Travel Lenses / Equipment ?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by emma_rice, Dec 25, 2009.

  1. Hi,
    i have a nikon D60 and am still going through the learning process with it.
    I am leaving in 6 months to go travelling/back packing for 12 months to all sorts of places (asia, middle east, europe and africa) and am wondering if anyone has any advice on which lenses will be the best to invest in and any other equipment that i mite be needing. I am hoping to buy it all as soon as i can so i can get as mch practice and experience as possible before i go.
    I want to capture as much as i can from the people, wildlife, culture and architecture. Any info or help would be great. Cheers!
  2. Hi Emma,
    A Good Camera bag for starter to keep you camera Safe from the environmentals, also if you can find Silica gel pack (comes with new shoes) that will be great. As for the Lens, that depends what do you have and how serious are you with taking pictures.
    The Nikon 16-85mm VR AF-S will be an excellent Choice as it will give you a decent wide angle plus good enough zoom. And this one lens will give you quite a coverage.
    Enjoy and have a safe trip
  3. For travelling, you can either go for the Nikon 18-200mm VR or the Nikon 16-85mm VR along with the 70-300mm VR. The good thing about the 18-200mm is that you hardly need to change lenses as it is a really useful focal length.
    Good thing about the 16-85mm and the 70-300mm is that you get better image quality and more reach. Either way, you probably cannot go wrong with either combination(s).
    If you want an additional small lens, have a look at the Nikon 35mm f1.8 AFS. Great for low light situations and when you just want a really light kit.
  4. An allinone good option is the new Tamron 18-270 VC. Optically is good at least as is 18-200 from Nikon but the VC is better than Nikon's VR. It is my travel lens on a D5000 altogether with a 55/1.8 DX.
  5. If it's not burden you, i suggesting to take a light tripod, for the lens i also suggest to either take 16-85 VR + 70-300 VR or 18-200 VR. Other equipment you might to consider is flash and lenspen & sensor cleaner
    Hope this help
  6. The 16-85mm is a great lens and along with the 70-300mm you have everything covered. You might also consider the the 35mm f1.8 which will be small and optically better than the zooms. Take a tripod too of course.
    One of your main headaches will be where to store your images. Another possible headache will be power if you go to remote places for any length of time. Nothing beats film and a mechanical camera if you are going to be in the bush/desert etc for extended periods.
  7. I owned an 18-200 VR and hated it. The 16-85 is an excellent choice, as several folks have mentioned. Add the 70-300 VR if you need extra reach. Consider the new AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR if you plan to do macro (close-up) shots of flowers, etc.
    Take along two extra batteries.
    Buy a lens cleaning cloth (or two).
    Consider buying a high-quality (Singh-Ray, B+W, etc.) polarizing filter for your main lens (16-85). You won't use it all the time, but it will come in handy in some lighting conditions.
    Consider a good backpack like the Lowepro Micro Trekker.
    Consider upgrading to a D90.
    Buy some extra memory cards.
    Consider the SB-600 flash unit.
  8. For a long trip like that where you'll be roughing it and lugging your own stuff I'd recommend keeping your gear as lightweight as possible. Burdening yourself with too much equipment would be a mistake.
    Personally I'd avoid the mid-range zooms and just use the 35mm f/1.8 - better image quality, flexibility in low light and less weight. You'll appreciate that fast aperture a lot when traveling.
    If you're serious about your photography and don't mind the extra weight, add a wide zoom like the 12-24mm or 10-24mm and a telephoto zoom such as the 70-300mm VR, or the 55-200mm VR for less weight.
    That's all - wide zoom, fast prime and tele-zoom. You don't need a mid-range zoom if you've got those other lenses. Add a small compact camera for party shots and backup.
  9. If it were me backpacking around the world, I'd take the 18-200, and the 35 1.8. This will give you the most versatility.
    If you know you like taking more "normal" photos than tele shots, then I'd take the 16-85 and 35 1.8, and if you know you like taking more long telephoto shots, I'd take the 18-55, 35 1.8 and 70-300 VR
    If light weight was your ultimate concern, I would just take a single 18-55VR, 18-70, or 18-105VR and be done.
    I'd second taking a backup point and shoot as well. Perhaps one of those Olympus underwater/shock proof ones. Especially if you think you're going to find yourself in hot/ humid/dusty/snorkeling/scrambling-up-rocky-mountain-sides conditions.
