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03-30-2011, 01:53 PM   #1
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Best lens combination for traveling with K-7 (street, landscapes, handicrafts)

Hi everyone,

K-7 and the 18-55mm WR were my first ever DSLR kit. I've been using them for about 6 months, now I'm thinking about an update of my lens collection because

(1) I'm becoming dissatisfied with the 18-55's ability to zoom
(2) I'm going on a 3-month trip this summer, I'd like to use wide-angle functions to capture the vast landscapes on my way!

Preferences
(1) Weather Resistant (not a defining factor)
(2) light zoom lenses are preferable as I'm quite tiny (5''2, can't hold a lot of weight), want to do lots of travel photography, and want flexibility to learn what ranges work best for me
(3) image quality is very important because I'm starting a blog and an online shop (handicrafts, artworks etc.)

I'd be willing to pay if the quality matches the price, but I won't be able to afford the likes of DA*

Current option:
Buy both Pentax 18-135mm WR (saw some great reviews) and Pentax 10-17mm (don't know much about this one), sell 18-55mm

Any other suggestions/comments please?

I'm glad I looked for something other than Canon/Nikon for my first camera... Pentax's great.
Thank you so much!


Last edited by ardentartichoke; 03-31-2011 at 07:20 AM.
03-30-2011, 02:15 PM   #2
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The 10-17 is incredible--but it's fisheye on the wide end. You can have a lot of fun with that, but dollar for dollar with your budget for an ultrawide angle, I think you're better off avoiding fisheye,

And the 18-135 doesn't help you on the wide end at all.

Isn't researching a new lens purchase a bitch? There's never an easy answer.

For $500, and for your upcoming trip, the Sigma 10-20 would fill a big hole, or the Pentax 12-24, but don't know the cost off-hand on that.

Yes, this doesn't help you going beyond the 55 on your kit, but as far as a single lens purchase goes, first things first.
03-30-2011, 02:36 PM   #3
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I'll second the suggestion for the Sigma 10-20. It will givw you all of the normal (not too distorted) extra wide field of view that you want. If auto focus isn't too important to you, there are probably thousands of older 28 - 105 ish zoom lenses around from the film camera days that can be bought cheap. I've got a nice Vivitar Series 1 28-105 2.8-3.5(I think) sitting in a draw. It was the last lens used on my Super Program and the first lens used on my K10D. I still use it occasionally but my bag now holds newer autofocus options.
03-30-2011, 02:55 PM   #4
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I think an 18-135 would be a great choice.

As for a wide zoom, a DA 12-24 (~$700) would be a better option than a 10-17 unless you know for sure that the fish eye look is your thing. The DA12-24 isn't fish eye and is a very nice sharp lens perfect for landscapes and architecture.

If the DA12-24 is a bit expensive, then the Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 would be the next best. Avoid the constant f3.5 version of the Sigma, it costs more and isn't as good as it's cheaper sibbling.

Good luck, and happy travelling

03-30-2011, 07:11 PM   #5
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Thanks for the responses!

Sorry that I didn't make it clear --
I'm not just looking to buy a single lens, my original idea is to buy both the 18-135mm and the 10-17mm. That way I got both the wide-angle and the zoom aspects covered.

But I'm not at all interested in the distorting effects of a fisheye lens, so now I'm indecisive again… Say I do decide to get 18-135mm, should I get Sigma 10-20mm, Pentax 10-17mm, Pentax 12-24mm or others? Would a fisheye (like 10-17mm) introduce more distortion than a regular wide-angle (like 12-24mm) at the same focal length?

Calicojack suggested older lenses - what are some drawbacks of having older lenses, besides no autofocus? I might want to update to newer models in a few years and I'm worried about compatibility; my preference for WR would also be a concern.

Thank you thank you thank you!
03-30-2011, 07:50 PM   #6
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A 10-17 as a fish eye lens has signficantly more distortion than the Sigma 10-20 or the Pentax 12-24 which are both rectalinear lenses.

If you have $700 buy the Pentax 12-24, it's excellent. It is slightly better than the Sigma. The Sigma though is a very good lens and much cheaper. The Sigma is probably the best value, the Pentax the best in absolute quality.

Their ranges are different too, so if very very wide is important buy the Sigma as it goes out to 10mm. I own the Pentax 12-24 and am very happy with it.
03-30-2011, 08:36 PM   #7
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I always recommend the 12-24 for travel, and frequently for other things. The fisheye is nice but it is fisheye at all focal lengths, just more noticeably at 10 and only slightly at 17. It has 2 straight lines - horizontal and vertical through the center, so careful composition can minimize the fisheye look on occasion.

There are many recent "what lens for vacation to ..." threads.

