Yet another help me choose my next lens (for hiking in woods) post

Started Jul 10, 2014 | Questions thread
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zoej New Member • Posts: 7
Yet another help me choose my next lens (for hiking in woods) post

I'm non-pro, obviously, and have a D800E which I'm slowly growing into - I come from having fallen for photography with the GF1 and M43rds. Once I started to bump up against the (then) limits of the system I then took the somewhat nuts step of going hardcore FF with the D800E...

Right now, I have the Nikon 50mm 1.8, Nikon 85mm 1.8 and Sigma 35mm. I chose primes partly to not overwhelm myself with all the options at once, partly for weight, partly for quality/cost. I've tended to concentrate on pictures that suit those lenses - interior design, street scenes, portraits.

Now I'm thinking about where to go next lenswise and I'm thoroughly confused...

I realised last year that I love to hike with my D800 in the summer - I have it attached to my rucksack's shoulder straps using reporter straps so it's always to hand. I hike fast though - photography is something that happens on the way rather than being the sole purpose - so lens changes tend to happen pretty irregularly.

I'm hiking in the hills north of Montreal, which is very "woody", mostly well into the treeline, with occasional big views when you finally get to the top and have lunch. So lots of foliage, lots of trees really close in, lots of texture, interesting wild flowers, occasional awesome birds, very variable light conditions going from quite gloomy to bright spots of sun.

I'm leaning towards a tele zoom, something that will help me get close to the wildlife, isolate textural details, basically get close to the interesting elements that got lost with the 50mm I was using last year (it did have the one advantage of being a cheap sacrificial barrier to the camera if I fell flat on my face).

But which zoom? Help!

1. Nikon 28-300 VR - couple of big reviewers speak pretty highly of it, would let me get the big views along with the wildlife. I might be going hiking in Chile in a few months, and a travel zoom would totally fit the bill. But I had a superzoom on my GF1 (the 14-140 pana) and loathed it - it just didn't do anything well, bleugh. Am I going to feel the same here?

2. Nikon 70-200 f4 - gorgeous and sharp by all accounts, lightweight. But not very long. But I can crop, I'm not short on pixels for the occasional bird. Only 70mm but should I just stick to the long end, since when big views happen I usually pause for a few minutes to take it in, giving me time to change lens? (or pull out my M43rds body with the amazing 7-14mm)

3. Nikon 70-300 F4.5-5.6G - it's a perfect range but sounds pretty meh from the reviews, especially on the D800

4. Nikon 80-400 - soooo tempting for the fantastic range but big and heavy, presumably impractical for my handheld style of hiking where I'm not using a tripod?

*edit* Oh yeah and durrr obviously 5. Nikon 24-120 which sorts out the wide end, has great quality but I'm not quite sure I can talk myself into buying because of my current 35/50/85 coverage - maybe someone can persuade me?

I think it's probably between 1. and 2. but what do you think? Am I missing valid 3rd party lenses? Anyone making pics in similar conditions? Any advice gratefully received... thank you and have at it!

 zoej's gear list:zoej's gear list
Nikon Coolpix AW100 Nikon D800E Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH Panasonic Leica D Summilux Asph 25mm F1.4 +7 more
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