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07-10-2011, 08:56 PM   #1
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A week in Yellowstone - to WR or not to WR?

Heading to Yellowstone at the end of the month for a week with the family. Although photographic opportunities will be in the offing, it is not a main point of the trip, so gear must be light. I will certainly bring a long zoom (75-300) and a fast prime (43) plus a TC for reach and "sort of" macros. For a wide angle lens I am deciding between the FA 20-35 (which is almost always fantastic, it is my default lens for family and scenic events) and the WR 18-55 which is definitely a notch or two below, but would allow use in more questionable weather. I can't quite see bringing both. Maybe a 16mm fish eye along with the 18-55 for better IQ and to preserve a WR option. Any thoughts?

Thanks, Nick

07-10-2011, 09:05 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Not much rain in Yellowstone in July/August. If you plan to stand in the spray-paths of active geysers for long periods, WR would be useful. Otherwise, don't sweat it. Is your 16 a Zenitar? Take it. Some of the thermal pools will definitely benefit from it. Have fun!
07-10-2011, 09:52 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I was just there for 3 days and never got sprayed by anything. Take a plastic bag and rubber-bands and don't worry :-) I'd say wider is better.
07-11-2011, 05:26 AM - 1 Like   #4
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My family and I will also be there for three days in a little over one week as well. If you see some kook with two K-kids and two K-cameras and gorgeous wife, that's me. I'll give you the universal Pentax nod greeting.

07-11-2011, 05:32 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nick Siebers Quote
Heading to Yellowstone at the end of the month for a week with the family.
And watch out for bears . My Wife and I will be heading there in August.
07-11-2011, 05:59 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I heard somewhere that the sulfur can damage the lens coating, so I always had a UV filter on near the thermal areas (pools and geysers). You will LOVE it.
07-11-2011, 06:22 AM - 1 Like   #7
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Yellowstone? Don't leave without your weather sealed gear, and don't forget to have a protective filter on the front of your lens. It's not about the rain, it's about the sulfuric steam you'll be standing in.

I had non-weather sealed gear with me, but in general, I tried to stay weather sealed when going into a steamy area, or have everything closed up.

Even with that, I still had one geyser surprise splash the front element of my Sigma 8-16mm and even with a quick clean off, it's multicoat may not be quite the same.

I wouldn't be afraid to take that FA 20-35, and I wouldn't be afraid to use it, especially with a protective filter, but I wouldn't play with the zoom or focus while walking through a steamy area.
07-11-2011, 06:33 AM   #8
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I was up in Yellowstone 3 weekends ago.

I found almost no use for my macro. Most of the time was wide, wider, and widest.

The longer focal lengths came in handy for wildlife, and in Mammoth a couple of times to reach out to the new development that isn't as close to the observation walk ways as it used to be.

At the lower outlook for the lower falls in the Grand Canyon, there's a pair of nesting osprey. You take a short walk to the overlook, and almost directly opposite the falls you'll be able to find people watching them. You'll need some way to reach 600mm to get much of a shot of them however.

The 250-600 was indispensable for the wildlife, especially when momma bear and her two cubs decided to take a swim. You can really reach out and touch the wildlife without being close. That said, you can leave your telephoto in the car for almost all of the geyser and pool observation walks.

Your fish eye might come in handy in a few locations, such as grand prismatic when you want to get in more of the imagery into your frame than you'd get otherwise.

Most of my shots of pools were between F8 or F13. I'm not sure how the quality of the FA vs the DA at the wide end differs, but my guess is when stopped down, not as much as you might think.

To sum up, almost all of my shots of the pools were between 8-16mm with the Sigma, and some were in the 16-50 with the DA*. A few were with the DA* 60-250. In 3 days, I took two macro shots, and both of those I could have done with the minimum focus distance of either of the other 3 lenses. They weren't true macro.

If you like to shoot wide, you might consider picking up an 8-16 or a 10-20 sigma before your trip.


Last edited by Clinton; 07-11-2011 at 06:42 AM.
07-11-2011, 06:25 PM   #9
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Good advice everyone, thanks! I think I will take the 18-55 WR over the FA 20-35, just in case of sulfur contamination. I don't normally use wide angles much, but this sounds like an opportunity... the fisheye is the A 16mm, and it is one great lens, similar to a rectilinear 12mm lens when defished. Impossible to put a protective filter on, though. And a bit tricky to manual focus, live view with zoom comes in quite handy. Stopped down its all in focus, of course.... Anyone else with an opinion?
07-12-2011, 11:28 AM - 1 Like   #10
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My wife and I were there last month. Most of the time my wife usually has the 16-45 glued onto her camera and recently bought a 10-20 Sigma off this list as she is a wide angle shooter, however at Yellowstone she used her old 70-210 F lens more than any of the other ones. She shot the patterns and textures as opposed to the landcape. I might of used the 10-20 as much as she did and in truth my K-r was really my third camera as had a D200 to handle the 200-400 4.0 lens I borrowed and my main camera was a film Hasselblad and there my main problem at times was the lack of a longer lens than 150. No problems with moisture on any of the gear and we had some heavy rains and many showers. Towels and coats heap protect gear.

It is hard to know exactly how YOU will experience the landscape so all one can do is to advise on our own personal viewpoint. Could you not pack both the lenses you were deciding between and leave one in your room/vehicle if you decide there that you do not need it. Both my wife and I used every Pentax mount lens we took and I used her two zooms. Enjoy your visit. I would not be too hung up on WP. If you do take all your gear use your 18-55 on any day that it does rain. Good luck
07-12-2011, 11:56 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by agsy Quote
And watch out for bears . My Wife and I will be heading there in August.
Are you suggesting he takes a lens with SP in case a bear licks it?
07-12-2011, 01:15 PM   #12
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sounds like you got a good setup to take with you. do you plan on posting your photos here
07-12-2011, 04:05 PM - 1 Like   #13
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My experience there, while somewhat limited, is that you never really know what to expect. Also If I include my time in the Tetons and Jackson Hole, where I have been quite a lot and is not really that far away, Is that you may wake up to clear skies but thunder storms may be just beyond the horizon with the reverse being true as well. The summer season really is only 2 months long and the weather is not exactly summery with temps maybe reaching into the 70-80 degree range.
When I went to Yellowstone specifically we stayed just outside the park in West Yellowstone. The weather there was substantially different on the east side of the park, the 2 days we drove over there. You don't have to go weather sealed exclusively but if you have the option I would take a camera and lens or two that are and then you wont miss anything.
07-12-2011, 06:11 PM - 1 Like   #14
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I was there last year in June, a bit different than July, but I kept a $4 pair sleeve with me all the time. You need the longest lens you have and the widest. If you have fast lenses that's bonus, because you will want to be out there until dark and at sunup, prime times for wildlife. The best shot I got was actually a landscape using my DA55-300. Clinton mentioned the fisheye at Grand Prismatic, it's huge and beautiful, there are also some hills to the south of it that you can climb up and get a great view, worth the climb.
07-12-2011, 06:51 PM   #15
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Are the DA*s sealed against bear spit? Might be something to consider.

ramseybuckeye, that is one cool picture. If I come home with a shot that good I will be quite happy.

It sounds like a good idea to err on the side of packing slightly more stuff, just in case. It is hard to know what we will come across, and what indulgences away from family time I will be allowed. :-) I will definitely share some pictures! If I get any worth sharing, of course.
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