Which lenses for Venice, Florence, Rome

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by djschaefer, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. Yeah, I know, one of those questions. I am planning on some architectural shot inside and outside, street scenes - the usual tourist stuff. Biggest problem as usual is to strip the equipment list down - everything needs to fit inside a LowePro Flipside 400AW. Tripod will stay home - its not allowed inside many places anyway and too bulky to haul around all day to begin with. Had planned on taking two camera bodies but space may limit me to taking only one - a D300 without grip. The lenses I know I will take are: Nikkor 16-35/4 VR - it will serve as the main lens and be on the camera most of the time. I purchased it specifically for the VR and those trips on which I know I can't or won't carry a tripod (it replaces the 17-55/2.8 as my main travel lens). When I need to go wider: Tokina 11-16/2.8. For fun - 10.5/2.8 fisheye - won't be used for many shots but if I don't take it along, it will never get used.

    So far, so good. The rest is where I am a bit uncertain. The options:
    -35/1.8G - might come in handy for inside shots - but the focal length is covered with the 16-35 already. Shallower DOF might be nice on occasion - but does it warrant the duplication in focal length.
    -50/1.8G - alternative to taking the 35/1.8 - light tele on a DX body instead of the "normal" 35mm. The occasional portrait.
    -85/1.8D - to compress perspective in some street and landscape shots and for shots of architectural detail - probably the longest focal length I will actually need and carry. Can also serve for the occasional head shot portrait.
    I pretty much already excluded the 80-200/2.8 AF-D two-ring - too bulky and heavy and I doubt I have much use for the tele range anyway.
    - Nikkor 28-105/3.5-4.5 - considered as an alternative to the 85/1.8D - but I rather have the larger aperture. Might miss the macro feature though.
    - Sigma 150/1.8 Macro - too long and too bulky to be along on this trip.
    I will have access to a notebook and will carry two notebook drives to backup the images.
    Currently, I am favoring - in addition to the 11-16, 16-35, and 10.5 - packing the 50/1.8G and the 85/1.8D. Could add the 5T/6T combo to use on the 50 or 85 in case there is an opportunity for some macro shots. I am not prepared to purchase another lens for this trip. What's your opinion about my selection? What would you do different? What am I missing?
    Thanks, Dieter
  2. Because of internationally famous pickpockets, I would take the bare minimum. I would not run around Rome with a bag full of stuff. I'm thinking tokina 11-16mm f2.8 and 17-55mm f2.8. I would also take a second camera of some kind. No way I'd do an important trip without a back up.
    One of the things I've been coming to think is that the lenses I'll use on a trip are exactly the same ones I use at home. Exception might be if you go on a wildlife tour and don't photo that at home much, etc. I have three zoom lenses I use at home, and have used exactly the same lenses in Hawaii, Iceland, Canadian Arctic, Florida, and this summer will be in the European Arctic. I don't change my style depending on where I am. I am buying a small D5100 for back up camera. Small, flexible, capable. And, cheap if it gets stolen or destroyed.
    Kent in SD
  3. Seems like the 16-85mm F/3.5-5.6 VR would be perfect. Then add the 35/1.8 for speed. Then, a tele of some sort. Maybe as simple as the 70-300 VR, or the 180/2.8 for speed?
    Sounds like a great trip, have fun and good luck :)
  4. Have you considered traveling with just one lens? You might not even have to take a camera bag. I did 4 weeks in Mexico with just a Leica and 35mm lens. Not wide enough occasionally. But with your 16-35 VR that problem would not arise. It's quite liberating to not change lenses (and carry them).
  5. three wide angle lenses? really?
  6. 16-35. 28-105. 35/1.8. done.
  7. SCL


    Having spent many weeks in those places, I'd say you are planning on taking way way too much. Take one wide and one longer lens, that's it! You'll probably use the wide the most, and don't forget you can stitch for panoramic shots. Have a great time...don't wear expensive jewelry, keep your hand on the camera/bag at all times you're outside your hotel...no need to be paranoid, just don't be a sucker.
