Short-term Travel but Long-term Goals

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by lee_vgg, May 3, 2010.

  1. I have recently decided to switch from my partner of 7 years, a Canon 10D with 28-105mm f/4.5-5.6, to a new Nikon D700 with a range of lenses. I have scoured the internet for opinions and visited two stores to help me decide what lenses I should get. I am a serious enthusiast, meaning I shoot for memories but occasionally do paid portraits for friends, my company, etc. I enjoy shooting the entire style range, including Landscapes, Photojournalism (street, events, etc.), Nature, Architectural, Portraits, and Macro. I haven't done a lot of sports, mainly because I am not a big sports fan and am never at sporting events. I want a set of lenses that I can grow into over the next 5 years (i.e. I don't want to be limited by them after 6 months as I develop as a photographer). I have been limited by both the 10D and 28-105 for the past few years, though they have served me well. I purchased an LX3 w/ wide-angle converter last year and already find myself pushing it's limits, though I love the camera. For an idea of my style and the quality of shots I've gotten between the 10D and LX3 you can view my flickr page:
    (note that the Indian wedding shots are with my friend's Nikon)
    In addition to having a set of lenses that I can grow into, my short-term need is a set that works for a 6 month around-the-world trip. I'll have an internal frame backpack and a small messenger / day pack. I'll be traveling with my wife and visiting Chile, Argentina, Patagonia, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, China, Russia, Germany, Spain, and Italy. Weight is an issue, but I will be packing light on clothing, etc. I am hoping to do more wildlife photography than I have in the past - I swear if I don't get some sharp closeups of penguins in Patagonia I'll be pissed =) Cost is not a limiting factor, in that I can manage up to $7,500 or so. I would like to save as much $ as possible, but it's not mandatory...
    I am leaning towards the following:
    16-35 f/4 VRII, 50 f/1.8, 105 f/2.8 VR Micro, 70-200 f/2.8 VRII, TC-20EIII.
    Cost: ~$7,300 (varies w/ rebates)
    Weight: 9.5 lbs
    Couple issues I'm struggling with:
    1. Given the weight and cost of the above option, I am considering swapping the 70-200 with the 70-300 f/4 VR. I bet the 70-300 would be adequate and I'll be glad to have the lighter lens. But.... I don't want to be disappointed because that one shot wasn't sharp, or I had to set the ISO too high. In addition, I know that after the trip I will pushing the limits of the 70-300. With the 70-200, I will have to work to keep up and will continue to learn from it. It will also give me an additional 100 mm with the TC-2.0EIII. That's dangerous thinking I know, so I have been trying to convince myself to not worry, save money and weight, and just get the 70-300.
    2. I could swap the 16-35 with the 17-35 and / or the 50 1.8 with the 50 1.4. Not a huge issue, but I'm leaning towards the above simply for cost. 16-35 f/4 with VRII and the D700 will get most the shots at night. And if it doesn't, I can switch to the 50 1.8.
    3. I considered ditching the 16-35 and 50 for the 24-70. However, I want an ultra wide for landscapes and streets. I've read the 24-70 is mediocre at 24, and I have yet to find a good prime around 16 or 18. I don't need or want the 14-24 due to the cost, weight, and bubble.
    4. Ditch the 105 micro. I love macro shots and it would be nice to capture some unique macros around the world. It would also serve as a carry-around short telephoto in combo with the 16-35 and 50, if my arm and shoulder are dead from carrying the 70-200. But - it probably isn't necessary, and the 70-200 (or 70-300) would serve equally well for portraits.
    Extra Issue - I am also debating whether I should lug around a flash and umbrella, lol. I took one to India and never used it. But - I look back and most my people shots could have been improved with the flash. However, with the flash comes batteries, charger, filters, etc., and thus more weight and less space....
    Any thoughts would be appreciated,
  2. I also want to add that all of the India shots (except the wedding) were with the LX3. I bought the LX3 expecting it to serve as my travel camera for our 6 month trip. I loved the 24 mm wide angle and the 16 mm with the converter. I didn't mind switching between the two that much, though it was annoying at times. I also liked the f/2.0-2.8 fast lens and relatively good ISO performance. But I severely missed having telephoto beyond 60 mm. At my friend's wedding, where I used his Nikon, I also realized I missed the benefits of a DSLR enough that I have decided it's worth carrying a DSLR and a few lenses around the world....
  3. lol, one more piece of info... I'll be carrying a Gitzo Traveler tripod with me on the trip, so while most shots will be hand held, I will have a tripod available. Of course, if the lenses let me shoot without a tripod, I might just leave it. *sigh* I do like the occasional time lapse landscape or city shot though and will probably lug the tripod on the trip =)
  4. There is no 70-300/4 VR - the current lens is 70-300/4.5-5.6 VR.
    Your gear selection looks sensible to me - the one place were you might be able to save is on omitting the 105 and carry a Canon 500D diopter for the occasional close-up shot with the 70-200; it isn't a substitute for a macro lens but can fill in nicely on many occasions.
    Flash and umbrella - your call. If you are in people photography (posed) then most certainly. The umbrella also doubles nicely as a reflector.
  5. A couple things:
    (1) You won't outgrow a lens if you understand its strengths and weaknesses (provided it has strengths not available in any of your other lenses). So you won't outgrow the 70-300VR, because nothing else will provide light weight and VR from 200-300mm. But you shouldn't expect it to match up to the 70-200 within that range!
    (2) The change in camera body is significant. The D700 is probably at least two stops better than the 10D in most measures, even before you factor in the doubling of pixel count. So I'm thinking for your trip you can live with somewhat slower lenses in the name of portability -- the larger sensor will make up some of the difference in depth of field too (for equivalent angle of view -- I don't want to reopen that discussion!)
    (3) You seem willing to carry quite a lot of equipment. If it were me I'd probably go with a 16-35, 50, and 70-300VR for the trip -- skip the flash and umbrella (and stand, presumably), maybe consider a smallish collapsible reflector instead -- then consider your long-term lens selections later.
  6. Just a quick point about the 70-300 VR, it has a 4.5-5.6 f stop range, which has it's limitations in low light, but I use it often in limited light and still get some pretty good shots. also, mine is excellent even at 300mm, sharp and clean.
  7. sounds like a good plan to me. i'd seriously consider the 70-300 VR over the 70-200/2.8 simply b/c of size/weight. but last week at a botanical garden i saw several troopers lugging serious glass around, so maybe i'm a tenderfoot with the 70-300 VR... also, instead of a 50/1.8, go for the 50/1.4 if possible -- a small margin of extra capability in low light. i also will tuck the SB-600 in the bag somewhere. it is compact but can work remotely via CLS, and doesn't require too much supporting gear for the added capabilities. whatever you take, i'm sure your trip will be a blast! enjoy...
  8. All,
    Thanks for the responses. I meant 4.5-5.6 vs 4... I should probably go with the rational approach and get the 70-300 VR...
    I suppose I could look into using a Macro filter as Dieter suggests. Any thoughts on whether that would be a reasonable substitute to the 105 Micro for this trip? Looking at shots with the 105 Macro online, that lens takes awesome shots and really makes me want to consider it. Especially if I go with the 70-300 vs 70-200.
  9. Forget the 105 macro that is a waste of space if you are taking the 70-200mm. Personally for back packing, about the last lens I would take is a 70-200mm f2.8. Forget the flash too.
    Or how about taking the 105mm + teleconverters (1.4 and 1.7x) and leaving the 70-200m behind? Assuming, that is, the 105mm takes TCs. I'm not a Nikon user so I don't know.
  10. You'll curse the tripod too. Take a good table top model instead, your long lenses have VR: that should be sufficient.
  11. The 105 macro does take TCs and based on online comments it does fairly well with them. Interesting option but it leaves me 100 mm short of 300 mm, and that's with the 2.0 TC.
    So if I left the flash, my portraits would have to rely on natural light only. I suppose I could use a small reflector and natural light to help with the shadows a bit. Overall I would get some decent portraits but would be limited. Honestly, I didn't use the flash in India because I was too timid. I felt awkward enough asking for people's portraits, to suddenly pull out a flash, etc., was tough for me. So in that sense it makes me want to leave it, but at the same time I should get over it and use it to improve the photo....
    Some other thoughts....
    1. What about swapping the 50 1.4 with the old Nikon 55 f/2.8 AI (MF) Macro lens? That would give me a decent aperture at 55 mm plus a good macro. That would be an alternative to getting a diode lens and putting it on the 50 1.4 or 70-300.
    2. No one commented on getting the 24-70 vs the 16-35. Give that I want the 16-24 range, I don't see that as an option. Unless I went with 16-35, 24-70, and 70-300. That's within my budget. I could easily tack on the 50 1.4 or 1.8 as well. But - then I'm stuck with a fat heavy 24-70 that in all honestly is accounted for by the 16-35 and 50.
  12. Robin - With only a table-top tripod I would really be limited in the composition. If I'm in a room it's probably fine, but out in the field it would be a real limitation. For example, I wouldn't have gotten this composition:
    But I understand your point and it's something I am going to consider... It takes up about 1/5 of the space in my backpack and weighs the same as the D700 body (2.2 lbs).
  13. Sounds like a great trip, Lee. I know it's somewhat off the mark, but you might look into a Panasonic GF-1, or Olympus EP-2 camera for your travels. You'd save a lot of weight & bulk and still be able to get excellent image quality.
    Picking either body with the Panasonic 7-14/4, 20/1.7 & 45-200 lenses would give you great coverage (14mm to 400 equalvilant ). With the exception of the 7-14/4 lens, all of these items are`reasonably priced and fall way under your $7,500 figure. You'd still have enough for the 16-35 & 70-300 Nikon lenses with money left over.
    Anyway, it's an alternative to consider. I do a lot of travel photography and I'm enjoying the micro 4/3 easy to carry all day.
  14. Jim,
    I thought about that... That argument is why I picked up the LX3. I admit to not having tested the new MFT cameras, but I feel like I might as well get something that is (honestly) not that much larger or heavier but that has significantly more authority and control (speed, ISO, image quality). I feel like in 5 years the MFT might be the camera of choice, but they aren't there yet...? My other issue is that I can not afford a MFT and a new D700. So whichever I get, it will serve as my camera for all purposes for the next 5-10 years. So in that sense, I think the DSLR will give me more flexibility.
  15. I think you need to carefully examine each piece you intend to take along as to how often you think you might use it and if that usage is worth carrying that particular item around. That goes especially for the tripod, flash, and umbrella - just occasional use would not warrant carrying those around. Though for a trip like yours, I'd carry a flash and tripod.
    16-35 vs 24-70 - only you can make that call. From what you stated so far and from a quick look at your flickr stream, it appears to me that you like wide - so the 16-35 would be a better choice. Of course, your selection of 16/35 and 50 leaves the question open which one you intend to use as a walk-around lens. 16-35 + 24-70 seems too much weight for what it provides - if you need the 35-70 range, get the 35-70/2.8 instead. But for me, you really got that covered with the 50.
    50 vs 55 - not sure I would make that trade. There might be a lot of things you don't want to or simply can't get that close to.
    70-200 vs 70-300 - I would be tempted by the lighter weight of the 70-300 but especially with the TC option you mention, the 70-200 will be the more versatile one. 400mm isn't all that long on an FX camera.
    On another note - how are you dealing with backups of your memory cards?
  16. Ah...sorry Lee. I thought you already ownd the D700. I understand your reasoning. However, the D700 is MUCH larger & heavier than any MFT offerings, and MUCH better IQ than your LX3.
    But, as I said, I understand your train of thought perfectly, having wrestled with the issue myself. Enjoy your wonderful trip.
  17. Hi Lee,
    It sounds like you're going on an exciting trip. I've hauled camera gear through multi-country trips before, and I just want to say: travel as light as you possibly can.
    You will be extremely irritated if you have to haul heavy gear through airport security checks, through train stations, up and down stairs, etc. When you're walking a lot every day, every extra pound, every cubic inch of bulk, will weigh you down. There *is* a point where the weight will negatively affect your photos, because you'll be more tired, lazy, or you spend more time resting than taking photos and enjoying yourself.
    Secondly, consider the possibility of theft. The more valuable your stuff is, the more of a target you are. The more you appear fleet footed as opposed to pack mule, the less of a target you'll be. Even if you have travel insurance, having your gear stolen will be a major setback.
    Unless you're firm on a D700, you may want to consider a lighter camera body which could become your backup body. I would recommend skipping the umbrella. The largest flash I would consider is the SB-400 if any at all. Tripods are essential, but if you're not going to use it very much, consider getting a small travel tripod (or even a monopod) as opposed to a full sized one.
    My goal when I travel is to have 1 backpack and 1 medium rolling luggage. Everything valuable goes in the backpack and stays with me (meaning: all the camera equipment and the laptop). When I do the daily walking, I take my backpack, and my goal is to limit it to *half* full of photo gear. This leaves room to put drinks, guidebooks, maps, snacks, souveniers, clothes, etc. in the backpack.
    Travel photography is simply much more enjoyable when you can stroll, instead of haul.
  18. Dieter,
    Memory cards? I have a single 2 GB, that should be enough while shooting small JPEGs right? Just kidding... =) *sigh* Another weight vs use issue. Probably a 2 lb netbook plus 1 TB WD passport drive. Possibly upload the best photos to an FTP or burn them to a DVD and mail as well. I don't want to take a laptop but for 6 months I think it is worth it.
    I keep going back on forth on the 70-200. Your last comment makes me want to go with it... But if I'm honest with myself it would probably be crazy in the end given the weight, size, and cost value of the 70-300.
  19. Whatever you decide, you are going to need a good bag that you can carry on to a place. I suggest you look at the Kiboko Bag from Gura Gear. It will hold everything and will not advertise photo gear inside.
    I would substitute the Nikon 60mm f AFS G VR macro lens for the 105 f2.8 G VR macro and the 50mm f 1.8. This way you get a macro lens and a great general purpose prime lens. (I cannot argue against the quality and low cost of the 50mm f 1.8 lens.)
    If you want a wide angle prime consider the Nikon 24 mm f 2.8 or the Nikon 20mm f 2.8 or wide angles made by Zeiss in Nikon mounts. There are two of them, the 28mm f 2.5 and the 35mm f 2.0. They are pricey however.
    Definitely get the 70-200mm f 2.8 AFS VRII, not the earlier version. I think you might be better served with the Nikon TC 14E II or the Nikon TC 17E II. If wildlife is one of your desires, add a Nikon 300mm f 4.0 AFS, not the older AF version. I would not buy the 70-300 if you have the 70-200mm and a tc.
    I read all of the earlier comments about weight, security, etc. Only you can decide what is important to you.
    If you take a laptop also take a Hyperdive too. When I travel, I always make two backups of my images.
    I use SanDisk Extreme IV Cards and shoot in RAW.
    Joe Smith
  20. if you're not shooting sports, i'm not sure why you wouldnt just get a 5dmk II instead of a d700.
    anyway, a couple of things here: 1) 24-70 and 70-200 are not ideal travel lenses due to the bulk and weight. ditto the 16-35. i'd think about taking a smaller, lighter kit. the 24/1.4 is good enough to where it can be your main lens. in fact a 24/1.4+50/1.4 AF-S+ 85/1.4 kit with a d700 body would yield fantastic results, IQ-wise. (the 50/1.8 is very small--it will practically disappear on a d700--but the bokeh isnt stellar).
    2) you dont have to spend all $7500 now. in fact, you could get the kit i mentioned for your trip and still have enough left over to buy the 70-200 VR II when you get back.
    3) if you really feel you want a long lens for your trip, the 70-300 VR is much more suited for travel than the 70-200.
    4) if you really want to be kitted-out, i'd budget for a lightweight CF tripod, cable release, vari-ND filter a good CP, also 1 or 2 sb-600s for max lighting versatility. a hyperdive and/or netbook is also a good idea. with a netbook, you can stop into an Internet cafe on the road and back up your images online.
  21. I thought about this some more - it's simply fun to spend someone's money.
    While I can understand the desire to carry the best for a trip like this - there apparently is a need for restriction and compromise. So, I would not take an FX camera along but get a D90 instead. Not a D300s - simply to save the weight and knowing that the superior AF won't be missed (and hoping that the D90 is robust enough). Then I would take either my trusty Nikon 12-24, a 35/1.8, and the 70-300 VR. Or the Tokina 11-16, Sigma 17-70/2.8-4, and the 70-300. I might consider swapping the 70-300 for the 80-400 - though the latter is considerably more bulky and almost twice as heavy (and costs almost three times as much too). The Sigma 100-300/4 might be an option too - plus a 1.4x extender.
  22. Your proposed kit sounds good on paper but I'll bet you will tire of carrying all those big zooms around. If I were you I would splash out on a Zeiss 35mm ZF as a walk around lens. On top of that maybe the 25mm ZF for your wide angle lens or even the 21mm if you are likely to use such a wide lens often. On the long end stick to the 70-200 VRII (avoid the first version 70-200mm which is badly compromised for landscape use). You may as well add the Nikon 50mm f1.8 for a cheap fast job of good optical quality. The ZFs are outstanding and you will never outgrow those and they have resolution to spare for future DSLRs.
  23. Eric,
    5dmkII vs D700. Ha, I will not start up that subject. But there are other things that move fast in this world besides sport subjects =)

