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07-02-2012, 01:29 AM   #1
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Southeast Asia in December, Lens Recommendations?

I might be heading to SE Asia this December, as my brother got a job in Singapore and I'd love to go visit....finances permitting. I might do some traveling by backpack. I'd love to see Vietnam, Thailand, etc.

Anyways, a big emphasis of the trip will be photography with the K-5, which seems well suited for travel. I'm looking for some recommendations on lenses that would suit traveling in that part of the world. The only lens I have yet for the K-5 is the DA21, which seems nice and versatile (I'm moving from a 5DII system).

I'd like to go light. One of the big upsides to Pentax seems to be the compact system,

Nothing too conspicuous.

Something fast with some reach for portraits.

Something wide enough for landscapes.

At least one lens (and a versatile one) with WR, though I understand December is not in the rainy season. The 16-50 seems like a solid choice here but I have a hard time shelling out the bucks after the big price jump (plus I am hesitant to bring something that expensive).

Recommendations on a camera bag that doesn't scream "expensive gear."

Thanks!

07-02-2012, 02:00 AM   #2
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I've been to SE Asia a few times, so I feel I can offer some advice.

If you like the idea of primes, take your DA21, team it with a DA55 and 70 and you have a nice little kit. For wide you really only have 2 prime choices. Da14,or the much vaunted DA15. The 14 is a stop faster then the 15, but much larger and more expensive - are you willing to pay the price for an extra stop of light on a wide angle lens? Your call

Then there are the 16 -50 or 12- 24 zooms.. The zooms are large in comparison to the primes, but fine lenses, I have both and have a hard time justifying taking them both on trips. The 12 -24 gives me WIDE, but the 16-50 gives me standard walk around and weather proof. I guess it depends on what you intend to shoot. Sweeping landscapes? Take the 12 -24. Teeming Asian cultural scenes with a few landscapes thrown in? Take the 16-50.

I'm toying with the idea of taking only 3 lenses on my next trip in September - the 16-50, 50-135 and 60-250. This will give me flexibility and fast glass over an extended range, but it feels very 'Canikon' to have monster lenses on the camera when I have such tiny jewels in the prime lineup. As you said, part of the attraction of Pentax is the compactnes of the system. Time will tell if I have the will power to leave things like the DA21 and DA 40 behind. They take no room at all.

But......

All of the above are expensive options

I have no direct experience, but I understand that the 18-135 is a very nice lens for the price. I'm sure that someone will reccomend that to you as a good travel option. Perhaps with the addition of a 1.4 or 2x teleconverter and you could have 18 to (potentially) 260mm in a very compact package.

As for bags, I found a Lowepro flipside that I like for travel through Asia. The opening is on the inside, against the back, so one has to remove the bag to get to the camera gear. I like the extra security it provides, even it it does scream 'CAMERA GEAR'.

Good luck with your choices

I guess it all comes down to budget and how keen you are to own the tools that best get the job done
07-02-2012, 02:58 AM   #3
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SB, I have just returned from a 3 week trip to the Baltic region and took a K-5 and the following 4 lenses - DA*16-50, DA55-300, 21 limited, 35 limited macro. This combination worked well for me, and having a WR lens on a trip is a must to allow you to keep going in wet weather. I used the 21 least of all the lenses. Of about 7000 shots in 3 weeks the bulk were the 16-50 and 35. These lenses all fit with the K-5 in a Crumpler 5 bag, which I have found to be a really useful size for traveling.

Next trip I am tempted to rejig the lens kit as follows - 18-135WR, 55-300, 15 limited, and 35 limited macro.

The 15 and 35 are both small and light, and take the same filters.

The 55-300 gives long reach when you need it.

The 18-135 gives a good versatile walk around zoom range (better than the 16-50) and also WR. The disadvantage of course is the 16-50 is f2.8 across the range, which is a great advantage indoors in low light. The 18-135 not quite so good. So if you are planning lots of indoor low light shooting I would suggest the 16-50, if not consider the 18-135.

