D700 and best lens for travel

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by chris_duim, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. Hi, I'm new to this forum and would like help from pros. I just migrated to FX (D700) from DX but admit I am not a pro. I bought the 70-300 Nikkor with the body. I am not quite sure what other lens I need to add in as much as I will be traveling with my family to a holiday trip this coming winter (Niagara Falls, Orlando, NY New Years Eve countdown, etc.). I remember using mostly wide end of the D60 + Nikkor 18-200 mm Nikkor during our holiday trip last year to get the family and as much of the view as I can. Got the full frame to handle anticipated low light photos. Having trouble deciding on all Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 (people look weird inside the frame), 17-35 mm f/2.8 (does it distort as much as the ultrawide 14-24) versus the 24-70 mm f/2.8 as I need some wide shots but hopefully not distorted too much. Read that some do not advise a middle zoom (24-70) and instead get a 14-24/17-35 with a nifty fifty (50 mm f/1.4G). Or could I settle for the 24-70 mm (is the wide end respectable for the trip together with some reach into midrange). COuld you guys help me out? Many thanks.
  2. Chris - I just traveled the West Coast with the 24-70mm on the D700. I loved it & most of the time I was thrilled, but there were times I wished for wider. Past that - 24-70 comes with a steep price tag. But it is a fantastic lens.
    Lil :)
  3. Chris,
    On the D60 the field of view of your 18-200 mm lens is roughly equivalent to the FOV of a 27-300 mm on a DX camera.
    If I were you, I would first get the 28-70/2.8. A mid-range zoom is typically much more useful than a super wide as a walk-around, travel lens.
    If you really, really want to go very wide, get the 17-35/2.8. From what I now the 14-24 is a superb lens, but the zoom range is IMHO too wide and additionally you can't use filters.
  4. I use the 20-35 f/2.8 on my D700 daily. Granted I'm using it for newspaper work, but it works fantastic. Sharp, small and fairly inexpensive.
    The 35-70 f/2.8 is a good compliment too.
  5. I use both 14-24 and 24-70 with my D700 frequently, they are a perfect combo. It makes little sense to have both 14-24 and 17-35, you will not have any reach for farther subjects/portraits etc. You should pick either 14-24 or 17-35 depending on your preference for filters or not plus the 24-70. I tested the 24-70 @ 50mm versus the older 50 f/1.8D and it was sharper at all apertures, it doubles as a prime for me as well, so I am not using the 50 anymore. I did not like the new 50 f/1.4G as the focus speed is too slow for my liking and for such price IMO.
  6. As a wide zoom I find the 17-35 to have the best focal range. This and a 50AFS seems to me the perfect combo for almost everything.
    Are you not bothered about size and weight? I usually walk/travel with my camera and find the bulk of this pro zooms to be very annoying.
  7. The 24-70/2.8 is a to-die-for choice, and I believe it brings out the best in the D700.
    Nevertheless, I have noticed that, more often than not, I am extremely happy with my 50/1.4 which is always on, it seems. Versatile, universal, perfect. For landscapes, I usually take panoramic shots with this lens, too, which I later assemble.
    My best travel lens would be either the above-mentioned 24-70, or a 50 in combo with a good wide angle lens or zoom.
    And José, I too, travel a lot, and sometimes it annoys me to schlepp 7.5 kg of equipment, but it's worth every gram. ;-)
  8. Oops... I meant 24-70/2.8 in my post above. My apologies.
  9. No one mentions it, but the older 28-70 f/2.8 is just as good at the 24-70, but loads less cost-wise.
    I got mine for $1K nearly brand new. It's fast, sharp, contrast-y and build, in my opinion, better than the newer lens.
  10. Thanks guys. You have all been very helpful.
    I've resigned myself to the fact that weight is something I have to live with when I travel this winter, although I will certainly avoid bringing a wide zoom, mid-zoom and the tele together. I am now considering either a 17-35 mm plus 50 mm f/1.4G OR 24-70 mm f/2.8 (I've seen reviews where the 24-70 was even sharper than the prime 50 f/1.4G) as additional lens to the 70-300 mm I already have. That will hopefully keep the weight down to more manageable levels (although it still is top heavy I guess). With that said I plan on leaving one of the lenses in a safe in the hotel when we go out to visit places, with the lens I take along depending on what I foresee shooting photos of during the day, so that I manage the weight while going around and avoid attracting too much attention with the DSLR.
    I also read in some forum threads about the 28-85mm Nikkor although I have never seen one in the shops, nor do I have info about its performance characteristics. WOuld anyone have prior experience with this lens on an FX?
  11. Nic, your 28-70 mm f/2.8 certainly looks interesting. Could you advise me how it stacks up to the 24-70 mm in terms of sharpness? I must admit that this is the first time I have seen a recommendation for this lens.
