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Which lenses for Venice, Florence, Rome


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Robert Hooper , Feb 27, 2012; 02:26 a.m.

You should probably just bring the Nikon 17-55mm 1:2.8, and the Tokina 11-16mm 1:2.8.

I find telephoto useful in many situations, so on your trip, personally, I would also bring my Nikon 80-200mm 1:2.8 D. I don't carry the heavy optic at all times. My modus operandi is to scout out telephoto shots in advance and return later with the lens.

I am envious, Dieter. Buon viaggio.

Jose Angel , Feb 27, 2012; 03:34 a.m.

If you still have the 17-55, no doubt, I`d take just one lens.
If not, the 16-35 will be great, and then a longer lens, maybe the 85, or like Eric, the 28-105... anyway, and it`s my personal opinion, no more than two lenses and a non-obvious bag.
If you like wider viewing angles, the 11-16; the other lens would be then the 28-105, maybe.

Rene' Villela , Feb 27, 2012; 04:23 a.m.

My 1st time in Florence I carried too many lenses. I found out that I only used my 17-55 and my 11-16. Then I used my friend's 70-200. Basically I only used 3 lenses and. Monopod.

After that all take now are 3 small lenses, 24, 35 and 35-70.

Florence and Venice are very safe cities. You don't have too worry too much but Rome is a different story. Be alert and that is not a place where you wanna be caught of guard while changing lenses.

You will love the place! Have fun!

Dieter Schaefer , Feb 27, 2012; 05:20 a.m.

Thanks all for the responses.
@Kent: like you, I want to use the same lenses when traveling that I use at home. I don't want money tied up in lenses that I only use for traveling. I didn't buy a 16-35/4VR to leave it at home and take a cheap 18-55 along. I'd like to take a second D300 body along - but it might not be possible. I won't buy a new D5100 - the replacement value of my D300 body now is about the same as the cost for a new D5100, so financially, this doesn't make sense. I wouldn't like to take an untested and unfamiliar body as a backup - and certainly not one that would require me to pack a separate charger and battery.

@Dan, I have neither the 16-85 nor the 70-300 or the 180/2.8 - and as I stated, I won't be buying new lenses for the trip. The 16-85 tempted me when it was introduced - I just don't like the f/5.6 at the long end.

@John: only one lens is simply not an option on this trip.

@Eric: 11-16 and 16-35 are a must for me. Based on my experience from a trip to Paris a few years ago, I changed my lens system: I traveled with the 10.5, 12-24/4, 24-85/3.5-4.5 and 50/1.8D then. The f/2.8 of the fisheye saved my bacon as the f/4 turned out to be too slow for many of the interior shots - most of which were out of necessity hand held. The break at 24 also meant that I had to change lenses frequently.
It was that trip that made me get the 11-16/2.8 and the 17-55/2.8. Only recently did I add the 16-35 - and the main reason was the VR. The 17-55 is more of an event lens - its optimum performance is at closer distances. I often do HDR - often out of necessity hand held and the VR helps me getting those +1 and +2 EV shots sharp when the shutter speeds tend to get into the 1/15-1/8s range.

@Stephen: don't think I could do with only one wide - the 11-16 alone is too restrictive as is the 16-35 alone.

@Michael - that's quite a setup you carried along there. If I had an FX camera, then the 16-35 would certainly suffice - but it doesn't on DX. The 11-16/2.8 alone might do for the interior shots - but I know it would be often too wide for exterior.

@Christopher: not buying new equipment for this trip.

@Allen: backpack - that's why I take the LowePro Flipside - it's zipper for the main compartment on the inside - towards my back. Can't imagine anyone taking anything out of it while I am wearing it. I also don't have to take it off to change lenses, just get out of the shoulder straps and swing the backpack forward around the hip strap. There is another compartment on the outside - but I won't have anything in it and will likely tie the two zippers together (or use a small lock) to prevent access.

@Robert: don't have the option to scout around and revisit places as I am not traveling alone. Also a reason against carrying a tripod - setting up takes to long. I only considered taking the 80-200 today - your post makes me think about this a bit more. I am just not sure I need anything longer than 85 - and it is a heavy lens to lug around.

@Jose: non-obvious bag, don't think it helps much. My camera will be in my hand most of the time - it doesn't do any good if it sits in the bag. In any case, I can't hide the fact that I am photographing - and my thought is that the inside zipper of my backpack is a better deterrent than using a a non-camera backpack - that can be opened rather easily.

@Rene: thanks for the tip - Rome is where I might consider taking only one lens and leave the bag in the hotel (where I can only hope that it will be safe).

