Fotoeins Fotografie

Apparitions & inundations

Camera gear for the RTW

Recently, I read an article written by Jim Richardson about what lenses one should bring with them on their holiday, vacation, or trip. His article brought into sharper focus about what I was going to do on my upcoming RTW (around the world) trip.

I’ve been using a Canon EOS 450D (Rebel XSi) digital-SLR camera body for the last three years, and it makes sense to continue “grinding away” with the reliable camera for the coming year. I thought about upgrading the camera body, but that got quashed when I realized I could wait (5D Mark 3, anyone?). Besides, the photos I’ve taken thus far have taught me that it comes down to lenses.

I’ve decided to bring all three lenses which I describe below.


Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (II)

While light and a bit fragile with the “plastic” construction, this kit-lens (included with the camera body at purchase) provides a sufficiently wide field-of-view during photowalks to document what I’ve seen. The kit-lens has an effective focal-length range 29-88 mm with the 1.6-times crop-factor corresponding to the APS-C sensor on my camera. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that most of my photographs have been made with the kit-lens. The built-in image stabilization (IS) in the lens has allowed me to photograph a nighttime scene as long as 1/4-second, and sometimes 1/3-second without a tripod.

Here’s a review of the 18-55mm lens by DP Review.

ADDENDUM: On 2 Oct 2012, I replaced the four-year old kit-lens (whose auto-focus finally failed) with the latest version: namely, the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II.

Examples with the 18-55mm kit-lens:

Waikoloa Beach, Big Island, Hawaii

One of the first photos made with my 450D : Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii – 2008 May 19

Moonset, Andacollo, Gemini South, Cerro Pachon, Chile

Setting of full-moon and Earth’s shadow: Gemini Observatory, Cerro Pachón, Chile – 2008 Sept 15

La Serena, Playa del Mar, Coquimbo, Chile

Sunset, southern summer solstice : La Serena, Chile – 2008 Dec 21

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

With the 1.6-times crop-factor, this prime-lens is effectively at 80mm focal length on my camera, which makes the lens more ideal as a portrait lens. However, I have also experimented using this lens as the “sole” walk-around lens. The field of view is smaller, and that forced me to do two things: (1) think carefully about what I wanted to photograph and how I wanted to get the shot, and (2) move my feet around to get the shot I wanted. What I love about this lens is the solid construction, low-light capability (to maximum f/1.4 aperture), and quality photographs I’ve been able to make. I’ve also used my “nifty-fifty” at times as the go-to night-time lens.

Here’s a review of the 50mm lens by DP Review.

Examples with the 50mm prime:

Starbucks, Sendlinger Strasse, Muenchen, Munich

‘Hot coffee inside’ : outside Starbucks on Sendlinger Strasse, München – 1 Dec 2010

Brandenburger Tor, Berlin

Snowflurries at Brandenburg Gate, Berlin – 24 Dec 2010

Vysehrad, Vltava river, Prazsky hrad, Prague

Prague from Vyšehrad – 1111, 1.1.11 (1111am, 2011 Jan 1). Air temp -1C, but felt like -11C

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

After I purchased the camera and kit-lens, it became very apparent a zoom-lens was required. I chose the 70-300mm, which on my camera’s sensor is effectively 112-480mm. This lens is obviously larger and heavier than the first two, because of all the glass required to get the zoom-range. For a tight zoomed-in shot, the lens performs very well and the subsequent picture quality is very good. Some have written that the optics may be L-like, and if true, the price for this non-L lens is worth every penny.

Here is a review of the 70-300mm zoom by Digital Picture.

Examples with the 70-300mm zoom:

Kohala Mountain Road, HI-250, Big Island, Hawaii

Kohala Mountain Road (HI-250) towards Kawaihae, Big Island, Hawaii – 2009 Dec 7

BC Ferries, Tsawwassen, Vancouver

BC Ferries (“Queen of Alberni”) to Tsawwassen (just outside of Vancouver), Canada – 2010 May 3

Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney

“THIS … is Sydney …” : Harbour Bridge from The Rocks – 2010 Sept 26

I’ve enjoyed these three lenses, which have produced a variety of photographs I want to make. After 23,000-plus exposures in almost four years (2011), I believe the camera still has a lot of life left and plenty of exposures remaining, and that my three lenses provide enough capabilities to continue uncovering a wealth of photographic surprises to come.

I’ve just added the 4th-generation iPod Touch to the arsenal. Making photos and video is convenient, stands out much less, and stays out of the way. I’m looking forward to learning about and doing more with iPhoneography.

The real point is that it doesn’t matter if you use an iPhone, a point-and-shoot camera, a digital SLR camera, a Canon, a Nikon, name-your-favourite-brand. Go out and discover for yourself the kinds of things or people or settings you like to photograph – go out and make those pictures!

I made all of the photos shown above. This post is published on Fotoeins Fotopress (fotoeins.com).

10 Responses to “Camera gear for the RTW”

  1. Iva

    The 18-55 is the one I use the most too. Great kit lens. Have you ever used the 10-22 lens? I’ve rented it a few times and the I absolutely love it for landscapes.

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  2. Anita Mac

    Great shots! Great post too! I haven’t used my 18-55 in years, but you have given me some food for thought! I had subbed in my nifty all-in-one lens – the 28-200 for travel. Some of my outings are activity based, and the all in one allows the flexibility without dealing with changing lenses! I learned this after damaging my camera’s mechanisms on a trip where there was a lot of dust – I was going between lenses throughout the trip and must not have been careful enough at one stage! Have recently added a 100mm prime macro to the collection – having a great time with that one too!
    Love your work.

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    • fotoeins

      Hi, Anita – thanks for your very kind comments.

      Occasionally, I think about “an all-in-one” lens which would cover most of the range provided by the 18-55 kit-lens and 70-300 zoom. The former is less worrisome and takes decent (but not exquisite) photographs, and the 70-300 is a really great lens without the cost of L-glass. I do worry about swapping among the three lenses, but I’ve been doing that *already* in the last year or two of occasional travel. It will be interesting to see how swapping works out inside one year of *continuous* travel. I don’t really think about macros, but I’ve considered getting a 28-prime to replace the kit-lens.

      Thanks again for reading!

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  3. Seals, koalas, & roos: a day on Kangaroo Island | Fotoeins Fotopress

    […] We saw sheep where grassy meadows were to be found, seals at Kingscote Jetty, young and adult seals relaxing and sleeping in the sun on at Admirals Arch, free-climbing koala bears and free-roaming kangaroos at the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Ligurian honey bees at Clifford’s Honey Farm, and a lone echidna by the side of a dirt road in the middle of the island. There are photos of animals so “close” as if you were standing next to them, thanks to my 70-300mm zoom-lens. […]

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  4. Pat Durrell

    Well Henry…it seems the myraid of beautiful photos has finally made me do it……I finally took the plunge to get a DSLR (60D) with the 18-135 kit lens and the (as it happens!) 70-300 IS Looking forward to trying these all out. Based on what I see above, I hope the 50 f/1.4 is not too far behind… 🙂

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    • fotoeins

      Hi, Pat. I think you’re going to really enjoy the 60D; I’ve read good things about that camera. As I tried to describe, the 70-300 has specific uses and isn’t really a carry-around all-purpose lens, even though the lens and image quality is very good. The 18-135 is going to give you excellent diversity with an effective range of 29-216mm! Give these two lenses a real chance before you splurge on the 50/1.4; you may already guess or already know that a prime-lens works differently in practice than a zoom-lens. But I’m glad my posts and photos have spurred you onto the next stage! 🙂

      Like

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