QuoteSo, the question is whether any of you would recommend a different travel telephoto option? In particular, I'm thinking about the possibility of switching out my 70-200 4L IS for a 135L. Good idea or bad idea?
Bad idea, simply horrible. For someone that values portraits the 70-200 f4 is the ideal travel lens. A photographer with more general interests may wish to swap the larger aperture for increased focal length and get a 70-300 f4.x-f5.6.
A travel telephoto should be relatively lightweight, compact and flexible. The 135L scores for the first two but fails at being flexible whereas the 70-200 f4 IS suceeds:
- You cannot control the background i.e. with subject the same size, 70mm will include more of the beautiful vista behind than 135mm.
- You still cannot control the background i.e. with subject the same size, 200mm will cut out the distracting, cluttered or ugly part of the background that 135mm forces you to include.
- 200mm at f4 gives you a sufficiently shallow depth of field that not having 135mm at f2 will likely not be an issue.
- IS gives you low light capability and sufficient depth of field to get the subject/s in focus. The f2 aperture at 135mm means that even if you can get the subject in the frame you may not be able to get a deep enough depth of field.
Don't kid yourself about zooming with your feet; you'll be time limited with little control over backgrounds, angles and other gawping tourists and wanting to catch spontaneous shots so will have little time to relocate. The 135 is a general purpose telephoto prime but it makes for a very limiting general purpose travel telephoto.
regarding zooming with feet. With longer focal lengths, the objects tend to be further away. As a consequence, foot zooming can be more tedious, i.e. if something is 400 meters away, to get closer to double it in size, you have to walk 200 meters. With a wide angle, when you shoot something you tend to be close, so maybe you only have to walk from 40 meters to 20 meters to get that church into the frame.
With landscape images (large distance to infinity) this consideration doesn't apply, as walking with any focal length makes little difference on the frame, the easiest way to frame is by choosing different focal lengths.