  8. I was in all those cities in October and I took and used only 3 lenses on my D3s. A 17-35 for interiors and landscapes, a 85mm 1.8 for low light and a 80-200 2.8 for people photos. I would only take one wide angle your 16-35. LIsten to the advice about pick pockets, get some camera insurance, and go out and take lots of photos. When I travel , I like to shoot early in the mornings, with in a half hour of sunrise. Less people and the people are people going to work. Its too early for most thieves, who tend to be out late.

  9. Having lived and traveled in Europe, to me the most attractive Nikon DSLR for travel is the D5100 -- largely for its vari-angle LCD monitor, light weight, and new sensor. The 18-55mm VR kit lens seems like a good travel choice. Or the 16-85mm. Add a 35mm f/1.8. No camera bag. Immerse yourself in the culture.
  10. Wide angle tokina 11-16 for sure - you will be in narrow streets and will need it.
    If you don't take the 28-105 take the 85mm 1.8 for tele - you may not need more range than that.
    Mid-range -your choice.

    I've been often to all three cities - watch your backpack but don't get paranoid. Enjoy, and mangia mangia!

    Interiors: I don't have VR lenses but use a Slik mini table tripod as a chest support, whcih works very well for me.
  11. You should probably just bring the Nikon 17-55mm 1:2.8, and the Tokina 11-16mm 1:2.8.
    I find telephoto useful in many situations, so on your trip, personally, I would also bring my Nikon 80-200mm 1:2.8 D. I don't carry the heavy optic at all times. My modus operandi is to scout out telephoto shots in advance and return later with the lens.
    I am envious, Dieter. Buon viaggio.
  12. If you still have the 17-55, no doubt, I`d take just one lens.
    If not, the 16-35 will be great, and then a longer lens, maybe the 85, or like Eric, the 28-105... anyway, and it`s my personal opinion, no more than two lenses and a non-obvious bag.
    If you like wider viewing angles, the 11-16; the other lens would be then the 28-105, maybe.
  13. My 1st time in Florence I carried too many lenses. I found out that I only used my 17-55 and my 11-16. Then I used my
    friend's 70-200. Basically I only used 3 lenses and. Monopod.

    After that all take now are 3 small lenses, 24, 35 and 35-70.

    Florence and Venice are very safe cities. You don't have too worry too much but Rome is a different story. Be alert and
    that is not a place where you wanna be caught of guard while changing lenses.

    You will love the place! Have fun!
  14. Thanks all for the responses.
    @Kent: like you, I want to use the same lenses when traveling that I use at home. I don't want money tied up in lenses that I only use for traveling. I didn't buy a 16-35/4VR to leave it at home and take a cheap 18-55 along. I'd like to take a second D300 body along - but it might not be possible. I won't buy a new D5100 - the replacement value of my D300 body now is about the same as the cost for a new D5100, so financially, this doesn't make sense. I wouldn't like to take an untested and unfamiliar body as a backup - and certainly not one that would require me to pack a separate charger and battery.
    @Dan, I have neither the 16-85 nor the 70-300 or the 180/2.8 - and as I stated, I won't be buying new lenses for the trip. The 16-85 tempted me when it was introduced - I just don't like the f/5.6 at the long end.
    @John: only one lens is simply not an option on this trip.
    @Eric: 11-16 and 16-35 are a must for me. Based on my experience from a trip to Paris a few years ago, I changed my lens system: I traveled with the 10.5, 12-24/4, 24-85/3.5-4.5 and 50/1.8D then. The f/2.8 of the fisheye saved my bacon as the f/4 turned out to be too slow for many of the interior shots - most of which were out of necessity hand held. The break at 24 also meant that I had to change lenses frequently.
    It was that trip that made me get the 11-16/2.8 and the 17-55/2.8. Only recently did I add the 16-35 - and the main reason was the VR. The 17-55 is more of an event lens - its optimum performance is at closer distances. I often do HDR - often out of necessity hand held and the VR helps me getting those +1 and +2 EV shots sharp when the shutter speeds tend to get into the 1/15-1/8s range.
