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Thread: Travel lens advice

  1. #1
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    Travel lens advice

    Hi All

    I'm going to Tunisia in a couple of weeks time and need some advice on what lens to take with me. I want to travel as light as possible as I don't fancy carrying a load of gear around all day.
    I have a 18-55 kit len, 28 1.8 and 50 1.8. I was thinking that I could take the 18-55 for general stuff and the 50 1.8 for low light. or I could take the 28 1.8, which is quite close to a "normal" 50mm on a 1.6 crop sensor and the 50 1.8 both of which would be good in low light. I know that i would miss out on the wide end if I took this combo, but I guess I could always use my legs to zoom and also be more challenging interms of creating images. So I guess my question is, what combo would you take if you were in my position and why?

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Travel lens advice

    What do you think you might need the f1.8s for? Are they 'must haves' fro what you expect to be shooting.

    If not, and the priority is to travel light, then I'd say the 18-55 was you best walk-around option. If you're in a low light situation, just bang-up the ISO to compensate. If that still doesn't do it, then just enjoy what you are looking at and forget about trying to make pictures.

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    Re: Travel lens advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Rebel1 View Post
    Hi All

    I'm going to Tunisia in a couple of weeks time and need some advice on what lens to take with me. I want to travel as light as possible as I don't fancy carrying a load of gear around all day.
    I have a 18-55 kit len, 28 1.8 and 50 1.8. I was thinking that I could take the 18-55 for general stuff and the 50 1.8 for low light. or I could take the 28 1.8, which is quite close to a "normal" 50mm on a 1.6 crop sensor and the 50 1.8 both of which would be good in low light. I know that i would miss out on the wide end if I took this combo, but I guess I could always use my legs to zoom and also be more challenging interms of creating images. So I guess my question is, what combo would you take if you were in my position and why?
    Given that list of options I'd pack the 18-55mm and the 50mm 1.8, personally.

    No matter what you bring it sounds like you're going to wish you had something other than what you did... But at some point you have to *stop* asking yourself, "What lens do I need to get the shot I want?" and *start* asking yourself, "How do I get the shot I want with the lens I have?" One question leads to kit acquisition, the other leads to better photography.

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    Re: Travel lens advice

    Ditto Donald's comments. If you don't have specifics in mind and you want to travel light, a zoom is hard to beat.

  5. #5
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    Re: Travel lens advice

    Travel light...would suggest taking the zoom, but kit lenses are rarely the bees knees, and you appear to have low light photography in mind, so the 50mm and 28mm would be my preference.

    Goes without saying to take care of your stuff from opportunists when away....

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    Re: Travel lens advice

    I think you pose a very interesting question. All things being equal I would take the Kit lens. The crop factor certainly constrains wide angle to some degree but you could overlap shots vertically, horizontally or both (20%) and blend them in a panorama program (PTGUI or Photoshop). I have found this technique to be very, very useful in travel photography. Odds are your photography will involve more well illuminated shots than low light shots. However, you may be able to use some existing structures as a "tripod" when taking low light shots. I bet I could build a tiny camera support in one hour in my wood shop that could be used in combination with existing structures to steady a camera.

    Quite possibly your Canon? 50mm is a sharp lens. My Canon 50mm f 1.4 is so sharp I am amazed. In fact, I don't need a telephoto, I just crop my 50mm shots...stretching the truth here but the thought is genuine. Overlapping for panoramas is also convenient with the 50mm. In fact, if we add a little walking, you can use the easy to learn PTGUI to such advantage that other lenses are almost unnecessary. So what I am asserting, is that creative use off one or two lenses combined with relatively inexpensive software can make a travelers photo bag quite light! Good luck and remember, one excellent photograph is worth ten hours of video!

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    Re: Travel lens advice

    When you travel with limited gear you have to exercise discipline in what you take, and more importantly what you look for that suits the gear as I did years back with my Canon s20 P&S with its x2 zoom lens. But in more recent times I used a bridge camera with a 35-280 AoV lens .. a beautiful Nikon 5700, much lighter than a DSLR but oh so competent .... today I would have my GH2 with its 28-280 AoV .... and still find subjects unsuitable for it.

