Free Shipping on ALL Products
camera reviewsbest cameraslens reviewsphotography tipscamera forumvideo toursphotography bookssupport me
It is currently Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:24 pm

All times are UTC




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:31 pm 
Offline
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:08 pm
Posts: 7968
Location: Germany
I had the luck to get three days off this week and take a short trip to Venice. While preparing this trip I was wondering which lenses I should take with me. Being more a nature shooter I had no real practical experience of which focal length would get me the desired architecture shots.
Fortunately I had a chance to test the Nikon AF-S 24-70/2.8G before the trip in the old city of Altdorf close to Nuremberg. And I was quite astonished how much you can do with 24mm on a cropped body like my D300, giving an equivalent focal length of 36mm on a film-body.
But it was also clear that I should take something wider with me. The Nikon AF-S 14-24/2.8G fit that bill neatly. With an equivalent minimum focal length of 21mm it would be absolutely wide enough although I knew from past experience with a Sigma 10-20mm zoom that the range below 14mm is also quite fun to use (on a crop body).
So, covering 14-70mm (or 21-105mm equivalent focal length) with two high quality zooms left only two open issues: Nightlife and longer shots. Well, I almost immediately dropped the thought of carrying the Nikon AF-S 70-200/2.8 VRII with me because I simply didn't believe that I needed that much focal length on my crop body and I didn't like the idea to add another 1540g weight and 87x215mm size to my bag. I could always try to get a sharp shot at 70mm and crop to the desired cutout - although this would reduce the subject-isolation you can get with the proper focal length.
As to nightlife shots I took the Nikon AF-S 35/1.4G because I assumed that I'd more often than not would need the shortest possible focal length. So I left the 50/1.4 and 85/1.4 at home. And again I missed image stabilization with the 24-70/2.8 which would have allowed me to get hand-held shots at f2.8 at the same lighting conditions as with the 35/1.4 - plus it would be far more flexible with the focal length. But alas, there is no stabilized 24-70/2.8 in the world and again I was a little jealous about other camera-bodies that feature sensor-based stabilization. I also threw a monopod and a tripod into the trunk to be on the safe side for night-shots.
So this finished my three piece lens-set to cover my needs in Venice and I threw in the trusty old Nikon AF-S 18-200mm VR zoom as backup and smallest all-in-one solution - but in the end I didn't use this lens.
After that I was curious how fit this setup was for the intended purpose and how I used the lenses during the course of my visit.
Read more on this after a short break...

_________________
Thomas (beware: Nikon-fanboy and moderator!) My Lens Reviews, My Pictures, My Photography Blog
D800+assorted lenses


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 5:43 pm 
Offline
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:08 pm
Posts: 7968
Location: Germany
Now here are some facts about me using the lenses at hand:
Of the 647 shots in total
- 480 (=74%) were shot with the 24-70/2.8
- 86 (=13%) were shot with the 35/1.4
- 81 (=13%) were shot with the 14-24/2.8

Let's have a look at the 86 night-shots with the 35/1.4 first. I was shooting in aperture priority and set the min shutter speed for auto-ISO to 1/30 sec and the max ISO to 1600. This has the effect that the camera chooses shutter speeds slower than 1/30 sec only after it had cranked up the ISO to 1600. I also had -1EV exposure compensation on at all times to get the "night look".
- 80 (=93%) were shot at f1.4.
- 55 shots (=64%) were taken at ISO 400 or below. This is quite a good rate and shows what a large aperture lens can do for you. With a f/2.0-lens only 9 shots (=10%) would have had ISO 400 or below, with a f/2.8-lens I would have been up to at least ISO 800 for every night-shot.
Btw.: I was quite astonished how little illumination was set up at night in Venice: most of the houses at the Canale Grande were not illuminated. Even San Marco had only one light from the front, no other special illumination. I shot this at f1.4, 1/30 sec and ISO 720:

Image
San Marco 33172 by Thomas, on Flickr
I've uploaded the large original for you to see the noise and get an impression of the performance of the 35/1.4 lens wide open. Remember though that sharpness at 1/30 sec hand-held is not optimal.

_________________
Thomas (beware: Nikon-fanboy and moderator!) My Lens Reviews, My Pictures, My Photography Blog
D800+assorted lenses


Last edited by Thomas on Sat Nov 05, 2011 9:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 6:38 pm 
Offline
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:08 pm
Posts: 7968
Location: Germany
Now let's have a deeper look at the very wide end. The 14-24mm turned out to be quite versatile on my cropped body, as the long end at 24mm behaves like a 36mm on a FF/FX/film-body.
Let's take a look at the distribution of focal lengths that I used with this lens:
- 35 shots (=44%) were at 14mm (+3 at 15mm)
- 25 shots (=31%) were at 24mm (+1 at 23mm)
- 38 shots (=47%) were 18mm and longer, with 18mm being the wide end of standard DX/APS-C zooms.
I just mentioned the 15mm and 23mm focal lengths as the 14-24/2.8 has such a smoothly working focus ring that even a light touch could change your setting from the extreme ends.

