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JMA

Help defining travel gear

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JMA

Warning, long post…

 

This is my background:

When I travel, I always struggle selecting the gear I’ll use on the trip. I try to keep it as simple/light possible to enjoy the trip (normally walk 6-10 hours a day) while being flexible enough to avoid missing shoots because of gear limitation. Also, I have a concern on safety in dangerous places or pickpockets, so I try to be as low key as possible too.

 

Besides traveling, I do a lot of street photography but also wedding and social events (not as first income) so most of my gear is more an expense than investment.

 

I’m very critical with gear results/quality, so I tend to avoid cheaper lens/bodies/accessories and high ISOs so tend to pick faster lenses. Unfortunately, my budget is not unlimited so I have to pick gear wisely.

 

I’m mostly prime shooter and have 14, 23 F1.4, 35 f2 and 56. XT2, XT1 and X100s cameras

 

I have 2 type of travel that I have this problem:

 

Local Travel, Small Towns/Villages, Hiking.

I try to travel very light and shoot documentary, portraits, with some landscape. With X100s I miss a lot of wide shots, specially on interiors, close-ups (do not like the lack of sharpness at f2-f4 of x100s here) and tele shots. With the XTs I have to carry at least 3 lenses to cover what I normally shot and end up changing lenses a lot. Should I go with a zoom instead?

 

Guided Tours or Photo Expeditions to tourist or exotic locations

Big/long trips that you go once in your lifetime where photo opportunities are too varied within the trip and between trips, like the north/south pole, Africa, jungles or rainforests or cultural like Europe or Asia. Here I shot everything (photo or video) I face and struggle the most to plan if I need a telephoto or a wide angle or zooms or WR lenses or tripod or monopod…. I only went to Europe with XT and 14,23,35 and while weight was not an issue I changed lenses too much and was not enjoyable. For places where wildlife is the main attraction I’m doomed with my longest lens being the 56.

 

I plan to travel more, so I want to hear your recommendations not only on lenses, but also on bodies, accessories, filters, bags etc. as I may change (sell) or add gear based on your recommendations.

 

I greatly appreciate your help in advance

 

Happy Holidays

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Christopher

The 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom is really a quite versatile zoom lens, the fixed 2.8 aperture won't let you down. That being said, it is quite a bit larger and heavier than any prime lens, but if you're only carrying one lens it's maybe a worthwhile compromise. It can to replace all your primes for travel, and you can justify it for shooting weddings, use it during event coverage and keep your primes for portraiture. I bet you can find one on sale right now with all the holiday promotions Fujifilm has been running around the world.

The 18-135mm zoom is obviously the go-to do-everything lens, but its compromise is the variable aperture. You're able to use pretty slow shutter speeds in some situations thanks to it's great image stabilization, sometimes that makes up for the smaller aperture, but that's not help if much motion is involved, especially in low light.

All this being said, I think you should take a very close look at the Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4 "kit zoom" that has been out since the X-E1. We all love to demonize kit zoom lenses, usually with good reason, but what Fujifilm created with this zoom lens defies the definition of "kit zoom". While it is a variable aperture lens, the longest 55mm f/4 range is still very practical in all but the lowest light, and 18mm f/2.8 is quite a bit sharper than the 18mm f/2 pancake prime. The sharpness of this zoom always impresses me, and the image stabilization works great. The greatest advantage is the size, this zoom lens is about the same size as your 14mm f/2.8 prime! For travel, that may be the right solution, along with 1 favorite prime.

Maybe it's just a stepping stone to the 16-55mm f/2.8 some time later, but for your money the 18-55mm is the best bang for your buck! You should be able to find them used for $300 USD or less, since these are 'kit' lenses after all! I first bought mine bundled with the X-E1 and I fully expected that I would resell the lens and never use it, but I use it all the time for event coverage.

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JMA

thanks for the input @Christopher !

I indeed rented the 16-55 and loved it and I'm considering it. 18-135 range is great, but as a single lens is too slow specially at night since i do not like to use flash, maybe pairing it with the 23 1.4 as you mention will do the trick for low light shots.

For the long range, every time I use the 56 as "tele" ends being too wide. in my canon days I had 24-105 (FF) and at 105 was very short even for big animals in a zoo, forget about wildlife. What are your thoughts on the 55-200 vs 50-140 plus 1.4TC? 

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Christopher

I think you'll find the 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 being more akin to the 18-55mm, a great balance of size vs performance, but not without compromise. It's considerably smaller and lighter than the 50-140mm f/2.8 zoom. It would perform well for wildlife photography and landscapes in better light, but you may find it limiting for use in evenings and during weddings.

The 50-140mm f/2.8 zoom provides great bokeh throughout the whole zoom range, excellent image stabilization, and the bright aperture will allow for lowlight use, covering speeches and toasts during an evening wedding reception for example. It's also great for portraiture, the bokeh is stellar. Next to a full frame 70-200mm f/2.8 lens the Fujinon is a lot lighter and more compact, but it is still a big heavy zoom lens in the context of the X Series, 1.7 kilograms (the 55-220 is 1 kilogram). The 1.4 TC pairs great with it of course, making it an f/4 zoom. If you can justify the cost, you won't be disappointed, but it is a big investment and a lot more weight to travel with.

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