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08-10-2012, 01:33 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by kerrowdown Quote
Just a thought, whatever ever else lens wise you decide, find a little corner somewhere to take your Pentax K 50mm F1.2.

For temples, sunrise/sunsets, candids, markets and low light stuff, but hey I just love a fast fifty.
Haha so do I. Hence the F1.2 F1.4 and F1.9 50's lol. Although I actually prefer the A 50 1.4 from a practical side. I am yet to fit an s-type focusing screen so focusing is a little bit of guess work at wide appertures.

08-10-2012, 02:01 AM - 1 Like   #17
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I travel to Asia two to three times a year.
For the last three visits, i used K5 in humid conditions and rain.
I prefer to travel light as i combine photography, sight seeing and shopping over several hours. A light weight combo is a must for me as i tend to get dehydrated quickly near the tropics if i carry unnecessary extra weight. I also need the room in my backpack for the shopping for my family.
I have been shooting with FA 31 only.
My suggestion is bring your best lenses - FA31 plus FA77 and another tele or wide if you wish.
Enjoy your trip!
08-10-2012, 02:15 AM - 1 Like   #18
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Whatever you decide, take as little as possible. My experience is that you actually use a fraction of what you pack. I have travelled a lot, and I can't actually remember ever wishing I had brought a lens I had left behind. But I have often cursed when lugging around a lot of redundant clobber. Endlessly switching lenses sounds easy when you are sitting at home planning. Bumping up and down in a Vietnamese bus or crossing a Hanoi street without getting killed, you will want to use whatever is on the camera and leave it there. But you do want some kind of backup in case the body malfunctions for some reason - be that another DSLR body or a good compact (something like an X10). Personallly I wouldn't bother about anything over 100mm, and I am not sure you need to go wider than 21mm either. I don't think WR is a priority - as mentioned in another thread, in this part of the world it is either not raining, or it is raining so intensely you won't be out in it. A compact umbrella is much more useful. Take loads and loads of 8GB memory cards. And a couple of spare batteries. A couple of spare lens caps (they are liable to get lost or dropped in mud). And some lens cleaning fluid and tissues.

For my next trip I am tempted to try it with my K5, my M28 3.5 and nothing else. Could easily work out quite well.
08-10-2012, 11:54 PM - 2 Likes   #19
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I've lived over here (Asia) for the past 20 years and traveled all over - most of the time with cameras like the Oly 3040 and then onto bridge cameras before getting into DSLRs a few years back.

1. you are traveling in the dry season for this particular region so there is less concern re. heavy downpours, but it will be hot and humid. If you are in air-conditioned accommodation beware then when you first venture out in the morning condensation is a big issue so keep your camera and lenses in vacuum packs until they have warmed up. If you do have any condensation it'll soon evaporate once the temperatures equalise. I don't think WR is a big issue here - take a wet weather cover that folds away into a very small package if you are that concerned - I've never had an issue since when it is raining here you are inside not out (you better hope) !

2. You absolutely want to have a back-up camera you are comfortable with if this is going to be a long trip, e.g 4 weeks + and not the standard 2 weeker (where I'd take your K7 and a good P&S). At worst a very very good bridge, personally in your situation where you have a budget, but not a deep one to change your whole kit, I'd ditch the K7 and go for 2 x Kr (think what you are spending on the trip and you can easily re-sell the two Krs and then get your K5 when you return). Smaller, lighter, better overall performance, though no WR (not essential IMHO) and will get you noticed less - make sure whatever you carry is kept in front of you or well locked away if behind you, pick-pockets (inc. gangs of begging children) and blades/knives to slit open bags are endemic even if you are unlikely to come across them unless you are unlucky or too flashy.

