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Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 02-07-2018, 12:54 AM  
First time to Europe this summer - what to bring?
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 32
Views: 1,179
I would take 15mm, 35mm, 70mm and a 17-50mm zoom. I would carry either the zoom or 2 primes on each outing, leaving the rest in the hotel. This provides various options to suit expected shooting conditions, and it also provides a backup in case a lens fails. I do not think a telephoto is warranted - not having one means missing a few shots, but also means a simpler and lighter kit. It is worth checking the types of shots you are likely to take on Flickr, and see what focal lengths they used.

A lot of the streets in Europe are narrow, so many times you will not be able to step back to frame a shot. There are vast numbers of interesting shots, calling for differing focal lengths, in many old towns and villages. The flexibility of a zoom, and the safety of not exposing your sensor to dust during lens changes are very worthwhile - even at the cost of image quality. A bit of practice stitching panoramas before you go can be a simple way of dealing with wide angle needs.

Expect to walk a lot, and often on hard and possibly uneven surfaces. Have suitable footwear and get in plenty of practice before you go. Europe in summer can be very hot, so you will be thankful for lightweight kit options.

Power strips are great - one adapter and you have multiple working outlets. If travelling by car, a USB charger can be invaluable. Parking can be very problematic - a study of Google Earth before you go can be very helpful in researching parking options.

I have had no issues with safety or security in Europe. Like any other city, I avoid districts that are known to be risky or that do not feel safe. Just keep a reasonable awareness of your surroundings and you should be fine. And avoid being like some American tourists I have seen, with bulging wallets stuck precariously in their back pockets.
Forum: Troubleshooting and Beginner Help 01-28-2017, 02:20 PM  
Field Report: 2 weeks in Turkey and Greece, January 2017 with K-3 and K-30
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 12
Views: 778
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.
Forum: Post Your Photos! 11-09-2016, 02:33 AM  
Landscape New Zealand revisited - Mt. Ruhapehu
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 6
Views: 490
It is Mt Ruapehu, from the Desert Road.

Mt Ruapehu is an active volcano. The amount of activity varies, and there are even some periods when you can feel seismic activity on the Desert Road. It has a crater lake whose level and temperature fluctuates quite a bit. The lake broke through a couple of years ago, creating a lahar that briefly closed the Desert Road. The result this time was not as bad as in 1951 when a lahar took out a rail bridge and resulted in 151 deaths in the Tangiwai Rail Disaster.
Forum: Sold Items 05-03-2016, 02:46 AM  
For Sale - Sold: Sigma 24-70 DG EX 2.8 Macro / Pentax k-s2 / Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC EX/ Sigma 10-20 4-5.6
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 15
Views: 4,348
PM sent for Sigma 30
Forum: Pentax Camera and Field Accessories 04-22-2016, 12:35 AM  
sd cards for Europe
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 6
Views: 882
I would buy 3 more cards, either 16GB or 32GB, depending on price and how much total storage you might need.
Rotate cards each day, so even in the event of someone stealing your camera you should still have 85% of your shots. And you don't need to spend any vacation time managing data.
You should get around 1,000 raw images on a 16Gb card. A mix of 16 and 32Gb cards would store around 10,000 images - more than one shot per minute, for 10 days of 10 hours!
I have done 8 week trips with 7 x 16Gb cards, and always had plenty of space.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 07-24-2015, 10:12 PM  
Your one prime to rule them all
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 62
Views: 4,916
Pentax F 28mm f2.8, but if someone else was paying it would probably be the Pentax FA 31mm.

With just one lens, fov would be really important.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 06-12-2015, 03:32 PM  
F 28 2.8 vs DA 35 2.4
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 33
Views: 4,179
I think the DA 35 is slightly better than the F 28, but not by enough to let that decide which one to get.
I would decide based on focal length, and that depends on how you shoot and what other lenses you have or expect to have. Pentax provides a lot of excellent options, prices are not too bad, and you get shake reduction.
If I was to have one lens, I would take the 28mm because being on the wide side of normal gives great flexibility.
But with two or more lenses I would choose whichever fitted best into the set - for example With a 40mm, 43mm or 50mm, a 28mm would be more useful than a 35mm. With a 21mm, a 35mm would be more useful than a 28mm.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 05-21-2015, 02:26 AM  
Lens advice: First FA or DA Limited or ?
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 42
Views: 3,077
+2

This should cover most of your needs for the next few years, is within your budget, and is capable of delivering excellent images. It is also allows a very lightweight bag.

A 31 or 77 would be better at one focal length, but would leave a big hole in the focal lengths you had available to you.

