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01-28-2017, 12:31 PM - 3 Likes   #1
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Field Report: 2 weeks in Turkey and Greece, January 2017 with K-3 and K-30

I recently returned from two weeks in Turkey and Greece, mainly visiting biblical and other historical sites. Photographically speaking, here are some observations that I am recording for myself and may help others.

GEAR:
  • Pentax K-3, almost always with the DA 18-135 on it
  • Pentax K-30, with either the Sigma 10-20 f4-5.6 or the DA 10-17 FE
  • Lenses:
    • DA 10-17 FE
    • Sigma 10-20 f4-5.6
    • DA 18-135
    • DA 21
    • DA 40XS
    • DAL 55-300
    • Kenko 1.4x teleconverter (never used)
  • Accessories: plenty of batteries, chargers, adaptors, a CPL for the 18-135, camera cleaning gear, extra SD cards, etc.
  • Monopod (never used, though I should have taken it with me on some of my nighttime walks)
  • Kept everything in a Tenba Discovery Photo/Laptop Messenger which has proven to be perfect for my needs. I also brought along one little fanny pack that just holds the K-3 and 18-135 and a slightly larger little bag that holds that kit plus another lens or two.
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone which has a decent camera and can also be used for Ďsnapshots,í panoramas, and for getting a quick geotagged shot
  • 11Ē notebook computer with MicroSD slot for nightly backup of photos. I actually am using class 10 MicroSD cards with the SD adaptor in both cameras, and I have had no problems.
  • Garmin Vivoactiv HR watch (w/ GPS for creating GPX files to sync w/ photo metadata) Ė Since returning, Iíve used the Garmin site to download the GPX files, used GPS Track Editor to make any time adjustments, loaded up the pics into Lightroom, and then auto-tagged the photos in the Map module. Works fine, but it certainly would be easier to have built-in GPS.

EXPERIENCES:
Weather was colder than usual, and there was record snowfall (16Ē or so) while we were in Istanbul. Some rain/drizzleÖ Between a lot of cloudy, overcast days and snow-covered sites and some mixed sun days, there were a lot of challenging lighting conditions. Iím glad that my K-3 and K-30 are weather resistant, and that with the DA 18-135 I had a weather resistant setup that allowed me to keep shooting. Snow was actually more of a problem than rain, since the snowflakes were floating on to the lens, and I had to keep cleaning.

K-3 vs K-30: I just got the K-3 (used) a month before the trip. I wanted a second WR body, because I know from past experience that being with a tour group, I donít have time to keep switching lenses. The second body is also my backup insurance. In general, I usually had the DA 18-135 on the K-3, and I kept an ultrawide angle (DA 10-17 or Sigma 10-20) on the K-30. That aspect of things worked well. The K-3 really is a step up from the K-30 (which I still like), and there are some important differences I noticed.
  • The button and dial locations on the two cameras are different enough that it slowed me down at times.
  • The sensor cleaner mechanism on the K-3 is much more effective than the K-30ís
  • I really like having a dial lock on the K-3. I messed up some shots on the K-30 by accidentally moving the dial when pulling it out of the bag.
  • The dual-card slot is reassurance, but I never really needed it. I set slot 1 to shoot RAW and slot 2 with a smaller card to save JPEG.
  • The top LCD on the K-3 can be helpful, but, since I wear glasses, and I need to take off the glasses to shoot through the viewfinder, I canít read the top LCD!
  • The K-3 is just a more solid camera and the quieter shutter is very nice.
  • Main thing: The low-light performance of the K-3 is so much more effective. I was comfortable shooting up to 2500 ISO when necessary, and I am still happy with the processed results.
RESULTS:
I had a number of photographic goals:
  • Documenting historical sites/artefacts: I.e., Iím trying to get a Ďtechnicalí picture that shows what a site is like. Most shots of artefacts in museums come under this category. Iím still paying attention to composition, but exposition is the main goal.
  • Attractive representative shots: Similar to the first goal, but Iím striving for more of an appealing or interesting angle or composition or lighting
  • Artistic shots: Always on the lookout for beauty!
  • Snapshots: Pictures of the group, interesting signs, etc.

I ended up taking about 1350 pics on the K-3, 200 on the K-30, and another 60 or so on the smartphone. Of the ~1600, I deleted 100 or so right away. After sorting and processing, I ended up with about 450 pics that I liked. Of these, I have 74 that I especially liked. If youíre interested (on Flickr):
While I took about 7x more pics with the K-3 as compared to the K-30, among the 450 that I liked, the ratio is closer to 4.5x. Of my 74 favorites, the ratio is 2x. >> This goes to show that I really like ultrawide angle shots!

I started out with the Sigma 10-20 on the K-30, but I only ended up taking 22 shots with it before switching to the DA 10-17 FE. The Sigma is a very good lens, and I probably should have switched back to it at times because it can do some special things, but the DA 10-17 is just so small and fun and allows for more creative possibilities and has the extra wide angle that I often found I needed. Over half of the 160 shots with DA 10-17 were at 10-11mm (which is wider than the rectilinear Sigma can capture), and the shots at 13-17mm were either not noticeably fisheye or needed just a little correction.

