Best lightweight crop lens for SL1 & hiking

RustyTheGeek

EOS 5D Mark IV
Apr 27, 2011
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I have lots of photo gear. Lots of Canon bodies. Lots of lenses, mostly L. I have both Canon rugged P&S cams, the D10 and D20. (I took the D20 to Philmont in 2012 and carried it on the trail for 10 days.)

I'll go to Philmont again in 2014 and I want to try to take a DSLR this time for better pics and just suck up the added weight. I'll likely still take the D20 again, it was nice and handy to have hanging on my backpack strap at shoulder height while hiking. But when we are stopped at the camps or on side hikes, the DSLR would come out, that's where the best pictures happen anyway.

Just so you know, living on the trail for 10 days out of a pack, weight is the #1 concern. I've considered investing in a Pentax K-3 DSLR with a tough weather resistant general purpose lens. That would be around $1700 online. Not a deal breaker but it's spending close to $2000 if I ever bought a Pentax flash to own a whole other system. It would be more durable and less worry and who knows, I might love it so much that someday I would sell everything and just keep the Pentax. (Wow, I said that?!) But I digress..

I just bought the SL1 Rebel body for $349 (great price) figuring I would keep it in my pack while on the trail and use the D20 on my pack strap. The question is.....

Which lightweight lens to use so I only have to take one? I might take the 40mm pancake I have for low light and maybe a TC (if it fits the lens I choose) for more reach but in general, I figured I would take the DSLR+lens+simple strap as a unit, extra batteries and that's about it. I don't mind using a non-Canon lens. I don't mind just using the STM kit lens but I figured I would get everyone's opinion before I jumped. It's not a huge rush at this point.

While on the subject of hiking photography, check out this independent filmmaker's great movie all about Philmont. The movie trailer and documentary DVD is very well done. Gives me chills every time I see it! If you love the outdoors, you should love this. If you have young sons, join Boy Scouts. If you have tomboy daughters, join Venturing and go to Philmont if you can. Also, check out his website, he's done some great work!

Philmont Movie Promo (vimeo.com/22745967) (Copy url or click the caption link below, the video isn't loading in the forum post correctly.)- The Philmont Documentary Collection promo on Vimeo
Buy the Philmont Movie - http://philmontmovie.com
Larry McLaughlin's Work - http://www.larrymclaughlin.net/
 

Halfrack

EOS RP
Sep 14, 2011
668
1
Crystal Pepsi!!! yea, test market back in '92, when I was at Philmont. Honestly, don't worry about low light - just bump the iso on the SL1. I'd rent/buy a Tamaron 18-270 for the single lens solution, and drag along the D20 for when things are just too dusty/wet. Is it perfect, no, but it's light enough that you should be able to do without additional gear.

Worst day on the trail, food exchange had dehydrated potatoes, and the following morning we did up a pot. Too bad the pot wasn't big enough to fully cook them, so about 45 minutes into the day, said potato bits expanded even more... yea, bad day...
 

RustyTheGeek

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Apr 27, 2011
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Halfrack said:
Honestly, don't worry about low light - just bump the iso on the SL1. I'd rent/buy a Tamaron 18-270 for the single lens solution, and drag along the D20 for when things are just too dusty/wet. Is it perfect, no, but it's light enough that you should be able to do without additional gear.
Thanks Halfrack! This was one of my thoughts as well. And I already have a 18-270. My concern was possibly quality & weight with it but it's not too bad on either. Most of the times of lower light, I'll probably already be in my tent dead asleep along with the rest of the crew!! :D
 

RustyTheGeek

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Apr 27, 2011
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janmaxim said:
What about the 40mm F2.8 STM? Smaller than that is almost not possible :)
Thanks janmzxim. I do have that lens and it might go as a 2nd lens but that FL isn't my favorite and will be a bit limiting for me as the ONLY lens for 10 days. (40mm = 64mm on crop.)
 