    @Stephen: don't think I could do with only one wide - the 11-16 alone is too restrictive as is the 16-35 alone.
    @Michael - that's quite a setup you carried along there. If I had an FX camera, then the 16-35 would certainly suffice - but it doesn't on DX. The 11-16/2.8 alone might do for the interior shots - but I know it would be often too wide for exterior.
    @Christopher: not buying new equipment for this trip.
    @Allen: backpack - that's why I take the LowePro Flipside - it's zipper for the main compartment on the inside - towards my back. Can't imagine anyone taking anything out of it while I am wearing it. I also don't have to take it off to change lenses, just get out of the shoulder straps and swing the backpack forward around the hip strap. There is another compartment on the outside - but I won't have anything in it and will likely tie the two zippers together (or use a small lock) to prevent access.
    @Robert: don't have the option to scout around and revisit places as I am not traveling alone. Also a reason against carrying a tripod - setting up takes to long. I only considered taking the 80-200 today - your post makes me think about this a bit more. I am just not sure I need anything longer than 85 - and it is a heavy lens to lug around.
    @Jose: non-obvious bag, don't think it helps much. My camera will be in my hand most of the time - it doesn't do any good if it sits in the bag. In any case, I can't hide the fact that I am photographing - and my thought is that the inside zipper of my backpack is a better deterrent than using a a non-camera backpack - that can be opened rather easily.
    @Rene: thanks for the tip - Rome is where I might consider taking only one lens and leave the bag in the hotel (where I can only hope that it will be safe).
    It seems to me that my "necessities" are the 11-16, 16-35 and the 85. The fisheye won't see much use for sure - almost by default. It will never be a necessity but for the right occasion, it's fun. And it is small and light. I won't take the 35/1.8 and the 50/1.8G is at the verge of not making it into the bag either. Since I want at least one "fast" lens - the current scenario would exclude replacing the 85 with the 28-105.
    So, the bag currently would be 11-16, 16-35, 85 and the fisheye. Am now debating whether to replace the 85 with the 50?
  15. I've found a travel tripod to be very practical for city trips where some of the photography is of architecture and some is of people. Mine is a little too small, it's the Gitzo Ocean Traveler. I took the centre column out and it's adequate for a DSLR up to something like 105mm or 135mm if one is careful. An L bracket is essential though when using such a small head, otherwise it will be hard to lock the camera for verticals.
    For lenses the 16-35/4, 35/1.8, 50/1.8 and 85/1.8 would all fit in the bag you mention. The fast lenses are useful for people photography and the 16-35 for a lot of the architecture. I would personally favour the 17-55/2.8 though as it would allow you to go with just two lenses, the zoom and the 85/1.8 and probably give higher quality than the 16-35, especially when photographing people. But for interiors I suppose the 16-35 has merits if you don't mind blur trails in case there are people in the frame. I suppose the 10.5 mm fisheye is so tiny it won't take much space in the bag and if there is any opportunity to use it, it would be in a trip to Italy with all those fantastic building interiors. I would not bring both the 11-16 and the fisheye - too much choice IMO. I like gaps. They help me focus and shoot quickly without tinkering on decisions. ;-)
    Venice is easy in that the canals have elevated viewpoints on bridges ... so you can just shoot level without a PC lens and get everything straight. But the streets are narrow and dark. You can use all the aperture you can get. Which is why I'd prefer the 17-55 over the 16-35.
  16. As you're DX, I don't think your 16-35mm f4 is wide enough for architecture, I'd definitely take your 11-16mm but leave the fisheye.
    Getting closer to something is often easier than getting further back, especially in an old city.
    28-105mm, humm... more reach but a bit slow. Maybe the 35 & 85 for speed and reach?
    I usually take my sigma 10-20 & Nikon 16-85 for cultural cities!
  17. What are you missing?
    Only that you are you, everybody else is someone else. The only thing you have in common is ownership of a bunch of lenses you can't decide on.
