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03-06-2016, 12:13 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 + HD55-300 for Kenya/Safari

Hello everybody.

Few month ago I was wondering what tele to take/buy. This is for a safari in Kenya, maybe also Tanzanie. This is also to have zoom because depanding on the occasion this is just much more conveniant.

Key criterias:
- I don't want to spend too much. Likely that I'll not do safari every year and for comon use there no much need for a long teles
- I don't want heavy gear. For the safari it would be ok, even if a bit cumbersome, but this would mean I would never use the gear again... i'am selling FA*24 because it is too big for what it bring. So no huge/heavy lenses for me.

So here we go, after much thinking it look like my best bet is a 55-300 for reach, taking picture of the wildlife. There the issue of it being slow, but when you think about it, it is f/4.5 until 190mm so no much slower than a 60-250... and when you really need the reach, well, you get f/5.8... or f/8 and 300mm if light permit.

For landscapes and near shoots as the widlife can be quite near at time, I need something that cover WA too. I want it not too big neither. Look like the tamron does it just fine. Smaller/lighter than the sigma, and quite innexpensive, with also good reviews. It would also help on the occasion for 1 or 2 shots when the light is really lacking. I think this could be usefull in other occasions. Even shooting, indoor...

I get the impression it would be hard to get a better compromize. Anything higher quality would be much heavier and potentially quite expensive.

I also expect that'll great shoots, and if not it will be because me as a photographer fail or the guide doesn't bring us to wildlife rather than the gear limitation. I'll miss some opportunity in low light sure but the trip is not only taking picture neither but living the experience....

I will later on decide what prime I'll bring too. I don't know yet. Maybe DA15 and FA77... eventually F135...

Nothing stupid I miss?


Last edited by Nicolas06; 03-06-2016 at 01:14 PM.
03-06-2016, 12:47 PM   #2
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Sounds like a good plan to me. That's about as light as you're going to get for what you want.
03-06-2016, 12:54 PM   #3
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Hi!

There is a LOT of light on a sunny day. So the 55-300 is fast enough especially if the car is moving slow. And mostly long enough too. Do not forget the hood.
Can you take a second body for the DA15? Elephants and giraffes are huge and can be really close.

My best pics came with the Kx/F35-105 when visiting east Tsavo. Due to better camera settings, better hood and better hands. My wifes.

Seb
03-06-2016, 01:09 PM   #4
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Tamron 17-50 with HD DA 55-300 is the budget two lens set for pentax for good results. That's what i've got, and that's what i'd take if I could only take two lenses.

03-06-2016, 01:35 PM - 1 Like   #5
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It's a very good idea to buy a cheaper lens and pay yourself a trip to Kenya. For Safari , except small birds, 55-300 on apsc is long enough, versatile and light weight for large animals. No need of a very fast lens in outdoor daylight. However, don't think of cropping with this kind of lens it hardly resolve up to your K-3, but if you downsize to 14Mp, it should be fine. To get the best out of your K-3 + 55-300, you could try to frame with at least your subject at 1/3rd of the apsc frame. And... if you are on a vehicle, take a good bean bag to seat your camera and lens in. You can make a DIY bean bag, so it is cheap. When you can approach animal with a vehicle and use a beanbag, it's even better than a tripod because it damps vibrations of the lens (I compared my DA300+TC with mounted via tripod collar and seated in a large beanbag, sharpness is like night and day... with bean bag I get tack sharp photo even with TC = 630mm eq.).
03-06-2016, 01:45 PM   #6
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I guess I would be quicker to get the 18-135 and combine it with the HD 55-300. It feels like the sort of situation where weather sealing could come in handy, but I guess if you think you will need f2.8 than the Tamron is the cheapest way to go (and has excellent IQ). I just wonder about dust/rain getting into the lens/camera, that's all.

You've probably seen my photos with the 55-300 already. I own the non-sealed version. The only thing is that I feel on the long end you have to be stopped down to f7.1 get good results and that often means either slow shutter speeds, high iso, or both. Lenses like the DA *60-250 or 200/300 will be faster and therefore you won't tend to go quite so high iso.

