Going to Italy - 70-200 or 100-400?

R1-7D

EOS Rebel SL2
Jun 25, 2012
645
6
Canada
#1
I'm headed to Italy for a few weeks and I want to bring along a telephoto lens. Specifically, I'll be in Venice, the Cinque Terre, Florence, and Rome.


I'm torn between which of these two lens I should choose. On one hand, the extra reach of the 100-400 could come in really handy, and I know it would be useful for long-distance canal shots in Venice, as well as close up architecture shots in Rome.

On the other hand, the 70-200 provides more light.

Since the size of both lenses is roughly equal, it's not really an issue.


Can you all help me make up my mind: What would your choice be, and why?
 
#2
Unless you are specifically looking to shoot birds or other wildlife, which it sounds like you are not, I would say 70-200 no question. I used to have both lenses as well and had to make similar decisions, though I have since sold the 100-400 ii. On my last trip to Europe (Austria) I just took a 24-70 and 100-400 but afterwards I regretted it and wished I had the 70-200 f2.8 which is my all time favorite lens. 400 is too long for architecture and I also found the focus on the 100-400 was less reliable, which is one of the reasons I sold it.
 
Apr 24, 2011
1,079
1
#3
I got back from Iceland, and my most used lens (by far) was 16-35, followed by the 70-200. Wish I had brought the 24-105 too (had another camera with the equivalent of a 24-70 on it).

I don't have a 100-400, but I couldn't think of too many places where something like that would have come in handy.
 
Likes: MrFotoFool

R1-7D

EOS Rebel SL2
Jun 25, 2012
645
6
Canada
#4
Unless you are specifically looking to shoot birds or other wildlife, which it sounds like you are not, I would say 70-200 no question. I used to have both lenses as well and had to make similar decisions, though I have since sold the 100-400 ii. On my last trip to Europe (Austria) I just took a 24-70 and 100-400 but afterwards I regretted it and wished I had the 70-200 f2.8 which is my all time favorite lens. 400 is too long for architecture and I also found the focus on the 100-400 was less reliable, which is one of the reasons I sold it.

Thanks for the reply.

Personally, I've found the focus reliability of my 100-400 to be just as good as my 70-200. The reason why I was thinking the 100-400 for architecture is because I'm planning on going to the top of the Duomo in Florence and St. Peter's Basilica in Rome -- I figured having the extra 200mm might afford me some different types of shots that I, and other peoples, might not otherwise get of other landmarks, such as the colosseum or pantheon in the distance.

With that said, 200mm in Europe is still pretty damn long. Plus, there's still the f/2.8 advantage.
 
Likes: stevelee

R1-7D

EOS Rebel SL2
Jun 25, 2012
645
6
Canada
#5
I got back from Iceland, and my most used lens (by far) was 16-35, followed by the 70-200. Wish I had brought the 24-105 too (had another camera with the equivalent of a 24-70 on it).

I don't have a 100-400, but I couldn't think of too many places where something like that would have come in handy.
You never found that 200mm was too short for anything on your travels?

Thanks for your response.
 
Apr 24, 2011
1,079
1
#6
You never found that 200mm was too short for anything on your travels?

Thanks for your response.
Not to the point where I wanted to bring another lens. I had one high vantage point opportunity in a city, and I stayed with 35mm and 70mm.

If I had a 100-400, I would have had to leave the 70-200 at home because of space and weight limitations.

The number of days when it was clear enough to use over 200mm would have been another problem.

Would that lens have been nice? Sure, but either carrying it in addition to what I had or deciding what to cut back on would be a problem.
 

Random Orbits

EOS 6D Mark II
Mar 14, 2012
2,113
46
#7
When I travel, I take the 100-400L II and the 70-200 f/2.8 IS II stays home. Many times that is because I'm going to national parks and wide open spaces or to places like zoos, the beach, etc.

