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02-19-2008, 02:31 PM   #1
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K20 one or two lenses for Grand Canyon Trip

As a backup to my 4x5 camera, I am considering buying a K20D for a 3 week trip on the Colorado River beginning mid-September. I have to keep the kit to a minimum so am thinking about 1 (hopefully) or possibly 2 lenses at most. I have not shot digital before and am only just beginning to think through the challenges of carrying a digital camera with me on the trip. Here are my questions:

1. If you were taking such a trip and image quality and range of coverage were two important criteria, what one lens would you take? Which two lenses would you take and why?

2. Have you had any experience using a small solar charger to recharge camera batteries?

3. If you have taken this trip yourself, or one like it, how many cards of what size and how many batteries did you take?

4. What else do I need to keep in mind in planning to take the K20 on this long of a trip?

5. What size prints can I expect to be able to make with this camera and these lenses? (I have high standards for image quality and print my own work on large format inkjet printers.)

I sometimes shoot a Pentax 6x7 but it would not do what the K20D would do for this trip. I love the P67 system and, along with many others, was disappointed that Pentax has not moved forward with a medium format digital system. I am looking forward to using Pentax gear again.

For examples of the kind of images I make go to: Don Boyd Photographs

Thanks,

Don

02-19-2008, 03:41 PM   #2
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From my personal experience, I would recommend the DA* 16-50mm f2.8 and DA* 50-135mm f2.8 lenses to go with your K20D. The lenses would cover the 35mm equivalent of 24-75mm and 75-200mm lenses. Both are sealed against dust and moisture like the K20D camera body. I have both of these lenses for my K10D and I would recommend them to any Pentax owner. I think they would do a great job on the Colorado River. I've been using the lenses in Yellowstone for the last couple of months and have gotten some pretty good images. I plan to go Texas, the Grand Canyon, and Bryce and Canyonlands in a few months and plan to use them there.

I haven't used the K20D yet, but from what I've seen on the web so far, I would expect excellent prints between 12x18 and up to 20x30. As more K20D's are in the hands of photographers, we'll probably know more about image quality.

If you are going to shoot RAW images I would get at least 2 8GB SDHC cards because of the image sizes.

Just my $0.02.

Last edited by wtlwdwgn; 02-19-2008 at 03:56 PM.
02-19-2008, 06:07 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Don Boyd Quote
As a backup to my 4x5 camera, I am considering buying a K20D for a 3 week trip on the Colorado River beginning mid-September. I have to keep the kit to a minimum so am thinking about 1 (hopefully) or possibly 2 lenses at most. I have not shot digital before and am only just beginning to think through the challenges of carrying a digital camera with me on the trip. Here are my questions:

1. If you were taking such a trip and image quality and range of coverage were two important criteria, what one lens would you take? Which two lenses would you take and why?

2. Have you had any experience using a small solar charger to recharge camera batteries?

3. If you have taken this trip yourself, or one like it, how many cards of what size and how many batteries did you take?

4. What else do I need to keep in mind in planning to take the K20 on this long of a trip?

5. What size prints can I expect to be able to make with this camera and these lenses? (I have high standards for image quality and print my own work on large format inkjet printers.)

I sometimes shoot a Pentax 6x7 but it would not do what the K20D would do for this trip. I love the P67 system and, along with many others, was disappointed that Pentax has not moved forward with a medium format digital system. I am looking forward to using Pentax gear again.

For examples of the kind of images I make go to: Don Boyd Photographs

Thanks,

Don
Hi Don,
1a. Whilst I do not own the lenses that Steve does ( DA* 16-50 & 50-135), these are certainly the lenses I would be carrying if I was going back to the Grand Canyon to do the raft trip. My last trip to Grand Canyon was in 2002 and only up on the top, my biggest dis-appointment is not taking enough shots and then ruining a lot of them when the back of the film camera I was using was accidentally opened in a fall.....so I want to get back there, and I want to be organised. Why those lenses?: weather sealed; IQ; focal length; speed.

1b. If you had to take only one, that gets a lot harder, maybe the Pentax/Tamron 18-250..?, but then you will lose the weather sealing, not the end of the world, but you would have to be organised for splash.

2. None what so ever, hopefully others can answer this for you...BUT...a trip like this is not the time for experimenting with things like this, I would be buying extra batteries. (How long does the propietory battery hold a charge without use?).

