best lens for india

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by howard b. schwartz, Feb 21, 2010.

  1. i am traveling to india for two weeks. i have a canon 5d mark II camera. i wish to take one lens only. what is the widest/longest zoom lens recommended? thanks.
     
  2. i forgot to add that i do not need a canon brand. a tokina, sigma, etc. would be okay.
     
  3. I recently did a trip like that and took my 24-70 f2.8 L, I didn't want for anything more. But that is me, what focal length do you normally find yourself using? How much do you want to spend etc etc?
     
  4. one lens only, i would go with 24-105. But ideally the least amount of kit I would go with is 17-40/16-35, 50 prime and 70-200.
    Cheers, Joel
     
  5. I would take a 24-70 and cheat on your one lens challenge by taking a 50 f/1.4 or a 35 f/2 for low light
     
  6. Howard,
    Really, this depends entirely on your shooting style and what you intend to do with the camera there. Whatever is your favorite one-lens setup at home should serve you equally well abroad.
    That writ, there’s an awful lot to be said for the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8. It covers the standard focal length range, it’s small, lightweight, fast, has very good optics, and is reasonably inexpensive. The non-L primes are lighter, smaller, cheaper, and still offer good quality.
    Or, you might consider a standard three prime setup, with a 24 or 35, a 50, and an 85 or 100 (the either / or choices depending on your personal preference). Primes are typically small, fast, lightweight, and offer excellent image quality.
    If the purpose of the trip is something other than photography, leave the big gun at home and get yourself a good P&S camera, such as the G11 or Nikon’s equivalent. Image quality is still very good, and it’ll be far superior on all non-photographic counts (small, inconspicuous, light, inexpensive). Or, if the purpose is primarily or solely photographic, take anything and everything you would for a similar outing at home.
    Cheers,
    b&
     
  7. No question, the 24-105 would be my choice. Broadest focal length range, sharp wide-open, has IS, isn't too heavy or bulky, dust and weather resistant. What's not to love? Have a good trip!
     
  8. I would also reommend EF24- 105 L for the reasons stated by Ken. Also take 58oEX flash. Have a nice trip. Sandy
     
  9. I would also say the 24-105. As good as the high ISO performance is on the 5dII, f/4 shouldn't be a problem and that gives you the best zoom from wide to short telephoto. I love this lens on my XTi and it should be even better on your 5dII.
     
  10. Agree on the 24-105. But I also like Ben's suggestion. I've been many times and taken SLRs. Next time I'd probably get a GF1, the 20mm, and kit zoom. That's about the cost of a 24-105.
     
  11. Howard,
    Let us know first what kind of photography you are going to do and where are you going(which part of India) and then I might be able to recommend something.
    I am originally from India and I spend at least 6-8 weeks every year there and do 95% of my outdoor photography there.
    No matter what you take, you will enjoy it.
     
  12. I was there late last year and was very happy I brought along my 17 40 L. Very helpful in places like the taj mahal,
    fethephur city and the like, I agree with one poster that you should at least bring a 17 40, 70 200, and a 50, especially if
    you only plan to visit it once. It's really a different and magical place

    Christian
     
  13. sbp

    sbp

    I travel to India several times a year for business. My lightweight kit is FF body, 24-70 2.8L and 85 1.8. The 85 is small and light, but great for portraits and low light. Enjoy the trip. Whether you shoot landscape, architecture or people, India is a target rich environment.
     
  14. 24-105 IS or 17-40, depending on how steady you are. In India, wide is good. Darkened interiors and temples, fast is better.
    Dust and humidity can be a bear on your camera, depending on what parts of the country you go. I'd carry a pocket P&S in a plastic baggie with desiccant, just in case something goes wrong with the 5DM2 or something happens to it.
    I was shooting in Puerto Rico a couple of years ago with just a 5D along and the mirror fell out. I had to find a P&S to finish the trip and it cost me about $70 more than I would have paid before I left home.
     
  15. India is a big country. You will need a wide angle lens.
     
  16. Raoul,
    Does that mean you are limited to macro in Monte Carlo, Vatican and Lichtenstein?
     
  17. sbp

    sbp

    Following that logic, what lens for Russia, at 15 times the land mass of India....
     
  18. Don't be silly Steve, that would be the 2mm super-ultrawide with a 340º fov. :)
     
  19. sbp

    sbp

    Scott - Oh yeah. That's the MkII version, made with unobtanium coated glass, right?
    But seriously, if the OP shoots landscape, a 16-35 or 17-40 would be great to have in the bag. India does have stunning vistas, particularly in the north.
     
