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07-03-2017, 10:59 AM   #1
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Travel lens kit

I'm going to Greece for 3 weeks! Mostly visiting the ancient sites and museums.
In similar trips in the past, I've taken the DA 18-135 and a Sigma 10-20 f4.5-6 for outdoor stuff. I've usually included the DAL 55-300. It gets used but not a lot since the 18-135 is so versatile. For museum stuff, I've used the DA 35 f2.4.

Since the last time I travelled, I've upgraded, and on this trip I'm not quite as concerned about architectural accuracy (ie, rectilinear) as I am about the artistic qualities. So, this time I'm bringing:
  • DA 16-85: I know my style and I will use those 16-17mm at the wide end more than the 86-135mm at the long end I had w/ the 18-135. Also, my 18-135 was weakest at 18mm end, and the 16-85 does quite well there.
  • DA 10-17 FE: This is one of my favorite lenses. The fisheye allows for some creative play at the wide end. It's nearly rectilinear (or correctable) from 15-17mm. In terms of FOV, 17mm on this lens is just a bit wider than 16mm on the 16-85. I.e., I'm thinking these two make a great pairing.
  • DAL 55-300: This might get more use now since I'll use it for anything past 85mm.
  • DA 21: This will be my street lens and museum lens when I need something faster than the 16-85.
  • DA 40XS: This also will be for street and museum, and since it's so small, it's easy to throw in the bag.
I will be with a group, so I often don't have time to switch lenses, and so I bring 2 bodies (and that also gives me backup). The DA 16-85 will usually be on a K-3, and the DA 10-15 FE will be on a K-30.


This is actually a rather compact kit. The DA 16-85 is noticeably but not terribly bigger than the 18-135. The DA 10-17 is much smaller than the Sigma 10-20.



Weather in Greece in July is sunny, no rain at all, highs in the 90's. I'll report back later.

07-03-2017, 01:55 PM   #2
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The 16-85 has become my favorite travel lens. Your setup will work nicely 🙂
07-03-2017, 01:59 PM   #3
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Sounds like a very well thought-out kit, leaning heavily on past experience (as it should) and knowing what you want to get done this time.

Point of curiosity - The 16-85 is not quite as fast wide open at 16mm as the 21/3.2, but it is surely significantly wider. I've found the museum environment in the places I've been one in which field of view is everything. Is there a reason, apart from compactness, that this is not your museum choice? Or is the 21 more than wide enough for the museums there and the compactness an extra advantage?

Enjoy your trip!
07-03-2017, 02:42 PM   #4
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I took a K3 with a 16-85 on an around the world trip to six different countries. I love that lens.

I have since upgraded to a K1 and 24-70 but I still think that 16-85 is a work horse.

07-03-2017, 06:14 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
Point of curiosity - The 16-85 is not quite as fast wide open at 16mm as the 21/3.2, but it is surely significantly wider. I've found the museum environment in the places I've been one in which field of view is everything. Is there a reason, apart from compactness, that this is not your museum choice? Or is the 21 more than wide enough for the museums there and the compactness an extra advantage?

Enjoy your trip!
  • I'll probably use the 16-85 as much as I can in the museums unless lack of light becomes an issue. Then I can use the DA 21 or 40XS.
  • I went over my pics from the last time I was in a similar type of museum. 52 pics: 36 were in the 18-35mm range, and of those, 2/3rds were in 24-32mm range. (I guessing a HD DA 20-40 would be a nice lens to use in a museum!)
  • 10 pics were 90mm or more, but all but 1 of them were closeups of signage.
Thanks! I think it will be a great trip!
07-04-2017, 09:48 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mgvh Quote
I'm going to Greece for 3 weeks! Mostly visiting the ancient sites and museums.
In similar trips in the past, I've taken the DA 18-135 and a Sigma 10-20 f4.5-6 for outdoor stuff. I've usually included the DAL 55-300. It gets used but not a lot since the 18-135 is so versatile. For museum stuff, I've used the DA 35 f2.4.

