As you may know, Jocelyn and I are going on a vacation to Europe in September. (The vacation became a honeymoon when we got engaged.) It is never too early to start preparing for a vacation, and lately I've been trying to decide what sort of camera I want to bring with me. I have a couple of somewhat conflicting goals here:
I want exceptionally sharp photos that can be enlarged to 11x14 and maybe bigger
A "fast" lens is important (big max. aperature), so I can take photos in low light, without a tripod or flash (built in flashes ruin many photos).
My gear must be as light as possible, since we'll be backpacking.
Multiple focal lengths (ability to zoom in/out) would be nice.
I will want to post my best photos on the web when I get back. It would be nice to be able to email some quick shots from abroad too.
I don't want to spend a lot of money, nor bring something too expensive to get damaged or stolen.
I currently own a Canon SD110, which is extremely small and light, has a 35-70mm zoom, and is digital. This solves my goals 3, 4, 5 and 6. The pictures are sharp, but not professional-enlargement sharp. Also, the lens is not that fast, and the CMOS sensor (digital film) isn't the best for low light.
I also own a Canon EOS Rebel 2000 with a couple of lenses. I have a canon 50mm f/1.8, and two cheap Sigma zooms (28-90 and 75-300 or so, max aperature around 4.5?). The 50mm "prime" lens is super sharp and weighs nothing, but it does not zoom. This 50mm lens also took some damage when I checked it on an Alaskan Airlines flight (they treated my luggage like Rodney King, which isn't funny). The cheap Sigma zoom lenses are actually pretty nice, but they could be sharper. Owning the 50mm prime lens really spoiled me for sharp pictures and low light shooting ability, but the zooms are nice because I have many focal lengths to choose from (wide angles are good for scenery and landscapes, telephotos are good for moving in on people, animals, small subjects. The Sigma also do decent macro (close focusing).
I've been into photography for a while, so I probably want manual control of exposure. I also want exceptional quality. Digital would save money and time (not having to get slides scanned), but I don't want to invest in a digital SLR yet. This means I should probably bring my Canon Rebel... if only I can decide which lens to bring.
Prime Lenses. Prime lenses are those that don't zoom. They are light, fast (low light), and most of all super sharp. I'll have to live with one, maybe two, of these if I'm going to travel light.
Single Prime: Canon EF 50mm/1.8 II. This is probably the most useful focal length, as it can do some (somewhat narrow) landscapes, and still pull off portraits. If I plan on doing tons of landscapes I guess I could go for the Canon EF 35mm/f2.0 instead.
Two Primes: I'd probably use the Canon 50mm/1.8 lens, adding either the Canon EF 24mm/f2.8 or the Canon EF 28mm/f2.8 lens. With my light Canon Rebel body, and these two light lenses, I'd still have a reasonably light outfit.
One Zoom. The Canon EF 28-105mm f3.5/4.5 is a little faster than the cheaper f4.0/5.6 version, and is well rated. It won't be as sharp or fast as the primes, but its light and it would be all I need.