The 15 gives you a small light WA, which is very highly rated by those who use it with 49mm diameter lens. I have a 14mm/2.8 which is a great little lens, but much bigger -
so takes a lot more room in the bag - so not so good for traveling, if you only want to take one bag. The disadvantage of the 15 is in low light given the slower aperture of f4.

The 35/2.8 is a stunning little lens - 49mm diameter again and quite small. It is great for walk around normal lens on the K-5 = 50mm. Really good for city / street, but not wide enough for serious architecture shooting, hence the need for the 15 or the 16-50. I also found it very good indoors in low light given it is f2.8. You hardly notice it is on the K-5.

I trust this helps.

Ross
07-02-2012, 08:33 AM   #4
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I am from Singapore and for my usual street shooting..i will usually bring a 15, 21 and 43..light and compact..if you need to do portrait, then maybe a 70 or 77?..otherwise a 18-135 might seem better if you want to stick to 1 WR lens and maybe plus a 35 f2.4 or 50 f1.4

btw..dec is the rainy season in the region but it wun rain everyday so maybe u do not need that WR kit after all

07-02-2012, 10:50 AM   #5
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I've been to SEA several times, The following gets used the most:

Pentax 15mm f4 Limited
Sigma 30mm f1.4 (Pentax 31mm f1.8 Limited or FA 35mm f2 will work well too)
Pentax 40mm f2.8 Pancake

And I'll usually bring the 18-135mm in case of bad weather but it will otherwise just stay in the hotel room.
07-02-2012, 04:07 PM   #6
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I was in SE asia last month. In December, dust would be more of an issue than rain. Would keep lens changes to a minimum. However:

I would recommend that you take a decent point and shoot along with the dslr. There are places where its better to use a p/s especially one with a flip out screen. The Canon g12 is quite versatile.

I was in a market area where I was using the flip out screen to get the first shot without the guy noticing. After a while I used the p/s more conventionally and these 2 kids came up and asked whether I would take a picture of them. I said, "Ok, Big Camera", smiled and pulled out my dslr-They only let me take one shot. Then giggled and ran away. In non-touristy places, I started with the p/s until people got used to me standing there and then switched to the bigger camera. Seemed to work for me. I got stopped in 2 places, where security came by and asked me not to shoot with 'professional camera' [?] for 'security' reasons. Both times they had not said anything until they saw the bigger camera. Another reason to pack a p/s....

Last edited by psychdoc; 11-14-2015 at 03:37 PM.
07-02-2012, 06:05 PM   #7
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Don't worry too much about the weather here, any lens will do, even just your DA21 alone. Come and enjoy the best place for street photography, great food too

Do join us for our local monthly Pentax outing if you got time. I'm sure you'd have a lot fun w/ us here
07-02-2012, 07:02 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by psychdoc Quote
I got stopped in 2 places, where security came by and asked me not to shoot with 'professional camera' [?] for 'security' reasons. Both times they had not said anything until they saw the bigger camera.
Which lenses were you displaying on those occasions?

07-02-2012, 07:17 PM   #9
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I lived in Singapore for a long time. Spent a lot of time romping all around SE Asia.

A specific lens that I personally would carry?? A Tamron 17-50. Super sharp and it has a range that's great.

Depending on what exactly you want to do while in these various locations I would take a zoom, maybe the Pentax 55-300 or something equivalent.

To be honest it depends on you as a photographer and what you like to shoot. Its hard to tell what you should take...it all depends on what you want to capture. It depends on your travel style and 'what' you want out of the deal.

Take what you want to take and you will be happy. No one knows your style other than you. If you plan to backpack and just go light hit those two lenses I mentioned and be on your way.
07-02-2012, 07:24 PM   #10
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I will also ditto the point and shoot. That's all I have ever owned up until a month ago. I went to around 30 countries with nothing but a good point and shoot. If you are going some place shady or dangerous take a black camera... not something red or chrome.

If you are going in and going out and are going to maximize fun it all depends on your definition of fun... just note, everything you take should fit in one backpack. Clothes included. You could probably get by with a small camera bag too... again, it all depends on what you want to do and how you want to do it.

