If you are going to be purchasing a new lens / packing a lens for your travels it's worth creating a checklist of what you're looking for so you can make a more informed decision on what lens would be most suitable. With this in-mind, here are 4 factors that should be on your checklist when you're next purchasing or packing a lens for travel / holiday photography.
Weight & Size
Unless you have your own plane or are flying first class, the weight limit on luggage will probably mean you will need to limit your lens choices. Even though you may shoot with several pieces of glass for different scenarios at home if you packed every lens into your luggage you wouldn't have room for any other accessories, plus it would probably weigh more than the allotted weight for hand luggage given by the airline you're travelling with. Plus, do you really want to be heading out with a heavy camera bag every day on your trip? And, you'd probably end up spending quite a lot of time changing lenses which not only eats into your holiday time but if you're shooting in sandy or dusty locations, you could end up with grains getting inside your kit. The more kit you take away with you the more kit there is to get damaged or lost, too which will just spoil your time away.
Another point to consider is how big your room's safe will be as generally, they're only designed to keep a few items secure so you don't want to take your full set of lenses away with you and run the risk of having to leave kit out on show.
You may be wondering why this should be taken into consideration if you're heading off to somewhere that has 300 days of sunshine but if you're planning on visiting ancient sites, cathedrals, castles etc. where light levels are low or want to capture shots of your family after the sun sets or photos of evening shows you plan on watching then a 'fast' lens will be a really useful tool to have in your camera bag. Yes, you can shoot with flash, bump up your ISOs or use a tripod but there will be scenarios where flash and supports aren't allowed, plus you may not want to pack your flash gun and tripod so you may not have them to-hand any way.
A 'fast' lens has a large maximum aperture (the bigger the aperture, the faster the lens will be) but do note that a large maximum aperture will actually be a small number such as f/2.8. This bigger aperture will allow more light to reach the sensor which means you'll be able to use quicker shutter speeds when working hand-held in low light situations. A slight downside to 'fast' lenses is that they can be more expensive and larger than other lenses but if you do quite a bit of low light or action photography, they're well-worth considering.
Travel photography can be very varied depending on where you are going, how long for and who you are going with. For example, you could find yourself taking photos of your family around the pool in the morning and capturing images of an ancient site in the afternoon. What this means is that you'll either need a few lens options that give you varied focal lengths or you'll need to pack a versatile zoom lens that has a focal range from wide to telephoto such as the16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD from Tamron.
Prime Or Zoom?
If you will be focusing your attention on one specific type of photography it's worth packing a prime or two with the specific focal lengths you need to capture perfect shots of your chosen subject rather than using a zoom. However, if space is of a premium and you don't want to be carrying a heavy camera bag around all day, a zoom lens is probably the way to go.Plus, standard zooms tend to be the lenses that come with camera bodies when bought as a kit package meaning that extra money doesn't have to be spent right away and zooms also tend to be less expensive than primes, too. On the flip side of the coin, primes tend to be faster and they produce a really nice Bokeh effect.
For more information on lens choices, take a look at ePHOTOzine's review section, plus visit the features area of the site where top lists of brand-specific lenses, such as the 'Top 5 Best Tamron Lenses Reviewed on ePz', can be found.
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