  10. Most of the useful things have already been mentioned, But i will just emphasize some points, and add a few as well, based on my travelling experience.
    Bring a reserve/spare camera that works fine (doesent have to be a very expensive model, but one that is good enough and reliable). In hot, humid conditions, digital and electronic cameras sometimes stop working. If you have a good film SLR Nikon body, you could bring that.
    Lots and lots and lots and even more lots of spare batteries. If you are in the middle of the bush somewhere (as I have been in Tanzania and Ethiopia) it is very unlikely you will find a socket to charge your batteries....
    Adapters. Make sure you have the needed adapters to be able to use your chargers in all countries you intend to visit. Note that sometimes, even with an adapter, the voltage and other complicated things that an engeneer will be more able to explain than me, means that even with the correct adapter, you still wont get any power to charge your battery...(this is where spare batteries are usefull)
    As mentioned, a wide angle is good for landscapes, a telephoto good when you want wildlife shots, or nice, natural portraits of people, without having to stick the camera right up in their faces! (if you shoot large size, high resolution with a shot shot at 300mm, you can then zoom into the shot afterwards (on picasa or photoshop) without to much loss in quality. the shot will then equal a shot taken with a 500mm or more!
    I have found the 18-200mm VR not that sharp, but it depends on the light conditions. neverthenless, its very good as an "all around lens" you dont have to change lenses that much, as you can get both wide and closeup shots.
    I would also recommend the Nikon 50mm F1.4 (1.4 D for film SLRs or 1.4G for DSLRs) excellent in evenings and low light conditions.
    A small, compact digital camera, like the new Nikon coolpix is good as mentioned for parties, festivals or events where lots of people are present, and where you are likely to be (hopefully only slightly) pushed around a bit, and dont want your expensive SLR to suffer...(you can also shoot AVI video clips with the nikon coolpix
    Finally, as mentioned, lightwheight travelling is always a good idea, so before you leave, pack all the gear you are thinking of taking, and go on a days walk in the woods and a day's walk in a town close to you, to get the feel of the weight.....
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I am leaving in 6 months to go travelling/back packing for 12 months to all sorts of places (asia, middle east, europe and africa) and am wondering if anyone has any advice on which lenses will be the best to invest in and any other equipment that i mite be needing.​
    Generally speaking, Nikon's 18-200mm/f3.5-5.6 AF-S VR is well known to be an excellent "one size fits all" travel lens. Optically it is not particularly great, but sometimes its convenience trumps everything else.
    The thing is that Emma's trip seems to be very demanding and rough; it is also long: 12 months. In that case I would considering getting something more robust and reliable. The 18-200 has a mainly plastic construction and it extends in two sections when you zoom to 200mm. To me, it is not a very reliable construction and for that matter, neither is the D60 body. Those are issues Emma should take into consideration.
    It boils down to how important photography is to the OP, how much money she can spend on photo equipment, and how much camera gear she wants to carry over 12 months.
    In any case, I wish Emma a wonderful trip. In a way I wish I could have done something like that when I was younger.
  12. I also owned the 18-200mm and hated it. The 16-85mm VR zoom is your best bet, and a superb lens optically. Shun says it's too expensive, but I disagree. You get what you pay for, and it offers a very useful zoom range (equivilant to 24-120 in 35mm terms) and VR to boot. I brought it to London and took 90% of my photos with it. 12x18" enlargements look outstanding.
  13. an ultrawide lens is great to have when traveling. IMO it's more useful than tele unless you are shooting wildlife on safari which is a whole 'nother can of worms. (right now i'm in mexico city,moving on to cuba, with a 12-24 as my main lens and a P&S for tele/snapshots. i also have a 17-50 and 50-150 but havent used them yet). the sigma 10-20 would be good, along with the 16-85, 18-200 or similar zoom, and a fast prime like the 35/1.8 and 50/1.8 (the latter is small enough to fit in a shirt pocket).
    take a look at the clik photo backpacks--they have backcountry-worthy hipbelts, which will help a lot on extended trips. if you are 'packing it, with a lot of other gear in just one pack you will want as small and as light a kit as possible. in that case, an 18-200+50/1.8 combo--or even 18-70+50/1.8--in a waistpack or chest harness which can fit into a bigger pack would be a good choice. also, for external flash, an sb-400 is great for traveling. sb-600 and up add a lot of bulk and are fairly obtrusive, esp. w/ a long lens.
    good luck!