If you are going as a photojournalist that's one thing... if you are wanting to be super creative that's another...it all depends...so giving you an honest answer is hard.
07-02-2012, 07:38 PM   #11
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Don't worry about the wet weather.
There is practically not that big a difference between wet and dry season in Singapore.
It can rain anytime, any day. Just find shelter (not a problem)

For lenses, just bring the typical ones from UWA to short tele.
Mine varies from 10-20 or DA15; 24/35/40/43mm; 77ltd/85/135mm


Stock up on $$$.
Pentax stuff can be very well priced here and some of the new stuff are sold here before anywhere else outside Japan (K30 avaliable in shops in 10days).



You can link up with the local Pentax community here :
Pentax
there is a monthly outing too, so do join if you can.


There are plenty of places to travel to within a few hours car/coach or by plane.
07-02-2012, 09:12 PM   #12
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Original Poster
Thanks for the great comments!

I'd love to join up with the local Pentax community. Sounds like a blast.

Taking along a point and shoot is really a good idea, especially as a backup.

Right now I'm thinking one or two fast primes and a standard zoom, maybe with a teleconverter. The DA15 and 35 primes along with the various 16-50s are getting a lot of votes here. I'd probably go for the 18-135 or the sigma or tamron 17-50s. The 16-50 Pentax has gotten really pricey, and doesn't seem to have the most stellar of reviews. I had a Tamron 17-50 for a Canon and was somewhat frustrated by it...lots of hunting, really noisy autofocus. But the images were sharp.

I am kind of intrigued by the Sigma 30. Much cheaper than the FA31 but it does seem a bit bulky.
07-03-2012, 04:54 AM   #13
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If you are travelling to take photos for stock photography....then bring as much gear as you can.
If you are planning do a lot of sight seeing, shopping and street photography, bring two of your favourite lenses in a small compact bag (depending on wether you like prime or zoom).
Don't worry too much about rain or WR.
I have been to Singapore, Seoul, Malaysia X2 in the past nine months with K5 and FA31 Ltd only. I have walked in the rain (in the three countries shooting in wet condition) but careful with my gear as FA31 is not WR.
Enjoy your time taking photos!
07-03-2012, 01:14 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bestzoom Quote
If you are travelling to take photos for stock photography....then bring as much gear as you can.
If you are planning do a lot of sight seeing, shopping and street photography, bring two of your favourite lenses in a small compact bag (depending on wether you like prime or zoom).
Don't worry too much about rain or WR.
I have been to Singapore, Seoul, Malaysia X2 in the past nine months with K5 and FA31 Ltd only. I have walked in the rain (in the three countries shooting in wet condition) but careful with my gear as FA31 is not WR.
Enjoy your time taking photos!
Ultimately, I would like to do some stock image photography, but I don't think I'm really there yet in skill. So for the meantime, I'm a somewhat serious amateur hobbyist with aspirations, I suppose. I'm trying to learn all I can and have fun.

If I sell my Canon gear (which I'm strongly thinking about, but that is the topic of a different thread) I'd be able to afford the 31, which appears to be absolutely stellar (in terms of image quality, bokeh and build).

So I may trade in the 21 and go with a DA15 and FA31 (or one of the 35 variants like the FA35 or DA35 Macro) and round it out with a 18-135 zoom for versatility. So a three-lens setup possibly with a teleconverter to get a little more range from the 18-135.

Then some insurance and a little point and shoot.

Last edited by sb in ak; 07-03-2012 at 01:22 PM.
07-03-2012, 09:58 PM   #15
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Although the temperatures don't get spectacularly high, the humidity can be oppressive if you're walking around. So lightness should be your greatest priority I think. Bring as little as possible. (Although I do not travel anywhere interesting without packing either a backup body or a p&s, just in case ... ).

i'm not convinced WR is a huge issue here - when it rains the sky chucks down water so fiercely that there's no way you would be shooting in the rain. You just need a plastic bag or something to protect your gear while you dash for shelter ... When it stops it really stops - not much north European-style drizzle in Singapore.
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