    I'd like something wider than 24 mm, hence the 16-35.

    Already got the Gitzo Traveler, a 2.3 lb CF tripod. Got the GND filters, polarizers, etc. from my current Canon 10D (I'm not Nikon biased).


    I feel I must stick to the D700, otherwise I am throwing away money on a body that would not meet my needs when I return. I don't need a backup body after returning, so I'd be stuck with the D90. I want the wide angle of the FX and the ISO capabilities of the D700. As I mentioned, sports are not the only fast moving objects, so the AF is still very desirable. And compared to my 10D, it's only an extra 0.5 lb. Compared to the D90 it's roughly 1 lb heavier...


    You mention I'll get tired of carrying the big zooms - but then you suggest the 70-200?? lol.


    I like Joseph's suggestion of the 60 2.8 macro. Heck, I could get both the 50 1.4 and 60 2.8. Use the 60 2.8, 16-35, 70-300 during the day and the 50 1.4, 16-35 at night. That's not too much gear to carry around... Or is it? The total weight with the D700 would be 7 lbs. Total cost would be ~$5,500, less if I got a rebate with it.

  24. James,
    Really beautiful gallery by the way. Looking at it brings to mind whether I really need the 16-20mm range. Perhaps I would be ok with just a 2X mm prime. *sigh* Most of my landscapes have always been limited to ~50 mm on the 10D. It made me think differently and not just go for the "widest shot possible." With the LX3 though I am able to get 24 mm and 18 mm (with the WA converter) and really like the occasional 18 mm action or landscape shot.
    Another limitation I see with the Zeiss 2X mm is that it's manual focus only, so while fine for landscapes I would have trouble with wide angle action.
  25. Hi Lee,
    I love primes and my kit would look this way:
    16-35 f4 VRII
    Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AIS (this is really a gem)
    Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro (and portraits)
    Nikon 180mm f2.8
  26. Lee,
    I agree that you should have an ultra-wide angle lens with you, and should have something with macro capabilities, like the 60mm or a standard zoom that dabbles in macro. (Just to note however, there are 10-20mm and 10-24mm lenses available for cropped frame sensors, which are actually wider in coverage than 16-35mm. They are less bulky too. Anyways, that's my final plug for APS-C.)
    That's not too much gear to carry around... Or is it? The total weight with the D700 would be 7 lbs.​
    You're going to get lots of exercise, haha.
    Japan: You arrive at Narita airport. Lift your backpack out of the overhead compartment. You haul it 1 km to customs/immigration. You stand 40 min in line (no carts) with the bag on. You get past there, board the train to Tokyo. You'll likely have to switch trains once, when means, drag the backpack + rolling luggage through the crowded train terminals, up the steps, down the steps (because you couldn't find the elevator), tripod knocking on little kid's heads, back on the train again. Then scamper up the hotel. Repeat for every country, haha. Add to this: weather.
    But, to each his own. I tend to travel on tighter schedules than what you're looking forward to (my craziest was 4 countries in 4 days, no shared borders). I learned a lot from my cousin (who travels for months on end out of 1 shoulder bag), and it's insane watching her breeze through everything while all her companions (myself included) struggle.
  27. "You mention I'll get tired of carrying the big zooms - but then you suggest the 70-200?"
    You said you wanted to get some wildlife - I presume that meant wildlife that is still alive? :)
    Only you know what is important to you - if you are serious about wildlife then a 70-200mm is the very least you will need and there is no way out of it. However wider zooms like the 16-35, 17-35mm and 24-70mm could be boiled down to a couple of top notch primes and require a bit more effort on your part to get the shot. For travel/landscapes and many other things manual focus is fine. Also you have to ask yourself how much wide angle action do you do? Action requiring telephoto lenses is common and hence my hybrid suggestion of MF and AF lenses. You are missing one of the greatest lenses in the entire FX lens universe if you skip the 35mm ZF - there is no SLR lens by any manufacturer that can touch it. And the 21mm. And the 100mm.
  28. I am not familiar with Nikon. However, I have done a lot of traveling with bag full of gear. . I also did professional work for several years. I have traveled solely with a Bronica ETRSi and a couple of lenses at times. Some pictures of Russia in my PN gallery taken with the Bronica. With what I have now, which is Canon, I would travel with my full frame body(I might stick a llight weight lens compatible body in my luggage as a backup and to use when I wanted a 1.6 crop), my 24-105 f4L, my thirteen year old 70-200 2.8L, and a single fixed focus lens at around 18mm although I don't like the barrel distortion of that focal length on full frame body and find I could travel without it. 24mm is enough for me. I would take a flash because in my professional work I used it a lot and have confidence in my ability to use it effectively. I also like the full frame for its excellent high ISO capability for dark sooks and marketplaces. I would take a couple of extenders (I have done a lot of salable wildlife with the 70-200 and a 1.4x or the hated Canon 2x. That would be it except for flash cards and a means to store, edit and categorize pictures. I know fixed focus lenses are better but having done a a lot of wildlife and sports there are times when I can get very close and I do not want to be changing lenses and miss the shot. I am not not the most fussy person about IQ if the blowup looks good I am happy. My customers look at pictures not pixels.
  29. Lee,
    Thanks for your kind words about the gallery. The front page was taken with the 25mm Distagon. Although super wide angle lenses are occasionally indispensible (narrow valleys for instance) I end up not using them much and that is in spite of finding excuses to pull out the 21mm ZF. 24mm is about as wide as I usually need.
    Good luck on the trip - sounds wonderful. Try and go to Easter Island in between Chile and NZ!
  30. Philip,
    You are correct - really I should figure out what I need and then leave half of it behind to be truly comfortable... I'm sticking to one backpack while moving around, so it's all gotta fit in there plus my clothes, etc. I think I can manage that with a D700 and a few lenses. We are also planning on spending 2-3 weeks per country, and limiting ourselves to one or two regions of each country. So hopefully a few nights at least in each location. Still, good points and I'll think a bit about the APS-C argument....
    I was surprised you recommended the 70-200 over the 70-300 given the weight of the 70-300. There's a slight trade off in quality / speed but it sounds like it might be worth it given the weight (and cost).
    You've got me seriously considering the Zeiss wide angles. I noticed there is also an 18 mm. Couple questions:
    1. For action, I can probably go to f/8 and focus to infinity, and the majority of the scene would be in focus, no? By action, I mean shots while driving, biking, people running past, etc.
    2. Do you think 21 mm is enough given my trade off on weight / space, or will I regret not getting to the 16-18 mm range for landscapes? I think I would be ok with 21 mm for around-town / action.
    3. The ZF is for Nikon, the ZE is for Canon? Aperture is controlled on the lens; can it be controlled in camera? I typically use A or M, but can you do Shutter Speed priority? Does it show all information in the view finder? Any other limitations on the D700 body in terms of control?
    4. It looks like I can use the Zeiss lenses on the MFT system, if I ever chose to purchase a MFT body?
    Given everyone's suggestion on primes, I could go with the following:
    21 f/2.8 ZF, 35 f/2 ZF, 50 f/1.4 (or ditch this), 60 f/2.8 Macro, 70-300 f/4.5-5.6
    Cost: $6,500 (w/o rebates), $6,100 (w/o 50 f/1.4)
    Weight: 8 lbs (7.5 lbs w/o 50 f/1.4)
    FWIW - I original started thinking primes but then chickened out with the concept of switching lenses constantly. Keep in mind I've only ever used a single 28-105 mm (effective 45-168). I suppose I've used the WA converter with the LX3, which is sort of like switching lenses. I don't mind taking it on and off *too* much, so I'm willing to go primes if it offers advantages in terms of weight, quality, and cost. But now I'm looking at Primes PLUS Manual... I first started using the 10D manual only, never used the auto focus. Until one day I realized that this AF thing wasn't too bad! Now I look back at my manual focus shots and realize I sucked at MF. Maybe it was my lens, my inexperience, or both. So that's why I've left in the 60 mm and possible the 50 mm, for shots were I need to quickly focus. And of course I would have the 70-300 with AF.
    Thanks everyone for your input, keep it coming if you have more suggestions or thoughts.
  31. Consider the newer ZF.2 lenses that have a chip embedded, makes handling easier. Consider the 50/2 ZF.2 Macro instead of the Nikon 50/1.4 and the 60/2.8 or go for the 100/2 ZF.2 directly. Though you might want to have your main walk-around lens as an AF?
  32. Dieter,
    Good point, that answers my question #3 for James.
    Hmm the 21, 35 Zeiss combo is heavier and more expensive than the 16-35, and I loose AF. Will have to think about this....
  33. Hmm the 21, 35 Zeiss combo is heavier and more expensive than the 16-35, and I loose AF.​
    The price you pay for quality...
    Not sure if on a trip like yours and being unfamiliar with primes and MF I would go this route.
    Maybe consider separating the lens requirements for this trip from the ones you want to use after? So take the 16-35 along - sell it upon return and get the one or two Zeiss primes that suit you most.
    I am almost certain that you will sell the 70-300 as well in favor of the 70-200.
    I still think that 300mm is going to be too short for a lot of the wildlife you want to photograph - and suggest to take a D90 or similar along for when you need the additional reach. May also come handy as the body to mount the macro lens on.
    You could even go so far and include the DX in your lens considerations. Get the 24/1.4 which makes a nice wide angle on the D700 and provides the very useful 35mm FOV on the DX body, as well as coming in handy for night shots or of scenes that are dimly lit.
  34. For primes I'd just get the 17-35/2.8 and the 85/1.8.
  35. Reality check: When you travel, you don't know exactly where you will stand and exactly what focal length you will need. Because of this, imho, zooms are a must. It has nothing to do with the nature of primes, it has everything to do with the unpredictability of shooting in places you don't live in.
    Travel = zooms. Bring primes AS WELL if you can, but not instead of zooms.
    And remember, at this level, comparing sharpness of Zeiss vs. a higher end Nikon lens? How big are you going to print. A properly exposed photo on any great lens with any good camera will yield a good image at a reasonable print size.
  36. Dieter,
    In regards to familiarity, I will have at least 6 months or more to get familiar with them, so I'm not too concerned about that. In between I'll be going to Scotland and Ireland so that will give me some good practice and a chance to test the weight / portability of the kit.
    I didn't realize the D90 was so cheap, relatively. Adorama has it now for $850 after $50 rebate. All of these lenses I'm considering would work with the D90, and it is a pound less and smaller than the D700... I would loose a stop or two of ISO, some speed, durability, and the full format. I would have to get a 10 or 12 mm to get to the 18-21 range though. I would loose some quality with a DX WA lens on the D90 compared to the 21, 25 Zeiss or 16-25 Nikon on the D700 I would suspect...?
  37. I would go with a D90 if for travel. It's plenty good enough. Lenses would be Tokina 11-16mm f2.8, Tamron 17-50mm f2.8, and the older (and more compact) Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 AFD or better the AFS version. That would give you a clean f2.8 from 11mm to 200mm with ISO up to 1600. Definitely would want flash, probably two SB-600. All of this is fairly compact and optically excellent. My guess is it would give results at least two "notches" above 10D. I just can't get excited about f5.6 zooms for use in low light. Sorry. As for durability of D90, I have used the D80 in the very worst conditions the Dakotas could throw at it, and it has held up just fine. I think this plus the Gitzo traveler tripod would make a very compact and capable travel outfit, especially for the cost.
    I'll add that I'm going to Iceland in July for a couple of weeks. I needed to pare down what I bring, so: D300, Tokina 11-16mm f2.8, Nikon 17-55mm f2.8, Nikon 80-400mm VR (for puffins, volcano,) Canon 500D macro, two flash with Skyport triggers, Benro Travel tripod A-269, D80 backup camera with Nikon 18-55mm VR backup lens. I'm covered for just about everything and can get publishable quality. Lenses and camera will to into thin neoprene pouches to save bulk. Pouches to clip onto either a built or the harness of my regular (not camera) backpack.

