Another travel lens - what would you do? question

Started Jul 16, 2013 | Discussions
Steven Rounds New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question

I'm a fan of really wide lenses (NON-fisheye), because I can get wide shots inside cathedrals, without having a lot of tourists in the frame.  The wider angle lets me get closer to the subject I want to capture, without backing up to get it all in (and getting more unwanted people in the foreground).

I shoot with an Olympus OM-D E-M5, with 9-18 mm, 12-50 mm and 40-150 mm lenses (the equivalent of a 35 mm range of 18-300 mm).  I appreciate the extra depth-of-field I get with this system...it's much easier to gaussian-blur parts of the shot I want to be out of focus in Photoshop (feather the edge for natural look), than it is to bring slightly out-of-focus parts of an image back with Sharpening in post.

My camera with all three of these lenses fits into a lightweight hip pack, with batteries, filters, LED video light, flashes, lens cleaner, etc. etc. included.  I'm 64, with back problems (motorcycle racing crash when I was 17), and the hugely reduced weight of the Olympus system is a pleasure to use while traveling.

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PHXAZCRAIG
OP PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 14,032
Re: Same thing I always do

I appreciate the quality.

Just not all the weight every time.

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Craig
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OP PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 14,032
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question

Your thinking mirrors mine.   I will not be taking the tripod, though I've taken it on other trips.  It simply wouldn't be appropriate on this one.

I will also take a flash, but rarely will use it, and it won't be carried with me.  (Possible exception of Sistine Chapel tour, if they allow flash).   Past history has shown me that I rarely use a flash on vacation trips.   (Same with 24 and 50mm prime lenses).

Someone suggested a backpack and a waist bag.   Well, I already travel that way, and I can tell you that there is a big issue there.   You can't use the waist strap of the backpack when using the waist bag, which keeps the bulk of the weight on the shoulders and through the backbone.   I'm fighting lower back pain issues now, which is a main reason for this thread.   I know how to carry and use lots of gear as I've done it many times.  I just need to find a way to get by with less gear for the walking tours.

Since a lot of this comes down to - do I need a wide lens?, do I need a long lens?, and can I get by with just the 24-70?, perhaps it will help to mention some of the shore excursions, which I booked last night.   For instance - Rome, including inside the coliseum and Vatican including the Sistine Chapel.  I've done this before (with a film camera), except never the Sistine Chapel.   A longer lens than the 24-70 might be nice inside the Sistine Chapel?   Flash?  (I'm strongly assuming flash won't be allowed.)

Greece includes a visit to the Acropolis, and it's my understanding that you have to climb up to the Acropolis, which argues against too much weight on that specific trip.

Dubrovnic - no idea what to expect there.

Messina and Taormina tour - no idea there.

I'm pretty sure that if I got the 24-120F4, I'd be pretty well covered with a single lens most of the time.   What I'm not sure is if I would be disappointed with the quality of the shots from that lens, after years of shooting with the Nikon 24-70.   I hear a lot of people complain about distortion with it.

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OP PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 14,032
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question

This will be my 8th cruise, with lots of shore excurions among them, so I have a very good idea what to expect there.   Won't even be my first Mediterranean cruise, though half the ports are new to me.

Yes, changing lenses is a big issue, but shooting fast is something I'm good at, as long as I have a DSLR to work with.

In the past I've just carried two bodies to cut lens changing down.   I could do that still, but it kind of flies in the face of attempting to reduce weight!  (Plus, the second body would be a D700, and I'm not sure where I'd trade off the D800e for D700, if you know what I mean.)

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OP PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 14,032
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question

So... mostly used the normal range, which I would expect to be true for me.

Where did you use the long lens?

I've spent 3 days in Barcelona before - I do like that place.   (I like Lisbon even more, but we just couldn't add the time it would take to add that on to this trip!)

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Tepacca Contributing Member • Posts: 808
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question

If you plan any post processing distortion of 24-105mm is not a comcern.

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Roy Kikuta Senior Member • Posts: 1,597
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question

PHXAZCRAIG wrote:

Your thinking mirrors mine. I will not be taking the tripod, though I've taken it on other trips. It simply wouldn't be appropriate on this one.

