Hey guys, this is my first post here (edited: apparently this is my second post), and looking for some thoughts/recommendations. I know there are tons of threads like this out there, and I've read more than I can count, but here goes anyway. Maybe I won't even post it - we'll see - but I think it might help me to sort my thoughts out, if nothing else. Continue reading if you're not sick of these threads; if you are?...well, feel free to stop here! If you want the quick version, scroll down to the heading What I shoot/do
So here's the situation as of now: I got into photography back in 2008-ish (I'm 23 now) with a Panasonic FX500 - a cool little point and shoot that let me play with full manual controls with a well thought out touch screen interface. I shot that for a couple years before moving up to a DSLR. I started out with the T1i kit with 18-55, grabbed a used 17-85 shortly after, as well as a 50/1.8. Before backpacking Western Europe for 2 months in 2011, I picked up a used 70-200/4L, and carried the 3 lenses with me (18-55 was donated to a buddy). I thought it was a decent set-up, although looking back I don't think the 50/1.8 saw much use.
Fast forward to a month ago
I hadn't shot much in the previous year, which I was upset with myself for, and pulled the camera back out. I decided I needed to get back into it, so I left town for a few days to head out into the forest with snowshoes on my feet and a pack on my back. And no, this wasn't an ill-prepared fool heading out into the wild; four-season hiking and camping has been a long-time passion of mine. Lots of hiking through hip deep snow, sleeping in a quinzee, and enjoying nature this weekend. The photo bug had bitten again. I did the same the next weekend, this time with a few other friends, and once again the camera was out in full force. Had a blast shooting the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) one night on the frozen lake, lots of shots of my buddies, and a bit of wildlife.
Both of these trips I just brought the 17-85 to keep the weight down. Both trips the auto focus on the long end of the lens was very sporadically working/not working. The motor would continuously go back and forth on either side of focus, without ever settling in. First thoughts are that it was the cold/moisture that did some damage, however, I don't think so. The problems started immediately after getting out of the truck.
A week ago
I was cruising Kijiji for used Canon lenses and came across a Tokina 11-16/2.8 that caught my attention. Did a bunch of research into it, as I had been wanting a Canon 10-22 for a long time, and ended up picking it up for a killer price, in immaculate condition. Loving that lens in the limited shooting I've done with it so far. My next thought, of course, went to a new body. The 7D had caught my attention since getting into DSLRs, and so it went back there. I went and played with one at a local shop for a while and fell in love with it. And they have it on sale for $1099 CAD right now, which seems like a pretty stellar price. Then I noticed they had a used 7D that they had taken in on trade, and I could get that for $800 CAD, with 2 weeks to test it out.
So do I go used pocket the difference for other gear, or go new? Used seems like the way to go, but then I thought about getting the new body with the 15-85 kit for $1699. Everything I’ve read about that lens has been great, and I cannot count on my 17-85 anymore. So then my arsenal would be: 11-16/2.8, 15-85/3.5-5.6, 50/1.8, and 70-200/4L. Seems pretty decent; however, now I’m wondering if I should go used 7D, and search around for a used 17-55/2.8. I’d still have the 70-200 for the long side, and would get a constant 2.8, which I like.
What I shoot/do
I’ve already mentioned that I do a lot of hiking/camping, so landscapes and nature are definitely a big part of what I shoot. I’m also getting into long-distance dual-sport motorcycle riding, and will be packing the photo gear with me. First big trip starts at the end of April, when I’ll be flying to Buffalo, NY, and riding a bike (KLR650) back. This will be about a 3000 mile ride over 2 weeks or so, without touching an interstate. Trails, fire service roads, and the like, mostly. September 2014 is when I’ll be taking off on a year plus ride from here to Alaska and down to the southern tip of South America. Although weight isn’t as much of an issue as with backpacking, smaller and lighter is always better. With that said I’m thinking the following options to take on the big trip:
The bolded items are the options that I would need to purchase, non-bold I have in my kit already. Anything I don't take with me on the trip starting in 2014, I would sell before I go. Having bought used mostly, I should be able to recover most of the cost.
(1) Used 7D, 11-16/2.8, Used 17-55/2.8, 70-200/4L
(2) New 7D, 11-16/2.8, New 15-85/3.5-5.6(kit with 7D), 70-200/4L
(3) Same as (2), but leave the 70-200, possibly add a fast, wide-ish prime
(4) Any other thoughts?
If I go with (3), is 85mm long enough? Will I miss the long L glass that I have fallen in love with, or not use it much and regret the extra weight if I take it?
Again, I know only I can make the decision in the end, but it helps to organize my thoughts like this, and any thoughts/suggestions/recommendations would be greatly appreciated (especially if you took the time to read this ridiculously long post!).