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01-30-2010, 04:39 AM   #1
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Travel lens(es)

I'll be traveling in a few weeks, and I'm worried about the pragmatics of changing between, say, the kit DA-L 18-55mm and the DA-L 55-300mm. For walking around a city, would I be better off with something like the Tamron 18-250mm? (Enough better off to justify the additional $250?) Or can I stop and switch lenses without worrying too much about dust ó or other things that I don't know yet that I should worry about?

I realize there's a thread right below this with a similar question, but the original poster there was talking about family photography. The consensus there seemed to be get the two lenses rather than the all-in-one, but while traveling the constraints seem somewhat different.

I suggested to my wife that we choose one lens each day and see what we can do with that, but she's having none of it.

01-30-2010, 06:27 AM   #2
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I think there are several considerations when dealing with travel lenses.
First of all, space, how much space do you have? Are you planning on bringing along a dedicated camera bag? If so, how big is it? If you're not bringing along a dedicated camera bag, how are you planing on carrying your camera/lens(es)? What kind of room do you have?
Time: Will you be taking any group tours? Changing lenses is not particularly time consuming but it can be difficult if you are trying to keep up with a group tour, and forcing the group to wait while you change lenses is very bad manners. Will you be traveling only with your wife, or do you have kids? It can be hard on them (and you) if they get cranky or exasperated during lens changes.
Convenience: The only reason (from where I sit anyway) for a "super zoom" is convenience. Generally speaking, the image quality isn't as good as you can get from 2 or more lenses. I personally don't own a super zoom, but a) I don't travel much and b)if I do travel I don't do the group tour thing.
Unless you are going to a dusty environment (US southwest desert, African safari etc) I wouldn't worry about dust much. Your chances for dust are no greater traveling than they are walking around in your backyard.
I have esentially three different travel "kits"
1 lens: Sigma 17-70 F2.8-4.5
2 lenses, Sigma 17-70 and my trusty Pentax "A" 70-210 F4.0
3 lenses, the two above plus the Pentax 43mm F1.9 ltd.
The 43 ltd is used for indoor and low light shots.

NaCl(Hope that helps)H2O
01-30-2010, 06:57 AM   #3
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I favor primes

I am a former Pentax film shooter and favor primes over zooms, even for travel. I traveled with my primes all over Europe and shot hundreds of rolls of slide film, never having a problem with dust. I got pretty good at changing lenses inside my jacket or camera case, but unless it was very windy or raining, could get away with simply holding the camera "film down" and changing lenses on the fly. It helped to have my wife nearby as an extra pair of hands, but was not a requirement. For landscapes and architecture, it's now the 15/4 Ltd. I debated over the 12-24 zoom, but decided on the prime mainly due to weight and my obvious holdover prime bias, although the 12-24 tests very well for a zoom--they have come a long way from the old days. The main lens is my old 28/2.8, but I'll probably upgrade to another Ltd in the future. My all-time favorite lens in 35mm format was the 50/1.4, but it has become a short telephoto on the K10D due to the 1.5X magnification factor. I use it now for church interiors when flash is not allowed. I have a "kit" quality 80-200 zoom from my prior rig, but don't use it much, especially when traveling. Regardless of whether you opt for a zoom or prime system, don't forget some sort of stabilization device (tripod, monopod, Gorilla Pod, etc). Using a tripod with a zoom is almost always better than handholding with the finest prime. Happy shooting.
01-30-2010, 08:58 AM   #4
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Well, dust, is it a problem? Yes, sort of....
Do you need to worry a lot? It depends.

My first long trip with a DSLR was 3 weeks Africa with a K10D.
I was worried about the dust, so I bought the camera with a 18-250mm lens, as you are looking for.
I did no lens changes at all, following your reasoning.
It worked for the K10D, however !! not for my Panasonic FZ5 super zoom.
There is a unremoveable particle somewhere in the lens of the Panny, too bad!

Now I have lots of lenses. Changing them all the time.
Is it a problem? With my K10D somewhat, I need to clean the sensor once every 6 months or so. Often my $10 rocket blower will do the tric.
With my K-7 it is not a problem. The modern ultrasonic dust removal system works great!
Another 3 weeks of dusty Africa with loads of lens changes did polute my K10D again (shame on him!), byt the K-7 stays clean. Very good.

Do not worry too much about dust. Take the best lens for the job.
And.. learn *not* to be too nerveous about cleaning the camera.
Buy yourself a rocket blower of a decent brand. If needed you can dry or wet swap the sensor with special swipes.
I was a little nerveous first time, but actually cleaning is a secure but not very difficult thing to do.
Do not worry. The 55-300mm is much better than the 18-250mm which is not bad at all. Tkae the best best lens for the job.
I think your wife is right!