3. Three weeks? wow, a heap! I hear the K10D people talking around 600 shots per charge on the battery, so lets say 500 and work back from that. SD cards, depends on what sort of deal you can get on say 4gb, but lets say you are going to get approx 300 shots on a 4 gig card @14.6mpx in Raw....how many shots do you plan to take? Then add a couple extra for the hell of it. Don't take my word for these numbers, ask at your camera store.

4. Despite the weather sealing I would still be carrying a couple of plastic bags for rapids etc. Also a small tripod or gorillapod perhaps? Just thinking of nights camping by the river, stars, campfire flickering on the water & canyon walls..........endless opportunites for low light stuff....another big plus for the DA* lenses.

5. With 14.6mpx, good lenses and a dash of skill your printing up some pretty big prints. I have seen poster size prints off of a 6mpx camera that were breathtaking, created by someone with similar high standards.

6....I'm just envious , sounds like a magnificent trip, have a great time.

And your website is great, the petroglyphs in Utah...were they near the road around Hanksville? Are they authentic or someones idea of a joke because the images themselves are fascinating, particularly the almost obscure one to the left.

Cheers
Grant
02-19-2008, 06:38 PM   #4
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I am going to the Grand Canyon in April, and I will be taking the DA*'s with me for sure. Def the lenses to have. I will also be taking a macro lens just in case there are some desert flowers in bloom.

02-19-2008, 07:06 PM   #5
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I have the DA 12-24, the DA* 16-50 and the DA* 50-135. I would hate to have to leave the 12-24 behind. I live in a mountainous area, and the extra field of view of the 12-24 is very, very handy.
02-19-2008, 07:32 PM   #6
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Thats what stitching panos are for
02-19-2008, 08:23 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Don Boyd Quote
As a backup to my 4x5 camera, I am considering buying a K20D for a 3 week trip on the Colorado River beginning mid-September. I have to keep the kit to a minimum so am thinking about 1 (hopefully) or possibly 2 lenses at most. I have not shot digital before and am only just beginning to think through the challenges of carrying a digital camera with me on the trip. Here are my questions:

One of the questions here is what is your modality of travel. Mostly by raft or by car. That is a major consideration. I don't take my 4X5 on whitewater.


1. If you were taking such a trip and image quality and range of coverage were two important criteria, what one lens would you take? Which two lenses would you take and why?

I have travelled through the Utah parks and will be returning there either this Spring or Fall. I personally have found that ultrawides do not function well when you are trying to do scenics in the bottom of canyons. Distortion is problematic. None the less you might consider a DA 12-24 though I would prefer my 31LTD and create panos with that to produce wide angle scenics. A DA* 50-135 is an excellent choice as a second lens. I usually take about 8 lenses and a large tripod when hiking. But I find that the above three dominate usage. The 31 makes great panos with outstanding resolution and a good pano software program. I use PTGui. If you have a pano head you can keep your 4x5 home and mosaic a scene. I use a Nodal Ninja and have worked out the mathamatics of a number of Pentax lenses if you need that data.

2. Have you had any experience using a small solar charger to recharge camera batteries?

No, but I found it cheaper to buy extra batteries and just charge them up. Though at three weeks you will lose about 25% of the charge (so bring a charger for the opportuinities that may present themselves to recharge).

3. If you have taken this trip yourself, or one like it, how many cards of what size and how many batteries did you take?

I take 30 Gig of cards and a laptop for downloading the days catch. I take 7 batteries.

4. What else do I need to keep in mind in planning to take the K20 on this long of a trip?

That there will always be a need for a focal length you havn't got . A polarizer...circular.

5. What size prints can I expect to be able to make with this camera and these lenses? (I have high standards for image quality and print my own work on large format inkjet printers.)

I have not come close to mastering digital printing so I don't print digital yet.

I sometimes shoot a Pentax 6x7 but it would not do what the K20D would do for this trip. I love the P67 system and, along with many others, was disappointed that Pentax has not moved forward with a medium format digital system. I am looking forward to using Pentax gear again.

