Does anyone really need a big mid-range zoom?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by landrum_kelly, Jun 20, 2013.

  1. From the man you (some of you) love to hate:
    Since we all carry a wide zoom and a tele zoom (usually each on its own dedicated camera), we drop a 50mm fixed lens in our bag for the times we need something in-between our other two big zooms, or need a fast aperture for low light. --KR
    Is he right on this, in your opinion? Is an f/2.8 mid-range zoom in your arsenal?

    When I shot only Canon EOS, 24- 70mm f/2.8L was often my "go to" lens. I haven't been able to afford the Nikkor equivalent for my D800E, at least not yet.

    Do you find a mid-range zoom useful on your NIkon FX cameras? If not, what's your preference?


    --Lannie
     
  2. It depends what you're shooting. KR primarily shoots his two kids, landscapes, colorful signs, trash cans and restrooms, and he's adapted his equipment and techniques to those subject areas. But he also thinks that everybody's needs are the same as his own, meaning that everybody needs a camera capable of producing extremely saturated colors when set to vivid mode and low res JPG, and nobody should be using a tripod or lens caps. If he were a wedding photographer I'm sure he'd have a different idea of what all photographers need.
    Personally I find that a mid-range zoom is often very useful, because it covers a lot of bases. If I didn't mind carrying a lot of stuff and had another D800 and time to switch lenses before every shot, sure, maybe I could get better results with a wide zoom, a 50, an 85, etc.
     
  3. For the occasions when you can't take the time to change lenses, the mid-range zoom is indispensable. It's very hard to do event photography without something like it. The Nikon 24-70 is optically superb. But it has terrible bokeh. Where I need to shoot wide open without compromising aesthetics, I leave the zoom in the bag in favor of the 28-50-85 f/1.8 trio.
     
  4. I think for FX it makes sense. Since f2.8 gives good OOF and narrow DOF on FX. Still for
    me 70mm is a little short for portraits.
    For DX I like to use a fast prime for portraits. So since my old Nikon 85mm f1.4 acts like
    a 130mm lens, I got a CV 58mm f1.4 that acts like an 87mm on DX.
    This new Sigma lens on DX acts like a 27-53mm lens. and the range from 55-8omm
    I really don't find a reason to cover because its neither normal or portrait and
    this transitional area is sort of a no mans land of view for me.
     
  5. Is an f/2.8 mid-range zoom in your arsenal?​
    Nope, don't have one (assuming the 80-200 does not count as mid-range).
    Do you find a mid-range zoom useful on your NIkon FX cameras?​
    Yes, I do, for the reasons Andy indicated. I also find it very useful on a DX camera actually :) But for me, primes do make up most of the work, and when I want a fast lens, I'll use those. So, for my uses, a f/2.8 zoom is unnecessarily heavy, expensive, large, limited zoomrange... I've got the 24-120 f/4 VR now, and I do like the compromise it is (though not without some reservations, which in various threads I brought forward). But I am glad to give up one stop for the extra bit of range, a lot less weight and bulk, all in all, it's the right lens in my arsenal. For those days I do not carry a bag of primes... birthday parties, long hikes...Wouldn't want to be without.
     
  6. All my cameras have a mid-range zoom of some sort on them.
    I was an early user of the 43-86. Not a GREAT lens, but very convenient for the kind of stuff I was shooting, and I liked it. My setup was 24/2.8, 43-86/3.5, 80-200/4.5. I'm rebuilding my 35mm setup with newer gear, but the lenses will be essentially the same. I will be using a mid zoom with more range than the old 43-86; 35-105 MF and 28-85 AF.
     
  7. I think lens needs tend to get slimmer if you only do personal work and have developed a personal style. I think at some point you just adapt to what you have as well. For instance, when I shoot a fixed lens camera or my zone plate on my dslr, I don't ever miss having options for anything wider or longer.
    Commercial work is different, you have what you need to do what you do or rent when you need something for a specific use. "Needing" any lens is often more about how one has been marketed to rather than what one really needs.
     
  8. It's among the most useful lenses of all. Looking at Roland Vink's Nikon lens serial number database, it seems the 24-70/2.8 is the best selling Nikon professional lens. My observations in the field support this, along with the 70-200 which in its various incarnations is very popular.
    KR generally writes mostly to provoke, and factuality is obviously not his goal. He writes stuff intentionally so that discussion is stirred by the outrageous claims. It's a business model. Ethical? I think not, but stating false claims is not illegal, either.
     
  9. Years shooting DX made me realize how important the 17-55/2.8 is for me in that format. I'm using FX for some pretty specific things, and so the 16-35 and 70-200 seem to be what do all the work there ... though there's a 50/1.4 in the bag for when I really have to split the difference.

    If I didn't have to spend a bunch more on video-related stuff just now, the 24-70/2.8 would be the next item in the bag. It may indeed BE one of the next most important video tools, actually.

    But to directly answer the question: yes, a fairly fast lens in that mid-zoom range has proven to be incredibly useful over the years. I'd have missed a lot without it.
     
  10. Everything around "standard" is what I use mostly... 50/1.4, 24-70/2.8 and 24-120/4.
    But I think KR is right for some tasks; if I were shooting whatever in a remote exotic place for a travel magazine, I`d certainly take a 17-35 and a 70-200, with a 50/1.4 in the bag. Adding a 24-70 makes maybe too much lenses, replacing the 17-35 makes indoor shooting more difficult.
     
  11. SCL

    SCL

    No professional work here - strictly amateur, although I do a fair amount of selling on various auction sites. If I'm not using a prime lens, I'll grab my Nikkor 28-80/3.3-5.6G. I used to use the older, much more substantial non-G version, but for my needs the G version does just fine and cost a lot less than the other one. So, yes, I think a mid range zoom is a pretty good choice for everyday work.
     
