the 18-135mm outperform the 70-300mm, even beyond 135mm because of extra sharpness (meaning I can crop and still get a better quality image)?

Thanks for any help and suggestions. I really don't know what to do. The difference between the price of these two lenses means I could get some extra accessories if I buy the Tamron, which I probably won't be able to afford before the trip if I buy the 18-135mm.

What do you think?

02-10-2011, 09:49 AM   #2
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I doubt the 18-135 will match the 17-50.

You could do the 12-24, Tamron 28-75, and the Pentax 55-300 which is noticeably better than the Sigma 70-300.

Used, those 3 lenses would set you back about 600, 325, and 300.

There a few other travel lens threads going. All have the same inconclusions.
02-10-2011, 04:01 PM   #3
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The DA*16-50 in concert with DA*300/4 (or F*/FA*300/4.5) is my favourite 2 lens Travel combo. I would also carry atleast two bodies, one for each lens, this will take care of dusty conditions and also ensure you are ready for whatever photo opportunity comes up. Do you really need K-5? I buy cheaper bodies to fund better lenses.
02-10-2011, 05:38 PM   #4
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I know if I was going on a trip like yours I would get and take what I need, even if it costs way more than I want to spend. I would definitely get that DA55-300 or FA300 and replace that Sigma. All the advice previous to my post is good. Just don't skimp if this is a once in a lifetime trip. And get them all soon so you can learn to use them before you go.

02-10-2011, 10:33 PM   #5
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Thanks for all your replies. Very helpful. I will let you know what i decide on in the end.
02-14-2011, 04:23 PM   #6
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Hi everyone,

Just to tie up this thread, I decided on the 17-50mm. Hopefully I will have the money to buy a second-hand 70-200mm f2.8 before I go.

I decided not to go with the 18-135mm because I couldn't see it being part of my kit long-term. Although I would love the WR, I have never had it before and have not had an issue with water damage in the past. I will just have to be careful.
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