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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 17 Dec 2013 (Tuesday) 14:14
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Lenses for Travel

 
Nathan
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Dec 17, 2013 14:14 |  #1

No, I'm not asking. I just ran across a really good article that could serve as a reference point for a lot of people who have this question. Full text below.

Source: http://photography.nat​ionalgeographic.com …travel-richardson/#page=2 (external link)

Lenses for Travel - National Georgraphic - May 11, 2010

Contributing editor Jim Richardson is a photojournalist recognized for his explorations of small-town life. His photos appear frequently in National Geographic magazine.

"I'm going on vacation. What lens should I take?"

Well, now, that's a simple question, and I ought to able to give a simple answer. I never can. About once a week someone comes into our gallery, scrutinizes my collection of images from around the world, and then assumes (with scant evidence) that I know everything about photography.

Nobody assumes that buying a sauce pan will make you a chef, but many photographers seem to assume that buying just the right lens will make them into a photographer. Certainly our gallery visitors don't want to get into a deep philosophical discussion with a cranky curmudgeon. A simple answer would do.

This question has an answer, even if it is not so simple.

I begin by steering the conversation toward the nature of the questioner's vacation and the range of their interests. What I'm looking for is an idea of what kind of pictures they want to take—and how hard they want to work at it. (This is supposed to be a vacation, after all, and because they are asking a question like this I know they are amateurs. Pros would be asking different questions.) For instance, are they touring the cathedrals of France or are they going on safari in Tanzania? Cruising the Greek Isles with friends or hiking for two weeks in the rain forest of Brazil?

Different types of travel require radically different equipment choices. Concentrating on the pictures instead of the equipment is the path to sanity here. If you can figure out what kind of pictures you want to take, equipment selection gets much, much easier.


So let's consider several travel scenarios:
  • Cultural Travel
    You are exploring Europe's rich cultural heritage—lots of museums, cathedrals and architecture, rides on canal boats through Amsterdam, and generally gawking at impressive castles and towers.

    First of all, take the kit lens that came with your digital SLR. Usually this is something like an 18-55mm, and it covers from a moderate wide angle to a short telephoto view. If you want to upgrade, then consider something like an 18-105mm or the ideal "vacation lens," an 18-200mm. If you are going to carry just one lens, that would be it. If you are able to carry another lens, then seriously consider a really wide-angle lens, like a 10-22mm or a 12-24mm lens. These superwides make eye-popping images out of cramped interiors. And they aren't big and heavy.
  • Wildlife Expedition
    You are going on an African safari-style trip. How far away will the animals be? No one knows for sure. Leopards may be hidden in a distant tree while lions are sleeping in the shade of your Land Rover. But this we know: You'll be shooting from the vehicle with little chance to move closer. So you will need a long-range zoom lens. This is where the 100-400mm comes into its own. It is sizable but you won't need to carry it long distances. A lighter alternative is the 70-300mm lens, which will often be long enough. Anything less is inviting disappointment. Take a beanbag or something soft you can steady the lens with as you stand up to shoot out of the Land Rover's sunroof. Also, take along that shorter kit lens, too; you'll want camp photos and you'll be close enough to animals occasionally.
  • Nature Trek
    This is different than wildlife photography. Whether you are hiking the rain forest or the Canadian Rockies, you'll want a wide-angle zoom. You might also carry something that will get out to medium telephoto—about 200mm. In the rain forest, using the really long zoom will be difficult, since rain forests tend to be dark. And in the mountains, long telephoto shots are not very satisfying. It's the juxtaposition of the nearby meadow flowers or turquoise lake that sets off the mountains' grandeur. Consider adding to this kit a true macro lens (not just a zoom that has a macro range). Examples of these would be a 60mm f/2.8 or a 100mm f/2.8. No other lens is as useful when you want to get to the heart of wildflowers, tiny mushrooms, and insects.
  • Nightlife and After Dark
    Much of the romance and color of travel doesn't happen in broad daylight but instead after the sun goes down. Luckily, we now have digital cameras that can truly capture the color and flavor of the night. To photograph effectively after sundown, you'll need one of three pieces of equipment (and maybe all of them): a camera that can deliver high ISO, a tripod, or a fast lens.
  • For the lens part, you need f/2.8 or faster.
    (A f/1.4 really delivers.) You can easily break the bank buying these paragons of the glassmakers' art. However, consider several affordable alternatives, like a 17-50mm f/2.8 zoom that isn't too big or expensive. Or look at a 24mm f/2.8 fixed focal length, which will be unobtrusive yet offer great image quality in tough situations. A 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8 also is a good choice, but it won't deliver a wide view. Note this: Many zoom lenses are f/2.8 at the wide-angle end and then slow down to f/4 or f/5.6 at the telephoto extreme—not much good for night photography.
  • Going Creative and Experimental
    Let us suppose you have just plain had it with standard postcard shots. Or let's assume you have a creative itch that just has to get scratched. Okay, take a Lensbaby. These endearing oddities do things ordinary lenses only dream about—like bending. Tip them this way or that and suddenly the picture has a strange, lovely, soft-focus look with just a bit in sharp focus. Lensbabies always deliver pictures with soft edges that would get them thrown out of most lens sharpness contests, but the resulting images have a romantic, sometimes antiquated look, as if envisioned by some antediluvian seer. If that is not enough, take some interchangeable elements, allowing you to replace the sharp glass element with a decidedly soft and wavy plastic one. Fun! And your vacation photos will be way, way different.
  • Final Advice
    If this is a vacation, then take only what will be fun. If you enjoy being a pack mule, then by all means lug every last clunker of a lens you've got. Otherwise, less is definitely more.


