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02-09-2019, 03:43 PM   #1
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Travel plans made, need lens advice

Hey everyone,

This year, the family and I are doing some bucket-list travel. I am spending 5 days in the deserts in and around Moad, Utah and then in the summer we are headed to Scotland followed by Switzerland. I need some help deciding upon gear. We are travelling to Scotland then Switzerland with a single backpack each. We usually have good luck packing for a week with these, but I have never had more than my camera w/ the Sigma lens in my bag. No, I don't keep the lens on during travel. Even though we carry on, I have seen security be rather exceedingly rough with bags.

Currently, I have a K3 with a few different lenses...

My Sigma 17-50mm

My Sigma is the main lens I use. But, I also have

My DA 50-200mm

... which, let's face it, I have never really enjoyed.

When we went on a cruise to Alaska, I rented a big ol' lens

Not a bad lens, really.

I got some great shots with it, but that's when we had oodles of space. Now, we are renting a car and each with a single backpack. I know what my Sigma can and can't do on my K3, but I was wondering if anyone had any "One lens only" trip advice? I was thinking I could slip a fast 50mm prime in my son's bag when we wasn't looking... I really enjoy landscapes and architecture photography, but I won't have a tripod. I will have my black rapid sling and I have found will do in a pinch when wrapped tight around my wrist.

Any suggestions?

02-09-2019, 04:09 PM   #2
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I don't believe there's a "one lens only" solution.

Lenses that cover every conceivable focal length requirement are so-called super-zooms, such as the Pentax DA18-270, Sigma 18-250, Sigma 18-300 etc. These can be very useful and can produce better photos than some might suggest, but due to their slow variable apertures, they're generally limited to photographic situations with good available light. I've previously owned the DA18-270, and now have the Sigma 18-300. The latter is a much better lens IMHO, and definitely capable of taking decent shots in good lighting, but it's a compromise in many ways. I might take it with me on a typical weekend away, or a short break, but for "bucket list travel" that I might never repeat? I'd want something better for that.

My suggestion, therefore, is to take a two lens kit. You already own the quite excellent Sigma 17-50 f/2.8, which will give you excellent IQ at those focal lengths even at f/2.8, and is therefore great for lower-light situations too. No need for change, here. I would add to that either the older screw-drive HD DA55-300, or the newer HD DA55-300 PLM. Either of these will give you all the tele focal lengths you could need, and with excellent IQ. Of course, with variable aperture, they won't be ideal for lower light - but the alternative is to carry a couple of bigger and much more expensive fast, constant aperture lenses. I don't think it's necessary to do so, since either 55-300 will provide decent IQ even wide open.

If you should decide that a super-zoom is best (and I really would advise against this), then the Sigma 18-300 is, IMHO, the best choice in K-mount...
02-09-2019, 04:55 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I'm sure you can travel the world with just that K-3 and Sigma 17-50 and take great pictures, Deckroid.
02-09-2019, 05:01 PM   #4
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although it could be tight with your " luggage " plans, you might want to consider a " back up " camera just in case your main one goes down on the trip

perhaps an " experienced " Pentax camera body found in the Market Place ???

02-10-2019, 01:51 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
I'm sure you can travel the world with just that K-3 and Sigma 17-50 and take great pictures, Deckroid.
Tim B travelled right through South east Asia for months with just one body and the 16-85 from memory. He discussed in an earlier thread and provided his Flickr account to show what's possible:

Best of Asia trip | Flickr

So I agree with Clackers and have Tim's evidence, but I would never do it personally - I would always take two zooms and a couple of small primes. The kit I would take from my collection (today's thinking only, not tomorrow's), is the two current WR light zooms (18-135mm and 55-300PLM), the DA21mm and DA70mm). I have a DAL50-200, but the 55-300 is miles ahead in image quality and focus as well as reach, so I have never used the DAL since I bought the 55-300mm. The WR zooms would be more comforting in the deserts, and in the dank outdoors of Scotland.

