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10-16-2013, 02:39 PM   #1
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Which lens for wildlife/ ultra wide?

Hi all, noob here. Got my k-30 which is my first dslr a little over a month ago and have been having a lot of fun with it and the 18-135 lens. My main interests are landscape and wildlife photography and I have found that I need something with more reach. I'm the type that hikes with my camera strapped to my pack totally exposed to the elements so WR and lightweight are fairly important. I have been looking at the Pentax DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED as well as the Pentax - SMC-P DA -L 55-300/4-5.8 ED. What are the differences in these other than the price? Should I just pony up and wait for the HD Pentax DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR or even something else? I almost think it would be nice to have a 400mm for reaching wildlife. Also any recommendations for a wide angle lens for landscapes and maybe some city shooting. I was looking at the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC Lens for Pentax. Seems like it would be up to the task, but is there anything more water resistant and maybe cheaper? Any help would be appreciated as I feel like I'm swimming in lenses with no idea what to get. Love the 18-135 but feel like I need a zoom and a wide angle as well.

10-16-2013, 02:52 PM   #2
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Wildlife generally means 300mm or more...

You can easily compare the existing 55-300 features - metal or plastic mount material, quick shift or lack of, hood or lack of, and focus scale or lack of, but waiting for the WR version as it is important to you might be best. The 55-300 is about the best IQ bang for the buck for that FL length, though not particularly fast. Anything with better IQ and speed is likely twice the cost and weight, and not WR.

The 10-20 is a popular range and one version or another turns up in the marketplace from time to time. As many may tell you, you can do landscape with any focal length...though wide seems to be most frequently used.
10-16-2013, 03:07 PM   #3
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Ultra wide means you need to get ultra close. Samyang 14mm is a good choice, if you dont mind manual focus only. Otherwise maybe the DA 21mm ltd
Wildlife is skittish, so the DA 55-300mm is a good choice. Maybe even a DA 50-200mm WR, might be a little cheaper.
Or you can try a 18-250mm, so you get everything in one lens. But that usually means lower IQ and lower brightness (as in, you need lots of light to take photos)
10-16-2013, 04:56 PM   #4
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The Pentax 10-17 is a nice "ultra wide"

At 17, it is about as wide as a normal 12mm, and you don't really get any fishiness at 17 unless you are really close to your subject.

10-16-2013, 06:33 PM   #5
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The 55-300mm is F4 up to 200mm (if my memory serves correct). So it's actually faster up to 200mm then the 18-135mm you have. I love mine but often wish I had more reach. You can find the DA-L brand new for around $250 and seems it will be double that for the WR DA (quick shift, water resistant, hood). The name brand hood is about $45 retail so keep that in mind. 300mm offers nice reach but I think that, situationally, the need for more reach will always exist no matter how long you go.
10-16-2013, 07:03 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by MiningGold Quote
Hi all, noob here. Got my k-30 which is my first dslr a little over a month ago and have been having a lot of fun with it and the 18-135 lens. My main interests are landscape and wildlife photography and I have found that I need something with more reach. I'm the type that hikes with my camera strapped to my pack totally exposed to the elements so WR and lightweight are fairly important. I have been looking at the Pentax DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED as well as the Pentax - SMC-P DA -L 55-300/4-5.8 ED. What are the differences in these other than the price?
Included hood, metal mount and quick-shift focusing on the more expensive one.

QuoteQuote:
Should I just pony up and wait for the HD Pentax DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR or even something else? I almost think it would be nice to have a 400mm for reaching wildlife.
Even if you win the lottery, you'll have some compromises here. I really like my 400mm f5.6 Tokina SD, which is manual focus. It has some CA wide open. Later AF versions are better, and there are some Sigmas with similar specs. My lens has a KA mount, a tripod connector, a built-in hood and is internal focus. I can handhold it and it's a reasonable weight. You might spend up to $500 for a decent 400mm but it is a useful lens. Faster or longer is available but at a cost.

The 55-300 WR is a pretty good idea. You have one faster option, the DA* 300mm f4, and one longer option that's WR, the 560mm f5.6. Which may not be in anyone's price range.