  20. Less is more, definite. Bring just one lens and many have pointed out standardzoom lenses for you, a good choice IMO. Concentrate on picturemaking instead of equipment.
     
  21. Howard, in India you don't need to have a long reach - overwhelming majority of people love being photographed. i don't have to sneak up on them and many don't even pay attention when you point your camera at them. in this gallery all but the last photo was taken with a 50mm on dx body - http://mooostudios.com/India_general/other.htm . because of the business on the streets i would strongly recommend as fast of a lens as you are comfortable with. i used that 50mm in 98% of situations.
     
  22. Steve McCurry is well known for his pictures of India. In his film time he used prime lenses 35, 50 and 85mm mostly. He has gone digital with the Nikon D700. His lens of choice is the Nikon 24-70mm. I would recommend the very fine Canon 24-70mm 2.8 or the 24-105mm 4.0 which I use. If those are too expensive at this time the Tamron 28-75mm 2.8 is much lighter than the Canons and is highly regarded. Take a look at this Eric Meola book of India http://www.ericmeola.com/indiabook/index.html He is a Canon user who makes good use of the 24-105mm 4.0 L lens. http://www.usa.canon.com/dlc/controller?act=GetArtistDetailAct&artistID=50&imageID=1112 Good luck!
     
  23. The 24-105 makes a great travel lens but I always take along a small prime like the 50 1.4. The 24-105 while not being as big and heavy as the 24-70, its still not exactly small and light plus with the F4 aperture you will probably need flash at time ( I would get a 270 for travel flash ). Another kit I like is a 28 1.8 plus an 85 1.8. Both small and light with very high quality.
    The right bag also helps when traveling. I like a thinktank urban disguise 20 for my small setup. Its a little tight getting the 5d2 in and out but overall its a nice setup.
     
  24. It's heavy and expensive, but if limited to one lens, then I would take the 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM. Of course, I would find a way to bring two lens or more ... (and definately include the 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM).
     
  25. i want to thank everyone for their responses. when i purchased my canon 5d mark II camera, the kit lens was a 24-105 lens. this the one i will be taking. if i did not own this lens, i would have opted for the 24-70 lens. thanks again.
     
  26. sbp

    sbp

    Great pick. If you can find a little space, a small, fast prime might be worth carrying (50/1.4, 85/1.8). There are a lot of interesting things happening at night....
     
  27. My country will offer you so much street, landscape and night photography that you need to at least two lenses - 24-105mm plus 35mm or 50mm 1.4 for low light.
     
  28. I was in India last summer. My recommendation would be the 24-70mm. I would also bring a 50mm f1.4 for when you need extra light. Some tips for India. Carry lots of 5 rupee bills for beggars. 5 rupees is a good tip for a photo taken. If it isn't hot DON'T eat it. Carry Imodium just in case. Wear a hat. Carry sunscreen, bug repellent, and hand sanitizer at all times. Drink lots of King Fisher! Good places to eat in Mumbai are; Pop Tates, Urban Tadka, Timbuctoo, and Happy Singh (The Curry King). In downtown Mumbai stop in at Leopold Cafe for a cold one. There are lots of friendly street sellers here for all your souvenirs (bargaining is the rule) and tons of photo opportunities. The best Chai is served on the street. It's served boiling hot so be careful. Exact change is the rule. Get change at your hotel before leaving. Tip generously. 100 rupees is only 2 bucks to us but it's means a lot to somebody making $100 a month. Be VERY careful crossing the street. Remember the game Frogger? You're the frog! If it's hot drink soda water with lemon and black salt. It puts back the electrolytes back into you that you sweat out.
     
  29. I would agree with Gurbally, it would be almost a crime to take just one lens on a trip like this.
    I'm not a Canon shooter so I'm not entirely sure of the exact lenses. I know I would bring a wide angle; 12-24 or 11-16mm (Tokina make a great one), probably the lightweight and very usable Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, and would bring a 70-200mm as telephoto. Those three lenses, a monopod and a small flash in a small Lowepro backpack and you're going to come away with some awesome photos (and they really aren't that heavy at all!)
     