    Kent in SD
  38. Take the 80/20 approach. Consider what FL's you would need for the majority of your images - Make sure you have the absolute best for that FL range. Then, if you have to compromise, do so for the "secondary FL's.
    That said, I think a D700 (with grip) and a 24-70mm/2.8 is the ideal combo. The 24mm on a 24-70mm is NOT mediocre. If you think you need wider, get a small 20mm AI/AIS lens. If you think you need longer , get a 105/2.5 AI/AIS. Both are very good lenses, but relatively small, which would you allow you to enjoy your trip.

  39. I'd like something wider than 24 mm, hence the 16-35.
    Travel = zooms. Bring primes AS WELL if you can, but not instead of zooms.​
    ok, so 16-35 it is. not a bad choice--i shot extensively with a tokina 12-24 in havana a few months back, and UWAs are nice to have abroad. i recommended the 24/1.4 because it does appear to be THAT good, and its within your budget. but if you really want wide, 16-35 would be better.
    but if you're taking that and the 70-300 VR, you dont also need the 24-70. in fact all you would need in addition to that is a 50mm lens w/ a d700. 16-to-300 in a three-lens kit with a low light option would be pretty awesome IMO. of course if you dont want to switch lenses at all, a d5000+18-200 would be just fine.
  40. Not that I've used any CZ lenses, but I think the difference between any CZ lenses and other makers (Nikon, Sigma, Tokina, Tamron, et al) is probably marginal. You'd have to zoom in/blow up the pictures to notice any differences, and most of the marginal advantage of CZ lenses is overshadowed by a few nudges on Photoshop sliders. The CZ lenses might even be overkill in many circumstances: it's pointless to draw a highly resolved slice of an image on a single sensor pixel.

    Counter that with loss of AF: it's a huge drawback.

    I would loose some quality with a DX WA lens on the D90 compared to the 21, 25 Zeiss or 16-25 Nikon on the D700 I would suspect...?​

    The difference is probably marginal. CZ lenses I think, are pretty far past the point of diminishing returns: the Tokina ultra-wides (for DX) are highly rated in terms of sharpness.

    Remember though, it might be nice to have *one* prime, a 35mm if you go the DX route, or a 50mm. They're very light.
  41. Lee, since you are new to Nikon, check out what Bjorn Rorslett says about a particular Nikon lens. He has first had exprience with just about all of them and he is an independent source. I still think you are better served forgoing the 70-300mm and substituting the 70-200mm f 2.8 VRII len. Yes, it is heavier, but it is a much better lens and works very well with a Nikon tc. I just got back from a safari and I used the earlier version on a D 300 and got great shots. The first version is OK on a cropped sensor, but not for your D 700. The VRII is the model you need for the FX bodies.
    Joe Smith
  42. All,
    Thanks again for all of the responses. Feel free to keep poking holes in my and others' arguments.
    I've been looking over a ton of shots with the CZ 21 mm and admit the detail is better than the 16-35 mm. For now I wouldn't print above 20 x 30, but if I ever did, it would be with my wide angle landscape shots. Of course, the 16-35 gives you AF and VRII and a range. The VRII would be useful in low light, but I can give up hand held, low-light, wide angle in exchange for the 50 1.4 in low light. In regards to the AF, I am willing to give up fast focusing in the wide angle. Reading up on the 21 mm, it sounds like focusing isn't that tough, especially if you're in the f/8 and beyond range and are setting it to infinity. I also hear vague references that the body will give you a focus indication light......? The other draw back is that the 21 mm ZF.2 is actually $500 more than the 16-35, lol. But for landscape and WA work, long term it might be the better pick. It's also a bit lighter and smaller, though not by much. Eric - I think I'm willing to give up the zoom to get the best detail possible in a lighter, smaller package. Peter - Maybe I'm dillusional to think the CZ 21 is worth giving up the 16-35 range and paying more to do so?
    As far as the 70-200 vs 70-300 goes. I just can't justify the cost and weight difference. If I used the 70-200 w/ D700, I would have to get the TC-1.7 or 2.0 to have it compare. That's $2,100 MORE and A LOT heavier than the 70-300. Dieter - Do you really think that extra 100 mm is going to help me out that much with wildlife? What about a bit of cropping on the D700, say 10-20%? I hate cropping but it's an option..... At some point I would want the 70-200, but maybe a used one after I return. Might as well keep the 70-300 at that point for light travel, it's so "cheap" =)
    So let's say I go with the following:
    D700; CZ 21 f/2.8 (for landscapes, wide angle, and macro @ 4 inches); 50 f/1.4 (for fast AF, evening, bokeh, light weight walk-around); 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 (wildlife, fast AF for street, portraits, landscape)
    Cost: $5,400
    Weight: 5.9 lbs
    Lightest and cheapest option yet! Now - should I fill it in with another macro (60 mm) or the CZ 35 mm f/2. Or leave it at that and be happy I'm not lugging more lens around? I am leaning towards not getting anything else or getting the 60 mm since it would give me an easier macro to work with, it's lighter, and $540 vs $1,000.
  43. You are going to do what you want, but let me make a pitch for going light. On a recent one month trip to Vietnam I carried a Canon G9 / small TTL flash (to light up faces under those conical hats) and off camera sync cord. This stuff fit in the pockets of my travel vest. My backup camera was a waterproof Pentax Optio. I got fairly decent photos. See:
    My travel partner took his Canon DSLR w/ 70 -300 zoom . He also got some good shots, but quite a few times his camera was in his rucksack when the shot appeared. He also carried more camera weight than I did.
    In the tropics the sun comes up at 0700 and sets at 7 pm (approx} There is a lot of street action in the hrs of low light. I purchased a D300 for its lo light ability, but am really having second thoughts about lugging it around on the next trip. With my liteweight rig I will miss some shots I know I could get w/ the DSLR, but on the other hand With the DSLR I will miss some shots I'd get If I had a camera that was more handy. We have to pick our poison.
    Another thought. Are you shooting for the National Geographic? 36 inch prints? I think we sit here in our chairs and read about IQ, Lens data, and other sorts of academically interesting stuff, but does it all really translate into better photos? The shooters eye can make great photos w/ minimalist gear. Look at some of the old classics. 99% of my shots are shared on the web, Streamed to my HDTV w/ Apple TV, and 4x6's go in the album. A handful of the G9 shots were blown up to 16x20 size and look great.
    The G9 and the little (size of a cigarette pack) Pentax waterproof gave me 90 % satisfaction. I missed the lower noise at hi ISO of the SLR, but Small and quick to use has a lot of advantages, especially on such a long trip as yours. Sometimes less is more.
    I envy you your journey. You'll have a blast. Enjoy!
  44. Baseed on my experience with Nikon MF lenses, the dot is not a good indicator of ACCURATE focus. Your eyes have to do it. If your eyes/light cannot do it, use an AF lens. If you take the 70-300mmm on the trip, you will sell it for the much better 70-200mm VR II when you get home.
    Joe Smith
  45. Lee, I've also traveled using a backpack, and am in agreement with those who have advised paring down to the absolute minimum. A D90 is a realistic option to consider, even if you have to sell everything when you get back.
  46. I've been looking over a ton of shots with the CZ 21 mm and admit the detail is better than the 16-35 mm.​
    Are you sure about that? I wouldn't trust shot to shot comparisons because there's so many different factors that affect sharpness other than the lens.
    If you look at the photozone comparisons (it's the only website I can find that has done comparisons of both lenses), its review of the Nikon 16-35mm isn't glowing, but it some respects it actually beats the CZ 21mm in sharpness tests.
    Go here:
    According to that website at least, the distortion is worse on the Nikon, as well as Chromatic Aberrations (which can be easily fixed with software). But sharpness is actually better on the Nikon.