Since the last time I travelled, I've upgraded, and on this trip I'm not quite as concerned about architectural accuracy (ie, rectilinear) as I am about the artistic qualities. So, this time I'm bringing:
  • DA 16-85: I know my style and I will use those 16-17mm at the wide end more than the 86-135mm at the long end I had w/ the 18-135. Also, my 18-135 was weakest at 18mm end, and the 16-85 does quite well there.
  • DA 10-17 FE: This is one of my favorite lenses. The fisheye allows for some creative play at the wide end. It's nearly rectilinear (or correctable) from 15-17mm. In terms of FOV, 17mm on this lens is just a bit wider than 16mm on the 16-85. I.e., I'm thinking these two make a great pairing.
  • DAL 55-300: This might get more use now since I'll use it for anything past 85mm.
  • DA 21: This will be my street lens and museum lens when I need something faster than the 16-85.
  • DA 40XS: This also will be for street and museum, and since it's so small, it's easy to throw in the bag.
I will be with a group, so I often don't have time to switch lenses, and so I bring 2 bodies (and that also gives me backup). The DA 16-85 will usually be on a K-3, and the DA 10-15 FE will be on a K-30.


This is actually a rather compact kit. The DA 16-85 is noticeably but not terribly bigger than the 18-135. The DA 10-17 is much smaller than the Sigma 10-20.



Weather in Greece in July is sunny, no rain at all, highs in the 90's. I'll report back later.
I agree this sounds like a good travel lens kit. I traveled with the 18-135 until the 16-85 came out; now the 16-85 stays on my K-5. I also take the 10-17 because it lets me get some pictures like the inside of cathedrals that you can't get any other way (and it doesn't take up much space). I also have the DA 21. It is the lens I would use for panoramas on my K-5, plus it again doesn't take up much space. If you want a lens that will get most shots and looks small/discreet on the camera, you can put on the 21 mm. I also take a telephoto zoom and the 55-300 doesn't weight too much, but I don't use a zoom much on travel. So my camera bag would just about match your kit and if I wanted to travel light I would take the 16-85 and the 10-17 and leave the rest in the hotel room. I have used the FA 35 f2 for artwork before (similar to the DA 35) and it can also be a compact general purpose lens on a crop sensor. It is a sharp lens, small and fairly high-speed but I use the 21mm more. I also would carry a little point-and-shoot with me all the time as a backup and so I could take a random picture if I saw something special just going to the store or dinner. Have fun in Greece!
07-04-2017, 10:20 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by MaineNative Quote
I agree this sounds like a good travel lens kit. ... I also would carry a little point-and-shoot with me all the time as a backup and so I could take a random picture if I saw something special just going to the store or dinner. Have fun in Greece!
Thanks. It does sound like we are on the same page! My point and shoot backup is my Samsung Note 5 phone. Decent enough pics, and I can use it to do 1-shot panoramas and videos too.
Ok... Leaving in an hour!
07-04-2017, 10:36 AM   #8
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You will probably wind up using 1/3 of that equipment you mentioned for safety reasons, bulk and speed...

