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06-18-2008, 04:57 AM   #1
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Rethinking my holiday kit

I'm back from holiday with 1111 images (yes, I was deleting as I went so there were even more actuations) of Stonehenge, Corfe Castle, Durlston Head, Durdle Door and my relative's garden, which is pretty astounding: damsel flies, bees, birds and lots of flowers.

Packing for this trip was a nightmare since I had no idea which lenses I should take. This was the first holiday since getting my Pentax kit and I was flying discount airline with a 10kg carry-on allowance that had to do me for all my belongings. I kept the camera and lens in a small "man bag" and put all the other lenses and equipment into my Crumpler, which itself was packed into a small rolling suitcase. Since I was not questioned on the man bag (it's pretty invisible) this worked out fine.

Choosing lenses was difficult. In the end I took my new Sigma 70-300 APO which I had bought specifically for the trip so I had some tele end. The DA 16-45mm provided the wide end and Cosina 100mm f/3.5 got me much-needed macro. Finally, for low light and general goodness I packed the FA 43 Limited. I did not take a flash but did have the usual batteries, cards, blower, etc. A monopod I just bought I had shipped to my destination, ready for use.

I am going to have to examine the images more closely but I certainly know this kit is too much for future trips. One day consisted of Corfe Castle plus a long (4 mile?) walk. I needed the monopod for multiple exposure shots of the Castle and was then burdened with it for the walk. This almost killed me, perhaps because I am not in the best shape. Then again, six hours on your feet, trudging up and down hills... maybe would have been a lot for many people.

A second inconvenience was that I found myself switching between the macro lens and either the wide or tele zoom (generally the former) all the time. I'd have the DA16-45 on the camera for some nice castle shots and then see a bug on a plant... switch to the macro. This went on all day.

Additionally I am not sure how I feel about the Sigma 70-300. At the top end it's too soft for me, so I had to keep ensuring it was at no more than 200mm. Actually I don't find the last 100mm a big deal anyway. The difference between 70 and 200 mm is vast, but between 200 and 300mm not so.

Also the macro switch was annoying since to get it out of that mode is a bit of a fiddle. And for real macro I had to switch to my Cosina 100mm anyway.

So... what to do before next time?

I can now see why people like an all-in-one utility mega-zoom. But, this is not going to have the quality I like (an example of which is the DA16-45). And I do not think I will get 1:2 macro either.

Maybe I need to buy another body and have one light camera dedicated to the Cosina macro. The second body will take one of the zooms. But then that's actually more weight to carry, even though it will be more convenient.

As a third option I could just forget the tele zoom entirely and carry the smaller Vivi tele adaptor for the few times I care about 200mm. But though small it's actually quite weighty and a lens change in the field with it is more complicated.

Either way a proper backpack with loop for the monopod would ease the burden. There is no way one can hike for six hours carrying a monopod in hand with kit in a shoulder bag. It's too uncomfortable.

Any suggestions or similar stories?

06-18-2008, 05:04 AM   #2
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First I attached a strap to my monopod and tripods as well. So I can carry them head down, comfortably over my shoulder. As for lenses I use a backpack style bag and I don't mind carrying what I want to have with me. But the results from the 18-250's (Pentax and Tamron) seem to be the solution you might want. They are great lenses from the images we've seen. Then you are only going to carry 2 lenses when travelling. That also migh allow for a second body so there are no lens changes at all.
06-18-2008, 05:10 AM   #3
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As you were writing that I was reading the thread Which Utili-Zoom?.

I forgot to mention in all this that I have a repetitive strain injury so pressure on my shoulders is definitely a bad thing for me. Why I didn't buy a good back-pack before the trip...

Any solution will need to wait ages since I have no more cash for this photography venture. But I thought I'd gather info while the experience was fresh in my mind.
06-18-2008, 05:33 AM   #4
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Well then depending on the length of the folded monopod you could hook it to a belt. Take a carabiner and attach it to the head of the monopod with a short lanyard. You can then just hook it to a belt loop for carrying. You might also consider an UltraPod which is pocket sized and super light. Then you can set the camera up on almost anything for a steady shot.