Yes, an outstanding system and an impressive output. Sold mine some time back but kept the 645. My personal opinion is to keep your 645 lenses

For examples of the kind of images I make go to: Don Boyd Photographs

Thanks,

Don
Enjoy,
Stephen

Last edited by SCGushue; 02-20-2008 at 07:27 AM.
02-19-2008, 09:01 PM   #8
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I would recommend a DA* 16-50 (because it's weather sealed), and a 70-200 Lens (Sigma, Tamron etc).
The DA* can take some weather, adn the Sigma will give some long range use.
BTW, Nice shots on your site.
Again the DA*'s would be great for you as they have amazing colours.


Last edited by ranamar; 02-19-2008 at 09:12 PM.
02-19-2008, 09:16 PM   #9
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Having been to the grand canyon myself, and also seeing that the OP has 4x5 I am going to suggest comething completely off the wall for the OP.

Forget all the wide angle stuff. Your 4x5 has that covered better than anything you will do with a DSLR.

Take either a K10or K20 (shake reduction being the most important feature, and the longest lens you can find. THis probably means a BIGMA, or similar.

the reason being, the grand canyon is the only place you can be reasonably assured of seeing the california condor. When I went there, I got some reasonable (but not great) shots, they were just too far for my 70-200f2.8 and 1.4x TC on the *istD.

You need to get closer, be able to stop down for DOF (even though it will usually be bright out) and SR is a big benefit.

use your 4x5 for the landscape and scenics and use the DSLR for the wildlife.
02-20-2008, 07:47 AM   #10
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Steve, Grant, Buddha, Canada Rockies, Stephen, Ranamar, and Lowell, thanks for taking the time to give me some feedback. Grant, the petroglyphs are from Calf Creek, Utah (6 feet tall), and Buckhorn Wash, Utah, and from Cottonwood Wash, Utah. I have numerous others and plan to print in a series, maybe on Aluminum with a red stain, when I get the time. Budldha, love to see some of your images from the GC trip, I hope you post them. Lowell, I like the idea of the long lens in order to pull things in.

Here is my thinking about the DSLR: I can use my 4x5 to shoot panos once on land. I have a pretty good lens range there - 75mm, 90, 150, 200, 300 and 450. The two things I can't do with it are shoot from the raft and pull things in. So, if I keep something like the 16-50 on while rafting, I will be able to get many scenics that I would otherwise miss. If I want to isolate something, or shoot wildlife, I could do it with, say a 300mm.

This is a 21-24 day oar-propelled float trip. While I might be able to mail out film when we reach Phantom Ranch, there will be no opportunity to electrify anything once we push off at Lee's Ferry until we get out at Lake Mead. With my large format gear, I will already be the trip's biggest space hog so I have to keep everything else down to a minimum. I'm still not sure how much of my large format gear I will be able to take.
02-20-2008, 08:13 AM   #11
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You'll probably get tons of pics per charge on a K20D, but one suggestion I'd make is to try to get more smaller memory cards rather than a few big ones. Seems like lots of trouble, but if something happens to one, you don't loose all your pics.

Me personally, on this trip I'd take a K20D, 16-50 DA*, 5 batteries, and 10 2-gig cards, a UV Filter on lens when rafting, a circ polarizer, ND filter & Grad ND filter. And if it's available in time, maybe the DA* 300.

I probably wouldn't be taking a laptop or storage device as you'll also be spending time rowing and enjoying the trip, so my guess is that 20 gig of purposeful shots will be plenty.

If you can find some sort of solar trickle charger, it's worth a try but I'd probably not go relying on it. Keeping everyting dry will be important, so I'd probably get one of the waterproof lowepro backpacks, a pelican case, or some other sort of dry storage case. A handful of ziplock bags would be worthwhile.

I'd probably take a gorillapod also for times I needed some sort of camera holding device, unless you have room for a more formal tripod.

However, I wouldn't be taking the 4x5, so I'd be getting by with this kit for everything.
02-21-2008, 05:12 PM   #12
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Hi Don,
You have probably already picked it up....but if not: I have been reading the K20D on-line manual where it says that for Raw images a 512 card will hold 20 images. So my sums were way off.
Looks like youre buying a few more cards.
Cheers.
02-21-2008, 05:21 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Don Boyd Quote
If I want to isolate something, or shoot wildlife, I could do it with, say a 300mm.
Don,

I ve bin to the grand canyon, and 300 is not long enough, trust me.
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