QuoteQuote:
Also any recommendations for a wide angle lens for landscapes and maybe some city shooting. I was looking at the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC Lens for Pentax. Seems like it would be up to the task, but is there anything more water resistant and maybe cheaper? Any help would be appreciated as I feel like I'm swimming in lenses with no idea what to get. Love the 18-135 but feel like I need a zoom and a wide angle as well.
The widest WR lens is the DA* 16-50mm f2.8, not really what you're looking for in the cheaper range.
10-16-2013, 07:20 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by MiningGold Quote
I'm the type that hikes with my camera strapped to my pack totally exposed to the elements so WR and lightweight are fairly important.
You might have to rethink some things. Long and light is a contradiction. And how do you strap your camera to your pack, if you have more than one lens? What you need here is a WG3. I can't think of a DSLR that will hold up to what you're considering. Until you come up with some kind of camera bag/pack to hold your gear, preferably one with a waterproof cover for bad weather., you're going to have issues. You need a camera pack with a compartment big enough to hold the stuff that usually goes in your pack. A bit of weatherproofing does not mean long periods exposed to weather, or shock resistance. Stressing your gear eventually leads to failure, weather resistant or not.
10-16-2013, 09:27 PM   #8
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Thanks all for your lens recommendations and steering me in the right direction. Kind of overwhelming trying to find all of this info on my own. I know that long and light is a contradiction normhead, just wanted to make it clear that I didn't want a boat. And after hiking 200 miles for a month in the Canadian rockies, k30 on my chest through rain, sleet and snow I'm convinced that I already have the camera I need. Time will tell, but no issues thus far. Thanks again everybody!

10-17-2013, 03:06 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by MiningGold Quote
And after hiking 200 miles for a month in the Canadian rockies, k30 on my chest through rain, sleet and snow I'm convinced that I already have the camera I need
First, trust me when I say you have the camera you need and you picked the right one for an outdoorsman.

Second, we should hang out

-Heie

P.S. I highly recommend the 55-300 WR. I replaced my original DA 55-300 with the DA* 60-250 because I needed the telezoom with sealing and the WR version wasn't available at the time. But for the price, the DA 55-300 WR is in my opinion the very best consumer telezoom money can buy. Not only does it have fantastic optics despite it's very compact size (size of a coke can), it's now weather sealed.
10-17-2013, 04:52 AM   #10
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not to put a damper on things, but you are asking for two extremes which are not always compatible, ultra wide and wild life.

as many have noted, wildlife generally begins at 300 mm and usually gets out to 400-500mm, these lenses are not simply strapped to your back. they are heavy and expensive. similarly ultra wide can be much bigger than you think, I own the sigma 10-20, it is a great lens, but about 2x th esize and weight of the 18-55 you are playing with. again not really small.

if you want the focal length range and small size a bridge camera with a 26x zoom is a pretty good bet.

also, and this opinion varies, for me WR lenses are insurance if the primary protection fails, i would not rely on it for primary protection carry the gear properly in a bag which incorporates a waterproof shield, use the gear in a way that protects it from water, (there are bags to cover cameras and lenses) if your protection fails you still have the WR capability of the camera and perhaps the lens, but do not rely on it.

they have gone away now, but there were threads about people claiming the WR features didnt work, causing damage to camera and lens, because they spent all day outside in a driving storm, or, believe it or not, washed their camera in the kitchen sink under running water.

WR is NOT Water Proof
10-17-2013, 05:03 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by MiningGold Quote
Thanks all for your lens recommendations and steering me in the right direction...
Assuming you wish to become the best nature photographer on the planet via Pentax, go long and don't go second-tier. Get the best lens available... which means the DA*300 at this time. If you can't finance 'new' on your own, don't be shy. Christmas is around the corner. Make it known that a greatly appreciated gift will be some help toward the acquisition of that lens. In the end, you may need to fill in the gap, but you will have the key component needed to build a world class kit.

