Lens for the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu

Discussion in 'Travel' started by john y.k. lee, Mar 9, 2004.

  1. I may have an opportunity to hike the Inca Trail in May. I am
    currently debating what equipment to bring. I want to trim down my
    gear, because I carried way too much stuff recently while in Costa

    I currently own an F100, 24-85 AFS G, 80-200/2.8, 35/1.4, 105/2.5,
    Tamron 90 macro.

    I love the 24-85 since it is small and has matrix metering; however,
    the barrel distortion at the wide end makes it impossible to take
    landscapes with the horizon. (I learned this the hard way after
    hiking the Grand Canyon last year). The 80-200/2.8 is too heavy. I
    will probably pick either the 105 or the 90 macro but not both. I
    love my 35/1.4. Do I need something on the wider end?

    I am considering purchasing the 17-35/2.8. I wanted to hold off on
    buying this, since I am getting the digital itch and am not sure
    which wide angle to purchase.

    What I am asking, then, is what recommendations anybody might have
    for lens selection for this particular trip.
  2. When I was at Machu Picchu and Huyana Picchu a few years ago, I depserately wished I had
    something wider than my 35mm lens. Now that I have a 24mm lens I'd probably be mostly
    happy, although a 20mm would be useful for a small percentage of shots. For $300 you
    could pick up a good used 24mm lens, for $400 a used 20mm lens.

    If you've got the $1,400 to blow on that zoom, go ahead. You'll still be able to use it if you
    go digital. But I'm not sure I'd want to carry that big or that expensive a lens with me.
  3. m.l


    I agree with the previous. A 24 lens will prove of value. 24 is a very useful focal length. And with 24/35/105 you will have a light and very sharp combination of lenses.
  4. I agree with both of the previous mostly! If I had a 35F1.4 and a 105F2.5, the choice on the third and final lens would be between the 24F2.0 or the 20F3.5/F4.0--which ever had a 52mm filter thread. Rather than a big humungous (or petite but slow) zoom, consider bringing a CF monopod or tripod with you.
  5. The 17-35 may just be the perfect lens. I climbed Huayna Picchu - wouldn't want to carry two lenses!
  6. I agree that the 80-200 should be left at home. The 17-35 lense is excellent, but its weight is approaches that of the 80-200. It is by no means light. I think you and your back would be happiest sticking with your 35 and 105 primes while adding the 24. All three would be easy to carry and leave more room for film. I realize that this setup lacks a long lense, but that's a trade-off for comfort.

    Be sure to bring the 105 if you choose to hike Huayna Picchu. It's amazing how far down Machu Picchu looks from up there. It is definitely worth the steep hike.

    And PS, watch out for day 2 of the hike. That is some serious vert.

    PPS: Be sure to rise before dawn on day 4 so that you can see the sun rise over Machu Picchu...breath taking.

    Have fun,
  7. John,

    Have you considered buying a used 20-35/2.8? I think that would work nicely for you, and you can sell without much loss if you switch to digital.

    I carried a 20-35/2.8 and a 80-200/2.8 over 20 miles of day hiking in Argentina without a problem using the Kinesis belt system (this was a low elevation though, so for you, this might be too much). I would highly recommend you look into this system if you don't know about it already. Before I used this system, one body and 2 primes would be heavy and would hurt my shoulders and back. Getting the camera out of the backpack and changing lenses would be a pain that I'd miss shots.
  8. I walked the Inca Trail in September, and some of the most interesting things I saw were (to me) completely unfamiliar flowers. Many were hanging from trees or on shrubs, and I had neither the equipment nor the skill to make good images of them. A macro and a tripod would be ideal, but you do what you can.
  9. I don't understand these types of questions. Unless you are trying to duplicate a shot someone else took with a specific lens, there is no magic lens anyone can recommend that will capture a location best. Neither Minolta nor Nikon nor Canon nor [insert another lens manufacturer here] made a lens designed with a specific location in mind.

    You are the one taking the photos; you are the best judge of the types of photos you like to take. Therefore only YOU can say what lens will work. Figure out what kind of photos you're going to take someplace and take a lens that will help you get those results.

    [I'm posting this same answer to two similar posts in this forum, so if it looks like I'm repeating myself, I am.]
  10. I have not been to where you are going (I'm envious) but what has been said about the 24-35-105 is true. You should be able to handle most shots with these lenses. Obviously, your 35 and 105 are MF so you should be able to pick up a 24 MF 2.8 or possibly a F:2 for 200-300 dollars. I got lucky and found a AIS 2.8 with hood for $150.

    Unless you need a specific lens (macro or PS/TS) these lenses should work just fine (and would be my lenses of choice).
  11. Christian Deichert wrote:

    "... there is no magic lens anyone can recommend that will capture a location best ..."

