Travel Photography Equipment Wish List

Entering the DSLR world after a long period of compact camera cradling is an eye opening yet rewarding experience. For the keen amateur travel photographer, it’s a whole new field to learn and be challenged within. However, even I can attest that the inspiration gained is well worth the effort.

Getting comfortable with a weightier camera, understanding composition and technique, experimenting with settings; combined with the passion for travel, a sense of adventure, and the knowledge that a little patience goes a long way exponentially increases one’s list of photographic equipment ‘wants’. Without a doubt.

As part of my MatadorU course, I was asked to compile a list of equipment ‘haves and wishes’. I still classify myself a Learner in the world of DSLR and welcome feedback, comments, and suggestions based on the list below.

The aim is to invest in quality pieces at the best price; I realize that second hand could be an option and would be interested in some expert opinions on this. I am all about minimalism – the less I need to carry, the better.

CAMERA BODY: I own a Nikon D5000.

LENSES

I have read time and time again that the lens selection is of greater importance than that of the camera body. Having looked at a number of lens options, price alone determines this to be a truth. Case in point: Nikon 6mm F/2.8 Fisheye hits eBay for $34,000 | Popular Photography.

I currently own a kit lens, 18-55mm, f/3.5-5.6, which is great for street photography though I have found it challenging in the following situations-

Architectural and landscape shots: I am warming to the wide angle Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 lens which looks to be a good choice and a lot less expensive than the Nikkor version.

Food photography and night shots: I am trying to figure out the pros and cons of two fixed lenses, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D or Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G. Suggestions?

Palms against Modernism

TRIPODS

As much as I would hope either of the aforementioned lenses would fulfil my nighttime pursuits, I understand the importance of a tripod, especially when experimenting with movement. Given the tripod would be used mainly for landscape and architectural shots, the 190 Carbon Fiber Tripod With Q90 – 4 Section 190CXPRO4 – 190 Series | Manfrotto seems the most versatile as well as the lightest for traveling – it weighs in at 2.95lb.

FILTERS

I don’t own any filters and am considering-

Polarizing: to reduce glare from landscape shots, especially given off by water and foliage during the harsher afternoon hours.

UV: for lens protection, and to increase image quality and sharpness.

I don’t feel the need for a Neutral Density nor a Warming/Cooling Filter as I would rather use the camera’s settings for these shots. Thoughts?

STORAGE

Memory Cards: In addition to 8GB and 4GB memory cards, I’d like to invest in a couple more 4GB cards, in the case of a long trip when there isn’t time to upload photos to the laptop. This would allow a good distribution of images so that in the case of misplacement, not all photos will be lost.

Laptop: I have an ASUS laptop and transfer all photos to the D drive after a day of photographing, if I have time. I have found that carrying DVDs and USBs for file transfer helps when space is an issue on the road. I am considering investing in an external hard drive; as time goes on, it would be good to minimize the to- and fro- transfer of folders/files.

Does anyone have any tips for a hard drive that is ideal for traveling?

Museum of Contemporary Art on Grand Ave, LA

ACCESSORIES

Cable Release or Wireless Remote: sounds like a neat idea when using the tripod, to up the chances of getting that perfect shot.  Any thoughts on this?

Battery: I have an extra that has proven its worth many times over. I don’t think I need a third but that depends on the trip. It may be a worthwhile purchase especially as the non-branded versions are so inexpensive.

Camera Bag: I don’t need to invest in a bag as I love my Lowepro | Passport Sling™ Shoulder Bag. This is a pretty important accessory as it is one that needs to be comfortable on your body during those photography trips. I am not a fan of backpacks as I think someone might open the bag without my knowing, or seeing it.

This bag has an adjustable strap and its carrying capacity can extend by 30%. The bag is not too bulky, and I like how it rests at my side for quick access. The Passport Sling fits my DSLR with attached lens; there’s room for 1 extra lens; extra memory card and battery. There are pockets on the outside and inside to place other accessories and personal items – such as wallet, mobile phone, and notebook.

As for the laptop – that would be put into my carry-on luggage when traveling by air.

