Lens for Grand Canyon travel

Started May 9, 2012 | Discussions
igxqrrl Junior Member • Posts: 31
Lens for Grand Canyon travel

Hi, I'm about to embark on a week-long rafting trip through the lower-half of the Grand Canyon. Space is very limited, so I'm planning to bring my D7000 and a single lens. But which lens?

My options:
Sigma 10-20 f4-5.6
Sigma 17-50 OS f2.8
Sigma 18-250 OS f3.5-6.3
Nikon 35mm f1.8G
Nikon 50mm f1.8D

My gut reaction is to bring the super-zoom, just because I'm really not sure what to expect, so maximum flexibility would be nice. But would the speed and quality of the primes and the 17-50 might make up for a big loss of flexibility?

Any suggestions?


schaf Contributing Member • Posts: 731
Re: Lens for Grand Canyon travel

That is a very tough choice. On a trip last summer to Yellowstone I took the Tokina 12-24mm only (for my D80) and for those times when I wanted a bit more zoom I bought my Canon S90.

With the Grand Canyon and your lens options I would opt for the 17-50mm for a couple of reasons. In my experience in Yellowstone while I have plenty of image taken at 12mm...probably half are in the 20-24mm range. Second, you will likely want some zoom beyond 20mm. Unless you have a high quality compact with a decent zoom you can slip into your pocket the 17-50mm might be a better choice than the 10-20mm. But I tend to the wide angle primes more than the super zooms. Also consider weight. Even the 12-24mm hanging around your neck for a couple hours gets to feeling a bit like a brick.

The ultra-wides are really nice for capture interesting foreground and that may not be your primary interest in the Grand Canyon.

I know many do not put much faith in a lens hood but whatever lens you choose, I would strongly recommend the use of a lens hood.


ghuba Regular Member • Posts: 237
Re: Lens for Grand Canyon travel

I'd use the 35mm and be light and flexible. I have found that in places like Yellowstone and Jackson Hole and Stowe and rural farm belts and at the swimming pool around home, a 35mm on a DX or a 50mm on a FX can get the broadest range of good photos of what you see. Should have enough light for campfire and pre-dawn shots. A D7000 has enough pixels so that you should be able to crop for "zoom" shots.

Look at the Stormfront waist pack or backpack from Patagonia (on Internet). Expensive but typical Patagonia over-engineering and water protection.

Also take a 2nd UV filter in case you have a mishap and a polarizer. Lens cleaner & lens cloth imperative. A 2nd plastic cover for the rear LCD also highly desirable. A tiny tripod could be very useful as well as a small roll of duct tape and a pen lens brush/cleaner. Check your neck strap carefully. An iPhone or Android w Hipstamatic and a few other camera apps adds to the fun.

The 35mm will also work well in Las Vegas for neon.

iBuzz Regular Member • Posts: 289
Re: Lens for Grand Canyon travel

I would go for the Sigma 17-50 OS f2.8 or Nikon 35mm f1.8G.

But the 17-50 would be more flexible and have VR.

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OP igxqrrl Junior Member • Posts: 31
Re: Lens for Grand Canyon travel

Thanks all for the feedback -- much appreciated! Given the votes, I'll plan to pack the 17-50. That has the advantage of a 77mm filter size, for which I have the best filter selection.

I do also have a Canon S95 and a good mini tripod so that combo should be reasonably flexible.

Thanks again!

Windancer Veteran Member • Posts: 5,477
Re: Lens for Grand Canyon travel

igxqrrl wrote:

Sigma 17-50 OS f2.8

Personally I would go for Sigma 17-50 OS f2.8 lens. It has a pretty decent range from what I understand is pretty small and lightweight.

I was going to suggest the 10-20 but IMO in the end I would sacrifice a little width for more reach.

Enjoy the trip!

Graham Fine Art Photography

Remember, it's not the CPU that's in your camera that makes great images, it's the one located about 4" behind the viewfinder that does.

Disclaimer: This e-mail is intended to impart a sense of humor. Given e-mail's inability to carry inflections, tone and facial expressions it may fail miserably in its intent. The sender acknowledges the limitations of the technology and assigns to the software in which this message was composed any ill feelings that may arise.

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PatMann Senior Member • Posts: 1,740
10-20 + 35mm + 60mm or 100mm macro or 55-200

Depends on what you like to shoot, but with the D7000 I wouldn't bother with the weight and bulk of a high-speed normal zoom (little need for a fast lens) or a superzoom (fine for bold color and people images but not landscape detail across the frame). The 35mm is practically weightless and an outstanding performer, but too narrow as the only lens. A 60mm macro is pretty small and compact, and the 55-200 is another travel star for light weight, compactness and good performance. You have time to change lenses in this environment.

With that high-resolution sensor, I wouldn't take the bulk of a superzoom that can't give you the resolution available when you need it for mid-range and long landscape shots.

If wildlife is an interest, you do need 300mm or so, but you'll do better with a long prime or a 70-300 than the tele end of the superzoom. If it's long landscapes, a budget small tele like the 55-200 should do fine - it's a good lens, and far more compact and light than a superzoom.

A place like the Grand Canyon will give you some wide vistas that call for a wider lens than 18mm, but you can panorama stitch for that in the 18-24mm range (but watch the distortion, CA and edge resolution of the superzoom in this range if you plan to panorama with it) if you don't take a superwide. People shots of your group with spectacular backgrounds will benefit from the superwide.

I think what you'll find is a good medium tele with high resolution will give you lots of choices of long landscape shots that select interesting parts of the view - the 35mm may be a bit short, but a 60mm macro or the 55-200 will be perfect for that.

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PSCL1 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,770
Re: Lens for Grand Canyon travel

Late vote from the sticks: 18-250. It's the most flexible.

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jmcarp Regular Member • Posts: 279
Re: Lens for Grand Canyon travel

If it were me I think I'd take my 16-85. Since you don't list a 16-85 in your arsenal, I'd take the 17-50. All the suggestions for multiple lenses are fine, but in a raft you don't have time for switching lenses, especially if you keep them sealed in dry bags (which you absolutely should) -- you'll be busy worrying about keeping the camera and one lens dry.

Actually, if it were me on the raft trip, I'd give serious thought to picking up one of the waterproof point & shoot compacts and leave the DSLR in a dry bag while on the raft, shooting with it only while stopped on dry land or hiking the side canyons.

r_k_t Regular Member • Posts: 132
Re: Lens for Grand Canyon travel

iBuzz wrote:

I would go for the Sigma 17-50 OS f2.8 or Nikon 35mm f1.8G.

But the 17-50 would be more flexible and have VR.

I second this opinion.

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