Time to post "old reliable " again :-) Sorry I did not get the fisheye at 10mm. Note that 16mm on the fisheye is about the same as 12mm on the 12-24.



If size is important, the DA 21 (slightly wide), DA 40 (barely telephoto) and DA 70 (short telephoto) are about as small as they get. One on the camera and 2 on a double-mount rear cap in the bag with your rocket blower and mini 6" tripod.

Last edited by SpecialK; 03-30-2011 at 08:52 PM.
03-30-2011, 09:46 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by ardentartichoke Quote
Thanks for the responses!

Sorry that I didn't make it clear --
I'm not just looking to buy a single lens, my original idea is to buy both the 18-135mm and the 10-17mm. That way I got both the wide-angle and the zoom aspects covered.

But I'm not at all interested in the distorting effects of a fisheye lens, so now I'm indecisive again… Say I do decide to get 18-135mm, should I get Sigma 10-20mm, Pentax 10-17mm, Pentax 12-24mm or others? Would a fisheye (like 10-17mm) introduce more distortion than a regular wide-angle (like 12-24mm) at the same focal length?

Calicojack suggested older lenses - what are some drawbacks of having older lenses, besides no autofocus? I might want to update to newer models in a few years and I'm worried about compatibility; my preference for WR would also be a concern.

Thank you thank you thank you!
You can't really think of the DA 10-17mm in terms of millimeters. Because of the fisheye distortion, it has a much wider field of view than its focal length implies. The lens does have a field of view spec in degrees, and by that you can see it's always wider than the DA 12-24mm. That shows in SpecialK's image.

Anyway, I would put the fisheye zoom on the back burner for now, simply because you weren't looking for what it does best (fisheye). I would also put older lenses on the back burner for wide angle use. Because they were designed for film, the focal lengths of the common (therefore cheaper and easy to find) lenses are not very wide at all. The few remaining lenses worth considering are often not much cheaper than new alternatives. That's why I got the DA 16-45. If you do look at them, you can get by without autofocus because you have a lot of depth of field at wide angles. Just set the lens to 10 feet or so and everything's in focus. I like having matrix metering for really wide angles. You need an A setting on the aperture ring for that.

You should probably look at your photos to see how many were taken at "18mm and I wish it were wider". The popular choices for wider are the already mentioned Sigma 10-20mm (old and new versions) and the DA 12-24mm. Also look for the Tamron 10-24mm which is recent. Many people have difficulty choosing here. I suggest looking at sites like Flickr where you can see photos by each lens. (For me, I start to dislike the look of photos at 10mm.)

The DA 18-135mm looks pretty good for travel purposes and pairing with an ultrawide zoom. As I learn more, the difference between 135mm and something longer for travel is that if it's an interesting subject, I should get closer anyway. You can't always have the perfect lens for every possible photo when traveling. A versatile lens is better than four lenses you left at the hotel.

03-31-2011, 06:03 AM   #9
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Consider the Pentax DA 18-250mm, it's quite good as a travel lens, and is cheaper than the 18-135mm. I own this lens and like it very much. These sell for about $400 on ebay or KEH. Sometimes I can't get closer, and the extra reach is nice to have. I use a 10-20mm Sigma and the 18-250mm as a travel kit. A fast prime is nice to have, as well, for low light shooting. Don't sell the 18-55mm WR, it is good for rainy weather, also if you decide to sell the K-7, it's nice to sell with the kit lens.
03-31-2011, 07:16 AM   #10
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Morning everyone,

I really appreciate the help, this is one of the friendliest forums I've ever joined

I went on flickr and saw samples of the Pentax 12-24mm... wow very impressed by the image quality! I've always been a bit dissatisfied with the kit lens's IQ, so the 12-24mm is exactly what I'm looking for for my website/blog/online storefront.
My concern: the 12-24mm isn't WR, which would fine if I only use it like I normally do - for regular street shooting. But this summer I'm actually going to Asia, including Tibet, Mongolia and Uygur, etc. so I'm worried about what the dusty, rougher conditions there could do to the lens! Can anyone comment on this?

On flickr it seems that the 18-135mm can't compete with the 12-24's IQ... Is this true or am I making some kind of rookie mistake in judging lens quality by looking at images? What would be an alternative that matches up with the 12-24?

