Thoughts on One-Lens Travel?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Yohan, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. Yohan

    Yohan TalkEmount Veteran

    May 21, 2012
    Vancouver, BC
    I recently booked a three week trip to Greece. We will be there from Aug 27th to Sep 16th. The only places I know we are going to are Santorini (3 days) and Crete (10 days). Can hardly wait! :D

    I've always been a light traveler and that includes my camera gear as well. In 2010, I went to Panama with a Panasonic GF1 and the 20mm f1.7 pancake. And in 2012, I went to Morocco with the NEX 5N and CZ 24mm. There were moments when I wished I had something wider or longer. But those moments were few and far between.

    My camera kit is now the A7 and the 55mm. When I traveled in the past, it has been with wide to wide-standard angle lenses. This time, I have with me a lens that is slightly longer than a traditional standard lens. I'm wondering whether the 55mm will give me enough versatility as my only lens as I travel.

    There are few 28-70mm kit zooms available on Craigslist locally. I am intrigued because I can get one for 250-300 range and I keep reading about how it's a good performer for the price. I can't remember the last time I used a zoom but it might come in handy. If you look at my sets, especially the one from Morocco, I didn't have many shots using the 24mm wide open. Most photos were taken with a small aperture. So the speed of the kit zoom may not be an issue.

    If you have any thoughts on this, I'd love to hear them. Better yet, if you have photos to go along with your thoughts, please post them! I've been browsing Flickr.
  2. izTheViz

    izTheViz TalkEmount Top Veteran

    May 10, 2013
    Yannis Marigo
    You definitely need something wider than 55. Especially for Santorini which could even require an UWA in some cases. The caldera is just breathtaking and...wide. Oia is beautiful and here also you'll need a quite wide lens to capture the depth of all those white houses overhanging the sea.
    Hence if you really want to stick to one lens, go for 35 and for wide scenes take multiple shots and stitch them or take a zoom. I'd go for sure from 24-xx (even less).
    Last option take 3 lenses...
    • Like Like x 1
  3. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur Subscribing Member

    Nov 13, 2012
    Ad Dieleman
    So 35 to 40mm should be OK for you, judging from your past choices for the GF1 and NEX-5N. I'm afraid you'll feel limited by 55mm, it's really different from 35-40mm; I know I would. It's personal of course but for me 40mm is the ideal standard, one-does-all focal length. If you want native, there's exactly one option, the FE 35/2.8 and most people seem to be quite happy with it. In legacy glass, there's an embarrassment of richess to choose from, not only in 35mm but even in 40mm there are a lot of options. Here's what I did with a 40mm on the A7, except for a few pics with dogs with the Minolta MC 50/1.4. All data in the EXIF.

    I've been eyeing to get a 28-70mm myself for a decent price and the option to try before buying, so can't tell you anything about it from my own experience.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Utik

    Utik TalkEmount Regular

    Feb 7, 2013
    Rimini, Italy
    When I was in pentax I traveled often with only the 18-135, but it was weather sealed and actually quite good for a super zoom, and I was very satisfied.
  5. demiro

    demiro TalkEmount Regular

    Mar 2, 2012
    I'd be tempted to grab a Ricoh GR or Nikon Coolpix A as your wide option. The Ricoh has a wide angle adaptor as well to get you to 21mm (not sure about Nikon), if 28 is not wide enough. That would also give you a pretty pocketable option if you didn't always want to have the larger camera and lens with you. I'd be putting an OVF on it though, as I can't imagine anything else with the bright sun I think you'll be dealing with.

    Keep in mind that it is my personal policy to always buy another camera if at all possible, so add a grain of salt to my recommendations. :)
    • Like Like x 1
  6. bmg123

    bmg123 TalkEmount Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jan 15, 2013
    England, UK
    Get something with a zoom range for a trip like that. On my trip to Kyrgyzstan I took the 18-55 APSC kit lens, and that suited pretty well, although at times I wished I had a longer zoom.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    I understand fully the desire to travel light. But you're going with an A7 and a 55, right? So you're going to be carrying some sort of bag, unless the camera is going to be slung around your neck all of the time. And if that's the case, then it's just a matter of how big of a bag you're willing to carry.

    At a minimum, I'd bring a wide-to-mid zoom, plus a low-light prime. You've already got the low-light prime covered, so I think the 28-70 makes some sense. Though I agree with iztheViz that you're going to want something wider on Santorini. You may be able to capture the caldera with the sweep pano feature, but on the narrow, cobblestone streets of Fira and Oia you're going to wish for a 24mm, at least. Maybe you can pick up an open-box 24-70 that some punctilious pixel peeper sent back, or find a small, wide, rangefinder prime.

    In any case, I sometimes limit myself to one lens when I'm just wandering around my home town. But I'd no sooner travel for three weeks to Santorini and Crete with one lens than would with one shoe. ;)
    • Like Like x 1
  8. flash

    flash TalkEmount Rookie

    Apr 11, 2012
    I wish I were brave enough to travel with one lens. It would be limiting and freeing all at once.

    If you like the 35mm length the FE35mm is quite wonderful, and gery small. The FE 28-70 zoom is very capable for a kit lens but not like the primes. Good at F8 though. I was pleasantly surprised by mine.

    • Like Like x 1
  9. Yohan

    Yohan TalkEmount Veteran

    May 21, 2012
    Vancouver, BC
    Thanks for the response everyone.

