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02-14-2011, 03:01 PM   #1
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Travel Zoom: 17-70 vs. 18-135. Recommendations

I find myself with the need for a travel zoom for an upcoming trip to Europe. The 16-45 in my profile below will be going to my daughter. My interest lies in either the Pentax DA 17-70 or the DA 18-135. I am not considering any other brands as I do shoot JPG and like the in-camera correction that the body/lens combos provide. I've gone through everything I can find in this forum and others. I like the WR of the 18-135, but I lived in Europe for 10 years and shot exclusively with a Minolta 24-105 and only rarely found myself wanting something wider or longer - and that was before the age of digital where I can crop if need be. In either case, I might eventually add the DA14 or DA15 for something compact and wider. The rest of the kit is in the profile below. Only the A100/2.8 is not expendable - that may never leave my possession even though it will see little use. Any recommendations or guidance that I haven't gleaned from the rest of the site?

02-14-2011, 03:57 PM   #2
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I'd bring the 17-70 and the 50 1.7, that would really cover you off.

The 50 will be nice if you find yourself in a diner, out on the roads at night, pub, etc.
02-14-2011, 03:58 PM   #3
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I would give the 16-45 to your daughter after the trip :-) Otherwise, the 18-135 makes sense if you like building details, etc. I would tend toward wider rather than longer, and would probably go with the 17-70.
02-15-2011, 06:42 AM   #4
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You would be happy with either the 17-70 or the 18-135.

The advantages of the 17-70 are excellent, proven image quality, constant aperture and 1 more mm at the short end.

The advantages of the 18-135 are a terrific range, weather resistance, more compact and lighter than the 17-70, and has a newer focus system that may be faster and more reliable than SDM used on the 17-70.

If I had both, I'd pack both, and carry one with the other as a backup. (The 16-45 might also serve that purpose)

My last trip to Europe (Summer '10) I mostly used the K-x and DA Ltd primes with the kit lens when I could only use one lens. So, 17-70 would have covered most of my needs. I spent much of my youth in the late 70s through late 80s knocking around Europe with a big bag with multiple film bodies and lenses from 28mm to 200mm--virtually all of which are covered by the field of view of the 18-135 and a single digital body. The simplicity of this combo is appealing. I'd be inclined toward the 18-135 now as the walkaround, with the addition of the DA15 for a wider option and a fast 50mm or fast 40ish for low light.


Last edited by GeneV; 02-15-2011 at 08:12 AM.
02-15-2011, 07:05 AM   #5
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I am not familiar with either to the point where I know the trade off in aperture as a function of focal length.

I wouold pick the fastest at 70mm, but I am personally leaning to the 17-70. I believe the lens would have less compromises to achieve a shorter focal length range,

I don;t believe there is much need to have more than 70mm for a travel lens if you are city bound,

Personally I would also opt for something wider as well. I use a sigma 10-20, along with a tamron 28-75F2.8 as the basis for travelling in a city. I like the constant aperture of the tammy.
02-15-2011, 08:17 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I don;t believe there is much need to have more than 70mm for a travel lens if you are city bound.
For classic European castle and church tourism, the use for the longer lens is usually architectural detail or views from the tower. I don't need the longer FL every day, but it is nice to have it along. The stellar DA 70 crops so well, that it works for most architecture. My 17-70 is weakest (though still very good) at 70.
02-15-2011, 08:44 AM   #7
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After purchasing the 18-135, I wonder why you would even consider anything else. Saying the 17-70 goes wider , 1 mm? Really, is that a consideration? Pentax does make a 10-17, which I might add is great for both landscape and closed in spaces. A 17mm start point on a zoom isn't going to make that lens less necessary. Remember, 17 mm is 24mm on a 35mm camera. It's wide angle, but not that wide. As for saying you're never going to need a telephoto over 70. That's a statement that could only be made by someone who doesn't travel with a telephoto over 70. Because honestly, if you aren't used to having the lens, you don't see the pictures you'd be taking with it. 135mm is the equivalent of 200mm on a 35mm camera. So you might think it's a bit long. But better to have a little extra than not enough. If you use the lens at full reach 5 times in a trip, those pictures will add something special and unique to your albums. But often I use both ends of this zoom at the same location as well as some intermediate positions. It's a lens for leaving on the camera all the time. Any situation it can't handle can definitely be considered in some way extreme and worthy of a lens just for the occasion. Like the 10-17 or the 200 or 300mm telephotos. The 18-135 allows you to move a pile of lenses out of your bag reduce your weight and the number of lenses you carry, and saves lens changes, and the resultant dust on the sensor.

At least that's the way I see it.
02-15-2011, 11:00 AM   #8
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It's just how one experiences photography and holidays. I stated it in another thread but I will happily go on a holiday in Europe (cities, churches, castles, landscapes) with an 18-55 (or similar) as my only lens. I know the limitations that I will have and can work around them; I will miss some shots but come back with others; no big deal.

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