Camera Cleaning Kit: I own a kit by Precision that includes lens tissue paper, cleaning fluid, soft cloth, brush, cotton swabs. Very handy.

That’s a wrap. Or is it? Let me know your thoughts.

Intelligentsia Coffee, Venice Beach, LA

79 thoughts on “Travel Photography Equipment Wish List

  1. Your list looks great. As a fellow Nikon gal, I HIGHLY recommend the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 (or the nifty fifty as some call it). Great lens and a steal for the price. I just got a cable shutter release for Christmas, and it’s been so much fun to play with already. It really does make a huge difference when it comes to camera shake for night shots, and at least for my D3100 (which doesn’t have bulb mode, grrr) it’s a life saver.

  2. Hi, Marina ! I’ve been wondering what equipment you own and now know you shoot with your nikon D5000+ kit lens, I’m even more impressed by your results ! So, good job !
    As for your concerns, I think that the lighter your equipment is, the better off you are. Life is too short to carry 50 lbs of gear everyday ! Do you know Yanidel ? He’s a photographer who travels the world with a Leica M9 (my dream camera…). His blog http://www.yanidel.net/ is amazing.
    I’m a Canon person so I can’t really speak about Nikon products but the 50 mm 1.8 sounds like a good choice. I own the Canon version and it rocks ! It’s a small easy packable lens and it’s not expensive at all. On the other hand, the 35 mm is THE travel / street photography lens by definition (Henri Cartier Bresson only used this one). It’s up to you !
    I use an external hard drive as well. Every LaCie model is great. I love Seagate, though. The design is somehow classier and super light ! http://www.itechnews.net/2009/06/20/seagate-freeagent-go-640gb-external-hard-drive/

    • Thanks Kasia, for commenting. yes, D5000 is my camera body and I am wondering, why did you not choose the 35mm f1.8? I looked at the LaCie and that hard drive looks cool. Let me check out the Seagate one now. Also thank you for the links – I appreciate that.

      • You’re welcome 🙂 As a portrait photographer with a thing for close-ups, I work mostly with the 50 mm and the 100 mm, and the 35mm wasn’t my priority when I started my lens collection, but now, I’m definitely considering getting a 35 mm. I recently purchased a 85 mm 1.2 II L so my savings account is pretty empty but as soon as I can afford it, I will get the canon 35 mm 1.4 !

      • Kasia, I am thinking the 35mm would work better for me (f1.8 as the 1.4 in Nikon’s range is much pricier?) as I would like it for indoor low light scenes and food photography in restaurants/markets (so i do want to capture some of the surroundings). Do you think based on this, that the 30mm would be more versatile than the 50mm? it would also be good to have it for some outdoor scenes… Thank you!!

      • Considering your style and subject (travel photography), I do think that the 35 mm would be the better choice to start with. 1.8 aperture will do great in low light situations, the 15mm focal difference between 35 and 50 will have little impact on your portraits but it will change the deal when it comes to scenes and landscapes. Besides, the 35 mm on a APS-C sensor is kind of equivalent of the 50 mm mounted on a full frame. Anyway, I’m sure you will have a lot of fun with fixed focal length lenses, whatever you choose ! Your camera will be lighter and you’ll learn to make the best of it very quickly 🙂

      • Thanks Kasia! I am soe xcited to get the fixed lens as I think it will push me out of my comfort zone. I was inspired by your comment about Henri Cartier Bresson so doing some research on his photos, to see how he composed and used his Leica. Though I have read it was a 50mm, not 35mm? Is that right?

      • You’re right, it’s a 50mm lens on a 35 mm body ! the “35 mm camera” means he used a compact camera, as opposed to medium format rangefinders, like a Hasseblad (another dream camera http://www.patricktaylor.com/hasselblad-500) or a large format cameras, with chambers and the whole stuff (https://www.badgergraphic.com/store/images/categories/4564.jpg)

        as for the 50mm, this particular focal length covers more or less the human vision angle.

        I hope it answers your questions 🙂

    • I love Yanidel’s photos – beautiful. Maybe the Leica is something for a wish list in a few years? Also, LaCie looks more chic to me than Seagate. Thanks for those two suggestions!

