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02-09-2011, 02:07 PM   #1
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K5 & 18-135 in Ethiopia - Advice please!

Hi,
I've been asked to accompany a three week expedition to Ethiopia this summer, which is, of course, a great justification to trade up to the K5.
I've got a couple of questions, though.
Battery life: how many shots do people get off a single charge of the normal battery, and how long does it hold its charge for. I'll almost certainly get the battery grip to go with it: how well do Eneloops hold out in that?
Memory cards: I'll be shooting stills 99% of the time but would like to experiment with video. How much storage does, say, 30 mins video require at full HD resolution?
Lenses: I already own a Tamron 17-50 f2.8, but I'm very interested in the new 18-135, not only for the useful extra telephoto range, but mainly for the environmental sealing. Has anyone used this lens yet, and would they recommend it? Does anyone have any alternatives? I'd most likely take this lens only, possibly with my DA 70 Ltd for portrait work.
I'll be taking a tripod with me, with a small selection of filters - ND grad, mostly, and a polarizer.
Any advice will of course be gratefully received!
Thanks,

Will

02-09-2011, 02:12 PM   #2
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I like the 18-135 a lot. I think it'd be a good one-lens solution for a trip like this, though I might as easily pair it with, say, a Tamron 70-200/2.8.

Re: the K-5 battery life... it's the same as the K-7, which is to say: stellar. I can't give an estimate as to the number of shots you get on a charge, but it's a lot. I'm usually surprised when I get a low battery warning on my K-5, since by then I've forgotten I need to charge them at all. I do use the grip with another battery installed in it, though.
02-09-2011, 07:18 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by gingerburn Quote
Hi,
I've been asked to accompany a three week expedition to Ethiopia this summer, which is, of course, a great justification to trade up to the K5.
I've got a couple of questions, though.
Battery life: how many shots do people get off a single charge of the normal battery, and how long does it hold its charge for. I'll almost certainly get the battery grip to go with it: how well do Eneloops hold out in that?
Memory cards: I'll be shooting stills 99% of the time but would like to experiment with video. How much storage does, say, 30 mins video require at full HD resolution?
Lenses: I already own a Tamron 17-50 f2.8, but I'm very interested in the new 18-135, not only for the useful extra telephoto range, but mainly for the environmental sealing. Has anyone used this lens yet, and would they recommend it? Does anyone have any alternatives? I'd most likely take this lens only, possibly with my DA 70 Ltd for portrait work.
I'll be taking a tripod with me, with a small selection of filters - ND grad, mostly, and a polarizer.
Any advice will of course be gratefully received!
Thanks,

Will
I just spent a day shooting, did over 600 shots and about an hour of video before the battery ran low. Always carry that backup battery. If you are likely to run into any exotic animals or birds, etc. you will want a larger zoom lens. I wouldn't go anywhere with out any thing under a 250mm zoom. Have a great trip and I look forward to your work.
02-09-2011, 07:50 PM   #4
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After conditioning the battery (running it down to 0 and recharging it a few times) I get about 1000 shots out of it. Less if you use flash or live view of course. However, be aware that the 18-135's DC motor does consume power, and using it on my K-5 lowers the total shots to approximately 850-900 in my estimation. If used with live view or flash while at yellow or lower battery level, it can cause premature shutdown (it can still be used after turning it off and on again).

Full 1080p video uses upwards of 500MB per minute (depending on the scene), so 30 minutes can run up to 15GB.

02-09-2011, 11:53 PM   #5
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I cannot comment on the 18-135, haven't tried one. If you're going to get the grip, just get a couple spare proprietary batteries. The AA holder of the grip takes 6x AA batteries. It makes for quite a heavy package if you're going to be hiking around with it. With 2 proprietary batteries, you're easily good for more than a day of shooting. Keep a third battery charged and you're not likely to run out of power. I've had batteries go 2-3 weeks between charges when not using the camera (K7, the K5 never sat that long) and still had enough power to fill an 8Gb card (RAW+JPG). That is all of course, using the camera as a normal camera (using the viewfinder instead of live view, keeping the rear screen turned off except when needed, etc.)

Show us some photos when you get back..

02-10-2011, 04:19 AM   #6
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Oh dear your're brave!