RustyTheGeek

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Apr 27, 2011
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I don't mind other comments about how some of you guys manage your photography while hiking. Which cameras you like or how you hang/attach/pack/carry or otherwise manage them. No fair saying you just take your wife or girlfriend! ;D

Here is one quick post I found on the web that isn't too bad. Not sure if I want to add that much weight just for a bag since I don't require 100% access all the time if I take the D20. The D20 is lighter, more convenient on the pack strap, durable and has the extra advantage of being a backup camera if something happens.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=15315
 

surapon

80% BY HEART, 15% BY LENSES AND ONLY 5% BY CAMERA
Aug 2, 2013
2,957
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APEX, NORTH CAROLINA, USA.
Dear RustyTheGeek.
If I must only 1 lens for the light weight Travel, I am broken heart between EF 17-40 mm. L and TS-E 24 mm. F 3.5 L MK II----BIG BUT, I will sneak My New Baby EOS-M + 22 MM Lens in my Pocket too.
Have FUN.
Surapon
 

ajfotofilmagem

EOS 5D Mark IV
Aug 23, 2013
2,382
83
Bahia Brazil
There are not many options of small lenses to accompany SL1. Besides the 40mm pancake, Canon 24mm F2.8 IS looks great. The Samyang 8mm fisheye can be fun, but only manual focus. The Canon 18-55mm STM lens is a very versatile, and makes a perfect pair with SL1.
 

JPAZ

If only I knew what I was doing.....
CR Pro
Sep 8, 2012
1,057
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I no longer have a crop camera but had an XTi and then a 50d. I've trekked many a mile (Grand Canyon, Nepal, Bhutan, Patagonia) with these bodies. Were this me, I'd put my Thinktank holster in front of me, hanging off my shoulder straps and have my DSLR with a 15-85 there all the time. The holster is sufficiently weatherproof that I'd leave the D20 home (lose the weight of the D20 and gain the weight of the lens). While this is not the fastest lens, it has reasonable IQ and a broad range. If low light is an issue, you could put a 40mm pancake in your pocket!

I know your goal is to keep the weight down. FWIW, my came4ra and my drinking water are the two heaviest items I carry. If you compare the weight of the 15-85 to the D20, it is only a net gain of 12 ounces (3/4 lb or about 1/3 kg).
 

pj1974

80D, M5, 7D, & lots of glass and accessories!
Oct 18, 2011
681
207
Adelaide, Australia
I have done lots of hiking (and/or ‘bushwalking’ as we call it here in Australia) – across many countries, from Switzerland to Thailand to Romania to Scotland to Australia. I’ve had DSLRs for almost the past decade, and before that some years of point and shoot (P&S).

It’s certainly much less ‘hassle’ taking a P&S hiking than a DSLR in terms of size & weight (and even ‘convenience’ –when it comes to protecting & storing it). But the image quality of DSLRs (& a lens or two) can be very much the deal breaker. I also ‘fear’ that one time at a unique location, a camera (or lens) will malfunction…

So when I went to Thailand I took both my 350D and 7D with all my lenses, and on each hike (day trips only) I took one of them (usually the 7D). On longer hikes I have taken the 7D usually- and most commonly with the 15-85mm lens (I love this as a one-lens-solution, for travel).

But occasionally I do take my 350D with kit 18-55mm (the old, non IS, non STM version), and it is definitely noticeably lighter (eg around the neck / in the hand) than the 7D / 15-85mm combo. Stopped down, that lens actually does all right.

For your situation, I would also recommend the 18-55mm STM IS the SL1, the IS certainly helps in low light… and it’s got great IQ, and keep the P&S as a backup. Hope that you will manage the weight and your hike well. Please share some photos.

