Canon lenses for trip to Italy

Discussion in 'Travel' started by antonio_leandro_nascimento, Jul 26, 2014.

  1. I am travelling to Italy next month (Venice, Florence, Siena, Capri, Pompei and Rome) and I am bringing a Canon EOS 6D, a Sigma 12-24mm, a Canon 24-105mm, a Canon 50mm f/1.8. I am wondering if I would need a longer lens. I currently own a 70-200mm f/4L (without IS) and I am thinking about getting a longer lens for the trip (either a 100-400mm or a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II with a 2x teleconverter). I am seeking opinions from photographers. I like architectural shots (hence the 12-24mm - the last time I went to Italy, I could not make all the pictures I wanted with my XTi + 10-22mm), but I am getting very fond of portraits with good bokeh and details (faces in statues for example) with good bokeh. What would you recommend me?
    a) Take the 70-200mm f/4L and crop?
    b) Buy 100-400mm (there seems to be a new version of this lens on the way)?
    c) Buy 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II and TC 2x?
  2. Hi Antonio, I am a Nikon shooter, but I have been faced with the same issue when I have gone to Italy and visited these same cities, except for Capri and Pompei.
    I do not know if your Canon body is full frame or has a crop sensor. With that caveat, my guess is that 80-90% of your outdoor pictures will be taken with the 24-105mm and/or the 12-24mm as many scenes require wider angle lenses. The 70-200mm will be used for detailing things like statues and features on buildings and people shooting and tighter scenics like gondolas on canals in Venice.
    I do not think you will need a longer lens. If you have a 1.4x tc, you might bring it and use it with your 70-200mm. I would not want to lug around a Canon 100-400mm for maybe 1-5% of my shots.
    The fast prime will be used for indoor shots in museums, churches and similar venues. If you have a 35mm prime, you could consider taking it instead of the 50mm. It really depends on how wide you will be shooting indoors and your personal style of shooting.
    I would take a tripod for use when people are mostly absent, like early in the morning, and when you can use it safely and easily. The light is often the best at this hour for dramatic shots. I would not walk around with it during the day. For day use, I carry a pocket tripod that fits into my pants pocket that I can sneak out and use when needed. In Venice, I used a regular tripod without any problems early in the mornings. This was in June too with lots of tourists around during the day.
    In big cities, I do not carry a backpack during the day. My prime lens goes in one pants pocket. If I had a 70-200mm, it would go in a jacket pocket or a small belly bag. My camera and lens is hidden by my windbreaker. You want to be as unobtrusive as possible. If you are traveling with someone they should be on the lookout for people that are eyeballing you to steal your stuff.
    Joe Smith
  3. I am wondering if I would need a longer lens.​
    For the longer lenses I would just take your 70-200. The quality of the 70-200 is so good that quite a bit of cropping is often possible and the other long lenses are quite a bit heavier.
  4. SCL


    Every time I took a lens of greater than 90mm to Italy, it seemed to remain in my bag and not get used. I usually use primes and take 2 lenses based on what I intend to lens on the body, the other in my pocket. I agree with the idea of unobtrusiveness, although it is usually pretty obvious who is a tourist and who isn't.
  5. There's a place for the 70-200, cropped or not. I've taken my (2.8 version) on hikes, and found it a delightful lens. There's always some frustration with focal lengths, too long, too short. But if you give it a chance, let the lens find the shot, it can be very satisfying.
  6. Joseph,
    The Canon 6D is a full frame body. The idea of carrying a tripod is a very good one. I always carry a Manfrotto pocket tripod with me and I was wondering if I should also take a gorillapod with me or a light travel tripod (all my tripods are big and somewhat heavy).
    I am also worried about the wieght of the longer lenses. The 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II weights 1.5kg, while my 70-200mm f/4L weights only 700g.
    Thank you for your input. It seems that Italy is a wide angle country.
  7. 85mm was the longest focal length I took to Italy - and even that lens did not see much use. I am considering trading my f/2.8 70-200 for the f/4 version - simply because for many situations, the f/2.8 is too large and too heavy. Or I may forgo a zoom all together and use the 150/2.8 instead (maybe with a 1.4x in the bag "just in case").
    Please keep in mind that many places in Italy will not allow you to setup a tripod and many will not let you take a camera bag inside. If you plan on taking more than the camera with lens attached into those buildings and museums, consider alternative means of carrying your gear (like a photo vest).
  8. I'd take the 70-200mm and Teleconverter for the few times that you might need it. In Venice, in the fall of 2013, I used my 70-200mm twice... at 70mm! LOL.
    Your ultra-wide can be a really versatile lens for travel photography, not for landscapes, but up-close shots of details, larger interiors, etc.
  9. david_henderson