    As you can see, we're really just splitting hairs here, but with the CZ you lose range and autofocus.
  47. Lee, from what I've seen of your linked flickr photos, you would be just fine with a 28 or 35mm 1.4 lens, and a 75 or 85mm lens. Much smaller and lighter than one or two big clumsy zooms, and should produce better results. Just curious, if you are into travel photography, why the attraction of an dslr. a smaller more, discrete type of camera that accomodates smaller lenses, and isn't dependant on battery's may be a better option. Your budget puts you well and truly into Leica/Voigtlander/Zeiss territory (with the two lenses I suggested), which I consider to be far better suited to your purposes.
  48. D700 with 24/1.4, 50/1.4, D90 with 70-300, 60/2.8 or 105/2.8 macro optional; I'd go with a close-up lens for the 70-300 instead. Alternative: replace 24/1.4 with 16-35/4. Add an SB-600 flash that you can use either in the hot-shoe or as a slave with the D700/D90 on-board flash. And your tripod.
    Or get the Canon 5D MkII, the 17/4 TS-E, the 35/1.4, the 24-105/4 and the 70-200/4 (IS or non-IS) with a 1.4x.
  49. One thing I have not sees mentioned so far is a back-up camera. Extra weight, extra cost, but you don't want to be somewhere remote and three months into the trip and have a camera go bad. I like the idea of the D700 - wrestling over that will be my camera when I retire in a few months. But you need a back-up. I would think about a used D200 for a back-up. It won't break the bank, and will use CF cards like the D700. An advantage would be if shooting wildlife you could use the D200 with the 70-300 zoom and the field of view, crop factor or whatever you want to call it would give you a little more reach. If you are shooting wildlife, you often need all the reach you can get. For a trip that involves hiking, and this one sounds like that, I would carry a D700, a D200, a 24-70 and 70-300 zooms, a wide-angle prime if 24mm is not wide enough, and the 50 f1.8 and an SB400 flash. That flash is very light and simple, but has enough power for fill at a reasonable distance. Unless you are going to be shooting really slow, I would ditch the tripod and buy a carbon fiber monopod.
  50. One more vote. I would take the d700, 24-85 af-d, 70-300, 50mm. If you like wide 16-35 is a good one to add. I have both
    70-300 and the new 70-200 and would not think about taking the 70-200 on such a trek - it is very heavy. Same for the
    24-70 - it is an awesome lens that I love, but 24-84 is just a better option for travel. Now 16-35 is a bit smaller, but luckily,
    that wide is not my thing. Be careful to consider dust and frequent lens changes. I got in trouble with that in the past with a wide and tele zoom option (and only one cam). That is why now I go with midrange zoom.

    All that said, I would also seriously consider a dx system for this trip. Remember all this stuff is pretty .

    Just my 2 cents.

