What Lens for tight spaces?


Link Posted 11/09/2017 - 23:53
I've just been on holiday for 3 weeks, so apologies if I've not contributed much lately! However, whilst on hols I had an interesting conversation with a fellow tourist who was keen on photography. We met at a Restaurant in Sibenik, Croatia where we were having lunch. He noticed my camera (K-3) and also the lens attached to it. He asked what focal length the lens was and I told him. We then had an interesting discussion and disagreed about what our preferred lenses are when in tight spaces, such as narrow streets and old towns, e.g. the type of environment such as Mykonos Town in Greece, and Dubrovnik or Sibenik in Croatia. All of these towns are Medieval in origin and feature narrow, winding streets, overhanging buildings and steep inclines.

Anyway, my question is what type of lens do you prefer in such environments?

The choices are telephoto, standard or wide angle, my lenses on holiday were a 12-24, a 17-70 and a 55-300. Which one would you choose and why?

I will tell you my preference when you've had the opportunity to contribute your thoughts, but suffice to say the person I was speaking to told me outright I was using the wrong lens! I'll also post a couple of example images to illustrate why I use what I use.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts, I hope this stimulates some interesting discussion.


Nicola's Apartments, Kassiopi, Corfu

Some cameras, some lenses, some bits 'n' bobs


Link Posted 12/09/2017 - 00:03
I'd tend to use the 12-24mm and the 10-17mm lenses in very tight conditions, but to pick out details other longer lenses might be needed as well.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 12/09/2017 - 00:31
davidstorm wrote:
The choices are telephoto, standard or wide angle, my lenses on holiday were a 12-24, a 17-70 and a 55-300. Which one would you choose and why?

You seem to have all bases covered other than the extremes such as the Sigma 8-16mm or 10-20mm and something over 300. So I'd have thought your collection would cover most subjects you're likely to come up against.
For APS-C my current favourite is the 16-85 which covers most things I want and focuses close enough for bees and butterflies if I haven't got a dedicated macro lens with me. I also have a 17-70 but never use it given it offers slightly less than the 16-85.
Be curious to find out what you've (apparently) being doing wrong! I can imagine it might be the 18-250/270 he recommends which aren't bad lenses given the range covered.
In any event, it's a very personal thing and depends on what one anticipates finding to take. Some might find the 35mm plastic fantastic does all they need and stitching shots if it isn't wide enough.
John K
Last Edited by JAK on 12/09/2017 - 00:41


Link Posted 12/09/2017 - 08:53
Another vote for the 16-85. Meets 95% of my needs, and worked well in narrow streets of old italian villages.
K3ii, DA16-85, DA35mm Limited, FA77mm Limited, 55mm f1.8 K, 135mm f3.5 M, DA300, DA 1.4 HD TC,
DA16-45, Sigma 15mm f2.8. Cosina 100mm f3.5 macro


Link Posted 12/09/2017 - 10:02
It's the 16-85 for me. Even the old 18-55 can work.
The older I get the faster I was.
K-3 II, K10D, DA16-85, DA*50-135, DA12-24, DA18-55, DA 50, Sigma EX DG 70mm Macro, Sigma 70-300mm, Sigma DG 120-400mm APO HSM.
Metz 58 AF-1.

My Flickr link


Link Posted 12/09/2017 - 11:18
I doubt if I would use an ultra wide-angle to try to cram everything in, it would create too much distortion and exaggerated distance. Better to have a standard zoom like the 18-55mm and be selective, which would give a better sense of the place, or at a push do a stitched vertical panorama. Maybe a longer zoom for details but you don't want to be wandering around with a load of kit or a heavy lens.


Link Posted 12/09/2017 - 12:41
Hi David,

It is all about what you photograph. I photograph mostly wildlife on local dog walks and landscapes more on travels near and far. I've bought and sold a lot of lenses to hone down to the two I currently have.

I've eventually concluded that my travel kit should be as compact as possible. Since December in the Caribbean I've had first the 55-300 PLM RE and then swapped my 12 - 24 for the lovely 20 - 40mm. The ultra wide lens was wonderful and low distortion but too little used. (I found the same when i owned the wide Sigma zoom, great for architecture but too much foreground and tiny detail for landscapes in the main)
These and my K3 II now nicely fit in a small Lowepro Nova 180 I picked up cheap. The compact tele zoom coming along stopped me considering changing to a smaller Olympus set up. Glad I didn't move.


Link Posted 12/09/2017 - 14:40
In tight spaces I often find I need wider lenses (or panoramic stitching) but have also found places where a Telephoto is wanted to shoot something more distant that can only be seen through a gap between buildings...

I don't normal use my widest option in narrow streets, the 360 FOV could be effective but it's a bit of a pain to set up. The 10-17 does get used as have options with a 300mm+ equivalence.
Pentax:K5ii, K7, K100D, DA18-55, DA10-17, DA55-300, DA50-200, F100-300, F50, DA35 AL, 4* M50, 2* M135, Helicoid extension, Tak 300 f4 (& 6 film bodies)
3rd Party: Bigmos (Sigma 150-500mm OS HSM),2* 28mm, 100mm macro, 28-200 zoom, 35-80 zoom, 80-200 zoom, 80-210 zoom, 300mm M42, 600 mirror, 1000-4000 scope, 50mm M42, enlarger lenses, Sony & micro 4/3 cameras with various PK mounts, Zenit E...
Far to many tele-converters, adapters, project parts & extension tubes etc.

