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02-26-2014, 09:51 PM   #1
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Lens choice for China - suggestions needed

Head to China in April - will be in Guilin and headed up the Li River. I also may visit the Yunhe rice terraces out side of Shanghai. The weather is projected to be very rainy.

Which 2-3 weather sealed lens combo would you pick for this trip to go with K30?

DA*16-50
DA* 50-135
DA18-55 WR
DA 18-135 WR
DA 55-300 WR
DA*55

Thanks in advance!

LK

02-26-2014, 10:17 PM   #2
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16-50. That's all :-) (It's the widest).
02-26-2014, 10:33 PM   #3
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Seeing Stars?

Hello LK,
With your lens selection, I'd take the three 'stars' for image quality, speed, W/R and range. 16mm to 135mm with 2 lenses, all f/2.8, and a 55mm prime that's two stops faster.
Definitely not the most compact kit, but IQ and speed trumps size, for me, anyway.
YMMV,
Ron
02-26-2014, 10:34 PM   #4
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I travelled a few times to China (Hangzhou, Chengdu, Guangzhou) and one big issue the smogg: the foggy/smoky conditions which prevent a good contrast and lead to dull photographs. After some trials with a few lenses, I found that the kit lens and the all-around lenses (DA18-250mm/DA18-135mm) are not good enough in many situations, unless the sun shines.

In my experience, I tend to favor a prime lens, the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4, for this type of smoggy conditions, over all other lenses, even if the focal length is not right. I share some toughts on the VL58mm f1.4 at:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/209251-fa31...mm-f1-4-a.html

To sum up, I would recommend to travel light, possibly with one WR lens for the heavy rain (and the sunshine) and the VL58mm f1.4mm for the poor lighting conditions like smogg.

Hope that the comment may help.


Last edited by hcc; 02-27-2014 at 02:10 AM.
02-26-2014, 10:37 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
16-50. That's all :-) (It's the widest).
Agreed, this is your #1 choice. It'll also handle lower light fairly well.

2nd, get the DA*50-135.

Only get the 18-135 if you don't want to change lenses at all.


If you have any money left, the DA*55 will be nice. This will be good at night too. However, I think you can just take the FA77 instead to do roughly the same job, as long as it's not too wet.

I wouldn't worry about the non-WR K-x unless the rain is heavy - a little water never hurt mine.
02-27-2014, 12:20 AM   #6
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I went last year and think you need fast lenses, good to great IQ and some reach. I took my Sigma 10-20, Tamron 17-50 and Sigma 70-200. Used the 70-200 quite a lot..... Big trick is to really think about a bag that works with the selected kit for you. So... 16-50 and 50-135 I reckon. ...... some happy snaps. Flickr: Noelpolar's Photostream
02-27-2014, 01:13 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
I travel a few times to China (Hangzhou, Chengdu, Guangzhou) and one big issue the smogg: the foggy/smoky conditions which prevent a good contrast and lead to dull photographs. After some trials with a few lenses, I found that the kit lens and the all-around lenses (DA18-250mm/DA18-135mm) are not good enough in many situations, unless the sun shines.

In my experience, I tend to favor a prime lens, the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4, for this type of smoggy conditions, over all other lenses, even if the focal length is not right.
I imagine the lens made the most difference - both the quality and the speed of it. But did you find that any filter(s) helped as well?
02-27-2014, 02:24 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
I imagine the lens made the most difference - both the quality and the speed of it. But did you find that any filter(s) helped as well?
No I do not use filter and I do not think that it would make a difference IMHO.

The lens is definitely the key component. You want a fast and sharp lens. I found that most photographs lack sharpness in smoggy conditions, unless you have a sharp lens. The VL58mm is very sharp, possibly sharper than my FA77m and comparable to my FA31mm.

Hope that the comment may help.

02-27-2014, 06:15 AM   #9
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K30 + weather sealed lenses a must?

I thank everyone that has answered so far! Great information!

FYI- I already have a K01 and Kx and many decent lenses but not weather sealed (15, 40, 77, 55-300, Tamron 28-75) but was going to pick up a K30 and then 1 or 2 weather sealed lenses for the rainy conditions... seeing this is a once in a life time experience I did not want to feel compromised if it was very rainy all the time.

But...several people suggest not to worry about using a weather sealed camera and lenses... e.g., use an optek rain sleeve... I could use more opinions on experiences from folks shooting under rainy vacations. Thanks again!
02-27-2014, 08:10 AM   #10
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I live in China, and my wife is Chinese. (He Ying, a very occasional contributor to PF). So I consulted her.

Guilin is much more likely to give you blue skies and fair weather than places like Sichuan province or Chongqing, for example, but the Chinese seem to have a very careless attitude to dirt, dust and smoke no matter where you go. I would strongly recommend that you do everything in your power to avoid changing your lens, and if you do, take all possible measures to stop dust getting in.

I am slowly building my collection of DA limiteds, and every time I change primes, I get very nervous. In the end I cracked and bought the 18-135 WR, but wasn't satisfied with the IQ, so dragon lady uses its her walkabout lens for shots she posts online.

So I would recommend that you take a second body with you, and keep two high quality limited range WR zooms permanently mounted. Just in case you experience the kind of smoggy low-contrast situation I endure 360 days a year here in Chengdu, it's a good idea to think of high contrast as an important feature of the lenses you choose, because the lighting conditions can be so dead it has sapped my interest in photography a bit...

16-50 and 50-135 might be a nice choice, or maybe risk the new Sigma 17-70 and something like a 100-200 or 300.

And I believe Guilin has a lot of open water, so make sure you bring lots of mosquito repellent and remedy with you, maybe some generic piriton. The stuff they sell here is blue to repel and green to sooth after you are, inevitably bitten, as both liquids seem to act mainly as cologne.

