Egypt trip - lens advise for DX body

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by porter, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. I'm going to Egypt for seven months on a work related trip, during which time I will have plenty of opportunity for my little photography obsession. Of course I will be taking every lens and back up body I own, but from what I understand, Egypt is a bit sandy ;) so I probably will want a nice zoom lens for my day to day shooting. I'm really not sure what to go with since I have never been out of North America.
    Anywho, what I currently own (in brackets is the equivalent focal length):
    Nikon D7000 Body
    Nikon F55 Body
    • 35mm f/1.8 DX (50mm)
    • 10-24mm DX (15-36mm)
    • 70-300mm VR (105-450mm)
    Olympus E-P2 Body
    • Panasonic 14-45mm (28-90mm)
    • Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 (40mm)
    • Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 (50mm)
    • Olympus 8mm Fisheye (16mm)
    Now I don't necessarily need to buy anything, but I am not all too thrilled with the amount/type of distortion on the 10-24, so I've put it up for sale on the local e-market site, Kijiji. Besides, I have a fisheye for my Olympus and love that perspective much more than a regular UWA.
    Back to subject though. I want a regular zoom for the Nikon, but don't know what to go with. The 16-85 benefits from a nice wide perspective at 16mm and has VR, yet its still a rather slow lens so if I happen to get into a dim market place I might have issues. The 17-55 is nice and fast, but has no VR. Do I dare go with a Sigma/Tamron offering to get stabilization???
    Any lens suggestions from people who have been to Egypt?
    As I said, I'll be there for quite some time so there will quite a wide range of situations I may get into. Hiking up mountains, looking over cityscapes, walking through markets, touring tombs, etc...
    Thanks in advance!
  2. Everybody's different of course, so what focal lengths you need or want will also be different.
    I've been to Egypt a couple of times, but on my most recent trip, I found that a 17mm minimum focal length on a DX (APS-C) body was just a little on the long side. As soon as I got home, I went out and got a Sigma 10-20mm lens, but of course too late to use it on the trip.
    I'd certainly recommend some kind of rectilinear ultra-wide. A fisheye is nice enough for an occasional shot, but a steady diet of it would be too much for me.
    But that's me, aside from needing to keep your sensors clean, Egypt presents the same challenges that people and architectural photography would present wherever you are now, so your present shooting should be your guide.
    There seems to be a contradiction between your finding too much distortion on a 10-24 and then liking a fisheye on your other camera?
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If I were you, I would seriously consider consolidating your two incompatible digital camera systems into one; either Micro 4/3 or Nikon DSLR, whatever works for you. You are much better off having just one set of lenses with some backups and (at least) two compatible digital camera bodies with the same lens mount so that they can share lenses and accessories.
  4. Finest, most invasive almost dust-like sand you'll ever see. Makes switching out lenses a bit stressful but if you're tucked away from the wind inside a temple area or such, should be okay. Haven't been there in awhile but flash may be an issue to some of the "guards" (often self-appointed, it seemed to me) at the temple complexes, so low light lenses will be preferable. I love the D7000 /10-24 for interior shots, would think that would be ideal for temple rooms and dim hallway complexes (love JDM's shot at Edfu!).
    I wouldn't want to be keeping track of anything more than I could keep secure in one pack bag, especially in crowded areas like the old Market in Cairo. Have a great, safe trip.
  5. "not all too thrilled with the amount/type of distortion on the 10-24" Distortion is so easy to fix with software. Kind of hard to do with a small JPG file. Results would be significantly better starting with the original RAW file.
    I would reconsider this lens for your trip as it could prove invaluable.
  6. I have been to Egypt and have a d7000. I would suggest you look at the 16-85 VR2 DX. It is a great lens and not too heavy to carry around in the heat like my 17-55 f/2.8 would be.
  7. My wife took a 12-24mm Nikkor and 18-270mm Tamron to Egypt last year.
    The pair covered everything she wanted to shoot, from wide-angle to detail images.
