Travel Lenses with the D700


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Feb 8, 2012
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If you only had to carry one (maybe 2) lenses with you on a trip, which lenses would you bring? I travel 2-3 times a year, usually overseas. A large percentage of my best pics over the course of the year come from these trips. I am typically out all day, walking, hiking, touring, etc. I am already carrying a pack with all my stuff for the day so minimizing camera gear is important. I recognize that I may have to compromise on the quality of the glass in order to get the other characteristics I need like portability etc. I would prefer responses from people who are also travellers and can related to what I'm looking for (e.g. the best lens for me is not the 70-200 f2.8 VR). Safe travels.
I minimized the stuff for me, and loaded up on the camera gear.

I traveled with 2 gripped D300's, a 12-24 mm f/4, 50 mm f/1.8, 24-85 mm f/2.8-4 and a 80-200 mm f/2.8.

I also carried 2 speedlights with radio triggers, a 4 leg-segment tripod with a 3-way pan/tilt head on it, and a monopod, and the usual support stuff.'re either stronger than I...and/or younger than I...and/or a better photographer than I...and quite possibly even better looking than I...or all of the above. All the best in carrying your camera gear on holiday. By the way, do you have a mate that suggests that you hurry up....................
I feel like we need to know what you shoot, what you have currently, and if you're thinking of buying something. (and if you're thinking of buying something... what's your budget)

I mean, if I had to pick ONE lens, I'd go with my 24-70 2.8. However, I do NOT shoot landscapes much. Usually for me it's the 24-70 and maaaaaaaaaaaybe the 70-200 2.8 VR2.
out hiking and stuff I'd take a nice wide angle/standard faster zoom, and perhaps a decent tele. ....out of my personal lenses it'd be the 24-70 and 70-200...but you mentioned the 70-200 was too much to carry around...

since you're all about portability and don't mind sacrificing a little in other areas, without knowing what exactly you're shooting I'd suggest 2 general options...

the better portable option IMO would be like the 70-300 VR lens, and a good wide faster prime, like the 24 2.8 or something. which shouldn't be too bad to manage..

or, if that's still a bit much, you may want to look at an all-in-one lens like the 28-300. that would maximize portability, but you'll sacrifice some speed and general quality.

but, if you have something specific that you shoot alot, then you could tailor what lenses you need to that. (i.e. more wide shots vs tele, speed, etc)...

I do travel, but its usually to cover specific events, so I know exactly what I need which most of the time is the 24-70 for what I shoot, and the 70-200 for the rest. and I've carried them both around for 12-15 hour shoots before, but I usually can plan on if I'll need the 70-200 or not, if I don't need it, that definitely lightens things up alot. I want to pick up a 16-35 or 17-35 for more leisure stuff like landscapes, etc. though.
Thanks for asking. I currently shoot a D200 with an Nikon 18-200mm. (I'm way overdue for an upgrade but wanted to feel like I have worked for it) I am proficient in CS5 for post processing sharpening etc. I routinely enlarge to 16x20 for local exhibits and the shots look good to my eye - (and to people viewing) but I know they can be better. I don't tend to need to do a lot of cropping (probably because I currently have a lot of focal length flexibility). I am not a landscape guy. Most of my work is either portraits, live street scenes, contemplative subjects, mid-range, shots. Based on a recent look at my focal length patterns thanks to Lightroom, about 85% of my shots are at focal lengths less than 120mm (in FX terms).

So I'm either going to purchase a D700 or D800 (probably the D700) and upgrade to FX lenses. But as I said, much of my best work is done while traveling (with my wife) where tripods, heavy equipment, changing a lot of lenses is not very practicle, convenient, safe, fast, or good for my marriage.

Does this help?
I wouldn't think of leaving home without my 24-70 and 70-200 but this year I'm taking my 17-35 along as well as at least one SB-800 but I'm probably going to just take my whole kit minus any non-essentials all packed in a Pelican 1510 ;)
I travel like you do (only not as often any more) and carried a D700, 24-70 and 50. I originally schlepped at 70-300 but used it so little that it wasn't worth it.

I've seen people backpacking around Asia with lots of camera stuff and it clearly was past the point of dimishing returns for anyone but a pro travelling for business.
Thanks for the advice from all....I've of course heard a lot about the 24-70 lens...and I recently read a review by Mansurovs of the 24-120 f4...he indicated that it was quite close in sharpness to the 24-70 with more reach and VR. Has anyone had experience with it?
I almost forgot...I just put up a website for family and might give you a better idea of the type of photography that I do.

Ray Schneider Photography
Probably the 24-120 f/4 and the 50mm or 35mm f/1.4
That pairing would certainly meet the criteria of compact and light weight for travel. For home (and situations where I have more latitude with respect to weight, changing lenses etc.) I could invest in a couple more 1.4/1.8 primes and the big gun (70-200).
Everyone suggests new lens. I'm going to suggest old ones.

I am in the same situation as you are and one thing about most new lens, especially the AF-S zooms, is they are always too bulky and heavy.

What I have in my bag:

AF-D F.14 50mm ( what I use most frequently, light and compact.)
AF-D F2.8 20mm ( second most frequently used, especially on landscape, very light and compact. Performs very well.)
AF-D 70-300mm (smaller than the AF-S, but I'd highly recommend getting the AF-S instead. Don't use very frequently, if at all).

I also have a AF F3.5-5.6 35-70mm. This is an old entry level lens, plastic, very light, not very fast but highly portable.
I recently replaced it with the AF-D F2.8 35-70mm. Much bigger and heavier than the plastic one, but smaller and lighter than the new AF-S 24-70mm, and much cheaper too! (I got it used).

So I think I will probably remove my 50mm from the bag and just add the new 35-70. It's not going to be a lighter bag, but I will spend less time swapping lens on the go.

When shooting at night, like a festival or night market, the F1.4 50mm is definitely the lens to go with.
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Good ideas! Thanks. If I was going to bring one zoom and one prime, and for the primes had the option of choosing between a 50mm 1.4, 35mm 1.4 or a 24mm 1.4 for most flexibility and highest creative options and quality in travel situations, which one would you choose?

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