    Sounds like the consensus is to travel with a zoom OR bring a wide angle along with the FE 55mm. I would have to test the Tamron 17mm I just received in the mail if I bring it as a companion to FE 55m. I don't like changing lenses but 28-70mm doesn't cover the UWA end anyway.

    My options were:
    1. FE 55 only - which seems to be out of question now.
    2. 28-70mm - still an intriguing option but as mentioned above, 28mm still won't be wide enough.
    3. FE 55mm + Tamron 17mm
    4. wait and see the (ultra) wide angle zoom Sony is supposed to release.

    David, I hadn't thought of buying an open-box/returned 24-70mm. I'll see if anything falls under my budget.

    Ad, 40mm really is a nice focal length. I'm not sure if I can manual focus full time while traveling. And the FE 35mm is a bit outside my budget at this point to add to FE 55mm.

    I think what I'll do is buy a used 28-70mm and have time to get accustomed to using a zoom. As Gordon said, if the lens is good at F8 and that's the aperture I most often use while traveling, the kit zoom may just work out.
  10. dbmiller

    dbmiller TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Mar 2, 2012
    New England
    I was in Greece last year for four weeks. With the 5n, the Sigma 19 (28.5 equiv) was pretty much my walk around lens. The Sigma 30 wasn't wide enough, and I didn't own the CZ24 at the time, but I don't think it would have been wide enough either.

    For the A7, anything in the 24 to 28 range should be wide enough. And you can always stitch if you need wider. Since all you have is the 55mm, I'd be real tempted to pick up the kit zoom for the trip. For the landscapes you'll likely be shooting in the sweet spot at f/8, so no worries about the corners.

    You could go an adapted lens route instead, but you'll want to be enjoying the trip, not fussing with MF and peaking. The kit lens will leave you free to just enjoy the moments and capture them quickly and easily.
  11. Deadbear77

    Deadbear77 TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Northeast Ohio
    I just got the Phoenix 19-35 3.5 and it seems to be a great length to walk around.
  12. Deadbear77

    Deadbear77 TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Northeast Ohio
    This was shot from car window and cropped at 19mm

    Over processed.

    • Like Like x 4
  13. Yohan

    Yohan TalkEmount Veteran

    May 21, 2012
    Vancouver, BC
    thanks for the samples kevin. and nice PP work in transforming the original into a different image.

    For travel purposes, however, I'm not sure if I can live with full time manual focus.
  14. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Nobody mentioned the Sony 18-105 :)

    I'm not much of a wide angle shooter so can't comment further about your dilemma, but all I know is that you'll love Greece.
    I was living in Crete for 4 years as a student and really had the time of my life ;)
  15. Yohan

    Yohan TalkEmount Veteran

    May 21, 2012
    Vancouver, BC
    Nick, where in Crete were you? and where are the spots I shouldn't miss in your opinion? we're using Hania, Rethymno, and Iraklio as the base and will go on day trips from there.
  16. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Yohan, I was living in Rethymnon (God I miss that place :( ) but in my 4 years there I've basically explored the whole island

    I shall pm you a list of places not to miss and I'll also include some not so familiar places for tourists - give me a few days ;)
    • Like Like x 1
  17. alaios

    alaios TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2013
    i would like to share some thoughts here. I am Greek living 3 years in Germany where I have bought my nex camera and started shooting. I am mostly used in shooting in german weather (cloudy or partly cloudy for most of the here). These are some thoughts about greece shooting.

    1. Too much damn sun. Iso 100 and you can easily see shutter speeds going higher than 1/1000. If you want to go for very shallow depth of field there are places that you do not have this shutter speed to do that. I found that there are times I have to use ND filter to reduce light.
    2. Too much contrast in the scenes, be careful what you compose, a small extra light at the background can turn light meter crazy.
    3. Reflections, especially at the beach level
    4. Learn to use shadow. Place your subject under shadow (buildings shadow for example). Trick here: Most of house are white so there is always some light reflected from the wall back to the face (you might need to ask subject turn his face to catch more extra light from the wall). That would make more even the lighting at the face with very good quality lighting for your subject.

    I would also think of getting a zoom. In Santorini you might want to work with object isolation a bit, like white cross of the church with some blue background behind it (from the sea).
    Find also some way to support somewhere your camera. Catching sun getting in and out every day should be something that you would like to shoot.

    • Like Like x 2
  18. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    That's the first thing that hit me...going on such a special trip I'd want at least one other lens for backup purposes alone.

    Understand the lack of interest in manual focus for the trip but from a zoom focal length POV, I've really found a lot of utility in a couple Canon FD zooms for certain situations: 28-85/3.5 and/or 35-105/3.5
  19. Yohan

    Yohan TalkEmount Veteran

    May 21, 2012
    Vancouver, BC
    I've pretty much embraced I will be taking at least two lenses with me. One of those lenses might be a Tamron 17mm. I wouldn't mind manual focusing when I need a UWA. But for something that'll stay on my camera most of the time, I'd like something that has autofocus.
  20. Mathieu Decodts

    Mathieu Decodts TalkEmount Veteran

    Aug 5, 2013
    I am faced with the same choice, thinking of taking a canon fd 55mm f1.2 and a kit lens (18-55) for everything else. or two af primes, the sigma 30mm and 60mm. Still havent decided if I am taking my a7r or my a3000 or my 5n :(

    I am going to Turkey but havent been on hols since I took up photography (5 years, :( ) so not sure what I should take, worried about freaking out about my super expensive camera the whole time, so strongly considering the a3000 because its great and cheap as chips :)