It'll be probably the most advanced piece of technology in the country hahaha
02-10-2011, 07:56 AM   #7
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Make sure you'll have access to electricity for charging batteries and that you have adapters/converters if needed. In Ghana we often didn't have access to electricity. I took along a solar charger for those times. Ethiopia may be totally different in that regard, I don't know. Just throwing this out, in case. Have fun on the trip!
02-10-2011, 09:01 AM   #8
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gingerburn,

You make me jealous. I have taken my digital Pentaxes (K10D, K20D, K5) to remote desert areas several times and just returned from one month in areas comparable to where you will go.

Here is what I learned and do now on my trips to deserts:
+ "Out there" it is all about weight, volume, ready-to-use and reliability
+ I do not have a battery grip, too bulky and heavy
+ Expect dust to be EVERYWHERE, it can be so very very small and gets inside everything (except your sealed PENTAX stuff :-)
+ I do NOT change the lens during the day. DUST!
+ Cap on each lens, only taken off for shooting. It tends to interfere with the hood, though :-(
+ Each lens has its own (protective) filter which I hardly ever take of during such a trip
+ During the day I have the camera dangling on my right hand, ready to shot, see next point. The camera is hardly ever in its bag during the day. This is where the sealing of the PENTAXes really counts. Make the others jealous here :-)
+ I hate the neck strap. What I have for all cameras is a DIY hand strap for the right hand, sized so my hand just fits in, so I can let it dangle down without dropping it. For the left hand I have just a small strap loop for one left finger or thumb, great to hold when looking at pics. Also great because the two loops left and right allow for the camera to be handed over to someone safely.
+ Should it be REALLY dusty (strong wind) I wrap a piece of cloth (scarf) around it, ready to unwrap fast.
+ Should it rain, my K5 + any of the three lenses mentioned below fits (just) into the right pocket of my rain jacket.
+ Don't expect to see anything on the screen as daylight will be too bright.

+ In the evening I prepare everything for the next day. The day starts early in these areas and I tend to forget things in the morning.
++ Go through pix taken during day, erase the obviously bad ones
++ Charge batteries if possible
++ Clean equipment
++ I decide on which lens I will use the next day and mount it.
++ Have the camera ready during the night for stars, moon-lit landscapes and the occasional wildlife :-)

+Power supply
++ I take three original Pentax batteries (now the Li-90 for my K5) with me: One (freshly charged) in the camera, one at hand as a spare and the third (likely the empty one) near the charger

Charging:
1. via 110V-230V wall plug. My favourite. With original charger you can charge two Li-90 in one night. With 3rd party probably not.

2. via 12V in car. Use only when car engine is running to avoid draining car battery. 12V also means 3rd party charger which are likely to take much longer than the original Pentax on mains.

3. Solar panel: AFAIK you need a really big panel and lots of sun to charge directly, because of the energy the charger demands. Using a small panel means charging an "energy tank" first which is then used delivery energy to the cahrger. I never liked that. Too much equipment.

+ My current set-up for such a trip is:
++ K5 set to RAW and auto-correction of fringing and distortion for appropriate lenses
++ SMC FA 50mm f1.4 (for camp-fire shots) with protective filter
++ 18-55mm WR kit lens with circular polarizer (good during the day)
++ 10-20mm Sigma with circular polarizer (excellent for tight spaces, e.g creeks)
++ 2*16GB SANDISK Ultra (fast enough) = 2* 650 RAW pics
++ 3 original Pentax batteries Li-90
++ original Pentax mains charger (with a shortened mains cable, approx. 15cm and adapter for wherever you go)
++ cleaning cloth & brush

And finally: I think the 18-135 should be great for your trip.

Enjoy!

Cheers from Berlin, jephi


Last edited by jephi; 02-10-2011 at 10:48 AM. Reason: spelling
02-10-2011, 12:05 PM   #9
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Jephi did an extensive post on this subject.

I've travelled through deserts and very remote areas a lot myself as well, and would like to put in my 2 cents:

- Yes, dust is the name of the game.
Make sure to protect the camera, also IN the cars. You need a good bag.
Putting a cloth on top of the camera out of the bag (I'd use my flex hat) is a good starter.
Dust will get in everything...
Take wet napkins with you for cleaning yourself and your equipment.