  12. I have one, 28-70 2.8, but most of the times I use my AFS 24-85 3.5-4.5, much lighter and nearly as good. In combination with Sigma 15-30 and 70-200.
     
  13. Not remotely. For a long time my 28-200 f/3.5-5.6G was my lens cap on the D700 - the lens I'd use when I didn't know what I was going to shoot - but being faster and heavier would have made it less useful. I was usually at the wide end or over 100mm with it. It's not really good enough for my D800, though I've yet to see how my 28-85 f/3.3-5.6G holds up. What's currently sitting on it is a 150mm macro, but I change lenses a bit more to get the best out of it.

    If I want depth of field control and subject isolation, I usually use a longer lens than 24-70. I mostly use my 85 f/1.4, 150 f/2.8 and 200 f/2 for that, with occasional appearances by the 90mm f/2.8 Tamron, 135 f/2 DC, 135 f/2.8 AI and 80-200 f/2.8 AF-D (bought when I want "some" subject separation choices with some zoom options). 24-70 doesn't give me enough separation.

    If I want to handle a more intimate perspective, there's the 14-24 for the extreme end (and a fish-eye), a 50mm f/1.8 or - again - the 85mm f/1.4. I'm pretty rarely at the middle "boring" perspective, but the lens was cheap enough to get anyway. I may be tempted by a 35mm f/1.4 at some point, or a 28 f/1.8, but f/2.8 just isn't that fast for me, and I don't use the mid-range enough for it to matter.

    On top of that, the 24-70 is big (compared with the small primes, not the 200 f/2), heavy and expensive. And it didn't look all that optically perfect in Nikon's D800 sample shots, either. It's in the category of lenses that aren't cheap enough to have modest abilities and forgivable quirks, and aren't expensive enough to be absolutely faultless - though that's a category more clearly occupied by the 135 DC and the 150-500. It's just too expensive for me to justify what it can do.

    Don't get me wrong, if you need a mid-range zoom for flexibility and you need as much light gathering capacity as you can get while still zooming, it has its place. It just doesn't suit what I shoot.(That should be a motto.)

    But I could be doing it wrong.

    As for Ken, I've lost track. I assume a Mamiya 7 is still the world's best camera, that the 6D is still better than the D800, and I think I recently noticed that the Sony A99 is getting some love (and that Minolta made a perfect lens a while back). It's true that a lot of pros cart two bodies around with different lenses, but I've usually had a bit more control over my positioning than I'd expect to if I were in a press scrum.
     
  14. I do concerts and followup events with two D300s bodies, one with a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC and SB600, the other with a Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 HSM OS, with and without an SB600. Most times I don't use the flash during the concert, unless I can get away with it. I also use the Sigma for portraits, gives me a lot of flexibility depending on the space I have.
     
  15. As in all things ... depends what you are doing, and WHERE. Do not take a VW to a NASCAR race as a competitor ;-) . I have some primes, and use them here and there ... but the quality of the Nikon 3 (14-24/24-70/70-200) are hard to beat for most needs (not all). Also I use Bigma (Sigma 50-500) when not convenient, or easy, or advisable to change out. Your post made me think of an incident ... and it WAS an incident, last year ... working with the Sierra Club on a small project to bring photo types into "our tent" ... took five out on the marshes ... one fellow was a 'I zoom with my feet' type, had a bag of primes and nothing else ... "I go for quality", he said. Oh Really? Spent three hours moving about on our small boat, making noise, un-necessary movement, and bitching about how we were not getting anything. Did not have a clue that his 'activities' were the main reason any and ALL wildlife within 1/2 mile had cleared out, and stayed cleared out. I had the Bigma, but was also on the tiller ... I, and we, got nothing but a first-class dose of SUN. Of the Nikon 3 ... I find the 24-70 generally gets used the most...but I started out waaay back when with the 43-86 ... so it's a 'natural'.
    Sorry about the long post, but every time I think back on that truly goofy 'mission', I start to laugh all over again ... thanks to the OP and the Q which served as a reminder, ;) ;) ;) What a HOOT.
     
  16. Ah, now come on, Lanny - you know it depends what you're shooting. My Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 (which is mid-range for me) gets tons of use for superbikes, touring cars, moto-x and the like.
     
  17. Is an f/2.8 mid-range zoom in your arsenal?​
    absolutely. in fact, i have three--the sigma 17-50/2.8 OS for DX, the nikon 24-70/2.8 AF-S for FX, and the tamron 28-75/2.8 -- for walkaround stuff when i dont want to carry the 24-70, or on DX along with 12-24. i'll occasionally use the 24-70 on DX as well for things where i can get away with it not being so wide.
    what makes the 24-70 so good is its combination of killer optical performance and fast AF speed. it allows me to just shoot without having to think about what i'm doing to much, which is great for those in-the-moment situations. if i didnt shoot events or do PJ work, i'm sure i could get by without it, either by shooting primes or a slower lens. But for all those FX shooters for whom the 24-70's price tag is unattainable, i highly recommend the 28-75 as a superior budget option. and, from what i've heard, the 28-105 is a great budget option as well if you dont need 2.8 and/or want a longer zoom range. As far as DX, i've been happy with the sigma 17-50, which i bought to replace a stolen tamron 17-50 (which was super sharp). The sigma has grown on me and earned my trust in almost 3 years of duty, although if i was buying today, i'd probably get the new 18-35/1.8, which looks fantastic.
    btw, i dont find the 24-70's bokeh to be "terrible," but it's certainly not as good as my 70-200 or 85/1.4, and about equal to the 28-75. Like Michael, i also have a 50-150 for DX, and that lens also has excellent bokeh.
     