By not going full frame (or medium format) you are choosing to compromise image quality, like most of us, to meet your budget. The fairly small additional image quality tradeoff of a 21 and 70 vs a 77, to gain a lot more flexibility, should be easy enough to accept.

Buy pre-owned and you can upgrade later at fairly minimal cost.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 04-18-2015, 02:36 PM  
Pick my travel kit...
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 32
Views: 3,039
I have done a comparable trip, taking a 21mm, 35mm and 100mm. The 100mm did not get a lot of use, but was worth having along. Swapping the 21mm and 35mm frequently was not much fun, so I tended to go with one or the other for half a day or more - there is so much to capture that staying with one lens for a few hours still gives plenty of photo opportunities.

If I was doing it again I would take a 17-70mm 2.8-4 for the convenience and to avoid risk of dust on sensor (accepting the additional carrying weight over a single prime). The light weight and image quality of primes is great, but there are times (e.g. on an open top bus tour, when things are changing quickly) when the versatility of zooms cannot be beat,

From your lenses I might take ...
18-250 and 35. One lens for convenience and versatility, the other for low light and when looking for better image quality. This requires acceptance the 18-250 is acceptable at the image sizes you usually use.

16-45 and 35. As above but better image quality and usefully wider, at the cost of less reach. This requires acceptance of lack of telephoto range.

12-24 and 28-75. Better image quality again, but more weight and added inconvenience of lens swapping (I would find the lens changeover point inconvenient for the range I most frequently shoot). This option covers wide angle, which can be very useful in some parts of the UK. This requires acceptance of frequent lens changes, or the use of one or the other lens for half a day or longer.

Do check out the focal lengths you use most often (ExposurePlot or something similar is very useful for this), so your kit meets your particular needs. Be prepared to miss a vast number of potentially great images - two weeks will not give you time to go everywhere you want, get to the best viewpoints, or wait for ideal light.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 01-22-2015, 11:40 AM  
Sigma 17-70 "Contemporary": compatibility problems with Shake Reduction
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 150
Views: 18,686
I have a K-500
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 01-21-2015, 11:25 PM  
Sigma 17-70 "Contemporary": compatibility problems with Shake Reduction
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 150
Views: 18,686
I have done a bit of testing using my Sigma 17-70 C and found ...

PhotoMe does not say anything about SR Focal Length (the Manufacturer Notes section was meaningless figures).
ExifTool showed both Focal Length and SR Focal Length to be the same (and always correct).

30 of 30 tests at 17mm, with SR off, were sharp (10 each 1/25, 1/50 and 1/500)
29 of 30 tests at 17mm, with SR on, were sharp (10 each 1/25, 1/50 and 1/500)
1 of 30 tests at 17mm, with SR on, was very blurry (at 1/50. Looked like totally missed focus rather than motion blur)
6 of 6 tests at 21mm, with SR off, at 1/25 were all sharp
6 of 6 tests at 21mm, with SR on, at 1/25 were all sharp
SR shutter half press time was always 4 secs or more
All done in Aperture Priority, handheld.

In summary, no issues with my lens. I find it much sharper edge to edge, and wide open, than the old Sigma 17-70 2.8-4 OS that I had a few years ago on a Canon 30D.
Forum: General Photography 10-30-2014, 10:41 PM  
Gear Advice. Tree month trip to Europe. What gear to take.
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 16
Views: 1,597
A lot depends on which focal lengths you prefer, and how much weight you are happy with. I can only suggest what suits me.

I was in the UK, Ireland and Canada for 2 months earlier this year and returned with 2,000 images to choose from. I took a 21mm, 35mm, 100mm and 18-250mm. I did not use the 18-250mm at all. I used the 35mm about 70%, 21mm 25% and 100mm 5%.

In your situation I would take the 15mm, 28mm and 70mm. Not a heavy kit, but able to deliver excellent images.

You will find an endless supply of wonderful scenes in Europe. Over 3 months you need to be prepared to walk past many photo opportunities. Otherwise you may spend more time looking at your viewfinder than enjoying your surroundings and you will come back with thousands of images.

The three primes should easily allow you to get enough images, and they should be top quality. If you take a zoom, you will be able to get a lot more images, but do you want to?
Forum: Post Your Photos! 05-06-2014, 04:09 AM  
Travel Scotland - the Final European Adventure (62 images!)
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 30
Views: 8,435
I will be in Edinburgh in July. I loved your images of the city, and am greatly looking forward to my visit.

I also greatly enjoyed your images of the countryside. I found the bleakness in many of them, so well captured, to be a large part of the charm of that part of the country. I could easily feel the coolness in many of your scenes.

