Nikon Lens - Size and Weight Question

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by tate_jackson, Aug 31, 2011.

  1. How much does the size and weight factor into what lens you buy?
    I read several photo websites, blogs and articles everyday and the subject of lens size and weight are talked about a lot. Many photographers say they did not buy a certain lens because of the size or the weight or they bought a lens because it was light and small. This got me thinking.
    I have never considered the the physical measurements of a lens as a factor in where I bought it or not. If a lens filled a need I had, then I bought it. Am I in the minority?
  2. If you are, then so am I. About the only time I think about the weight is when I am loading up for an expedition and I am planning on a few different types of photographs, a zoom telephoto for one kind of shot, a mid range zoom, and a macro lens for close ups ... then a flash and ring light attachment just in case.
  3. If I like the lens for what it does and what sort of use it can take while remaining reliable, then a few ounces one way or another - or even a pound - really doesn't matter to me. There are situations where I find some lenses to be too light, actually.

    I have experienced, once in a while, the subjects-intimidated-by-the-big-lens factor. Those bigger f/2.8 zooms look "serious" to people, and that can impact their behavior.
  4. When backpacking, I do care a lot about the weight/size for obvious reasons. Otherwise, if it is a lens I am planning to use hand-held a lot, I do care how it balances on the camera. I guess I am in the minority.
  5. When I am wandering around with an 80-200 f/2,8 push-pull zoom on the camera, I have noticed that people assume that you must be a "professional" because of the size of the lens ....
  6. I hate large, heavy lenses because they make candid photography difficult.
  7. Image quality is usually a lot more important to me than size and weight when I am selecting a lens. However, there are times when size and weight do make a difference. For example, when I know I am not going to be shooting much in the telephoto focal length range, I will carry a smaller and lighter Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E zoom instead of my larger and heavier Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens.
  8. Until you handle a 400mm f/2.8 or a Sigmonster 300-800mm f/5.6 or a beast like em, you have no idea the issues witrh big lenses.
  9. I`m one of those who continuously mention the size&weight issue. I`m concerned because I use to enjoy a lot of outdoor life, I carry my camera everywhere, and almost everytime. The intimidating factor is not a concern at all to me, but I consider it too. I don`t use smaller cameras (digital, I mean).
    The test is easy; just compare your comfort with a pro zoom or a small prime carrying with them for a few whole days.
    "If a lens filled a need I had, then I bought it. Am I in the minority?"
    Right; when a need had to be filled, that`s all. But there are situations where a need can be satisfied with different solutions. Why not to choose between them?
  10. Image quality is more important to me. I rarly think twice about the size or weight of the lenses I pack for which ever photo outing I might be about to undertake.
    I have plenty of top line heavy, bulky Nikkor lenses - I don't see the point in having a top flite lens line up and not using them when and where ever possible.
    I'd also venture to add that I'd rather compromise by packing a good P&S camera rather than a 'superzoom' and a DSLR.
  11. "How much does the size and weight factor into what lens you buy?"​
    It matters more to me now than it did a few years ago. I can't consistently handhold heavy equipment steadily, which thwarts my preference for handheld candid photography. Nikon doesn't offer a fast midrange zoom with VR to offset my wobble. So I use either a smaller fast prime with the dSLR and 35mm SLR, or use a small, lightweight P&S digicam with a very fast zoom.
    One of the often neglected advantages to smaller sensor digicams is the capability for small, lightweight, very fast zooms that are affordable and well suited to handheld use. The Olympus XZ-1 is an encouraging return to a style they pioneered several years ago but later abandoned - the small, light, fast and affordable P&S digicam zoom. That feature was ignored for a few years amid the "every photo must have brokeh" fad. Granted, an f/1.8 lens still won't produce shallow DOF with a tiny sensor camera, but it's still very useful for available light candid snapshooters.
    Unfortunately the DX sensor dSLR doesn't seem to have resulted in midrange Nikkor zooms that are fast (constant f/2.8), small and lightweight. The 4/3 dSLR seems to have reached the end of its development life. For folks like me the future will be something other than the SLR paradigm - probably a Micro 4/3 or DX sensor camera with lenses that don't need to be compromised retrofocus designs to clear a reflex mirror. And I'd prefer in-body stabilization for greater lens compatibility.
  12. It matters to me, and I sure mentioned it more than once. It's never the only reason to take or leave a lens, though.
    But, when I needed a new allround zoomlens, I was close to getting the 24-70 f/2.8, until I realised that most of the times I would use it, it would be casual use, or day-long trips around, or around f/8. And while I have no issue with carrying a lot of heavy gear, having a smaller, lighter zoom for such occassions just made much more sense. The lens I got instead (16-85VR) is optically not better, but it serves my uses better.
    Most of the time, I leave my 80-200 f/2.8 at home; 90% of the time I used it around 200mm, so replacing it with 500 grams less worth of 180 f/2.8 (and sacrificing flexibility and AF speed) was simply worth it to me. If I can carry less, I will.
    Weight and size are part of the equation. No idea who is in the minority, but we all have our own individual priorities and weights in choosing which lens to get or carry.
  13. Unfortunately, I have to watch the total equipment weight because I often fly on airlines with quite draconian baggage weight limits and overweight fees. I used to carry an aluminum Gitzo Studex tripod and a 300mm 4.0 lens when I went on long trips: no more.
  14. I am with Jose Angel. Usually I take the camera on short walks in the companion of my family I take my camera with only one lens. The D200+17-55/2.8 is the max I can take for half a day. So a 750gr. lens is the max I will buy. Also I need it to be relatively small so I can handhold it (again, like the 17-55 or slightly bigger).
    As extra I look for lens with a good build quality, top optics and constant aperture. Oh and I much prefer it to be Nikon. I was not very satisfied with third party gear, but that's my experience only.
    Not much where to choose from, uh?
    Currently I have the 17-55/2.8 (fits all my needs) and I recently received the 70-210/4 AF (Is plastic but the build quality is very good, I haven't tested the optics yet). I think only the 12-24/4 is the only remaining candidate. Some day...
  15. It depends what I'm doing. My 28-200 f/3.5-5.6G gets more use than its optics probably deserve because it's relatively small, light and flexible. I've used a 50mm f/1.8 AF-D for smallness in low light (buying now, I'd stretch to an AF-S). Generally if I know what I'm shooting, I care enough to bring a lens no matter its size, but if I'm just wandering about then a small and slow zoom is often good enough.

