Advice needed: 18-200VR or 24-70 as walkaround lens in Italy?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by cutsman, Aug 8, 2009.

  1. cutsman macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2006
    #1
    Hi all,

    Going to Italy for 2 weeks in September and since I'll be doing a lot of traveling by foot and traveling between cities, I really want to pack light and only bring 1 lens as an all-purpose walkaround. If it matters, I'll be going to Rome, Naples, Amalfi Coast, Florence, Venice, and Milan.

    My choices come down to 18-200VR or 24-70.... which one would you bring with you and why?
     
  2. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    Feb 24, 2008
    Location:
    Over there------->
    #2
    To me image quality matters more than zoom range, so I'd leave the superzoom at home. But if you're just taking snapshots, then you'll probably appreciate being able to shoot wider than 24 (assuming you're using a camera with a DX sensor), especially in Venice, where space is cramped.

    [Edit: just noticed your signature. Putting that Sigma 10-20mm in the bag surely won't break your back. That's a great lens to have in the narrow streets of medieval city centers. Bring that one and the 24-70, and you'll be in great shape!]
     
  3. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

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    Nov 19, 2007
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    Portland, OR
    #3
    I'm with phrasikleia. Bring the 10-20 mm, the 24-70 mm, and I'd throw the 35 f/2 in as well for shallow DOF stuff.

    That combo will is pretty wicked for street photography.

    A trip to Italy is a perfect time to make that expensive (but flawless) 24-70 pay for it's self.

    Have fun.

    SLC
     
  4. Obsidian6 macrumors 6502a

    Obsidian6

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    #4
    I agree with these two responses. I personally greatly dislike "All-in-one" lenses.

    I shoot canon myself, but a 24-70 is a totally invaluable lens to have. Especially on a full frame. I also vote take the 10-20 and the 24-70, and if you can muster the strength to add on that extra .45lb I'd bring the 35 f/2 as well.
     
  5. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    Feb 19, 2005
    #5
    To echo all statements, I'd take the 24-70 over the 18-200. While the 18-200 is nice and CAN produce real nice images, this possible once in a lifetime trip should be honored by the best quality glass your bag and pocketbook can handle.
     
  6. rjgonzales macrumors regular

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    #6
    10-20 and 24-70. I was recently in NYC with a 17-55 and often found myself saying "if only I had a wider lens..."
     
  7. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

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    Jan 23, 2002
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    East Coast
    #7
    Bring more than one lens. Unless you're going to Italy all the time, you don't want to miss a shot (or opportunity). If you have to, pack less clothing and throw in one or two lenses.

    In those cities, there are plenty of places to do a little laundry. If you take maybe four days worth of clothes (bring at least a week of underwear), you could pack lenses instead. I know there's at least one laundromat in Venice (at least there was 10 years ago).

    Have fun.
     
  8. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    Sendai, Japan
    #8
    No matter what you do, I'd take the 35 mm f/2 along: it's very small and gives you a lot of options when shooting at night.

    The 24-70 mm is not a good walk-around lens, unless you mostly shoot portrats. No matter the difference in IQ, 24 mm (~ 36 mm on film) is not quite good enough if you want to take pictures of buildings and markets.

    If you rarely shoot portraits and focus on buildings, I might even take the 10-22 mm + 35 mm combo along. I've gotten an UW zoom last week and it has been on my D80 basically all week in Prag.
     
  9. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

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    #9
    Playing devil's advocate for a moment...

    Superzooms are not the world's most perfect glass, but if you keep one on your camera (and keep the camera at the ready) there will eventually be pictures you just wouldn't get if you had to change out a lens.

    I can't speak to the Nikon 18-200mm VR, but the Canon 18-200mm IS is surprisingly sharp for what it is (an 11x zoom) and has actual four stop stabilization that automatically adjusts for panning; the obvious downside is f/5.6 beyond about 135mm which is similar to the Nikon version. Not the glass I'd necessarily want to use in a darkish room or at night (where that 2.8 24-70 would really shine), but otherwise it can be remarkably handy where switching out lenses would be a bust.

    Any superzoom like that will necessarily have some pincushioning or barrel distortion at certain focal lengths; I use DxO if I run into a picture with critical lines that should've been straighter -- such as lines on a building, etc. (n.b. DxO is useful for a *lot* more than than that, IMO, *if* your camera/lens combinations are supported).