  51. Agree with Bill above about backup body. It's going to cost me a TON of money to get to Iceland. What would I do if I dropped my D300 off a cliff photo'ing puffins the first day? No way I want to go without a backup body, and potentially have to buy something local (extreme taxes/duties) if it's even available. As for 300mm on a D700, I just don't see that being anywhere near long enough for wildlife unless you are either in a zoo or photo'ing dead animals. On a D90, it would at least be a good place to start.
    Kent in SD
  52. Having traveled with both systems, here's my Top Ten List.
    (1) Wide angle - I don't own Nikon's 16-35 f/4 VRII. I wanted to rush out an buy one, but the barrel distortion that I saw in demo photos dissuaded me. Yes, you can correct distortion in post-processing, but you have to anticipate the correction as you shoot, because you're going to lose a significant chunk of each photo (around the edges) during lens correction.
    Canon's 17-40 is problematic in its own ways on full-frame cameras (soft corners) and doesn't have VR/IS. Canon's 16-35 f/2.8 is larger and heavier as is the older Nikon 17-35 f/2.8. Nikon's 14-24 f/2.8 is superb optically, but it has it's limitations. (Advantage: None)
    (2) 50 mm. The Nikon isn't the be-all-and-end-all of 50 mm lenses, but Canon's 50 mm lenses are notorious for poor construction. (Advantage: Nikon)
    (3) 70-200 mm. Canon has an f/4 IS model that's far smaller and lighter than either brand's f/2.8 models. Nikon's 70-300 VRII is even smaller and lighter, but I don't know how well its optics compare to the faster lenses. (Slight advantage: Canon)
    (4) Body weight and size. (Advantage: Canon)
    (5) Body ruggedness and weather resistance. (Clear Advantage: Nikon)
    (6) High ISO noise and dynamic range. (Clear Advantage: Nikon)
    (7) Low ISO IQ and HD video. (Clear Advantage: Canon)
    (8) Viewfinder. (Advantage: Canon)
    (9) Ergonomics. Both have their advantages, but both systems are easy to use once you customize them to your preferences. (Advantage: None)
    (10) 24-???. Canon's 24-105 f/4 IS lens is an ideal walk-around lens. Light and sharp with stabilization. It's Achilles heel is distortion (usually pincushion, but sometimes a more complex mess). I'm hoping for the quick arrival of Lightroom 3 so I can finally rescue my 24-105 images from the distortion monster.
    Nikon's 24-70 f/2.8 is big and heavy and lacks VR, but it's a solid performer optically. There's some distortion at all focal lengthsbut nowhere near as much as Nikon's 16-35 f/4 or Canon's 24-105. I don't know where you heard that the 24-70 was "weak at 24 mm," but I find that claim incredulous. (Advantage: Pick your poison. Both are sharp. One is heavy with no VR while the other has IS but distortion problems.)
  53. Everyone's responses are fantastic and I appreciate them. I won't respond individually, since a few people said the same things...
    I am strongly considering the D90 ONLY - no D700. This would save on weight, cost, and get me extra reach. I could also easily replace this in one of the many large cities we'll be visiting, if something happens to it. It seems like my main restriction with the D90 (for this trip) will be lack of full frame.
    Can someone suggest a good DX WA (prime or zoom) that would get the (effective) 20-24 range? Sigma 10-20?
    As an alternative to buying a WA lens, I could just use my LX3 as my sole WA, backup camera, and discreet light weight body when I need it. With the wide angle converter it's a Leica-made f/2.0 capable of 16-60 mm and decent results at ISO 400. It's about the size of the 16-35 mm Nikon lens. It's slow to zoom, but if I keep to the wide end, maybe that's not a big deal. I guess I wanted to improve my wide angle image quality for some fantastic 20 x 30 landscape prints using the D700 and some amazing WA holy lens... But - to be honest - if I take my time with the LX3 it can make some sharp, vivid landscapes that I should be able to print up to 11 x 14, if not 20 x 30.
    LX3 landscapes, for example:
    w/ tripod, long exposure
    handheld shortly after sunrise
    while being driven by a crazy Indian driver along a mountain road (lol, not perfect, but pretty darn good)
    In addition, I would have the D90 with the 70-300 (105-450 f/4.5-5.6) OR 70-200 (105-300 f/2.8) with the option of a TC, for a mind boggling 145-420 to 205-600 (f/3.X or f/4.X??). I would be skeptical about that combo but then I ran across this thread: and this guy's images: With or without the TC on his D80 those are some good shots. So... Do I get greedy and go for the heavy lens? If I've got a light body.....
    I could then get the 60 f/2.8 Macro, which would be 90 mm. Good for portraits and macro work. As well as a prime in the 24-35 range (36-53) with a f/1.4.
    Question - How would the 60 f/2.8 Macro do for bokeh and portraits on the DX? I assume it would be just as good as on an FX?
    I loose a stop or so from the D700, but given my shots from India with the LX3 at 2.0 and ISO 400, I probably don't "need" that extra stop. I could work around it, especially if I have a f/1.4 prime in the 24-35 range. In return I gain telephoto (which is something I sorely missed in India. I got tired of the WA...), a lighter and cheaper kit, and a body that I can eventually use as a backup whenever I upgrade (sometime after the trip) to the D700.
    Some one mentioned I should buy a Leica? Hm. I have an M3 w/ 35 f/2 Summicron Canada, 50 f/2 Summicron (macro??), and 135 f/4 Tele-Elmar. I bet that will create some discussion! I have thought about using those on the new Nikon, by getting a mount from but I didn't see my models listed. They would also just be manual (though the CZ are manual...) and I don't know if metering would work. They are good quality and small though, and the mount would be a cheap solution. If anyone wants to comment on this option, I've posted images of the lenses to my flickr site. I'll follow up with Leitax tomorrow... The camera and lenses were given to me two years ago, they were my grandfathers. I would hate to loose these traveling, but to be honest I don't shoot with the Leica because it's film, and I would rather use them than have them sitting on a shelf.
  54. When you travel, you don't know exactly where you will stand and exactly what focal length you will need. Because of this, imho, zooms are a must.​
    I've traveled with medium- and large-format systems where prime lenses were all that was available. If you KNOW YOUR GENERAL SHOOTING PREFERENCES you can get most of the shots that you'll ever want with a handful of primes. Four to six lenses will cover just about everything. My average was five lenses, and it was rare that I ever felt that I needed additional focal lengths.
    When you shoot with primes, you tend to look for compositions that work with a given focal length rather than endlessly twiddling with a zoom ring as you compose. Granted, you have to know your own shooting style well or you'll end up with a bag full of lenses that aren't compatible with your vision. I recommend that you stick with zooms unless you have a VERY CLEAR UNDERSTANDING of what focal lengths work for you.
    If I wanted to shoot with all primes with and FX body, I'd carry the following focal lengths. This is a PERSONAL CHOICE based on MY shooting preferences. Everyone's list would be different. Note, for instance, that I haven't included a 50 mm lens.
    24mm PC or TS
    45mm PC or TS
    105mm macro
    (optional depending on my objectives)
    17mm TS
    300mm w/ 1.4x teleconverter
    That said, modern zooms have a lot of advantages: nano-coatings, vibration reduction, extremely sharp optics. Add to that the advantage of flexible focal lengths and the fact that two or three zoom lenses can cover the focal lengths of six or more primes. It's more economical, but it's still not the same experience as shooting with prime lenses.
  55. I am strongly considering the D90 ONLY - no D700.​
    In that case, consider Nikon's 10-24 mm wide-angle zoom. It's better than the 3rd party versions.
  56. Can someone suggest a good DX WA (prime or zoom) that would get the (effective) 20-24 range? Sigma 10-20?​
    Tokina 12-24mm seems to be the sharpest and most durable in most reviews. The Sigma 10-20mm is very popular, but seems to have complex distortion. I have the Tamron 10-24, it is generally criticized for bad corner sharpness and CA. The Sigma has an HSM motor, if that matters.
  57. A DX and FX combo with 3-4 lenses would increase your lens efficiency for traveling light. It would also serve you well if something awful happens to one body. If you don't want to mess with films, forget the M3. Traveling light is ultra important to me. Forget the 2.8 tele zoom and have fun!
  58. Not at all sure why you think you have to have D700 for wide angle. I use Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 on my D300 and it's PLENTY wide! Distortion is fairly low and I have f2.8 speed. It's a superb lens. My Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 is also excellent at the wide end and is pro caliber. Never had a shot rejected from any magazine because of problems with either lens.
    Kent in SD
  59. Earlier in this thread I suggested the D90 with Tokina 11-16/2.8, Sigma 17-70/2.8-4 HSM OS (that's the equivalent to AF-S and VR) and the 70-300 VR. Add the 35/1.8 DX, a SB-600, and take your tripod along. The whole enchilada for around $3K. Take that LX3 along as a backup.
    Your M lenses cannot be adapted to a Nikon DSLR; the leitax option is for R lenses.
  60. Lee, your M lenses will not mount to a Nikon. The M lenses are normal lenses, where the Nikon lenses are retrofocus lenses. They have to be to allow for the mirror movement of the SLR. But is there a specific reason why you need to shoot autofocus? As Dan alluded to, we are all going to offer suggestions based on our own preferences, and my suggestion on the Leica was based on owning and using the M series, and a Nikon D200, D2x, and D3. I have travelled with the D200 and an MP, and your choice will largely depend on how much you want your cameras to tie you down. When I travel, I don't even want to think about my camera, I don't want a heap of camera gear to dictate what I can and can't do, and that includes dealing with the elements. your leica would provide you with not only the smallest package, but the best image quality and freedom from associated equipment - batteries, charger, laptop et al.
  61. Lee,
    The way I see such a trip as yours is one of it being the trip of a lifetime where unnecessary compromises are to be avoided at all costs. I - personally- really wouldn't go down the DX route as it cuts you off from using lenses like the ZFs or any of the more exotic pro zooms in the way they are designed to be used. The increased low light performance and better viewfinder of the D700 are significant advantages too. If you have any ambitions of taking shots at night the D700 will be better. DX gives you the telephoto advantage though of course.
    I will second what Dan South just said about primes - a lesson I learned lugging Hasselblad primes around as well. You need to understand what focal lengths you use most and buy primes accordingly. As I said earlier, although I own and love the 21mm Distagon - it is the most extraordinary lens - I don't use it much. The 18mm I would use even less. I am lucky enough to own the 21mm, 25mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm f1.4 and 100mm ZFs and the outstanding 24mm PC-E too. If I was going on a big trip like yours I would have:
    D700 (with Katzeye split image screen), F6 backup (again with split image screen), 21mm, 25mm, 35mm, Nikkor 50mm f1.4 G for shooting things that move fast and the superlative 100mm ZF (maybe 70-200mm VRII instead if I owned it). Lee filters, memory cards/storage, laptop, RVP and the best of my four tripods.
    Don't skimp on the tripod if you use tripods frequently. More money is wasted on crap tripods than anything else. As I do very long exposures at night in windy places I have a big Gitzo 3540XLS and it is one of my best ever purchases - but it could easily be overkill to others. Needs vary.
  62. Part of the problem in keeping things light is that Lee wants lenses for "shooting... Landscapes, Photojournalism (street, events, etc.), Nature, Architectural, Portraits, and Macro."
    Realistically speaking, that kind of omnivorous capability does not translate into a light weight pack. Lee seems to travel quite a bit, so this trip may not have the urgency of "trip of a lifetime" that it may have to others. He is also traveling with his wife, and sharing the enjoyment of such a trip with one's life partner is far more important than any photography ops that may present themselves.
    Gearing up for a thing like this -- in terms of a backpacking trip -- is a matter of compromise. Maybe Lee could rate all the things he mentions wanting to shoot in terms of priority?
    Will photographing wildlife be an emphasis on this entire trip? Or just part of it? Maybe Lee could Fed Ex his long lens back home when that part is done?
    What camera gear is the wife taking?
  63. I have travelled for six weeks before with just a Leica M3 and 50mm no tripod. I just finished a week trip with a D700, 24mm PC-E, Tamron 28-75mm and 400mm f5.6 and two tripods, one very light for hiking. I was happy each time with the shots I made. You will have to decide between weight and versatility. The D700 is heavy. The 16-35mm is large but can weigh less than two great primes. IMHO you need to decide how you work, what your expectations are and what you are willing to carry. Travelling light can be a godsend. Not having the right equipment can be frustrating. I have been to both places. At this point I will not leave without a good tripod and two filters, GND and CP. I can be happy with a 28mm, 50mm and 105mm plus long tele, still I might miss a shot. I have had good success and bad images using a TC. Most of the time I leave the TC on the one lens I purchased it for. Each of us will have a different suggestion from our own experience. I suggest you spend time thinking about what you want and what you have missed on past trips then purchase based on this. I have only printed up to 12x18 so far and am pleased with the results.
  64. Lee. I think this discussion is hopelessly confusing. First of all you are not extending range with a crop body, you are merely cropping the image as it enters the camera rather than doing it in photoshop. That's why they call it a 1.5 crop body. The issues to me are simple. You need to decide first on the body whether it be full frame or crop as that determines your lens selection. Then you need to decide what focal length range you want to cover and at what quality. Then choose the lenses you want to cover that range. IMO you need a backup body much the same as I used backups for my weddings and press work. It would be sad if your body failed halfway through the trip as did a number of Canon 5D2s did on an arctic trip because of moisture. There are a great number of lens options available that will give you 20x30 prints including 1.6 crop bodies although my preference is full frame for that size print. In all my travels I took what I needed in one carry on bag that I could keep under the seat or on the overhead (with maybe a backup body stuffed in my luggage). . I never had anyone ever question whether I used a zoom or a prime lens With my current kit I carry two zooms (usually a choice between 17-40, 24 105 f4 IS , 70-200 or 100-400), extenders, a flash, and the usual accessories. I use zooms because I don't want change lenses when shooting moving wildlife as sometimes you can get very close. When I used medium format I did the same thing except with a couple of primes. I zoomed with my feet using those. IMHO opinion getting fixated on equipment defies the real purpose of taking pictures and that is useful images. I have had your inexpensive 28-105 that I bought new for 210 dollars. I have used it on a decent body and I think it is the best, most well made zoom made in the 200 dollar range and I have made professionally used paid for pictures with it when I needed to go light. It is the photographer not all the expensive paraphenalia that he or she carries around. In my former business we carefully laid out our requirements without equipment in mind and then after we knew exactly what performance, durabiltiy and producability we needed we then bought equipment that fit those requirements. Good luck. It sounds like a great trip no matter what you carry. And no matter what you carry It is your ability as a photographer that will do the most to give you the pictures you want.
