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07-03-2017, 07:22 AM   #1
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Lens Questions for Iceland Trip. New User

Hey all,

Just got myself a Pentax K-R with 18-55 DA kit lens, came with everything in the box with 5700 clicks registered. Due to a 10 day trip to Iceland where I'm hiring a car, I decided I needed a decent Camera (last time I went to Iceland I used a Nikon Bridge) now I have two months to learn how to use it!

I've had a pretty successful weekend shooting some shots after looking through the manual, the book "understanding exposure" and looking on YouTube.

I bought a Vivitar (komine) Auto Wide Angle 28mm f2.8 lens and spent the weekend shooting fully Manual but I've now returned it to the seller (long story).

Question now....

What lenses will I need with me in Iceland? Happy to shoot Manual as it fits my budget leading up to Iceland which is pretty expensive (apprentice atm). Will be doing Landscape, lowlight landscape, waterfalls and night sky photography if the weather is right, possibly Northern Lights... I'm not expecting miracles but if I can come back with workable photos I'll be happy. I took some photos this weekend from Above Tintern Abbey that I'd be happy to postcard after a little touching up in Silkypix 8...

For Iceland it would be nice to have a telephoto or long zoom for birds etc.

I've got:

18-55 DA Kit (My only Auto Focus, seems good for landscape at around 18-24?)
SMC Pentax M 50mm f1.7 (saw how its good for portrait and Stars and Bokeh)
Vivitar 28mm f2.8 Close focus Wide Angle (in the post, bought as I saw its good for Close up & bokeh and Landscape?)

I have my eye on:

Zooms:
SMC Pentax A 35-70mm (cheap on Ebay)
Vivitar 28-200mm (Kobori Built)
Clubman 80-200mm f4.5-f22 (decent reviews?)
Vivitar 135mm F2.8 Telephoto (seen good reviews... will this be good for puffings, distant objects, macro?)

Possible other option other than vivitar 28mm f2.8 CLOSE FOCUS:
Sigma Mini Wide 28mm f2.8 (Only if its better than the vivitar 28mm 2.8 CF?)
SMC Pentax M 28mm f2.8 ver 1 (28 serial) (Only if its better than the vivitar 28mm 2.8 CF?)
Tokina RMC 28mm f2.8 (Only if its better than the vivitar 28mm 2.8 CF?)
Hoya 28mm f2.8 (Only if its better than the vivitar 28mm 2.8 CF?)
Soligor (cosina) 28mm f2.8 (Only if its better than the vivitar 28mm 2.8 CF?)

Now I obviously don't need all of those I have my eye on... but if I could have one, to add to what I have for Iceland, what would it be and are the 28mm lenses listed better than my vivitar close focus f2.8?

In regards to filters, I have bought some UV and Polarised filters and hoods...

What situations are best to use the filters?

Thanks!

---------- Post added 07-03-17 at 07:30 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Rayroper Quote
Hey all,



Now I obviously don't need all of those I have my eye on... but if I could have one, to add to what I have for Iceland, what would it be and are the 28mm lenses listed better than my vivitar close focus f2.8?
What I meant here is.. if I could have one zoom/telephoto from that list what would it be? And are any of the 28mm listed better than the vivitar Komine 28mm f2.8 Close focus?

Thanks!

---------- Post added 07-03-17 at 07:46 AM ----------

Also....

I'm going early september to mid September, so it wont get dark until 8pm and the weather can be mild. When I went two years ago mid to end we had alot of sun and some rain.

Will weather proofing be an issue? How can I overcome it? I have a decent Vivitar bag with rain cover... but what about shooting with spray & a little rain?

And can anyone recommend anything wider than my kit or the 28mm I have looked at?

I'm guessing I'll need ultra wide to get the best... but my budget probably won't allow, all the lenses I posted above can be had for peanuts on ebay... When I look at wide (below 18mm) they are all over 100.

Any recommendations?

Thanks!

07-03-2017, 07:50 AM   #2
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Not on your list, but for landscape and night sky the smc Pentax-DA 12-24mm F4 would be a good choice.

For close ups a longer focal length than 28mm is desirable so as to put some distance between the lens and the subject. I'd kick the 28mm Vivitar off your list and go look for a true macro lens in the 90 - 100mm range. It could also serve as your telephoto lens and you'd be set for your trip. You may not need anything longer than 100mm unless you shoot wild life and birds.