  18. "Since we all carry a wide zoom and a tele zoom (usually each on its own dedicated camera), we drop a 50mm fixed lens in our bag for the times we need something in-between our other two big zooms, or need a fast aperture for low light."​
    I don't keep track of what other people tend to carry but, as an anecdotal matter, I sometimes do this when I don't want to lessen the bulk carried.
    "Is he right on this, in your opinion?"
    Too easy. For people who conform to such practices, yes. For those that don't, no.
     
  19. The individual in question is not only totally wrong much of the time, but he has a tendency to exaggerate and also to contradict himself pretty regularly.
    I think that 6 or 7 years ago his stuff was more useful than it is now, but even then you had to be careful what you believed from him.
     
  20. Is he right on this, in your opinion?​
    Wrong
    Since we all carry a wide zoom and a tele zoom​
    I do not use wide zoom. I carry 14mm prime, mid-range and tele-zoom for my event gigs.
     
  21. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I think that 6 or 7 years ago his stuff was more useful than it is now,​
    Peter, I would respectively disagree. However, you have matured and improved as a photographer by another 6, 7 years, so you know better now.
     
  22. In my work I have no use for a mid range zoom. I do carry a 50mm but it gets less use then my long zooms and telephoto primes. I don't have any wide zooms either I am very happy using primes on the wide end too.
     
  23. Shun,
    respectfully, I'm the same hack amateur photographer that I was back then... ;-)
     
  24. the perfect lens for shooting my art work...gets it right every time.
     
  25. I backpack for multiple days with my 24-70 2.8. However, that might have to change as I plan longer trips. When I need something lighter I'll go with my micro 4/3 set-up. Still if I can manage, I will take the nikon zoom.
     
  26. Is an f/2.8 mid-range zoom in your arsenal?
    Currently, there is: 17-55/2.8 on DX. But if that lens has taught me anything, then it is the following:
    if I ever "upgrade" to FX, then I will not get the 24-70/2.8 (especially given its cost) since it's range at the long end is even more limited and limiting than that of the 17-55 (which translates to 26-82 on FX). Since I need a longer lens on a second camera anyway, it hardly matters where the first one ends - so I may as well use the 16-35/4 VR that I already own (and that makes me wonder if I should hold on to the 17-55 at all).
    On DX, I felt that the 17-55 should at least be a 16-60/2.8 (or better 16-70); so for FX, I would demand at least 24-85/2.8 (I doubt a 24-105/2.8 is even possible).
     
  27. The whole mirrorless and EV growth market demonstrates that camera manufacturers can produce compact wide angel and zoom AF lenses. The stats show that this segment is slicing into the lower priced DSLR market share big time.
    I'm able to say the following from my position of being a Nikon shooter since 1970:
    Nikon's G lenses are a lazy design and could have been made much smaller if they really wanted to. For a tourist wandering around with something like an FX body with a 70-210 is just saying (rob me or, look at me, I'm pretending to be a real pro!).
    These bodies and lenses were not designed for the casual or amateur photographer. In a lot of countries, if you arrive at immigration they will look at your gear and say: "Oh, he's coming to do paid photographic work". Its happened to a friend of mine entering the USA.
    I know this is not making a positive contribution, but the fact is, you don't need a big load of DSLR kit to generate great images. And the proof is this: In the month of May, more images were sent into The Guardian newspaper from smart phones than the sum of ALL the other mediums put together. And to top it off, Nokia has released a smartphone that has a photo sensor with 41MP.
    I see a major adjustment in the market and it will force the price of prosumer FX DSLR's down considerably. Now my recommendation for the OP: Leave your big kit at home and take a good quality compact camera on your travels.
     
  28. I find I need less and less gear to shoot the shots I want. The only lenses I'm taking for my Nikon on this year's vacation are the Nikons 17-55mm f2.8 and 80-400mm VR. I have a very good Sigma 30mm f1.4 but rarely use it any more. As camera ISO has gone up, my need for f1.4 has gone down.
    Kent in SD
     
  29. As a long time 17-55 user I decided against the 24-70 when I bought my D700 and now that I'm using a D800 I still don't need that lens. I'm getting older, have a natural camera shake because I have muscular dystrophy and find myself using the awesome 24-85VR and smaller primes. When I need a 70-200 or longer I use a monopod or tripod to get steady photo's. For most of my work I carry a 20mm, 50mm, 180mm and the 24-85 and that covers everything except the occasional macro work.
     
  30. I often like to say that the midrange zoom is what 90% of people use for 90% of their photos. In many cases, the ability to immediately transition from moderate wide angle to normal or slight telephoto is very convenient. If you're shooting for pay, it's invaluable.
    For my own shooting though, I find that no matter what lens I put on the camera, I end up coming back with photos. There's a saying that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and you can readily see this in action today. Go to Flickr and go look at the tons of photos people are taking with their DX cameras and 50mm lens, a combination that is historically a little awkward (going out and about with only a 75mm equivalent lens). Or go look at the micro 4/3 forums, where people are buying and finding great use on walkabouts with their 75mm lens (which comes out to 150mm equivalent focal length).
     
  31. I have to agree with Ariel, above. The more different kinds of photo gear I've used of many different vintages and at least six formats, the more I've come to realize that I simply adapt to whatever is in my hand at the time. For most of this year I've been concentrating on box cameras. There's a c.1950 Zeiss Tengor sitting on my desk next to me that I've just completely gone through, and yesterday I bought a c.1912 Kodak Panoram No. 1 Model 4. I don't even know what focal length lenses those have, and it won't matter in the end.
    Kent in SD
     
  32. Almost always all the "does anyone / everyone need X" questions have the same answer: it depends on your needs and not EVERYONE does.
    I am now using an Olympus OM-D and primes in most circumstances because the fast zooms are very expensive; if I had the cash for a FF body and good zooms I'd probably have a 24 - 70 2.8 for the same reasons everyone else does.
     