    Anyway, just offering a second perspective.
     
  10. someoldguy macrumors 65816

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    usa
    #10
    Go with the 18-200 . You're walking around , you don't know what you'll see , its a shame to go somewhere you'll maybe never get back to and miss a memorable shot because you didn't have enough reach . If you're not printing over 8x10 probably you'll never see the difference . Just use a lens hood .
    Last summer I was in San francisco for a few days and brought my usual gear , Canon 5D , 24-105, sigma 12-24 , 100-400L , plus a tamron 28-300vc . Ended up using the 28-300 probably 80% of the time .
     
  11. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 1, 2008
    #11
    Agreed. Like the OP, I own both the Nikon 24-70 and the 18-200, and if I had to pick ONE, SINGLE, SOLITARY lens to take with me on a trip (as was the original question - with apologies to those first seven ppl to reply, who suggested lens combos), it would be the 18-200, hands down.

    The 24-70 limits you to mid-range shots, which, (1) while you can crop them to get a narrower (telephoto) angle of view, they won't equal the resolving power of the 200mm zoom, even with its optical flaws; and (2) you lose a lot at the wide end, which can be tackled to some degree by shooting a panoramic series, but it's much less convenient. Also, (3) the flexibility you get with the 18-200 is invaluable, especially when you're rushing from place to place and have only moments to frame fleeting photo ops. Having up to 200mm is great for candid street shots and the occasional birdie perched on a statue/etc, and you'll want to have as wide an angle possible when you're squished up against the side of an alley/small room.

    That said, it'd be great if you could find yourself some room for that Sigma... and a flash... and a fast prime... and a tripod... you know, socks are overrated anyway. ;)
     
  12. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

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    #12
    Thanks for picking up on the OP's original question. :)

    Part of the reason I bought my 18-200mm was camera security. As nice as it is to have access to a range of lenses, at certain locations that camera bag is going to be a target for thieves. Even if your bag doesn't scream Nikon or Canon, the first time someone sees you changing out glass from that bag at some random tourist location, it'll be a target. Taking a rig that will fit in bag small enough that you can keep with you at all times (even the bathroom) can sometimes mean the difference in getting home with all your gear intact. Stuff happens.

    Some places I take every lens I own, a tripod, the whole nine yards; other places its just one camera, one lens, a monopod, and maybe one small flash.

    Its also worth thinking about how to keep memory cards (or the data on them) separate from your rig; you wouldn't want to lose both at the same time.
     
  13. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #13
    Well, that might be true in most big cities in the US, but in Italy pickpockets are the main problem. You don't stand a very great chance of being the victim of armed robbery in most European cities. I spend a lot of time in Italy and have schlepped a lot of camera gear around that country. I use a pickpocket-proof backpack now (a Lowepro Flipside 200), and don't worry in the least about someone seeing me change a lens, especially around tourist sites, where half the people around are toting expensive DSLRs.
     
  14. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

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    #14
    I spent 2 wks in Rome a while back with an 18-55 and 50/1.8 ... So here's my $0.02:

    Take the 24-70 and the 10-20. You'll want the 24-70 most of the time, but you'll be glad that you have the 10-20 when you're standing in the Pantheon or under the dome at St. Peter's.
     
  15. leandroc76 macrumors regular

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    Oct 27, 2003
    #15
    Exactly what I was going post. The 24-70 is your choice. for buildings and landscapes, I would go with the Nikkor AF-S DX 10-24/3.5-4.5. Try to find one and rent it.
     
  16. jwt macrumors 6502

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    Mar 28, 2007
    #16
    To the OP,

    I went to Rome a few months ago, so from that experience I'll say that it is very tough to get champion shots that will make you proud because there are so many people and so many souvenir carts and kiosks blocking potential shots, so my vote goes against bringing the best glass. So in light of that, you will need as much versatility as possible, which the 18-200VR has over the 24-70. So my vote goes to the 18-200. I'll just say that if you want to get a shot of Trevi Fountain at night, you will have a very hard time getting a tripod where you need it. However, I was able to hand hold some shots at up to 1/2 sec that came out very sharp with VR. This was on my Canon equipment (17-85 IS) using my elbows to stabilize. Also, even 17 mm on a crop body is not wide enough to capture the entire fountain from the front. Also, it took 5 shots at 50% overlap to capture the entire width of the Colosseum from inside at 17 mm. The Vatican cannot be fully captured inside or out with 17 mm. Also the lighting inside is very poor and will really test your skill and equipment. So, I definitely recommend getting something fast and wide in addition to your 18-200 for this trip. Good luck, and have fun.
     