If you go the route of manual focus lenses I'd recommend that you stick to those with an 'A' setting on the aperture ring. They support all exposure modes of the K-r. No 'A' setting and you're down to manual exposure with stop-down metering.
07-03-2017, 07:51 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rayroper Quote
18-55 DA Kit (My only Auto Focus, seems good for landscape at around 18-24?)
Its not that great, actually. The kit lens is, by definition, one of the worst lenses in the current Pentax lineup. That said, it can still be used - its not a worthless lens, but you can only expect better results if you invest in new lenses.
I don't know how light you want to go or what your budget is.

I would take something ultra wide, like Samyang 16mm (or Samyang 14mm, but make sure it is not decentered, I think the 16mm is more reliable and useful, even though it is not as affordable), DA 35mm, and something telephoto. The 135mm might be good! I have a DFA 100mm that I would definitely take with me. I think this route would be good for you, since you seem to like prime lenses. Definitely take your 50mm and 28mm, as well.

If you want to go zoom, I would actually look at something like DA 17-70mm or DA 16-85mm or DA 18-135mm. These seem to be really good 'do all' lenses, though, full disclosure, I don't own them. Zoom lenses are pretty good these days, but older zoom affordable lenses are generally not as great. I don't know much about those, but I think even replacing the 18-55mm with a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 should give you slightly better image quality and better light gathering capabilities.

Tl;dr: Take your 28mm and 50mm, think about 135mm, and something wider than 24mm. DA 21mm is great, Samyang 14mm (great for astrophoto btw), Samyang 16mm are great, DA 15mm limited is great. I've seen good results even with the Sigma 10-20mm. I think you would probably need an ultrawide in Iceland

Last edited by Na Horuk; 07-03-2017 at 08:01 AM.
07-03-2017, 08:16 AM - 1 Like   #4
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My trip:
70% DA* 16-50
25% 10-20mmm
5% DA* 50-135mm

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/michi_joel/albums/72157677774900046" title="Islandia 2016"><img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/526/31658935875_1f22257a18_z.jpg" width="640" height="426" alt="Islandia 2016"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

07-03-2017, 08:24 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ole Quote
Not on your list, but for landscape and night sky the smc Pentax-DA 12-24mm F4 would be a good choice.

For close ups a longer focal length than 28mm is desirable so as to put some distance between the lens and the subject. I'd kick the 28mm Vivitar off your list and go look for a true macro lens in the 90 - 100mm range. It could also serve as your telephoto lens and you'd be set for your trip. You may not need anything longer than 100mm unless you shoot wild life and birds.

If you go the route of manual focus lenses I'd recommend that you stick to those with an 'A' setting on the aperture ring. They support all exposure modes of the K-r. No 'A' setting and you're down to manual exposure with stop-down metering.
Looking at the prices on the bay for the 12-24 they start at about 300-400... I'd love to but its totally out of my budget. The lenses I mentioned are all less than 50, some even as low as 10, trying to get a basic kit together that will allow me to learn to use it and get decent pics, hence why I'm leaning towards older manual lenses in good condition...

That makes sense about the 28mm, I got the vivitar 28mm close focus as I saw that its ok for landscape and street photography right down to fairly close up stuff & bokeh and only cost 10 in great condition

But I will definately look at 90-100mm, so you mean that 90-100m would be best for focusing on small/close objects over the 28mm close focus?

Thanks

QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Its not that great, actually. The kit lens is, by definition, one of the worst lenses in the current Pentax lineup. That said, it can still be used - its not a worthless lens, but you can only expect better results if you invest in new lenses.
I don't know how light you want to go or what your budget is.

I would take something ultra wide, like Samyang 16mm (or Samyang 14mm, but make sure it is not decentered, I think the 16mm is more reliable and useful, even though it is not as affordable), DA 35mm, and something telephoto. The 135mm might be good! I have a DFA 100mm that I would definitely take with me. I think this route would be good for you, since you seem to like prime lenses. Definitely take your 50mm and 28mm, as well.

If you want to go zoom, I would actually look at something like DA 17-70mm or DA 16-85mm or DA 18-135mm. These seem to be really good 'do all' lenses, though, full disclosure, I don't own them. Zoom lenses are pretty good these days, but older zoom affordable lenses are generally not as great. I don't know much about those, but I think even replacing the 18-55mm with a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 should give you slightly better image quality and better light gathering capabilities.

