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04-28-2013, 08:50 PM   #1
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Which lenses for packing light in Europe with toddler?

I am traveling to Germany with my wife, in-laws, and 18 month old son. In the past, I have traveled with 3 DA limiteds and been perfectly happy.

However, this time I will be carrying baby gear and I do not think switching lenses frequently will be an option due to juggling a toddler, etc. Also, I'm not sure I will even be able to bring a camera bag, so my camera setup must fit in my carry on backpack and/or the diaper bag. I will be bringing a separate small sensor point and shoot. I am primarily concerned with shooting shallow depth of field shots with whatever else I bring.

So far, I see my options as follows:

1. Bring just the DA 21 (this lens does not provide enough shallow DOF for my taste in most situations).
2. Bring either the DA 15 or the 21 and the 35 macro or 40 (I know I will be constantly switching lenses, the 40 is not wide enough for indoors and places like train cars).
3. Bring just the DA 35 macro (the autofocus may not be fast enough for a toddler and P&S will be required for wide angle).
4. Purchase the FA 31 (this is pricey, the lens is bigger/heavier, but I'm assuming it will provide shallow depth of field for portraits and that AF is fast enough for a toddler).
5. Purchase a compact such as the new Ricoh GR (smallest, lightest option, unknown if AF fast enough or if DOF/bokeh is adequate for portraits).
6. Purchase a zoom, such as the Tamron 16-50 2.8 (big in comparison to primes, not sure will fit in my backpack easily, not a huge fan of third party zooms in the past).

As you can see, I'm quite unsure what the best option is considering my circumstances. Any advice from my fellow Pentaxians would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance. Sorry for the long post.

04-28-2013, 09:08 PM   #2
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The FA31mm is definitely a great option. The IQ is outstanding. The lens is fast and the focal length (31mm) is very polyvalent: ie a great all-in one prime lens IMHO. If you have the funds, it is definitely a great lens to have.

However I wonder if a simple P&S (alone) could possibly a better, lighter option. How much space will you have?

I recently travelled a few times with one body and one prime lens. Depending upon the trip, my prime was the FA31mm (in one case) or the VL58mm f1.4 (twice). I think that the FA31mm will fulfill better your needs because AF is definitely a must with a baby.

My 5 cents.
04-28-2013, 09:12 PM   #3
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I'd go option 2 with the DA21 and DA40.

If you are thinking of buying a new camera, a K-01 on the cheap would make the kit even more compact. An MX-1 might also be worth a thought.
04-28-2013, 09:15 PM   #4
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Both of my kids are now teens, but I clearly remember when they were toddlers that I liked to have my hands free as much as possible especially when traveling. I carried around a small waist bag that could hold a small film P&S--and film--with one-handed operation. My concern was not just size and weight, but with so many kid-related distractions the potential for me to lose a lens or a larger camera was much higher. So I recommend you purchase a small, light, high quality camera, high-capacity memory cards, and develop an ergonomic way to carry and access the thing while carrying a toddler in one arm. Whether the camera has a zoom or single focal length lens is your call. I would also recommend keeping your expectations of picture quality to reasonable levels.

See if you can work out an arrangement where you can grab some alone time for shooting. Maybe the in-laws hang with your son everyday for an hour or two while you roam, perhaps with your wife if she is good shooting company (mine tends not to be).


04-28-2013, 10:14 PM   #5

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I will buy a Q.
04-28-2013, 10:27 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fontan Quote
I will buy a Q.
That too. Q + 01 = awesome.
Second best option would be the 02 Standard Zoom
04-28-2013, 11:33 PM   #7
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I to travel with my kids in Italy and this year it will only be me and the kids (no wife or ex wife in my case).

I find that a very simple setup is essential for success. Primes is the thing and preferably AF. At one time I was holding my girl on one arm while I was taking pictures, this would be difficult with a zoom.

Sure you will miss out on many opportunities but the DA15 and DA40 (maybe get the XS for it smallness) says -your family and you on vacation-.
04-29-2013, 02:29 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Im Travelling again with my family including 3 young kids soon and I will bring DA18-135, DA12-24, FA31 plus a Sony RX100. Any of these by themselves are pretty handy, I think that's key, you don't want to have a niche lens as your only option ever during family travel (eg da15 or fa77 as much as I love them). Prime kits with kids is very limiting during travel, I know this from experience...

Last edited by twitch; 04-29-2013 at 02:38 AM.
04-29-2013, 05:40 AM   #9
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You say that you're apprehensively willing to consider the 31mm Limited. So, let's be conservative and say that your budget is about $700 max.

(I don't know where you're from, but I'll be computing prices as if you're from the US - my apologies if that's unhelpful. )

If I could only bring one camera, it would be a "serious compact". The best camera is the one you have with you, and so on. The Ricoh GR sounds really terrific, but there are many great options already out there. I have an Olympus XZ-1, which is an "old-timer" relatively speaking, and it's a great camera. The lens is fast and razor sharp. You don't get the shallow DOF of an APS-C sensor unless you're close to your subject. On the other hand, you can shoot at f1.8 without turning everything into Bokehpalooza. Later versions of this camera have improved greatly on the already-excellent design, especially with regard to high ISO performance: I wouldn't go above ISO 800. That said, for outside shots, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between those taken with the XZ-1 and those taken with my K-5. It really is that good.