    I may come back later with some views on lens choice, but meantime I just checked out my use of different lenses in cities over the last few years. I photograph in cities quite a lot. Looking at my 70-200f4L IS my proportion of usage ranges from about 18% of all shots in Paris through 20-25% in places like Berlin and Venice, 30% in Chicago and almost 45% in NYC. I probably need to say that I have the 24-105 too so a proportion of these numbers I could get with another lens in my bag, but that's a minority.
    I know there's a strong lobby in favour of travelling light (so eliminating anything telephoto) and concentrating on shooting wide-angle when travelling. But these commonly-held views don't seem to fit what I do. So if you're developing a liking for architectural details, then if I were you I'd stick with your intent. Italy is only a wide angle country if your shooting preference makes it so. In my experience I need to have everything covered off between say 17 and 200mm and I can do that without carrying too much weight- my working bag weighs under 6kg.
  10. If you like photos of close-ups, architectural details and such, then yes, a 70-200 will be very useful; much longer than that seems overkill to me (but for sure some structures are huge, so it depends a lot of what you like to shoot - none of us can tell that for you).
    Personally, given your gear, I would stick with the 70-200 f/4, and probably not bother bringing a TC either. Main reason is weight and size of your kit: most of these cities are crowded, so large bags are a bit a nuisance. Plus it could very well be warm, especially further south (Rome, Pompeï), and with some cities close to the sea or river, humidity can be very high. Far from ideal to carry a lot of gear. Keep things simple, having IS on your 70-200 would have been a nice plus - the insides of some cathedrals and churches are quite dim, but the 6D does well with high ISOs, should be doable.
    Plus, what Dieter said on the tripod. I'd leave it all home. I've not yet had problems with carrying a bag, but a tripod is a no in all churches I've seen around here.
  11. I've spend 2 months in Europe (in the 80's) and for the most part I used 70-210 and 24mm. I doubt I'd do it much differently, except I'd take 20mm and my 90mm macro this time. One has to take their own visual style into consideration. The less weight you haul around the better. Try too figure out what lens you use the most and go from there. I'd take 1.4 teleconverter just for extra reach.
  12. david_henderson


    I might get tempted to replace the 70-200 with the same lens with IS, simply to make it more useful in lower light levels without a tripod. Frankly a tripod is a PITA in cities, and whilst I always bring one on each trip, in cities it stays in my hotel unless I go out after sunset , or before dawn. Otherwise I might make a shortlist of shots that do require a tripod and get them done in one session late in the stay. Often it isn't necessary or indeed possible because of restrictions or inconvenience. In the country or on the coast I use a tripod all the time, but then a car is doing much of the carrying and using it causes far fewer problems.
    I certainly wouldn't swap the 70-200 f4 for a much larger and heavier lens that gave me one extra stop for what I shoot in cities. Neither would I be comfortable hand-holding a lens at 400mm, so for me at least the selection of that lens has implications for whether I'd want to carry a tripod round, and frankly I think even carrying a tripod would cost me more shots than it would gain. I'd certainly want to give the 70-200 f4 a try before I considered an expensive alternative that might cause more problems than it could resolve in that environment.
    Finally I haven't had difficulties with camera bags in Italy. Admittedly most of my photography is outdoors, but I've been in my share of churches and theatres in recent years with no issues- Haven't tried St Peter's or the other Vatican buildings though. Again I have to say that I use a medium sized shoulder bag so I can change lenses, filters etc on the move, not a huge backpack which would be a pain in crowds, on public transport, and whenever you needed to put it down to access something. I could understand if it were more likely to have to check something like that in a museum or whatever.
  13. I went to all of those places you listed (and more) last November. I brought a Sony NEX 6 (APS-C) with two lenses: 10-18mm and 16-50mm. I laso had a film RF and 50mm lens for street shots, but mostly used the NEX6. While there might have been one or two instances when a tele would have been handy, they would not have been worth the hassle of lugging around that kind of weight and bulk.
    I've posted some of the photos from that trip on my website.
  14. It's really a matter of style. I used only an NEX-6 and 16-50 on my trip to Italy. I would have liked the 10-18 or similar range adapted. (As an aside, my daughter was in Florence for 10 months for school and I asked her if she'd seen a decent camera store - she'd never really looked, the students typically having brought their camera gear with them and no one lost a camera, etc, so they never shopped for them, I guess.) I could see using a longer lens. But it's a matter of interest and style. It's not like there aren't tons of architectural and artistic details out there for the grabbing. Whether it's "portraits" of the statues, intricate details on buildings, etc. you could find applications for a long lens. But a 100-400 is just likely to be a drag and add weight and size to your "kit." So I guess if you felt like it, then maybe the 70/200/4.
  15. What to take depends more on what you shoot than where you're going. I would take the four lenses you already have and if I left anything at home it would be the 50. That would be comparable to the 12-24. 24-70, 70-200 Nikon lineup that is my basic outfit regardless of where I am going.