Tl;dr: Take your 28mm and 50mm, think about 135mm, and something wider than 24mm. DA 21mm is great, Samyang 14mm (great for astrophoto btw), Samyang 16mm are great, DA 15mm limited is great. I've seen good results even with the Sigma 10-20mm. I think you would probably need an ultrawide in Iceland
Should I sell the Kit lens on then? or leave it at home? decisions decisions. I did notice I prefered the colours from the vivitar when shooting the same object.

Budget for this last lens is pretty small about 60 max for now, next year I can get something better and the year after when I qualify from my Engineering Apprenticeship I'll be able to splash out, for now I'm looking at ebay auctions.

I think I'll have the same problem with the 16mm & 14mm samyang being 100's on ebay, 300+.

The Vivitar f2.8 135mm Prime I mentioned is so cheap it would be rude not to buy it especially seeing the reviews on here being decent, think you might have pursuaded me on that...

So it looks like I'll be taking my 50mm f.17 Pentax M prime, a variation of the 28mm f2.8 Prime (got the vivitar komine close focus model atm but I could be swayed to replace it with a better 28mm if there is one?) and possibly the 135mm telephoto.

The Zoom recommendations sound great! I'd need to see if any bargains can be had for those on ebay?

I'd love to buy something Wide if anyone knows of any old gems that are cheap to buy?

Thanks for the help guys!
07-03-2017, 08:31 AM   #6
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The DA 16-45 would probably not break the budget the way a 17-70 or 16-85 would...but still 2x your budget...The kit lens is not in any way a terrible lens. Use it.


The Sigma 10-20 is a nice lens, but ultra-wide angles aren't for every situation...And ultra-wide angle lenses are not necessary if you use panorama stitching software...

Last edited by boriscleto; 07-03-2017 at 08:38 AM.
07-03-2017, 09:54 AM   #7
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Buy a tripod before more lenses. A tripod is important for night photography. Sirui makes good travel tripods that fit inside a camera bag or clip onto your belt.

The 18-55 is a weak lens by comparison to better Pentax lenses, but it's still a reasonably good starter lens especially when you stop down to f/8 and f/11 for landscapes. Practice a bit with your 18-55 and if you get reasonably good results you are ready.

Shoot in raw or raw+JPG. I forget whether the K-r offers compressed DNG or if PEF might be the better raw format on that camera. Raw provides much more processing leeway than jpg, and as your processing skills improve you can revisit old photos from your trip.

Use the 18-55 to help determine what lens you want next. Instead of buying a bunch of budget lenses, wait to get fewer, better lenses later. The 16-85 and 18-135 are image quality improvements and also more versatile zoom ranges. Other possibilities for a 2nd lens are going ultrawide (Sigma 10-20, Tamron 10-24, Samyang 14) or wildlife telephoto (Pentax 55-300 is pretty good). I think those all exceed your budget, especially because you need the tripod first.
07-03-2017, 10:07 AM   #8
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If it were me, I'd grab a longer zoom for the trip. In your budget, I've had good luck with my Tamron 70-300.

It is certainly not the best lens ever made, but chromatic aberration is its biggest fault, and that can be fixed. It also does a reasonable macro impersonation at 1:2.

The Pentax DAL 55-300 may also be in your range.

I would skip the 28 but take the 50. The kit is decent.

-Eric

07-03-2017, 10:08 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rayroper Quote
Should I sell the Kit lens on then? or leave it at home? decisions decisions. I did notice I prefered the colours from the vivitar when shooting the same object.
I still have the one that came with my K-r, but haven't used it in long long time, probably years. But it is good to have one zoom lens with you if you don't know exactly which primes you will want to use.
I recommend you take it with you. You can sell it one day, to make room for the alternative
The M 50mm is great, very sharp lens, definitely take it.
28mm, you can compare your 28mm lenses to the 18-55mm zoomed to 28mm. If the primes are not better than the kit lens, sell them. If they are better than the kit, take it with you.

QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
Use the 18-55 to help determine what lens you want next. Instead of buying a bunch of budget lenses, wait to get fewer, better lenses later.
This is a good idea. I saved up a bit before I got the Samyang 14mm (239euro new) and I am glad I did. Buying a bunch of cheap lenses wouldn't give me what it does.
I am a bit biased, I like to shoot wide and ultrawide. I do very little telephoto. You have to decide yourself what you want. DA 55-300mm might make sense if you want to take photos of wildlife. I practically never go above 100mm, so I can't say much about that.