- Bert

01-30-2010, 10:14 AM   #5
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Something else to consider is how quickly youíre able to switch the lens, and your ability to do it without having to stop at a flat surface.

I have a K-x kit with the 55-300 lens. Iím carrying it in a Tamrac Express 6 camera bag, which is just big enough for the camera, two lenses (either one attached), and a Totes Micro umbrella. The bag not only allows me to grab the camera quickly, but it also allows me to change the lens without having to stop at a flat surface, or even stop moving, should I be part of a slow moving group.

The bag has a zippered compartment on the outside of the flap, which is where I put the front lens cap. When I want to switch, I ...
Turn the camera off, get the cap, and cap the lens
Remove the lens and drop it into the main camera+lens space in the bag
Pull the rear lens cap off the new lens and cap the old lens
Pull out and attach the new lens and drop the front cap into the flap

...turn the camera on and Iím ready to shoot! All this happens in about 30 seconds. Thatís not a long time, but itís 30 seconds from your vacation time...and thatís what the ďvacationĒ lens is all about. 30 seconds also means that youíll probably miss any photo opportunity that comes out of nowhere and doesnít stick around for very long, which I think tends to happen more during vacations.

Weíre not talking about wedding photos you were paid to takeÖitís just vacation snapshots, right? The image quality of the vacation lens is plenty good for that. The only drawback I see is if something goes wrong with the lens, you have no other lens to fall back on. But you can always have your kit lens back at the hotel room.
01-30-2010, 10:31 AM   #6
hcc
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QuoteOriginally posted by rieux Quote
I'll be traveling in a few weeks, and I'm worried about the pragmatics of changing between, say, the kit DA-L 18-55mm and the DA-L 55-300mm. For walking around a city, would I be better off with something like the Tamron 18-250mm? (Enough better off to justify the additional $250?) Or can I stop and switch lenses without worrying too much about dust — or other things that I don't know yet that I should worry about?
I realize there's a thread right below this with a similar question, but the original poster there was talking about family photography. The consensus there seemed to be get the two lenses rather than the all-in-one, but while traveling the constraints seem somewhat different.
I suggested to my wife that we choose one lens each day and see what we can do with that, but she's having none of it.
You were given some very good advice, and I simply add a personal experience. Your choice will be closely linked with "when and where" you take your shots, and how much space you can have for your camera equipment.

I do a lot of outdoor photography in dusty, dirty and wet conditions where changing a lens is a no-no. Simply too risky/dangerous for the camera. I also take a lot of shots from actions and wildlife when I have one chance only. I cannot spare the time to change lens because the subject will be gone. Lastly I like to travel light, with a small bag: the camera and a single lens in a top loader.

I have a K-7 with the Pentax 18-250mm. An excellent package that covers a wide range (18-250mm), does not require to change lenses (essential for me), and can fit in a small top loader bag: I use a Lowepro Topload zoom 1.

The Pentax 18-250mm is an excellent lens with good quality of build (see review of Pentax 18-250mm in Welcome to Photozone!), despite some distortion at 18mm. The Pentax 18-250mm is a rebadged Tamrom 18-250mm. A few recent threads discussed some comparison between the Tamron 18-250mm and Pentax 18-250mm: eg, http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums...ssage=33945288. For the latter (Pentax 18-250mm), the Pentax K-7 and K-x do have the lens correction implemented and applies some distortion correction to this lens : http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums...ssage=34042860. You can also use the very neat (and really well-priced at $25) software PT Lens for lens correction. Some recent discussion (https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/86984-pentax-d...50mm-lens.html) added also some interesting arguments in favour of the 18-250mm. It is not a prime lens but an excellent all-rounder lens. Full stop.

Personally, between the two kit lenses and the 18-250mm, I would go for the 18-250mm. All these three lenses are good; I recommend the 18-250mm for its convenience. If you need some better image quality, you should consider instead a few prime lenses. You will loose the convenience of the zooms, but gain substantially in image quality. This forum contains several worthwhile threads on the prime lenses incl. fast primes.

The ultimate decision will be closely linked with your needs, what you want to shoot, and how much space you have. You will find some worthwhile and friendly advice in this forum. More importantly, do go to your local camera store to test the size, weight and feel of each lens, and try a few camera bags with your camera and the lens(es). The personal experience is definitely worthwhile and will help you.

Enjoy your camera and good shooting. Hope that it will help....

Last edited by hcc; 01-30-2010 at 10:37 AM. Reason: Typos
01-30-2010, 10:49 AM   #7
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My travel lenses (depends on the duration of the trip and nature of the trip) are usually among these: 12-24mm, 31mm or 43mm, 50-300mm.
01-30-2010, 12:22 PM   #8
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Some people hate changing lenses, others don't mind it a bit. It's really pretty hard to say where you'll fit in that continuum. But it's certainy possible to change lenses in just a few seconds, and dust happens from time to time regardless of whether you change lenses or not, so I wouldn't let that be much of a factor.

