Lenses for London - carry what?

Discussion in 'Travel' started by mvw photo, Jan 8, 2008.

  1. Hi all,
    I am off to London for a few days, and have Saturday reserved for some photography.
    With the UK travel luggage restrictions, even though they have been partly lifted, I am considering what to bring. A PC case, a camera case and a camera would be too many items )(2 max), so I have to bring less than I would to any other country.
    So I shall plan to carry a Canon 5D; one flash (which one: 580ex or 430ex?); and one of more of the following lenses:
    • 50mm f/1.8
    • 24-70 f/2.8L
    • 17-40 f/4L
    • 70-200 f/4L
    • Any suggestions? Since I have to check what I do not carry on board, I do not want to carry too much this time. "Preference" is not the deciding factor - I like them all. I love wide angles and I love moderate telephoto, and I love fast lenses.
      Ideas, suggestions, help welcome! :)
  2. Um.. I meant, for some STREET photography. The moderator moved this post from that forum here - sorry. The question was really, when going in for some on spec street photography, given those lenses, which one(s) would you take.
  3. ..and in particular, I should have explained more accurately: I love wide angles, but the 17-40 does not go quite far enough if you have to stay away a bit, which may be the case in London, and the 24-70 does not go wide enough. Hence the dilemma.
  4. Michael, take what you like but do NOT check your camera lenses or body in your luggage. If you can't carry it with you, leave it home.

    My travel photos are more to the wide side. However, I have quite a few shots on the long end, too. So for me, I take most everything in a backpack. YMMV.

    FWIW, I also have the 50mm but it is used very rarely when I travel. OTOH, it is quite small and easy to pack. If you have room, it's a keeper. Otherwise, I would dump it and go with the other three. The bottom line is how big a pack are you willing to carry on a plane and walk around with?
  5. Bruce: Wider than this? :)
    I agree, a checked suitcase is a bad place. But otoh, one case to contain laptop, power supplies, lenses etc would be a big case. I guess I may have to go get one... drats.
  6. Nice shot, Michael. I usually use a 12-24 for wide angle (digital). My wide end is about equal to your 17mm. It is a great lens for travel photos.

    I travel a lot, almost always with two carry-on bags. One has my laptop, the other my camera gear. Of course, that might not work in the UK (at least flying out of there) but I have heard they are easing their restrictions. Check out their rules before you fly. If you can carry on two bags, it is so much easier.
  7. Bruce: you can now carry two bags out of Heathrow, but it is two ITEMS, the camera counts as an item too, and I always carry it on my shoulder. It does not fit in the camera bag.

    I guess I now need to go buy yet another camera bag, a huge one that can carry a 5D with lens. Shame.
  8. Something like the LowePro Stealth Reporter 400AW will accomodate your kit, but will be getting fairly heavy. For a lighter load I'd say the 24-70 and the 50, but I'd bring everything. With a shoulder bag, wear a packsack as well and you can swap a lens or two into it, if your shoulder starts complaining.
  9. I would bring the 50 and the 70-200mm. I would then either pick the 17-40 or the 24-70. When I was in London I only had a 50 and 135mm primes for my film slr and I did okay (I did wish for longer and wider lenses).

    I would say for the most part that with 24mm on the wide end you should be able to get most pictures you will want, though there may still be a picture or two that you can't get.

    I would be tempted to say the 17-40 the 50 and the 70-200mm. Not quite overlaping the focal lengths, but you can always slap on the 50mm to get between the long end of the 17-40 and the begining of the 70-200mm. Ahhh what we did before good quality zooms.

    I carry my kit in a shoulder bag (LowePro Nova 2 AW). Its an OM-1n, 28-85mm f3.5-4.5 attached and a 70-210mm f/3.5, 50mm f/1.4 and 24mm f/2.8 lenses as well as a few filters, shutter release cable, cleaning cloth and I can fit anywhere from about 4 rolls of film up to about 14 rolls of film if I cram them into the main area of the bag or I can get in a small flash unit and a few rolls of film. Its light enough, though after several hours of wandering with no rest it does bog me down a little.

    Anyway it is small enough to fit in the main pocket of my backpack (regular bookbag sized) and leaves room in my backpack for a laptop if I were to desire one, a light jacket a couple of books, snacks, a change of underware and socks in case my luggage gets lost and a few other small odds and ends.

    Just a thought.
  10. Generally there's no problem getting close in London, so go wide if that's your thing. Really,
    you can shoot just how YOU like, the city doesn't dictate focal lengths.

