Travel lenses low light and landscapes


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Oct 16, 2015
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Hello, I just purchased a Nikon D5300 and I am new to interchangeable lens cameras. I will be working on skills over the next few months, but would like to concentrate on learning low light and landscape photography for a trip to Israel in January. What would be a versatile lens or combination of two that would work best for these two areas? I have the18-55mm kit lens, but was thinking about going with a 50mm and a zoom lens. Is there a good multipurpose sense to make things easier?
The 50 1.8 would be fine, it's fast enough.
And anyoth the decent zooms would work, the 70-300 being a gem at its price.

But more than anything, if you are new, you need to develop skills in using the camera.
No number of tenses or 'tips' will conquer unfamiliarity.

Skill wills conquer any light or terrain issue.
Thanks so much! I am working hard at getting to know the camera. I am working my way through Tony Northrup's "Stunning Digital Photography" and more importantly, experimenting a lot.

Question: Why the 50mm 1.8 over the 35mm 1.8? Just curious as it seems the general consensus is that you go with 35mm for DX and 5omm for FX. What would you say the difference is?
Question: Why the 50mm 1.8 over the 35mm 1.8? Just curious as it seems the general consensus is that you go with 35mm for DX and 5omm for FX. What would you say the difference is?

The 35 on a crop factor body has approximately the same viewing coverage as the 50 on a full frame.
As an owner of the 35mm 1.8 and 50mm 1.8 with a D7000, I take the 35mm when I'm traveling. Similar to a 50mm on a FF, it's just a little wider.

I find whenever I take just my 50mm somewhere, I tend to regret it. Though they both take great images, the wider view from the 35mm tends to work a lot better for me. I can still get up a bit closer and get a nice shot with the 35, but when I want to step back and get a wider shot, I can do so much easier.

Now if you're carrying the 18-55 with you, you may prefer to take the 50mm since I think it can be a bit more "artistic" to shoot a little longer with it. What I did when choosing a lens was set my 18-55mm zoom to 35, walk around and snap shots, then set it to 50 and took a look at the same subjects. That might allow you to get a better idea of how either one will work.

Personally if I'm taking only one lens, I take my 35mm first. In some situations I'll reach for the 18-200 as an only lens if I know I'll need to shoot real wide.
First, the lens that is on my camera the most is a 50mm f1.4.

That said...I'd look at the Nikon 35mm f1.8 DX lens. It's cheap, it's small, it's really light weight. It will be good in low light. it will be good for landscapes, group shots, and architecture (other than the traditional distortion you get with wide-angle lens). The only negative is that I found I got some chromatic aberration in bright light when shooting at extremes (like f1.8).

For travel photography, I'd definitely get a zoom that goes out to at least 100mm. It's handy for wildlife/creatures, street photography, or capturing details when you just can't get closer (b/c there is a road or canal in between you and the subject). But be clear: most zooms aren't the first lens of choice for landscape (you want a wide angle) and you need to get a professional lens for anything that will be good in low light. For instance, a new 70-200mm f2.8 zoom will probably cost you $900-$2,000 depending upon which one you get.

The kit lens is nice's going to be mediocre in low light. And the 35mm prime will be much sharper.

If I were the purchasing director for you trip, I'd budget for the following:
--35mm f1.8 DX
--a cheap 200mm zoom that is small and lightweight (don't worry about the speed) b/c there will be some shots that a 35mm lens won't work for and you'll mostly be using this lens in daylight, not for lowlight, not for interiors, not for landscape. So speed doesn't matter that much. Instead, portability would be your biggie.
--a tripod that you can carry easily and fit in carry-on baggage. And if you say you don't want to carry a tripod, then get a gorillapod. There will be sunsets/sunrises, low light still shots inside a building where you can't use flash and something to stabilize your camera will be vital.
--a circular polarizer to fit on the 35mm (b/c it will reduce glare and make clouds pop and give you blue skies).

I think you can do all 4 of those items for a total of $400-$600 (depending upon if you get a toprate travel tripod or a gorillapod and what type of zoom you get).
If it fits your budget, think about getting a Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art lens. Together with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G and/or a Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G, you'd get a solid kit of fast and sharp lenses, Good luck.
+ 1 on the small tripod or gorilla pod or camera clamp idea; something to hold the camera STEADY for low-light and timed exposure images is a must-have. On the other hand, for marginal light, the VR or IS lenses are really helpful for shooting stopped down to f/11 or f/16 for deep depth of field in places where a tripod cannot be used. I have a small, 1980's made mini-C clamp that I thread a small high-quality Cullman brand ball head onto. The ball head is also 1980's era, and is pretty compact. This clamp + ballhead rig over the years has allowed me to clamp the camera firmly and securely onto rails, tables, chair backs, car windows, whatever.
I took my 18-70mm, 70-300mm and 35mm to Israel a couple years ago. Didn't have much time to use a tripod anywhere although I did see another photographer running out along the Tel Aviv boardwalk with his tripod to get a sunset shot (I was out on the sand with my camera sitting on my bag that was on my hat to take the same sunset shot). I had already been out for an hour with the camera with just the 35mm and would not have wanted to be carrying around a tripod, although the gorillapod is fairly portable.

That 18-35 Sigma f/1.8 would be a nice lens, there were more than a few locations in the cities where we went from narrow street shots where you want 18mm on the crop body and then into dark buildings where you need the large aperture. If I just had the 35mm on the camera and needed a wider angle I just made a number of shots and stitched them together later in the computer.

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