  33. How much time do you have? I have a number of opinions.

    Opinion 1 - It's ridiculous to assume that everyone carries a wide-angle zoom. I don't. I had a 16-35 f/2.8 for my Canon bodies for a while,
    but I sold it because I didn't use it that often. I don't like the distortion that ultra wide lenses add to the image.
    24mm is as wide as I like to go in most cases. If I ever go the ultra wide route again, Canon's TS-E17 would be my choice, because the
    movements would let me manage some of the distortion. If I need to go wider than 24mm now, I stitch to reduce distortion and increase
    resolution.

    Opinion 2 - For most applications, and especially for events, sorts, portraiture and PJ work, ultra wide angles are more of a special effect.
    Carrying an expensive lens for special effects isn't practical in my opinion. 24-70/105/120 is a bread and butter lens that I find myself using continuously

    Opinion 3 - Some people think that the 24-70 is boring. They claim to need other focal lengths to create interesting images, an 85/1.4 for example, or a macro lens or an ultra wide. My counter argument is that when I was
    shooting 4x5, every lens that I owned, when converted to 35mm full frame equivalent, fell within the 24-70mm focal length range. I
    managed to take some interesting photos with those focal lengths. The range isn't boring in my opinion.

    Opinion 4 - I don't care for the 50mm focal length. It's a personal preference (non preference). Having 50mm as my only option in the
    normal range would drive me nuts. By contrast, I love my Canon EF 40mm STM. With its effective focal length of 43mm, it looks gorgeous when compared with the cramped frame of a 50.

    Opinion 5 - My current Nikon setup consists of one full frame body and two lenses - 24-70 and 70-200. This has been my primary setup for travel and landscape over the past year. Occasionally I crave something longer (80-400) or with movements (PC-E24 and/or 45). But I never crave anything wider.

    Opinion 6 - Canon's 24-105/4 is the most versatile zoom that I have ever used despite its notable distortion issues. I tried Nikon's 24-120/4, but unfortunately I wasn't impressed with its sharpness.
     
  34. I used to receive the National Geographic Magazine (before the digital era). Well, I`d say that a very high percenyage of pics were taken with wide angle or tele lenses. I learned how good an extreme wide angle (16mm) for people photography could be, I love it. BTW, it looks that they were Nikon supporters these days.
    Maybe they were looking for an "impact" effect... this all about photography, isn`t it? At least I was impressed for such good photographs.
     
  35. pge

    pge

    For me:
    Is an f/2.8 mid-range zoom in your arsenal?​
    Yes, the 35-70mm f2.8
    Do you find a mid-range zoom useful on your NIkon FX cameras?​
    No, I primarily use a the 50mm F1.8G when I need this range.
    KR is right when it comes to my shooting but that doesn't mean anything to the next guy.
     
  36. Nikon's G lenses are a lazy design and could have been made much smaller if they really wanted to.​
    ! I'm reasonably sure they're not big for amusement value. There's a lot of glass in there. I do believe that they're not deliberately made small (though they are designed to a budget, which has an effect), but I believe that if Nikon could get the aperture and optical quality from a smaller design, they'd probably do it. Canon's latest 24-70 is an unusual case, but it's possible that Canon are trying to shrink things - they've been deliberately lightening their telephotos. It seems likely that Nikon are doing their best - and, as I've said elsewhere, I wouldn't be surprised if Nikon respin the 24-70 in the next few years.
    For a tourist wandering around with something like an FX body with a 70-210 is just saying (rob me or, look at me, I'm pretending to be a real pro!).​
    (Pedantically, the 70-210 isn't that big because it's not f/2.8, but I'll guess you meant a 70-200.) It is, I admit, an odd tourist camera. Then again, I tend to take my 200 f/2 to weddings... I prefer to be subtle when being touristy, but any FX camera is going to be a problem there. That's what micro 4/3 is for, but it's also why I'm actually happy that my F5 was missing some paint by the time I got it.
    These bodies and lenses were not designed for the casual or amateur photographer. In a lot of countries, if you arrive at immigration they will look at your gear and say: "Oh, he's coming to do paid photographic work". Its happened to a friend of mine entering the USA.​
    Oh, I don't know. The F6 was designed for rich amateurs. The D600 certainly is. A D4, maybe less so, but a lot of - especially nature - tourists turn up with big telephotos. Immigration should know better - I've never had a problem with a big bag of stuff (unless they're only looking out for the 24-70).
    I know this is not making a positive contribution, but the fact is, you don't need a big load of DSLR kit to generate great images.​
    Oh, absolutely. I get a new lens when it allows me to take a photo that my existing kit won't, not to make me "better". Maybe I'd be better if I spent a long time mastering the 50mm, but I'm impatient and have no delusions of talent. Cartier-Bresson made great photos with a limited range of equipment (though I've heard it said that was because nobody can afford more than one Leica lens), I'm sure he'd have made great, but different, images with some additional equipment, but there's a lot to be said for knowing exactly what your kit can achieve. Still, there's plenty of photos that I take that I couldn't do if I only had a mid-range zoom, even at f/2.8. I even like some of them.
    And the proof is this: In the month of May, more images were sent into The Guardian newspaper from smart phones than the sum of ALL the other mediums put together.​
    Well, yes, the best camera is the one that's on you. And what most people have on them is their phone. Especially true for anything newsworthy. If you only care about photos viewed at web sizes, and if the content is more important than the creative image control, a camera phone is a very effective device.
    And to top it off, Nokia has released a smartphone that has a photo sensor with 41MP.​
    Not that it's selling all that well, as far as I know. Actually, I'd quite like a PureView 808, but only for a different style of photos. It's very much a medium-sized-sensor compact with a phone attached. It's no substitute for a larger-sensor device, at least with a decent lens on it.
    I see a major adjustment in the market and it will force the price of prosumer FX DSLR's down considerably.​
    There's a new market segment occupied by the 6D and D600. People we calling for cheaper (new) full frame cameras (ignoring the used prices on the DCS-14n, D700, 5D, 5d2, 1Ds, A900...) so there's a price-gouged market segment below the D800/5D3 level. As I predicted, people are now complaining that the body (especially 6D) doesn't always have the specs to justify the price imposed by the sensor, but it makes some people happy, so that's a win. I've not heard that many people complaining that these cameras are still overpriced - mostly I've heard of people wanting slightly better specifications, something between a D600 and D800 (other than the obvious). I would be a little surprised if Nikon's next FX camera is a $1000 model with a pentamirror, one control dial and no AF drive, but I'm not very good at predicting what Nikon will do, so you never know. Maybe we'll see these cameras get updates faster than the higher-end FX camera range, too. For now, the D600 is a very good camera at appreciably less than the cost of a new D700; I'm taking this as a good thing rather than expecting another big jump.
    Now my recommendation for the OP: Leave your big kit at home and take a good quality compact camera on your travels.​
    I've no objection to the advice that a quality compact can take a lot of good shots, and be more likely to be with you when you need it. If the travels are specifically to take photos, I'll keep my DSLR, thanks - there's still a lot, when it comes to low light, depth of field control, extreme angles, sharpness and focus speed that I can do with my DSLR that no compact on the market can match - even the ones with big sensors.
     