  12. Chris, for trips I usually like to use a 24-85AFS. It is supposed to have lots of CA issues but for family shots and other non pro stuff works great. It is light, small and sharp (and cheap, something important on that situations where conditions are not safe). The extended zoom power is also convenient, and relatively fast at f4.5.
    Looks like the older f2.8-4 is a better performer, I never used it.
  13. 24/70 or 28/70 2.8 are most useful. Then a 18 3.5 or 20 2.8 for wider if you want. I like primes mostly, but for travel I would not want to be burdened with a lot of stuff. A 35/70 2.8 is decent lens at a small fraction of the price of the other two monsters. It is what I use for non lens changing work.
    All Nikon zooms and wide angles distort straight lines. Correct them with PTLens or Photoshop, or NX2. NX2 will fix the curves and CA automatically on the later Nikkon lenses and it does a better job than Photoshop.
  14. If your budget is limitless and you don't mind the size or weight, then the new 24-70 f2.8. As others have said a 28-70 f2.8 if 28 mm is wide enough for you.
  15. Chris - Why don't you just get a 35mm prime. Perfect for travel. My choice is an f1.4 manual. Light and great IQ.
  16. Nobody ever recommends super-zooms I guess because they're not "Pro" enough, but most folks I know aren't capable of taking better pictures than the Nikon 28-200** can render, nor do they blow them up to life size where they'll see all the minor "defects".
    Shooting in Daytime, in travel conditions where I don't ever want to change lenses, one of these stays parked on my camera until the sun goes down.
    (then it's on with the 24-70 f2.8 that pretty much everyone else recommended **grins**)
    **Although not made anymore. you can find the Nikon 28-200 G used on ebay for 200 bucks all day long, or pick up the Tamron, which is also very good.
  17. (Doublepost please delete)
  18. I have a D700 and use my 24-70mm, f/2.8 as my "walking around" lens. Granted it is a large heavy lens, but the quality of the images are simply great. Along with it, I also use the 14-24mm, f/2.8. It makes a perfect companion lens for interiors, narrow city streets, etc. The D700 and these two lens leave me with no excuses, any bad images are strickly my doing.
  19. I usually like to use a 24-85AFS [...] Looks like the older f2.8-4 is a better performer, I never used it.​
    I have exactly that lens, and find it quite nice. It's a bit soft around the ears (not the crisp sharp you get from 24-70 2.8), but very fine as an always-on travel companion. The only problem I encounter is the tendency to vignette on wide angle.
    This picture has been made with the 24-85 2.8 at f3.5, and I find it quite acceptable.
  20. For travel and non critical photos I use an older 28-105mm Nikkor on my D700. I picked up a Sigma 24-60mm f2.8 which works well but still big. Usually if I have time I still use manual focus primes. My biggest priority for travel is weight and size, not quality.
  21. I'm a fan of the semi-pro lenses for travel. The 24-120 has a nice range and is light. Couple that with a cheapy 17-35mm any brand or the nice Nikkor 18-35mm and you are set.
    I travel often, and lightness is key when you are walking around all day.
    I use a very wide lens much more when travelling than I do on jobs at home.
    I think for a zoom 28mm is not wide enough for a leave it on most of the time type lens. 24mm much more useful.
    The newer Nikon small flash that bounces (forget the name) is great. Sb-800, 900 too big for walking around with all day IMO.
  22. Although the 14-24/2.8 and 24-70/2.8 are great lenses, but the title subject is best lens for travel. If you have servants and a mule travelling with you then those lenses will be the best, otherwise look for something much lighter and smaller, some already recommended.
    I second the 28-200 G lens that is good for FX and film, but no longer available and discontinued.
  23. Travel? 17-35 (or 18-35 to save weight) with a 50 1.4 and your 70-300. You want good photos and not need a pack animal? Go light.
  24. Chris,
    IMO "for travel" is not specific enough. Only you know where do you want to travel and what are you going to take photos of. I mean - one can go to Pakistan to take photos of mountains from helicopter, one can go to make photos of Pakistanian wildlife. Both could tell 'for travel' but the answer for them would be quite different.
    Another thing is why are you traveling. There's a big difference between going somewhere to have fun and going somewhere only to take photos. If you are going on a photo trip only (remember, it depends on your subjects and preferences), you should have wide, tele and some fast prime for those low-light conditions, plus a flash, cleaning accessories and a handy bag, maybe some other stuff. In other words quality of pictures is the most important issue.
    On the other hand, if you're going on a vacation, want to have fun and take photos of places you visit, 18-200 is a way to go, plus a fast prime. But you don't want to have your hands tied by heavy equipment while having fun, trust me. You'll be worried about your camera and lenses all the time (did I just knocked my lens on that rock? what if somebody is now stealing my spare lens I left in my room? oh my, I just went from warm room and it's freezing here, there's fog on my lens, what do I do? all this = fun ruined). Spend time with your family and have fun, don't worry about gear.