  3. If you’re going for budget, I think the D90 is a better camera than the D5000. Might be worth looking for a D7000 second hand. The 50mm 1.8 is a wonderful lens which I rarely take off my camera when out and about. A variable ND glass filter is essential – landscapes without skies mean nothing. Have as many spare batteries as possible plus a car and mains charger. Definitely have a good external hard drive or two. Try not to leave any pictures in the computer – link to the external drive when editing. Good luck..

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Roger. Re: camera body: too late, I have been shooting with the D5000 for 6 months already. May I ask why you didn’t choose the 35mm f1.8 lens?

  4. Oh dear so many things to consider 🙂 It’s an expensive hobby I have to say… 🙂 Recently I realised that mine doesn’t come cheap either; D Good luck in exploring DSLR world 🙂

    Again, the pictures are great, you have a good eye 🙂 Sometimes it’s not the camera, but the person behind it that matters 🙂

    • Thank you so much Kristina! Putting together a list is something that I was pushed into doing for this assignment, and glad I did it as the DSLR world is rather comprehensive. As you can understand, with your skincare business!

  5. This is a great assignment! I have a Nikon D5000 and love it. I think for the price it’s a good deal. If $ was no object, I’d probably go higher, but for me, money is an object! I do think putting money into lenses is a good idea. I have a moderately priced Nikon 55-200 with vibration reduction that is good for long distance. I’m intrigued with the “nifty 50.” and I agree – its really about the eye of the photographer. Looking forward to hearing more comments!

    • Hi Lois, fellow D5000 user! I am looking at the 18-200mm lens as I would like to have an all-in-one I think – this will allow me to leave the kit lens behind. I’m also intrigued by the 50mm and the 35mm f1.8, and not sure which is best as an overall street and food photographing lens. Did you come across any suggestions?

      • One of my French blogger friends purchased the 18-200 mm sigma and well, he isn’t too happy about it. The AF is average and it gets crappy from 150 mm and he needs to focus manually. The sharpness – or lack thereof – is disappointing, too. He barely uses it. I don’t know, maybe it will work for you, but maybe you should try it out first. Have you thought about renting lenses for a day, just to see how they behave “on the field” ?

      • Kasia, I so appreciate your honesty and for sharing your friend’s experience. I think you’re edging me closer to either trialling these lenses at the store, or renting (if the cost doesn’t equate that of a lens!) Thanks very much 🙂

  6. Hi Marina – Well thought out as usual. As a D7000 user, I can always recommend that but then again, I carry a D5100 body also as a back up when I go on an “important” photo trip. I have several long range zoom because I do a lot of wildlife photography (as you know). One thing that I have on order, and you might consider, is a very versatile lens that you can use for wide and long range shots – the lens I’m getting is the Nikon 18-200 but Sigma and Tamron also have similar models. I currently use two lenses to cover that range but this would be reduce the need to change lenses to get shots as well as the need to carry both lenses when I travel. I put a UV filter on all my lenses for protection of the lens. I would also think that a circular polarizing lens would be a great addition so that you can bring out the blue skies and also eliminate unwanted reflections. The last thing I would recommend is an air blaster to clean your lenses without touching them and also potentially blow debris off your camera sensor if it gets dirty. Sorry for the long reply. In any case, your eye is your most important asset – and you’ve got a good one.

    • Scott – thank you so much for your comment. I am glad you put down your recommendations here! Yes, I am starting to think that the 18-200mm will give me the versatility I need for now, as an all in one. I do have an air blower that came with my cleaning kit though never use it – it’s that little air pump right? I find more than anything else, i am wiping off water drops than anything else. Do you own a 35 or 50mm prime lens? have you sued a wide angle for your landscape shots?