  14. In regards to the Tamron, I had the previous iteration (the 18-250) rebadged by Pentax, and the vignetting was truly foul: falloff was uneven between the corners and quite abrupt. More:
    I have no idea whether this applies to the 18-270, of course.
    I think the general advice is, buy any lens well before the trip and give it a thorough workout within the return period to make sure it meets your needs.
  15. Nikon FM2n; EX-$245
    Nikon AF 28-105 f/3.5-4.5; EX-$165
    used at KEH.
    Olympus Stylus Tough 8000 5.0-18.2 (28-102 35mm equivalent) waterproof, shockproof, freeze-proof, crush-proof. MSRP new is $379.99.
    The places you are going will be easier to get film than to charge batteries.
  16. Having backpacked around the places you mention, (asia, middle east, europe and africa), in the 70's with my Nikon F2, 24mm, 50mm, 80-200mm, I would have to agree with Shun. I would recommend a more robust, dust resistant, weather proof, Nikon body than the D60. Perhaps the Nikon D300s. Were I able and willing to do this type of travel again, along with the Nikon D300s, I would bring a Nikon 12-24mm f4, Nikon 35mm f1.8, and Nikon 80-200mm f2.8. I know some of you will see a big gap in focal range there, but these focal lengths are where I do most of my shooting on the road. "...people, wildlife, culture and architecture...", perfect lenses for me.
  17. None of the above.
    Canon g9, 10, or 11, lumix lx3 etc. Save your back. Extra batteries, cards, little bogen pocket tripod and you're set.
    trust me, the incremental improvement in IQ using a dslr does not outweigh the carrying of a g9, etc. no pun intended.
  18. Emma,
    I'd suggest you'd skip the tripod. Yes, it will improve your pictures, but it will scream photography, increase the risk of being robbed, and will be a burden travelling with a back pack. (Guys, backpacking does not mean travelling with a Photo trekker back pack).
    I don't know your budget, but even though I second Shun's and others suggestions to bring a more rugged camera, I believe that a good camera bag will do wonders protecting your gear. I have had excellent experiences with my LowePro Topload Pro bag. You can attach it to your back pack on the front harness and has good weather cover. I used it walking the Inca trail in heat, dust and rain.
    The suggestion to go to film I think is a bad one. Getting film around the globe will prove to be difficult and let's not forget the price of film and development cost. That was my main reason to move to digital.
    Get insurance, buy a portable harddrive and enjoy yourself.
    Do not forget to post the results here!
  19. The biggest mistake I made was packing too much equipment. When traveling domestically with my own car, it's not a big deal packing an extra camera, multiple lens, and a tripod. But when I was in Europe, it was a big hassle. I took two Nikon DSLRS, three zoom lens, and a tripod. I'll never do that again. For my next overseas trip, I'll skip the conventional tripod and just take the D90 with the 16-85mm VR lens. I may think about a tabletop tripod though. My backup camera will be a 12x point and shoot.
    As for bags, I have one of those small Lowepro bags that attaches to my belt. I felt so much better than carrying a big bag.
  20. Hello Emma, If you have a kit lens for your D60 ( 18-55 w/wo VR), take that and buy the tele zoom 55-200 4-5,6 VR and the Tamron 10-24/3,5-4,5. I also recommend a good small P&S like the Canon S90 to get along.
    This set is very versatile, small, lightweight and relatively cheep. The optical quality is fairly good all the way and better than a long range zoom like 18-200 VR or Tamron 18-270. Besides you will not be as dependent on one lens. If any of the three zooms break, you will manage quite well with the remaining two.
    If you are willing to spend a lot more money, then the Nikon 10-24, 16-85 VR and 70-300 VR are optically better and even more versatile.
