Thoughts on camera for Alaska?


milamber

Link Posted 17/09/2013 - 14:56
Whilst I still lurk and comment from time to time, I haven't had a Pentax camera for around a year now.

I originally had a K-r and upgraded that to a K-30 when they first came out and could be bought for 319 (after cashback).

We have started travelling a reasonable amount in the last couple of years and, whilst I loved the DSLR's, I came to the conclusion that the DSLR plus lenses and associated kit was simply too heavy and bulky to carry everywhere.

I sold the lot and bought a simple little travel zoom which has been a revelation in terms of portability and fine for holiday snaps, but IQ obviously isn't a patch on the DSLR. Plus I miss the viewfinder. Most of the time that doesn't matter, but we have just booked a month in Alaska next May. The primary focus of the trip is going to be wildlife, plus the landscapes ought to be pretty nice

It's going to be pretty much a trip of a lifetime and I want the best possible record so am seriously thinking of getting a DSLR again. I've looked at all the possible alternatives to a DSLR, but nothing else quite cuts it yet. Whilst the CSC's have much smaller bodies, bung a lens on and, whilst lighter, there isn't a great deal of difference in size and portability. Typically, I can get the Fuji X100 for a pretty decent price now, but it's probably not going to be suitable for that trip.

Weather is likely to be a bit variable, plus we will be out in small boats a lot, so I think I'd be best off sticking with Pentax for the weatherproofing (caveats noted...)

Not sure I can quite stretch to the K-5 II having spent all the money on the trip so it probably boils down to a toss up between the K-30 and the K-5 which are broadly similar prices at the moment. I've never had a DSLR with a top LCD so that probably isn't a deal breaker. I'd appreciate people's thoughts on which one might a be better choice.

As far as lenses go I'm thinking DA 18-135mm despite it being a little over-priced at present IMO. The plan is to keep an eye out on the forum for a good used copy, but I'll buy the camera new from SRS unless anything irrestible crops up. Auto focus speed is likely to be an issue, particularly with the whales, porpoises etc and I gather the 18-135mm is pretty good in that regard. It's not that long for a wildlife lens, but I think we will be pretty close to much of the animals, at least I hope so! I had an 18-250mm before which was a very nice lens, but it's not weatherproof.

Any thoughts on camera/lenses appreciated. Also any feelings on how long the K-5/K-30 might be available for and whether the price has bottomed out yet? Seeing a few adverts for the K-5 saying 'last stock'. Is it worth the extra for the K-5 II if I can stretch to it and might that reduce in price if Pentax bring something else in the meantime?

I've obviously got a while to go yet, but won't have the funds to get everything in one go so will be buying gradually over a period of time.

Thanks
Last Edited by milamber on 17/09/2013 - 14:58

Chrism8

Link Posted 17/09/2013 - 16:08
Either go for a s/h K5 plus a s/h 70 - 300 Zoom, and sell it when you get back alternatively hire the similar kit from somewhere.

If your travel zoom as been working well since you sold the last lot of kit, my guess is you'll want to do the same with this after the trip, so don't waste the extra cash on new kit.
Chris

www.chrismillsphotography.co.uk

" A Hangover is something that occupies the Head you neglected to use the night before".

-------------------------------------------------------------
K1 - Sigma 85mm F1.4, Pentax 150 -450 F4.5 / 5.6, Pentax FA 24 - 70 F2.8

Sigma 100-300 F4, Samyang 14mm F2.8, Pentax 70-200 F2.8

K3iii + K3ii + K5iis converted to IR, Sigma 17 - 70 F2.8, Pentax 55 - 300 F4.5 / F5.6 PLM

Gamka

Link Posted 17/09/2013 - 17:30
Make sure you have "filters" on all of the lenses and a protector on the LCD.

Yes, lenses might be water resistant but a "Protector Filter" will stop splashes on the front drying and leaving salt marks and you can be a little more confident about wiping them off.

You will find the LCD screen may steam up, and a stick on protector means you will have no qualms about wiping it off - do it on the screen and you could leave some fine scratches.

