Single Lens for Europe Trip - Canon - Which One?

Discussion in 'Travel' started by vijay_kalyan, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. Hey folks,
    If you are reading this, thank you. If you can give me some advice, even better!
    My wife and I are planning to travel to Europe in September. I don't want to carry multiple lenses so I have the option of renting a single lens. I have searched the forums and found some answers which suggest a wide angle lens. I also have the following lenses:
    Canon EF-SKit Lens 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 - OLD. Ok lens.
    Canon EF 85 mm f/1.8 - Great for portraits. I love this lens.
    Canon EF-S 17-85 mm f/4-5.6 IS. Great for bright outdoor shots. Very poor indoor or low light performance.
    On the other hand, I have the option of renting a good lens. What should I choose given:
    1. I like to take shots of buildings and landscapes etc. So wide angle would be my choice.
    2. My wife obviously likes lot of shots of herself or with me with a background.
    3. I definitely want to take a fast lens. I am thinking at least f/2 but I am not sure.
    4. Will a prime lens do background shots well? The 85 mm above has great bokeh but is usually not good at one or more people at close distances.
    I have a Canon Xti (I bought it when it first came out adn have enjoyed it since then. No budget to upgrade yet).
    I have looked at
    Canon 24-70 f/2.8L - No IS though.
    Canon 24-105 f/4L IS - Slow though.
    Canon 24 f/1.4L - No IS but fast. But this is a prime lens.
    It looks like Tamron lenses might be a good option too but I have never used them.
    What would you suggest?
  2. stemked

    stemked Moderator

    No being a Canon user, but being a frequent traveler, I would suggest the minimum width you are likely to be happy with with JUST ONE lens is 20mm and wider would be better if you want landscapes and buildings. It also sounds like a tripod is not being included, correct?
    If you are taking photos of people with backgrounds (make sure you are fairly close to the person, by the way) again, wider is better. 24-35mm is a decent range here.
    The 85mm as your ONLY lens would be a mistake. If you want to bring it, you are talking about two lenses.
    Your 17-85mm lens, if you push the ISO, even though it is a 'slow lens' would be your best option. You might look into a "string tripod" for indoor shots.
    When you travel like this you have to realize you simply aren't going to be able to get every type of photo with just one lens. In looking at my own recent travel photos (ignoring nature photography) I would guess 60% of my shots are 18-24, 30% are 24-80, and then the remainder range from 100- 300mm. Personally I find it too limiting to travel with just one lens anymore (however back in the film days I only traveled with a 50mm f1.4).
    My $0.02 anyway.
  3. Hi Douglas,
    Thank you for the response! I would love to travel with at least two lenses. Preferably one prime wide and fast for low light and general building or landscape shots and one zoom in a normal range for almost everything else. I will have to think about carrying along the 17-85.
    It seems like the Canon 24mm f/1.4L II + 17-85 might work. Any thoughts?
  4. Unless you spend more money and go to the newer and better EFS 15-85mm lens, I'd personally take the 17-85mm. It isn't perfect, but this class is the handiest lens ever made for Canon APS-C. The IS allows fairly decent indoor photography with a little bracing of the camera and you. You'll have to be willing to accept a little noise by going to ISO 1600, but the XTi handles that fairly well.
    When I've been on trips where my "business" was other than photography, I have often taken only the EF-S 17-85 and an APS-C body. Easy to carry, handy as all get out, and if you try any serious architectural photography with it, its foibles are easily fixed in Photoshop - otherwise, you're not likely to notice the problems.

