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04-11-2015, 09:28 PM   #1
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Lens Combination for Yellowstone NP, Mount Rushmore, Zion National Park, Antelope

Hi everyone,

I and our family will be visiting USA for my sister's commencement ceremonies in the next two weeks as well as attending a conference in Dallas, TX, and, later on, traveling to Las Vegas, Zion National Park (2 days for The Narrow and others), Antelope Canyon (2 days for Upper and Lower Antelope), Yellowstone National Park (4 days), and Mount Rushmore (1 day) for sightseeing and hiking.

The main task is first to capture my sister's celebration inside the hall and around the campus with her friends and our family. Then, it will be another story for city and nature photography. Here are the gears I currently have and can borrow from my relatives. I will be the only one taking DSLR and the rest will be using their iPhone.

K5 and K-01 (I definitely take both cameras to the trip)
DA 15, 21, 35, 40, 70 (old version)
FA 31
DA* 55 (prefer to take it for the trip)
Tamron 90mm
DA 10-17, 12-24, 18-55, 50-135
DA*300 + 1.4x HD TC
Cokin P and ND and other filters for 77mm and 49mm
GoPro Hero4 (with accessories)


Travel light is the idea at the beginning but have been back and forth (prime, zoom, full coverage for the trip,.....). The one I like the most is DA*55 but I am fine with others too in case I leave my DA*55 at home.

Thus, I cannot decide which lens and combination to go considering the stuffs that I have to carry for the conference (laptops and iPad), Vegas (shows and walk-around), moderate hiking (not too extreme with our parents and my wife), and might get wet for the Narrow in Zion NP.

Your experience/help/selection/advice on the lens combination or must-go location will be very appreciated. Thanks

Jong


Last edited by Besta; 04-11-2015 at 09:36 PM.
04-11-2015, 10:57 PM   #2
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Haven't been to Zion or Antelope Canyon, done the rest of your planned stops. Lots of wildlife in Yellowstone, if you have the room bring the DA* 300 and TC. For maximum flexibility and minimum weight, take the DA 15 Ltd, get yourself the DA 18-135 and you would be set. But you are bringing two bodies (even if one is a smaller MILC), so obviously you are taking more than carry-on. Leave the kit lens at home, it's not fast enough for Vegas, too soft for landscapes, and without a CPL, not great for high-glare scenes. Other than Yellowstone, you should have lots of sun on this trip. For Vegas, you can leave the DA 35 on your K-01, so you are less likely to get accosted for swinging big gear around, and you have a reasonably fast lens for the nightlife/nightlight. You have made up your mind to bring the DA* 55, so you don't necessarily need the 50-135, but you will find it very handy in the parks. I wouldn't bother with the UWA zooms, your scenery shots will be well covered with either the DA 15 or the 50-135 zoom. With this whirlwind itinerary, you won't have time to take unique or artistic photos. The DA 35 nicely covers group shots and street scenes, so you can leave a bunch of primes at home.
04-11-2015, 11:00 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Besta Quote
traveling to Las Vegas, Zion National Park (2 days for The Narrow and others), Antelope Canyon (2 days for Upper and Lower Antelope), Yellowstone National Park (4 days), and Mount Rushmore (1 day) for sightseeing and hiking.
You will want wide-angle for all those, so I would suggest the 12-24.
04-11-2015, 11:11 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
You will want wide-angle for all those, so I would suggest the 12-24.
For the Narrows and Antelope Canyon....THINK WIDE !
Ive been to both and 14mm to 28mm will cover it all really good. Antelope Canyon can get really congested with other Photographers so be prepared.
BTW....you might want to stop for a couple hrs at Horseshoe Bend as you will be going right past it !
My vote goes to the 12-24 for those two locations alone or the DA 15 , 21 , 35 combo.
Ive shot the Narrows , Subway , and Antelope canyon with a 14mm and a 24mm. However I took a few portraits and wished I had taken a 35mm too.
Keep it as simple and compact in Antelope as you can.
Also don't rule out a 100mm+ tele for compression in Antelope as you can shoot over others in front of you while your waiting for certain locations if its real busy.


Last edited by Dlanor Sekao; 04-11-2015 at 11:29 PM.
04-12-2015, 06:55 AM   #5
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I am of the opinion that more gear is less useful than versatile gear on a big trip.

Are you taking both bodies with you for backup or in order to have both ready to use or to loan a body to someone else in the group?
How much time, be realistic, will your group let you have to move around and get the shot? Will you have time for lens changes?
Why do you want the 55 with you, that might help us advise you.

Last edited by UncleVanya; 04-12-2015 at 07:27 AM.
04-12-2015, 07:22 AM   #6
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Covered Yellowstone, Zion and Mount Rushmore quite well with a DA 16-45mm on one body and a DA 50 -200mm on another body. These were backed up with a FA 24-90mm and a FA 35mm and FA135mm.
04-12-2015, 07:47 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Besta Quote

K5 and K-01 (I definitely take both cameras to the trip)
DA 15, 21, 35, 40, 70 (old version)
FA 31
DA* 55 (prefer to take it for the trip)
Tamron 90mm
DA 10-17, 12-24, 18-55, 50-135
DA*300 + 1.4x HD TC
You have quite an arsenal of lenses, I would have a hard time choosing too, especially with the variety of destinations. Yellowstone and Mt Rushmore are your only destinations that I have visited. Your 300 and TC are a must for Yellowstone unless you don't want to take wildlife photos, but there is a lot of other wonders to photograph too. You'll need wide angles to do justice to some of the geological attractions. The 15 and 21 would be particularly useful, but maybe your two wide zooms plus the 50-135 would be more practical. For me the 300, TC and those three zooms (or 15, 21, and 50-135) would be as light as I would travel.