---------- Post added 02-27-14 at 11:35 PM ----------

Aha, just read the post above mine.

New recommendation: take the K01 with the Tamron 28-75 fitted, and DON'T buy a K30 because it isn't WR, so having WR lenses would be halfway house.

Buy the DA50-135 with whatever flavour of K5 meets your budget. Or even a K3!

I can't stress highly enough how obsessed I am getting about WR these days. I kinda yearn for the 15, but have put it off for years - I am probably gonna get the 100 WR next, and maybe that would be a cheaper alternative to the 50-135 for you, too?

Last edited by Bagga_Txips; 02-27-2014 at 08:24 AM.
02-27-2014, 09:31 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bagga_Txips Quote
I live in China, and my wife is Chinese. (He Ying, a very occasional contributor to PF). So I consulted her.

Guilin is much more likely to give you blue skies and fair weather than places like Sichuan province or Chongqing, for example, but the Chinese seem to have a very careless attitude to dirt, dust and smoke no matter where you go. I would strongly recommend that you do everything in your power to avoid changing your lens, and if you do, take all possible measures to stop dust getting in.

I am slowly building my collection of DA limiteds, and every time I change primes, I get very nervous. In the end I cracked and bought the 18-135 WR, but wasn't satisfied with the IQ, so dragon lady uses its her walkabout lens for shots she posts online.

So I would recommend that you take a second body with you, and keep two high quality limited range WR zooms permanently mounted. Just in case you experience the kind of smoggy low-contrast situation I endure 360 days a year here in Chengdu, it's a good idea to think of high contrast as an important feature of the lenses you choose, because the lighting conditions can be so dead it has sapped my interest in photography a bit...

16-50 and 50-135 might be a nice choice, or maybe risk the new Sigma 17-70 and something like a 100-200 or 300.

And I believe Guilin has a lot of open water, so make sure you bring lots of mosquito repellent and remedy with you, maybe some generic piriton. The stuff they sell here is blue to repel and green to sooth after you are, inevitably bitten, as both liquids seem to act mainly as cologne.

---------- Post added 02-27-14 at 11:35 PM ----------

Aha, just read the post above mine.

New recommendation: take the K01 with the Tamron 28-75 fitted, and DON'T buy a K30 because it isn't WR, so having WR lenses would be halfway house.

Buy the DA50-135 with whatever flavour of K5 meets your budget. Or even a K3!

I can't stress highly enough how obsessed I am getting about WR these days. I kinda yearn for the 15, but have put it off for years - I am probably gonna get the 100 WR next, and maybe that would be a cheaper alternative to the 50-135 for you, too?
Thanks Bagga_Txips! Great info..especially on mosquitoes! Yikes!
Uh- K30 is weather sealed from what I read? no?
Thanks again!

Last edited by lkjr; 02-27-2014 at 09:32 AM. Reason: edit
02-27-2014, 10:26 AM   #12
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My preference would be just 2 lenses on a long trip. I would start with the the 16-50. It's good for general use and is the widest lens for landscapes. It's not ideal for portraiture but can give decent results at 50mm f2.8.

I enjoy wildlife so I would add the 55-300. If you're heavily into portraiture substitute the 50-135 or 55.

Primes generally (but not always) give sharper images than zooms. However, I find primes awkward when packing for long trips; it's too difficult to predict which primes will get used and frequent lens changes means lost opportunities and sensor dust.

There's been a lot of talk about rain and fog. Shoot in RAW/DNG or DNG+JPG so you can make contrast adjustments when you get home. Pack extra memory cards.
02-27-2014, 12:52 PM   #13
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Yeah, definitely pack extra memory cards.

In fact pack extra backup batteries, AA's, and so on. Any consumables you really need, it's best to bring them, as the chances of getting fake stuff are infinitely greater here in China.

Bring your own powdered milk, your own most frequently used medicines. Only ever drink bottled water, preferably not from those large water dispensers with blue-tinted plastic bottles. (They refill them from the faucets...) I prefer a company called C'est Bon, with a dark green label. Always check the cap to prove it's unopened. Repeat, bring powdered milk - there was a scandal 3 years ago wherein AT LEAST one company was adding effing melamine to fake a higher protein count, thereby injuring and even killing infants. Only one company was properly punished, and only a few people went to court.

One thing that can be worth buying here is Pentax gear, if you can find a dealer! My guy sells me new stuff at prices that are lower than US second hand prices! K3 at 1000 dollars for example. The 100 WR is gonna cost me 525. Damn, writing those numbers makes the K3 look like a bargain, and I could follow my own advice about having two bodies... Oh dear.

Last edited by Bagga_Txips; 02-27-2014 at 01:02 PM.
02-27-2014, 07:42 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
No I do not use filter and I do not think that it would make a difference IMHO.

The lens is definitely the key component. You want a fast and sharp lens. I found that most photographs lack sharpness in smoggy conditions, unless you have a sharp lens. The VL58mm is very sharp, possibly sharper than my FA77m and comparable to my FA31mm.

Hope that the comment may help.
Yes, it does help.

I normally don't use filters, which caused me to wonder even more, since some are supposedly designed to help with mild atmospheric problems.


I will start using my CPLs more, mostly for landscapes in fairly good conditions, but now I'm still thinking most other filters won't do much.
02-28-2014, 04:43 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by lkjr Quote
Thanks Bagga_Txips! Great info..especially on mosquitoes! Yikes!
Uh- K30 is weather sealed from what I read? no?
Thanks again!
to Bagga_Txips!
I just checked rainfall in Guilin - April is the 3rd wettest month of the year there and actually has the highest average days of rain (20 days) all year!
I'll pray for blue skies!!!! Thanks!

Last edited by lkjr; 02-28-2014 at 04:43 AM. Reason: edit
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