Distribution of aperture was 41% at f2.8, 36% at f4.0, and 23% at f5.6. The dof of this lens is quite deep at the normal shooting distances (and resulting magnifications) and the image quality excellent, so you could easily leave the aperture open most of the times. But looking at my photos the f2.8 also turned out to be necessary because in 30% I had to use shutter-speeds of 1/30 sec or below.

Here's a shot that exemplifies both, the large aperture useful for dark shots and the extreme wide angle to capture impressive views of large interiors:

Image
San Marco 32895 by Thomas, on Flickr
Shot at 15mm, f2.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 1600. Processed in CaptureNX2 at vivid settings, large original available.

_________________
Thomas (beware: Nikon-fanboy and moderator!) My Lens Reviews, My Pictures, My Photography Blog
D800+assorted lenses


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 8:24 pm 
Offline
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:08 pm
Posts: 7968
Location: Germany
Some questions remain open with regard of using the 14-24/2.8:
1. Which shots could have been made with a longer lens simply by stepping back?
2. What are the insights regarding the use on DX/APS-C vs. FX/FX?
3. What about the 16-35/4.0 VR?

Let's see:

1. I know that stepping back would have changed the perspective, but this is still not a "trick-question". It relates to the simple fact of life that if you have a 14-24mm mounted to your camera you simply take some images by stepping forward to improve the framing instead of mounting a longer lens.
So how many of my 81 images with the lens could have been done equally well with the 24-70/2.8? Well at least those 25 taken at 24mm focal length, but I'd add another 15 images. So all in all around 50% of those images could have been taken with the 24-70/2.8 equally well. And this is on a crop body! That makes one think about the need to have ultra-wide lenses.

2. The first answer almost leads to the conclusion regarding the second question: On an FX/FF body the need for shooting lenses shorter than 24mm on a city trip is almost negligible for my kind of style. Yes you can capture more, but "more" does not always make for a better image. And yes a shorter lens allows you to get less distortion from tilting the lens. This is because you can aim at the target subject at (almost) eye-level and still capture larg(er) structures. but this has the disadvantage of introducing a lot of foreground into your images - dirty pavements, etc. In Venice it might be useful for capturing the reflections in the Canali but normally you try to avoid too much "floor-space". My experience also shows that tilting the lens up radically often leads to more satisfying images than just a slight tilt which makes you wish to eliminate the resulting slight distortions in post-processing.
As to the insights regarding DX/APS-C shooters: 53% of shots with this lens were taken with shorter focal lengths than 18mm. And only 5% were shot with 16mm and 17mm. So a 16-xx mm may look like a better alternative to a 18-xx mm standard zoom but that is not really the answer to your ultra-wide needs! Get something starting at 10, 11 or 12mm if you really want to cover those opportunities. A 10-24mm DX/APS-C lens looks like a really good investment esp. as its overlap with any standard-zoom like a 18-105mm reduces the need to swap lenses.

3. I was thinking quite a lot of the 16-35/4.0 VR at the time of planning the trip. 16mm seems to be a good starting point to me and the addition of image stabilization was almost too good to resist - plus the overlap at the long end. Well, on DX/APS-C bodies the combination is not very attractive (see 2.). Markus Stamm from Photozone summed it up. "For DX only usage [...] it faces some serious competition by Nikon's own AF-S DX 16-85 VR lens." And on FX/FF bodies? Well, you loose one stop, for equal corner-sharpness equivalent to the reknown 14-24mm perhaps even 2 stops but gain image stabilization. The range from 24-35mm is definitely a plus for better framing and less switching between lenses, and the loss of 2mm at the wide end would not have been critical on this trip. So yes, if I had an FX-body with me the 16-35/4.0 could have been the more practical option than the 14-24/2.8. But as a complement for the wide end in my specific set-up I think the 14-24/2.8 did an excellent job.