    My "light lens" kit for my D700 (which is, admittedly, a bad start) is the 28-200, usually on the camera, in my small top-loader bag; a 135mm f/2.8 AI in the front pocket in case I want to shoot a portrait and lose a background (a bit), and a 50mm f/1.8 in a little leather case tied to the bag strap for low light.

    I admit that my 200 f/2 and 14-24 don't get wheeled out as much as they might if they were helium-filled, but I still use both a lot. I've only recently got an 80-200, so I'll see how that fits in. My 150-500 got a lot of use even though I was never entirely happy with the long end - although I certainly noticed the weight when I sprained a knee on holiday and had to carry it. The only lens that's really restricted on portability (driven to places) is my 500 f/4, but that's because it's an AI-p and permanently on a Motorola 393 (and tripod).

    I've established that airports seem willing to let people get away with big camera kit. I've used the "one bag plus a personal item, such as a camera" to get away with having the D700 and 150-500 round my neck, with no raised eyebrows other than lots of tourists asking if I was a pro photographer. I've got away with a carry-on bag that was very heavy (although within size) by offering to remove the 1kg camera and 3kg 200 f/2 from it, and was told it was therefore fine. Of course, if somewhere does insist on me leaving my 200 f/2 behind, I'm not going to be a happy bunny.

    I'm tempted to pick up a 20mm or 24mm Nikkor prime and something like an E-series 50mm f/1.8 for ultimate portability, but it probably says something that I prioritised the 80-200 f/2.8 first - and I'm more excited at the prospect of a 150mm Sigma or a 35mm Samyang than the tiny lenses. That said, I'd also love a 180 f/2.8 if I can justify it to myself. Thus far, my NAS has mostly been a body-building exercise - shame it mostly built fat.

