I'm going on a 2-week trip to Ireland in late May/early June for a wedding and travel - mostly the southern/western coasts (Galway, Cliffs of Moher, Dingle, Ring of Kerry, Cork, Kilkenny, etc.) with a few days in Dublin. At this point I'm deciding what lenses to take with me - I'm willing to invest in a new lens (definitely no more than $1K right now), but ONLY if it makes sense for both my general and trip needs. Here's a summary:
1) I got my first DSLR (Canon T2i) about a year ago and have been hooked ever since. My current equipment consists of:
- 18-55mm IS kit lens
- 55-250mm IS
- 50mm 1.8
- 430EX flash
2) I traveled with everything except the flash (recent purchase) on a trip to Germany (rural Bavaria & Munich), Zurich and Salzburg in September. I found that I used the 18-55mm most of the time outdoors and the 50mm was indispensable for inside cathedrals and such. I barely used the 55-250mm - most of the time the extra reach wasn't worth me switching lenses, but that also could be my personal photography habits. There were definitely times I would have appreciated a little more reach at either end without switching lenses.
3) I'm hoping to travel relatively light on this trip. I don't want to bring more than 3 lenses, and ideally would only have 2 on me at a given time. My camera bag easily holds my T2i and 3 current lenses, but with the flash and my other stuff added it's a bit tight and heavy for a lot of walking around.
4) For Ireland, I want to be able to shoot the sweeping landscapes but also be able to capture the details of local pubs, markets and people, and street shots in Dublin. We will also be visiting a lot of castles and such, so being able to do low-light without flash well is key (hello nifty-fifty).
I've been thinking about sucking it up and getting the 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 given that (a) it'd give me a bit more reach on either end - I think being able to go down to 15mm would be great for landscapes, and 85mm would be helpful for a lot of reasons; (b) I'd be able to ditch my kit lens and use it as my primary lens with the 50 for indoor low-light stuff and (c) from reviews it seems to be a damn good lens (I have LR and PS so correcting the vignetting, etc. isn't a big deal).
I've also been considering going the UWA route, but I know I need the 18-55 range and I don't want to give up my 50, so I'm not a fan of the idea of carrying yet another lens. I'd have to dump my 55-250mm entirely for the trip, and I find it hard to believe that there will be no times that I want longer than 55mm of reach. I figure that if I desperately want a wider view, I can always do panoramic stitching, though I know it's not as easy as it sounds.
My main questions are - is the 15-85mm the right choice for my needs, and will it provide significant value to me over my current lens kit? Obviously only I can ultimately determine this, but I'd love to get some opinions before dropping $750 + hoods, filters, etc.