    (I don't like the 10-24 Nikkor. I bought one, returned it, and bought the 12-24.)
    - Leigh
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Leigh B., I think you should clarify that you returned the 10-24mm DX because it was made in China:
    Otherwise, a number of people here have upgraded from the 12-24 DX to the 10-24 DX. I probably would have done the same, but since I also shoot FX, I prefer FX body and lenses for superwide.
  9. i spent about a month in egypt a few years back. dusty doesnt begin to describe it. even the cities are dusty, plus smoggy. you'll want to be surreptitious if shooting crowds. watch out for egyptians wanting 'baksheesh.' i like leigh b.'s suggestion of the 10-24+18-270. i'd even consider trading the 10-24 for an 8-16 for the ruins if you go to Luxor or Giza. i would leave the 35 and 70-300 as simpler is better and lighter. a travel tripod is a good idea, also cable release or wireless remote. as a backup, i'd lose the N55 since you only have one FX lens and bring the Oly with just one lens -- the 20/1.7 -- for quick street/candid pics. that can go in a pants or shirt pocket, while the DSLR goes in a messenger bag, sling pack, or waistbelt which can be slung to the front when moving through crowds.
    i would get tired of the fisheye in about 10 minutes, unless it was in an underwater rig and i was diving in sharm-el-sheik.
  10. Otherwise, a number of people here have upgraded from the 12-24 DX to the 10-24 DX.​
    I don't have the 10-24 but the general consensus seem to be that it is inferior to the 12-24 DX in all aspects, except being 2mm wider (at the cost of some really serious barrel distortion and soft corners). I'm not sure I would call that an upgrade unless you really, really want those 2mm...
  11. FWIW I agree with Bill's view: avoid using flash (except for outdoor fill - ironic!). IMO you'd want to preserve the ambience of the interiors (although some are lit anyway). Caveat: I don't like flash in general so I am biased!
    I was in Cairo in '92 and I was in love. Paris has the beauty but Cairo has the 'magic'. I never used a flash. Shame that all I had was a Ricoh KR-5II with rubbish 35-70 zoom (me to myself 20 years ago: "Get a job, punk!"). I used Ektachrome 200.
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Pete, I am not sure whose "general consensus" that was. Nikon USA loaned us a copy of the 10-24mm/f3.5-4.5 AF-S DX and I did a bunch of A/B comparisons against my own 12-24mm/f4 AF-S DX.
    Both lenses are at their worst on the wide end, but at 12mm, the 10-24 is no longer at its widest setting while the 12-24 is, and I prefer the 10-24 @ 12mm. A few members who post to this forum such as Mary Doo and Hamish Gray have upgraded from the 12-24 to 10-24, and I trust their opinions. E.g.
    As I said, I would have made the same upgrade if I used super wides a lot on DX, but the fact of the matter is that FX wide lenses are generally better. I have the 17-35mm/f2.8 AF-S and 14-24mm/f2.8 AF-S. If I need to shoot wide, I have much better options in FX.
  13. flash may be an issue to some of the "guards" (often self-appointed, it seemed to me) at the temple complexes,​
    actually, flash is an issue to the antiquities bureau, since using it destroys the hieroglyphs on the walls. some of the guards will accept bribes (or offer to let you use flash for a nominal fee) but it's better to refuse them. tripods are ok, though. use high-ISO or slow shutter and tripod + the UWA for temple interiors.
  14. Thanks for all the responses, it seems like having an ultra wide angle lens is invaluable there. What I meant about the distortion is the way it looks. Fisheye bends inward while the 10-24 looks like it bends outward rather unnaturally. I think I'll pop downtown Halifax and try keeping it around 12mm, see if I'm happier.
    So, one thing that I do not have is any photoshop software. I use NX2 90% of the time and GIMP the remaining 10. When correcting distortion of the 10-24 in NX2 it makes the image look like a marshmallow requiring extensive cropping. Would PS do this without taking away so much of my image?
  15. Definitely do not use flash at the archaeological sites. It damages the paint on the walls, which archaeologists (my colleagues) work hard to conserve.
