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03-16-2012, 09:58 PM   #1
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Help me find my fantasy travel lens

Hi there,

I am looking for the one perfect travel lens to take along with my K-5.

The DA 18-135 is an OK starting point, but it ain't it for me (looking for something faster).
When I travel, I take along one 32 Lt backpack regardless of how long I am travelling (I've done 3.5 months with only that). My old XZ-1 has been perfect for it, but I want to take along my K-5 this year. My travel packing rules say: 1 and only 1 piece of luggage, both hands free, nothing dangling (can't have the camera on a strap separately on my neck), and whatever fits in my jacket pockets (which varies depending on the season)

So, I am looking for, other than the fast 50 I will pocket along, one lens to take with me on the camera, and here are the specs I want:
- zoom lens
- 18mm or less on the wide end (firm)
- minimum 85mm on the long end (not so firm), and longer the better
- starts at f2.8 (nothing slower)
- ends at f4.5 (nothing slower) (or if it is longer than 85, f4.5 at 85)
- weight not an issue
- must not be enormous
- price not an issue (although I will probably start twitching around $1000)
- full manual old lens not an issue (but probably doesn't come at 18)
- must not have self AF or IS (OK if can be turned off)
- must have good IQ

Looked through every lens review here, and could not find one that fits the bill.
Possible candidates, although they don't fit the requirements fully, are the DA 18-135, and the Sigma 17-70

Any ideas?

03-16-2012, 10:11 PM   #2
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That's a fairly stringent set of criteria. As I was reading through the list, the lens that came to mind was the Sigma 17-70. I had the older, non-HSM, 2.8-4.5 version (as opposed to the newer HSM 2.8-4.0 version). It was my only lens for about 1.5 years. Though it doesn't quite reach your ideal focal length on the long end, I found it to be a very widely useful focal length range. The only time I'd really find myself wanting more on the long end is if I was looking at wildlife, but that's a pretty subjective judgement based on shooting style. IQ, however, was very impressive all the way through the zoom range, and I think it really meets all of your other criteria, for a decent price to boot. It isn't compact, but I wouldn't classify it as "enormous" either. Though I've never had the 18-135, I'd guess the Sigma beats in in IQ (though hopefully someone who's used both can comment on this).

Happy hunting,
Brandon
03-16-2012, 10:24 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by bpv_UW Quote
That's a fairly stringent set of criteria
It is, and hence it is a fantasy.
The Sigma 17-70 is definitely in the sights, but I haven't run into a non HSM one locally (I like touching the lenses and shooting a few shots before I buy).

Actually, that would be a perfect lens to couple with a 85mm f1.4 (instead of a 50mm 1.4), but unfortunately, neither of those are pocketable.
03-16-2012, 10:58 PM   #4
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I know that this is a fanttasy lens and that you already indicated no liking the 18-135mm and will take a fast 50.

I have been travelling for near 3 years worldwide with my K-7. My basic travel package is the DA18-250mm and Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4. Off course the DA18-250mm is my workhorse for daytime good lighting, and I originally bouhgt the VL 58mm as a fast fifty for low light conditions. But ...

My VL58mm f1.4 is becoming my 'fantasy lens' because the lens is very solid and most importantly gives an outstanding IQ. I shoot mostly outdoor and I love the VL58mm, incl. its ability to give great shots in poor lighting. Not just low light, but also foggy, smoky and smoggy conditions (smog = fogg + smoke often seen in China and HK). Simply the VL58 mm shines when the light conditions are not optimum. I regard this as a great, great asset when I travel, and I do not want to miss a shot.

This is only my own experience but I hope that it may help...

03-17-2012, 12:59 AM   #5
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It seems you are dreaming about Zuiko 12 - 60mm f2.8 - 4.0, but unfortunately it is not for K-5...

A.
03-17-2012, 01:36 AM   #6
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I have the same travel issues, Europe next week and have decided to go with the K-01 and the pancake trio. I have 2 of the 3 and they pass my IQ and low light needs.
Have used the DA 40mm pancake on my K5 and was very satisfied with that combo as a walkaround setup.
Now I need some kind of belt carrier for the 2 lens in reserve.
03-17-2012, 05:57 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by WWWench Quote
Now I need some kind of belt carrier for the 2 lens in reserve.
I wonder if these would work with the pancakes: UNDFIND FishBomb Lens Filter and Accessory Case (Black) BFB109

They are for filters and stuff, but might fit a small pancake lens. And if not, they are great for use as a general pocket hanging from your belt (although dorky)
03-17-2012, 06:23 AM   #8
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IMHO, there is no 'one' perfect travel lens. When I travel I take my most versatile lens, the DA 18-250mm, but I also supplement it with my DA 12-24mm and the 50mm macro. These three represent my bare minimum, as I usually travel with more. Your concern about the speed of a lens is pretty much negated by the wide ISO range of the K5.