    In the second scenario I'd go with a superzoom. On FX 18 is wide enough to cover crowds counting those seconds on December the 31st, anything over 100 would give you portrait reach, and 200 is quite long that can be useful. Sure, this lens won't be fast, but as long as you don't need 1.4 out of focus look, you can dial ISO 3200 on D700 and be a happy man.
    24-70 maybe a superb piece of glass, but on FX it's almost always not wide enough and 70 is never quite long too. I can't see myself using it as my walkaround lens, but hey, maybe it's just me.
    Also I must confess I don't quite understand moving to FX because of low-light photography.
    If you worry about lens quality download trial or buy full version of DxO. It will do magic to you photos. Vignetting, aberration, CA, all will go away with one click.
  25. My suggestion is probably not what you want or expect... Get D90 + 18-105mm kit. I did. The cost is now far below some of the pro or semi-pro lenses you might be thinking or suggested above.
    I know you just migrated from DX and understandably are excited about the camera and want to get the best of it. I know as I have gone through that path. I thougth about the choices for "travel" lenses for my D700 but couldn't decide. 24-70, 17-35, 70-300 are all great, but couldn't really imagine myself carry one or two of those with baggages, shopping bags or souvenirs or valuables (money, passport, etc.). So the conclusion I reached was to get "really light stuff" for travel. Don't get me wrong. I do walk around with or bring for short trip the D700 set with optimal lenses (24-70 and 70-300 are nice combo to bring to short trip), but for longer trip with family and bigger baggage, I go with D90 set. I would say D90 set is 97% satisfactory.
    Just my 2 cents.
  26. Chris, here is the lens I would recommend you might consider as a travel lens for your FX D 700. I own it and used it extensively on all of my film cameras with great success with slide film: Nikon AF 28-70 f 3.5-4.5. It has a small profile (takes 52mm filters) and does not weight that much. Its sharpest f stop was around f 8 as I recall.
    You might be able to pick up one used for under $100.
    Bjorn Rorslett rates it at: http://www.naturfotograf.com/index2.html
    Joe Smith
  27. I second the 28-105/3.5-4.5. Obviously if you're forking over for the D700, the pro level zooms are probably more appropriate, although the primes might be good choices as well. The 28-105 is a good travel lens for full frame, albeit discontinued. It's probably telling that it prices the same used today as it did when I bought it new like 8 years ago.
  28. You already can go up to 300 with the 70-300 Nikkor you said you bought but why not go for a One Lens Only for travelling / reportage / walkaround, and then I would go with the Tamron 28-300mm 1 : 3,5- 6.3 ( VC ). It offers the most compactness with the widest range, even up to 400mm if you use the D700's dx option, and 28 mm on the wide end should be enough unless you really and intentionally want to go for lots of wide-angle shots.
  29. There was a thread several weeks ago entitled "travel light," which I think is an interesting read that you should check it out before deciding what you need to bring. At one point of my life, before the digital age, I followed Bob Krist's suggestion to carry two zooms each mounted to a SLR. I usually had the 80-400mm VR lens mounted on the F100 and a 18-35mm mounted on a FM2N. While my friends who only carried a P&S could use the space and energy to carry a big bottle of water, a softdrink, a guide book, a binocular, etc, I was sweating hiking with all the weight. I could not remember how many times I actually used the 80-400mm, but I carried it b/c I worried that I might miss the shot of my life (which btw never happened). I later replaced the F100 with a N80 to reduce weight. To carry two SLRs made some sense in the film days b/c each of them could be loaded with a different film, usually one that was ISO100 while the other ISO 400, and the latter goes with the tele zoom.
    I have finally realized that it is OK to miss a few shots during travel b/c I am not a pro that needs to make every shot counts. Furthermore a pro level set up frequently draws way too much attention, making it difficult to be discreet and sometimes even attracting hostility. Of course one also has to worry about theft and accidents. As we are now being charged for the checked luggage, the size of the camera does make a big difference in the cost of traveling. I thus suggest the OP to carefully think about what is truly essential for you to carry and use the saved the room for carrying a book, food, drink, etc, and enjoy the scene without worrying too much about photography.
    I too like wide angle photography which I think is the best for PJ style of photography to document people and surroundings. For that I recommend the Nikon 18-35mm f3.5-4.5 lens. It is very sharp in the center and much much lighter than the pro wide angle zoom. 18mm is really wide enough considering its low cost and light weight. I would then carry a 50mm f1.4 or 35mm f2 for low ISO shot. Since D700 has spectacular low light performance, it seems a 50mm f1.8 would work just fine. You can then throw in a 85mm f1.8 for portrait. Finally a D700 is still much too big for my taste for any trip that requires flying ...