    You can bring a tripod, but at most sites they will charge an additional fee above & beyond the admission ticket. I do not know what the cost is these days, but I seem to recall it being quite high (US$25 or more?). I have usually been able to use a monopod without being charged a fee, but that is not always the case (I was hassled--after getting through the gate--at Giza a few years ago, and also at Saqqara, which turned into an awful mess involving a tremendous waste of time). You will not necessarily find the policies uniformly applied, so be prepared to be patient. What the state of affairs is post-revolution, I don't know. (I departed Egypt months earlier than anticipated on this most recent trip and missed all of the excitement by three or four weeks.)
    Bring plenty of water on your hikes and in the ruins and enjoy yourself, Patrick! You are in for an adventure.
  16. Patrick when you shoot a wide angle lens you need to hold the camera level in all directions or you will get perspective distortion. For instance in the room the walls are leaning because you are pointing the camera downwards.
    The 10-24 has horrible barrel distortion so everything is bulging out. I think you need to be at 13-14mm for it to have gone away. This is especially important when shooting interiors or architecture as you have lots of straight lines.
    BTW, look into using a string as a "tripod".
  17. Hmm, thanks for the advise about the string tripod! Fun to try if nothing else
  18. I've been to Egypt several times, and frankly, I take my 'normal' camera with me (which is a D700 plus some choice lenses), an airbrush (for sensor cleaning), a blow cleaner and microfiber towels (for lenses and body). I also take care not to change lenses with the wind in my face. Never had a problem, and even 48°C in the desert were OK and left the camera and lenses completely unharmed. The only one suffering was me, from having to schlep all this equipment around. ;-)
    BTW: I love Saqqara. Need to go there again, and it's definitely not a waste of time. Quite the opposite. And if you dare, take a stop in the small village and get the gist of rural life in Egypt.
  19. Patrick, learning to use an UWA properly is critical to success with it. You cannot just 'shoot' like you would with a regular lens- proper position/angle to your subject is very critical to avoid severe distortions.
  20. Monika, you misunderstood my post. Saqqara is definitely not a waste of time. (I have a degree in Egyptology and would never say such a thing!) The hassle I was given at the gate regarding my ticket (which was purchased at another gate) resulted in a waste of time, nearly an hour IIRC. All was eventually worked out in my favor.
  21. I think I'm starting to understand that, Elliot :/ I'm so used to having a 50mmish equivalent focal length that something like this is quite alien. I went out shooting this morning and think I got some alright shots, but I find it difficult to get pleasing compositions with so much in the frame! Haven't transferred my shots yet, so we'll see if 12mm worked out a bit better. Did a mix of focal lengths to see the difference.
  22. Leveling it out seems to do wonders... I have the horizontal level set to my function button, which helps, but I wish there was also a vertical level. My Olympus E-5 had that, so does my E-P2. I find it to be quite useful, so I wonder why it isn't in my Nikon :/
    Above shot has no distortion correction, shot at 12mm.
    Below shot has +20% in NX2, shot at 10mm.
  23. I tend to have wide vision -- have for years and favor the widest lenses available. I have been very happy with my Sigma 10-20 ( I had the Nikon equivalent, but found it was too pricey for what it produced and the Sigma offered much the same capability with money to spend on other toys). I have now transferred the Sigma from my D70s to my D7000 and it is the lens that stays on the camera as a prime lens -- I have other with focal lengths up to 300, but the Sigma accounts for about 70% of my images. I would think in the land of sweeping vistas that you are headed toward the wider the lens that met your eye the better. But as has been said before, it is all a matter of personal taste.
  24. I saw your E-P2 kit so I have a different suggestion. I am all for travel light especially in a place like Egypt where things may get really hectic with severe weather conditions ...