    Only you can know what works for you. Do a walkaround where you live or the closest city, find similar subjects, and experiment.
  18. I'm going on a similar trip in May (London, Amsterdam, Munich, Venice, Florance,Rome) and have been wrestling with the same question. I settled on purchasing a used 18-200 VR for walking around / day use and a 35mm 1.8 night / everything else. Honestly if it is anything like home the 35 won't come off the camera.
  19. I was shooting film when I went and basically live on the wide side. My (DX) kit for Venice now would be 17-35 2.8, 12-24 4.0, 50 1.8 and 85 1.8. I would highly recommend a bogen mini table top tripod. I used mine extensivly braced against walls and placed on ledge for both inside shots and evening/night shots. I would not bother carrying a flash as most interiors don't allow it due to the artwork. I also recommend a cheap point and shoot for snaps of yourselves. I felt more comfortable giving a cheap camera to a stranger to take pictures of my wife and I. Never had a problem, but there are a lot of theft in the crowded areas like St Marks square. If you have a choice, I highly recommend staying in Venice even though it is very expensive. There is a marked difference in the pace and friendliness of the city after all the cruise ship and tour crowd leaves.
  20. My thinking on cameras is constantly evolving as new stuff becomes available. I tend to look at camera gear as a system, not just pieces. The first question I have is, "What do I want the gear to do?" I currently own a D300 and D80, and have been taking both on "exotic" trips. I always want a back up along. I'm thinking of selling the D80 and replacing with a D5100. The downside is batteries aren't compatible. The upside is the D5100 has video, is much smaller and attracts less attention, has more mega-pickles, and I like the idea of the flip out screen. My thinking is that by gaining two more ISO stops, I can make a cheap lightweight lens like the 18-55mm VR work better when I need something compact, especially in high risk places. Losing two stops from the lens should be made up by gaining two stops with the camera. The D300 actually is now not as good a choice as the D5100 for travel I think, because the D5100 has better image quality and smaller size. I'm hoping that whatever replaces the D300 will take the same battery as the D5100. I'm not trying to convince you to buy a D5100, but rather discussing basic philosophy.
    Kent in SD
  21. Not photographic advice but I lived in Italy for couple of years. Look for little hole in the wall places to away from St Marks Square, they are cheaper. When ordering a pizza if you want pepperoni on it ask for salami or bell pepper. If you get the chance hop a train from Venice to Vicenza (approx. 45min ride). It is a nice place to check out too. Also if you get a chance go to San Marino. It is a separate country inside of Italy. There is a castle on top of the mountain. Enjoy your trip.
  22. I think that Nikon best lens for traveling with a DX body is Nikkor 10-24. Last summer I visited Kiev, Ukraine, for about 10 days and I had a hard time to decide which lens to take alongside with my D300.
    Finally I took 10-24, 50/1.8G, 85/1.4D and Sigma 150/2.8. I found that on streets Nikon 10-24 is almost perfect on DX. My usage on that trip was like:
    10-24 - 35%
    50/1.8 - 25/%
    85/1.4 - 5%
    150/2.8 - 35%
    IMHO Sigma is a great lens in a trip... I used it as a tele, for capturing nice portraits on streets... it works as a charm. Also I used it to get architectural details, some close-up and macro shots...
    In my next similar trip with a crop camera I'll definitely take a smaller setup: 10-24, 50/1.8 and 150/2.8. This is enough for me.
  23. Dieter, I certainly understand not buying new gear. I was responding to "street scenes - the usual tourist stuff", and was mostly provoking thought on traveling light. My own travel interests have become photo-journalistic. But I'm not very comfortable with aiming a camera at people on the street, thus my interest in the flip-out screen and it's candid shot abilities, or for portraits where permission has been granted. I have an invitation to travel to Morocco, where I will down-play my appearance as a photographer, and be very sensitive to the culture. Last summer in Mexico, I was content with my D80 and Tamron 17-50, and Nikon 85 f/1.8. I have since upgraded to a D7000.
