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03-30-2014, 07:18 PM   #1
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Beijing Lens Suggestion

Howdy-

I'm going to Beijing next month, hope to have actual time for some photography, but would like to travel semi-light.

I'm thinking of: 12-24, 18-135, and maybe one or two other lenses, but want to travel kind of light. I have a decent selection of primes 31-77, and could also take my 55-300, but might be overkill.

Thoughts anyone?

Thanks.

03-30-2014, 07:45 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Biff Quote
Howdy-

I'm going to Beijing next month, hope to have actual time for some photography, but would like to travel semi-light.

I'm thinking of: 12-24, 18-135, and maybe one or two other lenses, but want to travel kind of light. I have a decent selection of primes 31-77, and could also take my 55-300, but might be overkill.

Thoughts anyone?

Thanks.
Beijing has a lot of great ancient architectures. So definitely a wild angle lens will serve you better. 18-135 can serve you in some degrees but it cannot match the lengendary primes you have. Also Beijing's rain season is around Jun-Aug so the WR function of 18-135 is not highly neccessary.
03-30-2014, 07:51 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Biff Quote
Howdy-

I'm going to Beijing next month, hope to have actual time for some photography, but would like to travel semi-light.

I'm thinking of: 12-24, 18-135, and maybe one or two other lenses, but want to travel kind of light. I have a decent selection of primes 31-77, and could also take my 55-300, but might be overkill.

Thoughts anyone?

Thanks.
Take the 12-24 & 18-135 and pray for clear air. Lately, it's been especially bad. If you can go in mid-week, the Temple of Heaven is full of photographic opportunity.

Last edited by Brooke Meyer; 12-03-2014 at 09:17 PM.
03-30-2014, 10:07 PM   #4
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I believe that your 18-135mm and 2 primes will be ideal. The 18-135mm is the perfect all rounder, WR, quiet and relatively small.

You may need a wider angle for some buildings. Your D12-24mm or a DA15mm would add nicely.

Last you need a lens which will give you good results in poor lighting conditions incl. smogg. The lighting conditions in Beijing can be atrocious during smogg (I went there) and very few lenses shine in such poor lighting conditions. My recommendation is the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4. Although MF, the lens is very sturdy all in metal, excellent IQ and outstanding in very poor lighting (smoke, fogg, smogg).

Two years ago, I compare (rapidly) my VL58mm with my FA31mm and I posted my thoughts at:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/209251-fa31...mm-f1-4-a.html

I found that the VL58mm works great outdoor, in very low light (twilight) and whenever the light is tricky.

I was in China last year and in Taiwan early this year. My lenses were DA18-250mm, DA15mm and VL58mm. For the above reason and because my wife was already using the DS18-135mm.

My 5 cents hoping that it will help...

03-30-2014, 10:37 PM   #5
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You're unlikely to have to worry about rain, as Beijing is generally bone-dry (our precipitation since September has consisted of one day of light snow!) and I wouldn't expect much rain until late June at the earliest. The smog makes shooting telephoto (particularly long telephoto) a pain - there's often just too much haze between you and whatever you're trying to photograph, so contrast & saturation go out the window. Do you know what sort of places you'll be going to in Beijing? The 12-24 would be fantastic for the old architecture, as starjedi said, and it would also be great for exploring the alleyways of the old city if you choose to do so. If you're going to the Forbidden City, take a fast prime or two, as the indoor spaces are very dimly lit.

As Brooke said, pray for clear air! Beijing on a nice day can be truly stunning.
03-31-2014, 06:47 AM   #6
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Thanks everyone, very helpful ideas. I think I'll stick with the 12-24 and 18-135, and also take either the 50 1.4 or 43. And hope for clear air. . .
04-01-2014, 08:29 PM   #7
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Sounds great, hope you enjoy your time in Beijing! As an indication of what a difference the air quality can make to photographic aspirations on any given day...

04-01-2014, 10:06 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Biff Quote
Thanks everyone, very helpful ideas. I think I'll stick with the 12-24 and 18-135, and also take either the 50 1.4 or 43. And hope for clear air. . .
I would suggest the combo of the 18-135, your 12-24 for the wide shots and a fast prime for indoor.

I was on a 19 day China trip in October 2012 and took my K5, 18-135 and 50 F1.4 Most shots were taken with the 18-135 and is seemed to be a good range. I took a Panasonic superzoom "point and shoot" as a spare and used it when I needed more reach on the Yangtze. Wish I had had the 55-300 for that part of the trip but would not have used it elsewhere. I ended up with over 4000 shots.

As others have mentioned, pollution is your enemy there and you can forget any long range landscapes if the pollution is high as it is right now.

Enjoy your trip and I hope you get good weather.

04-02-2014, 04:35 AM   #9
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Personally, for Beijing, I would take WR lenses only. I dread to think what it would be like to change lenses on one of Beijing's notoriously smoggy days. I would also take 2 bodies, both permanently mounted with WR lenses. I live in Chengdu, sometimes almost as bad as Beijing, and I hate changing lenses, even indoors. Doing the housecleaning just verifies how much dust is floating around, even inside buildings.

How about the 18-135 and the 10-17? Or a wider angle zoom, but keep it mounted all the time?

Also, buy some 2.5ppm facemasks at home and take them with you - the ones in Chinese drugstores are sometimes worthless.
04-03-2014, 01:59 PM   #10
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Thanks.

I think I will take two bodies: 18-135 on K5 II, 12-24 on K5, and take the 50 1.4. I was thinking about a K-01 or my Fuji x10 as backup, but probably no need.

Thanks for the advice on the facemask too. Will do.
04-03-2014, 07:24 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bagga_Txips Quote
Personally, for Beijing, I would take WR lenses only. I dread to think what it would be like to change lenses on one of Beijing's notoriously smoggy days. I would also take 2 bodies, both permanently mounted with WR lenses. I live in Chengdu, sometimes almost as bad as Beijing, and I hate changing lenses, even indoors. Doing the housecleaning just verifies how much dust is floating around, even inside buildings.

How about the 18-135 and the 10-17? Or a wider angle zoom, but keep it mounted all the time?

Also, buy some 2.5ppm facemasks at home and take them with you - the ones in Chinese drugstores are sometimes worthless.
As bad as the smog is, and as much as I agree that there is dust EVERYWHERE in Chinese cities, I wouldn't sweat about changing lenses or insisting on environmental seals. I haven't yet encountered any problems with dust in my K-5 or in any of my lenses, none of which are WR. I even took my DA35/2.4 apart to fix a stuck focus helicoid! The pro photographers that I know here use multiple (mostly non-sealed) lenses and change them regularly during events, and they've never mentioned it as a problem.

Please don't think I'm saying this to put you down - on the contrary, I just think that there is no need for you to be anxious about this!

And yes, the Chinese pharmacy masks are ENTIRELY worthless. Pick up a pack of 3M masks rated for PM2.5 (very small particles) if you're worried about the short-term effects of smog. They might even be useful if you're stuck in a crowded room full of smokers...
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