I will also take a flash, but rarely will use it, and it won't be carried with me. (Possible exception of Sistine Chapel tour, if they allow flash). Past history has shown me that I rarely use a flash on vacation trips. (Same with 24 and 50mm prime lenses).

Someone suggested a backpack and a waist bag. Well, I already travel that way, and I can tell you that there is a big issue there. You can't use the waist strap of the backpack when using the waist bag, which keeps the bulk of the weight on the shoulders and through the backbone. I'm fighting lower back pain issues now, which is a main reason for this thread. I know how to carry and use lots of gear as I've done it many times. I just need to find a way to get by with less gear for the walking tours.

Since a lot of this comes down to - do I need a wide lens?, do I need a long lens?, and can I get by with just the 24-70?, perhaps it will help to mention some of the shore excursions, which I booked last night. For instance - Rome, including inside the coliseum and Vatican including the Sistine Chapel. I've done this before (with a film camera), except never the Sistine Chapel. A longer lens than the 24-70 might be nice inside the Sistine Chapel? Flash? (I'm strongly assuming flash won't be allowed.)

Greece includes a visit to the Acropolis, and it's my understanding that you have to climb up to the Acropolis, which argues against too much weight on that specific trip.

Dubrovnic - no idea what to expect there.

Messina and Taormina tour - no idea there.

I'm pretty sure that if I got the 24-120F4, I'd be pretty well covered with a single lens most of the time. What I'm not sure is if I would be disappointed with the quality of the shots from that lens, after years of shooting with the Nikon 24-70. I hear a lot of people complain about distortion with it.

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Craig
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You won't need a flash for the Sistine Chapel - they don't allow photography inside the Chapel.  There are security guards watching everybody, and a D800 with 24-70 will stick out like a sore thumb.  Mind - I don't advocate disregarding rules, but I saw many with unobstrusive point n' shoot cameras successfully snap photos as long as it was done quickly with beeps and playback displays turned off and shot from the hip.  The guards clap their hands and speak very loudly "no photography!" whenever they observe someone trying it, so it seems they are serious.  Photography w/wo flash is not a problem in other parts of the Vatican Museum Tour.  Your Tour Director should also tell you that males must wear long pants for this tour.  Have fun.  One last thing:  lighting inside the Chapel is VERY dim - if photography WERE allowed, it would scream for high ISO and wide angle lens. My (hypothetical) settings on D600 would be: ISO 2200, 14mm, f2.8. Prefocus 14-24 to infinity.
Just enjoy your tours.

Ray Ritchie Veteran Member • Posts: 4,026
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question

When I was in the Sistine Chapel last year, the policy was that photography was strictly prohibited, not to mention flash. But the room was packed, and camera phones were being used right and left, to the consternation and annoyance of the staff. I'm sure you could get away with a shot or two, if you were inclined to ignore the many signs and verbal instructions, but I didn't bother.

I don't remember the Acropolis as being a terrible climb, but it's been about 15 years since I was last there, so it may impress me differently as an older person...my sister was there fairly recently, though, and I remember her commenting on how slippery the footing could be on the marble and granite.

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PHXAZCRAIG
OP PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 14,032
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question

Good to know - plus about the dress code.

I've toured the Vatican, and St. Peters, before, just not the Sistine Chapel.

Last time I was there I was working with my very first digital camera, a Canon G2.    I definitely needed better high ISO performance with it!

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OP PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 14,032
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question

If I can't take time to get a good shot of the chapel, I won't bother.  I'll just enjoy the tour and 'make a memory' instead.

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Glen78 Senior Member • Posts: 1,411
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question

I've been to the Sistine chapel. No photography of any kind is allowed.

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CFynn Veteran Member • Posts: 5,224
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question

PHXAZCRAIG wrote:


3. Replace 24-70 with 24-120, and stay with a single zoom. This has a lot of appeal for me. Again, not worried about the price.

The 24-120 is a good travel lens - and, in many situations the VR more than compensates for the loss of 2.8. Throw in a couple of lightweight primes for when you do need a wider aperture.

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Christoph Stephan
Christoph Stephan Veteran Member • Posts: 4,231
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question

PHXAZCRAIG wrote:

My current thinking is:

1. 24-70 only. I love this lens, and within its range it's very good. Simply give up on longer shots or do a lot of heavy cropping with the D800e. Since most of my shots are viewed via web page now, that's pretty viable.

