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Lenses for travel on 5D Mk II
Old 01-11-2009   #1
Nick De Marco
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Lenses for travel on 5D Mk II

I am a lucky happy owner of the new 5D Mk II.

In the past I have been a user of the 5D and Leica M8. I still use Leica film bodies and love the lenses.

I have a number of Canon EOS lenses, including various L lenses, and have picked up quite a few bargain used third party lenses with adapters to use on the 5D/5D2 (Leica R 21mm f4, 28mm f2.8, 35mm f2 and 35mm f2.8, 50mm f2, 90mm f2; Contax 50mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.4, Olympus Zuiko 21mm f2 and 28mm f2).

Having so many lenses I love gives me a headache when planning a far off trip for some photography (later this week, first time in Myanmar). On the one hand you want the best, and a choice, on the other to take too much is not just not practical, but means I fear I will take too long worrying about what lens to use instead of taking photos. Whilst many people prefer zooms, I prefer prime lenses not only for their superior quality (generally) but also because they can be less big and obtrusive. I also have a preference for wide angle photographer and - often - wide apertures.

I am narrowing down my choices. Along with the 5D Mk II I will take one old Leica film body (the M6) with just one lens (the 35mm Summicron f2) and only black and white 400 ISO film,

With the 5D Mk II I intend to use as my main 'walkabout' lens the 35mm f1.4L. I recently got this second hand and think it is one of the best Canon lenses own. It is excellent in low light and has a very nice bokeh. 35mm is also my favourite focal length. Instead of zooming in or out I think it would be better to just use this for most situations.

I think I need one telephoto, and although I have recently fallen in love with the Contax 85mm, I think I should take the Canon 135mm f2. Its my other favourite Canon lens, with great bokeh, has AF (of course) and is more telephoto.

Instead of the 24-105mm f4L zoom, which I have and think is a good practical lens, but not a beautiful lens, I think I want just one small fast 50mm prime, and I am plumping for the Leica R Summicron f2 as I think it is so much more beautiful wide open than the Canon 1.4.

My real headache comes with extra wide. I have the Canon 16-35mm f2.8L MkII. In the past this would have been the first lens in my bag for such a trip. I love the range and the lens is very good. But I rarely us it at 16mm, at 35 my 35 prime is far better, and I am not convinced it is as good or better than the small primes I have in the 21-28 range. I am leaning towards the Olympus Zuiko 21mm and 28mm lenses. They are both very light and small, and unobtrusive (making the 5D Mk II look almost like a normal camera). They both seem very sharp stopped down. They both can go up to f2 (although the bokeh is rather rough, especially on the 21mm in my opinion), and they are nice and easy to use. I am not sure if the Leica 21mm Super-Angulon f4 is much better than the Olly 21, although I expect if I could focus it more accurately, and had it on a tripod, it would slightly out perform it. It is heavier and I find slightly more difficult to use.

So I am narrowing it down to the Zuiko 21 and 28, the canon 35, the Leica 50 and the Canon 135. I realise this is all a matter of personal taste and preference. Many would prefer to take just one lens or all the best zooms etc. So although I don't espect anyone can tell me what lenses are best for me, the whole point of these forums for me is to discuss and get other people's ideas. So if anyone has thoughts or advice about this choice, or good/bad experiences with any of these lenses, I would be grateful.

In my first few days of experimenting with the 5D mk II this week (whilst at work) I have made a couple of galleries using some of the lenses I am uncertain of. They are here

http://www.pbase.com/nickdemarco/canon_5d_mark_ii

Thanks

Nick

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Old 01-11-2009   #2
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Nik,use a 17-40 and 70 200 f4 is combo! it'd work fine on your 5d
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Old 01-11-2009   #3
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I have a 1Ds II and if I were to pick something for all-around travel it'd be either the 24-105 or the 35-350. Though I'll most likely just use the 50/1.4 and 85/1.8 since I own neither of the two...

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Old 01-13-2009   #4
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On a travel, you will be able to do almost everything with a 24-105 IS and a 70-200 IS (or 100-400 IS). Maybe you could add a 1.4 extender, that's what I did. On some trips I also take a 1.4/50 with me. That is more than enough for almost all kinds of photography, no matter whether your EOS uses a film or a sensor.
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Old 01-13-2009   #5
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Honestly, I use my 5D like I use my rangefinders.