  30. howard,
    Glad you are happy and have made your choice, have a great time.
    On another issue, I don't understand this fascination of fast lenses for night use, I own a 50 f1.4, I don't drop the 24-70 2.8 after dark, the 1.4 is faster but how many images are you going to shoot with minimal DoF? It just doesn't work like that. f1.2/1.4 etc lenses have their strengths but used as general walk around lens with the idea of using it wide open is not one of them.
    To illustrate my point, here is a night market image, a very common sight in India and SE Asia, this was in Thailand I believe but the issues are the same. It is very poorly lit, I wanted the flowers to be the focus but not lose the people too much so I used f5, this gave me 1/8 sec at 200iso. Very usable. Now I still had two good stops of iso to use before needing to open up the aperture to give me more light (and this was with a non IS lens, that would have given me even more). How much darker do you want to shoot images in? Even if you do want to shoot images in darker places how limited do you want your DoF to be? Fast glass is no more practical as walk around glass than f2.8 glass (or indeed f4 glass with IS) unless you are intentionally going for very narrow DoF.
    00Vq7W-223063584.jpg
     
  31. sbp

    sbp

    @Scott - And now comes the time-honored debate over what constitutes low light.... :cool:
    For me, fast primes are useful when ISO 200 at f/5 would give shutter speed of about 7 seconds. Shots that happen at ISO 1600, f/1.8, and still only get 1/20 shutter are what count as low light, IMHO. My favorite fast lens is the 35 f/1.4L. From a distance of about 20 feet, at f/1.8, i get a DoF of about 13 feet, which seems to work for street scenes.
    This is at ISO 1250, f/1.4, shutter 1/30.....
    [​IMG]
     
  32. Steve,
    All these posts are generalisations and there will always be users to whom these don't fit. But my point was an f2.8 is very usable at night. Considerably more usable than most would think.
    The difference between 1.8 and 2.8 is 1 1/3 stop. That is 1/8 second instead of 1/20 second. I find 1/8 very usable, indeed I can handhold my 24-70 much slower than that, sharpness wise I would far rather shoot at 400 iso and 1/8 than 1600 iso at 1/30. Ultimately a 1.4 or 1.8 will allow more light in, obviously, but how often most people need that extra light is, I suspect, considerably less than they think. I used to take my 50 1.4 on these trips for this very reason, after years I realised I just didn't need it. The 24-70 or 24-105 are very versatile one lens solutions that can be used surprisingly well at night.
    Show us a picture at EV 2, I'd like to see one.
     
  33. Cool photo Steve P.
     
  34. sbp

    sbp

    Scott,
    Point taken. Horses for courses, eh? My light travel kit is 24-70/2.8, 70-200/4, and one fast prime - 35 or 85 depending on destination. The fast glass gets used maybe 10%, but it's nice to have.
    Ev2, which is what, like 1/2 second at f/1.4? Maybe a few years ago. Would a tripod be cheating...?
     
  35. Maybe just a little :)
    Take care, Scott.
     
  36. The right time to travel in India is October till March. After March, it gets hot, and then May-June we have the monsoon season which continues till the end of August. September is humid and muggy all over India, except hilly areas.
     
  37. Hello,
    I did a 3 week trip through northern India two months ago. New Delhi to Jaisalmer, through Rajasthan to Varanasi and back to New Delhi. An organized tour with GAP, but always using public transport, trains, busses, cars and Tuk Tuks.
    I took my Canon EOS 5DII with a 24-105 IS f4 L, 85 1.8 and the 70-200 IS f4L. I think this was perfect.
    The equipment was carried in a watertight and dusttight Ortlieb Aquacam bag. This carried all the mentioned equipment plus 5 CF cards and 2 additional batteries , but without the sunhood for the 70-200. This bag fits unobtrusively into a small backpack, together with a pullover and other stuff. Not especially India related, as our group did not experience any theft or visible violence at all, but I did also use a pacsafe lockable wire mesh, to secure my luggage with camera while travelling on the sleeper trains. I did just sleep more relaxed this way ... .
    I also took my 430EXII and 50 1.8 in my main luggage, but did not use either. The next time, I would exchange the 50 1.8 for the 1.4x Extender for the 70-200. The charger was carried in the main luggage and a standard two pin Eurostyle cord worked at every hotel without an adapter. Well, as long as there was some electricity ... .
    The biggest problem during this journey was dust. So, I had a lenscloth, a small rubber blower thingy and a cut toothbrush also in the bag, to clean the camera regularly, especially around the lens mount before changing lenses. I have never seen my camera that dusty before.
    Also in the Ortlieb bag: a half used roll of toilet paper, pressed flat, and Immodium lingual acut. Both needed and very important ;-)
    It was a very interesting and intense journey.
    Check my gallery here: http://home.arcor.de/hoffmann0815/IndiaThomas
    Enjoy your trip!
    Thomas.
     