  17. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

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    #17
    Great point. There are tons of places to buy postcards (10 for 1 Euro, when I was there), so make sure to grab some of those.
     
  18. sthursby macrumors member

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    Jul 29, 2009
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    Toronto, Canada
    #18
    24-70. I just spent two months with a 17-85, and it was far and away all I needed. For the most part, sightseeing/architecture/"real life" shots only typically need a wider angle lens anyway. The telephotos are most useful for nature, sports, etc. That's a pretty obvious statement to make, but it reinforces the point that all you need for 90% of your shooting is a wide angle with a decent range.
     
  19. Scooterman1 macrumors 6502a

    Scooterman1

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  20. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #20
    To bad you don't have something that goes from about 18 to 70 mm. That is the perfect range. 24mm is not all that wide.

    My experience is that I will get just as many good images no matter what lens I take with me. I just get different shots. If you go with just s 50mm prime your eyes will start to see shots that "work" with that lens and you will just pass on the imges you can't capture. But overall I think you get the same number of good ones per day. So think of the kinds of images you want to bring home. Do you want lots of arhitecural interiors or people shots?

    My choice, if I could have only one lens would be something fast and wide.
     
  21. jbernie macrumors 6502a

    jbernie

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    #21
    When I was back home in Sydney in 07 I borrowed my friends 30D, 50mm 1.8 & 10-22mm lenses. Did harbour cruises, went to the tulip festival, did lots of walking around town etc etc. Over the course of 3 weeks, there were only a few times where I really wished I had his zoom lens as well, and to be honest I don't think I really missed out on anything.

    I don't know if you are going to miss much if you only take the 24-70, but unlike my trips to Sydney (every few years) your trip to Italy may only happen once every few decades, I would be more inclinded to take the 18-200 and err on the side of caution. I would hate to think that the most over whelming feeling you have after the trip is... "I wish I had taken the other lens so I could have gotten that photo of...."

    First and foremost... enjoy the trip... don't spend all your time looking at the world through a camera lens. Check to see if your trip time corresponds with any major European school holiday periods, if it doesn't it should help reduce the crowding. Be careful of how you carry your stuff, from wallets to backpacks... my dad's wallet was gone within a few hours of arriving in Venice. They also like to cut/slice the bottom of backpacks so the stuff falls out and in large crowds with lots of things happening things happen fast.
     
  22. wheelhot macrumors 68020

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    #22
    hmm, is it me or that it sounds very unsafe to travel around Europe since pick pockets and thieves will target people who carry bags :confused:
     
  23. LaJaca macrumors regular

    LaJaca

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    #23
    One vote for the 18-200. I lived in Italy 3 years with the military, and can't tell you how often the wide end of 18-24mm helped me. Many more of your shots than you think will be interior shots, and getting 'it all in' will become self evident to you soon enough. I can tell you firsthand the image quality, though not National Geographic quality, is perfectly fine for most people (depends on you, of course)

    If you can spring/borrow a 10-20 (my other lens) you'll be more than amazed.

    And in deference to the more learned opinion that has already posted, you really can't go wrong either way. Of course, in full disclosure, I have to admit...I'm on a waiting list for a 24-70...

    And finally, one unsolicited piece of advice: early hours of the morning are best for great photos, before all the tourists 'ruin' your shots. Have fun and enjoy!
     
  24. LaJaca macrumors regular

    LaJaca

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    #24
    I've taken a look at your website and must stand corrected. I humbly re-suggest taking the 24-70 - you'll have better control over your shots.

    Again, I'm in line for a 24-70....

    Have fun!
     
  25. jbernie macrumors 6502a

    jbernie

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    #25
    Travelling in general is very safe, but the rules apply for large crowded cities no matter where you are. Tourists generally carry more things of value in the sense of cameras, wallets, cash, credit cards etc. They in general are not familiar with their surroundings, and when in crowded areas you are more prone to attack as you cant see who is doing what going where etc. Tourists are also more prone to end up in an area where they probably shouldn't be as they don't know about the reputation of all areas.

    Remember to try and blend in, as much as you might be proud, going out covered in your USA flags or something similar just screams out I'm a tourist look at me.
     

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