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07-31-2013, 12:25 PM   #1
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DSLR Help for Rainforest Photography

Hi all,
I am new to the forum, as well as new to (good) photography, and especially new to Pentax DSLRs. The occasion for joining the forum is that I am going to get married soon,and my honeymoon will involve trekking through rainforests to see exotic animals. My lovely future wife has informed me that she would like to have large prints printed afterwards and feature them in her home office. Also, for what it's worth, we're hoping to take a future African Safari for a similar purpose. So I'm taking this opportunity to try a new hobby, and hopefully have some fun and good pictures as a result.

So like any good newbie starting a new hobby, I've been reading up on equipment and photography tips, including stalking this forum for a bit, but I haven't quite found what I felt were applicable answers to my questions (There is an older thread from 2010 that was helpful, so perhaps this would be more of an update). Due to the certainty of running into bad weather during these trips, I'm quite attracted to the weather sealed options that Pentax has at a low price point. This has led me to the K-30 and now the K-50 (the AA battery option is also a lovely addition). I'm watching prices at the moment, and it seems like my choices are as such along with what I see as the pros and cons:

A) K-30 with the 18-135 WR Lens.

Pro: Getting it for much cheaper than it "should" cost. Heard great things about the lens.
Con: These don't seem to lose value, so they're still a bit pricey while planning a wedding, and I can't seem to find a used one. Am I missing out on anything by getting the K30 vs K50?

B) K-50 with 18-55 and 50-200 WR Lenses

Pro: Get some more reach for far away animals, two lens options for what seems to be a very reasonable price
Con: Do i really want to carry two lenses around the jungle? And is 50-200 too much zoom for just carrying one lens around?

C) K-50 or K-30 with 18-55 WR Lens

Pro: Very reasonable cost, and I should probably be practicing more than relying on equipment to get good shots.
Con: But what if that animal is pretty far away?

If you could offer your opinions, or correct mine, I'd greatly appreciate it. Also, if I've chosen poorly in forum location, let me know that too.

Thanks

07-31-2013, 12:48 PM   #2
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For rainforest trecking it would be safer to get a DA* lens as they got better sealing, there will be a lot of moisture. The best kit for the trecking of the ones listed would be the 18-135, by far. It's versatile reasonably compact and pretty quick focusing.
07-31-2013, 12:50 PM   #3
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For a recent trip to Costa Rica rainforests I carried two WR bodies, one with the 18-135 and another with a DA*300 and was very happy with the results.
If it is raining you will not be able to change lenses, so that is why I used two bodies.
On a prior trip to Yucatan during the rainy season I used an 18-250 Tamron, but since it is not WR I had to cover it with plastic bag during the storms.
It also worked out OK.
From the options you list above I would go with K-30 +18-135. The 50-200 is an OK lens but resulting shots will be just as good as cropping the pictures from 18-135.
07-31-2013, 01:03 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by psubadger Quote
Hi all,
I am new to the forum, as well as new to (good) photography, and especially new to Pentax DSLRs. The occasion for joining the forum is that I am going to get married soon,and my honeymoon will involve trekking through rainforests to see exotic animals. My lovely future wife has informed me that she would like to have large prints printed afterwards and feature them in her home office. Also, for what it's worth, we're hoping to take a future African Safari for a similar purpose. So I'm taking this opportunity to try a new hobby, and hopefully have some fun and good pictures as a result.

So like any good newbie starting a new hobby, I've been reading up on equipment and photography tips, including stalking this forum for a bit, but I haven't quite found what I felt were applicable answers to my questions (There is an older thread from 2010 that was helpful, so perhaps this would be more of an update). Due to the certainty of running into bad weather during these trips, I'm quite attracted to the weather sealed options that Pentax has at a low price point. This has led me to the K-30 and now the K-50 (the AA battery option is also a lovely addition). I'm watching prices at the moment, and it seems like my choices are as such along with what I see as the pros and cons:

A) K-30 with the 18-135 WR Lens.

Pro: Getting it for much cheaper than it "should" cost. Heard great things about the lens.
Con: These don't seem to lose value, so they're still a bit pricey while planning a wedding, and I can't seem to find a used one. Am I missing out on anything by getting the K30 vs K50?