The most travel friendly option is the 70-300L, which I used to own and sold to a friend looking for her first telephoto lens. It really is a great choice for travel. It is much more compact than the two other zooms and it is lighter. It's IQ isn't quite as good but is more than good enough. It might be worth looking into buying a used copy with the intent of selling it after the trip. That might be less than renting it for a few weeks.

However, if restricted to choosing between the 70-200 and the 100-400, I'd still choose the 100-400. Focal length first for travel. Yes, it is 1-2 stops slower at comparable focal lengths, but if you're taking architectural or detail shots inside, subject movement isn't as much as a problem. It might not get used as much but it'll deliver photos that you couldn't have gotten without a telephoto lens. If your mid-range option is a 24-105, then the 100-400 makes more sense. 100 to 200 mm crops away 75% of the pixels, but if you're not intending on shooting near 200mm a lot anyway, then cropping is ok most of the time. I also tend to use the 100-400 for handheld panoramas.
 

LDS

EOS 80D
Sep 14, 2012
1,377
35
#8
If you have the 100-400 II, and you don't need the larger aperture of the 70-200 (for low-light or DOF reasons), I'd bring that, it will be versatile, its image quality is very good, and it has a shorter MFD than the 70-200, which could help in some situations.

If it's the I model, I would take the 70-200.

That said, using a focal above 300mm inside cities like Venice, Rome or Florence may not be easy, unless you want to isolate something very well, and from good vantage points. Good long distance shots may need a good clear day.

Around Cinque Terre, it could be more useful, but still, not really required for landscape shots, although some narrower framing could look good.

Anyway, a lot depends on what kind of photos you like to take, and how you will travel from a location to another. In some places, i.e. Sistine Chapel, photos are forbidden, so you can't take close ups of Michelangelo's ceiling :) Inside San Marco in Venice photos are forbidden too.

While traveling outside the cities there could be more uses for a longer telephoto.
 
Jul 4, 2016
29
1
#9
I love my 100-400 II and use it more than any other lens, but I only brought a 24-70 and 70-200 to Italy last year. Honestly, I didn't even make too much use of the 70-200.
 
Likes: stevelee

Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
Aug 9, 2018
86
72
#10
No matter where I go, never without my beloved 100-400 , while I use the 70-200 only for short travels.
The 100-400 has: excellent IS, acceptable weight, superb sharpness, almost macro etc...
Yet, I'd suggest you also take a lightweight (1,8/ 85 mm ?) to Italy, in crowded cities it will be very useful.
 

R1-7D

EOS Rebel SL2
Jun 25, 2012
645
6
Canada
#11
Thank you for the replies, everyone!

I think my mind is made up -- I'll be taking the 100-400, as I think the extra reach will be beneficial, as well as it's close focusing distance.


Thanks again for for the recommendations.
 
Jul 6, 2017
835
62
Davidson, NC
#14
I love my 100-400 II and use it more than any other lens, but I only brought a 24-70 and 70-200 to Italy last year. Honestly, I didn't even make too much use of the 70-200.
I love the 100-400 II also, but it has never been very far from home. When I’m doing much traveling, the DSLRs stay home and I have the G7X II in my pocket. Its 24-100 mm equivalence has rarely felt restrictive, and even then I might wish for something a little wider. That suggests to me that were I to take a DSLR along, the 24-105 mm lens would be fine, and the second lens I would take would be the 16-35mm. Monday afternoon I drove over to take pictures of a small town 14 miles from here. I made all the shots with the former, and the latter stayed in the car. I did enough cropping on one shot to suggest I might have used something in the 135 to 200mm range if it had been on hand, but as it was, the cropped version still had plenty of resolution for my purposes.