Read up about acclimatising lenses and cameras from your cabin to the outside world and back again.

Try to avoid changing lenses when on deck.

I took my old MX to the Arctic - at sea for 6 weeks, working inside, on deck and on RIBs with temps down to -40c/F. snow rain, storms and more. Sensible precautions meant no problems.

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johnriley

Link Posted 17/09/2013 - 18:04
In arduous conditions like this I'd go for the K-5 offer from SRS and couple it up with a WR lens. The 18-135mm would be great, but I'd also take a fast screw-focus lens such as the 50mm f/1.4 or 50mm f/1.8, just in case the motor in the lens fails or gets frozen.

Belt and braces approach as far as possible, so a small compact as well as backup. Pentax MX-1 or Ricoh GR would be my suggestions, but just maybe a WG-3 would make some sense in the conditions you might face.
Best regards, John

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Blythman

Link Posted 17/09/2013 - 18:11
I'd look to take something longer along with the 18-135. If you don't want the expense of a 60-250, then take the 50-200 WR
Alan


PPG
Flickr

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Smeggypants

Link Posted 17/09/2013 - 18:30
And lots of SD cards and something to back them up on.



.
[i]Bodies: 1x K-5IIs, 2x K-5, Sony TX-5, Nokia 808
Lenses: Pentax DA 10-17mm ED(IF) Fish Eye, Pentax DA 14mm f/2.8, Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8, Pentax-A 28mm f/2.8, Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC, Pentax-A 50mm f/1.2, Pentax-A 50mm f/1.4, Pentax-FA 50mm f/1.4, Pentax-A 50mm f/1.7, Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8, Sigma 135-400mm APO DG, and more ..
Flash: AF-540FGZ, Vivitar 283

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Gwyn

Link Posted 17/09/2013 - 18:38
Lucky you!

I agree a K-5 is the way to go, and also that you should take something longer than the 18-135. Whilst you may see whales close up you may not. Ditto bears - you don't want to see them too close up , moose, caribou and birds - don't forget all the eagles up there. You need something longer for them.
I have never used protective filters on my lenses, even when whale watching or dog sledding. I do think a polariser will be a useful filter though.

You could always buy a pack of OpTech rain sleeves to be certain your camera and lens are safe.

Enjoy the planning, it's the trip of a lifetime so take the very best gear you can afford. We'll look forward to some great photos next year

Edit - have you seen this ad? Sounds made for you.
A couple of lenses for sale on the forum too.
Last Edited by Gwyn on 17/09/2013 - 18:40

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milamber

Link Posted 17/09/2013 - 18:48
Thanks - some helpful tips there.

K-5 seems to be preferable to K-30, then?

I had thought about 18-55WR plus 50-200WR, but didn't want to change lenses too often, if possible. I know the whales in particular can get very close so was a bit concerned that something starting at 50mm might be a bit too long. That's why I thought 18-135mm would be a good compromise. I'd love a 50-135mm or a 60-250mm, but might run a bit expensive, sadly. Wish the 55-300mm was WR......

I was planning to get one of the 50mm f1.8's simply because of the excellent price, but hadn't realised the 18-135mm wasn't screw focus so thanks for that, John.

Useful tip about the filters/screen protector as well, thanks. I don't usually use them, but it makes sense.

I have plenty of SD cards and will be taking a laptop or tablet. I usually back up the day's photos every night. Will definitely take a 'spare' camera, but not sure which yet. Need to get the main kit sorted first. As I said, I've plenty of time, but want to keep an eye out on the forums for anything that crops up.

Thanks again.

milamber

Link Posted 17/09/2013 - 18:56
Gwyn wrote:
Lucky you!

I agree a K-5 is the way to go, and also that you should take something longer than the 18-135. Whilst you may see whales close up you may not. Ditto bears - you don't want to see them too close up , moose, caribou and birds - don't forget all the eagles up there. You need something longer for them.
I have never used protective filters on my lenses, even when whale watching or dog sledding. I do think a polariser will be a useful filter though.