One or two lenses tops, primes of course.


Right now my main lens of choice is a the canon 35/2. I also have the canon ef 24/2.8.

If I had the extra cash, i'd probably own the 35L and the zeiss 50/1.4, but I dont so oh well.

I really cannot stand zoom lenses. I'm miffed enough that the 5D is so much more bulky/heavy, let alone that it doesnt have the nice hyperfocal distances that my rangefinder lenses have.

I'd own some leica lenses and other manual lenses, but i dont care to have my viewfinder black out when i stop down during the dya.


What I really want is a full frame leica rangefinder with better high iso.

If it had those two things and all of the current m8.2 abilities, i'd be buying two.


Honestly, If I cant take a great photo with a prime lens it wont happen with a zoom. That's my thought at least.
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Old 01-13-2009   #6
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I have done a lot of travel with my old 30D and the EF 35mm f/1.4L, but with the 5D MII I will travel with the EF 85mm f/1.2L II. It's big and heavy, but I like that combination. One digital body and one lens, multiple lenses get too heavy and I just like the primes better than the zooms.

If I am going to carry all that weight, I would like to have a good body lens combination.

For film, I like the 28mm f/2.8 using b&w fujifilm ISO100 (prefered) or ISO400. So far I travel with either film or digital, but recently I shot both (at ISO 100) and looking forward to see the results after development. The digital turned out rather nice ;-)

So far I am not so happy with the 35mm f/1.4L and full frame, but I don't have enough experience.

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Old 01-14-2009   #7
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With my 5D I generally bring 16-35/2.8, 50/1.4, 70-200/4. That covers everything I want to do
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Old 01-14-2009   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbf View Post
Honestly, I use my 5D like I use my rangefinders.

One or two lenses tops, primes of course.


Right now my main lens of choice is a the canon 35/2. I also have the canon ef 24/2.8.

If I had the extra cash, i'd probably own the 35L and the zeiss 50/1.4, but I dont so oh well.

I really cannot stand zoom lenses. I'm miffed enough that the 5D is so much more bulky/heavy, let alone that it doesnt have the nice hyperfocal distances that my rangefinder lenses have.

I'd own some leica lenses and other manual lenses, but i dont care to have my viewfinder black out when i stop down during the dya.


What I really want is a full frame leica rangefinder with better high iso.

If it had those two things and all of the current m8.2 abilities, i'd be buying two.


Honestly, If I cant take a great photo with a prime lens it wont happen with a zoom. That's my thought at least.
You don't like zoom lenses but use that 35/2? That lens is absolutely crap on Fullframe, but acceptable on Crop-Sensor. But if you prefer weight over quality it's probably ok.

Last edited by user237428934 : 01-14-2009 at 07:35. Reason: corrected typo
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Old 01-14-2009   #9
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--- forget it. Didn't read opening thread completely --

Last edited by user237428934 : 01-14-2009 at 09:02. Reason: nonsense
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Old 01-14-2009   #10
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I shoot only film in my Leica rangefinders. On a recent cross-country cycle trip I took 21, 28, 50, and 90 lenses; using the 28 and 21 for most of the shots. The Leica 21 R lens, a 28 prime and probably the 85 Zeiss lens is what I would recommend. You may love the 35 focal length, but imo wider is better for travel, so the 28 is superior.
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Old 01-14-2009   #11
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With my 5D1 I usually take 24-105, 70-300DO and maybe something fast, often the 35/1.4. I'll be looking for a 5D2 in a few months when the price settles a bit.
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Old 01-14-2009   #12
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Quote:
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One word: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM.

I use this lens more than any other with the 1D2N, though I prefer primes, it's not always possible, feasible or suitable.
No doubt about the quality. But this lens is a monster. It weights nearly 1 kg and don't even has IS
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Old 01-14-2009   #13
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The new 24/1.4 II is getting some good reviews. A bit pricey, but what a sweet combo: 24/1.4, 35/1.4, 50/1.2.
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Old 01-14-2009   #14
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Nick,

Did you sell the M8. If so I'm interested as to why.

I also have a 5D and find I'm using it more than the M8 again. As I recall you wanted to reduce the weight of kit you carried.