The lens recomendation would remain the same and selling the Sigma would offset the cost to some degree.

06-18-2008, 06:23 AM   #5
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Sounds to me that your next purchase should be a pack mule.

All kidding aside, I always carry more than I use. I went on a trip at the beginning of the month and took several lenses long in a backpack. Ended up using my DA 16-45 almost 90 percent of the time.

Good luck in your quest.
06-18-2008, 06:25 AM   #6
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Hi Robin

There's always the fourth option. Simply hire a professional photographer and then get them to send you all the pictures.......LOL ! Being serious for a moment, although the close focussing macro mode on the Tamron 18-250mm is not true 1:1, it's think it's fairly acceptable as my photograph in the link below illustrates:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/136007-post15.html

FWIW, my significant other half and I are shortly undertaking a much anticipated 4 month round-the-world trip. Baggage restrictions notwithstanding, I've cut down my outfit to a K10D body with Tamron 18-250mm attached, a second K10D body complete with Sigma 10-20mm, a brilliant new lightweight *Giottos MTL9351 tripod (2.1 Kg) & Metz 48 AF-1 flashgun, plus the inevitable spare LIon batteries + charger and obviously plenty of SD cards etc ! All my wife is taking along is a neat little C***n A630 P&S, which fortunately uses the same SD cards (ah, nothing like sharing one's possessions !)......that's it....Period !! Everything packs into a ☺Lowepro Nova 3 AW bag apart from the tripod, which I always wrap in a protective towel and then place safely in the middle of our suitcase.

Best regards
Richard

*Giottos: MTL Tripods

They also sell an even lighter MTL8351 carbon fibre model (1.6 Kg !), but it's well over twice the price.....ouch !

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/123674-post2.html

Last edited by Confused; 06-18-2008 at 09:18 AM.
06-18-2008, 06:37 AM   #7
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Try a 2 or 3 lens combo. Stick to the DA16-45, keep the 100mm macro or get a compact tele zoom like the DA50-200 and/or keep a fast prime. Dump the monopod, get a tabletop tripod instead.
06-18-2008, 06:38 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote

Any suggestions or similar stories?
Super Takumar 28mm 3.5f.
Super Takumar 55mm 1.8f or similar around 50ish.
Super Takumar 135mm 3.5f.

All you need and they all fick into a small pocket.

06-18-2008, 06:43 AM   #9
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DA21mm, DA35mm Macro, FA77mm. all pretty small by comparison.

Or just take the 35mm Macro Limited
06-18-2008, 10:20 AM   #10
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decide on the type of photos you want to take

Hands down the best photos I've ever taken when travelling were when I went hiking to Norway for a month. I was wild camping and did not want much weight so I took only my old Super A and a 28mm lens. I think having the one lens forced me to be more creative and not to bother with photos that would not work well with the focal length. I enjoyed not feeling like I had to photograph "everything".

I'd either go for a superzoom or be more focused in what sort of photos you want to take. Look at what focal lengths you used the most on your trip from the EXIF data.

I don't really own any zooms but have to admit I'm tempted by the 18-250mm. I think maybe it could be a good learning tool.

For a lot of travel I think the 12-24mm and DA 70mm would probably be a nice combo but I can't afford either right now!
06-18-2008, 10:38 AM   #11
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As suggested above, try 3 lens combo. I know it's hard to choose but it is possible. When I usualy go for nature walk I only take 28-200 if it's propper photo walk then it gets interresting. For my K100 I carry: Tamron 28-200, Sigma 10-20 and Hoya 135 f2.8. For my girlfirend's K100 I carry: Tamron 70-300, Sigma 105 macro, and DA18-55. Just in case I would be in pano mood and because it's very "pocketable" DA40 always finds it's way into the bag. To all this I add tripod (sometimes 2 - big one and macro one) 1l of some lemonade, apples, bisquits....
So as you can see, my girlfriend has her private pack mule
But what I wanted to say, 3 lenses is all you need, think what situation you'll be likely to encounter and try to buy lenses accordingly...
06-18-2008, 10:44 AM   #12
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I'm doing an experiment

In three weeks i'm taking a two-week trip to the U.S. Atlantic Coast. We'll be visiting both Acadia and Shenandoah National Parks, as well as Boston, NYC, D.C., Philly. My kit is a K10D, DA 12-24, DA 35, DA 70. When I come back I can let you know how that kit works on a trip.