_________________
Thomas (beware: Nikon-fanboy and moderator!) My Lens Reviews, My Pictures, My Photography Blog
D800+assorted lenses


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 8:33 pm 
Offline
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:08 pm
Posts: 7968
Location: Germany
And now onto my favorite lens in the package, the Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G. I had it always on my camera apart from the evening trips when the sun was down. The 14-24mm complemented it at day-time but as you've seen before that ultra wide lens was only needed on special occasions.
Let's have a look at the focal length distribution first:
- 135 shots out of 480 (=28%) with this lens were at 24mm showing that the wide end of this lens on a DX/APS-C body is clearly needed when traveling cities. Would I have gone even wider on some of the shots? You can bet, because switching lenses is not something that I easily do. But the hard limit at 24mm did not evoke the need to change, so I guess that was OK. On a FX/FF-body I guess that 24mm would have been more than wide enough in many, many cases.
- the long end at 70mm registered 76 (=16%) of the shots. Of that there were perhaps only a dozen shots or so where I could have used a longer focal length. In relation to the 647 shots taken at this trip that is only a very small portion (2%). This justified leaving the 70-200/2.8 at home and also explains why I never used the 18-200mm super-zoom.
- between 24mm and 70mm the distribution is quite even with the range from 32-38mm registering 72 shots (=15%) and the range from 45-55mm was good for 82 shots (=17%). So if anything can be learned here it would be that a large aperture 50mm prime could have been a good alternative too. But remember: the 35/1.4 alone captured 86 images, so the overall weight of images around 35mm focal length is 158=24%. Interestingly 160 images were captured at 24mm.

So overall I had two focal lengths that together registered around half of my shots: 24mm and 35mm on DX/APS-C. That translates (roughly) into 35mm and 50mm on FX/FF. Which in turn tells me that I'm quite a normal guy - photography-wise: 50mm is "the" standard lens on full-format bodies and 35mm is just a slight wide-angle which was to be expected for someone who is shooting predominantly architecture and city-scapes on such a trip. As a more people-oriented street photographer you might see the need for a large aperture 85mm come up on a FX/FF-body. On a DX/APS-C body the choice would be a 50mm large aperture prime.

Here's a shot that represents the middle-of-the-road focal length at 38mm, f4.0, slightly cropped:

Image
Laundry 33222 by Thomas, on Flickr

But don't make a mistake: The zoom is so much more versatile than a fixed focal length prime, esp. in situations where you can't move closer or further away. Like in this case: I was standing on a small bridge across a channel.

Btw.: If you ask how many of all shots were made between 18 and 55mm (the range of a bog-standard kit-lens) you'd end up with 76%. That is 3 out of 4 shots! And with a 16-85 zoom you'd have gotten 94% of the shots.

_________________
Thomas (beware: Nikon-fanboy and moderator!) My Lens Reviews, My Pictures, My Photography Blog
D800+assorted lenses


Last edited by Thomas on Sat Nov 05, 2011 10:56 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 10:17 pm 
Offline
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:08 pm
Posts: 7968
Location: Germany
Summary:

On a trip to such beautiful locations like Venice you have a very simple choice if you use a DX/APS-C body:
- Take a stabilized kit-zoom like the Nikon AF-S VR DX 16-85mm 3.5-5.6G ED and you'll be able to capture around 90% of what I shot.
- Even with the Nikon AF-S VR DX 18-55mm 3.5-5.6G you could capture 75% of the action but I'd suggest to complement this with a wide zoom from Nikon, Sigma or Tokina like the beautiful Nikon AF-S DX 10-24mm 3.5-4.5G ED.
- And if you combine the latter with a say Nikon AF-S VR DX 18-105mm 3.5-5.6G ED you cover over 10x zoom with two stabilized lenses and are really well equipped for the task.
- You only have to take into account that moving subjects at night will most probably blur as your shutter speeds will often be around 1/4 to 1/8 sec or you have to crank up the ISO to at least 800 or 1600 and deal with noise later. If you're into night-action you should get the Nikon AF-S DX 35mm 1.8G which can give you two stops faster shutter speeds plus beautiful subject-isolation at a very reasonable price and very good image quality.

If you have a FX/FF-body your optimal choices will be quite different:
- You could choose the non-stabilized route with the 14-24/2.8 plus the 24-70/2.8 and complement this with a large aperture prime of your choice: 35mm, 50mm or 85mm. Be aware that there will be situations where you miss the range from 70mm to 105mm or 120mm
- Or you could go with the newly designed stabilized f/4.0 zooms: the 16-35/4.0 VR and the 24-120/4.0 VR and add a large aperture prime of your choice. The focal range of both zooms is much more useful than of their non-stabilized siblings and the financial investment is also lower. But you lose some image quality and the isolating powers of f/2.8 lenses - but this might not be a prime consideration for travel photography.
- A one-lens solution would either be the 24-70/2.8 or the 24-120/4.0 VR. The latter would have covered 94% of my shots.