Regards

SR1
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Old 01-14-2009   #15
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I'm not a fan of adapted lenses on EOS bodies - I feel that there are too many compromises, like shooting stopped-down. Also, you're thinking of mixing Canon, Leica and Olympus lenses in one kit - I would find that very challenging as there would be limited continuity between the handling of different lenses.

I usually travel with the 5D + 17-40/4 + 24-105/4 + 50/1.8. I'm not a telephoto kind of guy, so this covers the range that I'm looking for, plus I've got the 50 for low light. Recently I've picked up the EF 24/2.8, 35/2 and 85/1.8, which is the kit I used to use very happily on my Canon F-1. I'm going to play with this setup again and see if it will meet all of my needs. It will definitely be lighter and faster and less intrusive than my zoom setup.

I'm looking forward to the release of the full set of Zeiss primes in ZE (EOS) mount!
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Old 01-14-2009   #16
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Well, since you have an M8 I wouldn't replicate the strengths of it in your SLR system. Use the SLR for tele, zoom, and perhaps really wide angle. Use the M8 for fixed focal lengths or even just for 35 and 50 equivalent. Why break you back? Personally, I'd just take the M8 because I like quality that's light and small, but I recognize the Canon is an amazing tool for taking certain kinds of pictures.
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Old 01-14-2009   #17
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Hey, I have a 20D and the Zuiko 28mm f2. Could you recommend a place to get an adapter? Cameraquest? Thanks.
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Old 01-14-2009   #18
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With my 5D 1 i use 24-70L, 70-200L, 50 1.4, and a 1.4 extender. That seems cover all the bases for my kind of photography.
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Old 01-14-2009   #19
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I really dislike the 24-105L. I dislike F4 lenses for starters, and then the bokeh of that lens is terrible...
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Old 01-14-2009   #20
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Interesting. I am not a huge fan of this lens due to its slow f/4 max aperture and relative bulk, but I've never found the bokeh offensive. It's not gorgeous, but it's not terrible either, IMO.



Quote:
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I really dislike the 24-105L. I dislike F4 lenses for starters, and then the bokeh of that lens is terrible...
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Old 01-14-2009   #21
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Thats nice. However, here is an image that shows a somewhat different bokeh.

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Old 01-14-2009   #22
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Thanks for all the very interesting replies.

I did sell the M8, although I loved the camera. I don't think it does well at high noise, and although I never had any really major issues, the 5D has been more reliable. Discovering the ability to use 3rd party lenses on the 5D, the higher useable iso and the launching of the 5D mk II all lured me back toward the canon and I could not justify owning two expensive cameras, My M8 has gone to a good home and I will continue to use my film M6 and some M lenses. I also bought the LX3 which I think is a great compact if you want something small to carry around when the Canon (or even at times the M8) is too big.

I agree with some of the comments about zooms. As useful as they can be, especially for professional work, when doing my own creative work I prefer to get the lens which produces the best image and that is usually a prime lens. Plus I quite enjoy the discipline. I do think the 70-200 f2.8L lens is as good as just about any prime, but it is such a heavy beast (I lugged it across Lao before) I would rather not take it with me).

I have recently been testing various third party used lenses I own on my new Canon 5D Mk II. I have nothing against many of Canon's finest L lenses (my favourite of the moment being the 35mm f1.4L), but sometimes find other lenses have a special 3 dimensional feel and smooth bokeh. I love my Leica Summicron f2, for example, far more than the Canon 1.4 which I find quite brutal at f2. I have a few very nice Leica R and Contax/Zeiss lenses I can use on the 5D. Reading various forums made me look into Olympus Zuiko lenses too, a cheaper alternative. I bought the 21mm and 28mm f2 lenses on ebay. Both very nice lenses but the 21mm is nowhere near as good as my Leica Super Angulon 21mm f4 (at f4, f8 or f16 in my opinion). The 28mm, on the other hand, is a great lens.

So, on the eve of a trip to Myanmar I narrowed down my travel options. Leica 21mm f4 (I compared it to my Oly 21/f2 and it was far better throughout the aperture range), Oly 28/f2 (which, on the other hand, is flawless), Canon 35L f1.4, Leica Summicron f2 (far, far nicer than the Canon 1.4) and Canon 135L f2 (another great Canon lens).