    (Do remember to look the 'other' way if you're stepping into the roadway to take a shot. Remember we drive on the correct side of the road in the mother country!)
  11. I spent a week and a half in southern England (including a few days in London) last summer, shooting with only a Canon 5D and a 50/1.4 and 28/1.8. There were a couple of times I wished for something a bit wider, but overall I didn't feel limited by my lens choices. I was happy to NOT be carrying a big bag full of gear.
    I guess I now need to go buy yet another camera bag, a huge one that can carry a 5D with lens.
    I've got a Domke F5XB that's one of the smallest camera bags I've ever seen. It'll still hold the gear listed above plus extra CF cards, batteries, and maps.
  12. I would be inclined to bring all of them, but I expect I would have the 24-70 and 70-200 in use most of the time.
  13. Like Peter I suggest you bring them all. The restrictions are being eased but check with you carrier as it is a bit patchy. I usually just carry on a body and lens with other essentials and stick the rest in a bag inside a strong case.
  14. Remember we drive on the correct side of the road in the mother country
    We, on the other hand, drive on the right side. :)
    OK, I am encouraged by all this. Yes, it is not about the lenses - except when you see something that screams for wide (or tele).and you don't have it.
    I think I shall carry 5D and 24-70 on the plane, and 17-40 and 50mm 1.8 in the carry-on bag. 70-200 i the bag also if I can, or in the suitcase, much as I hate doing it.
  15. For my regular visits I find a 28mm becomes a standard lens (with film), plus a 21mm & 50/75mm to cover the 'extremes'. I'm not convinced that a 70-200mm lens (esp. on digital) is going to be much use, but everything depends on your particular style. My choice from your lenses would be the 17-40 and 50mm only. I've never felt the need for anything longer than 75mm (film) in London.

    As for roads, yes, 'the left side is the right side so the right side is the wrong side', except in one-way streets ... As a pedestrian don't step out without looking both the right way and wrong way. Bicycles are the real PITA: they appear from nowhere and don't obey traffic lights, etc. AC
  16. Thanks, that is useful. Note, the Canon 5D is a full frame sensor; so 17mm is really 17mm. Just like your film SLR.

  17. I'd suggest you simplify. How about a G9 and the WA adapter, maybe with the 220 EX flash? You'll move faster and with more freedom. Throw in a little camcorder like one of the single-CCD Panasonics and you've got movies and stills at a fraction of the weight.
  18. If you can get up to the top of St. Paul's Cathedral. It is a very long hike up (something like 600 steps), but it is well worth it for the view. One other note, its cramped on those stairs, so don't do it if you are claustophobic and don't take a large backpack, with my small one there were places I had to take it off and hold it because I wouldn't fit otherwise. I would say the only two places I felt like I needed something longer then my 135mm was when I was on top of St. Paul's and when I was on the London Eye. A few places it would have been fun for perspective compression, but I didn't really need it.
  19. Mmm. Separate me from my SLR? Maybe I should consider it.

    As for steps: that sounds just like the St Peters dome in the Vatican -you are right about claustrophobia. But I conquered it there and may do it again her ethen.

    May do that and London Eye with 70-200 - this is good advice, many thanks

  20. The last time I was there photgraphy was completely banned in St Pauls. Some high places in the London area :

    1) Tower Bridge walkway for the river

    2) The London eye

    3) The Monument for the City of London (this is a big old pillar to commemorate the Great Fire of 1666)

    Unless you do a lot of street work with long lenses I think generally shorter rather than longer as London is fairly cramped by most standards.
  21. I think on reflection you may be able to photograph from the top of St Pauls but not inside.
  22. Thanks, sounds good. London Eye then perhaps!
  23. Photographs of the London Eye tend to be more interesting than photographs from the
    London Eye! I honestly think that 200mm in the Eye would a) be difficult to work - the Eye
    is moving slowly so that by the time you've spotted a tele shot, the composition will have
    already changed, b) might upset others in the cabin if you're waving a long lens around
    and c) won't be very good optically because you're shooting through curved acrylic.

    If you want to take the Eye (it's not obligatory) with a shorter lens you can get some
    interesting 'shape' pix of the thing itself. The only time I've ridden it and cursed myself for
    not having a camera was on a stormy day when the light and cloud effects were fantastic,
    but a 50mm would have captured them.

    Rather than the tourist sites, in my view as a Londoner, you'd be better off wandering
    around some of the less mainstream parts and picking shots you can't buy on postcards.
  24. Ken,

    Thank you. I will want some postcards since people react to them; and some street stuff in less mainsteam parts.
  25. Are you sure about the bag limit at Heathrow? I went through there on December 29th. and the one-bag carry on rule was being strictly enforced.
  26. Two bags just reintroduced, but not universally! See http://www.britishairways.com/travel/bagcabin/public/en_gb
  27. Michael,

    The 2 bag rule is not universal. Of the London airports, all except Gatwick are able to handle 2 bags, however its down to the airline to make the decision so you should contact them.
  28. Yes photography inside of st. paul's is banned, but it was allowed from the top...and...well...not sure if it was banned within the stair cases to the top, but I do have a couple of pictures from my wife's digicam in the stairwells showing how tiny they are.

    I was very upset about that part of the trip. It was amazing, don't get me wrong, but it was my second to last day...and I missloaded my film so every exposure on that 36 shot roll was not exposed. There were some amazing shots of St. Pauls at sunset and at night as well as a lot of shots of downtown London from on top of St. Paul's.