My superzoom is a Sigma 18-250mm HSM, and I rarely use it because or the weight and minor compromises in image quality. I would not rely on it for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

I like the Limited primes for travel as they are tiny (pocket or handbag-size tiny) and work well inside in low light but your Sigma 17-50 is also a star for that (admittedly much heavier though for carrying around all day).

You have the 17-50 so that plus the 55-300mm would be enough zooms as per BigMackCam's suggestion and would give great quality images,. You could leave without any primes (then buy if necessary as you go) or slip in either a fifty or a macro if you have one.

If you have, as your profile says, "many many filters" then maybe you have a closeup set that will attach to your fifty to make it a macro? I have a really good Canon macro52mm aux-lens with a 49-52 stepping ring that will work on any of my Limiteds or fast 50s to turn a sub-200g lens into a fast macro.

Enjoy the trip and let us know how it goes photographically and socially.
02-10-2019, 01:53 AM   #6
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Hi deckroid,

I tend to agree with Mike - probably best to add a better tele-zoom and take the Sigma 17-50.


On the other hand, I often travel with the Sigma 18-300 and fast-ish prime or two (e.g. the DA 35 f/2.4, a PKA 50 f/1.7 or a Sigma 24mm f2.8) for use on my K-5. That works really well for a very broad range of subjects. Sometimes I just take the 18-300 and the DA 10-17 if I know I'm going to have good light and/or can use a tripod.


Regarding Allen's suggestion of a second body, I can definitely recommend taking more than one camera on once-in-a-lifetime trips after having one fail on me the first day I was in Yucatan. However, rather than to always carry another K-mount body, I tend to take my little Pano LF1 because it doubles as a take-along when I just don't want to carry the SLR or I'm in a situation (like a museum or church) where the sound of a mechanical shutter isn't really appropriate. If I had to use the Pano for everything, I would get by - as long as I wasn't demanding ultimate quality (the camera one has with them...).

Above all, it sounds like you have some great travel ahead!

Jared
02-10-2019, 03:40 AM   #7
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Enjoy your trip. Were heading to Scotland in May and Ill be taking the kit that I took to New Zealand last year; the three lenses in my sig, which pretty much covers all eventualities. The only change might be if Ive succumbed to the 11-18 Star lens by then!
02-10-2019, 04:15 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by photocles Quote
. . . Regarding Allen's suggestion of a second body, I can definitely recommend taking more than one camera on once-in-a-lifetime trips after having one fail on me the first day I was in Yucatan. However, rather than to always carry another K-mount body, I tend to take my little Pano LF1 because it doubles as a take-along when I just don't want to carry the SLR or I'm in a situation (like a museum or church) where the sound of a mechanical shutter isn't really appropriate. If I had to use the Pano for everything, I would get by - as long as I wasn't demanding ultimate quality (the camera one has with them...). . . .
I agree that the importance of the good second back up camera outweighs [ pun intended ] what type it is

I have the K 3 and K 3 II but that is so I can use each camera mated to a good lens and interchange as necessary when I am in a vehicle driven by another.

I also have a small point and shoot Canon Powershot A1100 IS bought years ago to use should I not feel like hauling one of the DSLR

certainly I am not claiming that would be the best option but so far the wife isn't eager for me to go get a better ( more expensive point and shoot ) and I can't argue with that. She have been very good at letting build up the DSLR and lenses inventory

02-10-2019, 04:27 AM   #9
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A DA 55-300 WR or PLM would be a good match for the Sigma 17-50.
02-10-2019, 05:14 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Paul the Sunman Quote
A DA 55-300 WR or PLM would be a good match for the Sigma 17-50.
After all my waffle above, I can say that my two favourite lenses for landscapes in the Australian desert are my cheapest lenses - M28mm/f3.5 and A50mm/f1.7. Both can take a PL or Grad-ND filter to manage the sky brightness, and also the Canon close-up screw-in.
02-10-2019, 05:23 AM - 1 Like   #11
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Its hard to say what you should do without knowing your interests.