04-12-2015, 09:02 AM   #8
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12-24, 35, 50-135, 300, TC 1.4x covers everything. But is it necessary, I don't know.
04-12-2015, 10:25 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone. I usually use both cameras to avoid any lens changing and my most favorite combination is K5 with 15mm and K-01 with 55mm or 31mm. 21/35/40/70/90/12-24/50-135 are less used. I have never used 18-55mm. 10-17mm sometimes have a space in my bag as it's quite fun with it.

Yes, with a variety of destinations and events, it's quite difficult for me to pick a set of gears. I haven't used 50-135mm much lately but may be it's time to do so. I will take the 300mm+1.4TC for Yellowstone definitely. WR and weight are of concerns. I am leaning toward 15, 31, 50-135, and 300mm so at least I have a fast prime with me.

Last edited by Besta; 04-12-2015 at 10:33 AM.
04-12-2015, 11:14 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Besta Quote
Thanks everyone. I usually use both cameras to avoid any lens changing and my most favorite combination is K5 with 15mm and K-01 with 55mm or 31mm. 21/35/40/70/90/12-24/50-135 are less used. I have never used 18-55mm. 10-17mm sometimes have a space in my bag as it's quite fun with it.

Yes, with a variety of destinations and events, it's quite difficult for me to pick a set of gears. I haven't used 50-135mm much lately but may be it's time to do so. I will take the 300mm+1.4TC for Yellowstone definitely. WR and weight are of concerns. I am leaning toward 15, 31, 50-135, and 300mm so at least I have a fast prime with me.
To be honest that combo had occurred to me and fits my own style as well. I love my 15.
04-12-2015, 12:50 PM   #11
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For Antelope Canyon you will need reservations. Get them NOW!! - if you don't have them already. Also they have a photography tour where the guides show you the best shots and keep the rest of the tourists out of your shots. A tripod would be a very good idea, along with an external shutter release. It is dusty in the canyon, so you will not want to be changing lenses. You will want wide, so the 12-24 is it, and perhaps the 10-17.

Also, you can ONLY go on a tour. An unaccompanied group went into the canyon and were washed away by a flash flood, so its weather conditions permitting.

Also, on the photo tour, everyone needs a camera for that group.

You will be staying in Page, AZ. As others have said Horseshoe Bend is about 30 minutes away. Perfect for either a sunrise or sunset.


Last edited by interested_observer; 04-12-2015 at 01:00 PM.
04-12-2015, 02:15 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Besta Quote
Yes, with a variety of destinations and events, it's quite difficult for me to pick a set of gears. I haven't used 50-135mm much lately but may be it's time to do so. I will take the 300mm+1.4TC for Yellowstone definitely. WR and weight are of concerns. I am leaning toward 15, 31, 50-135, and 300mm so at least I have a fast prime with me.
given that your bodies are both only 16mp(?), i would make sure that the tripod had a rotating head on it that has markers, so that you can easily do vertical stitching with raw files... it'll work with all lenses.

15 to 31 leaves a pretty big hole for aps-c landscape shooting... i usually shoot these places at 28-35mm on ff.

if the weather cooperates, it should be an awesome trip.
04-12-2015, 02:25 PM   #13
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take it all but mostly use yer phone!
04-12-2015, 04:48 PM   #14
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Here is some additional, up to date information regarding Page, AZ and Antelope.

You will need to go with a photographic tour if you want something other than grab shots from a P&S or cell phone. You can book a tour at Lower Antelope. There are two options available, one tour operated by the Navajo nation and the other by an independent Navajo licensed operator. Either one works and in my experience they tend to co-mingle inside the canyon. The incident with the French tourists happened about 15 years ago and since that time, safety measures inside the canyon have been tightened and the Navajo nation tightly controls the tours. Don't bother to book a tour in advance or from one of the agencies in Page. They'll simply charge you additional to transport you out to the canyons, about five minutes east of Page. Drive yourself out and book on site. You can drive out early in the day and book tours for later in the day, midday recommended for maximum light. The beam of light, dust in the beam effect takes place at Upper Antelope. Both Upper and Lower are interesting. One entry fee does not get you both canyons, each is a separate fee. The fee does get you entry into another Navajo controlled slot canyon a mile or south south of the Horseshoe Bend overlook, where you can wander and shoot at will without a guide. It isn't as interesting as Upper or Lower, but still worthwhile, especially the Golden Wall section towards sunset.

Horsehoe Bend is about five minutes south of Page. The hike out to the overlook is about 15 minutes from the parking lot. You'll need every bit of a 14mm on a cropped sensor camera to take it all in. A 10mm on a cropped sensor is really the best choice.

If you are going to spend two days in Page, additional options include a Lake Powell boat tour as well as an area with interesting hoodoo formations near the Paria Ranger Station west of Page. I would suggest you consider picking up a copy of Laurent Martres' guidebooks for Utah and Arizona for additional shooting options to numerous to try and cover here.
04-12-2015, 05:10 PM   #15
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As I've just spent the afternoon in Yellowstone, I can offer some of my preferences. The 15, 31, 50-135, and 300 + 1.4 TC. If you had the 16-50 I'd recommend that instead of the 15 and 31. Just my $0.02.
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