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New Contributor
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎09-24-2013

Shooting and lens recommendations for Historic Cities, cityscapes, etc...

I'm currently trying to build my lens collection, and would love some advice on the "necessities" for the types of photography I plan to do.

 

I currently have:

 

1.  Canon SL1

2.  Canon T3i

 

..and I'm looking at either getting an EOS 60D or waiting til later on in the year to see if there's something else coming along.

 

My lens collection so far is:

 

1.  EF-S 10-22mm

2.  EF 28-135mm

3.  EF 75-300mm 1:4-5.6 III

4.  EF 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 IS USM

 

In the next few months, I'll need to shoot outdoor situations (wilderness, camping/hiking, exploration) and Historic city/Historic Tourism type cityscapes.

 

I've noticed my current Lens library is limited in supporting that second one.  I guess I need to move down or to several different types of lenses.  Lately I've been using the 10-22 and the 28-135 when there's enough "room" for me to shoot.

 

I'd like to get very creative/artistic with my shots.  The historic cities I need to photograph are very "compact" (tight) and are really hard to get full shots of buildings, or landscape shots of city blocks.  narrow alleys and street ways. 

The cities i'm in are in the Southern United States, and lots of harsh light.

 

I'd LOVE some recommendations on lenses, as well as any tips on shooting buildings/statues/historic landmarks in cramped city situations!

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Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: Shooting and lens recommendations for Historic Cities, cityscapes, etc...

Sorry, but it sounds like you're looking for a lens to make your photography more creative.  Not going to happen.  Is there something specific that is lacking in your current setup that you want to address?

 

Your lenses cover most of the typical spectrum, from 10mm to 300, so focal length isn't an issue.  It doesn't get much wider than 10mm, so if that's not cutting it in narrow alleys nothing short of a fisheye will.  Harsh light is harsh light.  Nothing you can really do about that other than post processing techniques like HDR.

 

Based on your lens setup the two gaps that I see are fast lenses and image quality.  But seeing as how you didn't mention either of those I assume you're content on those elements.

 

Getting creative/artsy is going to be more up to you than your lens.  Filters like a polarizer and/or neutral density filters are popular with landscape photographers.  As is a tripod for long shutter speeds.  Truthfully though, what really makes these types of photos stand out are a combination of good lighting, and great post processing.

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New Contributor
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎09-24-2013

Re: Shooting and lens recommendations for Historic Cities, cityscapes, etc...

Thanks for the response, Skirball!

 

I'd definitely appreciate some faster lens recommendations.  Image Quality is "fair" (depending on the day, and the light) with my current monopod/tripod setup (using these older lenses), but I'd like some recommendations on faster lenses for the "tighter" cityscapes.  It's just like any other touristy spot, you don't always have enough time to setup and stay where you want to shoot, or you have to be quick about your shots before someone sees "the kid with the big camera" and starts getting in the way.

 

Something I'd like to address isn't necessarily "artsy" but the ability to get longer, wider shots...which I feel are an artistic/creative element to photography.  

 

I apologize for not being completely clear on that.  Some insight:  I'm trying to get a shot that is two historic street blocks long, but I'm limited in how far I can position myself. Because of this, I wanted to know if there is a wider or different type of lens I should be looking into.

 

If 10-22 "should" be getting these wider shots, I'm trying to determine if there is something else I'm not considering?

 

Thanks!

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Frequent Contributor
Posts: 33
Registered: ‎10-03-2013

Re: Shooting and lens recommendations for Historic Cities, cityscapes, etc...

Just a thought but you may want to look at a Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Tilt-Shift Lens it's pricy but  provides tilt-shift functions to control perspective and correct convergence of lines within your frame. It is especially useful in architecture, landscape. The optical tilt mechanisms enable precise control of depth of field along with perspective control. B&H sells it for 2499 there's a $200 rebate till July 5, 2014. Or maybe you can rent one for the time you need it.

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Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: Shooting and lens recommendations for Historic Cities, cityscapes, etc...


JustOmi wrote: 

I apologize for not being completely clear on that.  Some insight:  I'm trying to get a shot that is two historic street blocks long, but I'm limited in how far I can position myself. Because of this, I wanted to know if there is a wider or different type of lens I should be looking into.

 

If 10-22 "should" be getting these wider shots, I'm trying to determine if there is something else I'm not considering?

 

Thanks!


Nothing to appologise for.  It's just very common that people come looking for advice on a new purchase simply because they want to buy a new lens, not because they necessarily have a need.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I usually try to point people back towards their needs as opposed to simply recommending an expensive lens.

 

Yes, the image quality of those lenses is only fair to good.  Actually, the 10-22 is probably one of the better lenses you have.  I own that lens, and I love it.  I used it all the time when I shot on a crop sensor.  If there's something too wide for that lens then you'll have to rethink your technique, because they don't get much wider.  And anything wider will have serious distortion.  I would recommend photo stitching - using software to stitch together multiple photos.  Because of the distortion with wide angle you're going to want to use a more standard focal length when doing this, like 30+mm.  If you had a 50mm prime I'd actually recommend that.