The best part: I got it used from Adorama for $250, including the 2-year warranty. CHEAP.

Other great used beasties exist. A used Canon S90 will serve you more than well, for example, and it'd be even cheaper than the XZ-1.

You could also look at brand new options, such as the Sony RX100, the Pentax MX-1, etc.

For your DSLR's lens, I think you should consider the Pentax 35mm 2.4, or you should consider the Pentax 18-135 or the Tamron/Sigma 17-50.

The Pentax 35mm 2.4 is small, dirt cheap, it has faster AF than the 35mm Macro, and it has absolutely excellent optics. 2.4 isn't that much slower than 1.8, either, especially if you have a K-5 or later, where you can crank up the ISO. I hear that the 31mm Limited is very nice, but if you're on the fence about it as far as cost is concerned, then you should probably wait.

As for the zooms, I know you don't like how bulky they are, but IMHO, there isn't much difference between a DSLR with a prime and a DSLR with a zoom, even when the prime is a pancake. It's going in a bag either way.

The Pentax 18-135 has very good optics, considering what it does. I used to be a fast prime snob, but this lens cured me. Maybe I just have an unusually good copy, but mine has never let me down. The zoom range offers great flexibility. This more than outweighs the minor shortcomings that I see when pixel-peeping. The only disadvantage is that it's slow. It's not a good indoor lens, to be sure, although since it's 3.5 at 18mm, it's barely slower than the 21mm 3.2 in that respect.

As for the Tamron/Sigma zooms, they both have excellent reputations. As long as you know that your copy works before you leave for your trip, there's no reason to worry. I've never had a problem with third-party lenses, but I have had a problem with, say, a bad copy of the Pentax 16-45.

All told, I would consider a used Olympus XZ-1 for $250 and a used Pentax 35mm 2.4 for $200, or I would consider one of the zooms I've already mentioned.
04-29-2013, 06:43 PM   #10
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Original Poster
Thank you for all the good suggestions.

I am not opposed to spending the money on the FA 31 (I would likely sell the 21), but I want to be as certain as possible it will fulfill my needs especially since it is bigger and heavier than my DA Limiteds.

The DA 35 2.4 is a decent option as well. I thought about that as a solution, but then would I sell the DA 35? Also, Photozone stated that the bokeh can be busy in certain scenarios.

The Q, although a nice camera, doesn't solve my DOF issue. It appears that compacts with larger sensors such as the GR, RX100, etc. would provide better bokeh. Also, reviewers do not seem to like the "blur effect" option on the Q. The Sony RX1 could be perfect but $2500ish is definitely out of the budget. FA 31 is top of the Pentax budget. I'd maybe go up to $1200 for a Fuji X100s if I thought it was the perfect solution.

I'd prefer not to buy another larger style interchangeable lens camera such as the K-01. The camera would have to be much smaller than the K5 to make the purchase worth it I would think. The 4/3 cameras are still a little chunky and the smaller sensor doesn't help with DOF. Perhaps a NEX could work, but the lenses seem to be large and/or not very positive reviews on Photozone.

At the moment, my two favorite options seem to be splurging on the FA 31 or purchasing a high end compact. The point and shoot I already own is the Canon S95 so a compact option would need to work better than that for my needs.

Any other thoughts from my fellow Pentaxians? Regarding size and weight of lenses or cameras, please keep in mind that I have never seen any of these products in person.
04-29-2013, 07:30 PM   #11
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Why not hold onto your cash, purchase an 18-55 for the family pic's - light, fast, decent image and cheap. Take your limiteds and use them if the opportunity arises. You can't beat a zoom for kids.

I have faced the same decision for going to Cuba (a 5yr old and 9 month old). I've ended up deciding to go with the 16-50, 21mm and a cheap point and shoot.
04-29-2013, 11:20 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gareth.Ig Quote
Why not hold onto your cash, purchase an 18-55 for the family pic's - light, fast, decent image and cheap. Take your limiteds and use them if the opportunity arises. You can't beat a zoom for kids.

I have faced the same decision for going to Cuba (a 5yr old and 9 month old). I've ended up deciding to go with the 16-50, 21mm and a cheap point and shoot.
copy that.

..there would be some psycology in this question. If you constantly fall behind for non family related photo opportunities, it will be commented on. Or those evenings, when your in-laws look after your toddler, letting you and your wife go out..What will be your most free moments for photography? Regards
04-29-2013, 11:54 PM   #13
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Use what you have. Bring your compact to capture memories of the trip that doesn't have to have perfect IQ, but still fun to have. Bring your DSLR and 15+35+70 and leave it at the hotel when you need to. If you just go for a walk you can carry the DSLR+35mm for example. For longer excursions just leave it and you will have more space for diapers and more time to play with the little one.
04-30-2013, 01:56 AM   #14
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I just saw that you have the DA70 as well. Take the 21, 40 and 70. Decide at the beginning of each day which will be the best all-rounder.
I compared these three lenses in some detail a month or two ago. See some of the results HERE
04-30-2013, 06:45 AM   #15
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I understand. I always wish I could take all my gear when I travel, but weight, shape and space preclude that. It sounds like this isn't your first trip to Germany.Other than shallow depth of field, you haven't described your intended subjects. At least for me, that is where I start when I agonize my way through my pick and choose process.

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