B) K-50 with 18-55 and 50-200 WR Lenses

Pro: Get some more reach for far away animals, two lens options for what seems to be a very reasonable price
Con: Do i really want to carry two lenses around the jungle? And is 50-200 too much zoom for just carrying one lens around?

C) K-50 or K-30 with 18-55 WR Lens

Pro: Very reasonable cost, and I should probably be practicing more than relying on equipment to get good shots.
Con: But what if that animal is pretty far away?

If you could offer your opinions, or correct mine, I'd greatly appreciate it. Also, if I've chosen poorly in forum location, let me know that too.

Thanks
You are not missing anything getting the k-30 over the k-50.
I am also pretty new to DSLRs but i may be able to responde. First, of the lenses you mentioned the one with the best image quality is the 18-135wr, i dont think you should get any of the other ones (mabe the 18-55 considering how cheap it is), but you should consider that 135 is not enought for wildlife (i just came back from a trip to the amazonas rainforest and 300mm was all i use for wildlife (and sometimes it wasn't enought). Unfortunately pentax doesnt offer any affordable lense that has wr and a range of 300mm so if i were you i would consider getting the da 55-300mm(or the dal version, both of the have very good image quality) the k-30, a tripod(it will improve your photos a lot if you are willing to carry the extra weight, mabe a smal one that can be atached to branches) and a plastic bag for proteccion in case it rains.(and if you want the 18-55, but i dont see you using too much in the rainforest).
All of that shouldn't be too expensive (a lot less than simmilar equipment that other brands offer) and you will get great results.

Good luck.

07-31-2013, 01:28 PM   #5
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Rain forests can be dark, so you may want a fast lens and/or a tripod. There are lots of reflective surfaces, so a CPL filter for each lens might help [especially if you have a tripod]. Work on drying your gear after each excursion. If you want bird or other animal images, you 'll want a long and fast lens [big $$].
07-31-2013, 01:30 PM   #6
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I have the DA 18-55 WR and DA 50-200 WR lenses, and they are fine lenses. I think the DA 50-200 WR has some fans and some non-fans on the forum, mine does exactly what I want it to do. I can list some Cons for the combination, though. Two lenses is just that extra hassle you don't want on a hike. I will change lenses at any excuse most of the time, and I can do it well, but it really interrupts a hike with others. This pair comes with hoods that don't interchange and caps that don't interchange and maybe even filters that don't interchange. [But the small removable door for adjusting a polarizer does interchange!] That adds to the lens change difficulty and possibly filter expense if you want filters. I rarely use filters and it was still annoying. The last hike I took, I just used the 18-55 WR the whole time.

The only complaint I have about image quality is that the DA 50-200 WR has some vignetting in the corners when using it at its widest apertures. This is not very noticeable, normally avoidable, and sometimes a desireable effect. (I should probably check to see if it is corrected automatically in the camera.)

So I would lean towards the DA 18-135 WR for rainforest hiking. You give up some range which sounds like a lot - the combination is 65mm longer. It's really not that big a deal. For faraway stuff, if the photo is well-exposed, you have enough pixels to crop away two-thirds of them and still print large, even at 20"x30". The 18-135 is supposed to have better image quality than the pair of lenses.

I'm not up to speed on the differences between K-30 and K-50.
07-31-2013, 01:58 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
...The only complaint I have about image quality is that the DA 50-200 WR has some vignetting in the corners when using it at its widest apertures. This is not very noticeable, normally avoidable, and sometimes a desirable effect. (I should probably check to see if it is corrected automatically in the camera.)
No, it isn't - the two checkboxes for correction are for distortion and chromatic aberration. Here's what it looks like at 200mm f5.6 with some Colorado sky as a subject. Next to it is the same shot with vignetting corrected in software (Adobe Camera RAW 6):



QuoteQuote:
So I would lean towards the DA 18-135 WR for rainforest hiking. You give up some range which sounds like a lot - the combination is 65mm longer. It's really not that big a deal.
Another pair of shots, 135mm vs. 200mm on the DA 50-200 WR:

07-31-2013, 02:16 PM   #8
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I like my pentax15mm F4 for rainforests and my sigma10mm F2.8 fisheye. I don't like my sigma 10-20mm as i don't like the stretched corners.