You could always buy a pack of OpTech rain sleeves to be certain your camera and lens are safe.

Enjoy the planning, it's the trip of a lifetime so take the very best gear you can afford. We'll look forward to some great photos next year

Edit - have you seen this ad? Sounds made for you.
A couple of lenses for sale on the forum too.

Thanks Gwyn

Saw your post after I replied

Will check out the rainsleeves - they look good. I've got a couple of polarising filters somewhere - bound to be the wrong size though!

I might have to re-think a longer lens. I did thing about possibly renting a more expensive lens, but to be honest, for that length of time the rent would almost buy it. Used prices are usually pretty good so, as you say, it might be worth going for something more expensive as I won't lose a lot if I decide to sell after,

I'll check out the K-5 advert, I'm happy to buy used lenses, but haven't considered a used camera before. The saving never seems enough to justify the reduced warranty, but that one looks o.k.

Gamka

Link Posted 18/09/2013 - 01:11
milamber wrote:

Useful tip about the filters/screen protector as well, thanks. I don't usually use them, but it makes sense.


Thanks again.

I still have my old Skylight1B filters from a trip to the Arctic - I kept them a a momento and have just dug them out. They are of no real use now, salt ingrained into the coating, microfine scratches ... and cleaning never restored them. I am glad that I had them fitted.

Jonathan-Mac

Link Posted 18/09/2013 - 08:06
Sounds like a great trip. I'd get a K30 again, it's the same as the newer K50 but can be bought for less. Get the AA adapter and take some Lithiums to make sure you always have power (the cold saps battery power, especially from rechargeables).

As for lenses, you could get the WR 18-55 and 50-200 quite cheaply, though for extra money the 18-135 will save a lot of lens changing, but will leave you without a long tele option. I'd be very tempted to get a 55-300, I understand it's optically superior to the 50-200 but it is bigger and heavier, and there's no WR version.

Please do NOT put protective filters on your lenses, you'll notice the degradation of image quality afterwards and you'll kick yourself. Just use lens hoods, wipe down carefully when needed and take care. A bag/backpack with a weather cover will help a lot.
Pentax hybrid user - Digital K3 & K200D, film 645 and 35mm SLR and Pentax (&other) lenses adapted to Fuji X digital
Fan of DA limited and old manual lenses
Last Edited by Jonathan-Mac on 18/09/2013 - 08:07

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techno-terminator

Link Posted 18/09/2013 - 08:10
Did you notice this in our Ads ?

link

That strikes me as possibly the bargain of the week for you
let the education continue

proud owner of a couple of cameras and a few bits and bobs

milamber

Link Posted 18/09/2013 - 08:44
techno-terminator wrote:
Did you notice this in our Ads ?

link

That strikes me as possibly the bargain of the week for you

Yes, I did thanks. Just weighing up options. Russ has a K-30 and a 16-45 for sale as well.

miles500

Link Posted 18/09/2013 - 10:47
Just back from Alaska. I took my 18-135 which gave me WR insurance and you will probably need it there. I also made a lot of use of my 55-300 not only for wildlife, where it is indispensable ie eagles and bears if you are lucky, but also for landscapes. We were driving in the interior and I found that for a lot of the time one wanted to capture the mountains without emphasizing the immediate foreground which a WA lens will often tend to do. I also had the DA 15 and 21 in the bag but did not use either to any great extent - just the DA 15 where I had a really good foreground. I find in many ways that landscapes are more realistic when taken with a degree of telephoto. If I went again, I think I would again take both zooms and maybe also the DA15 for occasional use. This combination avoids a lot of lens changing.
Miles

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Pentaxophile

Link Posted 18/09/2013 - 11:29
I don't know if Alaska is cold at this time of year, but I did notice when I used a K7, it became unbearably cold on crisp winter days... even through gloves the metal body sucked the heat from my hands. And your tongue would stick to it...
[link=https://500px.com/will_brealey/[/link]
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