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10-17-2011, 08:20 PM   #1
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Opinions needed for travel lens set

So my wife and I recently determined that we are going to be doing quite a bit of traveling to Asia (specifically Vietnam) in the next 2 years and probably once a year after that. As such my needs have changed a bit. It rains a lot in Vietnam and WR has become a primary concern of mine while maintaining IQ. I have recently bought a DA* 50-135mm 2.8 and so far I absolutely love this lens. If I was not a grad student and strapped for cash I would keep my tamron 70-200mm 2.8 along side this one to have the xtra reach. That being said here is my situation.

I could get a DA* 16-50mm 2.8 as a complement ( I know the merits of this lens in terms of IQ is up for debate but I have seen excellent examples produced by the lens and this is more about WR ) and sell my Tamron 28-75mm 2.8 ( an absolutely excellent copy) and DA 18-55mm WR. This would allow me to travel to Vietnam with only two lenses unless I wanted to take my limiteds for indoor or events when its not raining.

Or I could just keep the Tamron and DA WR. So now I would have at least a 4 lens kit to travel with (including my 15mm limited for wides ). But honestly I don't know much about the 18-55mm's capability in a situation like this since I originally bought this lens just to keep around in case it was raining here at home and I wanted to shoot something. I haven't needed to use it yet for its intended purpose.

I guess at this point I am leaning towards the DA* option but would like to see what any of you think. Thanks for your opinions.


Last edited by gda13; 10-17-2011 at 08:21 PM. Reason: edit
10-17-2011, 08:45 PM   #2
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Four fast lenses means a lot of weight. IMHO I'd likely try to get myself down to two, three tops. Do you really want to be burdened with that many lenses?
10-17-2011, 09:00 PM   #3
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I've traveled in Vietnam a while back - you will want to have only the kit you can physically hold onto and defend.
Especially if your thinking of traveling by train - getting robbed is a matter of high probability. A fellow traveler had their 45L backpack stolen in the lower bunk from me on the train - despite having the cabin door "locked" and they were sleeping on top of the bag at the time. You need to be able to sleep on top of any camera gear and have it all locked to you as well, so the smaller the better. I had a cable lock going round my bag and my wrist and kept my gear. Remember $1000 camera = 3 years income, so you're looking for trouble with flashy equipment in a poor country.
Consider taking a point and shoot.
10-17-2011, 09:58 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by calsan Quote
I've traveled in Vietnam a while back - you will want to have only the kit you can physically hold onto and defend.
Especially if your thinking of traveling by train - getting robbed is a matter of high probability. A fellow traveler had their 45L backpack stolen in the lower bunk from me on the train - despite having the cabin door "locked" and they were sleeping on top of the bag at the time. You need to be able to sleep on top of any camera gear and have it all locked to you as well, so the smaller the better. I had a cable lock going round my bag and my wrist and kept my gear. Remember $1000 camera = 3 years income, so you're looking for trouble with flashy equipment in a poor country.
Consider taking a point and shoot.
My wife and I spent several weeks there back in the summer of 2008 and we had a wonderful time. Her parents and extended family live there and indeed we did all our traveling with them mostly by airplane (tickets are cheap and the country is small enough that this mode of travel is very fast). During that time my personal electronics including my camera were in a backpack that never left my sight unless we were at a relative's house. Vietnam has remarkable scenery and I am determined to get a higher quality of images from there. I do have a Samsung TL 500 that does raw capture and in general takes excellent photos for those times that I will leave my K5 at home. But as I said we are going to be traveling there several times and indeed I will want to take my K5 some of those times, particularly when we spend time in Da Lat at my in-laws vacation home or during Tet.

10-17-2011, 11:17 PM   #5
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Don't do what I do. I usually leave home with a minimum of 7kg of kit, but is more likely 10kgs. Depends why you are going to Vietnam. If you want to relax as most of the population does go light. If you and your camera can't part company take a good kit. I like your one body and two quality lens option ie the 2 DA*. Get them into the smallest, but most comfortable bag. Sling shots are good as you can carry them on your chest when feeling nervous and they can be swung around in an instant. In Europe my wifes small backpack/large purse constantly had its exposed tipper open. All the goodies were in a hidden compartment. My last big trip I took no zoom in the normal to wide angle range, but 5 primes or was it 6.

I came back from Africa and Mauritius trip with the photos I wanted actually did much better than expected. As I said, don't follow me.

PS If I wasn't taking primes, I would love to have a 16-50 DA* instead, no way i would swap it for anything else for travel. My 50-135 often does not get a plane ride unless i am taking people photos and not wildlife.
10-18-2011, 01:10 AM   #6
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Or perhaps DA17-70? It is not wr but there is a rubber ring around mount a least. Outside you don't need f2.8 a lot and you can use the same polariser filter on both 17-70 and 50-135. And you can take your small DA15 for situations where you need very wide angle.
10-18-2011, 02:46 AM   #7
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Personally I wouldn't get too hung up on every lens being WR. I'd take the 18-55WR as you have it, so that on really wet days (eg it's pouring down and you will be out all day) you can just take that. Otherwise just get your camera out when you need it, and keep it in a bag with dry silica gel when you don't.