3. The question of focal lengths. Wide, well 17 is often not wide enough but without packing a 10-20/10-24/12-24 then you should work on your stitching skills and buy a good stitching program if you don't have one. My best landscape lens is a 28mm - for you I'd say the 31 and stitch. The 17-50 / 18-50 lens is a work horse when in towns and market places so I'd add the Tamron 17-50 to your kit and sell off the Sigma and Pentax. The Tamron is a superb lens IQ wise. Don't ignore length. You can get some superb shots of people working in fields etc. and again if either you or they are shy, with a long lens, and to keep it light and for very good IQ I'd say the 55-300, reverse the hood and this is really very very small and light for a lens hitting 300mm (though the IQ for this lens is better at 240-260mm and then cropping to 300mm FoV than actually shooting at 300mm where it softens up just a little in comparison). You absolutely must take a low light lens - there isn't much in the way of street lighting at night in these towns and interiors are usually very poorly lit. The K50/1.2 would make it into my bag every day of the week (for cool low DoF shots too). You might want to consider buying a Raynox 150 too as an add-on macro lens, to any of your lenses. Just a few dollars but superb IQ for the money - and there are lots of interesting insects, flowers and plant life over there.

4. Never, ever, ever, ever take just one high capacity SD card (not that you can't buy them over there too though). If anything happens (and it does happen - just listen to the stories, I've only had a corrupted card once but what happens if you lose some gear, have it stolen or damaged, do you really want to take the chance of coming back only with memories and no photos) ? I use multiples of 8 GB (6 cards) and one card is more than enough for one day, but up that to a 16GB if you wish. Also devise a system for marking them, and if you are not going to upload the shot each night, then check and delete. If you are going for a month then you need to have netbook or other form of storage (now we are entering a whole new thread area - check previous topics on PF for storage and uploading on trips) or more SD cards (much cheaper and much easier to carry than a notebook and can be sold off when you return if you don't need so many as say 10-12 cards when you return).

5. From your current kit the FA31 Ltd is a must. No way you can leave the IQ quality of that lens behind on trip like this, I'd be very tempted to say the same about the FA77 Ltd but then I use primes most of the time so take that advice with a pinch of salt if you are keen on your zooms. I could make three kits from your gear and potential purchases - without going to extremes (price-wise) :

Zoom Kit A. : Tamron 17-50. Pentax 55-300. K50/1.2

Prime Kit B : 15 Ltd. 31 Ltd. K50/1.2, 77 Ltd. 55-300.

Mixed Kit C (existing gear but spending your money on 2 x Kr after selling off your K7) : Sigma DC 18-50mm, 31 Ltd, K50/1.2 and 55-200.


Last edited by Frogfish; 08-11-2012 at 02:16 AM.
08-11-2012, 02:21 AM   #20
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Frogfish:tnx for ur good advices. Especially that Tamron 17-50 and Da 55-300 makes very usable good quality but still light and small size zoompack for travelling. Then add one or few big aperture fixed focal lens also and thats it. And not forget Makro also...
08-11-2012, 02:43 AM - 1 Like   #21
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I made a very similar trip last year (Cambodia and Vietnam), but in June when it's hotter and wetter. February is a better time to go. I took:

K200D (my only SLR camera at the time) with grip

Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 - this was used 80 to 90% of the time. It's a fantastic walk-about lens once you know it's foibles and as it's fast, no need to swap it off when the light grows a bit dim.

WR 18-55 - this was invaluable for it's weather resistance and I used it several times. When I was there though, most of the times it rained, it rained like I'd never seen before and I was not about to go out shooting in it.

M50mm f/1.4 - I took this as my fastest lens, and it saw some use. but not much.

M28mm f/3.5 - I took this as a small, very sharp, walkabout prime for daylight. I used it occasionally but not much, the Tamron almost always won out.

M85mm f/2 - never has so much IQ been packed into such a small space of metal and glass. This got little use, but I'm glad I took it as I enjoy shooting with it so much. It's amazing at panoramic landscape shots to be stitched later on the computer.

DA 55-300 - This was my only long lens, and it got some good use, mostly for people shots and details of temples etc. I wouldn't go on holiday without a long lens. The size and weight are the down-sides, and the slow focusing coupled with the inaccurate focusing of the K200D meant that many of my people shots were not 100% sharp.

A small Canon compact camera - it uses AAs, the same as my K200D, so one less charger needed. This was as a backup, or in case my wife wanted shots. It was never used, but as insurance, it's essential to have a spare camera on a trip like this. I'll admit though, that had something happened to the K200D early on, I'd have tried to buy another DSLR there, even if it wasn't a Pentax, to get the IQ. Once home it could be sold.