Price-wise:
The 12-24mm is more expensive than I expected, but I'm willing to put in the investment for great quality. I heard K7 isn't exactly a beginner's camera, but I got it anyway, because I didn't want to improve and quickly become dissatisfied with it (like I am now with the kit lens). Now that I have confidence in my learning ability for photography, I want something that I can keep for a good while, something that I can learn to live up to. IQ is very important especially when I look to shoot for business purposes.
With that said though, please do suggest similar lenses with a lower price. I'm still considering the Sigma 10-20mm, just unsure whether I want the 10mm end of it.

twitch: your photography is beautiful!
SpecialK: the image really helped, thanks!
Dave: thank you so much, that cleared a lot of my confusions.
gp1806:
"Don't sell the 18-55mm WR, it is good for rainy weather, also if you decide to sell the K-7, it's nice to sell with the kit lens." Good suggestion… Hadn't thought of that… I'll look into the 18-250mm.
03-31-2011, 03:28 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by gp1806 Quote
Consider the Pentax DA 18-250mm, it's quite good as a travel lens, and is cheaper than the 18-135mm. I own this lens and like it very much. These sell for about $400 on ebay or KEH. Sometimes I can't get closer, and the extra reach is nice to have. I use a 10-20mm Sigma and the 18-250mm as a travel kit. A fast prime is nice to have, as well, for low light shooting. Don't sell the 18-55mm WR, it is good for rainy weather, also if you decide to sell the K-7, it's nice to sell with the kit lens.
I like gp 1806's suggestion. The DA 18-250 is a very good lens, often looked down upon because it's a "super zoom". It really does a whole lot of things right. Focus down to 18", even at 250mm, so it's a pretty good "tele-macro", and it's a compact lens to pack for all its versatility. It really shines with the higher ISO capability of the K-5 and K-r to make up for the slow max aperture at the long end.

The Sigma 10-20 is a very good lens, and about as wide as is practical for a lot of people. The DA 12-24 is a better lens, IMO, but with the 10-20, you get a little more coverage at a lower price, and at the ultra-wide end, every mm counts a whole lot more than at the ultra tele end where you can skip 50-100 mm and really not miss it.

You could get ultra quality with a bagful of primes, but would you carry them all the time? "Travel kit" usually means compromising some IQ for convenience most of the time, and it's hard to argue with 10-250mm in two lenses that would be easy to carry everywhere. Personally, I'd rather have the versatility to easily get the shots I want. I'd want to document the trip, not be weighed down with premium gear that I'd constantly be worried about -- that would be more like an assignment -- not my idea of a good time. . .

When I finish the trip, if I've found the travel lenses a little wanting in the quality I want for specialty work, I'd sell them and get the primes that I know I want -- there will probably be someone else looking for a convenient travel kit at the time. . .

Just my 2˘

Scott
03-31-2011, 03:58 PM   #12
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I would swap the 10-17 for the 12-24 or a sigma 10-20
03-31-2011, 06:34 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ardentartichoke Quote
I'm actually going to Asia, including Tibet, Mongolia and Uygur, etc. so I'm worried about what the dusty, rougher conditions there could do to the lens! Can anyone comment on this?
Camera condoms are about $5. You can probably find a baggie and rubber bands.

Used 12-24's pop up for about $600 from time to time in the Marketplace - not mine though.
04-01-2011, 01:27 PM   #14
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Guys I think I'm going to go with the 12-24mm. After reading (and experiencing a lot of headache over this decision) a ton of forum discussions & reviews & looked at samples, the main thing that concerns me is the Sigma 10-20mm's distortion at 10mm. I heard this can be reasonably avoided with good composition skills, but overall I love the 12-24mm's IQ and think 12mm will be good enough for me, so 12-24mm it is!

My other problem comes up - the Pentax 18-135mm IQ doesn't seem good enough... I looked for many samples but none really blew me out of the water (considering its price and zoom I know it's understandable). But now I'm starting to wonder if I need that big of a zoom at all. Like someone said above, if it's worth being in a picture, I'd rather get closer. I'm not looking to shoot a lot of detailed insects/flowers etc., just something that's longer than the 18-55mm, allowing me to focus on something small in a sea of bokeh/emphasize a detail on a handicraft. Again IQ is very important.

Overall question: What's a longer (than 18-55mm) lens suitable for my use? Preferably comes with better IQ than the 18-135mm.

Or should I post this question separately somewhere else?
Thanks!
04-01-2011, 01:49 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ardentartichoke Quote
My other problem comes up - the Pentax 18-135mm IQ doesn't seem good enough...
Overall question: What's a longer (than 18-55mm) lens suitable for my use? Preferably comes with better IQ than the 18-135mm.
I can't compare it to the 18-135 as far as IQ is concerned, but my choice of a "kit" lens was the Sigma 17-70. I think it gives better results than the DA 18-55. Pentax also has a DA17-70, but it seems to not get the respect I thought it would.

P.S. As far as wide angle distortion is concerned, be prepared to hold your camera level to limit it (with any wide lens). Tilt down or up and the lines converge up or down.
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