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Shooting Landscapes With the RF 15-35mm and RF 24-240mm Lenses

2019-11-15

Travel and landscape photographer Edwin Martinez has recently returned from his photography trips – the Philippines, Indonesia and the USA. He tested the Canon EOS R with two lenses – RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM and RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM, and here are his findings.


EOS R, RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, f/2.8, 25mm, 1/40 sec, ISO1600

Tell us about your trips.

I had the chance to test out the new RF lenses from Canon on three of my travels. The first was photographing rural market places and waterfalls in the Philippines, and then the northwest national parks in the USA, and lastly the rugged beauty of Bromo and Bali in Indonesia. During the course of these travels, I had extensively tested the RF 15-35mm f/2.8 IS USM lens and had the chance to try out the RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM lens for some quick travel photography.


EOS R, RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM lens, f/4.0, 24mm, 1/20sec, ISO1600

What were some of the most memorable moments from these trips?

The most memorable moments of my travels were photographing in extreme and unpredictable weather, just like at the Yellowstone National park, where I photographed the forming of mammatus clouds – it was fleeting and I had to react and compose quickly the shot for that moment. Having the RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens with 5 stops Image Stabilization, I was able to photograph without a tripod – just a handheld Canon EOS R shooting these surreal photos at low shutter speeds while managing to keep the shots sharp.


EOS R, RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, f/16.0, 15mm, 1/40 secs, ISO400

Another memorable moment was photographing the Milky Way. It is best to photograph the Milky Way in September as it remains visible for the longest time during this season. I was lucky enough to test the RF 15-35mm lens by photographing the Milky Way at two locations, the Grand Tetons in the US and Bromo National Park.


EOS R, RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, f/2.8, 15mm, 25.0 secs, ISO4000

What were the challenges that you faced?

One of the major challenges on our trips was photographing the massif, or volcanic structures at Bromo National park. During the course of the tour, one of the hardest parts was photographing in dust storms, as the sea of sand (Lautan Pasir) produced dust storms with wind speed of 40-60 kmph, making the volcanoes difficult to photograph and risking the possibility of gear failure. The Canon EOS R and RF 15-35mm lens performed without any hiccups and the weather sealing in both the camera and lens were top notch.

Your photos have always been amazing. What do you look out for in your subjects?

In travel and landscape photography, I always look for these elements when photographing any subject: the presence of fine light, I usually photograph from the golden hour to civil twilight where light is more appealing; the presence of interesting geometrics in my frame, inclusion of dynamic lines or leading lines is a plus in any landscape photos as they make the perfect anchor point to leading the viewer’s eye; choosing a subject that tells a story, the inclusion of iconic elements such as notable mountains or volcanoes, people with interesting actions or features. All of these put together create a photograph with impact.


EOS R, RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, f/16, 15mm, 1/50 sec, ISO400

Night shoots can be tricky, how do you ensure that you still get a good shot of the night sky/scene with such low light?

The transition of light during day to night is often the most dramatic time to photograph, and there are two ways to ensure that you get sharp results during this time. Firstly, is the use of a tripod for static subjects like landscapes, or the Milky Way, and I would recommend turning off the IS since you are already using a tripod. 

Secondly, it is the use of a system with a good image stabilisation. I was able to photograph the Hindu horsemen of Bromo in low light handheld using the RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens with an aperture of f/2.8 and Image Stabilisation. Another scene was inside a public market in the Philippines where I tested the RF 24-240mm and was impressed by how I was able to capture sharp images even in low light thanks to its Dynamic IS (which is enhanced with Combination IS optical stabilisation).


EOS R, RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, f/2.8, 25mm, 1/125sec, ISO800

What can you tell us about the RF 15-35mm and RF 24-240mm lenses?

With the development of new RF lenses, Canon has fortified its place in the mirrorless game. As any loyal Canon user would attest, Canon's true strengths lie in the glasses. The new Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens is one of the gems in the trinity line up of the mirrorless system. 

Here are some of my impressions during the three-week test:

  • Sharpness from corner to corner, having an edge over the EF 16-35mm Mark III lens
  • Less distortion and CA, this hands down beats the EF equivalent despite the 1mm advantage
  • Image stabilisation has allowed me to photograph some compositions handheld despite the lower shutter speeds
  • Colours and contrast seem to be the same as its EF counterpart
  • Better performance against flare and glare when shooting towards the sun


EOS R, RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, f/11, 25mm, 1/80sec, ISO100

The RF 24-240mm despite not being an L lens, has the feel of a great all-in-one travel lens, with the focal length as its true strength on a lightweight system.