Lightweight Slik tripod - invaluable for any holiday.

Around 40 gigs of total SD card space, most of which I used (as I shoot RAW).

All of that was packed into a Lowepro Primus backpack, which has a pull-out waterproof cover. It's also an extremely comfortable pack to carry around all day, and this is very, very important.

What would I change if I went back next week?

I'd take the 35 ltd, which I didn't own at the time, as a small walkabout prime, and the M28 would stay at home.

The M50/1.4 would stay at home and the smaller/lighter f/1.7 A or M would go instead.

I would take the MX or ME Super with some black and white film, even though my wife would say "why do you want to take THAT?" (she doesn't get film). I wasn't into film last year but I really wish I had been. The only problem would be the number of x-ray scanners the film would have to go through, so I would stick to 100 ISO for daylight only. B&W film would have been very hard to find there.
08-11-2012, 06:51 AM   #22
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Firstly... Thanks everyone for the insight so far.

QuoteOriginally posted by Frogfish Quote
take a wet weather cover
I had contemplated one if the 18-55 WR stays home. Which at this point is looking more and more plausible.

QuoteOriginally posted by Frogfish Quote
4 weeks + and not the standard 2 weeker
QuoteOriginally posted by Frogfish Quote
I'd ditch the K7 and go for 2 x Kr
We are kind of in the middle ground, going for about 3 weeks. I don't think I would head down the path of dual camera's. Yes I can see the practical benefits but I think I would rather have just the one solid performing body like the K-30 or K-5, or just sticking with the K-7 as I have come to know it quite well and know it's limitations.

QuoteOriginally posted by Frogfish Quote
Never, ever, ever, ever take just one high capacity SD card
This is very sound advice to anyone one. I day-to-day shooting with 2X16GB cards + 1 X 8GB. I was thinking I would spread the loading across 4-5 cards, ie Investing in another 2X16GB Cards.

Another thing I want to get is an S-type focusing screen so that shooting with 50 1.4/1.2 is not guess work.

I will have to re-read this tomorrow as there seems to be a large amount of information/experience that I need to digest.
08-11-2012, 07:01 AM   #23
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Also take a USB thumb drive and make back-ups when possible. I did this virtually daily as all the hotels had computers. The mistake I made was not taking enough capacity and only being able to back-up jpegs not the RAW files. I didn't lose anything though.

08-11-2012, 11:39 PM   #24
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I would go with something similar as Frogfish kit B. Take the 31 and the 77 and build your kit around it. Get something wide (18-55 if you no other choice), something longer (55-300 is a good suggestion) and ask yourself if you want something in between (I personally would not).
Do you mind travelling with a lot of gear? Me, I do and my travel pack looks like 20+31+77. If you don't mind the weight, the 70-200 would probably be much appreciated.
Sigma 18-50, is it the 18-50 f2.8 EX or the kit lens like 18-50 f2,8-4.5? If it's the former, this could be your workhorse.
08-12-2012, 05:56 AM   #25
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Unfortunately it is the straight dc sigma 18-50mm kit lens variant possibly the (worst lens I own). I went and had a hands on with the 16-50 da* and it was pretty nice. So I am going going to have a look at getting a tamron version and see how it stacks up.
08-12-2012, 08:50 AM   #26
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Generally when choosing 3 lenses to grab (if I can only take 3) I grab:

Tamron 17-50/2.8 or Pentax DA 35/2.4
Pentax FA 50/1.4
Pentax F 135/2.8 or Pentax F 70-210/4-5.6

I think for traveling, while wide primes are certainly nice, the range covered by the 17-50 generally makes for lots of zooming or lens switching. So just for convenience I tend to take the zoom.

The choice between the 135 and 70-210 is a little more complicated. In the tele range I find I do more cropping after the fact so I like the 135. If I'm going to be using a longer lens indoors then the faster prime comes every time.

BTW, that F 70-210 is a great option for a long zoom without spending much money. It's a little heavy, the front element rotates, and AF is certainly loud & clunky. But for $100 or less it's got probably better IQ than the DA 50-200 and is still small enough to travel with. I've been kinda thinking about the 55-300 to replace it but I like the 70-210 enough that it's not a huge priority.