 

As for fast lenses.  I think everybody should have at least one fast prime.  But I love primes, not everybody does.  The image quality from a prime is far better than any of your zooms.  There are only a few zoom lenses that can come close to matching the quality of a prime, and they're quite expensive.  Canon has a "nifty fifty", a 50mm 1.8.  It's extremely popular because it's very cheap and offers pretty good IQ and reasonably fast aperture.  Truthfully the lens is only OK, but it's so cheap that it's a great value.  If you're willing to spend a bit more both Canon and Sigma make a 50mm 1.4.  I'd probably recommend the Sigma, I'm not in love with my Canon.  Although you seem to like wide, so perhaps a 35 or even the 28mm would suit you better.  The nice thing about 50mm is that you can use it for portraits, family shots, general touristy shots, etc.  It's a very versatile focal length.

 

You can look into fish eye lenses if the 10-22 just isn't wide enough for you and you don't like stitching.  I never cared for them, but some love them.  They give a very distorted view, which could certainly be considered artistic.  I can't really offer recommendations, I've never strayed beyond the ultrawide.

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Frequent Contributor
Posts: 89
Registered: ‎04-12-2014

Re: Shooting and lens recommendations for Historic Cities, cityscapes, etc...

Try taking multiple overlapping shots and stitching them together

using Microsoft ICE. (Other stitching progs are available.)

 

Probably best to avoid the 2 hours before and after noon.

 

(Or, avoid all the faff of  carrying andchanging lenses and use an HS50 SX,

or the 60, soon to be available.)

 

 

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Moderator
Posts: 1,676
Registered: ‎10-25-2012

Re: Shooting and lens recommendations for Historic Cities, cityscapes, etc...

Hi JustOmi!

 

I ran across this while moderating today and thought you might find it interesting. He happens to mention your exact shooting scenario!

 

EF-101: Fisheye Lens

 

I hope that helps!

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New Contributor
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎09-24-2013

Re: Shooting and lens recommendations for Historic Cities, cityscapes, etc...

Thanks Skirball.  One of my friends recommended either fish-eye, or taking it another direction with tilt-shift lenses.  Unfortunately, the price point on TS seems to be just as "dramatic".   Would you go this route, and if so, any recommendations on a possible third party or source for TS lenses?

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Frequent Contributor
Posts: 33
Registered: ‎10-03-2013

Re: Shooting and lens recommendations for Historic Cities, cityscapes, etc...

I have a fisheye 8-15mm it's a special purpose lens I use it at wedding events, and for some landscape picures seems I need to defish photos at times because of the effect of the lens. Eveyone is different. I have rented he tilt and shift lens and like the effect more. It's a manual focus lens while the fisheye does autofocus.

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Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,847
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Shooting and lens recommendations for Historic Cities, cityscapes, etc...

Tilt-shift lenses aren't cheap -- also they're all manual focus only (you can configure the camera to chirp and blink a focus point as you pass through focus that the camera believes is accurate, but the lenses do not have focusing motors and because of the lenses need to be mechanically articulated and the ability to rotate the articulating axes there's really no way to run wiring through it (hence... manual focus only.)

 

The TS lenses are ideal for architecture because of their ability to correct for perspective distortions that show up in normal lenses.

 

Wide angle lenses stretch the depth of a scene.  E.g. shoot a wide angle lens on an interior room and those rooms will look larger.  Everything seems farther away when shot with a wide angle lens.  But more importantly... how much farther away something appears to be depends on its true distance from the lens.  Things relatively close to the lens seem just a little farther away.  But things not so close to the lens will seem MUCH farther away.    This effect causes buildings to appear to "lean" back.  The "shift" component of a tilt-shift lens can correct for this.

 

See:  

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/thevirtualtim/6649815753/in/photostream/

vs

https://www.flickr.com/photos/thevirtualtim/6649815113/in/photostream/

 

Both images are shot with the TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II.  The top image is set with all controls neutral (no shift, no tilt).  The bottom image is shift-corrected so that the building no longer appears to lean backward.

 

Keep in mind that the WIDER the angle of view on your lens, the STRONGER this depth-stretching effect (and hence the leaning effect) will become.   

 

I have the EF 14mm f/2.8L USM II and I have to be careful when I use that lens because the leaning effect will be especailly strong... shooting down a street can render lampposts that are decidely tilting into or out of the frame depending on how I hold the camera.  

 

All of these lenses are "rectilinear" in that they try to keep all "straight" lines in real life rendering "straight" in the image (but you will get perspective distortions).  A fish-eye is completely different... this is a "curvilinear" lens -- meaning that it does NOT attempt to preserve straight lines in real life as rendering straight in your photos.  All straight lines will curve with the exception of anything that happens to be going throug the center axis of the lens (that's the only point where the lines will remain straight.)  

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
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