  21. If it were me I'd take a two primes(maybe just one) and a lot of film, but people give me funny looks
  22. I agree with WT. On a recent one month trip I went to Viet Nam carrying 10 kg (exclusive of food and water) in GOlite jam pack and my Camera bag was the pocket of my travel vest or GOlite Ion bag. Charger, batteries, SD cards in a small, nylon, waterproof rolltop sack. Camera was a Canon G9 w/ WA adapter and a small TTL flash (can't remember the model) with an off camera extension cord. The flash was very handy for fill light in the tropics. ( you gotta get light under those conical hats)Table top tripod that you can attach to the camera and then grip it and the top of a stick and use as a monopod. Take some ziplok plastic one qt bags and one gallon bags as well as some rubber bands and some gaffer tape wrapped around a medicine bottle or something. Backup camera was a small waterproof Pentax that never left my person. I could use it in the rain. My traveling buddy carried a Canon SLR w/ 28 300 (?) zoom and got some nice shots, but there were many times that his camera was put away and mine was still handy to use. I second guessed myself many times about leaving my Nikon SLR at home as he did get some shots I was unable to get. But on the other side of the coin I was able to get shots he couldn't cuz his gear was too unhandy to use.
    For my next one month trip, after MUCH cogitating I think I'll take the D300 SLR and a small flash w/ a 28 - 200 VR Zoom. AND the small waterproof Pentax. I'm worried I may be sorry taking such a big camera because the G9 worked out so well. I think I'm a victim of "the grass is greener" syndrome. The G9 worked really well. Go to for some examples. 16 x 20 enlargements work out beautifully. If I were to go for a whole year there is not much question that I'd leave the SLR at home and go light. For a 12 month trip going light is so advantageous that I will stress it again. GO LIGHT!!
    Visit some of the ultralight backpacing sites for good ideas.
  23. Emma,
    With all of your destinations, I assume you will be flying a lot. Film is a major headache when flying. While in the U.S. you can insist on a hand inspection (with a lot of film it took over 45 min coming back from Costa Rica 14 years ago at the Ft. Lauderdale, FL airport - fortunately there was a good interval before the connecting flight), in Finland and I imagine other places they insist on running everything through the X-Ray and in third world countries the X-Ray machines are probably not as carefully calibrated. A friend of mine had all of her film ruined when it escaped her attention and went through the X-Ray machine by mistake as she arrived back at Christ Church, NZ from Antarctica.
    Given your itinerary, my main concerns would be keeping charged camera batteries available, and being able to clean the sensor on the DSLR. I would take many more lens cleaning cloths than you expect to need and a powerful hand blower. I like the visible dust wet swab sensor cleaners and their sensor viewer. Sometimes you just need to use a blower to get dust off of the sensor and the sensor viewer lets you verify that it is clean. I would also take a number of zip-lock bags to put the camera and lenses in if conditions get really bad. Silica Jell with color indicator would be good to take if you are going to be in very humid places. You can regenerate its drying power by heating it gently in an oven. It is typically blue when charged and pink when saturated with water.
    For such a long trip, you need to work out a way to down load the photographs from your camera's memory cards. If you can afford it, a small light lap top with a small high capacity hard disk would be useful to review images and store them. This will also give you an early warning if something is wrong with your camera. Depending on how strong your back is you could carry an external DVD writer and when you are in a place with reliable post, write your images to DVD and ship them home as a backup. Generally trying to make room on the memory cards by discarding "bad" photos is risky because the file managing indexing scheme on the memory cards can get "confused" with lots of deletions and new additions interspersed; so you end of risking all the photographs on a card with such a practice.
    If you are going to be hiking a lot with your backpack as opposed to using it as an easy to carry suitcase, scratch the above and buy as many memory cards as you can afford. You might be able to rent a computer with a DVD drive at some locations and write your images out to DVD for shipping home.
    What you choose to do in the end will depend on what role photography is playing on your trip. If the primary purpose is photography, you might want to carry more, if the photography is more a nice to have, snap shot activity, carry the least amount of gear possible. I agree with the others, in that I would be concerned about the sturdiness of the D60. If you don't have it on your neck for taking photographs I would have it buried in lots of cloths in your backpack when you are carrying the backpack. You don't put it there when the backpack will be out of your sight, such as checked luggage on the airplane or other form of conveyance. Being aware of your surroundings will be the best guide on how and where to keep your camera. Your camera and lenses will represent several years income at some of the locations on your itinerary -- get it insured -- your life is worth more than the equipment. You could still save your photographs in a bad situation by keeping the full memory cards in a separate safe place -- they don't take up much space or weigh very much.