Regards

Paul
 

zlatko

EOS RP
Aug 27, 2013
617
0
www.zlatkobatistich.com
RustyTheGeek said:
Which lightweight lens to use so I only have to take one? I might take the 40mm pancake I have for low light and maybe a TC (if it fits the lens I choose) for more reach but in general, I figured I would take the DSLR+lens+simple strap as a unit, extra batteries and that's about it. I don't mind using a non-Canon lens. I don't mind just using the STM kit lens but I figured I would get everyone's opinion before I jumped. It's not a huge rush at this point.
It depends on which focal length you like, and what kind of pictures you like to make. If taking only one lightweight lens, I'd go with either the 18-55 kit lens or the 24/2.8 IS. The 40mm pancake is a wonderful small lens, but not an all-purpose focal length (for me) on a crop camera.
 

Slyham

EOS M6 Mark II
Nov 17, 2013
66
0
Mesa, AZ
pj1974 said:
For your situation, I would also recommend the 18-55mm STM IS the SL1, the IS certainly helps in low light… and it’s got great IQ, and keep the P&S as a backup. Hope that you will manage the weight and your hike well. Please share some photos.

Regards

Paul

+1
 

rs

EOS R
Dec 29, 2012
1,024
0
UK
If you're talking about low light pictures of non-moving subjects, IS as found on the 18-55 STM and the 15-85 will give you more low ISO options than the larger f/2.8 aperture of the 40 shorty. However, if you're planning on taking low light photos of moving subjects, aperture size is everything. However, as weight is a major factor here, bumping up the ISO weighs less than hauling around a second lens.

If it was me, I'd be tempted to treat a shorter zoom range lens as a reason for doing extra exercise in getting myself to the perfect position as opposed to just zooming with an 18-270 from wherever I happen to be.

I'd partner the SL1 with an 18-55 STM.
 

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
8,265
1,935
Canada
I carried a 60D and an 18-200 for a 6 day backcountry hike in Gros Morne Newfoundland... Day 1 was wicked! Lower part of the trail was flooded and then there was the climb up out of the valley!!! (picture 1 and 2)

If I can only take 1 lens, it's the 18-200. Sometimes it just was not wide enough so there were a few panorama style shots.... (picture 3)

Make sure you bring good waterproofing... I have had hikes with 3 days of straight rain (picture 4)

Hint: Take along a hiking pole that can double as a monopod.... you can also stick it in the ground for group portraits or selfies...
 

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Ruined

EOS R
Aug 22, 2013
915
53
RustyTheGeek said:
I just bought the SL1 Rebel body for $349 (great price) figuring I would keep it in my pack while on the trail and use the D20 on my pack strap. The question is.....

Which lightweight lens to use so I only have to take one? I might take the 40mm pancake I have for low light and maybe a TC (if it fits the lens I choose)

My vote is:
Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM

Super lightweight, small, excellent IQ, IS nice to avoid weight of tripod when dark, and able to capture a wide variety of photos on the 60D - 40mm on aps-c I would think would be a bit too cramped for hikes.
http://www.amazon.com/Canon-24mm-Wide-Angle-Lens/dp/B0076BNKOY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387506260&sr=8-1&keywords=24mm+f%2F2.8+is
 

dcm

It's not the gear. But it helps.
CR Pro
Apr 18, 2013
919
428
Colorado, USA
Tough call. It depends on what you are shooting, when, and the quality you are trying to get versus the weight you are willing to carry. You might look through your photos from the last trip. Which would you use the P&S? Which would you pull out the DSLR? What focal lengths are you using for each? Do you shoot landscapes? portraits? groups around the campfire? astrophotography in the clear skies? Do you want RAW? Do you shoot your zooms primarily at the extremes? What is your weight budget? Sounds like you have a fair amount of equipment so you may already know the answers to these questions.

Over the years my hiking kit has changed as I upgraded my equipment. I mostly day hike so I am not quite as weight conscious. On a several day hike I'd have to decide if the DSLR was worth it at all. One option is a high end P&S. Before I picked up the DSLR, I hiked with G series on my pack strap (13 oz). Until recently I hiked with the S95/S100 (7 oz) as the P&S on my pack strap for its slightly larger sensor, 24mm and RAW. I could take quick macro shots of things along the trail (flowers, mushrooms, flowers, scat, ...) and still get wider angle shots than most P&S without having to open the pack. I would consider this a viable option if I want to travel light.

