Travel Lens Kit Philosophy

Started Sep 9, 2013 | Discussions thread
PatMann Senior Member • Posts: 1,758
Re: Travel Lens Kit Philosophy

Unless my vacation is specifically for birding, in which case I'm taking a whole bunch of extra heavy bulky gear anyway, I find I almost never have a use for a lens longer than about 105mm (full frame equivalent), and for urban shooting I want (1) a lens as wide as I can get, and (2) a lens as fast as I can get, to supplement a midrange zoom. I can't tolerate the distortion of a superzoom - I know it's fixable, I just hate to have to see it in the finder and know I'll lose a big share of my image to de-barrel it. I shoot a lot of buildings and architectural details, so both the barrel of the wide and the pincushion of the long are a PITA.

My perfect travel kit with Leica M4 was 21mm Super-Angulon (love those old symmetrical wides), 35mm Summilux and 90mm tele-Elmarit, sometimes adding a 50mm collapsing Elmar.

My current D300s kit when traveling light is 12-24, 16-85 and 50 f/1.4 (for speed, because it's what I have, in spite of its very narrow field). I'd much prefer a 24mm f/1.4 - I really like a fast 35-equivalent as my high-speed optic for shooting in restaurants and museums and streets at night. The 16-85 is a remarkably good little lens with very reasonable distortion for the zoom range. I do prefer my 17-55 to the 16-85 if I'm not worrying about the weight and bulk since I don't have to worry about zoom/focus creep when pointing the lens down, and it almost doubles for a fast wider lens (that Nikon doesn't make in DX) at night and indoors. The 17-55 also has very reasonable distortion compared to full-frame zooms.

If Nikon doesn't come out with a fast 35- or 28-equivalent for DX soon, or a mirrorless interchangeable-lens APS-C or full frame option with a good range of lenses, I'll probably switch to Fujifilm for my travel kit, going back to the very thoughtful range of lenses Fujifilm makes to reproduce my tried-and-true Leica formula of focal lengths for the travel lenses, and just keep my DX Nikon SLR (I'm hoping updated to D400) for birding.

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 PatMann's gear list:PatMann's gear list
Nikon D810 Nikon D500 Nikon AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G ED-IF Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G +9 more
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