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12-25-2015, 12:14 PM   #1
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Travelling to Qatar - which lenses?

In about a month I am going to Qatar and the UAE and (possibly) Oman and am wondering which lenses to take.

I really like shooting primes and would love to take my 15 plus the three amigos, but am concerned about the superfine dust over there which apparently gets into everything. Any lens changing will be done quickly and carefully indoors.

Does anyone have experience shooting in that area?

Naturally, I'd hate to wreck these beautiful lenses.

Need I be concerned?

Would my 20-40 and 50-135 with their better sealing be more suitable for this environment?


Last edited by snpsht; 12-25-2015 at 12:19 PM. Reason: typo correction
12-25-2015, 02:10 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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I went to the UAE in 1996 and Bahrain in 1998 to attend Arabian horse conferences. We went out into the desert to see some of the horses. The camera I took back then was a film one recommended by another horse friend for both the beautiful lens it had (Zeiss) and the weathersealing. A Yashica T4. Photos turned out well and no issues with any dust getting into it--at least no issues even years later (the last time I used that camera). But there was plenty of dust being kicked up all the time, so I would go with lenses with the better sealing and would use a filter to protect the lenses.
12-25-2015, 03:43 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I've been to that part of the world several times, and I'm still cleaning the dust out of my gear. Weather-sealed is a must if you are going to be out and about in the desert.

If you have a good UV or other protective filter, I recommend that as well, because that dust is both grittily abrasive and it coats every surface and you won't notice it right away.
I also recommend a CP filter and /or a several stop ND filter, because even in the winter, the light in the desert is very bright.


A blower/brush combo is best, because that dust turns to mud if it gets wet, and that's even harder to clean. You would be absolutely amazed to see where that dust can get to in the lightest of breezes. At the end of the day, extend the zooms all the way out and clean the barrels from top to bottom, use a brush to get into the cracks and crevices along the aperture ring, clean around the area where the lens and body meet before swapping out lenses whenever possible.

In the cities, you don't have to be as concerned, unless a storm kicks up. If a dust storm does come up, it's a great opportunity for photos, but you will need to clean up afterwards.

I recommend a CP filter and /or a several stop ND filter, because even in the winter, the light in the desert is very bright.


Enjoy, I haven't been to the ME in over 5 years, but I always enjoy visiting there. Those countries have changed so much in 20 years it's hard to believe.
I look forward to seeing your picture.

Last edited by robgski; 12-26-2015 at 06:16 AM. Reason: One more statement
12-25-2015, 04:03 PM - 1 Like   #4
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I've worked in Deserts before - dust proofing is a must and you will need a filter to protect the front element or you could end up scratching the lens when you try to clean it
robgski is totally correct.
Don't skimp on the filter, buy a really tough coated one to resist sand scratching it.

12-26-2015, 05:50 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by snpsht Quote
Would my 20-40 and 50-135 with their better sealing be more suitable for this environment?
Probably. Both are WR. And the zoom means you won't have to switch them as often. Yes, the other lenses you mentioned are great and have special character, but these are far from bad lenses. They should still allow you to take stunning, sharp, contrasty photos. You can have the 15mm with you in the camera bag in a ziplock for those wonderful UWA photos, but be careful with it. While wind can carry dust into your socks and pockets, the dust is probably not everywhere all across the country in every room, so you can find places where the primes will be okay. It has been said many times before - its too bad Pentax doesn't make more WR primes.
And good advice with the filters. These two lenses unfortunately have different filter thread diameters. But still, dust and wind..

Oh, one more thing. I think I read a thread before.. someone used WR lenses, but some dust particles still got between the distance scales and the lens (Weather Resistant isn't made for sand resistance, there is a difference). Don't remember where they were traveling, dust is not the same in all deserts. So carefully inspect the lenses every once in a while. Maybe bring a rocket blower to get particles out.

Sounds like you are looking forward to a great trip. Post some photos when you get back
12-26-2015, 12:40 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies and excellent advice, especially regarding cleaning and care.

The WRs will come - I have CPLs for and will buy UVs, plus 15mm in a ziplock with a UV. Plus blowers and brushes. Or maybe I'll just take the 18-135 with filters and not change lenses at all - haven't used it for a while so will take it for a walk before deciding. Favourite primes can stay home for this trip.

I'll take the K-3 that fell into the river a couple of years ago, and so is my back up body, and will have it cleaned and serviced once home (it is overdue already).

Yes, I am excited as I have not been to a ME county before, and want to see some ancient buildings and wander round the souks. Friends who have been living in Doha for a couple of years are really enjoying it, saying it is a fascinating and beautiful place... unfortunately they are not photographers so I haven't seen many pics, but they willl be very good guides.

Thanks again!
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