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02-18-2016, 10:47 PM   #1
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Recommend a Lens - Single Lens / Small Travel Kit

I'm planning what may be up to a month long trip to Nova Scotia and points in-between there and Kansas in June of this year. This is going to be done via motorcycle so space is at a premium and I need gear that can take a little vibration. I'll work to keep the vibes under control but it seems worth noting.

Assuming it actually happens (getting enough time off without putting my job on the line may be an issue...). I've been on some amazing trips with Pentax DSLR's before and I've regretted it when I went back to my cheap P&S Canon. So I'm looking for a do-all lens. Here's what equipment I have in my collection already;

K-5 II
18-135WR
M 50 f1.4
Kalt 28 f2.8 (think not amazing not horrible 28mm from the late-70's)
some other junk we won't be considering

Now one way to go is to just grab the 18-135 and run with it. Might be what I end up doing. But what else is out there that I should consider? I'm okay with shopping used and my budget is maybe $500USD. The 20-40Ltd looks nice and it's small but that zoom range is limited. 16-85 & sell the 18-135? I could see a pair of small primes but I am not sure what to pair between what I've got and what makes a good travel kit. Maybe the 15mm Ltd + 35mm f2.4?

I've got time to assemble this kit and would be curious what gets recommended.

02-18-2016, 10:55 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
16-85 & sell the 18-135?
This is what I'd do. It's a very versatile all-in-one lens and perfect if you prioritize image quality.

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02-18-2016, 11:31 PM   #3
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The DA*16-50 F2.8 is my go-to motorcycle travel zoom as the F2.8 is valuable during the golden hour. But the added reach of the 16-85 in a marginally smaller package looks very attractive. A 15+35 prime pairing would be a nice alternative as well, but I tend to favor zooms on the road.

Nova Scotia to Kansas sounds epic! Try to get up to Meat Cove on Cape Breton Island. It's like being at the end of the world.
02-18-2016, 11:55 PM   #4
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I think the 18-135mm would be fine (it's what I use), and from all accounts the 16-85 will get you a bit wider and a bit better across-the-frame quality but the loss at the long end. For my trips like this, I find that I want wider rather than longer. I recently got the DA 10-17 FE, and it would do the job. (It's fisheye at the 10mm end but nearly rectilinear at 15-17mm, and the distortion is correctable or not really noticeable.) Even at 17mm, it would be wider than the 16-85, so those two would make a good pair. The DA 10-17 FE can be found for under $300, and it's quite small, so it travels well. (HERE is an album of a family trip to Puerto Rico all with the DA 10-17 FE and the 18-135.)

02-19-2016, 02:45 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
I've got time to assemble this kit and would be curious what gets recommended.
I travel a lot (by aircraft, around NZ and the rest of the world) and brought into Pentax for small, light and WR a few years ago. The crucial determinant is do you need WR lenses - because if you do that limits/alters the selection. For me, because I am often only in a place for one or two days - I can't wait for weather to clear, so WR is important to me and has guided my lens selection for travel.

I used to take a DA*16-50 and DA 55-300 as 2 zooms to cover a very wide range of focal lengths. I have a Crumpler 5 bag that I use as a day bag for walking about, and I can fit the K-3, 2 zooms and one small prime in the bag. Not too heavy with that combo, and I can walk around comfortably all day with that.

I have since sold the DA*16-50 and now take a HD DA 20-40 Limited (which is still WR) and the HD DA 55-300 (also WR). The 20-40 is f2.8 at the wide end, same as the 16-50, and I have found with the K-3 that I have enough ISO headroom to be comfortable with f4 even at dusk if I want 40mm FL. The big advantage of the 20-40 is it is a lot smaller and lighter than the 16-50.

If I think I want wider than 20mm, then I put the DA 15mm Limited in the bag for the day. If I think I am going to be making images of people then the DA 70mm Limited. Both small and light as the prime to add to the 2 zooms.

That is of course a 3 lens kit, where you were talking about one or two lenses, but that is where i have got to and it works well for me.

All the best with your decisions, and have a great trip

Ross
02-19-2016, 05:26 AM   #6
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I would look for a clean, second-hand 15mm. Take that and the 18-135. Another alternative, a Sigma 10~20, which can be obtained at bargain prices, even new. The original version has IQ as good, possibly better than the second version. The 15mm is really tiny, the 10~20 is similar in length to the 18~135 but bigger around. Although larger, the 10~20 plus 18~135 would still make a very compact, versatile pair that should cover everything except wildlife.
02-19-2016, 06:42 AM - 1 Like   #7
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You can buy a brand new DA 10-17 for around $300, it will complement your 18-135 nicely. A two lens solution that gets you wider than 18mm without sacrificing 85+mm.
02-19-2016, 06:47 AM   #8
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The 18-135 is a good single-lens solution. Being WR gives you a bit of confidence as well.