When I travel, it is usually 2 bodies, and 3 lenses, I use a sigma 10-20, a tamron 28-75/2.8 and a sigma 70-200/2.8 plus the sigma 2x TC.

If I don't do wild life, the 70-200 stays home.

The fact you are backpacking suggests a very limited volume and weight. Personally I never thought 16 mm was wide enough for cities, which is why I have a 10-20, but you may not be in that many cities, therefore if you were to make a single addition, I would perhaps suggest the 60-250 or 55-300

It gives you some reach, without the big bulk and weight of an F2.8 lens. I have never used either but the reviews for both are good.

As you are backpacking, I made this recommendation on the basis that you have no secure place on a daily basis and are taking everything with you. If you have a secure place, I would consider taking a separate camera bag, as most airlines allow one check on plus one personal bag, but this is up to you, you need to carry it all.
02-10-2019, 06:00 AM   #12
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You appear to be heading to places that have a lot of scenery (Utah is covered by it, Switzerland stacks it up, and up, and up). My first suggestion would be something wider than your 17~50mm. I would go for at least 12mm, for example, the Rokinon-Samyang 12mm f2. It's an all-manual lens, both MF and manual aperture, but you don't need automatic on either for landscapes. Alternate choice for an UWA would be any fish-eye, but a Pentax 10~17mm would be the best choice*. You cannot go too wide, because you can crop, but you cannot stretch if you don't have something sufficiently wide, although you can stitch in PP if you know how. After an UWA, the already recommended 55~300mm would be my next choice. There is some chance of seeing animals in Utah - - bighorn sheep, sometimes bison on ranches, some birds such as chukars. The newest model is the best, but the original 55~300mm is very good and can be purchased used at near-steal prices if you search a bit.

*Another UWA that's a good choice would be a Sigma 10~20mm, and I would recommend looking for a good used original version rather than putting out the $ for the newer model. It would be bulkier than the R/S 12mm f2, and the latter can be had at a decent price new.

NUTS! I'll withdraw the recommendation for the Samyang/Rokinon 12mm f2. Seems it's not offered in K-mount. The 12~24mm recommended below is another good choice, although I would go with a Sigma 10~20mm.

Last edited by WPRESTO; 02-10-2019 at 08:26 AM.
02-10-2019, 08:21 AM   #13
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For the Moab area, wide is definitely on order. Something like a 12-24 would be a good option if you felt you could manage 3 lenses.
As others have mentioned, the 55-300PLM is an easy choice for light travel. it's light, compact, fast focusing, and has good image quality.
I'd also think fairly seriously about trying to squeeze in a travel tripod.
02-10-2019, 08:32 AM   #14
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if there is some where or way to supplement the height of the travel tripod, I suggest you take a look at this one:

moman mini tripod reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database

and the more detailed thread about it and its capabilities:

Moman Mini Tripod - Greatest $30 Purchase in Last 5 Years! - Page 4 - PentaxForums.com
02-10-2019, 08:38 AM   #15
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A couple of years ago we flew to Newfoundland. I wanted to go light and just one bag would have to suffice for the trip. I used it as my carry on bag in the multitude of planes we had to take there and back.

I took my 18-135 and 55-300.I also stuffed in ...as they are so small my 40 F 2.8 and 70 F 2.4 Limiteds. I took the two Limiteds as they are great for indoor, available light pics. I didn't take my 360 flash, just used the camera flash from my K5. The K5 as the only body I took.

I was thinking of taking a second camera, just in case...which would of been my small Canon G 12, but decided...no..as my bag was getting too full.

It worked out well, but the lens I used 90 % of the time was the 18-135.

I've never been to Switzerland, but have been to Scotland. Sprawling landscapes, ancient castles, mountainous regions would require your Sigma wide angle (17mm)...but you also have a nice portrait lens at the other end of that zoom (50mm)...so for me that would be a lens I would pack.

But if you see some wildlife or something beyond your reach with a 17-50...then something like the 55-300 would be nice to have available.
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