Telephoto focal lengths Europe trips: 24-120 or longer

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whoosh1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,236
Telephoto focal lengths Europe trips: 24-120 or longer
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Thom Hogan had the following sentence in his review for the Z 24-120 f4 S:

The 24-70mm f/4 S excels for travel due to its more compact size, but if that means you have to bring along another lens to cover the telephoto range, the 24-120mm f/4 S suddenly becomes a clearer choice.

For a significant part, my travel choices have included lenses from 14mm/16mm to 200mm at least - sometimes longer. There was a related question (24-120 vs 24-200 for upcoming Italy trip) on another thread. Hence I ended up analyzing the above statement regarding what focal lengths I tend to use for Europe trips. My answer based on analysis of most used lenses/ focal lengths during a previous Spain trip using Lightroom is at https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65872982 .

My conclusion for this Spain trip was that while I had lenses in the 14mm to 300mm range, I did not end up shooting a lot above 120mm or close enough to 120mm. So a 24-120 would have been fine.

Beyond this, I decided to look up the data from my other Europe trips. So here is what I found for all the trips including Spain:

  • Spain:
    • Main Lens: 14-30 f4
    • Other Lenses (in order of use): 24-70 f4, 85 f1.8, 24 f1.8, 70-300 AF-P
    • Above 120mm: used extremely rarely. Keepers were even rarer.
    • Type of photography on the trip: cityscapes (streets, etc.), indoors (museums/churches), rural landscapes.
  • Belgium (Brugge, Ghent) and rural France (Etretat, Mont St Michel, Brittany, Loire Valley):
    • Main Lens: 14-30 f4
    • Other Lenses (in order of use): 24-70 f4 or 70-300 AF-P (both roughly the same usage)
    • Above 120mm: used somewhat, especially for rural landscapes, but did not have too many keepers in this range. So a 24-120mm would have been fine.
    • Type of photography on the trip: cityscapes (streets, etc.), rural landscapes.
  • Copenhagen:
    • Main Lens: 14-30 f4
    • Other Lenses (in order of use): 24-70 f4, 70-300 AF-P (much lesser than 24-70 and when used it was used at 70mm because the lens was on the camera)
    • Above 120mm: None. In fact no keepers above 30mm (even when using 24-70).
    • Type of photography on the trip: cityscapes (streets, etc.).
  • Amsterdam + Paris:
    • Main Lens: 24-120 f4 VR
    • Other Lenses (in order of use): 24mm f/1.4G, Zeiss Milvus 15mm f/2.8, 85 f1.4G, 16mm fisheye
    • Above 120mm: not used because no lens above 120mm. However there were a few (~5%) pics taken at 120mm - but only one keeper among those. Did not really miss the above 120mm range.
    • Type of photography on the trip: cityscapes (streets, etc.), indoors (museums/churches), rural landscapes (day trips from Amsterdam).
  • Stockholm:
    • Main Lens: Fuji 10-24 f/4 OIS
    • Other Lenses (in order of use): Fuji 50-230mm, Fuji 56mm f/1.2R
    • Above 120mm (equivalent): Around 10% of the total shots - particularly for land pics taken from a boat during Stockholm archipelago ride. But even there I may have been fine with a Z7 + 24-120 f4 and cropping a bit.
    • Type of photography on the trip: cityscapes (streets, etc.), some landscapes (from boat).

So out of these trips, I would have been just fine with a combo of 14-30 and 24-120 for all of these except perhaps Stockholm (where I would have been fine with a Z7 + 24-120 f4 S and cropping a bit).

I am sure other folks will have different experiences and different needs and Europe trip is not necessarily one size fits all. However for me, my typical Europe trip needs are probably served well by those two lenses.

Of course, the Nikon 24-200mm f/4-6.3 would have worked just as well instead of Nikon 24-120mm f/4 S. But since I rarely need above 120mm for my typical Europe trip, and hence it would probably be better to optimize the range up to 120mm by going with the f/4 aperture of the 24-120mm. And perhaps supplement that with the lightweight Z 50-250mm DX used on a Z7 for the occasional photo where very long focal length is needed.

Assuming my experiences are typical for at least some of you, maybe this can answer which lenses for Europe trip question for you.

 whoosh1's gear list:whoosh1's gear list
Nikon Z7 Nikon Z7 II Nikon AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm F4G ED VR Nikon AF-S 105mm F1.4E ED +13 more
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