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I plan on going out on a trip soon and I want to take some nice landscape photography.

I currently have a Canon T3i and due to budget constraints I can choose one or the other exclusively: should I upgrade to a Canon 70D or should I purchase a 10-18mm f/3.5-4.5?

Currently I have a 18-135mm and a 50mm at f/1.8.

I wanted to get both before leaving; however, that won't be possible. So which will give me the most benefit in the short term?

Thanks!

  • That would be a good lens for landscapes and quite honestly you'll probably be happier with the lens and your T3i if that is all you're going to do. If you're doing something like the Grand Canyon then you're going to do a long exposure and small aperture (larger number) and then you can drop the ISO to reduce grain. You could always rent a lens from lensrentals.com to test out. – SailorCire Apr 23 '15 at 14:34
  • You could also invest a bit in post processing skills (that's free of charge, it only costs you some time) and stitch a landscape picture using small field of view pictures. You can then use a 50 mm or even a 100 mm lens take a large number of overlapping pictures and stitch them together using Hugin. You may end up with a humongous gigapixel sized panorama, but then you are free to reduce the resolution, which will only make the picture look better compared to taking it in a single shot because it involves averaging over pixels which averages the noise out. – Count Iblis Apr 23 '15 at 15:51
  • Thank you. I'll consider getting the lens only. I have done some post processing and have made some nice panoramas, but never tried taking so many shots and gluing it all together. – Naner Apr 23 '15 at 17:14
  • Guys!! So many good answers! Thanks a lot. I'm really on the fence now between getting the lens or not getting anything at all. A few clarifications: Though travel/landscape is what I like (and do) the most, I do a lot of video and portraits as well (reasons why I think the 70D would bring improvements). With this big trip coming up I was hoping to take my photos to another level and thought the lens could give me a hand (I know this is relative). Yes, I own a tripod, it's cheap, but life saver. I will experiment more with panorama and post processing. Any more suggestions welcome. Tnks again! – Naner Apr 23 '15 at 20:16
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So thinking logically about your question, both the Canon T3i and the 70D are both APS-C cameras and 18mp against the 20mp of the 70D means there's nothing in it, 5472 x 3648 70D against 5184 x 3456 T3i(aka 600D) image resolution.

Both cameras are equally capable of taking an excellent quality photograph! After all it's the person behind the camera that takes the picture not the camera! Okay, so the 70D is a little more up to date. So what! There will be another Canon APS body out in a month then another then another! So by the time you come to upgrade your body you'll be probably on the next model up or the 70D will have dropped in price (bargain).

Now if you invest in a good quality lens that will :- 1. Hold it's value far better than any camera body. 2. Fit on the next and subsequent generations of Canon APS cameras.

Your T3i will perform amicably with the 10-18mm and the lens will be an investment until you can afford a 70D (or whatever the next body is).

Hope you like my logic Regards Steve

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Without the 70D, you cannot print that image that little bit larger.

Without the 10-18mm, you cannot get that image at all.


Remember: This does not hold true in general. The 70D might as well be the key equipment required to get a certain shot, but that shot will not be a landscape shot.

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    Landscape is a lot more about technique and composition, and when you go super-wide, that's doubly true. Don't be surprised if you're early work with that 10-18 frustrates you, because it can take some practice to learn how to take advantage of it. If you're not shooting much currently in the < 35mm range on the existing lens it may not be worth buying yet and putting time into practice with what you have first. Or consider doing stitched panoramas to get the wider view instead of another lens. – chuqui Apr 23 '15 at 18:35
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Most folks will advise that you get glass before a new body. Part of this is for simple financial reasons. A good lens tends to hold value better and for longer than a digital body. dSLR bodies, like all digital electronics, tend to depreciate rapidly, even when they're new. And you tend to flip through them at roughly the same rate you'd flip through computers, tablets, or phones. While the 70D is a step up both in sensor tech and physical UI over your T3i, chances are if you wait even a year, the 70D will be quite a bit cheaper. A 10-18 probably won't be any less expensive a year from now.

There is also the fact that lenses are half your camera. And, since many lenses can stay current in the lineup for decades, or only get refreshed every 5-10 years, rather than every year or 18 months, as camera bodies do, the money you spend on lenses simply tends to stay with you longer.

Also, the 70D's big advantages over your T3i are not so much in resolution (that's a minor step up), but in handling, UI controls (e.g., dual-wheel, white balance by Kelvins, etc.), and fast-action capability. Absolutely none of which is essential to landscape shooting. Get the 70D if you want it for its video focusing capabilities, it higher frame rate, and more advanced autofocus system or dual wheel controls. But if you want it to improve your landscape shooting, it's probably not going to be worth the $1000 price tag to you over getting new glass. Landscapes don't generally require fast tracking AF capability.