Taking photos with a fancy camera does not make me a photographer.
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InfiniteDivide
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Dec 17, 2013 19:34 |  #2

That is solid advice! I agree. The simple answer is, it depends on what you want to take photos of.
The post gives plenty of examples and even suggestions of possible lens. Please STICKY this in the FAQ's


James Patrus
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MakisM1
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Dec 17, 2013 20:13 |  #3

I wrote elsewhere that my travel lite kit is the Sigma 8-16 and the EF-S 18-200. Both are unbelievably good for the money!


Gerry
Canon 5D MkIII/Canon 60D/Canon EF-S 18-200/Canon EF 24-70L USM II/Canon EF 70-200L 2.8 USM II/Canon EF 50 f1.8 II/Σ 8-16/ 430 EXII
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Lbsimon
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Dec 17, 2013 21:58 |  #4

MakisM1 wrote in post #16535651 (external link)
I wrote elsewhere that my travel lite kit is the Sigma 8-16 and the EF-S 18-200. Both are unbelievably good for the money!

This is my wife's travel kit (minus the ultrawide). To Europe I take the 15-85 plus the Sigma 10-20. To New Hampshire mountains - the 15-85 plus the 70-300 (just replaced with the 70-200 + 1.4x). To Cape Cod - my S110!


5D Mark IV | 6D | S110
EF 17-40L | EF 24-105L (two) | EF 70-200L F4 IS | EF 100-400L II | EF 85 1.8 | EF 50 1.8 STM | Canon 1.4x III | Canon 1.4x II
Yongnuo 685 | Nissin Di622 M2 | Nissin Di422

  
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effstop
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Dec 18, 2013 08:33 |  #5

I'm reading this after one full day at Disneyland with the kids and a soar back from schlepping the 24-70mm 2.8 and at least one kid on my shoulders. Getting ready for California Adventure and seriously considering only taking the nifty fifty. Great read and right now it seems that less is more.


5D MKI | 1D MKII | 24-70mm 2.8 L | 80-200MM 2.8 L | 400mm 5.6 L |50mm 1.8

  
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MakisM1
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Dec 18, 2013 08:34 |  #6

I've been to Greece/Turkey for 7 weeks with the 18-200 and the nifty. I got back unforgettable photos!

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Lbsimon
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Dec 18, 2013 09:16 |  #7

MakisM1 wrote in post #16536603 (external link)
I've been to Greece/Turkey for 7 weeks with the 18-200 and the nifty. I got back unforgettable photos!

If you are interested, click on the photo and you can see the whole album.

