Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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If I'm on a daytime cycling/walking tour (i.e. little time to compose or change lenses) of external buildings and inside churches (no flash and no tripod), which lens is best to capture non-blurry architectural/statue/painting/fresco?

With my Canon EOS7D, would I be better off with an EF 24-70mm L or EF 70-200mm L, both f/2.8?

What camera settings (e.g. shutter-priority AE? ISO? evaluative metering? etc) would you recommend as a default that I should program for C1, C2, and C3?

What other considerations should I be mindful of?

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Get something with IS as you'll be shooting non-moving subjects and indoor, you'll need it. 70-200mm f/2.8 IS should be a good choice if you can manage. –  fahad.hasan Mar 16 '11 at 10:52

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Without a tripod you will have to have a very steady hand to make real use of the length of your 70-200mm, so I would go with the 24-70mm. The wider end will allow you to take in the majority of buildings and the tele end will let you zoom in on features.

There is little point in using Shutter Priority when photographing static subjects. You will be much better served by Aperture Priority. Open the aperture up when photographing, say, statues, to blur the background, and use a general aperture like f8-f11 for architecture.

Your ISO will depend on the light. If it is a sunny day, 200 is fine. 400 will give you more shutter speed leeway on an overcast day. You will very probably have to crank it right up to shoot inside a church without a tripod. You may have to improvise by resting your camera somewhere to take longer exposures.

Generally speaking, centre-weighted metering is the best overall setting (in my opinion) for most situations. However, if you are shooting statues against the sky you may want to switch to spot-metering to avoid silhouetting.

Of course, all this is general: you can always change settings on the fly as and when you need to. If in doubt, try popping your camera into P mode, where the camera will make most of the decisions for you, but still leaves you control over most of the settings.

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Hi ElendilTheTall, thanks for sharing. Your points make lots of sense to a newbie that I am. Together with the other responses, it's clear a 24-70 mm is the way to go as the default lens. Thanks again. –  Global nomad Mar 16 '11 at 11:48

For Arch and indoors art? Definitely the 24-70. The 70-200 is great for indoor portraits and details of buildings, but for the whole picture, you need a wider one.

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Hi ysap, thanks for sharing. Much appreciated. –  Global nomad Mar 16 '11 at 11:46

I have the 24-70L, and its the best lens I have! But its heavy! It has the nickname "brick" for a reason.

The other downside is that on the 7D its not that wide!

With a 7D for architecture in and outside I would go for the 16-35mm f/2.8 L USM II as its wider and with the same maximum aperture.

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Hi VKVK, thanks for sharing your experience. –  Global nomad Mar 16 '11 at 11:46

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