Nearly any camera body (and many P&S cameras, in fact) can give you great landscape shots. Landscape shooting is sometimes more about shooting technique, support equipment, and post-processing techniques than it is about the specific lens or camera body. Your 18-135, for example, is actually considered wide angle at 18mm (e.g., 28mm equiv.), and stopped down into the f/8-f/16 range is a good performer. f/8 and post-processing are great equalizers among lenses, and can make even cheap glass look good.

I would highly recommend that you consider whether or not there are other areas that might fulfill what you need, vs. an ultrawide or a new body. Consider if learning about panorama techniques to shoot an image in multiple frames and then stitch them together might cover your need for higher resolution and larger scene coverage. Consider whether a tripod might be a more essential piece of gear, so you can use a lower ISO setting and smaller aperture than handholding would let you. Consider whether a shutter remote or cable might be useful for tripod work. And consider whether the software you have is sufficient--maybe spending some cash on specialized post-processing, HDR, panorama stitching, or B&W conversion software might be worthwhile for the style of landscape you want to do. There's more gear to consider here than just lens vs. camera body.

If you do decide to get an ultrawide lens, I'd recommend getting one as soon as possible so you can practice with it before you go on your trip for as long as possible. Ultrawides can be tricky and take time to master. Just cramming more of the scene into the shot isn't necessarily how you compose an effective landscape shot. You need to understand the effects of the distortion such lenses can bring, and how to effectively mitigate some of its possible weaknesses, such as vignetting or LoCA (longitudinal CA, aka "bokeh" CA or "purple fringe"). Learn about horizon placement and distortion as well as how to include foreground interest. I'd also say, given that you're willing to spend $1k on a new body, that you maybe also look at a few of the $600 APS-C ultrawide possibilities, such as the Tokina 11-16/2.8. While for landscape usage, nearly all the ultrawide zooms are good, this is the only crop-body ultrawide zoom that does f/2.8, which can be great for environmental portraits or other indoor shots.

  • Thanks a lot for this. I'm not a professional (wish I could be) and the more I read the more I find out how much I still have to learn on photography. I have for a long time being passionate about travel/landscape photography and have taken thousands of pictures. It's what I like the most. Lately I have been trying to figure out how to take my landscape/travel photos to another level. I have experimented with panorama (not with dozens of images though), times of day, have given some serious thought about foreground, background, and etc, post processing. That's when I started looking at lenses. – Naner Apr 23 '15 at 19:43
  • Looking back at photos from my latest trips, I see that many were taken at 18mm, the widest I have, and I remember being at places and thinking that I wish I could fit more into the frame. That's where the idea of a wide angle came from. Also, I find that often the 18-135 is not as sharp as I wanted it to be for a landscape. – Naner Apr 23 '15 at 19:46
  • Despite really enjoying landscape/travel photography, I do a lot more than that, specially videos and portraits / family photos. Video on the T3i is not terrible, but there is not much control and no auto focus. On the portrait side, I think the auto focus is not accurate at times, sometimes when using my 50mm I have to switch to manual to be able to get a sharp photo. These are some of the reasons I thought getting the 70D would help out. – Naner Apr 23 '15 at 19:51
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    @Naner, if you've been bumping repeatedly up against the wide end of your 18-135, then that's a good sign you need an ultrawide. The 50/1.8 II problem may just be using the lens wide open all the time. It gets considerably sharper stopped down into the f/2.8-4 range. With the T3i, Magic Lantern can add focus peaking which may help with video focus. Yes, the 70D is nice, but it's also a two year old model, and the XXD models tend to have a lifespan of 18 mo. to 2 years... There may be an 80D this fall... – inkista Apr 23 '15 at 20:20
  • The 70D shares the same basic PDAF system with the 7D, which is remarkably configurable and frustratingly inconsistent from shot-to-shot. Unless you are using it for Live View CDAF (stills or video) I wouldn't go to the 70D primarily for the AF system. Especially now that the 7DII, which has a true pro grade PDAF system can be had for around $1500 USD. – Michael C Apr 24 '15 at 0:55
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Keep the T3i and invest in lenses and a solid tripod. And maybe filters. And shoot RAW so that you can have access to full dynamic range for post processing. The free Canon software is useful, though not the simplest. The T3i already has LiveView, which will allow for generally better (imho) pictures through slower composition and contrast auto-focus.

I own the 70D, an upgrade from my wonderful XTi/400D. The 70D is a great camera and a real upgrade from the XTi (10mp). I also own the EOS M, which has a similar 18mp sensor as the T3i and it is an incredibly great, under-rated camera. The difference in image quality between the 18mp and 20mp sensors is not very noticeable.

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what did you end up doing? I'm in the exact same situation as you with a T3i and deciding between the same lens or getting the same camera.

  • 2
    This is not an answer to the question, this is a comment. – Dragos Jan 2 '16 at 0:38

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