For travel generally I'm an 'all bases' person, so I'd get something wider than 18mm and something longer then 55mm, but then it depends on your interests. The DFA 100mm f2.8 macro WR might be a great lens if you are interested in little details. It's probably a bit longer and larger than you'd want, but it's the only WR macro I think?

As I get older I'm more inclined to think that every 1 I spend on camera gear is 1 less to spend on going places and seeing things. When I'm a very old man, my collection of expensive glass I can't point at anything other than my garden will be of little comfort to me, but a lifetime of photographs (albeit taken with 'cheap' lenses) will be, I hope. I'm quite looking forward to revisiting some of my pictures taken with my bog-standard lenses with Photoshop from the year 2060 - I expect by then it'll be good enough for it not to matter what lens I used - all that will matter is that I was there and composed it nicely.
10-18-2011, 04:10 AM   #8
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My trip to Asia was during the monsoon rains, I took the tamron 28-75 and the pentax da 15.

I left my K5 at home and took my old k2000 instead. First b.c I wanted something lighter, secondly b.c if it got stolen I would not be as distraught.

It rained the whole time. I did go out in light rain with a plastic bag on my kit and shot a few pics but really the occasions to actually shoot in rain and get decent pics are few.

I thought about taking the 50-135, for some people shots but I am glad I did not. It would have stood out too much in many of the places where we were in.

Its strange that I left my WR camera and lens to go to a country where it was raining cats and dogs. But it was too big a combo for me.

10-18-2011, 04:56 AM   #9
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since you have a perfectly fine WR kit already, and since you'll be traveling a lot, I'd keep the 18-55. I have that lens and the Sigma 17-70, which compares to the DA* 16-50 in terms of weigth. the WR kit is much smaller and lighter, and delivers good results. Bringing a couple of primes along with your two WR lenses (mostly wide primes since the 50-135 covers the high IQ/long focal length zone) should have you covered.

so a kit composed of

15 LTD (if you tend to use it a lot, otherwise don't bring it))
40 LTD (by all means)
18-55 WR
50-135 WR

would be a good balance between weigth, size, and performances. I'd absolutely leave the 70-200 and 70 LTD at home, the 50-135 should cover those bases perfectly well and you can always crop a 135mm shot if needed.
10-18-2011, 06:00 AM   #10
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Have you considered the 18-135mm? WR lens , nice range very good IQ. Could replace a 16-50 and 50-135 pretty easily. A little slower but much lighter , compact and convenient.
10-18-2011, 07:06 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by elho_cid Quote
Or perhaps DA17-70? It is not wr but there is a rubber ring around mount a least. Outside you don't need f2.8 a lot and you can use the same polariser filter on both 17-70 and 50-135. And you can take your small DA15 for situations where you need very wide angle.
In your opinion is the DA17-70 a significantly better performer than the DA18-55? The polariser aspect is something to think about.

QuoteOriginally posted by Northern Soul Quote
Personally I wouldn't get too hung up on every lens being WR. I'd take the 18-55WR as you have it, so that on really wet days (eg it's pouring down and you will be out all day) you can just take that. Otherwise just get your camera out when you need it, and keep it in a bag with dry silica gel when you don't.

For travel generally I'm an 'all bases' person, so I'd get something wider than 18mm and something longer then 55mm, but then it depends on your interests. The DFA 100mm f2.8 macro WR might be a great lens if you are interested in little details. It's probably a bit longer and larger than you'd want, but it's the only WR macro I think?

As I get older I'm more inclined to think that every 1 I spend on camera gear is 1 less to spend on going places and seeing things. When I'm a very old man, my collection of expensive glass I can't point at anything other than my garden will be of little comfort to me, but a lifetime of photographs (albeit taken with 'cheap' lenses) will be, I hope. I'm quite looking forward to revisiting some of my pictures taken with my bog-standard lenses with Photoshop from the year 2060 - I expect by then it'll be good enough for it not to matter what lens I used - all that will matter is that I was there and composed it nicely.
To be honest I am a bit hung up to a certain degree since given the fact that we will be traveling there often enough and at varying times of the year, in that sense I am positive that I will be faced with all manner of shooting situations. Though I cannot be 100% prepared for all of them I would like to have as many bases covered as I reasonably can. I share the same sentiment with regards to having a broad focal length range and as far as spending $ on gear I already spent the money between 2008-2010, this year has been a process of honing down my kit to what will be, for me, the most useful for the next 5-6 years (the duration of grad program). With the occasional bargain lens thrown in that I pick up along the way. IQ is important for me at this time since I would love to take this opportunity to get images that are suitable for large wall framing applications.

