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Which lenses for Venice, Florence, Rome

Dieter Schaefer , Feb 26, 2012; 09:35 p.m.

Yeah, I know, one of those questions. I am planning on some architectural shot inside and outside, street scenes - the usual tourist stuff. Biggest problem as usual is to strip the equipment list down - everything needs to fit inside a LowePro Flipside 400AW. Tripod will stay home - its not allowed inside many places anyway and too bulky to haul around all day to begin with. Had planned on taking two camera bodies but space may limit me to taking only one - a D300 without grip. The lenses I know I will take are: Nikkor 16-35/4 VR - it will serve as the main lens and be on the camera most of the time. I purchased it specifically for the VR and those trips on which I know I can't or won't carry a tripod (it replaces the 17-55/2.8 as my main travel lens). When I need to go wider: Tokina 11-16/2.8. For fun - 10.5/2.8 fisheye - won't be used for many shots but if I don't take it along, it will never get used.

So far, so good. The rest is where I am a bit uncertain. The options:

-35/1.8G - might come in handy for inside shots - but the focal length is covered with the 16-35 already. Shallower DOF might be nice on occasion - but does it warrant the duplication in focal length.

-50/1.8G - alternative to taking the 35/1.8 - light tele on a DX body instead of the "normal" 35mm. The occasional portrait.

-85/1.8D - to compress perspective in some street and landscape shots and for shots of architectural detail - probably the longest focal length I will actually need and carry. Can also serve for the occasional head shot portrait.

I pretty much already excluded the 80-200/2.8 AF-D two-ring - too bulky and heavy and I doubt I have much use for the tele range anyway.

- Nikkor 28-105/3.5-4.5 - considered as an alternative to the 85/1.8D - but I rather have the larger aperture. Might miss the macro feature though.

- Sigma 150/1.8 Macro - too long and too bulky to be along on this trip.

I will have access to a notebook and will carry two notebook drives to backup the images.

Currently, I am favoring - in addition to the 11-16, 16-35, and 10.5 - packing the 50/1.8G and the 85/1.8D. Could add the 5T/6T combo to use on the 50 or 85 in case there is an opportunity for some macro shots. I am not prepared to purchase another lens for this trip. What's your opinion about my selection? What would you do different? What am I missing?

Thanks, Dieter


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Kent Staubus , Feb 26, 2012; 09:56 p.m.

Because of internationally famous pickpockets, I would take the bare minimum. I would not run around Rome with a bag full of stuff. I'm thinking tokina 11-16mm f2.8 and 17-55mm f2.8. I would also take a second camera of some kind. No way I'd do an important trip without a back up.

One of the things I've been coming to think is that the lenses I'll use on a trip are exactly the same ones I use at home. Exception might be if you go on a wildlife tour and don't photo that at home much, etc. I have three zoom lenses I use at home, and have used exactly the same lenses in Hawaii, Iceland, Canadian Arctic, Florida, and this summer will be in the European Arctic. I don't change my style depending on where I am. I am buying a small D5100 for back up camera. Small, flexible, capable. And, cheap if it gets stolen or destroyed.

Kent in SD

Dan Brown , Feb 26, 2012; 09:57 p.m.

Seems like the 16-85mm F/3.5-5.6 VR would be perfect. Then add the 35/1.8 for speed. Then, a tele of some sort. Maybe as simple as the 70-300 VR, or the 180/2.8 for speed?

Sounds like a great trip, have fun and good luck :-)

John Stockdale , Feb 26, 2012; 10:34 p.m.

Have you considered traveling with just one lens? You might not even have to take a camera bag. I did 4 weeks in Mexico with just a Leica and 35mm lens. Not wide enough occasionally. But with your 16-35 VR that problem would not arise. It's quite liberating to not change lenses (and carry them).

Eric Arnold , Feb 26, 2012; 10:55 p.m.

three wide angle lenses? really?

Eric Arnold , Feb 26, 2012; 10:56 p.m.

16-35. 28-105. 35/1.8. done.

Stephen Lewis , Feb 27, 2012; 12:37 a.m.

Having spent many weeks in those places, I'd say you are planning on taking way way too much. Take one wide and one longer lens, that's it! You'll probably use the wide the most, and don't forget you can stitch for panoramic shots. Have a great time...don't wear expensive jewelry, keep your hand on the camera/bag at all times you're outside your hotel...no need to be paranoid, just don't be a sucker.

Michael Ging , Feb 27, 2012; 01:35 a.m.

I was in all those cities in October and I took and used only 3 lenses on my D3s. A 17-35 for interiors and landscapes, a 85mm 1.8 for low light and a 80-200 2.8 for people photos. I would only take one wide angle your 16-35. LIsten to the advice about pick pockets, get some camera insurance, and go out and take lots of photos. When I travel , I like to shoot early in the mornings, with in a half hour of sunrise. Less people and the people are people going to work. Its too early for most thieves, who tend to be out late.



Christopher Sperry , Feb 27, 2012; 01:51 a.m.

Having lived and traveled in Europe, to me the most attractive Nikon DSLR for travel is the D5100 -- largely for its vari-angle LCD monitor, light weight, and new sensor. The 18-55mm VR kit lens seems like a good travel choice. Or the 16-85mm. Add a 35mm f/1.8. No camera bag. Immerse yourself in the culture.

Allen Gross , Feb 27, 2012; 02:14 a.m.

Wide angle tokina 11-16 for sure - you will be in narrow streets and will need it. If you don't take the 28-105 take the 85mm 1.8 for tele - you may not need more range than that. Mid-range -your choice. I've been often to all three cities - watch your backpack but don't get paranoid. Enjoy, and mangia mangia! Interiors: I don't have VR lenses but use a Slik mini table tripod as a chest support, whcih works very well for me.

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