  37. The whole mirrorless and EV growth market demonstrates that camera manufacturers can produce compact wide angel and zoom AF lenses. The stats show that this segment is slicing into the lower priced DSLR market share big time.
    I disagree. Currently mirrorless cameras are declining their share and DSLR is increasing its share of the interchangeable lens camera market. And while for mirroless cameras the manufacturers are able to make compact wide angles, most of these cameras don't have a real-time viewfinder (Fuji an Leica are exceptions) and those that do, it won't work well with long lenses. Still there is no technology for AF tracking moving targets that works as well as tracking with a DSLR and fast tele. So the mirrorless cameras are specialized cameras great for certain applications but not all.
    Nikon's G lenses are a lazy design and could have been made much smaller if they really wanted to.
    If they drop the mirror out of the camera, and change the lens mount, then yes, in some cases the lenses could be made smaller, but it's not about designers being lazy. The increasing size of the lenses for DSLRs that has taken in the past 10 years or so is due to 1) the requirement for vastly improved image quality due to cameras reaching 24 and 36MP, 2) the fact that digital sensors require light to arrive to the sensor nearly perpendicularly, 3) features such as fast autofocus and vibration reduction make lenses more complex and a bit larger as well.
    For a tourist wandering around with something like an FX body with a 70-210 is just saying (rob me or, look at me, I'm pretending to be a real pro!).
    Well, if the tourist wants to get certain kinds of pictures, a telezoom with FX camera might just be it. Nikon just made a new 70-200/4 which is more compact and similar in compactness and size to telezooms of old, just much better image quality and feature set.
    These bodies and lenses were not designed for the casual or amateur photographer. In a lot of countries, if you arrive at immigration they will look at your gear and say: "Oh, he's coming to do paid photographic work". Its happened to a friend of mine entering the USA.

    Though I usually use primes when I travel in cities, my ambition on the results is rarely greater than when I'm traveling abroad. Thus of course I would use the best gear I can take with me. It is very rare to get a comment on my gear especially when I'm abroad. As for what the gear is designed to do, it is designed to be effective in producing high quality images with flexibility. Why would an amateur not want that? Another thing completely is the situation when you're traveling with family and small children; then I would agree that heavy camera gear is probably going to cause more problems than it solves.
    I know this is not making a positive contribution, but the fact is, you don't need a big load of DSLR kit to generate great images.
    To some extent you're correct, though that depends a lot on what kind of circumstances you're shooting in, and what your subject matter is. I bet the Guardian doesn't make the majority of its sports or wildlife images with the lens that comes integrated in the iPhone. Neither would the best images of a candlelit wedding in India or concert at night be best photographed using a camera phone. Try it, you'll see.
    Nokia has released a smartphone that has a photo sensor with 41MP.
    Sure, but (the lens on) that camera makes the phone too thick so they haven't included it in newer models. That's the end of that story basically. No camera phone so far has included the most basic camera feature that many people want, which is an optical zoom (let alone interchangeable lenses). This means the applications are limited to certain types of subjects.
    Large number of submitted images doesn't mean most of the images are good. They're submitted because almost everyone carries a phone with them and it is so easy to send the image. A lot of readers are appalled at the quality of these reader's images in newspapers and web sites. It's a part of the death spiral of the printed daily media. Almost no one is willing to pay for online content, and beacuse of the free online content, fewer people read daily newspapers in print. Magazines with more thought out content are a different matter entirely.
    I see a major adjustment in the market and it will force the price of prosumer FX DSLR's down considerably.
    You wrote an elaborate post with many points to support the claim that an FX DSLR isn't needed. That would increase the prices of such cameras, not decrease them, since the number of units would be decreasing since it's unnecessary according to you. In reality mirrorless is flopping a bit, as people realize the limitations of these little cameras, and DSLRs continue to soar. Yes, the price of entry level FX cameras will gradually decline, in inflation corrected currency, as the production cost of the sensor decreases, but this is a process that takes many years, decades even.
    Now my recommendation for the OP: Leave your big kit at home and take a good quality compact camera on your travels.
    My recommendation to the OP is if you care about your pictures, you use the best equipment available to you to make the images.
     
  38. I usually walk urban areas now. Small and light is what does it for me. Absolutely love the little 28-70 3-5 4-5. Well made for a plastic lens, Ok medium speed and not a lot bigger than a prime. Wide enough for senics and 70 4.5 does ok portraits. A cheap sleeper when it comes to optics as well. Does most anything "I" need outside. Also carry a 50 1.8. Use it for low light and DOF situations.
     