You probably won't get much wildlife in the rainforest for a load of reasons including they hide, its dark, there is a load of obstructions between you and the animal. Often your best chance for animals is around your accommodation and eating areas. Watch out for the backgrounds if you intend to blow up the photos.

In Africa I found my pentax 60-250 very versatile and reduced excellent images. I used it in combination with a sigma 500mm. The 60-250 was used as much as the 500mm and is able to get most of of your mammal photos.

07-31-2013, 03:01 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob from Aus Quote
I like my pentax15mm F4 for rainforests and my sigma10mm F2.8 fisheye. I don't like my sigma 10-20mm as i don't like the stretched corners.

You probably won't get much wildlife in the rainforest for a load of reasons including they hide, its dark, there is a load of obstructions between you and the animal. Often your best chance for animals is around your accommodation and eating areas. Watch out for the backgrounds if you intend to blow up the photos.

In Africa I found my pentax 60-250 very versatile and reduced excellent images. I used it in combination with a sigma 500mm. The 60-250 was used as much as the 500mm and is able to get most of of your mammal photos.
Woah, let's not forget the OP is on a budget I have mentioned this before: if you plan on going on a safari, you should consider superzoom cameras in addition to your DSLR, since they extend your reach immensely without costing a fortune (relatively speaking, ofc.) .

Now if you'll only go to the rainforest, w/o wildlife tours, the K-30 and 18-135 should suffice for pretty much everything.
07-31-2013, 03:25 PM   #10
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I'll add a vote for the k-30 and 18-135. And also suggest that you get a lot of practice before the trip. And don't get your hopes up for seeing a lot of wildlife just trekking about, the critters see or hear you long before you see them. You will have only a few opportunities so you need to know your gear well enough that you are not fumbling around when that one shot of the day shows up. Unless you are on a guided tour or going to a wildlife park most of your shots will be around the hotel or other human inhabited areas because the animals and birds there are used to us.

If you feel the need (and have the budget) for a second lens take a good look at the 55-300. It is not WR, but if it is raining you won't have visibility enough to use it anyway. Keep the 18-135 on the camera and the 55-300 in a waterproof case or bag unless you need it.
07-31-2013, 03:39 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Giklab Quote
Woah, let's not forget the OP is on a budget I have mentioned this before: if you plan on going on a safari, you should consider superzoom cameras in addition to your DSLR, since they extend your reach immensely without costing a fortune
These trips are really expensive anyway. And they are looking at rainforest and Africa. Two great lenses to capture the experience is a major consideration. My first African trip my big lens was a sigma 50-500 which was very convenient. Next trip I replaced the bigma (50-500) with two lenses, pentax 60-250 and the sigma 500 - not at all convenient. However I brought home the photos I always dreamed of. As I am into bird photography the 500 reach is essential for me. If psubadger wants sensational photos he will need some great glass. The glass will last a lot longer than the camera.
07-31-2013, 04:08 PM   #12
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That 60-250 haunts me. I use it as a threat that I whisper to my DA* 300/4 to keep it from slacking, and it shivers everytime!
07-31-2013, 04:19 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by VisualDarkness Quote
That 60-250 haunts me. I use it as a threat that I whisper to my DA* 300/4 to keep it from slacking, and it shivers everytime!
I can't justify getting the 300/4 even though it has such a high reputation. My 60-250 is a must and swapping my other primes drive me nuts as I try and avoid any zoom other than my 60-250.
07-31-2013, 04:28 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob from Aus Quote
I can't justify getting the 300/4 even though it has such a high reputation. My 60-250 is a must and swapping my other primes drive me nuts as I try and avoid any zoom other than my 60-250.
If I wasn't using my 300mm on my Pentax Q I would seriously consider swapping, even though the 300 is great.
07-31-2013, 04:35 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by VisualDarkness Quote
If I wasn't using my 300mm on my Pentax Q I would seriously consider swapping, even though the 300 is great.
Now a 300 on a pentax Q is a temptation I don't need. How good is the combo?
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