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01-27-2013, 05:43 PM   #1
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What lens for British Columbia?

Hey All & Happy New Year,

Headed to British Columbia for a couple of weeks in the northern part. We have been there twice before and if you have not been there you are missing out. Previously been in Bella Coola area, but going further north before returning to Bella Coola for a few days. Obviously my wife and I love nature, landscapes, and animals. Looking for a longer lens and we are going this fall. My longest lens is pentax f70-210. I am not spending 5 - 6 k. So what other lens might you suggest. Two cameras are k-7 and k-01. I am thinking some kind of zoom----pentax or sigma. I am open to responses. Just remember, it is my money, not yours. I really like this website because everyone is soooooooooooo helpful and courteous. Some of you are even funny. Please keep under $1200 -1300 or there abouts.

Thanks for your input.

Kiteman
www.colorthewind.org

01-27-2013, 05:49 PM   #2
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For a longer lens look at:
SMC Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED Reviews - DA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
or
Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 OS HSM Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

The 55-300 is not a huge amount longer than you 210 but it is very light and easy to work with. Well regarded lens.
If you need more length in that price range the Sigma zooms are worth a look (50-500, 150-500, 120-400) I have the 50-500 (an older version) and am quite happy with it. But it is not something you are going to toss on and walk about with all day, much too heavy.
01-27-2013, 06:22 PM   #3
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I second jatrax. I carried a 55-300 for a week hiking in Alberta and BC last summer and was able to do about 8+ hrs. per day with it. Really good strap helped immensely.
01-27-2013, 06:35 PM   #4
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The F*300/4.5 is one of my most used lenses. I've tried the similar DA*300/4 and it should do well for you, especially if you can use the WR feature.

The DA55-300 is a good lens, but in my opinion it's no better (in fact, not as good) as the F70-210/4-5.6, which is why I kept the latter. The F70-210 is pretty good up to about 180 or 190mm. I wasn't so fond of the DA55-300 over 135mm.

I'm not a Sigma fan (don't like the colors and rendering somehow) so I'm not the one to ask about those, but if you can find a zoom you like that's not too heavy you could go with it. As long as the DA*300 is long enough I think you'll be happy with it. I personally haven't found any other combination of price/weight/IQ I'm happy with over 300mm.


Even though the *300 lenses are so much more money than a DA55-300, they isolate the subject so well and render beautifully. This is what makes them worth it. Being f/4 or 4.5 primes keeps their cost and weight reasonable, whereas the better zooms get heavy. It's surprising how workable a non-zoom is when whatever fits in the frame looks good.

Although I believe they're good for so much more than nature shots, that's overwhelmingly how they are used according to the PPG, as you can see here with the K-7: .http://www.pentaxphotogallery.com/photos/gallery/query?camera=54&lens=3700#/grid


Last edited by DSims; 01-27-2013 at 07:00 PM.
01-27-2013, 07:33 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by kiteman Quote
Hey All & Happy New Year,

Headed to British Columbia for a couple of weeks in the northern part. We have been there twice before and if you have not been there you are missing out. Previously been in Bella Coola area, but going further north before returning to Bella Coola for a few days. Obviously my wife and I love nature, landscapes, and animals. Looking for a longer lens and we are going this fall. My longest lens is pentax f70-210. I am not spending 5 - 6 k. So what other lens might you suggest. Two cameras are k-7 and k-01. I am thinking some kind of zoom----pentax or sigma. I am open to responses. Just remember, it is my money, not yours. I really like this website because everyone is soooooooooooo helpful and courteous. Some of you are even funny. Please keep under $1200 -1300 or there abouts.

Thanks for your input.

Kiteman
www.colorthewind.org
I'm not going to recommend a specific lens as I'm sure you'll get lots of suggestions and I'm not really into long lenses myself. Just a reminder, though, that Bella Coola in wiinter is cool and very wet, so include rain protection in your calculations. Also, there is a lot of thick cloud, so be prepared for low light.

On a geographical note, Bella Coola is actually in the southern half of British Columbia. A lot of people, including Canadians, think anything 20 miles north of the US border is northern. In fact, there is a lot of BC north and east of Bella Coola. A vast amount of truly amazing country.
01-27-2013, 09:35 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by John Poirier Quote
On a geographical note, Bella Coola is actually in the southern half of British Columbia. A lot of people, including Canadians, think anything 20 miles north of the US border is northern. In fact, there is a lot of BC north and east of Bella Coola. A vast amount of truly amazing country.
I used to think Prince George was in Northern BC... until I went to Vanderhoof and found out I was geographical centre
01-27-2013, 10:52 PM   #7
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Avid British Columbian outdoorsman here.

In my opinion, make sure you have a lens that can go wide angle (< 20mm). We have some of the best wide outdoor scenes in the world, and nothing captures it better than a wide angle. This past December I went snowshoeing. I started off with the 55-300, but soon I wanted a wide angle to capture some of the epic scenery. The 55-300 just couldn't cut it.

Since you're bringing two cameras, this could be simple. Have one camera dedicated to a longer telephoto lens (the F 70-210 is a fine lens, and so is the DA 55-300), and one dedicated to a wide-normal zoom. All set.

For the wide-normal, I'm a HUGE fan of the DA 18-55 WR. It's been golden for me on many occasions. In particular, I really like its quality at 18mm. And it's weather resistant, so it can handle our weather. At $100, it's definitely a bang-for-buck all star.
01-28-2013, 07:50 AM   #8
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Morning to ALL,

I will be traveling from Prince George around to Dawson Creek, to Watson Lake, then south along western side past Bear Glacier, heading south back to Prince George, Wiliams Lake, west to Bella Coola, then headed home. So yes, I will be in northern BC. I have been twice to Bella Coola knowing it not to be in the north part of BC.