  24. Thanks heaps for all your replys and comments!
    im considering upgrading to a D90 body and keeping my kit lense 18-55 vr. will depend on how the budgets going.
    also looking at either a sigma 30mm f1.4 or nikon 35mm 1.8, anyone have advise on which of these would be preferable??? or do i go a 50mm 1.4?
    and maybe a 70-300mm aswell. when i went to vietnam recently i found i was always wanting that bit of extra zoom. think ill pass on the tripod.
    i have a olympus p&s waterproof ive had for a while so that will come in handy to.
    and looks like ill be purchasing lots of batteries and memory cards! 3 months of my time in africa i will be in a village with no power or water so batteries will be a must! hopefully i can get to a bigger town to do some charging every now and then.
    one last question, do you think i will be needing a flash? and if so am i better of with the SB600 which can tild upwards or the SB400 which is smaller but fixed in one position??
    again thanks for the tips and opinions. Cheers !!!
  25. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Emma, if you can upgrade to the D90, I would upgrade it for the better durability. I definitely would not trust the plastic mount 18-55 VR for this type of trip; its construction quality is Nikon's lowest. If you don't want to spend a lot of money, the 18-70mm/f3.5-4.5 is quite decent. The 16-85mm AF-S VR is fine but it costs a lot for what it offers; in the end it is still a slow f5.6 zoom.
    Add a fast 30 or 35mm and the 70-300, you'll have very good set up. In these days memory cards are cheap. Just get a few high-capacity ones and they can last a long time.
    Are you going to be shooting indoors a lot? If so, a flash is helpful, but you need to find ways to power it. That will be another set of batteries and charger to bring with you.
  26. I agree with the consensus - 16-85, 70-300 (space and money permitting) 35/1.8 (best additional lens) and D90 - best reasonable camera upgrade. I'd also get the SB400, really small, inexpensive and it bounces well.
  27. Al, is that a Duluth Trading vest? I think we're twins! Tom.
  28. I'm going with what Cheung said. The venerable 18-70 is a very good lens. Sharp as a tack. I would take a 35 or 50 f1.8 for low light and the 70-300 vr if it is affordable. If it is not affordable the 70-300 af-s g is a good lens and one can be had for a song. VR is nice but I doubt you will be using the 70-300 on the long end in low light. I am a huge fan of flash. If you don't mind carrying the SB600 that would be nice but as Cheung said it brings up a whole new set of issues. You could leave it at home no problem.
    So if you are concerned about price the above will get you capabilities that 40 years ago we would have killed for. Have a wonderful trip and Godspeed.
  29. Emma, I do not own zooms. When I travel I pack a 24, 50, and 105 macro. But the zoom suggestions given so far make a lot of sense. I especially like the 18-70mm suggestion, beacause of low price, IQ, and weight. I would add a 70-300 VR to it to have long end coverage (wildlife, etc.).
  30. If you have the money (and the willingness to lug this around on top of clothes, sleeping bag, whatever else you'll need, I would recommend:
    Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8
    Nikon 16-85mm VR
    Nikon 70-300mm VR
    Though I do also agree with the comments which suggest "lighter is better". Nothing like waking up in Battambang one more cold, misty morning and realising your pack is 5kg too heavy. It comes down to how much you are willing to heft with you day in day out, and how much you can afford (and to lose).
    I also think if you're careful with your kit you can get by with the "lightest of the light kit" and stick with your 18-55mm + 55-200mm VR and still get very beautiful shots.
    Don't let the desire for high-end equipment cloud the fact that you can still take incredibly beautiful shots with nothing more than a $200 point & shoot. I spent four months backpacking through SE Asia with nothing more than an Ixus 60 and took some of the best shots of my life. If you plan on enlarging, get the good stuff. If you just want to post them on Facebook and Flickr, stick with a p&s.
    Whatever you decide, make the most of it, have no regrets and keep smiling it up :)
  31. Emma,
    I believe that you can tilt the SB400 flashbulb too, but only in a vertical direction, it does not rotate horizontally. Even though the body is rigid. Check it out in a shop, or probably some people around here have used it.
  32. You will not want to short-cut backing up your photos. Do you have a laptop to take along? If so, copy to that in addition it a separate portable hard drive and keep in a separate location.
    Several memory cards.
    A minimum of two batteries and charger. Are you currently in the U.S.? You may need power adapters in order to use a laptop and battery charger.