    But I guess that doesn't answer your query because with the cost of the trip you don't want to buy gear as well. I wouldn't be unduely concerned about the kit lens possible lack of absolute IQ, that is the least of your worries in a foreign country.
    One thing though ... I hope you will be taking a mini-tripod to help with low light subjects... you do not mention the camera body or if it has OIS or IBIS.
    I do not know the country but are you organizing a wire mesh interior for your backpack?
    Last edited by jcuknz; 26th June 2013 at 11:12 PM.

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    Re: Travel lens advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    What do you think you might need the f1.8s for? Are they 'must haves' fro what you expect to be shooting.

    If not, and the priority is to travel light, then I'd say the 18-55 was you best walk-around option. If you're in a low light situation, just bang-up the ISO to compensate. If that still doesn't do it, then just enjoy what you are looking at and forget about trying to make pictures.
    Best advice by Donald = 18-55mm.

    Whenever I have to travel light , like touring on my motorycle, that 18-55mm is the best.

    HTH

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    Re: Travel lens advice

    With the lenses you have it seems all you are really talking about here is which 2. With the weight difference of just over half a pound on the 28mm just take them all. You won't notice much of a difference. One consideration you have to make is whether or not this trip may be repeated. If yes, go minimum and be aware of what shots you couldn't get this time and go prepared on the next. For me this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity and I'd take everything I could manage in carry-on. If it's an option for you, consider renting an 18 - 200 which would be my first choice as a travel lens.

  10. #10
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    Re: Travel lens advice

    I expect that traveling to Tunisia, you are either looking at spending time on the beach or traveling around looking at Roman or post-Roman architecture. To my mind, the only lens that you have that is suitable is the 18-55mm; but that would really restrict you to shooting from a moderate wide angle to a short zoom. I'm not sure how much the two fixed lenses are going to buy you; although they really won't add much to the weight you are carrying.

    If it were me; I would pick up something like a 55-200mm to extend your range, or if you are feeling rich, take Andrew's advice and go for a 18-200mm that will give you a pretty good overall shooting range (my wife shoots almost exclusively with that lens).

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    Re: Travel lens advice

    I just came back from a 21-day trip trekking through the jungles of Borneo, sight seeing in Kuala Lumpur and taking an overnight train to Bangkok. I took my Nikon D60 and wanted a "tourist" lens so I only needed to carry one. I decided on the Tamron 18-270mm which I bought from B&H Used department. Best deal ever. Never had to change lens - all in one and compact. No, it's not the fastest auto-focus and not the sharpest but for travelling and documenting my travels it was just the right lens.

  12. #12
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    Re: Travel lens advice

    Take the kit lens. There will likely be many times when you won't be able to use your legs to zoom!

  13. #13
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    Re: Travel lens advice

    To look at what Donald wrote, in quantitative terms: the kit lens at 28mm will be (approx.) two stop slower than the 28mm Prime.

    If you have two stops of ISO in your camera to make the low light shots you think you might want and travelling light is the priority then just take the kit lens.

    ***

    IF you do choose to take another lens with the Kit Zoom, then the 28/1.8 is the better option of the two.
    Because, in a low light situation, whilst you MIGHT be able to move closer with the 28mm to frame it as a 50mm, you can also choose to stand back a bit and keep a similar perspective as the 50mm lens and crop the shot a little in Post Production - HOWEVER (for example) IF you are inside you CANNOT move back farther than the wall behind you, so a fast wider lens, is safer.

    ***

    To answer:
    "What I would take"
    Considering only three lenses available, I would take the kit zoom and 28/1.8.


    "Why?"
    • I don't consider two lenses, not "travelling light"
    • I shoot a lot of Available Light and at Night-time.
    • I like street work and the 28 on an APS-C is the best lens of the three for that.
    • I am used to working, (quickly) with a Prime Lens.
    • The Kit zoom would be very handy for mostly all my daytime shooting - a zoom is 'luxury'


    WW

    PS you cannot "use my legs to zoom": you can only move closer or father away and that in turn changes the Perspective of the shot.