    *sigh* I guess that just means I am going to have to go back and take the pictures again!

    Good luck on your trip, London is a fantastic city. If you have the time try to get out of London, even if it is just on a Bus trip for the day. I am normally not a tour taker, but a bus tour of Windsor, Stonehenge and Bath was nice and it was pretty much just drive us to the location and give us some info on the bus, then we were on our own for the 1-2 1/2hrs we were at each location.
  29. I have been to Windsor, Bath and Stonehenge before - very iconic. Today, however, I had a bad headache so all I did was some Tower Bridge, Tower, Ghurkin:
    And I felt today while doing this that I kept having to constantly change lenses from 17 (17-40 4L) to to 200 (70-2300 4L). I need two bodies.
    A few samples:
    • Michael
  30. Oh an dit is not two bags - it is two ITEMS. My camera is one item (slung over my shoulder); the single bag is the second item.
  31. If it's not too late for this trip, The Swiss Re Tower (Gherkin) at night makes interesting
  32. Wow,I thought "street photography" was banned in the UK.It appears only terrorists use cameras.Unless you intend to photograph friends within the confines of their own home you may as well leave the cameras at home.Otherwise expect to end up on the 'no fly' list!That's Fascism for you!A camera on every lamp post spying on you,but if you use a camera you're a 'terrorist'.Double standard indeed.Makes one wonder what they've got to hide.
  33. Well, what I did yesterday was ion photography, not street photography. That's today, time allowing.

    But at the station, I will admit I took pictures quickly and left before attracting too much attention. Shooting the surveillance cameras is also iffy. But I think if they have the right to monitor them, I have the right to shoot them :)
  34. That said, I am at Heathrow airport picking up a customer and have just been told that photography is illegal at Heathrow. They noticed the 5D on my shoulder :)

    The UK really is behaving more and more like the third world dictatorships I used to work in. Very tedious.
  35. Oh, and unfortunately the officials who told me of this prohibition were unable to show me any proof (e.g. a printed version or a reference to an actual law).
  36. Hi Michael,

    I went through Heathrow on the 4th December and the one bag rule was strictly enforced as well, which I found frustrating as my airline said I could carry one bag, plus a laptop bag and camera. You could imagine my frustration when the airport would not let me take on the bags that the airline approved, as it left me in a difficult position. So if in Heathrow, I suggest stick to one bag.

    These days I take only one bag to be safe, however I can usually fit my 5D, 4 lenses and all accessories plus my mac powerbook quite easily into a backpack. The only real restriction is weight, and all of the airlines I fly with don't count laptops or cameras towards the weight limit, as long as it all fits in one bag to keep the airport happy. I just put my heaviest lens onto my camera at check in (then swap it for a more travel safe combination once inside hehe). So I don't know why you feel the need to choose lenses, can't you take it all?

    I use a naneupro Adventure K3L (http://www.naneupro.com/products/a-k3l/) which takes a laptop, and also stash a lowepro toploader 75AW into my luggage so I don't always have to carry such a large bag around with me if I go out for the day taking street shots. The Adventure K3L is great for a three day tour or trip though. I found it better to buy a new camera bag that leave my lenses at home. I've spent so much money on lenses that it seemed silly to leave them at home because I didn't want to spend another $200 on a new bag. In a weird way, by saving that $200, I was wasting the $4000 spent on unused lenses.

    To answer your question though, I spent a long time shooting in london, and only ever used my 24-105 on a 5D. I didn't feel I NEEDED anything wider, and theres not much in London you can't just walk closer to if 105mm (or in your case 70mm) can't reach. Plus with 12.8 mp you can always crop a little bit and still get a decent sized print. I would take the 24-70 and the 17-40 if I were you.
  37. Hi,
    Hah - you should see the stuff I carry: laptop (large), 5D, lenses, files, wallets, scanner and ham radio, chargers for same, etc. Not easy to fit into one bag!
    As for lenses - I wish there was a 17-70. I am quite addicted to 17mm - images like this:
    Tower Bridge
    ..can really only be taken by a really wide lens. And yet, I also used 200mm yesterday, as in here:
    Tower Bridge 2
    hard to do any other way..
    But OK - tomorrow it is 24-70, then!
  38. Last summer in Lisbon I used only the 17-40 and 70-200 f4 IS. It worked very well indeed. I didn't miss the 40-70 range at all.
    One can use the same f stop and shift the camera from left or right and let the 70-200 quickly adjust focus for the people at the distance you want to take. At the longer distances people are never quite sure you are taking their picture. But do be careful. London is not Bangkok or Delhi.
  39. you don't want touristy photo's? but, that is all you show.
  40. On day one that's all I shot - "iconic". Or if you will, cliche shots. Decided that when I saw the late afternoon sun - a rare thing in London :)
  41. my apologies, my comment wasn't deserving. keep seeking out your goals, inshallah.
  42. Ma Feesh Mushkila - no offense taken at all, as I am sure no offense meant - and you made a valid point, I was not clear.

    - Michael

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