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10-02-2018, 08:23 AM   #1
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Advice on a possible new setup

For years I have been using Nikon. I had a nice fullframe setup which I sold 2,5 years ago because of the heavy weight of the F2.8 lenses. My backpack was about 5kg and when hiking is was simply too much. I am 58 years old and my knees are no longer what they used to be. Now I take pics with an APS-C Nikon D7500. I love zooms and especially long telelenses. Many of my best landscapes were shot between 300 and 400mm. The reach of a long telelens gives me more freedom to make compositions, search for light, lines... So it's very important for me to have such a lens with good quality.

When I was hiking in the French Alps last month I realised my gear is still a bit on the heavy side and that I would be nice to have a camera with stabilisation in the camera. It would permit me for example to use old lenses for closeups with great bokeh, do some fun experiments...

I first looked at the fullframe Sony A7II /III but I don't like their lenses...too expensive, too heavy and not always giving good quality in the corners. I looked at the Fujis with the new XH-1 but it would mean abandoning working with DXO Pro as the X-trans files can't be worked on with this software. Fuji also hasn't a lot of choice with telelenses.They have a great 100-400 but no real lightweight alternative for hiking. I looked at Olympus and the new Panasonic G9 and there I found a wealth of lovely lenses, great stabilisation and other attractive features. But I'm afraid of the quality of the 4/3 files...less dynamic range, noise sometimes even at base settings in dark parts. I know exposing to the right can solve this most of the time but still...

So I also looked at Pentax and saw the Pentax KP. Looks like a great camera. I would pair it with the Pentax 16-85 F3.5-5.6 and the 60-250 F4. The 60-250 is 1040gr...not lightweight but compared to the 1,6kg Nikon 80-400 its already a big difference. This would be my 'quality set'. I looked at the Pentax 16-50 F2.8 but I read many mixed things about it and I'm especially concerned about the fact that it flares easily. I like to shoot against the light sometimes.

For hiking I could pair the 16-85 with a Pentax 55-300, the older Pentax 70-210 or the very light DA 50-200. Perhaps I could replace the 16-85 with the Pentax 18-55 bringing the weight even more down.

What do you people think about this? I looked at many pics, read many reviews and the 16-85 and 60-250 seem to be decent lenses.Any better alternatives? And which of these lightweight lenses (55-300, 70-210, 50-200, 18-55...)would give me the best quality when hiking? I'm not a pixelpeeper but I do like my pics to be sharp.

Many thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences!


10-02-2018, 08:37 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Hello Danny,

what you call your quality set is exactly what I use when travelling light. I can recommend it. As for longer reach: I carry a teleconverter 1.4x with little extra weight.

The 55-300 plm would be even lighter, but I have no first hand experience to compare it with the 60-250. what Ive read so far was from happy owners.
10-02-2018, 08:39 AM - 1 Like   #3
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If you're going to buy a new setup, with new lenses, I'd strongly advocate for the 55-300 PLM zoom, as it is the latest iteration, not terribly expensive, and is supposed to be very sharp. I'd probably suggest you pair it with the 18-135WR, which gives some overlap, but is a spectacular utility lens.

If you really want reach, break out the coin (and maybe hire a sherpa to carry the weight) for the 150-450 or the Sigma "Bigma" which extends to 500.
10-02-2018, 08:40 AM - 1 Like   #4
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The 16-85 and 60-250 would make a great pro-grade set up. Of the others, I would have to say get the 55-300 plm version for lightweight quick focus and very sharp images, especially stopped down to f/8. For lightweight and wr, I would also recommend looking at the 20-40 as being smaller and lighter than the 16-85, although it can be a bit pricey being a Limited.

10-02-2018, 08:57 AM - 1 Like   #5
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Welcome to Pentax Forums! Thank you for sharing your very thoughtful first post.

Your situation is similar to mine (age, hiking, landscapes, desire decent sharpness, etc). I shoot with a Pentax K-3 II, which I think is similar in many ways to your D7500.

My impression is that the D7500 is a very capable camera, and the Nikon lenses are generally excellent. Without going through a complete analysis, I would think that you would be happy with a Pentax KP. It has received very good reviews and users seem happy with it. Amongst other qualities, it has an excellent low-light/high ISO capability. The K-3 II is no longer in production, but some dealers still stock it.

The two main lenses you mention - the DA 16-85 and 60-250 are both highly regarded by Pentax Forum members. I don't have either of these, but I have developed a favourable impression. Other members here will be able to comment more credibly than I could.

My main telephoto lens is a DA* ('star') 300mm f/4. It is without a doubt one of my very best lenses, and I have never been disappointed by its performance, whether for landscapes or wildlife. It has a mass of 1070 g, so just slightly heavier than the 60-250. I also have Sigma HSM 70-200 f/2.8, but it's about 1.4 kg so I don't use it often.

When I acquired my first Pentax kit in 2010, my first lens was the DA 50-200, which I still have in my kit. However, I haven't used it for several years. It offers 'decent' performance for its size and price, but it's not at the same optical level as the DA 60-250. Almost universally, folks will say that the 55-300 is much better than the 50-200.

You may already know that Pentax has a very good line of APS-C lenses, including the excellent DA Limited series (five lenses covering 15-70 mm) and several really nice zooms. The DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 at under 700 g is unique in the APS-C world. It's optical quality is very high and its price is significantly lower than the Fuji 50-140.

I hope this helps.