.[size=11:].Flickr WPF Panoramio


Link Posted 12/09/2017 - 17:47
I use either the 10-20 3.5 Sigma, or the 17-50, mainly as they are my options, but I do love the 10-20. Great for portraits too.
K3, K3 II, 100MM 2.8 Macro, Sigma 10-20 3.5, Sigma 17-50 2.8, Nikon D7500, Tamron 150 600 G2


Link Posted 12/09/2017 - 19:30
When I'm on holiday, travelling light, I find my Sigma 18-250 serves me very well. Whilst most of what I shoot would be covered by my DA18-135WR I find that I often need that extra 'tele' length. I don't have anything wider, so for 'tight spaces' it is one of these two.
But each to his own !



Link Posted 12/09/2017 - 19:49
I would say for tight spaces I'd love a 24mm, however I mostly use the kit (28-105mm) or a 28mm prime on FF. Not a fan of ultra wide on streets though I have used it for better or worse effects. When travelling and for short walks, I like to do it light. Nowadays it's a single prime and 1 WR zoom. Depending on my mood and what I foresee photographing, I'll either grab the kit or 55-300mm. I am really looking forward to Pentax releasing a FF equivalent at some point. It's time I'd say.
'Photography...it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten....' (Aaron Siskind)


Link Posted 12/09/2017 - 21:43
I'd definitely pick the wide angle, so for me from my collection it would be the Sigma 10-20 f3.5. Bought at Christmas and have used this year at Chester, Shrewsbury
and recently Chirk castle...very pleased with it in those environments which would mimic the old winding streets you describe David.

If I could choose one lens that i didn't own then it would almost certainly be the 16-85WR.




Link Posted 12/09/2017 - 23:36
Some great feedback here, thanks for all of the comments and responses. To clarify, when on hols, I will usually only take one lens out with me, so although I took the 12-24, 17-70 and 55-300, I wouldn't have them all with me on any given day. The one I would definitely NOT use in tight spaces is the 12-24. Why? Because images can very easily end up with distortions, particularly on verticals and also there is a tendency with a wide angle lens to attempt to cram in as much as possible, which can result in busy looking shots that the eye doesn't easily rest upon. Another reason is that I think most people go for wide angle lenses in tight spaces, which can mean that we see a lot of similar looking images and I like to try and get something that's a bit different.

So this leaves the 17-70 and the 55-300. My preference is the 55-300, it just suits my style of shooting. I tend to look for patterns, textures, shapes, contrasting light etc. rather than trying to just capture a scene. The 55-300 is ideal for isolating sections and is also great for candid shots of people at distance. I also like the way that it compresses perspective, which can make shots down long streets particularly interesting, especially if the focus is on a subject in the short to mid-distance.

Here are three examples to illustrate what I mean, two of which have appeared on the Gallery in the last couple of days, all were shot in Mykonos Town which is famous for its tight labyrinth of Medieval streets.

Thanks again for the great feedback on this thread, any further thoughts and comments are welcomed.

BTW, I think the third one is shot with the Sigma 17-70, not the Pentax 55-300, but it still illustrates the point of shooting with a longer focal length in a tight space. I don't think the Sigma at 70mm is as sharp as the Pentax 55-300 would be when set at 70mm.


Nicola's Apartments, Kassiopi, Corfu

Some cameras, some lenses, some bits 'n' bobs
Last Edited by davidstorm on 12/09/2017 - 23:40


Link Posted 13/09/2017 - 00:19
On Sunday I was using the 16-85 to take some of the narrow yards in Whitby. I think here the wide angle exaggerates the cramped feeling with the strong perspective at 16mm. What the images do need is to have a focal point, here it is the street lamp rather than the more usual vanishing point.
Ellerby Lane:

Making the most of the Heritage weekend the day previous I was at Beningbrough Hall near York and used that same lens to capture a butterfly (amongst other things.)
Small White Butterfly:

And the day before that, at Sewerby Hall Zoo in Bridlington, the same lens to photograph birds in an aviary.
Diamond Dove:

David's photos taken with the 55-300 could also have been taken with a 16-85 as their focal lengths were 55mm and 70mm. If need be (indeed I did) crop some of the photos taken over the weekend, but I feel having the wideness available is more useful than having just a long lens and not getting what I wanted. At the end of the day, it depends on what one anticipates taking on that particular outing!
At least I made the most of the opportunity provided by the free entrances over the weekend!
John K
Last Edited by JAK on 13/09/2017 - 00:25


Link Posted 15/09/2017 - 17:19
Hi David, i would have thought 55-300 but what do i know ha ha, i've just put one on the gallery using this, my opinion is that the lens focuses in the distance if that is what you are aiming for but then i'm not that much of an expert and this thread has taught me something, smashing shots by the way with super clarity.
Kind regards Maria

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