    Shucks. I thought my Canon 20mm f/2.8 was "Machu Picchu specific." :)
  12. Hi John, My wife and I hiked the Inca Trail in September 2002. Be prepared for changing weather, check Lonely Planet web pages before you go, acclimate in Cuzco for 2-3 days and see the Sacred Valley, especially Chinchero (go on a market day and go early and stay until sundown - my best photo opportunity in Peru!). Here's what I took along: F3 body, N90S with 28-105 3.5-4.5D; 24mm 2.8 AIS, 20mm F4 AI, 80-200 2.8, Holga and a Tripod(!!!). Definitely bring a tripod even if you pay extra for a porter to carry it - it helped in the Machu Piccu picture. I ended up carrying the N90s with 28-105 and 24 2.8 at all times. Left F3 and 80-200 at the hotel in Cuzco. If you have them bring graduated neutral density filters, polarizer and a ton of film. Definitely get up early on Day 4 (or last day or trek if shorter)and take only a few pictures at the gate and then continue to Machu Picchu. By the time I got there @7:30 a.m. it was already nearly full with tourists or stay overnight and go up the first thing (6:30am) the next morning. It was a wonderful experience and I can't wait to go back to Peru. If you have any more questions let me know.
  13. John - Machu Picchu photo: N90S, 24mm lens, Velvia The others were with 28-105.
  14. Here's Day 2 and what you don't see are the 50 people (including me) that are sprawled out at the top of the pass:)
  15. Remember that there a couple of 4km+ passes to get over before going down to MP. Fitness does not mean the altitude won't get to you. Keep it minimal. The weather can be cloudy and dark so slow zooms might not be the way to go. Get up early for best light. Take a warm pol. I took a 28 and a 135.
  16. On the inca trail you need one of those lenses that remove other people.
    Dont expect to many opportunities to get perfect ruins photos without people in them.

    you should be able to get some of MP if you get up early (with hundreds of others)but dont wait to long at the Sun Gate.

    There are also two possible camp sites for the last night. one is one hour from MP and the other is about 3 hours. Make sure you get to the closer one as you definetally dont want to decend down the bit in between in the middle of the night.

    Wider angle is definetally worth it. I had a 24 -85 and was happy for everything. so 24 should be wide enough but 35 wouldnt be.

    have fun.

    sacred valley is cool also.
  17. I want to thank everybody for their advice. This is exactly what makes the internet and this site so powerful.

    At this point, I am planning to carry my F100 and 24-85. I will also carry a 24/2.8 which I just bought. (Wow. it is really quite small). And, I will take the 105/2.5.

    Although the 24/2.8 duplicates a focal length on the zoom, the less prominent barrel distortion may make a difference in some shots. If I find that there is no need for the 24 prime (since the horizon is full of mountainous peaks anyway), I'll pack it for the porter.

    Now, I need to get in shape for the arduous journey.
  18. I walked the trail last August with my Canon 10D, a 100mm macro, 24-85 USM and 75-300. Pretty heavy in total, if I did it again I would probably only take the 24-85 (or a wider lens if I had one) and possibly the macro. I did not take a tripod and really regretted it - probably more important than any particular lens. The weather was atrocious for the first 3 days – rain, hail, snow, ice + zero visibility. Be prepared for anything – if the weather looks dodgy, I recommend you buy one of the wooden walking sticks – I had to lend mine to a porter who was slipping down the ice faster than he could climb up it. Fourth day happily was perfect.

    On a slightly different note, please take care to choose a good tour company… some of them really do treat their porters badly. Lastly, I recommend having a go with some stitched panoramas, like the one below. Oh, and have a wonderful trip.
  19. A flower from the MP trail as mentioned by someone above. Also, my last link to the MP panorama did not work so well so here's a better link:
  20. One more small point: Quentin smith suggests that you 'need one of those lenses that remove other people'. Well, if you don't mind a bit of digital manipulation, you can simulate this quite easily. If the conditions are right you can take several pictures of the same vista over a few minutes (probably best to use a cable release and set the exposure manually). You can then remove the offending tourists at a later date.
  21. Taken with 24-85/AFS
  22. I know this is an old topic, but we hiked the trail in September 2005, and I took a Canon 10D with 17-40/4L and 50/1.4 lenses, plus a pair of Leica 8x32BN binoculars. Plus water bottles, etc. Day 2 was hard work!

    I'd say that the effort of carrying the zoom was worth it, though there were times when I saw folks with small compacts and envied them! I'd like to recommend anyone doing the trail to try to take a pair of decent, compact binoculars as well as camera kit - whilst my 8x32s aren't huge, they're probably overkill, so the smaller folding style binoculars would do just fine.
  23. Curious...did you find that you wished you had longer than 50mm on your trip? I'm off in a couple of weeks and am debating which gear to bring...have been mulling whether to bring my 70-200 2.8 or to leave "big white" at home.

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