  39. No camera phone so far has included the most basic camera feature that many people want, which is an optical zoom​
    Thank you for the vaguely justified reason to do some advertising for my employer: The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom has just been announced. I've not seen one, but I would expect it to have the same "a bit thick for a phone" problem as an 808. (As far as I know you could run Skype or something on a Galaxy NX, but it's not a "phone" by default. And it's a little chubby. But I've not seen one of those either.)

    I think I remember someone (Sony?) doing a clamshell phone some years back with a zoom lens in it, oriented along the hinge. Of course, part of the reason for the resolution in the 808 is supposed to be as a substitute for an optical zoom.
     
  40. Re. wandering around as a tourist with a camera, I'd neglected to repeat how fond I was of the 28-200 f/3.5-5.6G. It's small, light and plastic, and mine is silver, which a) made it sun proof, and b) made the whole camera look cheap (in the "don't steal me" sense); this is the lens that had a shop owner thinking that I'd gone cheap lens/expensive camera, and made him try to push a mk1 24-120 on me (along with a 20 f/1.8). Fortunately, I go off reviews rather than price tags, though I possibly ought to get a "my other lens is a 200 f/2" sticker for it. Stopped down a bit, it was perfectly capable of doing my D700 justice, and I tended to leave it on the camera as a body cap for whenever "good enough" would do. And the extra 135mm on the long end is pretty useful if you've just spotted something interesting while wandering about. Shame it doesn't really hold up to the D800. Even if the 28-300 was miraculous, the extra size and weight stops it performing the same function. Maybe I should stick to my D700 when being a tourist... (I'd get more raw files on my memory cards that way, too.)
     
  41. I travel with my 70-200 f/2.8, and I use the 24-70 with the hood attached. Why wouldn't I want to enjoy the flexibility and optical quality that these lenses offer? If a thief grabs one, he'll be too weighed down to run away. I'll be able to track his lumbering body as I casually call for police backup. What's a pickpocket going to do with a f/2.8 lens? Slip it into his own pocket? Not likely.
    The white(!) Canon 70-200 f/4 gets more attention. I never did understand Canon's telephoto lens color scheme. It's impossible to be discreet with a white lens. People don't pay much attention to Nikon's "Black Beauties" (f/2.8 lenses), even though they tend to be hulking masses of metal and glass.
     
  42. I think the quote of Ken Rockwell is taken out of context. He's talking about pros. That's why he mentions shooting with two cameras.


    There are obviously different areas of photography but if we would for instance say photojournalists I believe Ken is correct. Two pro bodies with a f/2.8 wide zoom on one and a f/2.8 tele zoom on the other IS the basic kit. With that setup you are ready to shoot a lot of assignments. For some things like sports you'd have to complement the kit with specialized lenses like the 400mm f/2.8.


    And with two cameras slung over your shoulder you don't need a midrange zoom because the wide is probably 35mm at the long end and the tele starts at 70mm. By just moving around or composing differently you can overcome the need for the 50mm focal length.


    A classic photojournalist combo before the advent of zooms was a 35mm on one camera and an 85mm on the other.


    Most hobbyists don't shoot two bodies at the same time so a midrange zoom makes more sense for that kind of use.
     
  43. I've shot events with three bodies (though more typically two) around my neck. One of them, usually my best body, has a midrange zoom attached at all times. The lion's share of my photos come from a midrange zoom and a short tele. Ultra wide only occasionally.
    Sports are more telephoto-intensive due to the distances involved. That said, Dave Black uses his 24-70 quite a bit, and he's a big sports guy - Olympics, Super Bowl, horse racing, gymnastics, etc. When he gets close to his subjects, the 24-70 sees a lot of action.
     
  44. If a thief grabs one, he'll be too weighed down to run away. I'll be able to track his lumbering body as I casually call for police backup. What's a pickpocket going to do with a f/2.8 lens? Slip it into his own pocket? Not likely.​
    Indeed. I feel assured by the same philosophy if someone tries to make off with my camera bag. "Yes officer, I saw him, it was the one with a hernia."
    The white(!) Canon 70-200 f/4 gets more attention. I never did understand Canon's telephoto lens color scheme. It's impossible to be discreet with a white lens. People don't pay much attention to Nikon's "Black Beauties" (f/2.8 lenses), even though they tend to be hulking masses of metal and glass.​
    People associate Canon's white glass with the L series. Some of the early lenses (allegedly) had to be white because the fluorite cracked if it got too hot - I've had some black lenses get toasty in the sun, and can believe it. Since Nikon don't use fluorite, they can make black lenses (though exactly why that means they have some silver and grey ones I don't know). With more recent updates, I suspect Canon could go black if they wanted to, but it's now a branding thing - and Nikon may not want to go white because people associate big blag telephotos with Nikkors. Which is ironic, because white doesn't mean L - red (or occasionally green) means L. People know that "L" means "the best" (...lens that Canon makes with that exact specification) and aspire to it; this probably outweighs the risk of theft. Gold ring (which may or may not mean ED) aside, Nikon don't have the same distinction in their product line - they used to, but releasing the "E" series of not-Nikkors had a counterproductive effect on their desirability. Tip for the future: release the cheap lenses first!

    Anyway, there's a convenient after-market in covering white lenses with things that won't spook the wildlife, but in my experience it's silver lenses that look cheap, not black ones. (Unless they're a 500 f/4 Sony, anyway.) It's true that big white glass is a bit attention-grabbing, but the smallest lens with the white coating is, I think, the 70-200 f/4 (though the new 70-300 L may be slightly smaller). All the mid-range stuff is black. Frankly, I'm never sure how subtle I'm being with a 200 f/2 or a 150-500 - I balance "oh my God that's a big lens" against "far enough away that people don't notice I'm pointing it at them". If I want to be subtle, I'll get a Rolleiflex. (And if they weren't so damned expensive, I'd have done so.)
     