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    Re: Travel lens advice

    Thanks for all your advice. I guess the general concensus is to carry the 18-55mm. It would be good for general daylight photography, and whilst the IQ is not the best in the world it is light weight, so shouldn't be a problem carrying it around all day on my 60D. Not qyite made my mind up about the prime yet but i'm leaning towards the 28 for it's field of view, better construction and wider apeature.

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Travel lens advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Rebel1 View Post
    . . and whilst the IQ [of the Canon Kit Lens 18 to 55] is not the best in the world . . .
    The image quality of all the variants of the EF-S 18 to 55 F/3.5~5.6 IS lenses is better than what is generally mentioned.

    The non IS version, is not far behind.

    WW

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    Re: Travel lens advice

    I would not travel without the 20mm -200mm range being covered. A few gaps would be fine.

  17. #17
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    Re: Travel lens advice

    And one off-the-wall suggestion. Have you considered if it might be better to take a P&S with you (assuming you own one) instead of the dSLR?

    To me, what camera gear I'm willing to haul has a lot to do with what I'm travelling for and who I'm travelling with. If I'm taking the trip solely to take photographs and I'm going solo, I go loaded for bear. If I'm going with a travelling companion, and they're not particularly photographically inclined, I'll pack lighter. If I'm travelling with my family (none of whom are particularly patient with me and my need to snap photos) or it's a location where I'd rather take home experiences than photographs, I might go superlight with a P&S.

    You could take a P&S with you instead of the kit lens, and have the dSLR/prime for low-light shooting.

  18. #18
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    Re: Travel lens advice

    As Andrew1 suggested, i would take all three if possible, but if the choice was 2 then i would definately take the 18-55mm and the 28mm. I prefer to use wide angle lenses for travelling and think the 50mm would make it too much of a telephoto for me. Hard choice, good luck.

    Eddie

  19. #19
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    Re: Travel lens advice

    The choice of lenses depends entirely on your style of photography.

    Some folks carry cameras to record "I was there type of photos" of them and their traveling companions.

    Others like to shoot architecture and landscapes.

    Others like to do the above plus want to come back home with images of the local people.

    I personally want to do the second and third types of photography and find that a mid-range zoom combined with a telephoto zoom is the best for my needs.

    I think that anyone should be able to figure out the uses for the mid-range zoom lens. It is a general duty lens that is suitable for most shots. Your 60D DSLR camera has decent high ISO performance, so the lack of a fast lens would not be an insurmountable burden.

    However, I would not travel anywhere without a longer lens. This is especially true in Muslim countries where I don't like to poke a camera in the faces of locals. A longer lens will allow me to get images of the local people without them being aware that they are being shot. Thus they are in ratural poses. The long lens is also great for isolating architectural features and for compressing distances...

    I have just returned from a trip to Venice, Greece and Istanbul. I made good use of my 70-200mm lens in all these venues. An example is shooting from the top of the Galata Tower in Istanbul. Although very nice images can be had from a mid-range zoom; really spectacular inages can be achieved using a long lens. The same goes for shots from the city walls of Dubrovnic, Croatia. While in Venice, I had a room which looked over a small but, busy canal. I used my long lens to good advantage to get a series of tight shots of gondoleers plying their craft along the canal.

    If I were in your position, I would seriously think about picking up a 55-250mm tele lens which will provide a lot of extra photo opportunities. However, your needs and wants could be quite different from mine. Neither of us would be right or wrong, simply different in our needs and desires...

    BTW: I also brought a 12-24mm Tokina f/4 but, like during my trip to China, I seldom had it on the camera...

    Finally, I think that Kathy Li is right on when she mentions carrying a camera other than a DSLR. My son-in-law has started to bring home some very nice travel images with his Canon SX50 which is lightweight, has a wide focal range and is quite inexpensive compared with DSLR equipment...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 28th June 2013 at 08:03 PM.

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