Grand canyon, which lenses?

Discussion in 'Travel' started by peter_k|4, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. Yes this is a stupid "you don't know me or how I take pictures but I'm asking you what to do anyways" kind of thread. hehe
    Going to the canyon in 2 weeks. I'm bringing my new D200 instead of my usual travel kit of D40 + 18-200. we'll see afterwards if it was worth the hassle of upgrading I guess...
    So lens-wise I'm bringing the 75-150 E, possibly my 50mm 1.8 and I'm trying to decide between my 18-35, or sigma 10-20. So to someone who's been there and knows better than I, would I really appreciate the superwide at the canyon, or would I be missing out on the 20-35 range too much if I did that?
    thanks all
  2. SCL


    Go wide..if you like superwide, go superwide. Personally, I'd forget the 75-150 unless you're doing panos with it.
  3. like stephen suggested.
    as with most landscape shots, go as wide as you can. places like grand canyon, you want to go wide to capture its magnitude.
    the long lenses might be good to try to isolate a particular object, but if weight/space is an issue, i would drop the long lenses and take the wide ones.
  4. I'd bring the 10-20mm; 18-35mm doesn't seem like a very useful range for landscapes, especially not at a place as epic as the Grand Canyon. But as you said, I have no idea how you shoot. ;)
  5. david_henderson


    I don't agree that landscape axiomatically means wide angle and only wide angle, and indeed the selection of the appropriate scale within the image is one of the most important things a landscape photographer needs to do.
    If there are good skies you'll certainly need wide at Grand Canyon, but if you over-egg it you'll end up with amorphous, featureless shots. IMO the 18-35 would be fine, but you will need the 75-150 as well, for there are numerous shots available of individual features that are different from each other, as against a few important wide shots that tend towards the same. Also you can take longer focal length shots earlier at dawn and later at sunset by selecting those features catching the first and last light which might well get totally lost within a wide composition.
  6. The 18-200 is a great all purpose lens. A fast prime like the 50 1.8 and the wide sigma would be nice for special occasions. You've pretty much got it covered.
  7. thanks guys! I probably should have gave a bit more info.
    I'm spending 5 days in the bottom of the gorge. So keeping the weight down is a priority. I'd love to bring all 4 lenses but i'm trying to simplify here. less is more. I'm so tempted to bring my 18-200 but dangit! I've always taken it on trips and while i'm 90% satisfied all the time there's those few times where it's not quite there with too much distortion or CA
  8. Hello, Well your at the Canyon you should check out Shosone Pt, and i'd definatly take your 50mm. I know i use my 50mm a lot here (ive been living at the canyon for the last 3 months)
  9. Peter: You are tempted to bring your 18-200? BRING IT! How many times will you go back to the Grand Canyon? When will you go back?
    It is far better to complete your trip and be saying "I'll never bring my 18-200 down into the Grand Canyon again" than to contemplate that "great" shot that you didn't get because you didn't have the lens.
    Hiking in the Canyon in February should not be a problem - temperature wise. I had read about hiking the Canyon and was very concerned until I did it. My family and I hiked down the mule trail in November several years ago. It was not an overwhelming physical effort (I was 37 at the time). My young boys ran back up out of the canyon. Contrary to some stories regarding the mule trains, we were not forced off the trail by the mules.
    Bring the lens and enjoy all the opportunities. If weight is that serious of a concern - leave some clothing out of your pack - no real need to change shirts or pants, use travel size (trial size samples) of toiletries.
  10. In the interest of saving weight, the 18-200 would probably be the best choice, along with a good tripod. The lens is sharp with very little CA and modest distortion. Distortion is not noticeable in photos which don't have prominent straight lines. The lens is slow, but that's where a tripod is useful. Nothing much that matters moves in the Grand Canyon, at least for the last 3 million years or so.
    Landscapes should be as sharp as possible, and with great depth of field. You won't be happy with hand-held shots compared to those taken with a tripod. There is an enormous difference in the exposure between light and shadow, and both are prominent in the Canyon. It's a good time to experiment with bracketing and HDR rendering, which requires a tripod. Likewise panoramas from the rim. On my last trip, I used a 17-35/2.8 and a 28-70/2.8, while the 70-200 VR remained in the bag. The 28-70 was mostly used for panoramas. That's more weight than ideal, but it's what I have.
  11. If you mean very little CA and modest distotion, sure for an 18-200, but compared to almost any other lens out there it is near the bottom of the heap in both catagories. Of course these days the heap is a little top heavy. That being said, I'd take the 10-20 and 18-200. Of course ideally I'd take the 10-20, a 28-135 or 28-70 and a 70-200 (f/4, not f/2.8) along with a tripod.
  12. The last time I photograhed the Grand Canyon was back in, I think, 1997 or 98, which was before my limited foray into the digital world. At that time, my kit included 28, 35, 50 and 90mm primes for my Leica Ms. I took a Leica R7 with 70-210 zoom to pick out details. Another time I used a 500mm Tamron mirror lens for getting Bright Angel Trail from the rim. The zoom came in handy for catching long shots of the rapids way off in the distance. Definitely take a long-focus lens, even if you use it sparingly, you may get great shots. That being said, I did not do any hiking, except for the rim trail around Hermit's Rest, as I had elderly parents with me and thus limited in my mobility.
  13. IMO, you should stick with your 18-200 and use the other lenses only for backup. The Southwest is dusty, so why swap lenses more than you have to? You won't need to go wider then 18mm, and you'll find the VR and the longer focal lengths handy for zooming in on details. If you want a panoramic shot, stitch a sequence of portrait-orientated shots together.
    Bring along a good polarizer to cut through the haze. There's always some haze. It's also important to save space (and weight) in the canyon. Carrying enough water is a lot more important than carrying every lens you own. The 18-200 seems like your best bet. Leave the superwides and the macro lenses at home. Very wide angle lenses make distant details look tiny, and the Grand Canyon is all about distant details.
  14. I did a three week private rafting trip on the Grand last March. Here's the breakdown of shots by lens over 3 weeks of kayaking and rafting:
    80% - Sigma 10-20mm (of which probably 3/4 were at 10mm)
    15% - Pentax 43mm Limited
    5% - Voigtlander 180mm prime
    Hope this helps.
  15. I'll go to Grand Canyon next June.
    I'll bring D200, D70 body, 18-70 Nikkor, 70-300 Nikkor VRII and Tokina 12-24. With this 3 lenses I'll cover all between 12 to 300 mm of lenght. I need also some light lenses, so I'll take also 24 Nikkor AFD 2.8, 30 Sigma AFD 1.4, 50 Nikkor AFD 1.4, 85 Nikkor AFD 1.8. In this case I think to cover all lenght with nice fixed lenses and zoom.

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