Are telephoto lenses good for travel?

Started 5 months ago | Discussions
Blind Bill
Blind Bill Senior Member • Posts: 1,018
Re: Are telephoto lenses good for travel?
3

darrenhaken wrote:

I am trying to understand whether a telephoto lens is a good range to have for travel - something like 70-200 or 70-300. 1.8 primes.

Two years ago I took a 16-35 WA and 70-300 telephoto to Ireland and never felt limited by not having other mid-range lenses with me. The extra reach of 300mm was very useful when in the countryside.

Some photographers I follow take some really nice telephoto shots but I have tended to shy away from buying one due to the weight and size of lugging them around.

Last year on a trip to New England I took the 16-35 WA and a 100-400. The latter lens is a bit heavier than the 70-300 but, again, some of my best images on that trip came with that lens (including closeups of fall leaves)

I currently travel with a 16-35, 24-105 and a couple of light. I even wondered if I should even ditch the mid-zoom and pair the 16-35 with a telephoto.

Not that we can travel right now but I am being hopeful I might get a trip by spring somewhere!

On any future trips for landscape captures I would definitely have a WA and mid-telephoto in my bag.

Here is a shot taken with my 100-400 that I think expresses why I travel with a telephoto for landscape images.

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darrenhaken
OP darrenhaken Regular Member • Posts: 301
Re: Are telephoto lenses good for travel?

Bobthearch wrote:

I would not want to travel without a long-ish zoom lens. Wildlife, portraits, architectural features, geographical features, cultural events, or even news events. It's the best way to photograph people, if you're into that, without being intrusive or obvious.

A hot air balloon rally, 240mm on a crop sensor.

The only prime lens I regularly travel with is an 85mm macro.

Thanks for sharing. What telephoto focal length/zoom range do you travel with?

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jkjond
jkjond Forum Pro • Posts: 10,265
Re: Are telephoto lenses good for travel?

It has been interesting reading through the comments and your replies. I take it you really want to get a long zoom but are wanting confirmation that it is money well spent. The only decisions to make are price and weight... but the apprehension is price per photo, what if you only take one photo a year with a lens costing more than the rest of your kit added together?

Here's the cheap solution. Buy a compact with a mega zoom. I don't mean a 4/3rds, but a good old fashioned point and shoot which you'll pick up second hand for buttons. Then take that everywhere with you together with your regular kit and see how much photography you do at the long end. At least you'll then have an idea how much you'd use a long zoom if you had one. It won't make the big lens any cheaper or lighter, but it is one variable checked off the list

Oh, and seeing as you have a 100mm zoom, take a look at your own stats and see how often you shoot that at 100mm compared to the upper 90s. It is an indication whether you use it as a zoom or feel restricted by a 100mm prime. The graph posted earlier showing travel usage actually tells you very little as fewer people carry longer zooms on travel, and people often can't be bothered changing a lens for a shot or two even if it is in their bag. Well I'm assuming I'm not the only one guilty of that.

And don't forget, if you do get a long zoom you will almost certainly need a decent tripod to lug around with it.

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jhorse Veteran Member • Posts: 4,693
Re: Are telephoto lenses good for travel?
1

Hi, my question is what is the purpose and nature of the the 'travel'? Travel covers a huge array of activities, noting that the travelling element is simply the journey to get to a location or activity (which of course can be fun itself and present photo opportunities too). That would shape the decision on what focal lengths are either needed or desired, If my travels are focusing on animals I take (on APS-C format) 100-400 + x1.4 convertor. If I am hiking and in rural environments I take a 55-200.

I think the key issue is the size and weight of any given telephoto lens relative to one's tolerance to carrying it and the photo opportunities.  Carrying my 100-400 in a backpack (a hiking one not a photo one) is, for me fine.  Hiking last year in the Alps, I took a 55-200, enjoyed using it and it was not an issue carrying it.

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Bobthearch
Bobthearch Veteran Member • Posts: 9,838
Re: Are telephoto lenses good for travel?

darrenhaken wrote:

Thanks for sharing. What telephoto focal length/zoom range do you travel with?

I consider weight, bulk, focal length coverage, and price when traveling.  I don't want anything that would be painful to replace should it be stolen, lost, or broken.