  65. Lee, my recommendation for a wide angle tavel zoom for a DX body is the Nikon 16-85mm f 3.5-5.6 G VR II. It is my "normal zoom" lens for my D 300s. My travel lite kit is usually two DX bodies, one prime (20mm, 35mm or 50mm), the 16-85mm, my older and lighter 70-210mm AF, a tripod, a pocket tripod from Ultramar, and two Hyperdrives or one hyperdrive and a laptop and an external hard drive. If I know that indoor flash is going to be needed, I take my SB-800 flash as the pop up flash works well as the lens hood does not block the flash! Joe Smith
  66. I think this discussion is hopelessly confusing. First of all you are not extending range with a crop body, you are merely cropping the image as it enters the camera rather than doing it in photoshop.​
    Only if you disregard the fact that a DX crop on a D700 is about 5MP whereas the same image taken with a D300 has 12MP; you'd need a D3X to get as nearly as many pixels into the crop. Fact is that the FOV for a given focal length is 1.5x narrower on a DX body. I would not trade my D300 for a D700 for my bird photography unless someone is willing to throw a lens with a 1.5x longer focal length into the bargain.
  67. All,
    I realize I have to make this decision myself based on my needs. All of your comments and thoughts have helped me reconsider and refine my needs in combination with the realities of travel. As Luis says, I am trying to do it all... Here are the questions I need to answer:
    1. Do I need more than 300 mm? It sounds like for most wildlife, yes. For people, I can probably walk the difference. My Gut: I will want the reach
    2. Do I need a fast, low-light capable telephoto? For wildlife in dawn / dusk, I am guessing the 70-300 on the D90 might struggle, and force me to use 3,200-6,400 ISO, which doesn't look great on the D90. On the D700, I would be limited to 300 mm but gain an additional 2-stops of ISO, 51 AF points and 3D tracking. Question - Sounds like the consensus is that the D90 would do just fine. My Gut: Use the D90, have the D700 available for low-light
    3. I want quality wide angle for 20 x 30 landscape prints. Questions - Will the WA DX lenses on the D90 give me this? Sounds like it will. Will the D700 14-bit RAW vs D90 12-bit RAW be of significant value for PP shadows and highlights? One of my favorite photographers, Andy Mumford, shot a lot of his original images with a D80 and Sigma 10-20. My Gut: Have the D700 with the 16-35.
    Based on this I am leaning towards the following:
    D700 & D90
    16-35 f/4 VRII
    50 f/1.4
    70-300 f/4.5-5.6
    Cost: $5,769 Weight: 7.5 lbs
    This would give me A LOT of flexibility. I could put the 50 f/1.4 on the D90 for a super light evening kit. 70-300 on D700 for low light OR on the D90 for reach. 16-35 on the D90 for a small walk around 24-53.
    Questions - It seems like the D700 only gives me the advantage of speed (it will give me better speed during the day because it will have better noise at mid-ISO daylight as well), additional AF points, and 14-bit RAW. The Tokina on the D90 would probably do just as well as the D700 with proper exposure, focus, and GND filters. If I can live with the ISO, AF, and RAW, I could ditch the D700 and get a 21,24,28 prime. So - just go with the D90 alone? Is there value for choosing the D300(s) then instead of the D90? Granted it is more expensive and larger, but should that be considered?
    Note - By getting a D90 and D700 I could get the $300-$400 rebates twice, LOL.
    My understanding is that the DX sensor gives you 1.5x the "zoom" of an FX at the same MP count. How is that cropping if you get the same size image? You say this as if the image quality is degraded on a DX camera, but from everything I read the only issue with image quality is the ISO...
    FYI - I want to make a decision by early August. I'm leaving for Ireland/Scotland for 2 weeks at the end of August. Our 6-month trip is at least 6-12 months away, so I have plenty of time to think through this issue. I will likely buy one of these kits at a local shop, test it, and return it to get a feel for the focal ranges and speeds. I am also curious to see if a D700 update is released and what it brings.
  68. To answer a few more questions:
    The trip will be "once in a lifetime" in that we will be covering a ton of countries during a point in our lives before we have kids, traveling together for 6 months. We'll probably meet up with a friend here or there as well. These are also the countries we are most interested in visiting.
    However, we do travel a lot when we can. We're also planning to move abroad after the trip, either to South America, Australia, or Europe. So there will be opportunities to get back to some of these places if I just fall in love (Patagonia??). My wife and I are both 29 and are full-time working professionals, no kids yet. Combined, we've been to Mexico, Guatemala, Canada, US (we live in Chicago), Germany, France, Austria, New Zealand, and India. So it's likely that we'll be traveling again very soon, though for not such a long period (2-3 weeks). We will have the chance to live abroad in a location where a short weekend flight or drive can get me to stunning landscapes and wildlife. We both rank traveling as a priority in our lives, so I will always have opportunities (unless we loose our jobs and have a kid at the same time!).
    I am really leaning towards to two bodies and three lenses. The more I think about it, for short-term travel and my long-term goals, it makes a lot of sense.
  69. Lee,
    D700 & D90
    16-35 f/4 VRII
    50 f/1.4
    70-300 f/4.5-5.6 a great kit! I'd only ask whether you want to maybe get an 18-70 (even used) as a "standard snapshot zoom" for the D90. Might not need it till you get home, so maybe you can decide then.
  70. The D300s over the D90 will get you a heavier more robust body and the same external controls as on the D700; it will also use the same CF cards as the D700 does (the D90 is SD). The 51 AF points in the D300 are even more useful then the ones in the D700 (same AF module) since they are spread farther over the focusing screen.
    Even a 21 isn't all that wide on a D90/D300 - so I wouldn't consider that option.
    Wildlife: look at the traditional wildlife lenses - 300/2.8, 400/2.8, 500/4, 600/4, 200-400/4 - all between $5K and $10K and with weights of 5 - 10 lbs. There isn't a single one you would want to carry around on your trip. Even a 300/4 AF-S weighs more than 3 lbs (about the same as a 70-200). The 70-300 definitely is a compromise when it comes to wildlife shooting - which isn't to say that you can't get good images with it.
    14-bit RAW vs 12-bit is a slight advantage but you have to work hard to see it.
    As already stated earlier, I think the D700/D90, 16-35, 50, 70-300 is a good choice for the circumstances. Whether or not to exchange the D90 for a D300s is up to you - similar controls and the use of the same cards would be an advantage but the cost is almost double. You could go with a refurbished D300 from adorama or cameta, around $1200 if you don't need the video.
  71. Lee. All I meant is that if you mount say a 100 mm full frame lens on my 1.6 body the sensor will only see the center two thirds of the image. That is why lenses made for crop bodies do not generally work on crop bodies. If they do they vignette a lot. On my full frame the sensor sees all of the image. If I make the assumption that the two sensors have the same resolving power then what you see in a 1.6 crop is what the lens delivers hence the illusion that you are extending the range of a lens by actually cropping what the sensor sees. If the sensors are the same except in size I can do the same thing in photoshop to give me an image from a full frame sensor that looks about the same as an image already cropped coming into a crop camera. This never happens in the real world because of all the variables involved. I do not account for differences in sensors and do not know much about Nikon bodies so beyond identically resolving sensors I have no answer. Yes, particularly when you get to 20x30 enlargements there is a quality difference. The distinction is not great but it is there and it is acknowledged in all the research that I have read and as I have both sized sensors I can say, anecdotally it is there. But in most smaller enlargements it is a distinction without a difference, almost. What many in this thread are talking about are distinctions that only apply in very high levels of photography. I did professional work for several years. I consider myself an average photographer and my images have sold but damn, I think splitting hairs around the edges is silly. You can do good work with a crop body, or full frame, and whether you use fixed focus or zoom, or have a little better IQ with one lens or another, just will not show on most images. You should see some of the images I have gotten with your old Canon zoom. I teach some photography and I tell my students shoot lots of pictures and fill the frame because that makes up for a lot of sins. It is how you frame what you see in the viewfinder that counts.
  72. I already have 5 SDHC (4 to 16GB) cards for my LX3 from the India trip, and the video would be fun. If I have the D700, might as well go smaller with the D90 vs D300s.
  73. I agree with your latest selections (two bodies & 16-35, 50, 70-300 VR), though I'd go for a refurbished D300 (not D300s) instead of the D90. Same controls, same AF module, same cards as the D700. That's important.
  74. [Duplicate message somehow. Sorry.]
  75. Lee, I completely agree with Dieter. For a DX and FX system, the D 300s and D 700 makes so much more sense than a D 90 and D 700 system. Many Nikon owners use these two bodies for FX and DX purposes. I shoot primarily nature so I shoot with two D 300's because I need the 1.5x factor. For wildlife, I almost never take my 1.4x off of my 500mm f 4.0 AFS lens. That means that a 70-300mm even when mounted to a DX body with the 1.5x factor rarely gives you enough effective focal length. Unless you are prepared to carry a large and heavy lens around with you, your 70-300mm will be more of a feature and portrait lens than a wildlife lens. Another nice feature of a D 700 and D 300 system is that they use the same battery pack in case you ever decide to get into fast frames per second shooting. Many nature and sports photographers who have DX and FX needs have D 700 and D 300s bodies in their system for this purpose. Joe Smith
  76. Joe,
    Well if you're now saying this:
    That means that a 70-300mm even when mounted to a DX body with the 1.5x factor rarely gives you enough effective focal length. Unless you are prepared to carry a large and heavy lens around with you, your 70-300mm will be more of a feature and portrait lens than a wildlife lens.​
    Then why even go with the DX???
    Earlier you said:
    I still think you are better served forgoing the 70-300mm and substituting the 70-200mm f 2.8 VRII len. Yes, it is heavier, but it is a much better lens and works very well with a Nikon tc. I just got back from a safari and I used the earlier version on a D 300 and got great shots.​
    Which means you got great shots with a 200 mm DX, or 300 mm! Even if you were using a TC, that would place it equivalent to the 70-300 on a DX.
    Looking back at your posts you are clearly in favor of the 70-200. I will look again at the 70-200 in terms of the D700/D90 kit but I think it's just too heavy and expensive to justify for this trip. I will obviously want it at some point in the future though...
    I need to check out the D90 vs D300s in the store to see if the difference in controls matters for me. The difference in cards is not a huge deal since I already have SD cards, and I'm not of huge fan of the grips. The additional few fps aren't a huge deal for me.
  77. On a side note.... I noticed I had 50 hits on the LX3 desert campfire photo just today from this site. I guess a fair number of people are actually following this thread!
  78. Lee, on my safari trip, I had two D 300s with me. In my earlier post I had not made that clear. One had a 500mm on it all the time, and the 1.4x was on it a lot. The other had my 70-200mm on it or my 16-85 mm. I did not take any other lenses with me. All fit into my Kiboko bag. The 70-200mm was used for shots of elephant herds and similar such shots not that far away from the Land Rover. For solitary/smaller mammals and vbirds, I used the 500mm. The 16-85mm was for landscapes.
    IMO the optical quality of a 70-200mm even with a 1.4x on it will be better than the 70-300mm w/o a tc regardless whjether it is on a FX or DX body. My comments about these two lenses had nothing to do with their abilities to serve as a wildlife lens. That is why I suggested that for wildlife, the minimum lens you needed was a 300mm f 4.0 AFS. Even on a safari, where some animals can get pretty close, the usual minimum Nikon safari tele is the Nikon f 4.0 200-400mm AFS. For Canon it is their 100-400mm. Longer is usually always better. In Texas where I do most of my shooting, most use a 500mm or a Sigma zoom thru 500mm . If you do mostly birds a 600mm f 4.0 is what you really need to have. As others have stated, these lenses can be very heavy, expensive and not that easy to cart around on a travel trip. My first wildlife lens was a Nikon 300mm f 4.0 AF used with 1.4x and 2x Nikon tcs in Yellowstone. One trip taught me I was 50% short on needed focal length even with the tcs mounted. Live and learn.
    Joe Smith
  79. Joe,
    What about the 80-400 VR f/4.5-5.6. It is heavier than the 70-300 but lighter and $1,000 less than the 70-200 with the TC. And with the 400 mm (600 mm on DX), I could do without the TC.
    What about non-Nikon options that would give me a lighter lens than the 70-200, and either w/ or w/o a TC get me in the range? I also thought about the 300 f/4 w/ TC, but the lens is longer and heavier than any of these options.
  80. I had mentioned the 80-400 earlier in this thread - and I own one too. Compared to the 70-300, it is about twice as heavy and three times as expensive. AF isn't the fastest on that lens since it isn't AF-S; VR also isn't as effective as the newer VR II. There has been much debate as to whether a 70-200/2.8 VR with TC-20EII is better than the 80-400; since I don't own a 70-200, I can't make a direct comparison. From what I have read and seen, I'd say that the performance of the older 70-200 with the older TC-20EII will not match the 80-400 (but I have seen sample variations for that lens as well). With the new 70-200 VRII and TC-20EIII the tables are turned in favor for the zoom/TC combination - but for $1000 more and another pound in weight.
    The 300/4 AF-S is actually lighter than both 70-200/2.8 zooms; the difference becomes even larger when a TC-14EII is fitted to the prime and a TC-20EIII to either of the zooms. The 300/4 AF-S is only very slightly longer than either of the 70-200/2.8 zooms (and certainly shorter once the hoods are mounted on the zooms). The 80-400 is lighter than either of the 70-200 or the 300/4 AF-S;with the hood in place, it's length is about the same.
    The only other option that comes to mind is the Sigma 100-300/4 that could be combined with a 1.4x - though the weight is about the same as the 70-200/2.8 VR
    I doubt that the 300/4 will be a good solution for you, since it will leave you with nothing to fill the gap between 50 and 300.