- No, a grip IS a good idea. I don't know how and where you are travelling, but THE biggest issue in some areas can be electricity.
Old cars with broken cigar ligthers, no power in camps, towns, places for most of the day etc.
The grip with 6xAA has been a live saver for me a few times...

- I cannot comment on the 18-135mm, don't have it. Should work in 80% of cases.
However, landscapes, narrow old buildings, bazars, etc need wider angles.
For wildlife on the other hand 135 is by far not long enough. I'd bring 2 extra lenses: 10-20mm Sigma & DA 55-300mm.

- Make sure to bring repellent and something for the children you'll meet. Giving money is for many reasons a bad idea. We bring a large bag of balloons and pens and the like. If you want to take a picture, you'll have something to give.

- Bring some extra money and (if you have the space) some goods to donate to local schools, medical support etc.
Remember Phill Collins' song "Another day in paradise"...



Have a good trip!

- Bert
02-16-2011, 02:33 PM   #10
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gingerburn,

This is an update to my above post:

I finally uploaded a photo of my neck strap alternative that I mentioned:
jephi's Album: DIY Tilt lens 80mm f2.8 Carl Zeiss BIOMETAR - PentaxForums.com
PS. The tilt stuff has nothing to do with your question :-)

Last edited by jephi; 02-16-2011 at 02:48 PM. Reason: Spelling
02-16-2011, 02:55 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by gingerburn Quote
Hi,
Battery life: how many shots do people get off a single charge of the normal battery, and how long does it hold its charge for.

Memory cards: How much storage does, say, 30 mins video require at full HD resolution?
Well I never make such a trip but some answers I have.

Well if you turn things of in your camera to save energy, like the 3 seconds that every picture pops up in screen, AF-assist, in-camare lenscorrection (you can do that later with developing RAW-Jpg), top lcd light and not using liveview to much you can easily make 1.000 pictures (don't know about the powerconsumption of your DC-motor in the lens). They don't depleed in that environment to my idea, don;t know about working at temperatures above 40 degrees of celcius.

You probably make a lot low-iso pictres, since there is light enough. RAW at iso 80 can go up to 20 MB avarage and going up to 25 MB for iso5000.

30 minutes of HD video will give you about 16 GB of data to storage and will deplete you one battery. You can buy battery's for cheap on DealExtreme: $12.04 Pentax D-LI90 Compatible 1860mAh Battery Pack for Pentax K7/K-7 it will have some 10-15% less energy but then again buy 3-4 of those and you will be good. Maybe you just want to put in a SDXC card of 64 GB and run the intire trip on it.
02-17-2011, 10:21 AM   #12
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18-135 is a great piece of glass... you get an equivalent of 28-200mm in FF terms in a weather-resistant package that is only slightly larger than the kit 18-55... Best-traveling lens, as far as I'm concerned... wouldn't even bother bringing the 70mm along, just do all the portraits at 135mm, which even at f/8 will give you enough background separation...
02-21-2011, 11:52 AM   #13
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I don't have a K5 or an 18-135 but I have just returned from a trip to Ethiopia.
I wanted that combo but the unresolved K5 focus issue
and the newness of the lens meant that I just took my 4 year old Fuji S5Pro and 18-200mm lens.

The 18-200mm did for most shots but it was not long enough for some animal and bird shots,
for ME, 135mm would not have been long enough.

Electricity: unless one is camping I always found somewhere at my places of accomodation to plug in a charger (on one occasion it was instead of the room light!),
I took three batteries but I could have made do with just two.

It is VERY VERY dusty, I was warned about this and hence only took the one lens,
I also kept my aperture large to keep any dust on the sensor out of focus.

In hindsight I should have taken a camera with an articulated screen; almost every time I pointed my camera somewhere, I would be innundated with small children who appeared out of nowhere in the hope of a few Birr, pencils or empty mineral water bottles.
Taking candids in the tribal villages was almost impossible - I was closely surrounded by people battling with each other for the 'priviledge' to pose for the camera.

I know that I would have sacrificed some image quality but if I did the trip again, I would probably take something like a Panasonic GH2 with 14-140 and 100-300 lenses.

This is my first post and it's NOT an anti K5 or pro any other camera statement,
I just wanted to share my Ethiopia experience, and once the focus issues are sorted,
I hope to get a K5 (for years I had nothing but excellent service and results from quite a large Pentax 6x7 outfit).
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