I was. And I did. I traveled there six years ago. Amazing - it looks like we sailed on the same gulet, and visited the same places! Unfortunately, at the time all I had was a small P&S. :-(


5D Mark IV | 6D | S110
EF 17-40L | EF 24-105L (two) | EF 70-200L F4 IS | EF 100-400L II | EF 85 1.8 | EF 50 1.8 STM | Canon 1.4x III | Canon 1.4x II
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jbrackjr
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Dec 18, 2013 09:29 |  #8

Good advice!

The 18-200 gets my vote for a "one lens vacation". Great pics for the money.


Jim
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Copidosoma
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Dec 18, 2013 09:30 as a reply to  @ jbrackjr's post |  #9

Pretty solid advice. Except for the LensBaby part.


Gear: 7DII | 6D | Fuji X100s |Sigma 24A, 50A, 150-600C |24-105L |Samyang 14 2.8|Tamron 90mm f2.8 |and some other stuff
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BrickR
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Dec 18, 2013 09:43 |  #10

Less is more in many travel situations because you spend less time worrying about lenses, carrying gear, worrying about theft if you put your bag down, switching lenses, etc etc. Instead you focus on enjoying the sights and sounds.
I took an SL1 with 11-16 and a 17-50 to Yosemite and ended up wishing I only took a 15-85. Of course now I'm switching to mirrorless for lightweight travel. MUCH less is much more ;)


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Corbeau
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Dec 18, 2013 09:51 |  #11

I don't know, BrickR, I'm more in the pack mule camp. 20mm, 50 1.4, 70-200 and a tripod. Can't leave home without a tripod...

Great article, mind you, which answers well a common question from Aunt Martha.


Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera. -- Yousuf Karsh

  
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mi000ke
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Dec 18, 2013 09:58 |  #12

18-200 when IQ less important than convenience and portability (e.g., mountain hiking). 15-85 (on 7D) or 24-105 (on 5D) and either 70-200 or 100-400 (but not both) in my lopro backpack. If reach or action is key (wildlife, sports) it's the 7D + 100-400. If more general stuff or landscape then the 5D + 24-105. and the backpack has room for a snack and a sweater. And if I'm real serious about the IQ, then I may strap my tripod on the back of the backpack.


5D3/7D/350D/S110/24-105/15-85/70-200 2.8L Mk II/100-400L/Sigma 18-200/

  
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titi_67207
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Dec 18, 2013 10:20 |  #13

The 40mm pancake is a great "less is definitely more" option... I'm not sure that's the case of a 18-200mm lens. ("more is definitely less" maybe ? ;) )

Titi


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Lbsimon
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Dec 18, 2013 11:27 |  #14

titi_67207 wrote in post #16536868 (external link)
The 40mm pancake is a great "less is definitely more" option... I'm not sure that's the case of a 18-200mm lens. ("more is definitely less" maybe ? ;) )

Titi

40 mm may work for you. For me it is nearly not enough for old European towns and cities. That requires very wide FL. But it may be good for places like NYC or Houston.


5D Mark IV | 6D | S110
EF 17-40L | EF 24-105L (two) | EF 70-200L F4 IS | EF 100-400L II | EF 85 1.8 | EF 50 1.8 STM | Canon 1.4x III | Canon 1.4x II
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vengence
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Dec 18, 2013 12:19 |  #15

titi_67207 wrote in post #16536868 (external link)
The 40mm pancake is a great "less is definitely more" option... I'm not sure that's the case of a 18-200mm lens. ("more is definitely less" maybe ? ;) )

Titi

The 40 is a nice lens, and I carry it as the only lens for quite a few trips when I want something ultra light, but I wouldn't want it as my only lens for vacation. For for landscapes it is to long, for wildlife it's too short, for many indoor locations it can be too slow.

The other thing is it really depends on how you vacation. If you are driving somewhere and plan to spend most of the trip in/from your car, then there's no reason not to take a large kit & tripod. If you are backpacking for 14 days then you may be better off with a quality P&S. If you plan to club it up at Vegas for 7 nights, then forget the camera all together.




  
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