    Lee, you keep adding pounds to your load. You state here:
    D700 & D90
    16-35 f/4 VRII
    50 f/1.4
    70-300 f/4.5-5.6
    Weight: 7.5 lbs
    That's without batteries and charger, and not including the notebook and its charger. Your camera gear alone will already amount to some 15 pounds at the end. Looks to me the last thing you want to do is adding another 2 or 3 pounds by exchanging the 70-300 for the 80-400 (or whatever else is the current favorite). Not to mention that either of these options will take up substantially more space too.
    You simply can't have the optimum for all applications and eventualities - unless you are willing to travel with a pack mule.
    PS: One advantage of a 16-35, Sigma (not Nikon) 50/1.4 and 80-400 would be that they all take 77mm filters.
  81. I forgot to mention that the 70-300 is better optically at the lower end than the 80-400 - the gap is closing at 300mm with the 70-300 being sharper in the center but the 80-400 performing better in the corners. The 80-400 does fairly well at 400 in the center but not in the corners - unless stopped down one stop. Both perform not as well as the 70-200 in the range where they overlap.
  82. Lee, you keep adding pounds to your load.​
    I agree. Not only that, but you're adding bulk, which is in many ways worse than weight.
  83. I am somewhat surprised no one mentioned the 14-24 f/2.8 Nikon for your super wide shots, but, given it's price over the 16-35 ($550) and weight (.75lb), I can understand if you weren't too happy about it.
    I agree with a lot of comments here that you want something you're going to use, and not interrupt your responsiveness and accessibility. Any changing of lenses raises your public profile, increasing chances of theft/mugging. I do not agree with toting around many primes. You're traveling, not shooting a professional assignment, I don't see the benefit except one or two specialized ones, like the 50 f/1.4.
    Please elaborate on your bags, it would help us understand and help you/learn from you. You mentioned a internal frame bag, this should concentrate the weight on your hips and relieve a lot of the strain. This could allow you carry it longer or carry more equipment; just a thought. I prefer ThinkTank bags; I traveled ultralight and carried my D90 with 18-105 kit lens in a Digital Holster 20 for three months in Germany, Austria and Slovakia.
    Eric Arnold mentioned using an internet cafe to backup photos. This will not work. You pay by the half or full hour and often limited to one hour max in order to accommodate other users. These computers usually have proprietary operating systems and won't allow connection of USB drive and launching of file browser. Not to mention, you'll only be able to upload about 500mb an hour max and tie up everyone's speed, pissing them off (that's only 35 RAW photos, kinda useless). You're real option is to either carry a portable hard drive and a netbook or just a laptop and burn DVDs and mail home. I chose the later, kept the photos on my laptop until I had confirmation the DVDs arrived home safely from a friend then deleted them and then repeated the cycle.
    I agree with bringing two bodies unless someone can ship you one overnight if yours get damaged/stolen. I also suggest bringing a Canon G11 for going out at night, parties, dangerous parts of town, Sporting events, concerts, etc...wherever an SLR is prohibited or too much of a pain.
  84. Lee, I do not own the Nikon 80-400mm , but everything Dieter says makes sense to me. One other thing to factor into your decision matrix--air line carry on luggage rules. Do not assume that the weight and size rules that apply while leaving the US are the same for returning to the US. And within Europe and between other countries, they miht be vary different--more restrictive. See this link for an example of the craziness that exists for air flight these days:
    Joe Smith
  85. Thanks again to everyone for their comments. I think I am settling on the following combo:
    Nikkor 16-35 f/4 VR
    Sigma 50 f/1.4
    Nikkor 70-300 f/4.5-5.6
    w/ Canon 250 & 500 D close up filters/lenses
    Weight: 8 lbs Cost: $6,600 (w/ macro filters)
    I swapped the Nikkor for the Sigma because I love the bokeh of it and am willing to have it a bit larger. It also matches with the 77 mm thread. Heck - I can buy a Nikkor 50 1.8 in the future if I ever need an extremely small 50 mm. I am a little worried about the Sigma focusing after reading a few threads, but the reviews at B&H and Amazon are all 4.5 stars. I can't image if it's still having issues that it would have a high ranking like that. Will I notice if it's not focusing well given my lack of experience with the Nikon bodies?? I don't know, guess I just need to take it into a shop and ask for their advice (I will probably order off B&H to avoid the 11.5% Chicago sales tax).
    I decided the 70-300 is adequate. I am not a huge bird fan, and that's one of the main reasons for the 450-600 reach. Yes there will be other wildlife in that reach, but the light and small 70-300 will bring a lot to the table while walking around town. It's a trade off I'm willing to make, though will probably get frustrated a few times! =)
    I thought about swapping out the 16-35 for the 24-70 and a Voigtlander 20 f/3.5. That would give me 24-300 walking in town. I decided I would rather have the 16-35 flexibility for landscapes and wide angle. If I want, I can put the 16-35 on the D300s and get 24-53, which while not 24-70 is still a nice range. To switch would also cost another $1,000 and 1.5 lbs, +/-.
    I still have a while before purchase so I am going to think on it some more. Feel free to add any other thoughts. I still need to consider a flash, but I will leave that for another thread.
    Thanks again, I will let everyone know what I get, and follow up with photos.
  86. Oops... 8.5 lbs not 8.0. *sigh* I really like that Bokeh though....
  87. A D700 and a D300s? Now you're carrying two the two pounds or so that the bag to carry this stuff will weigh. Really, get yourself a D90, a 16-85 and a 35/1.8, and don't worry about covering every possible situation that you may or may not encounter. You'll have a lot more fun.
  88. My 2 cents: Get (as has already been suggested) the 55mm Micro lens to doubl both as a macro AND to substitute the 50mm. It is a superb lens (I have it) and will serve you very, very well indeed...;-)
    Get the 70-200 VRII - no question. You will not find a sharper lens for virtually anything! I've carried it through India and it was on my camera 70% of the time! Portrait, wildlife (especially when coupled with the new 2x - I have the old one which is not that good) and even macro are easily captured!
    For a wide, I'd seriously consider the Nikon 12-24mm - an older lens for sure, but a good one, relatively light (well, lighter and more compact than the new 14-24 which I carry around everywhere but man...does it weigh...!).
    And take, if you can squeeze it into your budget, the 24-70. Not for the 24, but it is quite possibly the most convenient walkaround lens I've worked with (and I have worked with quite a few: the Tamron, the Tokina, the Sigma...!)
    Forget about the tripod - maybe pack a monopod, but personally, I'd get a good (initially empty) bean bag and fill it, when required, with whatever is locally available - rice, coffee beans, sand) to use as a camera/lens resting place - it'll save your bacon.
    But above all, take with you some wet sensor cleaning solutions! you'll thank me!!!!
    Enjoy your trip and your new camera....
  89. All,
    How would the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 on the D300s compare to the 16-35 f/4 on the D700, for landscapes with a tripod? Going to research that a bit.....
    Sounds like a very heavy option. I would have to ditch the backup camera if I wanted to even consider that kit. How did you get around India? Private driver or train? How long were you in India? How much did you travel, how many days in one place? All of that factors into whether a heavy setup becomes burdensome...
    Have to disagree about the tripod... For landscape photography a bean bag won't cut it. But I will be taking a small bag I could fill with sand.
    But that hardly covers anything... Might as well just stick with the LX3 in that case. I know you also suggested a MFT. I may go check out those, but I really want the IQ and quickness of the DSLR, both for the trip and back at home. I also don't see the extra body solely as a "brick" given that it has several benefits in addition to shifting the range of all of the lenses I bring. But i get your point. This was my originally thinking when I took the LX3 to Guatemala and India. In both cases I enjoyed the portability but I would rather have carried a brick and gotten a better range of photos.
    I will probably pick up a D300s, since I will likely get that body for the telephoto, cost, and weight regardless of whether I get the D700. I can then test out the ISO capabilities with the Sigma 50 f/1.4 and see whether I really need the extra ISO of the D700. Then I can judge whether to get the D700 (or maybe just D90) as a backup, and how to fill in the lenses. Alternatively, I use the LX3 as a backup and make sure I have someone who can buy a backup and ship it ASAP if I need it. I can take advantage of the current rebates (although - it seems these may not be truly represented on B&H/Adorama) and wait to see if the new D700s / D90s bodies are released.
  90. Landscapes are not all about ultra-wide angle. There are other better, more interesting ways to use the wide ends of those lenses. But just shooting at 11mm on DX or 16mm on FX and "getting it all in" makes for some of the most boring photos you'll ever see. I know, I've taken some of them.
  91. Lee, since you are interested in lenses with good bokeh, you need to know that one Nikon lens with the best is the Nikon 70-200mm f 2.8 AFS G VR and VRII. Another is the Nikon 85mm f 1.4. See this link about bokeh on the Nikon 60mm macro lenses, especially the latest version, the AFS G:
    Joe Smith
  92. Peter,
    I agree. That's why in my previous posts I've said I am ok with leaving behind the 16-20 range. I literally got bored shooting 16 mm wide angle with the LX3. Got some cool shots but it gets old fast. That said, it's nice to have occasionally. Take a look at my nature/landscape gallery on Flickr, you will see that most of these have been with the 28-105 on 10D DX body. My favorite landscape shot of mine is a compressed view of the Sierras shot at 54 mm (
    We've talked about the 60 mm macro on this thread. I also know the 70-200 gives great Bokeh. How do you compute the effective focal length of a FX lens w/ TC on a DX body? For instance, the 70-200 plus TC2 plus DX would give 70x2x1.5=210 to 200x2x1.5=600? Previously you commented that the TC1.7 would be a better option than the TC2? Is that because of weight, auto focusing, and aperture?
  93. Lee, I prefer to use the 1.7x over the 2.0x for reasons of image quality. Most reviews and users of the 2.0x II have reported drop offs in image quality vs the 1.7x and the 1.4x. Regarding effective focal length, your math is correct, if I read it correctly. For a DX Nikon body: 300mm with a 1.4x tc results in 630mm effective focal length: 300 x 1.5 x 1.4 = 630. For a FX body it results in 420mm: 300 x 1.4 = 420mm.
    Joe Smith
  94. Joe,

