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Landscape kit

Hector Andrade , Jul 26, 2011; 04:28 p.m.

Dear photoneters, I hope you are doing fine. In one week, I will be travelling to the US and have planned to buy accessories for my new D7000 hoping to increase the quality of my landscape pictures. After emailing with Shun and Erick Arnold, I thought that I had made up my mind but a live chat with a store put questions in my head again.
I was planning to upgrade my 18-135 that came with my D80 to something like the tamron 17-50 non vc for the main purpose of landscape photos as I have follow your discussions about kit lenses not living up to the expectations of higher pixels demand. However the guy from the store told me that I will profit more from a 70-300 VR instead as I shoot anyway in good light at F8. I have a 300 f4 (recommended by you here) and feel that maybe the 70-300 will be "repetitive". So I'm torn between buying a lens that is optical better with a shorter reach that maybe I wont notice quality differences, or a lens that could give me more reach in my trips (if I take the 300 f4 on my backpack, I will brake my back). I will buy a Hoya polarizer to go with the lens and have already purchased a gorillapod as a trip-tripod. You can see the kind of pictures that I want to take in this thread http://photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00U4lf (which made me decide on a tokina 11-16 back in 2009)
Thanks a lot!


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Richard Snow , Jul 26, 2011; 05:40 p.m.


I'm not sure which store you contacted, but for landscapes I'm not sure you would benefit from the 70-300mm VR. I do think the 11-16 + 17-55 is a great kit for most landscape photographers. Personally I rarely go wider than 35mm, but I don't shoot landscapes very often.

I will admit that last weekend I shot a series of photos for a panoramic landscape and used my 70-200mm at 105mm and 135mm f/8 and f/11 for the hour I was shooting. (evening shot, tripod, waiting for the perfect light balance of skylight and city lights).

Personally I'd go with the 17-55 if you already have the 11-16.

Elliot Bernstein , Jul 26, 2011; 06:01 p.m.

Based on your sample photos and comments in the thread you link to, none of the lenses listed appear to be the right lens for you . You probably need an ultra-wide like the ones mentioned there.

Since it appears you cannot afford two lenses, you need to decide whether you want wide or long first.

Just curious... how specifically is your current lens not living up to your expectations?

Leslie Cheung , Jul 26, 2011; 06:47 p.m.

I don't get why people buy expensive f2.8 zoom to setup on their tripod to shoot f8/11. I also think the OP would benefit with something smaller like a 70-300 VR or 55-300 DX VR for what he does.

Richard Snow , Jul 26, 2011; 07:18 p.m.

I don't get why people buy expensive f2.8 zoom to setup on their tripod to shoot f8/11.

Personally I don't shoot landscapes very often, but when I do I use my big f/2.8 zooms to do it. Why? BECAUSE I CAN!!!

I purchased my big, heavy, expensive f/2.8 zooms for purposes other than shooting landscapes, but the reality is that I'm more comfortable with them than with something like a 70-300mm or 55-200mm. It boils down to a big smooth manual focus ring vs. a plasticy lens that is clearly not designed to be focused manually due to it's tiny, hard to use, and poorly placed focus ring. Additionally, I've already got a set of 77mm ND filters, two Grad ND filters, and a CPL.

That's why I shoot landscapes with big, heavy, expensive f/2.8 zooms.


Benjamin Schaefer , Jul 26, 2011; 07:18 p.m.

I remember my first "digital" trip, using a D80, a Tamron 17-50 and a Nikkor 18-200. All are sold now, but the most useful combo was the D80/17-50. Prints up to 11x14 were no problem. With the D7000 and a 17-50 (or 17-55), I think you'd be set. Take a 70-300VR along if you want to splurge, the lens is not too heavy and optically sound.

Leslie Cheung , Jul 26, 2011; 07:52 p.m.

The OP said he shoots landscape and's that what he does. He doesn't do it "sometime" or on "occasions" I'm sure there are also people who buy a (7k) M9 and a 35 asph (3k) to shoot landscape on a tripod as well. I sure don't get them either...But, hey, they *can* do it.

I purchased my big, heavy, expensive f/2.8 zooms for purposes other than shooting landscapes...

There, you proved my point...

Luis G , Jul 26, 2011; 08:39 p.m.

I would follow Shun's advice.

Kent Staubus , Jul 26, 2011; 09:25 p.m.

Looks like you do a lot of hiking. Go light. The Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 is compact and relatively light. The 300mm f4 is a great lens, but it is heavy, big, and not all that versatile. I would consider selling it and buying a Nikon 70-300mm VR. It's lighter, more versatile, and image quality is still good. Since you mostly shoot landscapes in good light and use a tripod, you can get by with slower lenses. Lightness and compactness is more important to you than lens speed.
Kent in SD

Eric Arnold , Jul 26, 2011; 09:41 p.m.

the only reason to get a 70-300 VR over a 17-50 VC is because you need more reach. the 17-50 is actually tack sharp at f/9-11 corner to corner, with the added bonus of being able to accomplish subject isolation at open apertures and shoot in low-light. if you compare it on photozone with the nikon 16-85, the two lenses are basically neck and neck in terms of sharpness across the aperture range, with the tamron having 2.8 and the nikon having 35mm more on the long end. that was kind of an eye opener for me as i expected the nikor to be better stopped down.

in general, the 17-50 makes a lot of sense as an upgrade from the kit lens, and photozone's tests on the d7000 show it doesn't lose much if any IQ on a 16mp sensor. the 17-50 would also pair well with both the 11-16 and 18-135, giving you three lenses which each do different things. the 18-135 vs. 70-300 is a tougher call, since you overlap so much range and don't get a faster aperture in return. also the IQ wont be as good as the 300/4. but i wouldn't want to use a 300/4 with a gorillapod for support.

if i were you, though,before i did anything i would test the 18-135 extensively at f/8 with the d7000 and make sure it's insufficient for your needs. you may not be able to see any degredation of image quality without printing large or pixel-peeping. if you actually dont NEED a new lens, you could forgo the purchase. if on the other hand, you're using the trip as an excuse to satisfy NAS cravings, well then you have my blessing.

in short, i don't think there's necessarily a right or wrong answer here, although if your object is to divorce yourself from the 18-135, the 70-300 would leave a huge gap between 16 and 70, which may or may not be significant for you. my guess is that it would. my go-to landscape lens on DX is a 12-24 tokina, and i generally like wide shots. i've used the 17-50 extensively and found it to be close to the perfect walkaround lens, except for the distortion at 17mm. i do have a tamron 70-300 VC which has very good IQ even wide open and at long range, but i use that far less than my current 17-50, the sigma OS. but then again, i'm not really a landscape shooter.

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