  7. Hey Marina..
    Lens wise…The glass you use IS important.. but I’d advise to go for the best ‘do-it-all’ lens you can afford rather than different lenses for different jobs…How many times will you shoot super-wide or super-zoom and does the expense make it worth it?
    I absolutely love my Sigma 18-250…Its very affordable and results are great at widest through ‘zoomiest’,( I know its not a word but it does sound kinda sexy)…great combination with the D5000..I’ve been using it for around 6 months and I’ve yet to find a situation where it falls short..
    Changing lenses in the field is such a major pain in the arse, no problems in the studio of course, but for a travel shooter I think it can be a real deal breaker, and of course one lens for all jobs means less to carry…
    I think your tripod choice is a goodie, but though light it’s physically a bit large (and with a good head, even more important than the legs, a bit pricey)…Manfrotto compact MKC3-HO1 is same sort of weight( a bit lighter I think, including its great head), and still works full height….
    To my knowledge, (and I did a fair bit of research) there is no cable release suitable for the D5000..However the Nikon wireless remote ML-L3 is cheap as chips and works like a dream…(though you cant use the auto-bracketing feature, a small price to pay).
    Polarizing filter…absolutely indispensable..Once you realize the difference they make to skies or any reflective surface you’ll be hooked.
    UV filter…exactly as you say..
    Neutral density…I use it infrequently but every now and again it allows me to extend exposure time to achieve an effect that would otherwise be impossible…Worth the relatively low cost..

    One thing which you haven’t mentioned but I know you already realize is incredibly useful to any photographer..A working knowledge (and legal copy) of Photoshop…
    Stuart

    • My Hyde, Wonderful pointers as usual. Thank you. A few Q’s: why did you choose 18-250mm vs 18-200mm? I saw this tripod recommended – do you have any thoughts about it as it seems as light as your reco? http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001D60LG8/ref=oss_product
      Also, I seem to recall you mentioning a fixed prime lens a while back – do you own one? If you do, can you let me know which one it is and if you’re happy with it given you also use the D5000? Thank you!

      • Hi Marina
        Proline tripod leg assemblies are usually pretty sturdy, I’ve used 2 though not this one..Crucially aluminium is not as strong or light as carbon fibre, and in all honesty the ball head on this one would have you pulling your hair out in no time, the single ball/single nut arrangement seems simple but is awful to use with any accuracy/consistence..so sorry I dont think its a good choice..The manfrotto compact I keep going on about is linked below:

        http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-MKC3-H01-Compact-Photo-Movie-Black/dp/B004MKNJ84/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1335339213&sr=1-1

        It says ‘movie’ on it which might have put you off but it is simply THE most usable, lightest full sized tripod I have ever used….the head is incredibly quick and versatile..(INCREDIBLY!)…Four friends of mine have bought these since seeing mine in action and everyones totally happy.
        Re lens comparisons..I did a lot of research comparing the 2..the review below was typical of my findings:

        http://www.flickr.com/groups/nikondslr_bistro/discuss/72157621818604024/

        I went for the Sigma based on the better colour accuracy and warmth, the extra 50mm zoom length,(which really does make it a do-it-all lens compared to the shorter Nikon), and the huge price differential.
        In addition virtually every comparison I found talked of substantial differences/fluctuations in the quality of individual examples of the Nikon lens and this really made me nervous..plus the ‘creep’ issue is well documented, and, as I use a tripod a lot this was another deal breaker. The Sigma has changed my photography immeasurably…I used to either be cursing that I never seemed to have the right lens with me, or, I was so weighted down that I’d invariably get bad tempered while out shooting…
        Fixed prime wise I occasionally use the Nikkor/nikon 50mm..which other people have mentioned.
        Its wonderful..I use it sometimes when I’m shooting in a studio and as a portrait lens I love it…I NEVER carry it when I’m shooting out and about..I think the Sigma is (more than) everything you need for travel shots…I LOVE IT!
        🙂

      • First off, you’re a real star in sharing your insights. Thanks for that. I really do like that tripod and if you recommend it highly, then I think it’s on the list 🙂 I’m still debating the Sigma vs Nikon – I like the idea of 18-200mm and also like that Nikon has a max aperture of 5.6 at the max level. With the Nikkor 50mm, I am starting to think 30mm would suit best as it would be more for food photography and capturing indoor scenes in low light. What do you think?