- Craig
10-02-2018, 09:02 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by dubyam Quote
I'd strongly advocate for the 55-300 PLM zoom, as it is the latest iteration, not terribly expensive, and is supposed to be very sharp. I'd probably suggest you pair it with the 18-135WR, which gives some overlap, but is a spectacular utility lens.
+1 for 18-135 & 55-300 PLM setup - it's the kit I use when I use zooms - very versatile and sharp for zooms!
10-02-2018, 09:10 AM - 1 Like   #7
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For hiking I'd go with the 18-50 RE and the 55-300PLM, both compact, both weather resistant, both take 58mm filters. Add in a 1.4 converter, maybe a short compact prime of your favoured length (21mm, 40mm?) and you're good to go.
Can't argue with your "less mobile" choices at all.
10-02-2018, 01:44 PM - 1 Like   #8
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For the same reasons you mentioned, I switched from a full frame Canon to a Pentax K-5 II, then the K-S2 and finally the KP. Another reason for the switch was wanting weatherproof camera body and lens. One of my lenses is the 18-135 and personally, I can't make up my mind about it. It is a good versatile WR lens but for me, it has too much chromatic aberration and purple fringing at times. Most of this is easily corrected in LR. Since I have the DA 20-40 and DA 15 I keep thinking about selling the 18-135 and replacing it with the DA* 50-135mm F2.8.

10-02-2018, 02:22 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I can vouch for the KP and 55-300PLM, a very nice lightweight combination. I also have the DA*300 and the DA 18-135, The DA*300 is probably my best lens, and the 18-135 is a good workhorse WR lens. I don't have the 16-85 or the 60-250 but I've only read good things about them. I usually hike with the 300, 15, either the 18-135 or Sigma 17-50 (if no threat of rain), and possibly a 50 macro or F50/1.7. I haven't had the 55-300 that long so it may nake the cut over the 300 for lightweight treks, it is an excellent landscape lens and be fast focus may be good for some wildlife too.
10-02-2018, 02:39 PM - 1 Like   #10
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Pentax has so many options:

if you want some info on either the " star " lenses or the " limited " lenses by Pentax, may I recommend you look at these threads:

Pentax * lenses do they live up to the reputation and why - Page 5 -

the limiteds do they live up to the reputation and why - Page 16 -

and this thread might be of interest as well:

Pentax lenses that are worthy of an A* or Limited designation but are not - Page 4 -
10-02-2018, 03:06 PM - 1 Like   #11
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Given your preferences, I would echo the earlier comments recommending the 55-300 PLM. I like mine a lot, as I think this lens is a great combination of focusing speed, clarity, size and weight, and cost. I also have the DA 18-135, and for general use, these two lenses pretty much have most situations covered.

Regarding the KP, if you haven't already done so, I would recommend you hold the camera first to check out its ergonomics. It comes with various interchangeable grip sizes, but for me (I have medium-large hands), even with the largest grip, it's not comfortable. I like a lot of things about the KP, but just can't get over the fact I feel clumsy with it in my hands.

Good luck!
10-02-2018, 10:39 PM   #12
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A wealth of information! A lot of good tips to follow up.Thank you!!!!!
10-02-2018, 10:51 PM - 1 Like   #13

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I think very highly of the DA 20-40mm f/2.8-4 limited if you can work within that range. On the KP it is a compact marvel. It would make a terrific combo with the DA* 60-250mm f/4, plus TC maybe, although I combine it with the tiny DA 15mm f/4 Limited and the DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 which is amazingly compact for such a lens, and is designed so it does not change size when zooming or when focussing. One can then add a longer lens such as the DA* 200mm f/2.8 + TC and the combined weight is easily less than a 70-200mm f/2.8, and far less when using on-camera, while providing greater zoom range at the wide end. The DA* 300mm f/4 is also a possibility.

The KP allows the flexibility of the optional battery grip, which not only provides a larger gripping surface, but also much longer battery service, and double controls for vertical shooting. The size is of course increased, but the weight is close to that of a K-3 II with no grip. Not hard to carry as an accessory. With this model you get the compact concept of APS-C mirrorless in a DSLR, having a superior control set and a built-in flash.

Last edited by mikesbike; 10-02-2018 at 11:14 PM.
10-03-2018, 06:55 AM - 1 Like   #14
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I went to Iceland in August and I had a similar dilemma while planning what to take. I just don't like hauling around as much gear as I used to. Also, a big trip like that is a good time to evaluate my equipment. Besides Pentax I shoot Canon, so I had plenty of options. I took my Pentax gear because it is so much lighter and more compact and it was definitely the right decision. Weather resistance was also a factor.

I took most of my shots with the DA 15, DA 16-85 and DA* 300 f/4. I brought KP and KS-2 bodies. About half of my best shots were with the DA 15, and a third each with the other two. I brought the 300mm for wildlife, but I was surprised at how many landscape shots I took with it. I much prefer the 15mm to the 16-85 if the focal length works, but WR was very useful around waterfalls or when the weather was bad.

I used the A 70-210 for years and my copy is very sharp. The CA can be a little harsh, but Lightroom can deal with that. It's fairly compact, but a bit heavy and the push-pull zoom takes a little getting used to. I have one of the DA 50-200s, but I never bonded with it. Maybe in a pinch if I need something really light and compact, but it's just not as sharp as I would like. Same goes for the collapsible 18-50mm WR that came with the KS-2.

As far as bodies, the KP has been amazing. I have medium-sized hands and it feels just right with the large grips. I love the fact that I can set ISO and exposure compensation using dials. The tilting LCD is very handy when you need it. I shoot with a 5D Mark IV at work and the KP can keep up in post processing.

Good luck with your decision!

10-03-2018, 09:23 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mars V Quote

Good luck with your decision!

Many thanks, Mars. I love to use a long telelens to capture landscapes. I only use a wideangle for architecture.

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