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08-29-2013, 08:19 AM   #1
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City Break - Lens Advice

Hey all,

Got a short city break planned in the near future and I have been wondering what the best lenses to take in this situation are? I have a Pentax K-30 and the following lenses to choose from:
  • Pentax smc DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR
  • Pentax smc DA 50-200mm f/4.0-5.6 ED WR
  • Pentax smc DA 55-300mm f/4.0-5.6 ED
  • SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7
  • Sigma 28mm f/2.8 Mini-Wide II

Size and weight will be a pretty major consideration as I am flying and will have to carry this around a city all day so I would like to limit myself to 2/3 lenses maximum depending on size and weight. The fewer, the better.

Thanks for your help!

08-29-2013, 08:30 AM   #2
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I would go for the 18-55 and 50-200 because it will cover the full focal range just in case you need it. i personally dont like the 55-300. too many optical compromises. probably go for the 50 1.7 as well in case you wanna take a shallow depth of field shot (every once in a while an opportunity would present itself). though I would imagine the 18-55 would probably be on your camera for the majority of the time.
08-29-2013, 09:26 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Killieman Quote
Hey all,

Got a short city break planned in the near future and I have been wondering what the best lenses to take in this situation are? I have a Pentax K-30 and the following lenses to choose from:
  • Pentax smc DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR
  • Pentax smc DA 50-200mm f/4.0-5.6 ED WR
  • Pentax smc DA 55-300mm f/4.0-5.6 ED
  • SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7
  • Sigma 28mm f/2.8 Mini-Wide II

Size and weight will be a pretty major consideration as I am flying and will have to carry this around a city all day so I would like to limit myself to 2/3 lenses maximum depending on size and weight. The fewer, the better.

Thanks for your help!
Of the lenses you have listed, the 18-55 and 55-300 would give you the widest focal coverage in two lenses. I owned both the 50-200 and the 55-300, and found the 55-300 to be an optically superior lens personally. While I prefer 28mm as a normal prime on crop sensor for street and general walk-around photography, you have that focal length covered with the 18-55. Unless you feel the Sigma prime is vastly superior to the DA 18-55, I would suggest the your prime to be the M 50mm f/1.7 for it's low light capabilities, good portrait focal length, and as previously mentioned, shallow depth of field if you want to set up shots with that look.
08-29-2013, 11:23 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Santoku Quote
Of the lenses you have listed, the 18-55 and 55-300 would give you the widest focal coverage in two lenses. I owned both the 50-200 and the 55-300, and found the 55-300 to be an optically superior lens personally. While I prefer 28mm as a normal prime on crop sensor for street and general walk-around photography, you have that focal length covered with the 18-55. Unless you feel the Sigma prime is vastly superior to the DA 18-55, I would suggest the your prime to be the M 50mm f/1.7 for it's low light capabilities, good portrait focal length, and as previously mentioned, shallow depth of field if you want to set up shots with that look.
Agreed: 18-55, 55-300, and 50/1.7.

The Sigma 28/2.8 doesn't give you a tremendous advantage over the kit lens, but the M 50/1.7 does.

I was also never fond of the image quality I saw from the 50-200, but the 55-300 is pretty good.

08-29-2013, 12:08 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
Agreed: 18-55, 55-300, and 50/1.7.

The Sigma 28/2.8 doesn't give you a tremendous advantage over the kit lens, but the M 50/1.7 does.

I was also never fond of the image quality I saw from the 50-200, but the 55-300 is pretty good.
Agreed as well.

The 18-55 WR can produce some excellent images.
Pretty much the only lens I would take for a City Walkaround.
08-29-2013, 12:10 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Killieman Quote
Size and weight will be a pretty major consideration as I am flying and will have to carry this around a city all day so I would like to limit myself to 2/3 lenses maximum depending on size and weight. The fewer, the better.
In that case I would go with the 18-55 / 50-200 as suggested above since they're about the same physical size. The 55-300 may have the reach and IQ advantage but it's quite big in comparison. You may or may not need it depending on where you're going but it will be nice to have WR lenses as well. If you must choose between the Sigma and the M 50 f1.7, I would vote for the M 50.

Last edited by K57XR; 08-29-2013 at 12:14 PM. Reason: Clarification
08-29-2013, 12:11 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
Agreed: 18-55, 55-300, and 50/1.7.

The Sigma 28/2.8 doesn't give you a tremendous advantage over the kit lens, but the M 50/1.7 does.

