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07-29-2019, 08:52 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Lens & Filter recommendations for travel photography

In a couple weeks, I'll be going on a cruise to New England and Nova Scotia. This is likely a once-in-a-lifetime trip for me, so I plan on taking a LOT of photos and want to get the right.

I currently have a K-70 and the following lenses:
  • Pentax 18-135 WR
  • Pentax DA-L 35/2.4
  • Tamron 18-250 (clone of original Pentax 18-250, or vice versa)
  • Tamron 28-75/2.8

These all have clear UV filters on them (primarily for protection purposes), but I don't have any others (no polarizing, ND, anything like that). Also, while I could take them all (space/weight isn't at a premium), I'd prefer to stick with one or two to avoid complications from swapping lenses. I'm leaning toward the 18-135 WR and either the DA-L 35 or Tammy 28-75 (for indoor use, e.g.: museums and the like).

I figure most of the photos I'll be taking will be on or near water (from the boat, on shore excursions, etc) and know there are techniques to optimize image quality using specific types of filters or techniques. In the next two weeks, I'd like to learn and acquire what I'll need to take the best photos possible on this trip. I'd appreciate any recommendations for resources (websites, videos, etc.) and equipment.

07-29-2019, 09:57 AM - 2 Likes   #2
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I'd say the 18-135 for walk around travel. The 28-75 would be nice for indoors as you mentioned.

I'll suggest not using a UV filter. It stops /scatters light and it's use almost always lower the image quality (UV filter is not of premium quality of camera lens, so why would you want to shoot through it?)
It does not (imo) provide any useful protection to the lens and may actually further damage the lens if you drop it and the filter fuses to the filter threads.
Just use a lens hood and that should break the fall if you drop your lens.

I wouldn't bring along a ND unless you think you'll want to go long exposures of a waterfall or the ocean waves.
And I wouldn't use a GND if you have access to a decent post-processing program (you can do want a GND does in post production).

A polarizer may be useful for your landscape shots with water reflections. But I'd definitely wouldn't just leave it on the lens through the whole trip - only use it for special shots - and be careful of inconsistencies on the wide focal ranges.

Best luck!
07-29-2019, 11:12 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by wedge Quote
I'm leaning toward the 18-135 WR and either the DA-L 35 or Tammy 28-75 (for indoor use, e.g.: museums and the like).
Sounds about right. Leave the DA-L at home, though - the Tamron is equivalent (at just a half stop less aperture). When I travel with the K-3, the 18-135 lives on it.
07-29-2019, 11:26 AM   #4
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To add a bit of confusion on a recent cruise I used my 55-300 frequently to take pictures of interesting buildings on shore as we travelled past.

Don't know if New England or Nova Scotia have seaside villages like Norway but if they do then the reach of the 18-250 might be something you need.

07-29-2019, 12:25 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by FozzFoster Quote
A polarizer may be useful for your landscape shots with water reflections.
-- This advice (about polarizer filter) is one I often take exception with--as the sparkle of the reflected sunlight makes the water "alive", and removing it deadens it. And with the polarizer you see below the surface, again making it deader looking and not blue/green.
-- More generally if you don't normally use filters for effect, I would not start now!
-- I also agree that using UV filters for protection is not so great, unless the need for protection is strong. It adds reflecting surface and thus more potential for flare. (But you likely have considered this and decided the protection is more needed.)
-- If it was me I would take the 35mm and one other, likely the Pentax 18-135mm. (I don't have any of your lenses, but for the FL's/ease of carrying.) But what do you normally like/reach for? That/those are what I would take.
07-29-2019, 12:31 PM   #6
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The DA 18-135 is probably the only lens you will use with the possible inclusion of the DA 35 as a more petite walkaround option. As for filters, there may be some value to having a UV filter if on an excursion with splash hazard. You may wish to consider buying a circular polarizing filter to defeat haze when desired. Use it when needed and leave it off when not. Hint: one can preview the effect with the filter off-lens.

07-29-2019, 12:44 PM   #7
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The inclusion of a DA 15 Ltd would be very nice. I have an SMC version that I love. These on the used market are around $300 to $350 for good copies. Some kind of tripod, even a mini tabletop or smaller thing to hold the camera steady, would be quite nice along with a remote cable release. The Tamron 28-75 probably doesn't have a reason for inclusion. The DA 35 f2.4 might be useful as it's small, light, and nicely sharp wide open if you like how the lens renders. That would be the most optional part of this kit in my book.
07-29-2019, 01:23 PM   #8
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We traveled to New England, New Brunswick & Nova Scotia fall 2017. We drove so not exactly the same as your trip but 90% of my pix were with a DA 21ltd on a K3. A handful were with a Tak 17 f4 and a DA 50 f1.8 (dark interiors, night shots). I cannot think of any shore scenes that might tempt you to shoot from the boat from afar. The interesting places are probably covered by shore excursions. I do agree with roberrl on extreme telephoto use. You are likely to encounter whales and sea birds. If your cruise ship is one of the smaller ones (100 to 200 passengers), the 18-135 might be enough. Cruise ships, especially the large ones, are required to stay at least 100 to 400 yards away from whales: 250 is barely adequate for details. Use the 18 - 135 and crop like crazy. I have many years of experience boating the Inside Passage and AK & Yukon rivers: WP is best. Carry the UV filters to use for wet conditions. Make sure to eat scallops in Nova Scotia and lobster everywhere!