I chose the M over the SL1 to get a system with a larger sensor and smaller form factor as a replacement for the S100. In your situation I think I might just take my M with the 22 and two zooms (still need to get the 11-22) and leave the P&S at home. The M with the 22 isn't much larger than the S100 on my pack strap and worked quite well hiking this fall. I can add the 90ex to get by with 1 body (total 30 oz). There may be similar options from other vendors, I haven't looked.

When I carry the DSLR and open the pack, like you its because I stopped somewhere for a break and photo op. Depending on the situation I like to go wider or longer than my P&S and I prefer a higher quality sensor and lens combination. I carry a full frame setup - a 6D paired with the 17-40L and 70-200f4LIS+1.4xIII in my pack (about 78oz). I can shoot panoramas, wildlife, and distant peaks with this setup. I don't really need a fast lens and the IS is much lighter than a tripod.

I don't have any experience with EF-S lenses so its hard for me to recommend any. Your choices depend on how wide and long you want to go. Based on what I've read in the forum I might want to pair the SL1 with the 10-22 and 55-250 (total 38 oz) to go along with the D20 (8 oz). This would give me similar range at half the weight and some loss of quality. Choosing a single lens like Don suggests will also save some weight. If you don't need a range of focus lengths on the DSLR, then a small prime like the 24f2.8IS may be sufficient for you.

One more thought. What's the battery life on an SL1? How many photos do you plan to take? How many batteries do you plan to carry? That would be one of the bigger issues to me on a long trek since I'm not aware of any recharging options on the trail.
 

RustyTheGeek

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Apr 27, 2011
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Thanks for all the feedback so far! Sorry for the length here. It got a little longer than I realized. :p

dcm - What a great and well crafted reply! You are thinking along the same lines as I am. That's why I tossed out this thread, to get feedback from others. Other than an old 18-55 kit lens and a 10-22, I don't own any EF-S lenses either. However, I do own the Tamron 18-270 and so far, that is my running favorite. My biggest concern is the IQ but regardless, it's still better than the D20 on IQ overall. The 18-270 is what kept me from buying the 18-55 STM kit lens even though I think that is a good lens for the SL1 and lightweight, etc. I could still get it later though.

I want to carry a DSLR is to get better wide shots in camps, RAW images that can be pushed more in post and have better flash or exposure controls. The lenses other than the 40 pancake that I have considered are the EF-S 10-22 and the EF 15mm Fisheye. That is such a fun lens but I'm wondering how much I would really use it for the price in weight. In general, I am more of a wide lens junkie than a telephoto shooter. If I took the 18-270 and still decided to take a 2nd lens, it would probably be an ultrawide lens which is why I purchased the 10-22 in the first place before the 2012 trek. I suspect that I would rarely change the lens while on the hike so it might just be a waste of weight. But then, you never know!! LOL! It cracks me up how long I've done this and still struggle with these kinds of decisions. But I guess eventually one just has to draw the line and resolve to 'keep it simple' (KISS). That's what I did in 2012 when I decided to just take the D20 and nothing else and I survived but this time I am trying to push myself to take it up a notch.

Aside from weight, a big concern and challenge when taking anything on a hike is (for me) the logistics. Using up room in the pack and then having to manage the stuff all the time. It's there, it's in the way, it has to be moved around, it takes up space and it displaces something else. It has to be organized along with the rest of the stuff. It has to be cared for and protected. So I'm weighing the aspects of either just having a neoprene cover on the camera in a ziplock inside the pack or having a ThinkTank or other decent but fairly lightweight bag outside the pack hanging on the straps in front with carabiners and stretch cords or something.

Last time, I used a small super strong magnet on the P&S and I could easily yank it off my strap, take a picture and then *click* it back on the strap without even looking. Worked like a charm. I can't do something that easy with the SL1 unfortunately.