So for my Nikon DX system I carry:

  • 11-18
  • 18-55 'kit' lens
  • 70-300
  • 85mm macro

I generally take all of these on trips, but that doesn't mean I drag all of it around every place I go.  On a rough physically challenging hike, for instance, I might take only the 18-55 and 70-300.  Sunrise on the beach, maybe only the 18-55 and the 11-18.  Whatever I predict is most likely to be essential.  Forest hiking on a cloudy day, no way I'm skipping the macro.

The famous "snake road" migration in Southern Illinois.  How close you wanna get to one of these?  I chose to shoot at 300mm (no cropping).

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jhorse Veteran Member • Posts: 4,693
Re: Are telephoto lenses good for travel?

Bobthearch wrote:

That's brave at 300mm! I'd have felt more comfortable at several thousand mm!

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MOD rick decker Forum Pro • Posts: 17,463
Re: Are telephoto lenses good for travel?

Very nice....yes  "don't leave home without it"

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mek42 Regular Member • Posts: 174
Re: Are telephoto lenses good for travel?

When I'm doing travel shooting, I either want wide (for cities / architecture) or long (for pretty much everything else).  I'm currently using an old D2Hs body with a 6 MP sensor.  If I feel excited about a subject I often want to stitch for more pixels in case I want to print.  This pushes me toward a longer lens.

Much of my photography are interesting things I see while driving in rural areas.  Usually long is better for this situation where I don't have a lot of control of where I can locate myself.

Wlaking in the city is usually the opposite.  I may still have limited control of my location, but my subject is right in front of me, so I want wide.

Right now I have a 14mm f/2.8 and a 70-200mm f/2.8 in my bag, the tele zoom is mounted.  I do want to add a fast prime, maybe a 35mm f/1.8 macro, if such a thing exists.  Most of my low light shooting is in city areas, where I'd want wider.

I don't usually shoot people.  (Now I'm on a list for sure.)  I think the mid-length "normal" focal lengths are good for people as subjects.

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Nick5
Nick5 Senior Member • Posts: 1,402
Re: Are telephoto lenses good for travel?

darrenhaken wrote:

I am trying to understand whether a telephoto lens is a good range to have for travel - something like 70-200 or 70-300. 1.8 primes.

Some photographers I follow take some really nice telephoto shots but I have tended to shy away from buying one due to the weight and size of lugging them around.

I currently travel with a 16-35, 24-105 and a couple of light. I even wondered if I should even ditch the mid-zoom and pair the 16-35 with a telephoto.

Not that we can travel right now but I am being hopeful I might get a trip by spring somewhere!

If anyone has images to share where the telephoto really shines do share.

If I was forced to travel with only two lenses on a Pair of Gripped 5D Mark III’s the 16-35 f/4 L IS and the 70-200 f/4 L IS Mark II. The 70-200 f/2.8 L IS Mark II stays home due to weight. The 100-400 Mark II while stellar may come along, it rarely gets tossed in the Walk around bag...... the weight.

Along with the 16-35 and the 70-200 f/4 L IS II, comes the 24-70 f/4 L IS, 24 TS-E Tilt/ Shift and 1.4 EX-III. 
While a heavy rolling Thinktank Airport International, I can break down what I need to walk around for the day while in Europe carried in a Thinktank Retrospective 40.

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gavin
gavin Veteran Member • Posts: 7,982
Re: Are telephoto lenses good for travel?

I mainly travel with 24-70/2.8 only. If I need a longer lens i tend to take my 100-400 and not the 70-200. I don't use the tele that much but I have used it a lot when i have a long car ride and I take photos through the window.

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Bobthearch
Bobthearch Veteran Member • Posts: 9,838
Re: Are telephoto lenses good for travel?

jhorse wrote:

Bobthearch wrote:

That's brave at 300mm! I'd have felt more comfortable at several thousand mm!

It was a fantastic experience.  During the two primary weeks of migration you might see a day of mostly timber rattlers, a day of cottonmouths, or days of not much of anything.  We lucked out.

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Personal non-commercial websites with no ads or tracking:
Local photography: http://ratonphotos.com/
Travel and photography: http://placesandpics.com/
Special-interest photos: http://ghosttowns.placesandpics.com/

 Bobthearch's gear list:Bobthearch's gear list
Nikon D7100 Nikon AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX II Nikon AF-P 70-300mm F4.5-6.3G VR +2 more
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