Best Travel Zoom

Started 11 months ago | Discussions
pb21
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Best Travel Zoom
11 months ago

What do people recommend for a one lens zoom for travelling? There seem to be three main options in my price range:

Nikon 18-200 (would have to get a 2nd hand one)

Sigma 18-200 or 18-250

Tamron 18-270

It's for my D7000, looking for one lens for ease of use really when travelling, as I like to travel light as possible! Still would take the 35mm 1.8 though. When I travel I like to take landscape, street and portraits, I like to try and get the atmosphere in a picture, both day and night, don't really take action type photos.

Obviously two of those have extra reach and the sigma 18-250 seems like it has relatively good 'macro' performance, which I like.

Having said that I do have the 18-105 kit lens so could potentially go for another lens like the 55-300 or similar, but then that's two lenses to lug around!

Any advice will be appreciated, thanks.

 pb21's gear list:pb21's gear list
Nikon D7000 NEX5R Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS +2 more
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PHXAZCRAIG
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Re: Best Travel Zoom
In reply to pb21, 11 months ago

Wow. TWO lenses to 'lug around'. At pretty light ones at that. (Shaking head, remembering carrying a lot more than that for 35 years).

OK, I can only talk about one of your choices, the 18-200vr, and that really only on 10-12mp bodies. (Lens issues will show up more easily on higher megapixel bodies).

You say you shoot landscape,street and portrait. Well, the 18-200 should be good at two of the three (street and portrait), though you won't have a wide enough aperture to get much subject isolation. The lens will give you instant compositional capability, has decent VR, flares almost not at all, and works well in the 18-135 (or so) focal ranges.

Where it will let you down the most is distant subjects, especially zoomed in. Landscapes could be an issue, though that also depends very much on how big you ever print or if you try to crop extensively. You may not even notice that it could be better, until you start using a better lens.

If you're like my wife, who just says 'throw away the blurries' and is all about composition, it's a good choice. Just don't expect it to be 'critically sharp', or as sharp as other lenses are.

Here are some travel shots from my wife and I using an 18-200vr. (We each have our own, though I don't use mine anymore in favor of better, but heavier, lenses).

http://www.cjcphoto.net/lenstests/18-200/index.html

Most of those shots look good at 8x10, some at 13x19 (which is as large as I can print).   But some don't hold up that well after 8x10, and even at 8x10, a prime or most any other zoom looks noticeably sharper.    Sharpness isn't everything though.

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Craig
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shmn
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Re: Best Travel Zoom
In reply to pb21, 11 months ago

I guess everyone has a different definition of 'travel' lens.  I never saw the need for the long end when traveling.  I find most landscape and 'travel' shots occur at the wide end.  Plus, with the super-zooms you listed in your post you are giving up IQ.

My recommendation would be the 16-85VR.  It's really an amazing lens.  It has more on the wide end which I find more useful than 200mm.  And it has phenomenal IQ for a zoom.  It's the only lens I would take.  But that's me.

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Escape
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Re: Best Travel Zoom
In reply to pb21, 11 months ago

It's rather personal, I guess.  Whenever I travel, I shoot 99% of my photos with the Sigma 17-70mm.  I rarely ever find myself needing more zoom.   I still typically lug my Nikon 55-300 too, but again, I rarely ever use it.  Sometimes I wonder why I even bother carrying it.

Now, if you're going to travel on a safari, 70mm will obviously not be enough.

 Escape's gear list:Escape's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 Nikon D5200 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM | C
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PHXAZCRAIG
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Re: Best Travel Zoom
In reply to shmn, 11 months ago

I just got back from 3 weeks in Europe (Mediterranean cruise), in which I took D800e, 16-35, 24-70 and 80-400.  I found the 80-400 surprisingly useful and used it more than the 16-35.  I used it for general photography in the 80-100mm range, and I used it a lot to pick out details on cathedrals and the like.

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pb21
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Re: Best Travel Zoom
In reply to Escape, 11 months ago

Thanks for the replies, definitely something to think about and interesting to note two mentions for something wider than 18mm. I have only ever had a 18-55 whilst travelling before and whilst I often wanted something longer I never really considered times when I may want something shorter!

Maybe I wont need a focal length as long as 270mm for general travel. I do want to go to Africa one day though for a safari type trip, I guess though if I do that I would probably hire a quality telephoto lens for that trip!

 pb21's gear list:pb21's gear list
Nikon D7000 NEX5R Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS +2 more
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rocklin
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Re: Best Travel Zoom
In reply to shmn, 11 months ago

I'm a big fan of the 16-85 vr as well. I also pack a 50-150 as well, but most of my images are taken with the 16-85, especially if I just want to take one lens walking around all day.