I only used the DA 55-300 ten times. This is testament both to the viability of the 18-135 as an all-around lens and the nature of subjects I was photographing. There just wasnít much call for telephoto, and when there was frequent haziness or fog, the telephoto canít do much.

Since they are faster lenses, I mainly took out the DA 21 and DA 40XS when I went for walks at night. This was more of street scene shooting, and they are both so small that it makes it easy to carry them and not be so noticeable.

Overall:
  • About 190 shots in the 10-19mm range
  • About 1400 shots in the 18-75mm range (with ~300 at 18mm)
  • About 155 shots in the 80-135mm range
  • 10 shots in the 165-300mm range
Iíve broken things down that way because Iíve been tempted by the DA 16-85. You can see that I mainly use the DA 18-135 at the widest end which is not its strongest, and I would likely make frequent use of the 16-17mm on the 16-85 if I had it. The DA 16-85 actually makes a good pairing with the DA 10-17 FE since effective field of views do not overlap nor do they leave a gap. (In terms of FOV, the Sigma 10-20 is a good pair with the DA 18-135.) However, I did make use of that 80-135mm range, so if I should ever go to the 16-85, I would have to count more on the 55-135 (or perhaps the 1.4x teleconverter).

SUMMARY: If you donít want to bother reading all the details above:
  • The K-3 is a great camera, and I especially like its low light capabiliites
  • The DA 18-135 is a great all-around, WR lens (though Iím still tempted by the DA 16-85)
  • The DA 10-17 FE is a wonderful and fun lens to use
Thanks for reading! Flickr links to albums are above, but here are a few of my faves:
Ephesus: Library of Celsus


Laodicea: North (Sacred) Agora Portico


Lydian Tumulus (tomb mound) near Sardis



01-28-2017, 12:34 PM   #2
Ole
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Thanks for sharing your experience!
01-28-2017, 01:17 PM   #3
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Thanks for sharing this. Just a quick question : how did you chase all the tourists out of Ephesus? The place was probably busier than it was when it was inhabited when we were there...
01-28-2017, 01:25 PM   #4
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts and photos. I was in Turkey during late summer, and the strong light made photographing some sites like Ephesus a real challenge. Going in winter obviously has some pictorial advantages, not to mention having to cope with fewer other tourists. Fascinating country and nice people – sad to see the troubles there, now.

01-28-2017, 01:27 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by IgorZ Quote
Thanks for sharing this. Just a quick question : how did you chase all the tourists out of Ephesus? The place was probably busier than it was when it was inhabited when we were there...
Besides our group of 15, there were maybe only 10 other people there. We got there early, but the main issue is that tourism is down dramatically due to security/terrorism issues in Istanbul. We only came across one other tour group (Korean) in a week in Turkey. The situation is not too much better in Greece.
01-28-2017, 01:39 PM   #6
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Thanks for sharing your experiences and your photos. Just one question... how did you keep track of which pictures were from the Sigma 10-20 and which were from the Pentax 10-17? I try to keep track as you did, but with overlapping focal lengths it has been challenging at times.
01-28-2017, 01:48 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by dave2k Quote
Thanks for sharing your experiences and your photos. Just one question... how did you keep track of which pictures were from the Sigma 10-20 and which were from the Pentax 10-17? I try to keep track as you did, but with overlapping focal lengths it has been challenging at times.
When I shoot with RAW/DNG (as compared to JPG), when I look at the photos in Lightroom, I can choose Metadata > Lenses. You can see here that it knows the DA 10-17 and knows that the other lens is at least a Sigma or Tamron.


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01-28-2017, 01:50 PM   #8
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Marveleous photo, I wish I can do the same.
01-28-2017, 02:20 PM   #9
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Thanks for taking the time to write such a well thought out and useful review of your trip.

I think the Flickr Albums that came from your trip are excellent.
01-28-2017, 03:14 PM   #10
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Great shots. Love the third one above and just looked through the "best" shots group. Some great shots in there, love the city shot (36) with the river in the foreground. You should post it here for those who don't look through the album. Very nice work.
01-28-2017, 03:24 PM   #11
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Wow, really enjoyed those great pictures. Thanks for sharing.
01-28-2017, 03:31 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by 1wild1 Quote
Great shots. Love the third one above and just looked through the "best" shots group. Some great shots in there, love the city shot (36) with the river in the foreground. You should post it here for those who don't look through the album. Very nice work.
Thanks! This shot was taken from a rocking boat, through a window. Took a little post-processing.
01-28-2017, 04:15 PM   #13
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Great write up and pictures.

Funny, as I started reading your analysis of the focal range usage I immediately thought of the 16-85. And then in the next paragraph you mentioned it. I find it very appealing as a travel lens too.
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