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I have both lenses, do a lot of back-country shooting while backpacking, used to ski-tour and winter camp... but not recently.
I've thought of the same question a few times when I've considered an ostensibly "smaller" prime based kit for the back-country, they I've always come back to zooms for this kind of shooting. Especially where these two lenses are involved, I think that the advantages of the prime just aren't going to amount to that much, and the disadvantages will be more significant.
The zoom is certainly longer and (I believe) heavier. But neither is exactly a small lens. Despite the fact that every ounce counts if you are spending a week (especially in winter!) in the backcountry, that doesn't mean lighter is always best - it means that the weight differences need to be weighed very carefully against the gain that you expect from the extra weight.
The larger aperture of the prime isn't likely to be of that much value to you. It could be in a few unusual situations where the IS of the zoom isn't as useful - I'm imagining some sort of action shot in low, cloudy or otherwise marginal light where IS might not be helpful. But, frankly, in most cases with the subjects you'll likely be shooting in those conditions, the IS feature will more than compensate for the aperture difference in terms of low-light capability. And while I can't rule out the possibility that you might like the small DOF of f/2 on occasion, these situations are likely to be quite rare and f/4 creates pretty decent OOF at longer focal lengths anyway.
In optical terms, the 135mm f/2 is a really fine piece of glass. But the 70-200 is also capable or really, really excellent results. In almost all cases I work very carefully from the tripod, and I've found that image sharpness is basically not a concern at all with this zoom, and whatever sharpness advantage there might be when shooting this way with the prime is essentially irrelevant in that it won't be visible in even really big prints. In fact, I think most people would be hard pressed to notice it even at 100% magnification on the screen in almost all situations.
The main issue photographically is that of versatility, and this is why I keep coming back to using a smaller set of zooms for most back-country shooting. I want to be able to cover a wide range of shooting situations and with zooms I can do this, often without having to changes lenses nearly as often.
I wonder what other outdoor photographers are using when out on skis?
I'm headed for ski week at a backcountry hut in Canada, with a group of twelve skiers.
I'm committed to carrying my 7D, or sometimes the 5D for landscape. I also intend to shoot action,
with other skiers in my group. I've been told the 70-200 2.8 is the go-to lens, but it's too big & heavy IMHO, so I've had both versions of the f4, with excellent results. It's long, but lays against the body and can be toured with. After a while, it's too big of a lens to...Show more →