    However, be aware that the 24mm is really a short "normal" lens on an XTi. There really isn't any kind of economical prime lens that will be a true wide angle on the APS-C, not that the 24mm L lens is exactly a poor man's option. I personally would get the much cheaper - but still excellent - EF 35mm f/2 for low light, normal shooting. Frankly, the EF 50mm f/1.8 lens is so cheap, so good, and so light, that you should probably stick that in a corner of your luggage somewhere for street shooting and portrait work.
  5. Another vote for 15-85. Indoors, just lean it on something or use a mini tripod.
  6. Having read your question, I'd take the 17-85 (I own one) and buy a 50/1.8 for low light. Well within budget, and not very heavy.
  7. Thank you JDM! I was planning to rent the 24f/1.4L. The rental is about 250$ for the month we are away. The 15-85 is an option I hadn't considered; I will look into it!
  8. Thank you Arie and Luis. I will lookat the 50 f/1.8 and the 15-85.
  9. For a trip to Italy earlier this year, I took 5 lenses with my Nikon D300: 6-35/4VR, 11-16/2.8, 10.5/2.8 fisheye, 85/1.8D, and 50/1.8G AF-S. The lesson learned was that I took too much - the 50 and the 85 could have easily stayed home and even the 11-16 wasn't used that much. In hindsight, the 16-85/3.5-5.6 would have been sufficient, with the fisheye and maybe a 35/1.8 thrown in.
    Hence, my suggestion - trade your 18-55 and 17-85 for a 15-85. And since the 15-85 suffers the same problem as the Nikon 16-85 (too slow at the long end for having good OOF rendering for portaits), take your 85/1.8 along. You say you love it - so you are going to find a use for it.
  10. My experience in Europe was that I was often trying to get wider and always walking backwards to get some magnificent building in the frame. 17-85 and a small tabletop tripod would be my vote.
  11. If I had to carry only one lens, my choice would be between the EF-S 15-85 f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, and the EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM. both lenses offer excellent image quality (very comparable performance to the "L" lenses in an EF-S package), both offer IS. The tradeoffs are wider range against wider aperture. The 15-85 has the obvious range edge, but the 17-55 has a constant-through-the-zoom-range f/2.8 widest aperture. Bumping up the ISO as well, I was able to use the 17-55 inside the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. Not very bright lighting, plus a very dark subject (a warship from the 17th Century that spent 300 years under the Baltic. It's all brown. A very dark brown.), but I got some usable shots out of it all, handheld.
  12. Thank you Andrew and Dieter. So the consensus seems to be a normal zoom wide at the low end and possible a fast prime for low light and portraiture!
    Thank you folks!
  13. I highly recommend the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC. Not as quick and smooth as the Canon 17-55, but has great image quality, and is a great deal at about 50% of the price of the Canon. It's also smaller and lighter, so easier to travel with.
  14. I have a FF Canon 5DC, then 5DM2, now a 5DM3
    When I've gone to Europe, usually pack a bag with 3 lenses
    • 16-35
    • 24-105
    • 70-200
    I rarely if ever end up using the 70-200.
    If I'm going out to take general pics - I normally will just use the 24-105, yup, it's slower, however, the IS makes up for that.
    I only take the 16-35 out with me on those days where I KNOW I will have a need for it.
    I have my photos in light room - of the 77000 photos I've taken with my Canon's
    • 55,000 are with the 24-105
    • 13,000 are with the 70-200 (most of these are shots of tennis tournaments, dolphins, etc)
    • 6,100 are with the 16-35.
    So, bottom line, I find that the 24-105 fits my needs the VAST majority of the time, I've always been very happy with the lens. I would recommend that lens if you're taking one lens.

    You can see a lot of examples of my work with the 24-105 at :
  15. it


    twenty four seventy
  16. You might consider the Sigma 17-70 F2.8-4 Its useful for lower light interiors at 17mm with OS stabilization. It makes a capable portrait lens too. It has a 9 bladed diaphragm which gives surprisingly good bokeh for such a relatively inexpensive lens. Its only for APS sensors which gives it about the same range as Canons 24-105.
  17. Hey folks,
    I see people are still contributing to this post! Thank you very much. Our trip was in Sept'12 and was fantastic. I took along two lenses: a rented Canon 28/f2.8 IS and my 17-85 f/4.0-5.6 IS. During the day, the 17-85 worked beautifully. For the evenings, the 28 was great for many shots in low light. Considering how often I had to switch lenses, I wish there was one lens in the 10 - 100 range (15-85, 17-85 etc.) with a very wide aperture throughout.

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