  45. I think the quote of Ken Rockwell is taken out of context. He's talking about pros. That's why he mentions shooting with two cameras. --Pete S.​
    The quote does come from a page titled "Nikon Pro Normal Zooms: Analysis." I had gone to that page while reading what he had to say about the 28-70mm f/2.8.
    That said, I have often carried two bodies and two large lenses before, even though I am no pro.
    I wound up buying the 28-70mm f/2.8, as it turns out. It is not the 24-70 that I wanted, but it was a lot less expensive. My wide zoom is the 17-35mm f/2.8, and my tele zoom is the old 80-200 f/2.8 ED (two-ring version). Every zoom purchase was a compromise, but those compromises have kept me in the game to this point in spite of some hard times.
    Thanks for everyone's input. I have read every single comment and found them very helpful.
    --Lannie
     
  46. Indeed. I feel assured by the same philosophy if someone tries to make off with my camera bag. "Yes officer, I saw him, it was the one with a hernia."​

    The heavier, the better!
     
  47. Large number of submitted images doesn't mean most of the images are good.​
    This, absolutely - it's like arguing that Facebook is the photography site because of the millions upon millions of banal, pointless, worthless smartphoned "selfies" that festoon it.
    Quantity does not equal, imply or in any other sense suggest, quality. A smartphone will (and did) get you this but it won't get you this or this or this or this - today, at least.
    Tomorrow, or in ten years time, maybe we will all be successfully shooting sport and wildlife on glorified smartphones (and if it happens, bring it on); but as of right now, smartphone photojournalism has speed an ubiquity to recommend it (the "straight from smartphone to Twitter" model) which are good things for capturing breaking events, but it's absolutely not about quality (not a single image in that piece does a thing for me, photographically) - and that's precisely how and why it works.
    But then again, photojournalism in general isn't about "quality" (going right back to Capa and beyond - quite rightly nobody would adversely evaluate his work from an aesthetic, or a technical, or an image quality perspective, even though in truth they're not - nor need they be - great images in a purely technical photographic sense) - but that's exactly why smartphones are such a threat to its Status quo.
     
  48. it

    it

    A LOT of pro shooters use the 24-70. Incredibly useful.
     
  49. It feels odd to me that the makers are obsessed with standard zooms with little f5.6 apertures and then slap on stabilisation as if that will help. On crop sensors the consumers are going to get bored because their shots have so much in focus whether they want it or not. But an SLR is a substantial item and a big constant f2.8 doesn't really agree with me for leisure walk-arounds, so I use compromises like an f2.8-4 which are broadly satisfactory.
     
  50. I travel with my 70-200 f/2.8, and I use the 24-70 with the hood attached. Why wouldn't I want to enjoy the flexibility and optical quality that these lenses offer? If a thief grabs one, he'll be too weighed down to run away. I'll be able to track his lumbering body as I casually call for police backup. What's a pickpocket going to do with a f/2.8 lens? Slip it into his own pocket? Not likely.​
    that's great--if you're "traveling" to Disneyland. But in countries where your camera and lenses represent more than what the average person earns in a year, some subtlety is called for. when i'm traveling, i try not to call attention to myself or my gear. I also make an attempt not to be overly "American" in my attitude towards locals. A little humility goes a long way.
     
  51. Eric: Obviously. Each lens in its place. I don't usually take my D800 on a pub crawl, for example. (I did have my TVC-34L and a d4 knocked to the floor in a pub a while ago, but fortunately without apparent damage - and I mistakenly trusted the people involved.) I've been known to take my Eos 500 and a f/1.8, actually - which was awkward when someone wanted proof that I was only photographing the pub sign, not them smoking by the door. If I'm going somewhere photogenic, I usually take several lenses. If I'm going to take a DSLR to the impoverished middle of nowhere, just as if you're carrying it up a mountain, there's a lot to be said for a low-end DSLR and an 18-200 (or 18-55 + 55-200), no matter how optically compromised.

    Nico: For a light and cheap zoom, VR does help, especially if the user doesn't have good camera technique. You can't do the same with it as you can with a fast pro zoom, but you also can't make an f/2.8 zoom for the same price as a kit zoom, even with a VR system. I was alarmed to see Amateur Photographer (I think) do an article on "upgraded kit zooms", in which they talked far more about the mild performance benefits at small apertures than they did about the creative advantages of a wider aperture. I've tended to carry a slow zoom and take a 50 f/1.8 along (in a pouch that came with a teleconverter, looped onto my camera bag strap - though only the AF-D is small enough for that trick). But if the flexibility of some zoom ability and some aperture control are what you need, especially for changing conditions, some people may be quite happy to take the weight. Frankly, my camera kit is overweight, but not nearly as overweight as I am...
     
  52. I have a big 24-85mm f2.8-4 Nikkor, its big and heavy but does OK as a micro lens for
    flower shots. On film its a lot more useful than DX, but if I am taking my Tokina 11-16mm
    with me its OK as a matchup. On DX 16mm is 24mm fov, and mid zoom fov is 36-135mm.
    More midrange than 28-70mm more wide too. 24-70mm is a pro lens for DX I like the xtra
    range on my lens from 70-85mm, more important to me than the range from 50-70mm,
    which is neither fish nor foul picture wise IMHO.
     