Good luck and have fun!
03-06-2016, 01:47 PM - 2 Likes   #7
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I've been there, in Kenya and Tanzania, with (at the time) my K-5, Sigma 10-20, 35mm, 16-50 and 55-300. I only used the 35mm on one or two occasions, and I could have easily left it at home. If anything, the 55-300 was too short at times. But longer often equals heavier and more expensive. The 10-20 and 16-50 both saw use, but if I had to choose, I'd probably take the 16-50 over the 10-20, since I shot some portraits too.

One other thing. Kenya and Tanzania are countries with beautiful wildlife, but they are also very poor (especially Tanzania). When you're there, try to support projects that try to do something about that, e.g. sustainable development, education, etc. As a way to say "thank you" for the chance to take photos there, if nothing else.

One very practical way you could do this is by staying here. This is a guesthouse in Kenya and it generates income for the Mago Polytechnic school (this is a Dutch website). We stayed there for one or two nights when we weren't staying at a campsite.

Last edited by starbase218; 03-06-2016 at 03:14 PM.
03-06-2016, 01:48 PM   #8
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Sorry, double-post.


Last edited by starbase218; 03-06-2016 at 03:13 PM.
03-06-2016, 04:25 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
I guess I would be quicker to get the 18-135 and combine it with the HD 55-300. It feels like the sort of situation where weather sealing could come in handy, but I guess if you think you will need f2.8 than the Tamron is the cheapest way to go (and has excellent IQ). I just wonder about dust/rain getting into the lens/camera, that's all.
Depends on the season I guess. If it's wet of course WR is good (I love walking in the rain with the 18-135), but I don't think the seals on the 18-135 would be much help in dusty conditions. You'd need a DA* for dust resistance I think. The DA*16-50 f2.8 could replace the Tamron 17-50 - but it's heavier and a lot more expensive.

QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
You've probably seen my photos with the 55-300 already. I own the non-sealed version. The only thing is that I feel on the long end you have to be stopped down to f7.1 get good results and that often means either slow shutter speeds, high iso, or both. Lenses like the DA *60-250 or 200/300 will be faster and therefore you won't tend to go quite so high iso.
This is exactly the dilemma that lots of us have with telephoto choices.

Comparing my 55-300 with my Sigma 400 f5.6 Tele Macro, I'd say the advantage of the prime is not just reach but usability wide open or one stop down. With the 55-300 at the long end I try wherever possible to stop down to f7.1-f11 - which of course requires good light. In Australia, the light is often good, so it isn't as limiting as it would be in other places. I haven't been to East Africa, but I suspect the light is generally good too. And the advantage of compactness and light weight are great - particularly for travel. And of course the 55-300 is much cheaper than any of the alternatives. If it gets stolen or damaged it's not the end of the world.

Lately I have been experimenting with a Rogue Safari flash extender, and results so far are promising. Means I can often dial in f8 for birds in trees, which is a big help with the 55-300. It's cheap and lightweight so ideal for travel. @AdrianM (a keen birder) took one on a trip to Sth America, with great results: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/22-pentax-camera-field-accessories/256288...-extender.html I know it might not be the ideal accessory for photographing giraffes or elephants (!), but good for birds and small animals especially early morning or at dusk. Friends of mine who went to Kenya were very taken with the bird life and small animals as well as the big animals.

QuoteOriginally posted by Nicolas06 Quote
I get the impression it would be hard to get a better compromize. Anything higher quality would be much heavier and potentially quite expensive.
Sound reasoning Nicholas, if I may say so.

Last edited by Des; 03-06-2016 at 05:13 PM.
03-06-2016, 04:26 PM   #10
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Good combination, Nicholas - I've always enjoyed your pictures, looking forward to seeing some of them when you get back!
03-06-2016, 06:10 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by bassek Quote
There is a LOT of light on a sunny day. So the 55-300 is fast enough especially if the car is moving slow. And mostly long enough too.
I have to partly disagree on this. a) Animals are most active at dawn and dusk and getting up early gets you the best shots, so a faster lens would definitely be a bonus, b) in Namibia this summer I often found myself longing for more than 300 mm, and a large portion of my images are cropped, sometimes heavily.

