Getting More With Less in Travel Photography
Gum Departmental Store – its facade is 242 metres across!

A Travel Photography Tips & Tricks Series Post

Canon India had provided me with an EOS 5D SR body and an EF11-24mm f/4L USM lens for review during my Moscow visit. This combination added tremendous firepower to my arsenal. Before we see how, let’s take a look at some of the truly useful features/specifications of this camera body and lens (In case you find any of this too technical, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to resolve the tech-query for you).

Canon EOS 5D SR:

EOS 5D SR is a hugely competent camera with its features and settings manual running into 532 pages., I’ll focus on just a few useful features/specifications of this recent entrant to the Canon stable.

  1. Full frame, with flexibility to become an APS-H (crop factor of 1:1.3 as in Canon EOS 1D Mark IV) or APS-C (crop factor of 1:1.6 as in Canon EOS 7D Mark II) sized sensor
  2. Maximum resolution: 50.3 Mega Pixels or 8688 x 5792 pixels; at APS-H crop – 6768×4512 pixels (30.5 MP); at APS-C crop – 5424×3616 pixels (19.6 MP)
  3. ISO Sensitivity – Auto, 100-6400 (Extended Mode: 50-12800)
  4. Continuous Shooting – up to 5 fps
  5. Besides the usual picture styles (Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful and Monochrome), an additional picture style – Fine Detail – has been added.

Canon EF11-24mm f/4L USM:

  1. The lens’ effective Field of View (FOV) in landscape mode at 11mm is 117.1° (as against 73.7° for 24mm); and in portrait mode, it is 95° at 11mm (as against 53.1° at 24mm)
    Getting More With Less in Travel Photography
    In Portrait orientation, 11mm lens offered an extra 78% FOV

    Getting More With Less in Travel Photography
    In Landscape orientation, 11mm lens offered an extra 58% FOV
  2. 11mm also allows you the leeway to shoot handheld till slow shutter speed of 1/10 secs (inverse of focal length rule)

I went around shooting in Moscow, a city well-known for its large, tall, wide buildings, unique onion domes and startling brickwork and masonry. Let’s now delve into the mishmash of advantages this unique combination provided to me.

  1. I did not have to carry my TS-E (Tilt-Shift) 24mm lens as the FOV provided by 11-24mm was 1.58 times the FOV provided by a 24mm lens in landscape orientation. Let’s see what that translates to. Capturing a tall structure like the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (103 metres tall) normally would lead me to use the TS-E, as tilting the camera up would lead to an unavoidable distortion of parallels converging towards the top of the building. The 58% increase in the coverage angle helped me keep the camera parallel to the ground and still capture these tall structures without distortion.

    Getting More With Less in Travel Photography
    Cathedral of Christ the Saviour – this 103-metre high cathedral is the tallest Orthodox Christian Church in the world!
  2. I did not have to stitch panoramas of extremely wide structures like Gum Departmental Store or the State Historical Museum in Red Square as it all fitted into the wide FOV provided by the magical 11-24mm lens while retaining textural details. Let’s see what fitting Gum Departmental Store in a single frame means. The facade of this classic structure is 242 metres from left to right. And I was shooting it from 60 metres away. It still fitted the frame! Now, that’s one heck of a FOV!
    Getting More With Less in Travel Photography
    Gum Departmental Store
    Getting More With Less in Travel Photography
    State Historical Museum at the Red Square

    Getting More With Less in Travel Photography
    State Historical Museum at the Red Square – 100% crop of the above shot. Please note how the textural details are intact.
  3. The small ISO sensitivity range of 100-6400 was deceptively effective. Normally, in my Canon 5D Mark III (ISO Sensitivity: 100-102400), I would play it safe and seldom go beyond ISO 1600 to avoid noise (way below the upper limit of 102400). In 5D SR, I shot hand-held at ISO 1000 and discovered there was no noise. I shot with a shutter speed of 1/30. Since this shutter speed was faster than the usual ‘inverse of focal length’ rule, there was no camera shake either.
    Getting More With Less in Travel Photography
    Red Square

    Getting More With Less in Travel Photography
    The above shot at 100% crop
  4. While shooting St Basil’s Cathedral from close quarters, I realised I could only fit it into the frame in a distortion-free manner if I tuck it in top left corner of the frame while keeping the camera parallel to the ground or if I tilted the camera upwards (latter would have led to distortion). I preferred tucking it into the top left corner. This was possible as the lens gave me a 78% extra FOV and the high resolution offered by EOS 5D SR allowed for a fair degree of cropping, while still giving me extremely hi-resolution cropped frame (see St Basil’s Cathedral uncropped and cropped image below).
    Getting More With Less in Travel Photography
    St Basil’s Cathedral – Uncropped

    Getting More With Less in Travel Photography
    St Basil’s Cathedral – Final Shot after cropping
  5. The picture style of Fine Detail helped me get the textural details of Church of the Theotokos Icon – Joy of All who Sorrow – at the MONIKI-Research Institute Hospital, in its full glory (see the image below and its 100% crop)
    Getting More With Less in Travel Photography
    Church of the Theotokos Icon – Joy of All who Sorrow – at the MONIKI-Research Institute Hospital

    Getting More With Less in Travel Photography
    Church of the Theotokos Icon – Joy of All who Sorrow – at the MONIKI-Research Institute Hospital – 100% crop
  6. Its fast fps (frames per second) helped me capture this heart-warming action on the streets of Moscow.

    Getting More With Less in Travel Photography
    Russian ISKCON devotees on Arbat Street

For me, what this body-and-lens combination offered was invaluable as it delivered quality results, accorded me the freedom to carry lesser gear and still capture crisp images.

It truly was the case of getting more with less in Travel Photography. So, should one procure this combination? My counter-question to that is – Do I really need to answer this?

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