    As far as needing long lenses, this summer I was in Athens with only a point and shoot (I was there on vacation, not as a photographer). Consequently I missed what could have been a great money shot of a hang glider over the Pathenon at sunset. We were watching from the restaurant on top of the King George hotel and I could have had perfect shots with my 70-200. Likewise, there's a church on top of a hill across town where I could have shot the Parthenon from with a long lens (200 good, longer even better). In Rome, forgive me for not remember the names but with a long lens you can shoot St. Peters from the long boulevard out in front of it and compress everything in between.

    Sometimes it's about pulling things close together and picking out detail, not just getting everything in.
  16. Take the 70-200mm f/4L and crop?​
    Take this.
    You could take a 1.4X TC: I don't recommend the 2X.
    My last choice would be the 100-400 and the 70-200mm f2.8 II. If you were to get a new lens I would recommend the 70-200mm f4IS.
  17. I have probably spent 5 months of the last 4 years in Italy and I rarely go above 50 mm. I have taken longer lenses but
    they have remained unused. I would suggest that a portrait lens e.g. 85 F1.8 or 1.2 and your 24-105 will be fine. Indeed
    if you don't shoot shallow DOF portraits then the 24-105 OS probably long enough.

    If you shoot buildings etc... Than you are probably much better looking at renting (or buying) a tilt shift lens - either the 17
    F4 or 24 F3.5 II. Of the two I would suggest the 17 as you can add (with care) a 1.4x TC to it and get a pretty good 24mm
    effective FL.
  18. One other tip. Get up very early (around dawn) when you can as the light is great and there are no people around - even
    in Rome
  19. @ Dieter Schaefer
    The 70-200 f/4L seems to be easier to lug around than the 2.8 version. Do you remember any specific place where you had to check your backpack?
    @ David Stephens
    "I'd take the 70-200mm and Teleconverter for the few times that you might need it. In Venice, in the fall of 2013, I used my 70-200mm twice... at 70mm! LOL."


    @ David Henderson

    "I need to have everything covered off between say 17 and 200mm"
    I feel much more confortable this way. You have got to be prepared.
    @ Wouter Willemse
    I think I will bring the 70-200 f/4L.
    @ Leszek Vogt
    I am trying to expand my visual style with statues "portraits" and street photography.
    @ David Henderson
    I am bringing a medium sized backpack, but I will check in advance if I will need to check my bags at the museums I am planning to visit.
    @ Keith L.
    Great pictures on your website. Congratulations!
    @ Craig Gillette
    "So I guess if you felt like it, then maybe the 70/200/4."
    I am probably going to choose this option.
    @ Craig Shearman
    "Consequently I missed what could have been a great money shot"
    "Sometimes it's about pulling things close together and picking out detail, not just getting everything in."
    It is precisely with these two situations that I am worried about. Missing a great shot because of equipment.
    @ Robin Smith
    It is probably what I am going to do. Save some pounds on my backpack and some money on my bank account.
    @ Philip Wilson
    I like shallow DOF portraits, so I am thinking about taking a 50mm f/1.8.
    Thank you for the tip. Waking up early is a must in some cities. It is the only way to take some pictures without the crowds.
  20. I spent 4 days in Rome - I had a 10-22 EFS, 24-70 L and a 70-200 L with my 30D. People will tell you to travel light but I don't find the gear weighs that much that it prevents me from doing what I want to do (except jump in a fountain to cool off).
    I'm glad I don't travel light and leave the 70-200 at home. All taken with 70-200

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