07-04-2017, 11:06 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by hjoseph7 Quote
You will probably wind up using 1/3 of that equipment you mentioned for safety reasons, bulk and speed...
That's what I thought when I tried to tell Sandy Hancock to trim his equipment bag for his recent trip to Italy. He ended up using just about everything at some stage, and I had to admit that at least one of the lenses I'd have left home, he was right to take.
11-11-2017, 11:28 PM - 4 Likes   #10
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I had a fabulous 3 weeks in Greece in July, but when I returned, some unexpected things kept me stupid busy, and so I'm slow in reporting on my photography experiences. I was part of a group looking at ancient sites in light of mythology and early Christianity. To that end I was mainly documenting locations, and I'm happy with the pictures I was able to get. I'm a little disappointed in myself for not being as 'artistic' and creative with the shots as I would have liked. That is, I believe every site has a story to tell, and good shots are able to capture the spirit of a place without documenting it. Ah, well, I'm still learning...
As for my gear, I was satisfied. The main problem is that somehow for one whole day, I shot with WB in fluorescent. Add a CPL to that, and it produces some weird colors. (I have no idea how it happened, since I always just use AWB.) I shoot in RAW, so it was fixable, at least.
I ended up bring 3 bags.
  • Tenba Discovery Photo/Laptop Messenger which could hold everything. I carried it around a number of times, and the main benefit is that it allowed me to bring 2 bodies (K-3 w/ the 16-85 and the K-30 with the 10-17 FE) and not have to change lenses when I was with the group.
  • A Tamrac Velocity 6X: I ended up using this most of all. We did lots of hiking around, and it was very hot, so this lighter weight option was perfect. I can fit the K-3 with the 16-85 (w/ hood), the 10-17FE, the 40XS, spare batteries, etc. It was perfect for my needs.
  • A little fanny pack that I would use for street shooting, usually with the K-30 and DA21 and/or 40XS.
As for cameras and lenses...
  • K-3: ~1500 pics
  • K-30: ~100 pics
  • Galaxy Note 5: ~200 pics
Lenses and focal lengths
  • DA 16-85: 1225 pics
    • 16mm: 476
    • 18mm: 104
    • 21mm: 95
    • 23mm: 74
    • 26mm: 90
    • 28mm: 65
    • 31-39mm: 135
    • 43-48mm: 55
    • 53-60mm: 41
    • 68-75mm: 53
    • 85mm: 56
  • DA 10-17FE: 265 pics
    • 10-11mm: 160
    • 13-15mm: 40
    • 17mm: 65
  • DA 21: 50 pics
  • DA 40XS: 15 pics
  • DAL 55-300: 10 pics (mostly 150-300mm)
As the numbers show the K-3 with 16-85 was a very versatile combination. I had used the DA 18-135 on earlier trips, and my experience suggested that I would use the 16-17mm more than the 86-135mm, and you can see that's true. I love pairing it with the DA 10-17FE which is one of my favorite lenses. The DA 21 and 40XS are so small that it's easy to include them, and I mainly used them for street shots. Part of the reason that there are so few shots with the 55-300 is that I just didn't bother often to carry it around. I probably could have left the DAL 55-300 behind and been fine.

All in all, I was satisfied with my gear, and I report here as way of recommending it to others going on similar types of trips.

I haven't had time to process many of the pics, but here are some samples.


Temple of Poseidon at Sounion
by Mark Hoffman, on Flickr

Theater at Oiniadias
by Mark Hoffman, on Flickr

Greco-Roman ship shed (dry dock) for 6 triemes at Oiniadias
by Mark Hoffman, on Flickr

Temple of Zeus at Olympia
by Mark Hoffman, on Flickr
11-12-2017, 03:13 AM - 1 Like   #11
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That's a really helpful and comprehensive report Mark thanks for sharing.
11-12-2017, 03:58 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by mgvh Quote
I'm going to Greece for 3 weeks!
Firstly glad you enjoyed your break, I often put the extra discipline of three lens limitation on myself, most recently "Good Lady” (Pentax-A 20mm F2.8), "Special Lady” (Pentax-A 50mm F1.2) and “Gorgeous Lady” (Pentax-A* 200mm F2.8 ED).

Kept the kit weight down and I'm certainly not aware of not being able to capture anything I wanted.
11-13-2017, 10:27 AM - 1 Like   #13
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Nice report!

I have found a 3 lens travel kit to be optimal:

- General purpose zoom
- Wide angle
- Low-light prime

Looks like others feel the same.
11-13-2017, 06:41 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by EarlVonTapia Quote
Nice report!
I have found a 3 lens travel kit to be optimal:
- General purpose zoom
- Wide angle
- Low-light prime
Looks like others feel the same.
Thanks!
I previously used the 18-135 and 10-17FE combo, but in terms of FOV, it left a significant gap between the 17mmFE and the 18mm on the rectilinear. The 16-85 and 10-17FE make a perfect combo in terms of FOV.
I have and like a Sigma 10-20 f4-5.6, but that's such a large lens. The 10-17FE is so much smaller and encourages me to be more creative. (The Sigma 10-20 and the DA 18-135 do make an excellent pair in terms of FOV.)
As for a low-light prime, most of my low-light work is in museums. I used to bring a DA 50 f1.8. Great little lens, but it is just too long for museum work. I then tried the DA 35 f2.4. Still a little too long. Hence the DA 21 f3.2. That was good for museums, and a great street lens too. With the low-light capabilities of the K-3, however, I was able to use the 16-85 most of the time.
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