    I too have a m4/3, a GH1, and a D90 with many lenses, which have been my primary systems for decades. I think you may find wide angle zoom the most used lens for your trip. In this regard, there are two good wide angles zoom lenses for the m4/3 that are small but with high IQ — the outstanding 7-14/4 and the solid 9-18/3.5-5.6. Your EP2 has IBIS so these slow wide will work fine even indoors. I would mount one of them on the EP2 and take the tiny 20/1.7 (or the 14-42) as a back up in case the Nikon fails/is stolen so your EP2 can hold its own as a kit. I will take a longish lens to mount on the D7000. IMOP, the 70-300 is most useful when you plan to shoot wild life. In crowded urban area, it is just too long. I would get a 85/1.8 for those occasions where you want to have a nice candid shot of people or simply want to have more reach. The 85/1.8 is light and inexpensive. Alternatively, buy the 105/2.8 macro, more money but longer reach with macro capacity. Take the 35/1.8, in case EP2 fails/stolen so the D7k can stand on its own, more or less. Going this way, your overall kit will be much lighter than an all Nikon outfit. A lighter kit makes it easier to move around. The EP2 is also less flashy.
    The downside is the potential IQ difference between the D7k and EP2. The D7k is expected to have better DR and low light performance. If this concerns you, you can reverse the set up such that the D7k will be mounted by the most useful lens (1x-2xmm), while EP2 picks up on the other end (a MF 50/1.4 or the PL 45/2.8).
  25. Nice shots Patrick!
  26. CC, you are advising the OP to buy an UWA for m4/3 when he already has one for nikon, plus another prime for a DSLR, as well as lug a lot of other lenses. doesn't make a lot of sense. having been to egypt and visited Cairo as well as the historic sites, all the OP really needs is a superzoom like the 18-270 to pair with the UWA on the DSLR, plus the m4/3 with one small, fast, normal prime. that's not too much kit, and just as light or lighter than what you are suggesting.
  27. Thanks elliot =)

    CC, I would love the panasonic 7-14mm, alas I would need to sell 2 of my 10-24s to afford it.

    Matter is settled for me, thanks all for the fantastic input. I'm going to keep the lenses I have, 10-24 on the d7000, 20
    1.7 on the ep2. Now to practice some more with uwa to ensure I get memorable shots!

  28. Patrick, a little of topic but... I also have the 20mm f1.7 as well that I use on my E-PL1. Isn't that a fantastic little lens!
    KR has an excellent article on the successful use of UWA lenses. It help me a lot in learning how to use mine successfully. You might enjoy reading it. Good luck with your trip!
  29. Indeed it is. I bet that more than 3/4 of my Olympus m4/3 pictures have been with that lens.

    Thanks for the info, I'll be sure to do as much reading on the subject as I can
  30. Hey Patrick, just as an afterthought, have a look through some old National Geographic issues with Egypt stories. They might not only give you ideas but they might challenge you to do better still. :)
  31. I lived in Cairo as a student (Arabic degree) and have been many, many times since. When I was there in 1990 onwards as a student I only had my beloved Pentax ME Super and a 50mm f1.7 which was already then well out of date. Took a lot of great shots just with that.
    When I go now I usually still have a 50mm and 25mm or 28mm and that's that. On some trips a 35mm only (on FX/35mm film). You'll be taking lots of architectural shots so the less distortion you have from your lenses the better.
    The kit you have is fine - the simpler/lighter/smaller you keep it the happier you will be - but what I would say is make sure you have a good supply of cleaning fluid and pads, blower brushes, memory cards, film if you plan to use any etc etc as finding that kind of thing is an expensive pain in Cairo and impossible outside of it.
    Otherwise the most important assets to have in Egypt are a sense of humour (which will be sorely tested often) and an open mind. Arabs are amongst the friendliest and most hospitable people on earth, in spite of what the TV likes to show, and the Egyptians the most fun-loving of them all. You will be bugged often for tips (ba'sheesh - you'll hear that a lot) as a rich foreigner but sometimes you will be taken off to see sights otherwise denied more tight-fisted tourists.
    Oh and don't worry about the driving either - they really are very skilled and you will survive.

Share This Page