2. 24-70 coupled with one longer zoom. I could take my 80-400vr. I could take my 70-200F2.8. Bother are pretty heavy. I'm strongly considering a 70-200F4 here. I'm not worried about the price either.

3. Replace 24-70 with 24-120, and stay with a single zoom. This has a lot of appeal for me. Again, not worried about the price.

4. 24-120F4 AND a 70-200 F4. (Even consider a 16-35F4 to make a F4 'travel set'). I have a feeling I'd not use the 70-200 that much.

I have the 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200 F2.8 VR II. I cannot fit the 14-24 in my waist bag, so it's likely to not make the trip at all or stay in the backpack except perhaps touring Venice.

The weight of all this lovely gear is just causing me too many issues for walking tours.

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My style of shooting is mostly buildings, cityscapes and landscapes (+ nature), and for this I need no f2.8, a 70-200mm f2.8 only adds unnessassary weight. You cannot use the big lens for candid shots either. On the other hand, a telephoto can come in handy for nice condesed shots and building details.

I also would not want to miss wide angle in European cities - why have you spent so much money on your 14-24mm if you do not use it on holidays?

These where taken with 10 mm focal length on crop (= 16 mm in ff)

Based on this, and to minimise costly aquisitions, I would bring the 14-24mm, 24-70mm and get a lightweight tele with image stabiliser such as the 70-300mm VR.

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tamasine Regular Member • Posts: 122
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question
1

Why don't you hire a 24-120VR and see if the IQ is acceptable to you? I'm sure you're a lot bigger than me physically and I can tell you that I would not wish to be carrying a heavy camera and lenses for so many hours on end. It would become very tiring and I would probably lose all interest in taking pics, not to mention I wouldn't enjoy the experience because of the discomfort and fatigue. Minimise the weight you are carrying - you will appreciate this after a few hours walking up steep narrow roads, in hot weather, with tourists barging into you from all angles!

I wouldn't look to carry a separate lens for every eventuality. I would just take one good zoom that is lightish and that has VR (which will be very handy). You will still get amazing photos - your experience, skill and the fact that you have a great camera will make sure of this.

Jeff Klofft Veteran Member • Posts: 3,559
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question

CFynn wrote:

PHXAZCRAIG wrote:

3. Replace 24-70 with 24-120, and stay with a single zoom. This has a lot of appeal for me. Again, not worried about the price.

The 24-120 is a good travel lens - and, in many situations the VR more than compensates for the loss of 2.8. Throw in a couple of lightweight primes for when you do need a wider aperture.

The 24-120 is very good, but I find 24 not wide enough for travel.

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raymondg Contributing Member • Posts: 754
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question

I did practically the same cruise this time last year and covered it with mainly the 24-120VR f4 nikon on my D700. I also dragged along the 14-24 but could have done without it. I would much prefer to take a light but good CF tripod than a Tele.

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PHXAZCRAIG
OP PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 14,032
I've carried this all day in the past with no problem...

Craig in Washington DC with 2 DSLR's and backpack of lenses

Perhaps I am bigger than you and can carry more gear easily.   It's not like I haven't done it many times before.

I'm just trying to get down to something more portable and comfortable.

I might just try renting a 24-120 to check it out.

My current thinking is more and more leaning toward the 24-70 with one other zoom (probably 70-200f4, which means I'd have to go buy the 70-200), or just a 24-120 (which means I'd have to buy the 24-120).

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OP PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 14,032
14-24

Christoph Stephan wrote:

I also would not want to miss wide angle in European cities - why have you spent so much money on your 14-24mm if you do not use it on holidays?

I'm sure we could start a whole thread on this one.    Like many 14-24 owners, I don't use the lens as much as I thought because it's so darned much of a pain to carry.    It's very wide physically, and unless you take a backpack, there just aren't many bags that hold it well.  It barely fits in my Speed Racer, and when it does, there's no room for other stuff.   Comes down to a choice of a very wide lens or a lens that tends to be more useful.

In my new roller bag (Thinktank), it's not even fitting in there!    If I take the roller bag, I have to make significant reductions in lenses due to fit.  If I take the backpack, I can fit more gear, but then I do have to carry it too.