It seems to me that my "necessities" are the 11-16, 16-35 and the 85. The fisheye won't see much use for sure - almost by default. It will never be a necessity but for the right occasion, it's fun. And it is small and light. I won't take the 35/1.8 and the 50/1.8G is at the verge of not making it into the bag either. Since I want at least one "fast" lens - the current scenario would exclude replacing the 85 with the 28-105.
So, the bag currently would be 11-16, 16-35, 85 and the fisheye. Am now debating whether to replace the 85 with the 50?

Ilkka Nissila , Feb 27, 2012; 06:54 a.m.

I've found a travel tripod to be very practical for city trips where some of the photography is of architecture and some is of people. Mine is a little too small, it's the Gitzo Ocean Traveler. I took the centre column out and it's adequate for a DSLR up to something like 105mm or 135mm if one is careful. An L bracket is essential though when using such a small head, otherwise it will be hard to lock the camera for verticals.

For lenses the 16-35/4, 35/1.8, 50/1.8 and 85/1.8 would all fit in the bag you mention. The fast lenses are useful for people photography and the 16-35 for a lot of the architecture. I would personally favour the 17-55/2.8 though as it would allow you to go with just two lenses, the zoom and the 85/1.8 and probably give higher quality than the 16-35, especially when photographing people. But for interiors I suppose the 16-35 has merits if you don't mind blur trails in case there are people in the frame. I suppose the 10.5 mm fisheye is so tiny it won't take much space in the bag and if there is any opportunity to use it, it would be in a trip to Italy with all those fantastic building interiors. I would not bring both the 11-16 and the fisheye - too much choice IMO. I like gaps. They help me focus and shoot quickly without tinkering on decisions. ;-)

Venice is easy in that the canals have elevated viewpoints on bridges ... so you can just shoot level without a PC lens and get everything straight. But the streets are narrow and dark. You can use all the aperture you can get. Which is why I'd prefer the 17-55 over the 16-35.

Mike Halliwell , Feb 27, 2012; 07:13 a.m.

As you're DX, I don't think your 16-35mm f4 is wide enough for architecture, I'd definitely take your 11-16mm but leave the fisheye.

Getting closer to something is often easier than getting further back, especially in an old city.

28-105mm, humm... more reach but a bit slow. Maybe the 35 & 85 for speed and reach?

I usually take my sigma 10-20 & Nikon 16-85 for cultural cities!

Pierre Lachaine , Feb 27, 2012; 07:54 a.m.

What are you missing?

Only that you are you, everybody else is someone else. The only thing you have in common is ownership of a bunch of lenses you can't decide on.

Only you can know what works for you. Do a walkaround where you live or the closest city, find similar subjects, and experiment.

Justin Thornton , Feb 27, 2012; 08:09 a.m.

I'm going on a similar trip in May (London, Amsterdam, Munich, Venice, Florance,Rome) and have been wrestling with the same question. I settled on purchasing a used 18-200 VR for walking around / day use and a 35mm 1.8 night / everything else. Honestly if it is anything like home the 35 won't come off the camera.

Warren Gleich , Feb 27, 2012; 10:09 a.m.

I was shooting film when I went and basically live on the wide side. My (DX) kit for Venice now would be 17-35 2.8, 12-24 4.0, 50 1.8 and 85 1.8. I would highly recommend a bogen mini table top tripod. I used mine extensivly braced against walls and placed on ledge for both inside shots and evening/night shots. I would not bother carrying a flash as most interiors don't allow it due to the artwork. I also recommend a cheap point and shoot for snaps of yourselves. I felt more comfortable giving a cheap camera to a stranger to take pictures of my wife and I. Never had a problem, but there are a lot of theft in the crowded areas like St Marks square. If you have a choice, I highly recommend staying in Venice even though it is very expensive. There is a marked difference in the pace and friendliness of the city after all the cruise ship and tour crowd leaves.

Kent Staubus , Feb 27, 2012; 10:17 a.m.

My thinking on cameras is constantly evolving as new stuff becomes available. I tend to look at camera gear as a system, not just pieces. The first question I have is, "What do I want the gear to do?" I currently own a D300 and D80, and have been taking both on "exotic" trips. I always want a back up along. I'm thinking of selling the D80 and replacing with a D5100. The downside is batteries aren't compatible. The upside is the D5100 has video, is much smaller and attracts less attention, has more mega-pickles, and I like the idea of the flip out screen. My thinking is that by gaining two more ISO stops, I can make a cheap lightweight lens like the 18-55mm VR work better when I need something compact, especially in high risk places. Losing two stops from the lens should be made up by gaining two stops with the camera. The D300 actually is now not as good a choice as the D5100 for travel I think, because the D5100 has better image quality and smaller size. I'm hoping that whatever replaces the D300 will take the same battery as the D5100. I'm not trying to convince you to buy a D5100, but rather discussing basic philosophy.

Kent in SD

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