Before buying that 135mm, check the forums here for threads about its performance.

When I travel, I have at least 3 primes with me (and no zoom). My telephoto is DFA 100mm macro. Great lens, allows true 1:1 macro. Not cheap, but I think its price is fair, because it is a top tier lens. Its good to have something telephoto for portraits, photos of inaccessible things, wildlife.. Then I have something normal, usually DA 35mm. I take lots of photos with it. DA 40mm XS, M 50mm f1.7, M 28mm are other lenses close to 'normal' and I sometimes swap the DA 35mm with one of these. Then I have the ultra wide, which is Samyang 14mm. Recently I got a DA 21mm and its a stunning lens. Slowly it is replacing the DA 35mm. It took me long to make this lineup and I was pretty careful getting what I want, at an acceptable price.
So I suggest you take an ultra wide, a normal, and a telephoto. The kit lens can replace the ultrawide if you can't get something like the mentioned Samyang or Sigma. M 50mm can be the 'normal'.

You need to decide what kind of photos you want to take One good thing you can do is search for photos of the places you will visit, and see what other photographers have used there, so you can decide what you want to do yourself

Edit: Btw, we had Iceland trip threads before. You might want to look for them but they probably don't contain much that hasn't been mentioned here

Last edited by Na Horuk; 07-03-2017 at 10:31 AM.
07-03-2017, 10:15 AM   #10
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I like the "buy a good tripod" suggestion.

I don't think I'd bother with that 135mm telephoto for a trip like this. Your 18-55 and that 50 1.7 would probably be all I take; the walk-around zoom and the low light + sorta portrait length prime. Simple, small kit. If it were me, I'd start looking at wide angle options later on down the road, when you have some budget to play with. But that's later.
07-03-2017, 10:57 AM   #11
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I'd recommend going with what you have - it's not a bad start. The kit lens is happiest around f/8, but the more you use it the better you'll learn its strengths and weaknesses.

If you want to do night shots you will want a proper tripod. Don't bother with a cheap one, it's a total waste of money. Better to save up for one you can actually use.

Always use hoods if you have them. They can substantially improve image quality under certain conditions and will help protect your lenses.

A polarizer can help cut down glare and reflections (off water, rocks, foliage etc) and give you deeper, richer colours, but only when you deal with directional light. Try it out when the sun is low and you'll quickly see the difference.

UV filters don't really do much on digital. Some use them to protect their lenses. I prefer not to use them as they can cause flare (expensive ones will in general be less of a problem than cheaper ones).

Enjoy your trip, have fun trying to document it, don't let photography become more important than the experience itself!
07-03-2017, 12:03 PM   #12
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The kit lens is fine but something wider might be good for landscape. The DA16-45 is probably the best low-cost option but you can also get third party manual focus primes that might make sense. WR lenses might also make sense but since the K-r is not water resistant they won't help much if you get caught in the rain. If you are going in July then you will not be doing any low-light photography (except perhaps indoors or in a cave) and you will not see the northern lights in July.
07-03-2017, 12:43 PM   #13
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Used Tamron 17-50's seem to be about the same price as the Pentax 16-45. I'd go Tamron if condition were comparable for the same price or even a bit more.

This is all kind of moot at this point; the OP doesn't have the budget for these sorts of things. My advice again; shoot the daylights out of the 18-55 that he's currently got. If he can get nice results with that lens he'll have a better idea of what it lacks that he wants. If he puts a pound note in a jar every day for a year he'll have a great budget for a lens (or two!) to take that next step upward in kit quality.
07-03-2017, 12:55 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
Used Tamron 17-50's seem to be about the same price as the Pentax 16-45. .
eBay prices on the 16-45 are way too high at the moment. If you look at the completed listings you see that not many are selling, and those that are are at lower prices...I don't see a lot of green in the Tamron listings either...and a lot of Reserve not met auctions...
07-03-2017, 01:00 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
eBay prices on the 16-45 are way too high at the moment. If you look at the completed listings you see that not many are selling, and those that are are at lower prices...I don't see a lot of green in the Tamron listings either...and a lot of Reserve not met auctions...
I don't have a good idea of what any of this stuff "should" cost unless it's a lens that I've often tracked prices on.

I could see something like a Sigma 10-20 or Pentax 12-24 joining that kit 18-55 in a year. Year after that, something like a Pentax 18-135. Just have to start somewhere.
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