One Lens Travel Photography
Travel photography is a mixed genre that covers all kinds other categories except the images are not made in your own back yard. Thing is, it’s somebody else’s back yard, even if it’s a yak herder’s in Tibet. Most of us don’t get to do that kind of adventure travel and mostly take trips for fun like I do to New Mexico occasionally, accompanying my wife ho travels there for business.
I think travel photography has two main components: The gear and using the light so let’s look at equipment since today’s topic is “One Lens Travel Photography.” Lately I prefer to carry less and less stuff when I travel, so for this trip I decided to take just one lens, Tamron’s 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC. In my review of the lens I thought that a perfect two-lens travel kit would include Tamron’s SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II LD Aspherical lens but for this trip instead brought along a Rebel Xti that had been converted to infrared capture in addition to a Canon EOS 50D. All of which easily fit into a Think Tank Speed Demon bag along with miscellaneous accessories (memory cards, chargers, LensPen, regular pens) and a few snacks.
Since Tamron’s 18-270mm covers such a wide range of focal lengths I wanted to see if one lens could do it all. With that in mind, I think any good travel photography lens should have four main attributes:
Flexibility: There is no doubt that a 18-270mm zoom range is close to a “one size fits all” approach but since the Tamron lens has been designed for APS-C sized imaging chips the Canon 50D’s 1.6X multiplication factor it produces a 35mm focal length equivalency of 28.8-432mm. This range provides lots of flexibility in many different kinds of shooting locations—whether indoors and outdoors—as I discovered when photographing a Native American dancer Old Town Albuquerque.
Speed: With a maximum aperture range of f/3.5-6.3, Tamron’s 18-270 lens’ maximum aperture varies from not-too-bad to not-too-good. So if you’re planning on using that long focal length for low light photography be prepared to increase your ISO and shutter speed a notch or two to compensate. With a price tag of $629, making the lens faster would also make it more expensive and larger which brings me to…
Size: The 18-270 lens weighs less than 16 ounces is 3.5 inches long and 2.9 inches in diameter having a 62mm filter diameter. I know some people don’t like using filters but this is still a relatively expensive (at least it is to me) lens so I recommend that you use a thin-mount Skylight or UV filter to protect it, especially for travel photography where every day is “anything can happen day.” And when carrying the camera with lens attached, don’t forget to use the “lock” setting (at 18mm) to prevent lens droop.
Close focusing: The 18-270mm lens will focus to 19.3-inches but it will do so throughout the entire zoom range. That means that you can use the 270mm setting to get up close and personal enough so that your image looks like true macro photography and that’s just another of the genre’s embraced by the umbrella of travel photography.
Joe is the author of the self-published “Acapulco, Paradise of the Americas” that features travel images made under all kinds of lighting conditions—include some infrared photographs.