The 10-17 is an interesting suggestion, it's very different and very fun.

A 35mm f2.4 is another possibility if you want to do some lower light images or play with a prime.

02-19-2016, 07:21 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
Maybe the 15mm Ltd + 35mm f2.4?
Yes, because I'm not fan of the existing Trans-standard Zoom.

or a simple 21mm + 70mm (my favorite small duo)

or the excellent trio 15mm + 35mm + 70mm.

I can put this trio with a K-5II in a simple bag ( Exterior Dimensions - 8" x 5" x 9" ) : http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BPZD1KU?keywords=tamrac%206z&qid=1455891...=sr_1_1&sr=8-1
02-19-2016, 07:44 AM   #10
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A lot of good suggestions. I hadn't expected the 10-70 to creep into the list. The 16-85 or the 18-135 I already own seem like great lenses, and I wouldn't mind taking a step up in image quality that exists at some focal lengths between these two lenses, but I do think about the low-light aspects.

My target for space occupied by the camera kit is the same as what my Lowepro Rezo 170 will hold. I figured I could get a couple small primes in there with the K-5 (as I've done this before, one mounted & one loose) but I can't see carrying a third prime or a pair of lenses like the 10-17 & 18-135. What I could probably justify is the grabbing of a 15Ltd and keeping that in the bag with the 18-135.

The WR aspect is important as I'll be staying in a tent part of the time so lots of chances for nature to test the weather resistance of my kit. Within reason, of course; if it's looking stormy, I've got no problem with a hotel.

johnmflores, my route as planned today is basically Wichita to Toronto to Quebec City and eventually Newfoundland and stay in or near St. John's. Then back through Maine, maybe NYC, Philly, then Washington DC. Then back to Wichita. I did something kind of like this a year and a half ago and want to get out again. I really want this to happen; if I do get this all together I'll have to create a thread about the ride somewhere and I'll toss a link to it here.
02-19-2016, 07:51 AM   #11
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I think you'll be happy with and glad of the 15mm. I don't see much point in getting a prime that falls within the range of the 18~135 just for the sake of a wider aperture in low-light and possible greater IQ under some circumstances (but you'll never see a difference near mid-frame). The 15mm is tiny. If it doesn't go in your camera bag, with caps it will easily go in a pocket. There are excellent sale prices at B&H and Adorama for this lens new, even better bargains for good used copies. Check the MARKETPLACE here on PF.
02-19-2016, 07:52 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by chrisfer Quote
Yes, because I'm not fan of the existing Trans-standard Zoom.

or a simple 21mm + 70mm (my favorite small duo)

or the excellent trio 15mm + 35mm + 70mm.

I can put this trio with a K-5II in a simple bag ( Exterior Dimensions - 8" x 5" x 9" ) : http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BPZD1KU?keywords=tamrac%206z&qid=1455891...=sr_1_1&sr=8-1
I'd almost consider the 15mm, my 28mm, and then my 50mm. When I've been out walking with the 50 I don't seem to really miss having something longer. 70's good but doesn't seem like a walk-about lens and the 50 f1.4 seems great for people shots. There's also the cost of getting a good 15mm and a good 70mm; looks like average pricing for these the older smc versions (which I'm good with, especially on the 15) would run closer to $600?
02-19-2016, 08:11 AM   #13
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FYI: B&H is currently asking $400 for the 15mm new, black or chrome finish.
02-19-2016, 09:01 AM   #14
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Highly personal, nevertheless my choice would be:
-- 28mm lens and extension tube or 2x TC for the occasional close up for cropped Pentax dslr,
-- the #4 wide toy lens if it's only my Q,
-- or 35mm w/ 35mm film

Last edited by dms; 02-19-2016 at 09:08 AM.
02-19-2016, 09:01 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
I think you'll be happy with and glad of the 15mm. I don't see much point in getting a prime that falls within the range of the 18~135 just for the sake of a wider aperture in low-light and possible greater IQ under some circumstances (but you'll never see a difference near mid-frame). The 15mm is tiny. If it doesn't go in your camera bag, with caps it will easily go in a pocket. There are excellent sale prices at B&H and Adorama for this lens new, even better bargains for good used copies. Check the MARKETPLACE here on PF.
This seems like a good solution. I had actually penciled out a lens collection roadmap for myself and the 15Ltd was already on it. I'd shop for an smc version and not the HD as I prefer the starbursts from the smc version.

Still curious what else folks end up recommending. I really appreciate all of the good input!
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