    The February issue of Outdoor Photographer (just came in the mail) has an article on pocket viewers.
    If you do you a laptop, consider copying the photos to CDs and having them sent home. On a trip to Montana this past summer with my son, I bought a laptop and each day we copied our files to the laptop and also a portable drive. I estimated we would take 4G of pictures daily and that held out, so we retired those cards to a separate waterproof card holder which was always in my pocket. But that was six days, not 6 months. After a daily shoot and backups we had 3 copies of our photos at 3 locations. Thus I would consider filing CDs and mailing them home. With once-in-a-life visits like that, you don't want to take chances.
  33. Also...consider a camera bag that may not bring the attention to you that many of the generic camera bags would. A Domke bag may fit that bill. Here is one, although easy to conceal, but may be too small for several lenses.
    Take clear plastic bags also, for protection around sand or snow.
    My daughter is currently in Chile, traveling abroad through her college in Pennsylvania. One night her and a friend walked on a clearly lit and street they thought was safe. Turns out it wasn't. She heard a car approach, looked over her shoulder, and guys with masks got out. She bolted and got away. They didn't chase her but her male friend had an over the shoulder camera bag that shouted rob me. They did, at gun point. Nothing he could do but hand over the bag. She had a p&S camera, and was aware of her surroundings. They concentrated on him and ignored her.
  34. I have had a good trip with 18-200 VR It is great for out door not that great in low light unless you use flash. It is not too heavy. Dis carry a 50 mm 1.8 with me for indoor available light. This was easy to carry and did most what I wanted to do. Regards ifti
  35. When I travel abroad, I prefer to put my camera equipment in a bag that doesn't look like a camera bag. That happens to be a backpack. The last thing you want to do is look like a rich tourist.
    In my 9 trips to Europe, I have never taken a flash, so I don't recommend one. But if you're so inclined to do so, take a small one. You'll be hard pressed to find a place indoors that will allow you to use a flash. And most of the time the light is so beautiful that a flash is not needed. Like others, I recommend a 50mm f1.8.
  36. Hello Emma, you asked about 30/1,4 vs 35/1,8 or the 50/1,4. I would say a 50mm lens is a good choise if portraiture is very high up on your list of subjects. Often people recommend the 50/1,8 as a complement for low light, mainly because its cheep, good, light and small. The 50/1,4 is faster but much more expensive. For general photography thou, a 50mm lens is way too long.
    A 35mm lens is much better and 30 even more so in respect to versatility. The Nikon 35/1,8 DX is a very good lens with good sharpness across all apertures and the hole frame, besides its reasonable priced. The Sigma 30/1,4 is known for its excellent center sharpness at the fastest apertures and its smooth and creamy out of focus rendition. The coin side is the poor sharpness at the borders up to 5,6 and its quite expensive.
    I think of the Sigma as a lens with more creative options and the Nikon lens as the the better general lens. I cant really recomment any over the other here, since it all depends on how you intent to use the lens.
    Personally thou, for the money the Sigma 30/1,4 costs, I would consider to upgrade from your kit lens 18-55 VR to the new Tamron 17-50 2,8 VC ( VC is Tamrons name for Nikons VR) instead.
  37. Emma,
    I have the D60, 18-55VR, 35F1.8 and 50F1.8D lenses.
    I would suggest getting a new 18-55 non VR lens as backup to your 18-55VR kit lens. Why another cheap kit lens? This will help address the issue of possible failure if either lens fails along the way. Why non-VR? Above a certain shutter speed (1/200th of a second) the VR mechanism degrades sharpness. So having "VR" is not a free lunch. For best results you have to remember when to switch it off (and then on again). I do not know if this is also true of the latest VRII lenses--the 16-85, etc. But I suspect them also.
    I would not suggest the 50F1.8D becuase it does not AF and unless you also upgrade the focusing screen of the D60 (or D90) to at least a split-image screen, it will be problematic. Then there is the mental thing of having to remember that THIS lens doesn't AF! Hence you'll be missing and messing up shots as you try to remember this while switching lenses on the fly. Better to simply eliminate this particular confusion in advance.
    The 35F1.8 DX or the Sigma 30F1.4 is a must! Either normal lens may very well be your most important lens on this trip in terms of yielding the most "keepers". This will be due to the combination of speed, simplicity of operation and very high optical quality.