  38. thanks for everyone's responses. i have decided to take the the canon 24-105 lens to india, however, after reading all the posts i want to take another lens for low light situations. i have the 50 mm 2.8 and the 85 mm 2.8 soft lens as candidates. which do you think would be better ?
     
  39. howard,
    Seriously, neither. They give you 1 stop extra and lose the IS, they are both in the same focal length range it is not worth the extra stop and no IS. I carried a 50 f1.4 for years but realised I hardly ever used it over the versatility of the zoom.
     
  40. I don't get these "what lenses should I bring to X" kinds of threads. When you get right down to it, the resulting choices are almost always the same. You have bright light, low light, wide and distant subjects virtually everywhere.
     
  41. Savas,
    The uncertainties of going somewhere completely new and different can be mitigated by people who have done what you are going to do. Of course blank comments like, Do I need a wide angle for North Bangladesh? sound banal at first, but they open the door for conversations and helpful advice from people who might have done it. That is what forums are about.
     
  42. I think Savas has a point though. It would be more helpful if Howard had given us some idea of his itinerary or what he's planning to shoot. Whether he's heading North towards the Himalayas or visiting game reserves or doing the more typical tourist haunts (Taj Mahal, Red Fort, markets/street scenes) would all affect the lens advice. Therefore, a blanket "lens for country X" is somewhat pointless unless more specifics are given.
    Howard, I think also important for you is adjusting to shooting in the tropics. When I was in England I could probably still get good light for photos at 10am as the sun would still be relatively low and weak, but by 10am in India, the sun will be much higher in the sky and harsher. You'll also find that sunset seems to happen a lot more quickly - one minute you're in light and the next it's dark, so shoot fast. Last tip - beware walking out of air conditioned hotels. Due to the heat and humidity, your lens may fog up, so always have a lens cloth handy.
     
  43. If you go to the Taj carry extra water. The place is a heat island. The women in our group had the biggest issues going through security. Men were processed through will little problems while the women were treated will little respect. Large handbags or purses should be left in the hotel or someplace secure.
     
  44. Howard; I hope you meant the 50mm f1.8 when you said "50mm f2.8". I would pick up the 50mm f1.4 for the trip if it's within your budget. You haven't said where you are traveling? If you end up in Goa I can recommend the Hotel Cavala. They have very clean rooms and Western style bathrooms. They are off the beach and very reasonably priced. You MUST eat at the "Ritz Classic" if you go to Goa. They have the best sea food I have ever had in my life.
     
  45. i can give you better suggestion if you can tell which parts u'r gonna visit!
     
  46. it

    it

  47. sbp

    sbp

    @Ian ~ Really nice portfolio. One interesting thing about India is that the people are generally very camera-friendly. Well to do or desperately poor, everyone seems to smile for the camera...
    [​IMG]
     
  48. Gotta love these "best for county x..." genre queries. How would answers change if location was Tennessee, or London, Iceland, etc.?
     
  49. Some countries do have challenges that are different than others. The two links to personal galleries here show how the cultural aspects can become the center of your attention. For people portraits and scenes within cities and towns, even the countryside, any wide to normal or mid tele like the 24-105 IS or 24-70 will do, plus an ultra-wide in some cases. Anything up to f4 can be used in low-light if you employ proper technique.
    I plan to return to India some time in the near future. It has been more than 40 years since I was last there and I see the same things in recent images linked here that I saw then. When I go, I will take two camera bodies because for the--most likely--last such trip of my life, I wouldn't want to miss capturing an image because a camera bit the dust. My lens selection will probably be 12-24 Sigma (unless a better ultra-zoom designed for full frame comes along), the 24-105 f4 IS and the 70-300 DO (very light-weight). I think a 50mm or 85mm for sharp portraits and a monopod, if not also a tripod, plus laptop with a large-capacity hard drive and a couple of back-up memory cards.
    The only reason I would carry a longer zoom is because I know there will be the opportunity for some wildlife shots, monkeys for certain, and I would not want to miss them. When I was there before, I saw many wild animals at a distance that a 70-300 would allow a chance at--better than nothing, anyway. Mongooses at play on a dirt bank. Elephants being washed in a river at a distance. Monkeys atop temples. Birds in the Mango groves. And if I thought I might have a chance to see a Tiger, I'd bring a certain little Leitz 500mm mirror lens that works well on Canon cameras with an adapter.
     

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