Next, recognize that photographs are made NOT taken. As such, expect your camera hardware to only deliver about 50% of what you need. The rest is provided by post-processing. This means having an eye for interesting images is NOT enough, you need to become a pp wizard in order to make the photograph dance. Fortunately, many excellent pp tools are available. Learning how to get the most out of them is easy and fun. I could drone on, but... (questions and comments are always welcome)

... my 2 cents... M
10-17-2013, 11:51 AM   #12
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So I'm guessing the sigma will be roughly the same size as the 18-135 that I am playing around with, Lowell? I will have the camera with one mounted lens out and the other in a waterproof backpack. No worries, if there is a great flood or monsoon I can always stop and put my stuff in a waterproof stuff sack. Thanks for the advice Michaelina, I'm thinking Adobe Photoshop. And Heie, almost felt like I should post a link to your great YouTube vid, but didn't want to give anyone nightmares. Second, yes, we should definitely kick it. Cheers!
10-17-2013, 12:38 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by MiningGold Quote
I'm thinking Adobe Photoshop...
Photoshop... you are kidding, right?

The correct answer is Lightroom supplemented by NIK plug-ins. They are specifically designed with photography in mind. Photographers can use it, but Photoshop is for graphics designers, plus it's EXPENSIVE in terms of computing power required to drive it, up-front cash to buy it, and time to learn. LR+NIK is frequently discounted (sometimes free) and easy to learn at your own pace via their free on-line tutorials and live pod-casts... They offer a much better value.

Cheer... M
10-17-2013, 01:03 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Michaelina2 Quote
Photoshop... you are kidding, right?

The correct answer is Lightroom supplemented by NIK plug-ins. They are specifically designed with photography in mind. Photographers can use it, but Photoshop is for graphics designers, plus it's EXPENSIVE in terms of computing power required to drive it, up-front cash to buy it, and time to learn. LR+NIK is frequently discounted (sometimes free) and easy to learn at your own pace via their free on-line tutorials and live pod-casts... They offer a much better value.

Cheer... M
Haha, meant to say lightroom. All apologies
10-17-2013, 04:27 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Heie Quote
First, trust me when I say you have the camera you need and you picked the right one for an outdoorsman.

Second, we should hang out

-Heie

P.S. I highly recommend the 55-300 WR. I replaced my original DA 55-300 with the DA* 60-250 because I needed the telezoom with sealing and the WR version wasn't available at the time. But for the price, the DA 55-300 WR is in my opinion the very best consumer telezoom money can buy. Not only does it have fantastic optics despite it's very compact size (size of a coke can), it's now weather sealed.
I'm with Heie all the way on this one. I'm looking to switch out my current DA 55-300 for the WR version fairly soon. My K5 and DA 18-55 WR have been well tested in pouring rain for several hours at a whack (hiking trips at altitude around Telluride, CO, where it takes a long time to get back down when the skies open up). My gear had no problems, but it was a case of: "Well, it's time to really test out this WR and see I can trust it." I LIKE WR .

Back in my serious backpacking days, my film cameras did fine, with a little water never hurting them, but I always put them in the pack when the rain really started, after toweling them off. The current day WR is much better, IMHO. But as Lowell mentioned, there seem to be cases where it DOESN'T get the job done, and some electronics can get fried. You just have to see whether your own equipment is going to handle rough weather, if you're going to put yourself out in that rough weather. Otherwise you can't trust it to work when you're out where you can get the images that you want . But it's your choice.

A nice hiking feature of the DA 55-300 WR is the lighter weight (16.4 oz) compared to, say, the DA*300 (37.7 oz). For a serious backpacking trip, this may be a consideration. That really great, big lens will be better than the DA 55-300WR at 300mm, but costs you in pack weight. If you start with the DA 55-300 WR, and find that the images at 300mm are not up to what you want, it would easy to sell it here on the Marketplace, and get that big, really sharp lens. And work out a bit more to be able to carry it in the mountains. Sorry that you would have to wait on the DA 55-300 WR, like the rest of us .

Oh, one more thing. The weather resistance of the DA* lenses is better than the DA xxx WR lenses. More trustworthy in the rough weather. Another variable to ponder. See Heie's video, which has DA* lenses. But I'm going to stick with the forthcoming DA 55-300 WR, which suits my purposes just fine at this time. YMMV.
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