Looking at your questions/kit, I'd suggest maybe trade the DA 35 Macro for both the Cosina and the FA 43. While the 35 is more difficult to use for bug shots as a macro than the 100mm Cosina, I think you have to make certain sacrifices when you travel. You'll lose a stop of speed from the 43, lose the easier working macro range from the Cosina, but have excellent IQ and be dang close to the same usefullness of both of those lenses in one small package.

On the telezoom, I'm looking at the Tamron 70-300, or the DA 55-300, but only when I expect to shoot wildlife. I'm not interested in taking either on this trip as the wildlife opportunities will be few, and I don't want the extra weight. In fact, I ordered the Joby Gorillapod SLR-Zoom so I don't have to take my regular tripod.

I think, ultimately, you either take a heavy kit so you're prepared for EVERYTHING, or you resign yourself to the idea that you can't get (or don't need) every possible photo opportunity that comes up and take a compromised, light, versatile kit.


Todd
06-18-2008, 11:39 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaxkat Quote
Hands down the best photos I've ever taken when travelling were when I went hiking to Norway for a month. I was wild camping and did not want much weight so I took only my old Super A and a 28mm lens. I think having the one lens forced me to be more creative and not to bother with photos that would not work well with the focal length. I enjoyed not feeling like I had to photograph "everything".

I'd either go for a superzoom or be more focused in what sort of photos you want to take. Look at what focal lengths you used the most on your trip from the EXIF data.

I don't really own any zooms but have to admit I'm tempted by the 18-250mm. I think maybe it could be a good learning tool.

For a lot of travel I think the 12-24mm and DA 70mm would probably be a nice combo but I can't afford either right now!
Top notch advice. I took my 50mm on a camping trip & totally understand what you mean. I did not feel like I had to photograph everything around me because I knew I'd be limited by the lens. I just enjoyed the time with friends & shot only when it made sense to do so with the 50mm.
06-18-2008, 08:59 PM   #14
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I was also tripping around recently. I took the Sig 24mm f1.8 & Pentax DFA 100mm f2.8 on the K20D (plus Sig 135-400). My wife used the DS & Sig 18-125.

95% of my shots were split between the 24mm & 100mm. I tried the 18-125 for a day, but it is soft when pixel peeped to 100%.

The Pentax 100mm was great and did not really look for any more reach than that... The Sig 24mm was also well used, but the lens flare/sun spots are a factor to be considered when using this lens, as is its size. So much so that I am actively looking at other alternatives.
I am leaning towards the 31ltd, because it will give me quality, speed and I believe it is not all that big. Others I will be seeking out are the DA 35mm FA 50mm f2.8 and the FA 43 ltd.
Cheers.
06-19-2008, 03:15 AM   #15
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Instead of the monopod, have a look at some of the walking poles. There are several models that act as a standard walking pole, and flip the cap off the top and it becomes a monopod. That could assist both of your problems - your walking "out-of-condition-ness" and your need for a monopod.

The local camping and outdoor shop should carry a range of these walking poles, including brands like Loki, Black Diamond, and many others. I use a single pole for general hiking, but in really rough country (and I mean REALLY rough) I use two poles so I become a virtual 4-wheel drive unit! My LowePro Slingshot goes on my back

Mine are Loki poles - can't remember the model numbers but that would be irrelevant now anyway - I bought them years ago, and all the models have changed since then. Mine have the monopod camera fitting on the top, covered by a plastic cap which screws on and off.

Just a suggestion. And a do-it-all lens, such as a superzoom (mine is the Tamron 18-250) may be all you need.
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