I was also never fond of the image quality I saw from the 50-200, but the 55-300 is pretty good.
My thoughts exactly. Those three are a good combo.

My 55-300 is notably better than my 50-200.
08-29-2013, 01:08 PM   #8
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I know , from the onset , that my response will not please you because you don't have the lenses, but...

When I am city bound I often go with my sigma 10-20 and tamron 28-75. I find taking anything longer is a waste of time. You can hump around a 55-300 and maybe use it 2-3 % of the time

My other approach is to take a handful of M42 primes starting at a zenitar 16/2.8, but it really still is not quite wide enough

For you, the best option would be to get some king of ultra wide. Don't laugh, maybe a samyang 8mm fisheye. It is a pretty good lens and even if you"de fish it in post processing produces some great images,

You could take that and the 18-55 and be done rwith it

08-29-2013, 02:16 PM   #9
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The DA10-17 is great in the city. You can de-fish it easily enough and then it's a stupendously wide lens. Personally, I walk around with the 10-17, the 18-135 and my Sigma 30/1.4 Low light, stupidly wide, and short tele all in one kit.

For you, I'd take everything you are willing to carry. Your kit's not that big, get a backpack and carry it all. The only choice to make is the 50-200 or 55-300; take whichever one you like better. In this case I'd probably pick the 50-200 because you won't really need the 300, and the other one is lighter.
08-29-2013, 02:31 PM   #10
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I'm kinda a wide guy these days, from your lens selection I'd just take the 28 and 50 primes, but that's just my shooting style.
08-29-2013, 03:16 PM   #11
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Stick with the 18-55 for a city. If you had something wider I'd suggest bringing it too but you'll be okay with 18mm.

Re. the 50-200 vs 55-300, I think the 300 gives better results. Both lenses are too long for most city shots.
08-29-2013, 04:16 PM   #12
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I would find more city shots fitting my eye with a 28mm rather than a 50, but the 50/1.7 is 'superior' by most measures. In the same way, if sharpness is the criterion the 55-300 should go, but the intangibles of the 50-200 are more appealing to me along with its size. I'ts been a debate as long as the two zooms have existed; since you have both so I'd say take your favorite of the two, and have fun!
08-29-2013, 05:24 PM   #13
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I've lumped my 55-300 round the world multiple times and it rarely leaves the bag.

Mostly I find I work in the 17 to 40-ish range. With 17 being the lower limit merely because that's the widest I've got. A DA15 would be real handy to have (next LBA moment I think).

28mm is a great walkaround street focal length. 28mm and I seem to work well together. The F2.8 will be an advantage over the 18-55 in poorer light.

I use a Tamron 17-50/2.8 as my everyday lens. The constant F2.8 is a real advantage over the 18-55, particularly if in-doors at musuems, churches etc where natural lighting can be poor. Also means that by F4 I have a really sharp lens through to F8 or so.

The 18-55 can do a pretty good job when light is at ok levels. I took on one trip round the world and the images came out fine.

The M50/1.7 is so small/light that you can just chuck it in. Great for getting creative with shallow DOF and when the F5.6 on the 18-55 really isn't going to cut it with available light. But it is a mild telephoto on APS-C so don't think wide all encompassing scenes with it. It would be great for homing in on quirky things like unusual signs or public art pieces etc. Portraiture of your companions would also be another good use of this lens.

Consider a light weight tripod for some night images. I lugged my tripod around the world in June, knowing that I wanted it merely for one night in Stockholm. I'm glad I did. Carry one less pair of shoes. That's about the weight/size trade-off needed to squeeze a tripod into a suitcase (well, for a bloke at least). I chose a tripod that will also jam down into a carry-on bag provided I remove the ball head.

Hope you have a good time!

Last edited by southlander; 08-29-2013 at 05:34 PM.
08-29-2013, 06:53 PM   #14
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For city shots the 18-55 is a good choice. It is light weight as well, which really helps. Rather than go longer than this for a second lens, I would choose something even wider, such as a Sigma 10-20, or the new Sigma 8-16. Cities always force me to shoot wide, and that Sigma 8-16 is, well, just awesome.
08-30-2013, 07:24 AM   #15
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It depends on the city I guess and what you like to shoot. If we are talking about most major cities and and you like city scapes, wider is better. If you like to collect architectural detail, longer is better. On a recent trip to downtown Chicago, I mostly shot in the wide to normal range. The only time I mounted my 55-300 was to shoot boats a fair ways out on Lake Michigan.
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