Travel Tech – Zoom Lens Choice

by admin on March 30, 2007

To travel light every item in your luggage must have multiple uses and for the dedicated DSLR camera users amongst us that means you need a good zoom lens. My Canon 20D arrived with the standard 18-50mm zoom lens, functional for general duty but requires the photographer to get close to the subject.

A popular choice for a longer focal length zoom is 70-210mm or 300mm, a great choice for amateur sports photographers or other activities where you cannot get close to your subject. In combination with the 18-55mm zoom lens, a photographer has most of the focal range required any situation.

The first time I travelled with this combination I became frustrated with a continual need to swap lenses as I moved from close up subjects to distant subjects. I also started to compromise my shots to avoid a lens change and lost opportunities to capture better memories. I resolved to find the perfect travel zoom lens.

Consider the following points before choosing your lens:

Focal Length. On a typical trip you will photograph buildings or scenic vistas, the people around you and subjects separated from you by a barrier. To capture a picture of Mt Rainer or St Peters you’ll need a short focal length of no more than 28mm. To bring the action a little closer you need at least 100mm.

Weight. Remember you’re travelling light but a quality lens is usual worth toting an extra few ounces and I would trade focal length for quality at the same weight.

f-stop (speed). A fast lens gives you more opportunities to capture that shot despite the failing light or stop the MotoGP action at Assen this summer.

Price. We all have a budget but money spent here could be the difference between fuzzy memories or the brilliant poster print of the Cinque Terre on your wall.

I finally settled on a Canon 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, and over 80 percent of my travel photos are now taken with this lens. Cost prevented me buying a faster L Series lens but it stills has image stabilisation rarely lets me down when I can pry it off my daughter’s Canon Digital Rebel.

See the results for yourself here.

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