  30. I would agree that the 24-70 is a great lens on the D700. I use a Sigma 24-60 2.8 on mine and find the range to be very useful. Coming from a DX as well it was surpising to see how wide a 24mm really is, it's perfect on the FX body. I also own the 50mm 1.4D and it is one of my favorite lenses. The 50mm is extremely useful range on the FX sensor.
  31. The 28-70 f/2.8 is just as sharp as the newer lens. My copy is great. 4mm is minimal to me, especially if I have another wide lens that overlaps those 4mm.
  32. idl


    Hello Chris, this old goat has done it for more than 40 years. Go for the 17-35/2,8 as I have done on the D700 as well as 50mm/1,8 or 1,4 and the one you already have, the 70 - 300mm VR I take it. A little rucksack and it isn't that heavy anymore. Good luck and happy photography to you.
  33. I bought the 70-300 Nikkor with the body.​
    VR, or non-VR version?
  34. i'd take the 70-300 VR anywhere, but i'm not so sure about the 24-70/2.8 (which i have). i, too, would probably opt for the 28-70/3.5-4.5, just because it won't slow me down. that and either a 35/2 or a 50, MF or AF. you can fit those in a small bag, and be very versatile and mobile.
  35. Consider what you want to do with the photos. Do you need the utmost image quality?
    The 24-70 f/2.8 G is an excellent lens, but it's expensive, heavy, and conspicuously large. The 24-85 F/2.8-4 is about half the size and weight and considerably less expensive. I've test the two lenses side by side. The 24-70 is sharper, but not by a huge margin. If I recall correctly, the 24-85 f/2.8-4 has a macro setting, which could be a nice bonus.

    Is 24 mm wide enough? There are circumstances where you might want to go a little wider. No matter what lens you have in your bag, even the 14-24, at some point you'll reach its widest focal length and think, "Gee, if only I could go a little wider." When that happens consider stitching a panorama or recomposing.
  36. Dan South : If I recall correctly, the 24-85 f/2.8-4 has a macro setting, which could be a nice bonus.​
    Indeed, it has that. Nevertheless, this functionality does not even come close to a real macro. I've tested it, and it's OK if you have no other option. Nevertheless, it does not offer the magnification ratio of the real thing.
    (But it IS a very good lens. And you're right about the sharpness: it's what I've remarked earlier)
  37. Thank you guys for putting in your recommendations. I've seen some lens suggestions that I have not read of before, which is really nice because some stuff do come from people who have been shooting photos for decades now.
    Yes the 80-300 mm is VR and it works very well. From what I see of the plans for the vacation, this will probably stay in the suitcase (or even left behind given the weight of the camera and the other lens).
    I will probably give the Tamron 28-300 a try and see how it performs. I have a friend who has that. If it doesn't work out I might end up with the Nikon 17-35 mm f/2.8 and the 50 mm f/1.8 prime. I think this is more reasonable and gives me all the time I need to enjoy the sights with the wife and kids and snap some good (hopefully) photos of the vacation.
  38. If you already have that 70-300, I would recommend 24-70 for your second lens. Even it is heavy and little "clunky", it is one of the best lens ever made. Also it is expencive but still worth of every penny. It is my favourite lens and gives ecellent results.
  39. I have a D700 and the following lenses I have bought over the last two decades with Nikon:
    50/F1.4 My newest lens bought a few years ago for low light photos.
    I take all of them on trips. But it does not mean I carry all of them when I am out with the camera. If I have a good idea on what photos I will be taking on a given day I might take the 24 or the 50 on the camera and no other lenses. Or I might carry all of them. I just guess and go.
    At least once or twice I was in a hurry and put on the 24mm when I meant to put on the 50mm. That "mistake" just made me do things a bit different and in the end, it all worked out. :)
    If I am going light the camera bag is a holster bag that just protects the camera and one lens. The camera strap is what I carry. I have three camera bags I normally carry. Huge, medium, and tiny. Tiny being the holser bag by SunDog. The medium bag can carry all the lenses, flash and a camera. The huge one can carry all my camera gear, plus accessories, video camera and a lab top. That bag is huge and heavy. It only is used to get from point A to B. I take the other two bags to venture forth to take photos.
    My two cents is to buy the lens(es) that maximizes your ability to get the photos you want. You can't just buy one anyway. :) The D700 does take excellent low light photos. Its amazing what it can do. I would sit down and figure out what photos you expect to take and figure out which lens(es) would work best. Then buy those first. I have been lusting after the 300/F4 lens for years but I still don't have it because of the cost and my lack of time to really use the lens.

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