QuoteOriginally posted by psychdoc Quote
My trip to Asia was during the monsoon rains, I took the tamron 28-75 and the pentax da 15.

I left my K5 at home and took my old k2000 instead. First b.c I wanted something lighter, secondly b.c if it got stolen I would not be as distraught.

It rained the whole time. I did go out in light rain with a plastic bag on my kit and shot a few pics but really the occasions to actually shoot in rain and get decent pics are few.

I thought about taking the 50-135, for some people shots but I am glad I did not. It would have stood out too much in many of the places where we were in.

Its strange that I left my WR camera and lens to go to a country where it was raining cats and dogs. But it was too big a combo for me.
There's an idea, I will consider a cheap back up camera for those times when we will be spending the majority of the time in HCM city or maybe I will just use my TL500. Any low cost/used pentax dslrs you could recommend with decent iso capability. Fast lenses and good iso are fairly important to me since last time we went my most frustrating photo moments were those at night (temples, festivities, activities etc) with that POS point and shoot I had at the time.

QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
since you have a perfectly fine WR kit already, and since you'll be traveling a lot, I'd keep the 18-55. I have that lens and the Sigma 17-70, which compares to the DA* 16-50 in terms of weigth. the WR kit is much smaller and lighter, and delivers good results. Bringing a couple of primes along with your two WR lenses (mostly wide primes since the 50-135 covers the high IQ/long focal length zone) should have you covered.

so a kit composed of

15 LTD (if you tend to use it a lot, otherwise don't bring it))
40 LTD (by all means)
18-55 WR
50-135 WR

would be a good balance between weigth, size, and performances. I'd absolutely leave the 70-200 and 70 LTD at home, the 50-135 should cover those bases perfectly well and you can always crop a 135mm shot if needed.
This is a reasonable setup and the addition of the two ltds has a negligible impact on weight and volume. My only concern is with the 18-55mms speed, again for night photo opportunities. However I doubt we would go out at night in the rain so the ltds would probably be used here. Actually I am selling the tamron, at this point in my life I cannot justify having it alongside a 50-135mm even though I would like to.

QuoteOriginally posted by GaryH Quote
Have you considered the 18-135mm? WR lens , nice range very good IQ. Could replace a 16-50 and 50-135 pretty easily. A little slower but much lighter , compact and convenient.
Hmmm, I have not. This and a couple of ltds would make for a pretty compact travel kit. So you say the IQ is very good, better than the 18-55 and would you say as good as the 16-50 or tamron 28-75? How about the speed?
10-18-2011, 07:40 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by gda13 Quote
IQ is important for me at this time since I would love to take this opportunity to get images that are suitable for large wall framing applications.
If IQ is an important to you perhaps you need to find out whether the 18-55 meets your standards. So put the lens through its paces and see if it meets your IQ needs. If it does, keep that lens and skip the 16-50. If you find you don't care for the 18-55, replace it with the 16-50.
10-18-2011, 07:51 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by gda13 Quote
In your opinion is the DA17-70 a significantly better performer than the DA18-55? The polariser aspect is something to think about.
DA 17-70 is one of the lenses I never had on my camera. But a local fellow pentaxian replaced his 16-50 with 17-70 and reported that for landscape shooting he is more satisfied with IQ balance. With exception of color reproduction.
I personally used 2 copies of 18-55 (mark 1 and mark 2 wr), DA 16-45 and DA*16-50. I would not hesitate buying DA*16-50 for weddings and such, but I was totally satisfied with DA16-45 for landscapes and outside travel photography.
10-18-2011, 07:58 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by northcoastgreg Quote
If IQ is an important to you perhaps you need to find out whether the 18-55 meets your standards. So put the lens through its paces and see if it meets your IQ needs. If it does, keep that lens and skip the 16-50. If you find you don't care for the 18-55, replace it with the 16-50.
Right...I intend to put it through its paces somewhat. I just want others subjective experiences/opinions/anecdotes with regard to this situation. Its good to have multiple perspectives and rather than influence me to be more indecisive it has the opposite effect. So keep'em coming
10-18-2011, 08:00 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by elho_cid Quote
DA 17-70 is one of the lenses I never had on my camera. But a local fellow pentaxian replaced his 16-50 with 17-70 and reported that for landscape shooting he is more satisfied with IQ balance. With exception of color reproduction.
I personally used 2 copies of 18-55 (mark 1 and mark 2 wr), DA 16-45 and DA*16-50. I would not hesitate buying DA*16-50 for weddings and such, but I was totally satisfied with DA16-45 for landscapes and outside travel photography.
So were you completely dissatisfied with the 18-55WR
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