Then - just tonight - I noticed an old second hand Olympus SLR on my shelf I had picked up for about #60. I wondered what lens it had on it. Sure enough it was the Olympus Zuiko 50mm f1.8. I tried it on my 5D mk II straight away and was immediately impressed. I then quickly compared it to the Leica Summicron and found, to my shock and disbelief, I think it produces better images than my Summicron, and even a smoother bokeh. Whilst it is not engineered as well as the Leica, it is half the weight and tiny. So the Leica will say at home and the surprise find, Oly 50/1.8, is coming on holiday to Asia.

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Old 01-14-2009   #23
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How do you find using manual focus lenses on the 5d? I have a nikon adapter and have used some of my AIs lenses (not all of them will fit!). Even though I have focus confirmation, I still find it very irritating to use It would be great if there was a split prism available!
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Old 01-14-2009   #24
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I agree. I find my rangefinder M cameras so much easier to focus with manual lenses. I have to say though, and I ever thought tjis when I bought it, I find the Live View focus on the 5D Mk II fantastic for manual lenses, albeit when using the camera fast outside it's not too helpful (but I will either take my chances then or use L AF lenses I guess)
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Old 01-14-2009   #25
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Something you might find interesting - I had an olympus om 50mm 1.8 (the made in japan version) and compared it on my 5d to my old canon 50mm 1.8 II (plastic fantastic). The images made by both lenses were indistinguishable in bokeh, rendering, sharpness, everything.
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Old 01-14-2009   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick De Marco View Post
So I am narrowing it down to the Zuiko 21 and 28, the canon 35, the Leica 50 and the Canon 135. I realise this is all a matter of personal taste and preference. Many would prefer to take just one lens or all the best zooms etc. So although I don't espect anyone can tell me what lenses are best for me, the whole point of these forums for me is to discuss and get other people's ideas. So if anyone has thoughts or advice about this choice, or good/bad experiences with any of these lenses, I would be grateful.

In my first few days of experimenting with the 5D mk II this week (whilst at work) I have made a couple of galleries using some of the lenses I am uncertain of. They are here

http://www.pbase.com/nickdemarco/canon_5d_mark_ii

Thanks

Nick

With my 5d I use a pentax 28mm f2 and sometimes the pentax 31mm f1.8. Both are much sharper wide open than the oly 28/2, which I sold a while ago. And stopped down a little, the pentax 31 is just out of this world. It is the sharpest lens EVER made for any camera.
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Old 02-15-2009   #27
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Here is a shot I took with the Oly/50 in Myanmar, f2.8 I think

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Old 02-15-2009   #28
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Same ones I use now for my 5D, 24/1.4L, 50/1.0L and 135/2.0 L and maybe the 35L.
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Old 02-19-2009   #29
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I am just compiling my Myanmar galleries now, and will post some shots here o. I am very happy indeed with the Canon 5DII, but I am glad I took the M6 as well, the photos I have developed from that add something else.

In the, a link to my first complete gallery from the trip, Bankcock Chinatown,. Its all 5D II, mostly with the Oly 50mm f1.8, which I now think is one of the finest 50mm lenses there is.

Here is the gallery: http://www.pbase.com/nickdemarco/bangkok_chinatown

And this is my favourite photo from it, with the Oly 50 wide open

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Old 02-19-2009   #30
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Take a couple of primes, like a 35 and a 50, maybe an 80 or 135. Spend most of your time enjoying the country and culture and let the photography happen naturally. If you take to much gear, you'll feel the need to use it all. I'm very happy with the photos I made on a trip recently and all I took was a film camera with a 35 and 50.

Then of course, your style of photography might be different than mine which would make my advice moot. Which is really kind of the whole pointlessness of "traveling, which gear?" posts.
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Old 02-20-2009   #31
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Johnsonjj, that's what I did - concentrated on a couple of primes. And the people I photographed. Very glad I did too

Last edited by Nick De Marco : 02-20-2009 at 04:08.
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Old 02-20-2009   #32
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When traveling with *only* my 5D, I usually take 24-105, 70-300 DO and 35/1.4 as a minimum. Depending on what I expect to shoot, I may take one or two others.
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