    It's been an interesting discussion, and I'm glad to hear that you're getting dialed-in. Best wishes for an outstanding trip! Chris.
  24. [​IMG]
    In Venice, you will wan t a wide angle and a polarize. Remember, Venice is in the water and that means, it is about reflections. Have fun!
  25. Thanks for all the additional responses.
    @Ilkka: I would favor the 17-55 also if I envisioned this trip to be more about people - but I think it will be more about architecture - hence my choosing the 16-35 over the 17-55 even though I give up one f-stop (that might come in handy to freeze subject motion or decrease DOF - but not to avoid camera shake as I certainly have the advantage there with the VR on the 16-35). And the 11-16 will be along for the trip; the fisheye is no replacement for it. This trio has served me well on a trip to Salt Lake City that was also mostly architectural shooting. If this trip was about landscape - then I would pack the 12-24. 28-105 and my Apo-Telyt 180; this trio worked well for my for a road and hiking trip through Colorado and I never really missed the big f/2.8 zooms.
    What gaps did you have in your lens lineup when you visited Venice with your D3X and 6 lenses?
    @Mike: If I didn't have all the lenses I already mentioned, then something like the 16-85 would be in my bag for sure - it would actually be the Sigma 17-70/2.8-4. But I just don't want to acquire yet another lens
    @ Pierre: I agree. I and certainly have done what you suggested - that's how I build the system I now have.
    @Justin: the 18-200 is not an option I'd even consider.
    @Warren: quite similar to the equipment I'm considering. And yes, we are staying in Venice.
    @Kent: my system philosophy and approach are very similar to yours. I like my backup to be the same model than the primary camera though. And I tend to use the backup as much as the primary. Space won't permit a backup along this time - can only hope that that gamble will turn out well.
    @Paula: noted and thanks.
    @Mihai: it is my experience that the 10-24 (I have the 12-24) is often too slow indoors if one can't use a tripod. And I agree on the Sigma 150 - sweet lens but too long for this trip.
    @Christopher: I inherited a Sony DSC-R1 that I like for exactly the reasons you describe. Too bad though that the camera is very slow and limited to base ISO.
    @Maxime: thanks for the info.
  26. Bug Spray: Venezia is full of mosquitoes. Plan ahead and use protection.
  27. @Richard - given the recent (or is it current) cold spell, I hope that they won't have hatched when we visit.
  28. Re Backup Bodies
    If I were a wedding photographer etc., it would make a lot of sense to have two identical bodies. My fingers would know all the buttons on both since they would be the same. However, I don't have that sort of need. I have two different bodies with different capabilities, for different uses. One (D300-series) has fast AF, great viewfinder, fastest synce speed, off camera iTTL, and a PC port on the front. I do use each of those features, but not for all the kinds of shooting I do. I also want a smaller camera that has video, and the flip out screen to do less conspicuous people photos. The smaller camera is also a better fit for family outings. With two different bodies I get different capabilities and can pick one according to the needs of the day. In a pinch, either can do the job of the other (except video, but "D400" will fix that.)
    Kent in SD
  29. I'm with Kent and Robert on this one. What's wrong with the 17-55/2.8? You're taking a crop body, and that is a pro caliber lens made for crop sensors. It is faster than the 16-35mm VR, which is heavy and was really made for FX. The Tokina 11-16/2.8 will serve you well on the crop sensor, and it is fast. The lighter, and simpler, you travel, the more time you will have to spot shots rather than fussing with lens changes.
    For inside old churches, where full size tripods may not be permitted, try a table top tripod, a strap for around posts, something with a clamp. The table top pod can be braced against a pillar, post or pew, or even the floor. A mono pod is somewhat light, and they are not bulky.