I have an S95 but it's pretty fragile and not very tolerant of dirt. I think it would likely die on day 2 or 3 from the dust alone. I got a good deal on the SL1 and I am almost resigning it to be a potential throw away if it gets damaged or super dirty on the trip. I've got an old Rebel XT that I have had in mud, dirt and all kinds of crap and it's still going. It's just too old though.

Good point on batteries. On the last trek, I got lucky with the batteries. I barely made it through! I will definitely take plenty of batteries. It appears the batteries are smaller for the SL1.

Keep in mind that I have several months of prep hikes (shakedowns) to try things out and test different scenarios with the DSLR and P&S.

If anyone wants to see some pics from the last trek in 2012 that I shot with the D20, here they are...

http://rustythegeek.zenfolio.com/718r - (The actual 10 day trek at Philmont is the last gallery.)
 

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
8,265
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Canada
I have a carry harness (kind of like the black rapid straps) that I can clip the camera to for keeping it in front of me, but the real spot for it is in the top pouch of the pack. I keep it in a heavy duty dry bag to protect it from the rain, plus I have a pack cover to help keep everything dry in the rain. I also carry a spare battery (or 2) depending on the length of the hike and the scenery.

I also got a food dehydrator and have managed to save lots of weight with the food. Everything is one pot meals.... bring water to a boil, dump it in, turn off stove, let it sit 10 minutes, fire up stove and bring to a boil again, and eat. Saves a lot of fuel too....
 

dcm

It's not the gear. But it helps.
CR Pro
Apr 18, 2013
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Rusty - mine was a bit longer than expected too.

Dust hasn't been a problem for my S95/S100 on trails in Colorado or Idaho mountains which can get pretty dusty . I attach a Lowepro Sausalito 20 neoprene case and the camera hand strap to a gear keeper on the pack strap. When I'm not shooting the P&S pretty protected and only takes a few seconds to unzip and extract the camera from the case. I would leave it out of the case dangling on the gear keeper at times as well. I like the magnet idea.

If wide was my priority for the DSLR, then I might take a 10-22 and 40 with the SL1. The SL1/40 combo might be viable on the pack strap with a small case on the gear keeper. If dust is such a concern I might take just a single lens to eliminate changes. 18 on APS isn't wide enough for me - I'd have to look at other options.

The fisheye is a tough call. I liked the 8-15 fisheye on my 550D when I took it hiking. Makes for some dramatic photos. Fun for a day, for longer not so much.

So many choices. Have fun experimenting.
 

RustyTheGeek

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Thanks again, dcm! Yeah, we're on the same wavelength. I like the little case you mention. I've had some similar in the past. I could almost see me doing that. One problem with the S95 is that if it somehow powers up in that case, it's toast. I already had to send it in for repair shortly after I bought it because it somehow got powered on in the soft case I use and it damaged the zoom mechanism. :-[ And dust in Philmont is essentially like flour. We're talking Cimaron, New Mexico.

Anyway, I agree, 18mm on a crop is just not wide enough. Hence the temptation to take the 10-22. However, the EF 15mm FishEye I have is much smaller and lighter than the 8-15 L. My biggest problem with taking any extra lenses is the space it takes and keeping up with it. Just taking a DSLR is already burning up a lot of pack space and weight that is normally used for food, shared load items, etc. Also, an extra lens means an extra case for said lens.

Fortunately, being an adult on a scout trek normally means the scouts carry everything except the adult food, etc but you always need to be ready to take on extra weight if needed.

Since the Tamron 18-270 lens is so versatile, it seems like a given that it should go. However, the 10-22 might actually get used more when in close quarters during camp activities and I shoot with my 16-35 on FF a LOT. Those two lenses would complement each other well except for low light but I think IS and being asleep most of the low light times would solve that. Yes, the 15mm Fish is dramatic and fun to use but would probably be a little redundant if I took the 10-22.
 
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