01-30-2010, 02:26 PM   #9
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Thanks

Thanks, everyone, for your advice. We still aren't sure what we're going to get, but we've got some good things to think about.
01-30-2010, 04:56 PM   #10
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I would suggest getting a Pentax DA 18-250mm if you can afford (or the Tamron version to save some money). When travelling, being able to pack small is always nice. With a DA 18-250mm, you will save an extra space for another lens. This will become very important once you fall in love with your Pentax DSLR and start buying a few more good lenses and an external flash.

When I traveled abroad last month, I took a K20D body, three lenses (DA 18-55mm, FA 31mm, FA 77mm), and an AF540 flash with me. Couldn't carry my DA 50-200mm with me because of limited space of my travel camera bag. Luckily, I did not need a telephoto lens longer than 77mm as my trip was for seeing family and friends. But for sightseeing trips, I sure will want to cover up to 200mm or more.
01-31-2010, 02:45 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by rieux Quote
Thanks, everyone, for your advice. We still aren't sure what we're going to get, but we've got some good things to think about.
Another 20 cents worth to add to your confusion.

What sort of photography are you hoping to do on your trip.....are you intending to only do the "happy holiday" snap and trip record type of stuff or are you seeking out specific photographic opportunities?

If your answer is more down the "trip record" path then go with the superzoom (18-250) option and enjoy your holiday.

If your answer is the "photo opportunity" then take what you have and add a fast lens to your kit: eg) 50mm f1.4; FA 43 f1.8 etc

Also consider whether you will be in urban or rural settings, this will also determine which focal length you will use. If its Urban you could find yourself using your 55-300 a lot more than you think and if its rural/landscape you will be reaching for your 18-55 and wishing you had bought a 12-24

If its wildlife, then the 55-300 wont come off the camera and you will be lusting after a Bigma.

The moral of the story: LBA is knocking on your door.

Enjoy the trip.

PS: whatever you do....buy a Rocket Blower if you already haven't.

Last edited by Mallee Boy; 01-31-2010 at 02:47 PM. Reason: see PS
01-31-2010, 03:17 PM   #12
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Thanks, Mallee Boy.

This trip is more "photo opportunity" than "trip record," I think. There will both both urban (Rome) and rural (Cyprus), so we plan to be prepared for both.

Since I anticipate some dark churches and I'm interested in doing some nighttime photography in Rome, I am planning to get a fast prime. An FA 43mm f/1.8 would be nice, but given my price range, it will probably be something like an A 50mm f/1.7 or M 50mm f/1.4. I've also been wondering whether something wider might be better for the kind of indoor photography I'm interested in doing. 50mm isn't exactly a normal lense for an APS-C sensor.
01-31-2010, 03:25 PM   #13
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Prior to getting both 16-50 and 50-135 DA*, it was 10-17, 50 and 50-200 with a tripod and a small flash.
01-31-2010, 03:27 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by rieux Quote
Thanks, Mallee Boy.

This trip is more "photo opportunity" than "trip record," I think. There will both both urban (Rome) and rural (Cyprus), so we plan to be prepared for both.

Since I anticipate some dark churches and I'm interested in doing some nighttime photography in Rome, I am planning to get a fast prime. An FA 43mm f/1.8 would be nice, but given my price range, it will probably be something like an A 50mm f/1.7 or M 50mm f/1.4. I've also been wondering whether something wider might be better for the kind of indoor photography I'm interested in doing. 50mm isn't exactly a normal lense for an APS-C sensor.
OK...then dont mess around with superzooms. The 50 & 43 are sound options, if you want wider and quality dont go past the 31 ltd.
If you want really wide then the DA 14 f2.8 should be considered, along with the 12-24. Also look into a light weight, but sturdy tripod.
Cheers
Grant
02-01-2010, 08:15 AM   #15
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I traveled to Malta, Croatia, NYC, Montreal and Chicago in the past two years (see sig for examples) and here is my rather controversial opinion.

I cannot see a significant difference in IQ between the 18-250 and any of the 18/16-whatever lenses in our mount bar the f/2.8 zooms. With a little pping you can coaxe a little more from the 18-250 so it' damned close to the FAR more expensive 17-70 or the far more restrictive 16-45.

TBH I don't really need 250mm at the long end, 100 or so would be fine.

Changing lenses whilst travelling is a right pain in the arse, particularly if you have a partner in tow.

In saying all that, I always cartried the 77 limited or 12-24 depending on what I was going to see, the 77 was particularly useful at night.

So i say take a small prime (even a cheap manual focus one) and take the 18-250 for the best of both worlds.

IMHO an 18-55 and 55-300 is a just a right pain in the arse you don't need.
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