  53. As a PJ I couldn't live without my 24-70 Nikkor. VERY RARELY do I need something wider than 24, the publishers I shoot for want things tight. But with the 24-70, and my two feet, I can shoot 70-80% with one camera body and lens. I've got an 80-200 when need be on a back up body. But the 24-70 on a FX body, with a iTTL fill flash covers a huge majority of my work.
    Just sayin'
    Best,
    -Tim
     
  54. that's great--if you're "traveling" to Disneyland.​

    I have never been to Disneyland and have no interest in theme parks. However, if I were going to one I wouldn't carry a DSLR with an f/2.8 zoom. I can imagine it flying like a missile off of a roller coaster and injuring someone. Plus, given that theme parks are on private property, the management probably doesn't want me taking a lot of photos there, anyway.
    But in countries where your camera and lenses represent more than what the average person earns in a year, some subtlety is called for.​

    Really? When professional PJ's covered the Haiti earthquake, did they leave their Nikons and Canons at home so as not to offend poor people? Or did they carry the gear that they needed to do the job? I'll bet that most of them carried at least a D3 or two with an assortment of pro lenses.
    when i'm traveling, i try not to call attention to myself or my gear. I also make an attempt not to be overly "American" in my attitude towards locals. A little humility goes a long way.​

    That's great if it works for you. I have never felt the need to look inconspicuous - impossible given that I'm rather large - or hide my gear from the locals. I just try to be polite, sensitive, respectful. For instance, I always ask whether it's permissible to photograph the interior of a church or a museum even if no signs are posted. I want to assure people that I'll respect their preferences and regulations. I also make it a rule never to shoot women who wear any sort of head or body covering given that they are already sensitive about what can and should be seen in public.

    So far, I have travelled in 24 countries with a variety of photo gear including medium- and large-format film cameras and DSLRs with fast zooms. I have done a lot of shooting with big cameras mounted to a tripod, day and night, rain or shine. The only place where my cameras have attracted negative attention is right here in my native USA. Perhaps I should "attempt not to be overly American" when I'm dealing with Americans. No one else seems to mind my approach to photography.
     
  55. Dan: I don't know about a D3 or an assortment of pro lenses in Haiti ... sure the locals could rip that stuff off, but sell it to ? or where? Got some real first hand accounts of other goods, though. My niece is married to a Dr. on the Big Island of Hawaii ... she joined him in a mission to Haiti awhile back to help out , in country, for a few weeks, with some other medical types. Took a large collection of shoes and clothing she no longer used (they have some $$, paid the airline extra, extra, to load on the plane)... when she opened the boxes, in country, at one of the Churches just outside the Capital, it created an instant ... not riot, but 'situation' that caused the 15 or so in the mission to abandon and withdraw from the area, immediately, as it became quite 'uncontrolled'. Likewise, I am sure you have been to, say, France, and possibly Mexico ... probably been very lucky with your gear. Many, many, many, have not. There are many places in the world, where 'low-profile', and common-sense discretion can be 'preventive'. OTOH, physical size, demeanor, and amount of travel notwithstanding, luck is a wonderful thing ... you only miss it, and remember it, and lament ... when it runs out.
     
  56. I think many photographers who work professionally in 3rd world countries mostly use similar equipment as they would at home, to document the kind of subjects that they are working on. It is quite important for the sake of publication in a field which is extremely competitive to obtain the highest quality results possible. A couple of years ago Steve McCurry gave a lecture at Aalto and he said he used the D3X and 24-70/2.8 almost exclusively, with a 50mm lens in the bag. Another photographer who work on sensitive issues such as female genital mutilation, the aftereffects of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Andrea Bruce, said she uses a D800. Pep Bonet works e.g. on topics such as the poor immigrant people (and children) living in the slums in Johannesburg, prisoners in a mental hospital in Sierra Leone etc. He uses a D4 and I believe a 24/1.4 (the lens I heard from a Nikon rep, but the camera body information was part of Pep's lecture). I think the message is to use whatever gear that is comfortable for you to use and gives you the best results in the case of the subjects that you're covering. Although professional photographers no doubt take greater risks than amateurs, I don't believe the camera itself, or its size is a risk factor, as the subjects can see that they're being photographed, no matter whether the camera is big or small; in any case the photographer is much bigger than the camera. I think what is important is to be open about what you're doing rather than try to take shots in secret, if you want to feel safe.
    David duChem wrote about photographing foreign cultures in his book Within the frame, and he basically said that he doesn't travel light. I recall him mentioning the use of 17-35/2.8, 85/1.2, 135/2 and 70-200/2.8 in his books. He does a lot of portraiture of locals in religious / cultural contexts. Hardly small lenses, those. Another photographer I saw a talk by, Katja Lösönen, who documented AIDS, religion etc. in Ethiopia, and she said she uses a 16-35/2.8, 50mm and 85mm primes, so those definitely are a bit smaller than the largest DSLR lenses but still they are significantly larger than compact cameras or Micro Four Thirds primes. I think publication quality even in low light is what professional photographers who do reportage on their travels need, and this rules out many of the smallest cameras.
    Personally I travel out of my personal ambition to document life and events in interesting places, and to get some freshness into my photography through new subjects, and extending my usual subjects to other cultures. I can choose to use lighter weight equipment than f/2.8 zooms, but mostly it is so that I can continue walking and photographing with the camera in my hands for longer periods without fatigue, rather than feeling threatened because of the large camera and lens. I dress normally when I travel. A 70-200/2.8 can attract attention which is why I've always felt the 180/2.8 works out better for this level of reach. However I don't think 70-200/4 or smaller lenses are any real problem from the point of view of being able to work without the photographer becoming the center of attention more than they already are, by being there. I think that's the tele that I would pick for travel photography today, along with 85mm or 105mm prime for lower light and shallow depth of field at closer distances.
    I think the best way to deal with the threat of theft is act modestly, and if something does happen, let it go; it can be obviously more dangerous to start chasing and confronting the thief. Insurance exists to cover the equipment loss from a financial perspective.
     

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