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01-17-2018, 12:41 PM   #1
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Best lens for firefighting shots

When I return home this May I will be our fire department photographer what is the best lens for my K10D camera. I will be taking pictures of the fires and accident. I have two lens right now they are
1. Sigma 18-55m
2. Sigma 55-200mm

01-17-2018, 12:55 PM   #2
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Wow - what an unusual request. What is the needed characteristic? Is this mainly documentary? Is it important to have a single lens to avoid trying to swap lenses? Do you need low light capability or not?
01-17-2018, 12:56 PM   #3
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Assuming you will be on duty at night, a lens with at least f/2.8 should be a big help.
01-17-2018, 12:59 PM   #4
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I'd be looking at the DA* 16-50 or DA*50-135 for their weather sealing capabilities. Look to buy used, one that has been converted over to screw drive because the motors in these lenses is prone to failure. I used to do forest fire fighting and I think this combo would be awesome.

01-17-2018, 01:08 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by mike.hiran Quote
I'd be looking at the DA* 16-50 or DA*50-135 for their weather sealing capabilities. Look to buy used, one that has been converted over to screw drive because the motors in these lenses is prone to failure. I used to do forest fire fighting and I think this combo would be awesome.
I was thinking that high ISO wouldn't be an issue - as it seems documentary not artistic. I'd think 18-135 to give as few lens changes as possible or even 18-270. But I'm open to ideas and think weather sealing makes sense.
01-17-2018, 01:14 PM   #6
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From one fire photographer to another, FAST, FAST, FAST. Especially with a K10D as you are limited to ISO 1600. Personally, I shoot with a 70-200 f/2.8 and until recently the 16-50 f/2.8 on a K-5. I'm now left with the kit lens for now on the wide end as my 16-50 had an accident, and it suffices. During the day, you will have no issues with your current setup. However at night, you are going to really struggle. I routinely shoot night fires and accidents at ISO 12,800, though 25,600 and 51,200 has been needed at times. Flash doesn't really work, as the reflective striping on the trucks and turnout gear tends to blow out. If you are looking to spend money, I'd really save up for a body that can offer much higher ISO performance.

The only other issue I've encountered is swapping lenses and missing shots. While something like an 18-250 would be great, and would work without issue during the day, at night it would just be too slow for that focal length, even at pretty high ISO's. Ideally, I would go with a two camera system, however my equipment budget is about zero right now.
01-17-2018, 02:51 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jodokast96 Quote
From one fire photographer to another, FAST, FAST, FAST. Especially with a K10D as you are limited to ISO 1600. Personally, I shoot with a 70-200 f/2.8 and until recently the 16-50 f/2.8 on a K-5. I'm now left with the kit lens for now on the wide end as my 16-50 had an accident, and it suffices. During the day, you will have no issues with your current setup. However at night, you are going to really struggle. I routinely shoot night fires and accidents at ISO 12,800, though 25,600 and 51,200 has been needed at times. Flash doesn't really work, as the reflective striping on the trucks and turnout gear tends to blow out. If you are looking to spend money, I'd really save up for a body that can offer much higher ISO performance.

The only other issue I've encountered is swapping lenses and missing shots. While something like an 18-250 would be great, and would work without issue during the day, at night it would just be too slow for that focal length, even at pretty high ISO's. Ideally, I would go with a two camera system, however my equipment budget is about zero right now.
I had forgotten in my reply that the K10D was the camera. That is a good point. DA 16-50 or Sigma 17-50 or Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 is about the best option with a 50-135/50-150 or 70-200 f/2.8 as the second lens.
01-17-2018, 07:39 PM   #8
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The lenses you have are fine, but pick up a used K-5 for expanded IsO. i assume you are more likely to do publicity shots of training, awards, etc, in addition to firefighing. I alse recommend the 18-135 WR, being around all that water would make me cautious.

01-18-2018, 10:56 AM   #9
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Water resistant to begin with. You will also need to go from wide angle to telephoto considering the pics you would want to get. Sometimes a wide angle to take in the breadth of the fire fighting operation...sometimes a telephoto when you are restricted from getting to close to the action...because of dangerous working environments...or closeups of fire fighters climbing a ladder, walking into an inferno, etc.

Don't know if there is one lens that can do all of this and be water proof...thinking along the lines of something like an 18-270/300 would be good. Wasn't there a Pentax ie; Tamron lens that covered this focal range. Think there was, don't know if it was water resistant.

If the lens isn't water resistant, I wonder if there are some nature photographer's lens covers...that might be water resistant. The K10D is water resistant....but remember water resistance resists moisture...it's not the same thing as water proof. But still better than most cameras which don't have any protection against water.

I wouldn't suggest changing from a wide angle to a telephoto while shooting outside at the scene...that's why I suggest an all in one lens...wide to telephoto.

Another thing when photographing at night, a K10D only goes to 1600 ISO...with a telephoto lens...say F 4-5.6...doesn't give you much if any usable shutter speed. I have a K10D and a K5 and they're wonderful camera bodies...but the newer bodies have more usable ISO.

I know you got to use what you have. A faster lens is always good, but lot's of bucks.
01-20-2018, 07:30 PM   #10
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While water resistance is always a good idea, I honestly do not currently use a single water resistant lens. I've had more issues with rain than from any errant hose blasts. If you are close enough to get wet from a hose, you are too close LOL!
01-26-2018, 02:35 PM   #11
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Depends on how close you need to get to the action. (ie: will you be a bystander hanging back, or geared up at the front lines?) I would definitely go for weather resistant lenses if I were you. I'd be worried about spray from the hoses blowing onto the camera, and also maybe smoke or soot. The Pentax 16-50 f/2.8 and 50-135 f/2.8 are both dust resistant as well as weather resistant. The DA 18-135 is weather resistant, though not specifically dust resistant.

If you'll be covering fires at night, definitely consider the f/2.8 lenses since you'll need the additional light to keep your shutter speed up and avoid blur. The 50-135 would allow you to get a decent overview from further back while letting you zoom in for shots showcasing individual firefighters. If your goal is to focus only on the overall fire (like a news reporter) you would be better with the 16-50 so you can fit it all in the frame. If budget is a concern look at the 18-135. It won't be as great in low light but the versatile zoom range is very useful, especially in an urban environment where you may not be able to back up so much.

You should also consider upgrading your camera instead. The K-3, K-70, KP all have much better high ISO performance than your K10D and even with your current lenses you'll see a large improvement in auto focus, resolution and low light performance. A new body paired with the 18-135 may even work out better than putting an f/2.8 lens on your K-10D.

Last edited by TheOneAndOnlyJH; 01-29-2018 at 09:55 AM. Reason: Fixed spelling error
01-27-2018, 12:34 PM   #12
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Thanks for the response. I have upgraded to a K7D will be looking for lens for it from the responses on this site. Thanks again
01-27-2018, 03:32 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by indydan Quote
Thanks for the response. I have upgraded to a K7D will be looking for lens for it from the responses on bthis site. Thanks again
K70 or k-7?
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