Linda R
Photography: Celebrating Life
Lenses are like children - you just accept their traits and love them for what they are

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Nexu1
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Re: Best Travel Zoom
In reply to pb21, 11 months ago

My opinion might not be what you want to hear but my vote would be to buy a Sony RX100.

If you can't be bothered to take a few different lenses while on vacation/travel, why not take the best pocketable compact.  I've literally had the RX100 in my front jeans pocket while riding a horse on vacation.  It's perfect for travel, street, bar/dinner, social photography, etc... where you just want a camera at all times to capture any and everything.

I choose DSLR because of what I can accomplish with large apertures for shallow depth of field (and it also helps for low light/high ISO shooting) and the wide angle lenses available for landscape (which I almost always shoot on a tripod).  Using an 18-200 (or something similar), IMO, pretty much erases the advantages of using a DSLR to begin with.  I'm not saying you can't get good pictures, you most certainly can, but the bigger DSLR advantages will be reduced substantially.

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romfordbluenose
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Re: Best Travel Zoom
In reply to pb21, 11 months ago

The 18-200 will give you very little over the 18-105. It can all be achieved by cropping if needed. The extra it gives you will be a compromise on weight. I agree with the others I'd get the 16-85, a great lens and the extra 2mm does make a difference.

 romfordbluenose's gear list:romfordbluenose's gear list
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Lmendy
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Re: Best Travel Zoom
In reply to pb21, 11 months ago

I was pleasantly surprised by the Sigma 18-250.  It is reasonably sharp with good color and clarity.  I would certainly consider it with the Nikon 35mm 1.8 g for low light as a good travel kit.

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stevegep
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Re: Best Travel Zoom
In reply to Lmendy, 11 months ago

Lmendy wrote:

I was pleasantly surprised by the Sigma 18-250. It is reasonably sharp with good color and clarity. I would certainly consider it with the Nikon 35mm 1.8 g for low light as a good travel kit.

Nice, sharp pictures, Lmendy!  I also agree about carrying the 35mm 1.8g.  Another lens that you might want to consider is the 18-140 VR.  I've had the Tamron 18-200, still own the 18-105 VR and also own a Tamron 70-300 VC (too heavy for travel).  The 18-140 may be sharper than the 70-300, but is definitely sharper than the 18-105.

Take a look at DXOmark's sharpness ratings, but make sure you have the right camera selected for those ratings.  I trust the ratings because they mirror my own experience.  Per those ratings, the 18-140 was sharper than the 18-200, 18-250 sigma (but how can you argue with Lmendy's shots :-)), and 16-85.  Only the Sigma 17-70 was sharper--at least for my D7000 (Also, don't forget that the C version of the 17-70 works with the USB dock, which will make the lens even sharper!).  What was interesting in the DXOmark data was that, on some cameras, the 18-105 was sharper than the 18-140--but not true on the D7000.  That's why I say, that if you want to look at DXOmark's results, make sure you have the right camera selected when you compare lenses.

When I toured the Washington, DC area, my 70-300 VC was used little, but I did use the 35mm 1.8 inside museums (no flash).  I got by fine with my 18-105 otherwise.  Depending on where you go (e.g., national parks), you may want more or less reach.

Hope this helps.

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heinerpattaya
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Re: Best Travel Zoom
In reply to stevegep, 11 months ago

do you really need more range?

I got the 18-105 and this is the lens I use mostly. Traveling light I use the 18-55 but sometimes I miss the long end a bit, so to be sure I take the 18-105.

I think this lens is completely undervalued, you can do landscape and portrait. All the longer ones (200/250/270) are much heavier as far as I know.

With a bit compromise the 18-55 shoots nearly everything.

You can compare sharpness a WWW.THE-DIGITAL-PICTURE.COM

br

hEINER

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stevegep
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Re: Best Travel Zoom
In reply to heinerpattaya, 11 months ago

heinerpattaya wrote:

do you really need more range?

I got the 18-105 and this is the lens I use mostly. Traveling light I use the 18-55 but sometimes I miss the long end a bit, so to be sure I take the 18-105.

I think this lens is completely undervalued, you can do landscape and portrait. All the longer ones (200/250/270) are much heavier as far as I know.

With a bit compromise the 18-55 shoots nearly everything.

You can compare sharpness a WWW.THE-DIGITAL-PICTURE.COM

br

hEINER

That's a valid question.  YMMV.  For me, I did an analysis of what I shot (family events mostly), and I needed both wide angle (18mm would do) and telephoto (105mm was good, 70-85 wouldn't meet my needs, and 140mm was a bonus).  For me, the biggest need was a metal mount (my 18-105's mount was broken at one point, and psychologically, I could never trust the mount again).  However, for a D7000, I also wanted a sharper lens than the 18-105.  I found it in the 18-140.

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seahawk
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Re: Best Travel Zoom
In reply to pb21, 11 months ago

Keep the 18-105 add the 55-300VR - done.

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