My G7X II experience is mentioned only to suggest need for focal length, and not to discourage others from carrying along more equipment. Some years back I found that I was serious enough about photography that traveling with a camera at all got in my way of seeing and doing things. So I went for nearly ten years taking no camera at all. (This was before I had a cell phone.) Now I am sufficiently recovered so I trust myself not to get too carried away if I take a good small camera with me. I still take a lot of pictures along the way, but photography doesn’t become the whole reason for the trip. And if I decide to do a trip that is mostly about taking pictures, that is fine, too, and equipment is packed accordingly. And then there was Prague. I decided that I would devote a couple days to taking pictures and not worry about it.
 
Aug 9, 2012
315
5
52
Milano, Italy
#15
I am Italian (I live in Milan) and having visited Venice and Cinque Terre, Florence and Rome several times, I would recommend a wide-angle and a tripod.
Or, who knows, maybe a wide angle with IS could be enough.

And, sticking to the topic, I would prefer a faster 200mm than a slower 400mm... but that's more a matter of personal preferences.

[My gear has never been stolen, but I agree with Del Paso's suggestion: keep an eye on your equipment, never leave your bag unattended in a car etc.].
 
Likes: R1-7D

LDS

EOS 80D
Sep 14, 2012
1,377
35
#16
I would recommend a wide-angle and a tripod.
That's fine if what you're interested in is moslty classic architecture/cityscapes (or when close enough to the subject).

But longer focals may help to create less "common" images, and to take images of people from afar - unless you're versed in street photography, getting close is sometimes difficult - it's often an interesting way to "tell" a place besides the usual well known buildings.

During the last fashion week in Milan I took photos around Corso Como and Gae Aulenti square (BTW I had a chance to meet Sarah Moon at her exhibition there) - and many of them were taken with a 70-200 (I don't own a 100-400, otherwise I would have probably used that, I had to crop some photos).

Previously, I took photos in the Bicocca district (mostly offices and universities, quite empty on a Saturday morning) using only a 24 TS.

IMHO, the lens(es) to carry must match the type of images you're interested to create.
 

Random Orbits

EOS 6D Mark II
Mar 14, 2012
2,113
46
#17
Why does the 70-200 with a 2x teleconverter never get any love? Pair it with the 70-200 2.8 and you have something very close to the 100-400.
It did, but that was before the 100-400 II. I used that combo, which delivered similar performance to the original 100-400. The 100-400 II handles better, has better AF than the 70-200 with a 2x and has better IQ.
 
#18
I just came back from a similar trip. We did quite a bit of walking, so I only carried my M and 11-22. The extra weight may need to be considered - so I left both my 70-200 and 100-400 at home. I would suggest the 100-400 as it gives you more flexibility but again, the weight.
 

R1-7D

EOS Rebel SL2
Jun 25, 2012
645
6
Canada
#19
I am Italian (I live in Milan) and having visited Venice and Cinque Terre, Florence and Rome several times, I would recommend a wide-angle and a tripod.
Or, who knows, maybe a wide angle with IS could be enough.

And, sticking to the topic, I would prefer a faster 200mm than a slower 400mm... but that's more a matter of personal preferences.

[My gear has never been stolen, but I agree with Del Paso's suggestion: keep an eye on your equipment, never leave your bag unattended in a car etc.].

Thank you for the response. I'll have the 11-24 and 24-70 f/2.8 with me too, so wide angle will be covered.

I travelled through Italy last year. Nothing was stolen either -- I am very watchful of my property, and I try to be as safe as possible when I'm out and about.
 

R1-7D

EOS Rebel SL2
Jun 25, 2012
645
6
Canada
#20
I just came back from a similar trip. We did quite a bit of walking, so I only carried my M and 11-22. The extra weight may need to be considered - so I left both my 70-200 and 100-400 at home. I would suggest the 100-400 as it gives you more flexibility but again, the weight.
I'm used to traveling with a 5D and 1D and the wait doesn't bother me. I either have a good backpack or a side-bag with two shoulder straps to support the weight.

With the addition of the telephoto lens, I won't be carrying it along with my other two lenses if I decide to use it. If it comes out with me, then either the 24-70 or the 11-24 will get left behind.