    Not recommending, but there are lot of devices similar to this:
  30. What's wrong with the 17-55/2.8? ... 16-35mm VR, which is heavy...​
    I am not aware that I stated anywhere that there is anything wrong with the 17-55 - except the fact that it is lacking VR perhaps. And especially in the crucial area around 1/8-1/20s, my experience tells me that I get a lot more shots sharp with the 16-35 than I do with the 17-55. For static shots, I rather shoot the 16-35 at f/4 than the 17-55 at f/2.8 and get a bit more DOF (and sharpness) - and VR compensates easily for the loss of 1 f-stop.
    I am impressed with the flare resistance of the 16-35 - something the 17-55 has a bit more trouble with.
    I don't care whether a lens is labelled DX or FX - in fact, with an FX lens on DX I get the advantage of using the sweet spot of that particular lens. If the borders already suffer on a DX camera - then there isn't going to be much to write home about them on an FX body.
    I hope I can free some time in the next few days and do some comparison shooting with the 16-35 and the 17-55 - maybe the results will sway me to take the 17-55 along and leave the 16-35 at home.
    As to weight - the 16-35 is actually lighter than the 17-55...
    I don't tend to be a frequent lens changer - the more reasons to not add too many lenses to the bag.
  31. John Stockdale [​IMG], Feb 26, 2012; 10:34 p.m.
    Have you considered traveling with just one lens? You might not even have to take a camera bag. I did 4 weeks in Mexico with just a Leica and 35mm lens. Not wide enough occasionally. But with your 16-35 VR that problem would not arise. It's quite liberating to not change lenses (and carry them).​
    +1 I agree with John's suggestion. You will probably wish you had brought something along, but you will also learn to make do with what you have.
  32. I just got back from a week in Rome last night. I brought: D90, 12-24, 50-150, 10.5 fisheye, 35 1.8. I also brought a small (not tabletop) tripod specifically for night work. Contrary to what most people say, I used my telephoto a lot, maybe 50/50 with my wide angle. I used the fisheye only sparingly and the 35 not at all. This is in line with most of the other travel work I've done.
    My point is not "take this, don't take that", but that there are no lenses that are better or worse for travel photography. There are only lenses that are more useful for how you shoot. Don't overlap focal lengths and take as little as possible. Most importantly, have fun!
  33. You will probably wish you had brought something along, but you will also learn to make do with what you have.​
    With what I intend to bring I am compromising already - most with not actually carrying a backup body. And when traveling to a location that I will likely not visit anytime soon again, I want to keep the "I wish I had that lens now" to a minimum. That's why I said repeatedly that the 11-16 and 16-35 are the bare minimum - and I certainly want at least one tele in the bag. It's not that I need to learn to make do with what I have - I very often carry only one or at most two lenses and do just fine with the restriction. At this point I am only debating whether to take the 85mm or the 50mm or both; the latter doesn't appear to be such a huge sacrifice considering the size and weight of the 50mm. I am leaning towards the 85 though for the more compressed perspective.
    @Dave: your setup is very similar to the one I took to Paris - I also carried a small tripod along for some night shots - but it stayed in the hotel during the day. In Paris the 12-24 was my most used lens and I didn't miss having nothing longer than 85mm. I believe a fisheye will always be used only sparingly.
    There are only lenses that are more useful for how you shoot.​
    +1 on that one Dave.
    I just finished some comparison shooting between the 17-55 and the 16-35 - and as expected, the percentage of usable shots in the range from 1/4s to 1/30s (which I expect to be a range I might quite frequently encounter inside) goes way up with the VR lens. I also tried with a monopod - maybe I am having a bad day but the percentage of sharp shots without VR didn't go up significantly. Similarly, the "tabletop tripod against chest stabilization method" - I got even worse results than hand holding the camera.
    According to photozone's review of the 17-55 and 16-35, the 17-55 should be quite a bit better at 35mm than the 16-35 which is weakest at that focal length. I did some comparison shots from a tripod at a distance of about 5 feet and at least to my eye, there is very little difference. The 17-55 appears a tad sharper in the center and the 16-35 in the corner; six for one, half a dozen for the other.
    Glad I am not usually a pixel peeper - might have to spring for a Leica S2 otherwise.

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