_________________
Thomas (beware: Nikon-fanboy and moderator!) My Lens Reviews, My Pictures, My Photography Blog
D800+assorted lenses


Last edited by Thomas on Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 6:12 am 
Offline
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:08 pm
Posts: 7968
Location: Germany
Some final remarks on...

The use of a tripod:
I only used it once on a stop-over in Innsbruck, Austria. I went back to a beautiful place I had seen the night before and wanted to capture this the next morning at dawn. Having a clear goal helped in schlepping the tripod around and the distance was manageable. Unfortunately it was fast becoming too bright the next day to capture the spirit of the place.
I never used the monopod, although it is very light.

Carrying and weight:
I normally had the D300 + 24-70/2.8 over my shoulder which is 2kg without the excellent CameraLabs strap plus a small Lowepro TLZ 2 bag with spare battery, cable, pol-filter at 550g and the other the two lenses at 1024g + 694g which makes it another 2.3kg over the other shoulder. I carried that all day and the soft padding of the CL-strap helped a lot. The Lowepro was just large enough to hold the two zooms, when I was shooting with the 35/1.4.
So in practice you carry 4-5kg around with this setup. With a single lens DX/APS-C solution you could put the spare battery into your pockets and just carry the 16-86 mounted which would end up at a mere 1.3kg.

Memory and batteries:
I had the camera on all the time (except when I was sleeping ;-)) and was shooting at a rate of 200 images per day. One EN-EL3e battery easily carried me through a day, but because I had no stabilized lens that is not really noteworthy. I just kept one spare battery with me, swapped those at the end of the day, recharged one and never thought about it.
As to the memory: I use a 16Gig card which is good for 1000 RAW images in highest quality. At the end of the trip I had used 9GB which equals an average of 14MB per image. So even with the higher resolving sensor of a 16MP D7000 I would have filled only 12GB. Only a 24MP body would have needed more memory for the trip. Nonetheless I had taken my laptop with me for viewing and backup and I saved the images from my camera each evening - without deleting them on the camera. So effectively I had two copies of each image stored on different devices after every 12 hours. That is a pretty effective strategy against theft/loss/technical problems.

Macro photos:
I love taking close-ups to show small details and fine structures. On this trip I relied solely on the capabilities of the 24-70/2.8 to go down to a magnification of 1:3.7 which is enough for most of my purposes. But in the end I didn't shoot anything closer than around 60-70cm which gives a magnification of 1:6 - 1:8. That is a magnification that many lenses and zooms are capable of. But on an FX/FF-body you need a 1.5x larger magnification for the same frame and in this case a lens capable of 1:4 would prove useful.

Now, I hope you'll find the analysis of my recent trip useful for planning your next travel and always have the right equipment with you.
To capture beautiful photos of memorable places.

And I'm not going to finish my analysis of a trip to Venice without some shot of gondole. :wink:

[Image
Gondole 32836 by Thomas, on Flickr


Last edited by Thomas on Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:45 am 
Nice and thorough sharing.

I was traveling to Cambodia couple months ago and my workhorse lens is 16-35mm f4 VR on D700. It's great to capture the temple ruins and culture. It has VR, which help a lot in very low light inside the temple.

Other lens that I use is 70-200mm f/2.8, when I can't get closer to subject, ex. when I am in a boat.

here's some of pics http://www.enchetjin.com/Travel/Cambodia


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2011 4:40 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:02 am
Posts: 376
Have you tried the 17-55 2.8 Nikon lens? Last May, my friend's brother had a Nikon D7000 + a rented 17-55mm 2.8 for his wedding photos. I brought a Canon 50D + 17-55mm 2.8 IS to the wedding for SnG's. I was really impressed with the build quality of Nikon's 17-55 versus Canon's 17-55. I never saw the finished pictures, but it looked really promising from the in-camera screen footage. My friend ending up liking both his brother's Nikon photos and my Canon photos more than the official wedding photos taken by 2 other hired photographers.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:03 pm 
Offline
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:08 pm
Posts: 7968
Location: Germany
I have not tried the 17-55/2.8 but from the distribution of my shots on the Venice-trip that would have covered around 3/4th of the shots. So yes, you'd cover a lot and I think on a wedding you#d seldom have use for a wider angle than a 17mm lens can produce.
But in Venice I did need something shorter in about 10% of situations plus 55mm certainly is not long enough if you like too capture some street-scenes without wanting (or being able) to get closer to your subject(s).

_________________
Thomas (beware: Nikon-fanboy and moderator!) My Lens Reviews, My Pictures, My Photography Blog
D800+assorted lenses


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 

All times are UTC


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  

All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2012 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.
/ How we test / Best Cameras / Advertising / Camera reviews / Supporting Camera Labs

Webdesign by Alphabase IT
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group