03-17-2012, 07:52 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by atekant Quote
- 18mm or less on the wide end (firm)
- minimum 85mm on the long end (not so firm), and longer the better
- starts at f2.8 (nothing slower)
- ends at f4.5 (nothing slower) (or if it is longer than 85, f4.5 at 85)
You should consider f/2.8 is much less useful / necessary at the wide end than at the long end. So really, there is hardly any benefit in a 17-70/2.8-4.5 over a 17-70/4. In fact, the 17-70/4 will probably be *more* useful, as it is faster where you actually *need* it to be faster, plus the constant maximum aperture can be an advantage in itself.

But really, given the 18-135 is going to be about as fast in the heart of its range as a a 17-70/2.8-4.5 or a 17-70/4, I think you are unfairly penalizing this lens for being "slow" when really, it's just as fast as any of the others in the focal lengths they share.
03-17-2012, 08:13 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
You should consider f/2.8 is much less useful / necessary at the wide end than at the long end. So really, there is hardly any benefit in a 17-70/2.8-4.5 over a 17-70/4. In fact, the 17-70/4 will probably be *more* useful, as it is faster where you actually *need* it to be faster, plus the constant maximum aperture can be an advantage in itself.

But really, given the 18-135 is going to be about as fast in the heart of its range as a a 17-70/2.8-4.5 or a 17-70/4, I think you are unfairly penalizing this lens for being "slow" when really, it's just as fast as any of the others in the focal lengths they share.
+1, and you'll benefit also the WR-combo with the K5 and its AF and built performance as well .

Jan.
03-17-2012, 09:20 AM   #11
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As far as I know the only fast zooms have a limited range, so that the 18-135 is about as good as it gets. However the 18-250 is only slower at the long end so if you want a "do it all lens "that may do, especially with the K-5's ISO ability and perhaps a tripod.
03-17-2012, 09:55 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
You should consider f/2.8 is much less useful / necessary at the wide end than at the long end. So really, there is hardly any benefit in a 17-70/2.8-4.5 over a 17-70/4. In fact, the 17-70/4 will probably be *more* useful, as it is faster where you actually *need* it to be faster, plus the constant maximum aperture can be an advantage in itself.

But really, given the 18-135 is going to be about as fast in the heart of its range as a a 17-70/2.8-4.5 or a 17-70/4, I think you are unfairly penalizing this lens for being "slow" when really, it's just as fast as any of the others in the focal lengths they share.
I understand the long end needs to be faster for handheld, but my logic goes like this: I will use the short end w/ low ISO more at night-time, when I want the shadows cleaner shooting street or people. Also, seeing how most lenses don't behave their best wide open, especially with CA on points of light, I am hoping to give myself some leeway on the stop-down.

I know that I am being a bit unfair to the 18-135, and it partly comes from my short lived experience with a 18-55, where the f3.5 disappears the moment you dare touch the FL ring, and I am annoyed by how they pushed the limits to sell a lens that is technically a 3.5-5.6, but practically not.

I suppose to be fair, I should be finding out more about the FL to Aperture curve of the 18-135 before passing judgement.
03-17-2012, 09:59 AM   #13
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Go for nikon and buy 18-105 or 16-85 they are fine for travelling without compromise with quality. For pentax - Sigma 17-70 or Pentax 17-70... they are fine. Everything else is compromise!
03-17-2012, 12:04 PM   #14
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Sounds like the closest thing to your "fantasy" lens is probably going to be the DA* ~16-85 on the lens roadmap, set to be released next year. Of course that doesn't help you right now...
03-17-2012, 02:59 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tom S. Quote
IMHO, there is no 'one' perfect travel lens. When I travel I take my most versatile lens, the DA 18-250mm, but I also supplement it with my DA 12-24mm and the 50mm macro. These three represent my bare minimum, as I usually travel with more. Your concern about the speed of a lens is pretty much negated by the wide ISO range of the K5.
I'm pretty much in agreement. My minimal travel kit are the DA18-250, Tamron 10-24, and FA50/1.4, with a Raynox DCR-250 added. But I understand the problem -- that's not the most compact of kits!

One solution: Forget the zoom -- just go with selected primes. You could get some of The Usual Suspects. Or, you could employ a strategy. I have a couple such strategies:

* Ultra-light mini-kit: I'm accumulating a select set of tiny (and slow) primes that weigh between 60-110g each. (They're cheap also, so far.) These are fine in good light, not so fine in dimness. I've had to adapt these to PK mount, so they're not an off-the-shelf solution. But some VERY lightweight lenses are available.

* Doubled-focal-length kit: The idea here is that each adjacent lens has about 2x or 1/2 the AOV of its neighbor(s), so it's easy to previsualize the effect of a lens change. A couple possible such sequences might be: 15-30-60-120 or 20-40-80-160. Of course, those must be adjusted to reality.

-- Start at 20: DA21Ltd, DA-XS40, DA70Ltd, maybe the F 1.7x AF adapter for reach.
-- Start at 15: DA15Ltd, F35-70, FA50/1.4, M135/3.5, maybe A-type tubes for macro.

* No kit: Forget the dSLR, get some superzoom P&S and never change lenses.

I have other suggestions too but I'm about to be dragged screaming from the house. More later, eh?

Last edited by RioRico; 03-17-2012 at 05:43 PM.
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