    Is it mm x DX body x TC (as you wrote) or mm x TC x DX body (as I wrote). I would think it's the later since the TC is between the lens and body. Makes a difference depending on the TC.
    I thought I read in one post somewhere that the 70-200 w/ TC on a DX would max out at 400 mm, but that doesn't make sense to me. I can't find this calculation anywhere online, lol.
    Latest reviews of the 2.0x III are a little more favorable... But the 1.4 and 1.7 get consistent praise for sure.
  95. Is it mm x DX body x TC (as you wrote) or mm x TC x DX body (as I wrote). I would think it's the later since the TC is between the lens and body. Makes a difference depending on the TC.​
    Makes absolutely no difference, 300x1.5x2 is exactly the same as 300x2x1.5. And while we are at it, a 70-200 with 2x will have 140-400mm focal length no matter what type of body you attach the lens to. The FOV will be smaller by the crop factor if you attach the combo on a DX camera - which is sometimes expressed by the effective focal length now being 210-600mm. However, focal length hasn't changed, the smaller sensor simply crops the image resulting in the narrower FOV.
    How would the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 on the D300s compare to the 16-35 f/4 on the D700, for landscapes with a tripod?​
    All depends on how large you want to print - plus the fact that there are likely optical differences between the two lenses. 12MP on DX should give you a bit better resolution than 12MP on FX but diffraction sets in at larger apertures for the smaller format. If you are so concerned about the differences than you would need to include the Canon 5D MKII in your considerations.
  96. Between the D300s and D90, it's your call, but I am surprised no one has mentioned the benefit of the video mode. Sure, it's not a video camera replacement, but I have captured some memorable events that I am glad my D90 had video for.
    The D300s video is said to be better quality (less skew and rolling shutter) as well as accepts stereo mic input.
    Just a thought! KO
  97. Dieter,
    WOW - I can't believe I spaced out on the TC calculation Dieter. You are correct that it doesn't matter. What was I thinking......
    If the different b/w a Tokina / Nikon DX lens on a D300s and a 16-35 on a D700 is that minimal then meh... If I were making a living on selling landscapes at 20 x 30 and above, like you say, I should consider the 5D MKII. Since I am not, maybe as you and others have mentioned, WA on the D300s is likely sufficient.
    That leaves the D700 with the advantage of an extra 2 stops of ISO. If I have f/2.8 lenses and a f/1.4, then the D300s will probably be sufficient for any low-light situation I encounter. Interesting that I started off, a month ago, thinking I would want the D3s and have now worked my way down to the D300s... I think I'm going in the right direction =)
    Knock Out,
    Video isn't a main concern but I would enjoy having it. D300s also has autofocus on video, nice but probably not essential. I wish it had 1080p, but that's not a huge deal since video will be more for fun than anything.
  98. Lee, I am beginning to wonder how you will be carrying all that equipment? I am just packing for a short trip to Germany, taking along my D300, Tokina 11-16/2.8, Nikon 17-55/2.8, and Nikon 80-400; will also be carrying an IBM T42 notebook. My travel backpack is a Urbangear 120 which doesn't make the best use out of its volume because of its bag-in-a-bag style but which I like for the additional protection it offers. Together with a small tripod head, two notebook drives, some filters, CF card wallet, camera charger and spare battery, there isn't much space left in the bag - barely enough for a backup camera (which this time I am not planning on taking along - hoping I will not regret the decision) or a flash (which will also stay home). I could cramp those into the Lowepro CompuTrekker which has about the same external dimensions as the Urbangear 120 but makes better use of it inside. To make a long story short, a D700, D300s, 16-35, 50, 70-300 will take up quite some space, not to mention the smaller stuff as well as the notebook and backup drive. And you have to worry about clothes etc as well. And that tripod...
    Backpacks are great for carrying a bit of equipment but not for quick access to it. Are you planning on having most of your gear in your internal frame backpack all the time? Will you have to carry that all the time? Where will you put your gear if you don't have that backpack with you?
  99. Dieter,
    Here is my backpack ( It is considered a medium, 1-2 day backpacking pack. It's a cavernous monster in side, no padding. For India, a 3 week trip, it was just about full on the inside with everything packed inside. That included the tripod, Vivitar 285HV (huge), Cactus wireless triggers, 4 GND filters and mount, 4AA battery charger, clothes, LX3 w/ WA converter and charger. Clothes - two pants, two shorts, 4 underwear, 2 boxers, 3 low-cut socks, two lightweight sweaters, rain jacket, light jacket, 2 button shirts, 3 t-shirts, scarf, small first aid kit. Some other random stuff.
    This still left the external two side pockets and front two pockets basically empty. Weight was not an issue since it's got great support. For the RWT, I would probably transfer the tripod out to the side mesh pocket, and some clothes to the other side zip pocket. My wife will have a similar backpack with the laptop / charger. Even with that, her clothes take up less space so I can likely transfer some clothes to her bag. So I should be able to get all the gear into the pack. Granted, that's without foam protection. But - I can stuff it between clothes when on the move.
    Once we're settled in a place (likely staying 2-3 nights per location), I've been thinking of a few options. 1) If we're walking around the city I can use a small messenger bag that collapses really well. It's also padded decently. I can bring an padded insert or two and slide them in if necessary. 2) If we're touring the country, hiking, or heading out an overnight camping trip, I can transfer stuff to a collapsible duffel bag I have (very tiny) and just take my wife and my essentials, plus camera gear, in my main backpack. I also thought about taking another small backpack, but it would be tough to carry in addition to my main backpack, and to get into it while on the move I would have to take it off. It's also more of a security risk than a messenger back (although that's debatable).
    I plan on packing up my bag with the non-camera gear and hauling it to the store. I may find it doesn't fit, in which case I re-think my strategy or get a bigger bag. But that U120 is TINY. I would say my bag has 1.5-2 times the capacity.
    Oh, and we plan to not buy ANYTHING as we go. Maybe a trinket here or there, but anything of size we will ship home.
  100. I just realized I wasn't clear - the Urbangear120 is just my camera backpack - clothes etc are in a duffel bag. I am not backpacking but visiting family.
    You might want to have a look at a Lowepro Microtrekker 200; that's a tiny backpack but it can hold a lot of gear - might be sufficient to hold your two bodies and all three lenses and fit nicely into the big pack when needed.
  101. Nice, I hadn't seen that one.
    I worry some about security with a backpack. Someone can easily walk up and unzip it, I would never notice. I also have to take it off to get into it... The messenger back could still be unzipped, but it would be more difficult without catching my attention. And I can get into it without removing it. But - it will put more strain on my shoulder...
    I also thought about the LowePro Primus AW plus a duffle bag for the clothes. But the duffle bag could become a pain while moving places. And the Primus is just a bit too large to walk around town in.
  102. Your current gear selection is probably the maximum I would consider carrying in a shoulder bag - it's already on the heavy side. I am through with shoulder bags unless I carry very little and need constant access - I bought the Urbangear during a trip to Vancouver when I couldn't deal with the Lowepro Nova 5 shoulder bag anymore. Security with a backpack is certainly an issue. There is one - forgot which one though (Kata?) - that has the zippers on the side of the straps, preventing access when the pack is worn.
    PS: that Kelty looks like a very nice bag.
  103. It is, though when you pack it full the two outer front pockets have very little room. But I love the top handle and the handles on the front. It's pretty bulky when full, but that's what I was looking for so I could drop Domke rectangular insets into it.
    And don't think about putting a lens in the side pockets. No protection and I think the lens would be too fat, if the bag is stuffed full.
  104. James,
    Any suggestions on getting to Easter Island? We will be traveling around Chile and Argentina and then over to either Auckland or Sydney. There don't seem to be too many options and all are expensive...
  105. My main Zooms with the D700 are:
    Tamron 17-35mm very good
    Nikon 24-70mm superb
    Nikon 70-300mm Vr Excellent especially in the 70-200mm range
    I've resisted the 70-200mm because of expense and weight. The other two lenses do all the work in low light and all three are excellent in good light.
  106. Yiesh, this thread is still going?
    Lee: I would definately suggest getting a dedicated photo backpack (or photo/laptop backpack if you want to carry a computer, might be worth it to put money on the latter anyways). It's one of the best travel items I've purchased, since they're padded and they're designed to keep your stuff organized and protected. A messenger bag won't distribute the weight and it'll hurt your shoulder: not good for long walks. I do carry a shoulder camera bag with two lenses though... that isn't too bad, but only for road trips where I'm working out of a car. But when I go overseas, I'm always using the backpack.
    It always seemed like normal backpacks with large compartments just let the lenses, filters, bodies, etc. knock around and it made it chaotic.
    Theft: have your wife watch your back. I also picked a bag that doesn't scream "camera gear!" I think some Lowepro's might do so... Kata, Domke (perhaps), Crumpler are more low key.
    A word of advice: Not that you were thinking this, but just in case you were - never check in your camera gear on flights. Carry it on. 1. they toss the bags around, but worse, 2. less wealthy foreign countries it's actually very common for ground crew to rifle through bags for valuable items.
    The Kata (which I have), the straps overlap the zipper to the computer sleeve, not the camera stuff.
  107. Here's a link to a site with some excellent MFT travel shots:
    He also uses a Canon for bird photography but he manages to squeeze a lot of quality out his GF-1.
  108. Hi Lee, You really should decide what your priorities are. If you are going primarily for photography, then having two DSLRs would be the way to go, along with the supporting heavy lenses. However, by the way you describe it, this seems to be a travel adventure with your wife, emphasis on travel. What I would do in your situation is take 1 SLR, either the D300S or the D90. You can take a D700, but you will limit your reach when using the 70-300 (you do want to get good pictures of penguins, right?). You will have your LX3 for backup, just in case your only DSLR malfunctions or gets stolen.
    Now, for lenses. If you get a DX camera, I would get the 16-85 and have that on the camera in a holster case worn in front of you most of the time (even when you are carrying the backpack). This means that you do not have to take your pack off when a photo op presents itself. The 70-300 would be stored in a protective wrap inside your pack. This arrangement gives you fast access to your camera. Of course, the holster case should be big enough to hold your camera and longer lens if you think that that will be an advantage.
    If you get a D700, I would get the 24-70 and the 70-300. You could substitute the 80-400 for the 70-300, but we are getting heavy again.
    I would definitely take a lightweight tripod. You could also bring along a 35/1.8 too. I wouldn't get anything wider than that. If you feel you a wide view, take a pano series. Make sure you use manual and overlap the frames by 50% or so.
    Also, I hesitate on recommending the D90 because it is not weather sealed and this camera needs to last at least 6 months. So, I think you should go with the more robust D300s. Finally, if you are at all open to other makes of cameras, I think the Pentax K7 with 16-50/2.8 and 60-250/4 lenses is the best for the adventure traveler that values small, relatively lightweight, and full weather sealing.
    Have a great time!
  109. Lee... as much as I'd love my D700, and lug it around all day, I wouldn't love at all to lug it with heavy zooms...
    My 80-200 2.8 stays home unless I know I'll use it for something that requires F2.8 or very fast autofocus; otherwise, I carry happily a old 70-210 4-5.6, which is slow as molasses to focus (the "D" version is very quick instead), but has a very nice out of focus rendition, and weighs less than half of the other. If I had money to burn now, I'd buy a 70-300VR in a blink, as it's really light, fast focusing, and on FX with a high picture quality (DX sensors stress it).
    Carrying gear all day long can be very tiresome, especially 4kg or more; when I'm really light, and enjoying photography with no rush, I carry a 24AF-D, a 28 2.8 AI close focus (probably my best lense...), the 50 1.8 and borrow a old 100 2.8; all manual, excellent quality on my D700, they weigh in total less than a KG, and images are usually brilliant (at least technically! :) You can substitute the 100 with a 200F4, which is said to be excellent, and F4 on DX still grants a nice subject isolation.
    I use fast 2.8 zooms only when I know I'll be tracking quick stuff, or rapidly changing environments in an event, for instance. But a 70-200VR seems more a zoom you'll be comfortable in having at your disposable "if and when" then a tool to carry all day long.
    My 2c, of course ;-) Enjoy your travel!
  110. Lee, having just come back from Tanzania and having dealt with luggage issues, I just made a random check. Your Kelty bag that you listed in your post has a max of 3100 cubic inches per REI web site. KLM allows only 2902 cubic inches and 26 pounds to be carried on in economy class flights on its City Hopper flights, like between Amsterdam and Delhi, per its web site. Now it will probably be OK on that filght, but I am willing to bet that you will be on other flights with more restrictive size and weight requirements. As others have suggested, look at the ThinkTank product line of bags focusing on those bags without rollers. LL Bean has many backpacks that can be used for photo purposes. I have used LLBean bags when I have traveled to Europe, but I have carried less gear than what you are planning on taking. A good place to look at ThinkTank stuff is
    Joe Smith
  111. Ironically, in Chicago boarding our flight to Delhi via Air India ,they made my wife check her small backpack because it was loaded up and over their 20 something lb limit. At the same time, I had the REI backpack on and it was more like 30 lbs, lol. I guess I can get by the restriction with two smaller bags, as long as they allow two carryons.
    Thanks for the tip.
  112. Lee, You might want to check out Mystery Ranch Backpacks. If you want a tough, customizable backpack that doesn't shout photographer or American tourist. Mystery Ranch has a long history in back pack design, and has one of the best frame and load support systems available.
    I was in their store a while ago seeking a photo back pack that doesn't look like a photo back pack, with quiet colors, and with good load carrying ability. We looked at pack systems they are providing for combat photographers. While not on their web site, those systems may still be available, as they were still in further development. You may be able to incorporate some combat photographer features into one of their current models.
  113. Hi Lee.
    Just about everything's been covered but I'll add a couple of thoughts. I've done quite a bit of travel when I was younger (currently over 60) including overland (minus the wet bits and a few borders) between England and Oz. Including places like Iran and Afghanistan which are now no longer advisable. I also own a two body system similar to what you propose (D700, D200). Plus the Big Three 2.8's and other lenses and stuff. These fit into a Lowepro Mini-Trekker, sometimes with a Manfrotto 190 tripod strapped on the side. I'm pretty fit (try to average 5 miles fast walk per day) and often have this system on my back.
    Now, thinking about carrying this lot round the world? Phew, no thanks.
    Climate's a big factor of course; the hotter it is the more it'll weigh. As someone else said, depends whether your intention is primarily photographic or not. One thing's for certain, a lot of people are going to be eyeing your gear with a view to stealing it. So it's going to be a constant burden and a constant worry too. Of course travelling with a partner helps. Particularly if they're strong!
    One of the Lowepro backpacks zips up on the strap side btw.
    On carry-on matters: temporarily transferring gear from bag to pockets reduces its weight and is completely unobjectionable from the carrier's pov; a many-pocket waistcoat helps, even if it makes you look nerdy. I usually do this transfer before the gate where it becomes an issue. Also, in a situation where the carrier refuses to let you carry on your bag (too big, too heavy - up to a point) you could always refuse to travel; it's unlikely that they'd unload the hold to take out your baggage (absolute no-no to take off with baggage but not its owner) and miss the slot (expensive). A bluff might get a result in this situation. Fortunately I've never had to try this!
    Have a good trip.
  114. Lee -- Planning a travel kit is tough. If I were a pro and photography was the principal reason for the trip, it would be easier. But, I'm not. You're planning on carrying more weight than I do. Here's my approach:
    - I want excellent images from gear I can carry without getting in the way of the trip. For me, this means a DX body.
    - General use lens... One to keep on camera as you walk around. For me, 18-70mm kit lens on a DX body. The f/2.8 zooms are far heavier than I want to carry.
    - Low light... I take a fast prime, say a 35mm f/2 or a 50mm f/1.4 AFD lens. Shooting at ISO 800 or even higher, I am very pleased with available light shots indoors. Sigma 30mm f/1.4 would be a candidate. Ditto for the excellent Zeiss primes, but I prefer AF lenses for travel.
    - Wide... I often carry my 10.5mm full-frame fisheye in the bag.
    - Wildlife, telephoto. In the Everglades, shooting birds, DX body with 300mm f/4 on a tripod or monopod was excellent. On the Anhinga Trail and at Shark Valley, the physical features put you close to the birds. In any other setting, you'll want even longer reach to get wildlife. Are you really serious about wildlife? If so, pack for it (300mm min on a DX body, more for a FX body). If not, add a lightweight zoom for the occasional shot (55-200 VR or 70-300).
    - Macro... Great fun, but I don't do it while traveling. I just don't want to lug the 105mm Micro Nikkor. The 35mm f/2 or 50mm f/1.4 get close enough for a single flower, and that's enough for me. 55mm manual focus Micro could be an option. Or, figure out how to do the macro you want with what you have (reverse lens? stacked lenses? short ext tube?).
    - Camera Support... Yes, a tripod for night shots, HDRs, sunsets, or for any time you want more image quality.
    - Cleaning kit. If you are changing lenses on a multi-month trip, be ready to clean your sensor.
    - Storage for two copies of all the files you want to keep. For a short trip, I take enough camera cards and something with a hard disk. For a longer trip, a laptop and a backup hard disk, but then I erase the camera cards and re-use them.
    - I only take gear I know well. If in doubt, take your kit out to the park and practice on the pigeons.
    Your budget could include more exotic gear, but are you really ready to carry it?
  115. Well I finally decided and placed my orders yesterday. I went with the following:
    16-85 f/3.5-5.6 VR
    Sigma 50 f/1.4
    70-200 f/2.8 VR
    TC-14E II
    TC-2E III
    I was able to purchase everything through Bing and get 5% cash back, plus I found the D300s/70-200 combo on Adorama (through Bing) for $3,498. So after the Bing discount, that combo was $3,394. Total weight is 7.9 lbs.
    I am going to try this kit out for a while walking around town and see how the weight feels using a messenger bag and the camera over my shoulder. For evenings where I'm inside, I can make do with the 16-35 and 50, a very light combo. I'll decide on bags closer to the trip, which is still 8 months away, though we are headed to Ireland/Scotland in August/September.
    I really wish I could find a small 16 mm between 1.4 and 2.8. Then I could forget the 16-85, as I'm not convinced I need a mid-range zoom. Honestly though, it's remarkably small and light, so there's nothing that compares to it in terms of cost, weight, optics, and flexibility. I am tempted by the Voigtlander 20 mm f/3.5 manual focus. If I knew I would be fine with 30 mm equivalent versus 24 mm, I might be ok with just the 20 mm and 50 mm. I may yet get the 20 mm, because it's such an interesting lens, or I might splurge for the 35 f/1.8 or something in the 85-135 range. Regardless, I think the kit I bought is enough for travel and anything else would just be for interest sake.
    I decided I didn't need two bodies and that I'd rather have telephoto to 600 mm than a wide angle beyond 24 mm. I may loose a few shots at the UWA, but I will gain a ton of shots at the telephoto, including an entirely new world of wildlife and telephoto landscapes that has never been available to me. The 70-200 will also be fantastic for portraits, along with the 50 f/1.4. I really struggled with the ISO of the D300s vs the D700, but I figured in another 2 years the D300s successor will match the D700 in ISO. I can save the cash now, get the D300s, and I easily upgrade later.
    Thanks to everyone for their comments and suggestions. I did a complete 180 from my original plans of a D3 or D700, 9+ lbs, and $7,500-$9,000 expectations.
  116. Total cost for the entire kit after Bing cash back was $5,273.
  117. Been a while since this post "ended" but I figured I would update any folks who stumble upon it. Since purchasing my equipment, I've made several trips within the US and a 2-week trip to Ireland/Scotland. I'm also planning a trip in two weeks to Guatemala and I've had a chance to get to know my equipment.
    I've revised my ideal travel / permanent use kit as follows:
    70-200 is out, replaced with the Manual 135 f/2.8 AI-S. 2x teleconverter there if I need it, or could leave it.
    Voigtlander manual 20 f/3.5, Nikon 35 f/1.8 and 50 f/1.8
    Optional additions depending on type of travel: 80 f/1.4 (not the newest version),12-24 f/4 DX and Gitzo Traveler tripod.
    All together a much cheaper, lighter setup. I decided the 70-200 was more than I needed. I was amazed by the quality of the 135, it was really a joy to use. Sigma was nice but too big for what it can do. The 80 f/1.4 is my new favorite lens, and it can easily be swapped for traveling with the 50 f/1.8 if weight is an issue. Went with a 12-24 DX vs 16-85 for reach. I found I really enjoy using primes and actually prefer that to zoom lenses. They force me to think more and take my time, which sounds corny but it really is true (for me at least).

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