    Next time I climb Snowdon, though, I probably won't take two cameras and a tripod.
  16. Size and weight for me are secondary to IQ and build quality. As of this very moment I don't own a super-zoom or any lens slower than f/2.8. When weight is a concern I attach a prime to my camera and use it like I did when all I had was a Canon AE-1 and a 50mm.
    Right now my go-to walk around kit is D700 with 24-70mm f/2.8 and 35mm f/1.4.
  17. Zero ... but ask me the same question in 20 years time and I may answer differently.
  18. Size and weight do not factor in for me. I'm 55 and when I need a change from my usual D300/Grip/17-55 f/2.8 setup I'll pop the 70-200 f/2.8 VR1 on and carry that around all day.
  19. " leave my 80-200 f/2.8 at home; 90% of the time I used it around 200mm, so replacing it with 500 grams less worth of 180 f/2.8 (and sacrificing flexibility and AF speed)" - but look at the benetifs of gorgeous pictures taken with the 180/2.8 Nikkor. My Nikor 180/2.8 provides great pictures it you take time to do them right, better than my 70-200/2.8 VR - that I would say is comparable to your 80-200/2.8.
  20. There was a time when I did not care how heavy the camera equipment I carried even during vacationing. Now I have two toddlers, and on a typical outing, there are a lot of other stuffs that my wife and I have to carry (diaper bags, strollers, etc), and I have to always be ready in case one of my kids tries to run for something. Despite this, within a given camera system, in general, larger and heavier equipment does offer higher quality and/or more features so there is very little I can do with Nikon.
    I have thus experimented with the m4/3 system that Lex mentioned and will never look back. The 14mm f2.5 lens in particular is tiny and feels like a quarter in your hand, and yet the images it produces are just lovely. The 20/1.7 is only slightly bigger and is even sharper. With such a small lens and with face-detection, I can easily grab one thing in my hand (a bag or one of my wild kids) and shoot with the other. Using a small camera and a small lens, you move about much more freely, which is great when your subjects move about fast and unpredictably. The m4/3 system can do so in part by taking out the mirror, using a smaller sensor, and using software correction to reduce lens aberrations. None of their current lens and cameras is weather-sealed or built to the same "pro" standard as Nikon's counterparts. Then of course, engineering does also play a role in building something that is small and yet highly capable.
    Technology has reached a point that we may be able to work around the basic physics to produce final images that are as good as before by using much lighter and small camera system. I hope we will soon have more choices coming from Nikon.
  21. Both size & weight do matter to me. I've actually ended up with two sets of lenses. For times when I'm mostly working out of my car or need fast apetures, I use f2.8 zooms. For times when I value low weight and compactness (such as hiking at 14,000 ft.), I go to a MUCH lighter selection of lenses. For me, that's the Nikon kit lenses 18-55mm VR & 55-200mm VR. At f8, I honestly see no difference at all in image quality between these two sets of lenses. My $100 18-55mm lens performs just as well as my $1,000 17-55mm. Only at f2.8 is there a real difference. ;-)
    Kent in SD
  22. size and weight are certainly important to some people for certain types of photography, and as Matt indicated, the size and weight can impact on the quality of the content of your photograph (not the image quality). This was the main reason I switched the majority of my shooting to Leica; both small and light, and superb image quality. Going from the D3 to the MP/M7 combo certainly changed the way my subjects reacted to and around me, and candid/pj type photography became a lot easier, with better results.
    But regardless of what type of camera you use, the prime lens will always hold this in favour of big retrofocus zoom lenses.
  23. matters to me, i do scapes mainly do slow aperture lenses are fine for me. i have also bought a expensive gitzo traveler, it now fits in my day pack horizontally. i don't have checked baggage. for me it is no more than 1.5kg not incl tripod. and use smaller filters. as i am not getting a larger bag.
    but when i am at home i guess maybe i might get a 2.8 zoom like a Tamron DX but then again i don't shoot much of that so i might just don't photograph that ....
  24. I go for quality and the purpose I want the lens for. So you could say I have no consideration for size and weight.
    Until you handle a 400mm f/2.8 or a Sigmonster 300-800mm f/5.6 or a beast like em, you have no idea the issues witrh big lenses.​
    I'm pretty sure those are limited purpose lenses and not something you'll take to your kid's party. My point is, for me, the need outweighs size and weight considerations.
  25. Frank, absolutely true about the 180 f/2.8. In fact, I like the 180 better than the 80-200 zoom in most scenarios. The 80-200 is a very good workhorse lens, the 180 is a pure gem.
    As said, it's not only the weight and size that gets me to buy lenses, and the 180 is one where I found plenty of reasons to get one!
  26. Good thread; it's close in aim to the one I started just before it. It seems odd to me that a professional camera system, whether Nikon or not, makes you have to choose between high IQ and light weight. Is it unreasonable to expect a set of heavy, fast, quick AF lenses and also a set of light, and so slower and perhaps manual focussing, lenses? Even the new primes are heavy - at least, too heavy for my ageing frame to carry over rough terrain all day. And of course the heavier the lens, the chunkier the tripod and head needed for it. So I have two lens lines, heavy and starting with the 17-35, for only-out-an-hour-or-two days, and some light and older glass for getting into the wild. And if a new lens is reviewed, weight is one of the first things I'd check.
  27. Weight is an issue in the choice facing me now: stick with Sony A700 or move to a Nikon midlevel dSLR. I like good quality lenses, but focal lengths from 28mm to 105mm will serve. Just starting to think what lenses I might use. What a shock, the Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED is 900g! Getting old, because taking that around a scenic area for landscape shots is not appealing.
  28. John Farrar wrote:

    "Good thread; it's close in aim to the one I started just before it. It seems odd to me that a professional camera
    system, whether Nikon or not, makes you have to choose between high IQ and light weight."

    For the most part, Nikon does not do this, they have brilliantly sharp and small primes that at the end of the day most
    amateur pixel peepers are not going to see a big difference in say, a 28/2.8 or a 24-70 2.8. I don't know as many
    amateur photographers as pros and within the pro genre I only know those who work in advertising, corporate and
    editorial. While we all put a pretty hefty premium on technical image quality, content of the photos matter by far the
    most, so weight and size figure into this big time. This is one of the reasons I will never own the 24-70/2.8. I don't care
    if it sharp enough to resolve a gnat on the moon, it is just too big for what focal lengths are implied. I love the spectacular
    image quality of my 35/1.4G, but I use it far less than my 28/2, Leica 35/2 Asph on my M6 or by far the best yet, my
    Fuji X100. My least used lenses are my 14-24 and 70-200 2.8, they are comparably huge in regards to my other
    lenses, Hasselblad CF included. I do have a lot of glass in several formats though, Leica, Xpan, Hasselblad CF and all
    kinds of Nikon glass that is manual and AF because they are tools each do their job very well when needed.

    Most of July was corporate events that are annual gigs, both the heavy zooms and the X100 did the tasks, the X100
    made using the 35/1.4 happen a ton less. All of August has been free schedule stock for local advertising shoots,
    primarily hiking, climbing, rafting, fishing, mountain biking, etc. This kind of shooting has seen Xpan and Nikon small
    primes for the most part. This month it is more of the ad shooting seen in August but with two great year long
    magazine assignments for Summer issues starting out. One is an outdoor related piece in which light and fast is
    mandatory and the other is far more like street, where light and small is mandatory. Last night I shot for the latter one
    from 5PM to 1AM. I started with an M6/35 and an M3/50, both F/2 with Portra 400. By one hour past sundown, all I
    used was the X100 and just totally knocked it out of the park with that little camera, some of best candid work I have
    ever done.

    So I guess what I am trying to say is it seems like these kinds of topics on mostly amateur forums don't go much last
    how amateurs think, big heavy and impressive gear leads to the best photos because technical image quality is more
    important than the real image quality, the talent behind the photo it self, how good it all came together in the

    And if you think that just sounds crazy, tell that to the guy who ownes one of the most popular italian restaurants in
    town who just hired me for a great advertising day rate to shoot his entire menu...with my iPhone in Hipstamatic.

    I have mostly severed ties with all forums but my own for reasons that the line between, well to be polite, "Point A &
    Point B" seem to be where I have very little in common with these online haunts anymore. So I was going to post a nice little
    write up with real photographs about the most amazing new tool in photography, the X100 and finally put an end to
    any and all forum dealings, but I have decided that this will be my last post on It's not a bad thing, I will make better photographs this way and that is all that matters to
    me anymore.

    Have fun in Nikon land folks, you have lots of outstanding gear to choose from that does not have to weigh a ton or
    give you the most likely ego driven conception that the tourists in the airport are actually impressed with your "Big
    Camera" and think you are a pro...

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