07-29-2019, 01:37 PM   #9
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Polarizing filter for landscape shots to remove reflected glare from vegetation. The colour of the vegetation will be more faithful to the true colour if the glare is removed, i.e., greens will be greener than without the filter (in autumn the reds, russets and yellows will be more saturated). A polarizing filter also makes blue sky bluer and the clouds whiter. This kind of filter has its maximum effect at a 90 degree angle to the direction of the sun.
07-29-2019, 03:00 PM   #10
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I usually pack a couple of ND and polarising filters when I go away, but almost never end up using them. If you're worried about fiddling about with lens changes then switching filters will probably not happen either.

Although I never considered myself to the cruising type, I have done three in recent years (Tianjin-Japan, Ushuaia-Antarctica and Sydney-New Zealand) and have another one in a fortnight (Seattle-Alaska) and another to Galapagos lined up next year. I have never used a protective filter on any of them.

As for lens choices, I reckon you'd have to take the 18-135 and 35/2.4. Something wider would be worthwhile - the DA15 Limited or 10-17 Fisheye Zoom are reasonably cheap second hand.

Your Tamron 28-75/2.8 is no doubt a quality lens, but it's pretty big and heavy and is a rather limiting focal range on a crop camera. The high ISO performance of the K-70 is pretty good so the extra half stop or so probably isn't crucial. You'll spend more time stopping down to f/11 rather than shooting wide open.

Taking the 18-250 as well as the 18-135 doesn't make sense to me. A more capable telephoto zoom like the 55-300 PLM would be worth considering if birds and other wildlife are likely to feature on your trip.

07-29-2019, 04:15 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by AstroDave Quote
When I travel with the K-3, the 18-135 lives on it.
Agreed, it was practically the only lens I used during a 6 month trip.

QuoteOriginally posted by roberrl Quote
Don't know if New England or Nova Scotia have seaside villages like Norway
Plenty of coastal villages there, but I the APS-C factor makes the 18-135 good enough to capture them, the charm is in the totality of a seaside village, not zooming in on the details of one crab shack, IMO.

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
The DA 18-135 is probably the only lens you will use with the possible inclusion of the DA 35 as a more petite walkaround option
I agree, the relatively compact 35mm makes for a nice lens in case you want to keep your camera with you while going to dinner, etc, in places where you do not need a zoom. Good "street" length.

Personally, I always have a circular polarizer on the DA 18-135. You can choose the amount of glare and reflection reduction with a CPL, and a good quality CPL will not affect the colors. I also like a graduated ND filter, in certain lighting conditions it reduces blown out skies or featureless clouds while allowing for details in the darker areas.

You are going to a beautiful part of North America, I look forward to seeing you photos
07-30-2019, 04:42 AM   #12
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I would definitely make the 18-135 my main shooter, bring the compact 35 along at all times, and have the 28-75 in my suitcase. I wouldn't bring the latter with me at all times, but when expecting low light I'd use it instead of the 18-135.
07-30-2019, 08:06 AM   #13
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For a once in a lifetime trip I would not be short-changing my lens options. I would take three zooms for my K-70: the DA 10-17mm, the DA18-135mm and the 55-300PLM. This is the set that Sandy Hancock has recommended with good reason - I think the 55-300mm gives me a much sharper pic than I would get from a crop from the 18-135mm

I would also take a few primes, and I have spoilt myself so I can carry all the four of the incredibly small and lightweight DA Limiteds (15mm, 21mm, 40mm and 70mm), which all take the same 49mm filter size. You can economise with your 35mm which is a really good lightweight walkaround option when a zoom would be too cumbersome. An alternative for the walkaround setup is the F series 35-70mm which is way smaller than the 18-135mm, and is often available for under $100.

I usually carry polarisers and grad ND filters to use only when I am sure they would add to the image, but I am training myself to remove UV filters when shooting. If you are doing much land-based nature shots, then pack a +2 diopter filter that fits the 35mm to give you better macro for an extra 30grams or so.
07-30-2019, 09:11 AM - 1 Like   #14
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Thanks for all of the great info so far. I wasn't planning to add any lenses to my collection; the trip itself is nearly exhausting most of my disposable funds. Adding some filters (sounds like a CPL would be a good investment) is justifiable.

And I think I'll stick with the 18-135 and 35/2.4 as my walk-around kit but have the 28-75 along in the suitcase as a backup. I may also take along an old 50/1.7 A-series I have. Have not tried it on the K-70 yet, though.
07-30-2019, 10:18 AM   #15
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For a CPL, check out the Lenstip reviews HERE and HERE.
Personally, I got a Marumi Super DHG for my 18-135, and it has been very good.
On the 2015 test, you'll see that best value ones are the Marumi Fit+Slim and the Hoya Antistatic. All these cost between $38-$70.

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