Given the lenses you already have and that you'll be able to bring more than just 3 lenses total, I'd suggest:

Some sort of better walkaround lens, lots of choices:
Tamron 17-50/2.8 (I'd skip the VC)
Sigma 18-50/2.8 macro (I'd skip the OS)
Sigma 17-70/2.8-4
Pentax 16-50/2.8
Pentax 16-45/4
Pentax 17-70/4

31/1.8
77/1.8

Your Sigma 50-200, or look at the Pentax F 70-210 or DA 55-300.
08-12-2012, 09:16 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by msatlas Quote
..... or look at the Pentax F 70-210 or DA 55-300.
I have both of those (well for another week or two then they are both gone) and whilst the 70-210 is very sharp (and can crop close to the 55-300 at the long end) it is heavy and noisier than even the 55-300. The 55mm to 70mm at the wide end makes a big difference too and the 70-210 comes without a hood. 55-300 for me, no question.
08-12-2012, 04:04 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by msatlas Quote
BTW, that F 70-210 is a great option for a long zoom
QuoteOriginally posted by Frogfish Quote
55-300 for me, no question
Cheers Guys, for the continued pointers.

I have taken the 70-210 off my list. I just copy pasted from my lens list, but unfortunately the zoom ring is broken. A tiny little metal piece has snapped off and I have to pull the barrel out to zoom -_-

QuoteOriginally posted by Zav Quote
70-200 would probably be much appreciated
It would be delightful if I had a sherpa lol, and if it was a lot smaller and lighter I would be very keen for it to come.
08-12-2012, 09:06 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frogfish Quote
I have both of those (well for another week or two then they are both gone) and whilst the 70-210 is very sharp (and can crop close to the 55-300 at the long end) it is heavy and noisier than even the 55-300. The 55mm to 70mm at the wide end makes a big difference too and the 70-210 comes without a hood. 55-300 for me, no question.
Well yeah I agree the 55-300 is better. Which is why I'm thinking about getting one.

You're right the F 70-210 is noisy and a bit heavy. It weighs 555g to 440g for the 55-300. But I got my 70-210 for I think 85 bucks. So it's mostly of an IQ-for-money option with some tradeoffs, namely weight & noise.
08-13-2012, 09:59 PM   #30
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Scott, I did a similar trip through SE Asia 5 years ago and loved it. Time is the biggest constraint when on holiday and things happen quickly, especially in Vietnam. I travel to see and experience as much as I can, whilst enjoying the moment and I like my photography to match that. I would love to have an assistant/wife as a caddy and hand me the appropriate lens for a shot or even just wait patiently as I ponder over lenses, meticulously position the tripod and wait for the light to change -I'm sure it's happened before because I have a fantastic wife- but it's not gunna happen. My research led me to the Tamron 18-250 and really I could only be happier with the above mentioned scenario. It's very sharp from 18-100 ish and sharp to 250. I only have to change for specialty lenses, ultra wide, fast prime or compact prime. Also I feel safer and look less intimidating with smaller lenses. I only want my pictures to look professional.
For that trip I used a Lowepro AW Slingshot which was great for great for wearing across your front for access on the move and security in crowded markets and on buses etc. I made great use of a "trek pod go" as a walking stick, monopod and tripod unit too.
My basic travel kit with the 18-250 is a DA14 2.8 ultra wide landscape, interiors, F28 2.8 & F50 1.7 low light, compact, stitched pano , a good P&S for groups/self, food, airport/plane, border crossings, macro & water activities (if it's waterproof). Also a second body with kit zoom and netbook kept separately.
If it is relevant or helpful at all, I have studied my focal range for travel shots and found 51% (18-24 inc 5% ultra wide) 29% up to 75mm, 10% to 130 & 10% to 250. Whilst the long end may not be heavily used, I looked through the images to find mostly candid portraits and macro style detail/isolated subjects, so very useful to me.
It's always difficult preparing for trips, choosing lenses and kit, so I hope there's something in there that helps you to narrow it down.
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