    If you are not going to take a tripod, then don't take any really long zooms, such as the 70-300--unless you know you're going to be doing quite a bit of safari photography! But I would take the 50-200VR lens. Why? It's light, it's cheap and it's still further backup for the normal lens and the medium zooms.
    I would not take any super wide zooms. Let the 18mm (or 16mm) wide end of your medium zoom suffice! Why? Because a DX wide zoom is very bulky, heavy and complex to use if you're not already very familiar with wide angle composition.
    Thus my advice is for 4 lenses max: one normal lens (35F1.8 or 30F1.4), one medium zoom (18-55VR or 16-85VRII), one backup medium zoom (18-55 non-VR) and one long zoom (the 50-200VR). All 4 should fit easily in a back-pack style camera bag (Kata for one) and should be light enough to carry for 12 hours or so.
    As for the D90 over the D60, I would need to be persuaded that the D90 also offered better "ease-of-use" and/or higher performance AF than the D60. Not just superior construction. Btw--the D60 is an extremely complex camera. Be certain to buy one of the many third party books on how to use it or the D90. The basic Nikon D60 owners manual is lousy!
    Have a safe and wonderful trip!
  38. Here's another thought...
    Something that always works well for me is taking a small tabletop tripod with matching head and just leaving it on the camera with a cable release. Just never remove them . They barely add any weight at all when you're carrying the set-up, and you don't have to take the time to constantly set up a larger tripod, especially when you're on a long trip. You also don't have to worry about leaving a large tripod somewhere when you decide not to take it. Of course, it's not as "reachable" as a larger tripod, but the pros far outweigh the cons here. There's usually something laying around onto which you can mount your camera for added height: a table, a car/truck, your partner's back (seriously, it's worked for me!) etc., etc.
  39. What an amazing volume of advice above...
    I haven't read it all but on a slightly different tack and since you have six months before you go.... I suggest you buy, beg, borrow or steal Scott Kelby's books (there's now 3 volumes) called "The Digital Photography Book". They're filled with lots of professional advice pertaining to many photographic subjects and situations (including travel). They're not books containing explanations of dof, f/stop etc. His tack is simply, "if you're taking a pic in this situation this is the best way to deal with it". And there's lots of stuff for travellers. I've been doing photography for over 40 years and I was amazed how much his books taught me.
    On a different note - remember the Rick Steeves line - When did you last return from a trip and say, "Gee, I wish I'd taken more stuff!"
    Good luck, Dave D
  40. Emma,
    Given the length of time you plan to be away from electric power in Africa, you might want to spend some of your lens budget on some portable solar battery chargers. REI carries some, but you need to make sure the voltage and power output will work with your chargers. You will need to do some research to make sure you get something that actually works. All of the rechargeable batteries discharge slowly even if not used. If you are going to be a month or more without electricity that could be a major issue.
    At a minimum the solar recharger would be able to keep your flash batteries charged. Given the large amount of stuff you are talking about taking, I would recommend the SB-600 flash and a fold up reflector (in a pinch you could use a sheet of Aluminum Foil) to help with lighting. Depending on where you are in Africa or the Middle East the light can be quite harsh and a strong flash for use as a fill light will be a great boon in people photography. Practice before you go!
    I would also recommend taking a small carbon fiber tripod with a quick release ball head. Gitzo makes some that are quite compact and light weight that you can hide in your backpack when not in use. A compromise would be a monopod that you could use as a walking stick. The quick release is critical. In my younger years, I used to carry around a big heavy aluminum tripod which I seldom used because screwing the camera on and off the tripod was so slow. Now that I can afford it I have a carbon tripod (I actually have 2 one for normal photography and a more heavy duty one for my 200-400 Zoom) with the Arca Swiss Quick Release plates and use the tripod for a large portion of my shots. The quality of the images is much improved by tripod use! A tripod really facilitates photography during the so called golden hours.
  41. My advise is: 12-24 (tokina or nikon) + 18-200
    Do you plan to trip to Iran? I welcome to you.
    Good luck
  42. Hi All, thanks again for all your great responses. i am currently in the process of buying a D90 and a 35mm F/1.8 lense and then i will decide what else i need once they arrive.
    reading all the above comments has made it all a lot easier.
    and no not iran this time, but have always been interested, perhaps next time!

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