Back to lenses, thanks for input. I do have wide range covered with 15 mm ltd and 16-45. Maybe my F 70 - 210 is all that is needed. The DA 300 mm is sort of appealing, but more expensive. I will not be doing a tremendous amount of walking. How about the 120 - 400 zoom? I think it is a Sigma.

Thks

01-28-2013, 11:20 AM   #9
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I would go 16-50 ish, BUT....

QuoteOriginally posted by kiteman Quote
Hey All & Happy New Year,

Headed to British Columbia for a couple of weeks in the northern part. We have been there twice before and if you have not been there you are missing out. Previously been in Bella Coola area, but going further north before returning to Bella Coola for a few days. Obviously my wife and I love nature, landscapes, and animals. Looking for a longer lens and we are going this fall. My longest lens is pentax f70-210. I am not spending 5 - 6 k. So what other lens might you suggest. Two cameras are k-7 and k-01. I am thinking some kind of zoom----pentax or sigma. I am open to responses. Just remember, it is my money, not yours. I really like this website because everyone is soooooooooooo helpful and courteous. Some of you are even funny. Please keep under $1200 -1300 or there abouts.

Thanks for your input.

Kiteman
www.colorthewind.org
whatever you buy, MAKE SURE IT'S WATERPROOF!

Sincerely,
Cameron Hood
Born in BC and lived here my whole life
01-28-2013, 01:08 PM   #10
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considering what you have, and that you do not want to spend a lot, I would look for a KA mount 400/5.6 and then a flash.

any 300 will be too short, a 400 is about right, the KA mount gives you the exposure modes and P-TTL flash (hence the flash also comment)

I am not sure about the sigma 120-400, although that is effectively what I have now, i.e. a sigma APO 70-200 F2.8 EX (non DG non macro) plus a sigma 2x TC.

if you could get my version of the sigma or the next in line i.e. the DG but not a macro version, you would do well. this lens is reputedly the sharpest both wide open and at the long end. that plus a TC is just as good as the 120-400 and it gives the added benefig of being 2 stops faster in the 70-200 range without the TC, then you could leave your old 70-210 at home
01-28-2013, 05:56 PM   #11
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Think dark and cloudy, so a fast lens is essential. A 55-300 is too slow in winter. Select your long no slower than F4.
01-28-2013, 06:19 PM   #12
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I'd get a DA* 60-250 F/4 and an AFA 1.7X.

If you're patient and lucky, you may be able to find them used within your budget.
01-28-2013, 08:10 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by kiteman Quote
Morning to ALL,

I will be traveling from Prince George around to Dawson Creek, to Watson Lake, then south along western side past Bear Glacier, heading south back to Prince George, Wiliams Lake, west to Bella Coola, then headed home. So yes, I will be in northern BC. I have been twice to Bella Coola knowing it not to be in the north part of BC.

Back to lenses, thanks for input. I do have wide range covered with 15 mm ltd and 16-45. Maybe my F 70 - 210 is all that is needed. The DA 300 mm is sort of appealing, but more expensive. I will not be doing a tremendous amount of walking. How about the 120 - 400 zoom? I think it is a Sigma.

Thks
If you are driving from Williams Lake via highway 20 to Bella Coola you get to go over the "hill". You can buy a T-Shirt in Bella Coola to commeriate the event.

If you fly in it’s even scarier, as the airport is in a valley between the mountains. I have been diverted to Anahim Lake a few times when the Bella Coola airport was fogged in and had to go over the “hill” in a school bus!

Have fun,

Phil.
01-28-2013, 08:42 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by kiteman Quote
Morning to ALL,

I will be traveling from Prince George around to Dawson Creek, to Watson Lake, then south along western side past Bear Glacier, heading south back to Prince George, Wiliams Lake, west to Bella Coola, then headed home. So yes, I will be in northern BC. I have been twice to Bella Coola knowing it not to be in the north part of BC.

Back to lenses, thanks for input. I do have wide range covered with 15 mm ltd and 16-45. Maybe my F 70 - 210 is all that is needed. The DA 300 mm is sort of appealing, but more expensive. I will not be doing a tremendous amount of walking. How about the 120 - 400 zoom? I think it is a Sigma.

Thks
That is a really cool route. I lived in Watson Lake for 4 years in the 70s and have since traveled quite a bit in northern BC. My favourite part of your route is the stretch between Fort Nelson and Watson Lake, particularly the Muncho Lake area. Great mountain scenery, and I've had fairly good luck seeing wildlife. The stretch between Watson Lake and Highway 16 is also really fine. Of course the side trip into Stewart BC (past the [Bear Glacier) is spectacular. There is also the bonus experience of getting Hyderized, if you are so inclined.

On that route I think you could find something like the 120-400 very useful, both for wildlife and for compressing perspective and isolating details in some very large landscapes.

It is quite possible that you will hit some weather extremes, as full winter is still happening in interior BC/southern Yukon in February. Watson Lake sits in a valley where cold air pools. It is not impossible that you could hit temperatures well into the -30s.

Make sure you have really good snow tires, tow rope, shovel, booster cable, block heater, very warm clothing, and some basic survival gear. The Stewart/Cassiar is not heavily travelled in winter, so if you get stuck you could conceivably be stranded for several hours.
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