Thanks so much for taking the time to publish these images here.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 04-30-2014, 11:06 PM  
The zoom vs prime showdown.
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 77
Views: 7,396
This may make me look like a real numpty ...

Zoom 3, 4, 7, 8
Prime 1, 2, 5, 6

1.Tamron 90
2.DA21
3.DA*60-250
4.DA18-55
5.DA35
6.FA50
7.Tamron 17-50
8.DA18-135
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 04-04-2014, 12:33 AM  
If you could have but one Limited............
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 149
Views: 10,974
FA 77mm for me.

There are other reasonable options around the focal lengths of the other limiteds, but around 70mm the limiteds are pretty much on their own. I prefer not to go as wide as the 15mm, most of the time.

A bag with FA20, DA35, DA50 and FA77 would suit me, with only one limited in it.
Forum: Sold Items 01-04-2014, 10:21 PM  
For Sale - Sold: Pentax 16-50mm F2.8, 50-135mm F2.8, and 50mm FA F1.4
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 15
Views: 3,317
PM sent
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 12-28-2013, 04:12 PM  
What Is Your Best Lens?
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 92
Views: 6,542
My best lens is my DA 21mm Ltd and DA 40mm Ltd. I think the pair are small enough to qualify as one lens.

Between them they cover a lot of common requirements. They have a special kind of handling appeal and produce great results.
Forum: Sold Items 11-27-2013, 12:43 AM  
For Sale - Sold: k-x dslr body with cracked screen. bag a bargain!
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 2
Views: 722
PM sent
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 11-18-2013, 10:21 PM  
Need advice: BIG Trip this summer.
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 39
Views: 2,826
Facing much the same decision as you, and with a major summer trip planned, I have opted for the 21mm/40mm/70mm trio.

At first I thought the 15mm was the obvious wide solution and the 21mm was just an uncomfortable length - neither wide nor normal. But on reflection I decided that the 21mm was wide enough most of the time. It does call for more careful framing, but that is not a bad thing for me. In my hands a wider lens tends to encourage less careful subject selection, as the subject is bound to be covered by the wider lens. If I do sometimes want wider, then I can always do a two or three shot panorama.

The 40mm appeals to me more than the 35mm, due mainly to its size and price. But I also find the focal length quite useful, being definitely on the telephoto side of normal.

The 70mm does not have any real alternative, for the size and price.

With Pentax the problem is not finding a good small prime set, but choosing between the options. That is a great problem to have.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 11-18-2013, 12:19 AM  
Prime for walk-around?
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 25
Views: 2,426
On a budget, and considering what you have now, I would suggest either a DA 16-45 or a F/FA 28. These give very good results, at a very affordable price, in fairly small packages. They are also far enough away from your 50mm to give you very different framing options.
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 11-17-2013, 11:23 PM  
If you could have just one lens...
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 85
Views: 7,707
One lens for me would be the new DA 20-40 limited - provided image quality was not too different to the DA 21 and 40 limiteds. Otherwise I would try to claim that the 21 and 40 were small enough to count as a single lens.
Forum: Sold Items 10-30-2013, 09:28 PM  
For Sale - Sold: Pentax DA40 Limited
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 2
Views: 735
PM sent
Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 10-05-2013, 03:47 PM  
need input on best lens deal
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 18
Views: 1,809
I have been using three zooms on a Kx, trying to decide which one to keep. The A 70-210 is currently my favorite, but the DA 55-300 also has a lot of appeal. I find the DA 50-200 does not have much to recommend it, in comparison, other than size and weight.

Pentax A 70-210
  • Best image quality of the three

  • Constant f4

  • Rather heavy

  • Manual focus

  • Need to set focal length for image stabiliser


Pentax DAL 55-300
  • Image quality a little below A 70-210

  • Medium weight

  • Covers widest range of focal lengths


Pentax DA 50-200
  • Image quality quite a bit below DA 55-300

  • Very small and light

Forum: Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 09-01-2013, 01:57 AM  
Most useful focal length 35,40 or 50
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 36
Views: 3,867
I think you are best not to choose a single prime in isolation. Think of the set of primes you would like to end up with, then select the most appropriate one from that set.

A 35mm may sound like the single best option now, but what if you later decide you want a 28mm and a 70mm, with something to fit between them. Perhaps then a 40mm might be better than 35mm.
Forum: Pentax Price Watch 08-13-2013, 11:32 PM  
Pentax 35mm for $150 and 50mm for $120. Other lenses too.
Posted By NZUnicorn
Replies: 377
Views: 31,302
I tried to buy a DA50, using my US postal address but it requires a US credit card address too.

I could buy one locally, at three times the price. Or I could just go to Nikon.

Pentax is making Nikon look attractive for customers outside the US.
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