I'm probably going to take the backpack, and that means I'll have the 14-24.   The question will be which places I take the 14-24 and 24-70 instead of a 24-70 and something longer.

I've thought about getting a 16-35f4 just to have a wide choice that fits in the bag.

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OP PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 14,032
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question

I'd like to hear more about your experiences.   I wasn't going to take a tripod at all as I figured it would really be a hassle trying to use it on a guided tour.

Plus, the tripod I have isn't small, it's a Gitzo 3550 with BH-55 head.

On previous trips, using DX gear with lenses choices 10.5, 12-24, 24-70 and 80-400, I found myself using the 12-24 a fair amount since 24-70 isn't wide on DX.   When I started traveling with a D700, I found that 24mm was generally wide enough, and I just wasn't bothering to change to a 14-24.

For many years I traveled with 1 or 2 film bodies, and the widest I had then was 28mm.   I guess I'm just not much of a wide angle kind of shooter.   I prefer 100-200mm if not shooting in the normal range.

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raymondg Contributing Member • Posts: 754
Re: Another travel lens - what would you do? question

Hi Craig.

I did a 24 day cruise around the Med starting in Venice and ending in Barcelona. I also did some time in Rome, Florence, Cinque terra, Paris and London before and after the cruise. Here is the logic behind the decisions I made:

1. I wanted to be able to carry all essential gear as carry on luggage including charges, storage, Mac Air etc. I didn't want to get somewhere only to find I can charge my camera battery because they lost my luggage. That meant I had to keep it all down to about 10kg to get me under the airlines' carry on limit.

2. The best walkabout lens (IMO) is the 24-120VR f4. Therefore that was a no brainer and the first decision was made.

3. D700, D3 or D800e? D3 too big/heavy, D800e too attractive and large file size, D700 quality, low light, size, perfect. Again, this was my opinion. In retrospect, the D800e would have been awesome in Santorini.

4. Ultra WA or Tele. Europe has far more wide opportunities (architecture, ruins etc) than Tele. Plus a Tele is much more obvious. I chose the WA and the 14-24. That gave me 14-120 in 2 lenses with reasonable  wides on either lens. The 14-24 was just perfect for Santorini.

5. While a tripod is difficult to use on shore excursions, it is not impossible as you do get Free Time. But I took it mainly for the before & after Cruise photos. Venice at sunrise/sunset/night is stunning. Sunrise from the Academia Bridge, night time in the Piazzas or along the Grand Canal, night/sunrise at St Marks Square all scream out for a tripod and cable release. I used a Enduro CF tripod (CT214) which gave me eye level height without the centre col, but packed down to 2ft. With the Enduro ball head (BHL2) the weight was 2kg. Awesome travel rig and comes with own travel bag so it can be easily carried over the shoulder. This I packed into my 'checked' luggage rather than carry on. It was indispensable in Paris.

6. I took a Mac Air (1kg) and USB 3 hard drive. All files (RAW & Jpeg) were backed up onto both.

7. I used a backpack to get my stuff on board both plane and ship but a Lowepro passport sling and Black Rapid strap to carry my gear around when sight-seeing. This was a quick access, low profile (doesn't scream 'expensive camera gear')and also allowed me to easily carry water (40degC plus most of the time) and other essentials as well. The fact that both device criss crossed my back meant I was not an easy theft proposition.

8. Ultimately, the 24-120 gave me most of the photos but the 14-24 was very useful in tight places. I didn't miss a longer Tele at all, but maybe that is just my style. You can follow the links below in my signature to see the results.

9. Was I tempted to put a 50mm or 85mm f1.4 in. Yes I was but I didn't and honestly I would not have used it. One lens is great, 2 lenses OK. more than that it is a major PITA.  The best plan is to keep lens changes to an absolute minimum.

10. Security. In the hotels and aboard ship a safe is usually provided. The gear I used fitted into the safe and there was still room for my docs etc. While I tried to keep the gear with me at all times, the ability to secure equipment also was a consideration in my decision making.

Please feel free to ask me any further questions and I will be pleased to assist. Above all remember. no matter what you choose, you will come back with some great shots and great memories.

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