This said, the HD 55-300 WR gave me great results, and I couldn't have afforded anything longer or faster, so the points above were moot for me
03-06-2016, 07:10 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by FantasticMrFox Quote
a) Animals are most active at dawn and dusk and getting up early gets you the best shots, so a faster lens would definitely be a bonus, b) in Namibia this summer I often found myself longing for more than 300 mm
The trouble is that there is such a long distance between stations on the AF telephoto lens line, and the fare increases dramatically.
- Next stop after the xx-300 consumer zooms (in terms of weight and bulk) is a 300mm f4 or f4.5 prime (possibly with teleconverter). The lightest of them is the F*300 f4.5 at about 880g. This is an attractive option (stellar image quality, from what I have seen), but they are not easy to find, and cost upwards of $US750. FA*300 weighs 935g; Sigma 300mm f4 tele macro 1190g; Pentax DA* 1100g. Add some grams and $$ for a decent teleconverter.
- The Tokina 80-400 ATX is about 930g. Cheap, but reviews are mixed.
- Then there is the DA*60-250 + TC - 1120g + TC. Roughly the same price bracket as the DA*300.
- Then the Tokina/Sigma/Pentax 400mm f5.6 primes, all upwards of 1100g.
- Sigma 100-300 f4 (possibly with TC) - 1440g
- Then there are the Sigma xx-400 or xx-500 zooms, starting at about 1200g (Sigma 135-400) and going up to the Bigma at about 2kg
- And the Pentax 150-450, also about 2kg.
And there are some behemoths after that, including the DA 560.

For international travel, there is a world of difference between carrying and using a 440g lens like the 55-300, and a lens that weighs 2x, 3x or 4x as much. Not to mention the cost.

Last edited by Des; 03-06-2016 at 11:08 PM.
03-06-2016, 07:33 PM   #13
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One thing about the Tamron - it is f/2.8, but its T stop is really more like 3.2, 3.3 - so it isn't quite as fast as you think it is for light transmission!
03-07-2016, 12:15 AM   #14
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Thanks everybody for the feedback !

A few precision from the remarks:
- it will be the dry season. Apparently this is a better choice as it is easier to spot the wildlife and there less mosquitoes.
- While my father will have K30 + K3, I'll have "only" a K3 so I'll have to change lens carefully... I was thinking 18-300 for that reason but it look like the lens isn't that great on the long end.
- wide apperture zooms (or prime) typically never have a T-stop matching the max apperture. DxO say 3.2-3.6 T stop for the tamron, sigma and pentax 3.1 T stop, the 55-300 go from 4.3 to 6.7 wide open. I agree this can be a bit annoying. but I don't know why one version of the tamron on Canon 760D got significantly worse (3.6) than on the Nikon 5300 (3.2). I guess a K3 is more like a 5300 sensor wise but this is not 100% reassuring.
- yeah wildlife is more active as down and dusk... Never been there but apparently this is very short time because we are arround equator, like 20minutes. Maybe I get it wrong, but as long as the Sun is still out it should be okish? Enough for f/5.8 iso 800 1/200s maybe?
03-07-2016, 12:16 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Good combination, Nicholas - I've always enjoyed your pictures, looking forward to seeing some of them when you get back!
Thanks for the kind words !


QuoteOriginally posted by VoiceOfReason Quote
Sounds like a good plan to me. That's about as light as you're going to get for what you want.
Thanks !

QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
It's a very good idea to buy a cheaper lens and pay yourself a trip to Kenya. For Safari , except small birds, 55-300 on apsc is long enough, versatile and light weight for large animals. No need of a very fast lens in outdoor daylight. However, don't think of cropping with this kind of lens it hardly resolve up to your K-3, but if you downsize to 14Mp, it should be fine. To get the best out of your K-3 + 55-300, you could try to frame with at least your subject at 1/3rd of the apsc frame. And... if you are on a vehicle, take a good bean bag to seat your camera and lens in. You can make a DIY bean bag, so it is cheap. When you can approach animal with a vehicle and use a beanbag, it's even better than a tripod because it damps vibrations of the lens (I compared my DA300+TC with mounted via tripod collar and seated in a large beanbag, sharpness is like night and day... with bean bag I get tack sharp photo even with TC = 630mm eq.).
I'll take a look at bean bags !
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