Here are some of my first impressions on the lens:

  • Lightweight and similar size to the RF 24-105mm lens/li>
  • Produces sharp results from 24mm to 150mm, but may not be as sharp at 240mm
  • Noticeable colour fringing or CA at 24mm to 40mm and at 150mm onwards
  • Dynamic IS is really good even at 1/30 shutter speeds at 200mm
  • This is a perfect combo for the EOS RP and EOS R. If you are looking for a REALLY light set up, this lens is best with the EOS RP


EOS R, RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM lens, f/6.3, 24mm, 1/20sec, ISO2500

Interesting you mentioned the EOS RP. What are some of the camera features you find interesting?

The Canon EOS RP is the best travel camera with its weight partnered with the right lens (e.g. RF 24-240mm or 24-105mm), which would also be discreet for street and travel photography. One of the features I love is focus bracketing. I usually do a lot of focus bracketing and this feature makes the process easier and less complicated. I would usually want to optimise sharpness in my photos (specifically the foreground elements with good features), and these are the moments I use focus stacking techniques for. Before the EOS R/RP, I would do this manually and take seven to 10 shots of various focal planes/points just to complete the process. There are some compositions that require more than 10 focus shots (and sometimes you may miss some parts and would end up with an incomplete focus-stacked photo). Having the EOS RP focus bracketing eliminates these mistakes.

The EVF and Live View of the EOS RP are also my favourites. When I was photographing the Northern lights in Lofoten earlier this year, I could see the light from the EVF and it was easier for me to compose in the dark.

Black & white versus colour, which do you prefer, and why?

It really depends, there are scenes that colour is the major element, such as sunrises or sunsets with colourful skies. When you want to project mood and minimalism, then black and white can also work. There is no solid formula when a photo would look good in colour or monochrome, it would always be the creative intent of the photographer and the final output.


EOS R, RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, f/11, 15mm, 0.6sec, ISO100

What are some of the must-haves for a photography trip?

When preparing for a trip or travel, I always suggest ABC:

  1. Attire – always make sure you are prepared for the weather. You can check a week ahead on the temperatures and weather forecast. This will prepare you in the field and make your photography time worthwhile instead of being miserable.
  2. Bucket list – prepare a shot list of what you want to photograph and plan it together with your itinerary. Most travellers rely on luck or happenstance and would fail to get those epic shots because of poor planning. Having a shot list will help you get focused and make your trip more meaningful.
  3. Camera System – travelling often, I have learned to love a lighter system. The Canon EOS R and RP with RF lenses have made my life easier and travelling a better experience. My current setup is the Canon EOS R,RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM and RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM lenses. These gear cover all the focal lengths I need, which allows me to do more in the field.


EOS R, RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, f/16.0, 15mm, 1/4sec, ISO50

To see more of Edwin’s works, check out the following articles:

Discover How Photographer Edwin Martinez Shoots Atlantic Puffins with EOS R

Can the EOS R Survive the Harsh Winter in Canada?

A Photography Adventure in Iceland with Edwin Martinez

Hands-On Review: Why the EOS R is a Good Addition to My Travel Photography Kit

Harsh But Beautiful Landscapes: EOS M50 Hands-On Review in Patagonia

 


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Edwin Martinez

Edwin Martinez
Edwin Martinez is widely respected as one of the finest landscape photographers the Philippines has ever produced. His vast experience shooting different locales in his home country and abroad - in Iceland, Canada, The American West, among others - have cemented for Edwin an undisputed distinction of expertise in the field of photography. He is a Canon Philippines Brand Ambassador, a pro gallery photographer for Singh-Ray Filters of America, a National Geographic adventurer contributor and constant presence in both local and international photography publications. Furthermore, he is also major partner in Iceland’s number one photography tour and workshop, http://www.iceland-photo-tours.com. Edwin also co-facilitates the Philippine's premiere landscape photography course, Chasing Light Workshop. He likewise leads photography tours to the most challenging and stunning locations around the world. Edwin is a sought after speaker and instructor and also shoots for several high profile companies. He is an inspiration for this generation's band of photographers and many wait for photos from his next adventures.

https://www.facebook.com/EdwinMartinezPhotography
https://500px.com/EdwinMartinez
http://edwinmartinezphoto.com/