      • 50mm / 30mm?…..never used a 30 but I use the 50 for studio food shots and similar stuff… its control over DOF is outstanding…..Bokeh effects that are easily achievable are great for isolating subject matter…The 50 is very fast, so for indoor scenes with poor light would rarely fail to get results..
        I imagine the 30 would be more pricey as its rather more ‘nichey’ but could be wrong..(wouldn’t be the first time..)
        18/200-18/250?…I’d go with your gut feelings,(but max aperture on 18/200 would be greater simply coz its 50mm shorter in the zoom)..Just make sure you get to test the actual lens..the Nikkor I tried was so sloppy/creepy when even slightly off the horizontal that it was pretty much unusable unless you were holding the lens barrel.(I’m sure it was far worse than average as the Nikon sales guy at my dealer really was very embarassed)….
        Tripod wise I reckon I’ve had over ten different ones since I started being even remotely serious with my shooting and though the Manfrotto compact is one of the cheapest its the only one I’ve been able to carry (easily) everywhere I go, and consequently I’ve used it more than any other…IT IS very light though, so you need to be particularly careful to turn off all VR. (but hey…you know you should do that with any tripod).
        😉
        S.

      • Hi Stuart! It’s a 35mm f1.8 – sorry. it is a little more than the 50mm though I would rather use something I feel would benefit me more, than not. I do want to shoot landscapes with it, and also have extra information in the background. I have read some good reviews on it too. i think that i will test the lenses – Sigma and Nikkor – when I am serious about the 18-200mm. Like you say, better to experience it! At the moment, I won’t find much use for it unless I want to zoom in on the NYC skyline. The Manfrotto is going to be the tripod I get when I cannot use my current one anymore! I am going to try some hand held options for a little while – with 35mm – and go from there. Wow – what a info filled few days. So many things to learn and know about. Thank goodness for people like you! THANK YOU from NYC!

      • Hi Marina…just read some reviews of the 35mm and it sounds like a really great little prime….and it will keep you fit as your legs will have to do all of the zooming… 🙂
        I cant get over how cheap it is, (only £159 here in the UK), I think I might just have to get one, at 1.8 its just so damn fast..!
        Looking forward to seeing your shots when you start using yours.
        S.

  8. Marina. great list of yours. I shoot with a D7000 and a D200 as a backup, and am very happy with it, D5000 sounds good too.. Oh I would go for the 50 Nikkor lens definately.
    Stuart is right, not too many lenses to carry around, it is too much pain to change them in the field, for little assignements I never take more than two lenses with me. As far as a portable hard drive I use My passport from Western Digital, it does the job, check out @ Costco their prices on that.

    • Cornelia, thank you for taking the time to comment. I have found that I am torn between the 50mm and 35mm 1.8 lens – why wouldn’t you recommend the 35mm. It would give wider shots wouldn’t it? And I can always edge closer if I need to? I also think the 18-200mm sounds like a smarter idea as an all-in-one. I’m going to take a look at Western Digital’s hard drive now.

  9. Hi Marina!

    I use a Tokina 11-16mm to shoot real estate photography, which I chose over the Sigma 10-20mm. I’m a Canon user, so I don’t know what its compatibility is with Nikon, but it’s worth looking into.

    With that being said, this lens is so WIDE, it’s ridiculous. I love it; it does exactly what I need it to do — get the whole room in the frame — but that’s all it can do. Believe it or not, I’ve all but given up on using it to shoot anything but interiors. It’s usually too wide for exteriors and for landscapes as well. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it works for effect, say you’re in the desert and want to show how expansive the sky is, but too often it shrinks down and/or distorts my subjects way too much. Right now I have the Canon 17-40mm L on my wish list, which I think would be the perfect range of “just wide enough” to “I could even shoot a portrait with this” type lens. I’m sure there is a Nikon (near) equivalent.

    If you really want to go with the ultra super wide lens, I would definitely rent one of these for a day first to see if it works for you.

    • Thanks so much for commenting Lauren as your note about the wide lens and being ‘too wide’ has me thinking. I was wondering why you chose the Tokina over the Sigma? Also, I have an 18-55mm lens already and was looking at a 50mm 1.8 for everyday, and 18-200mm perhaps for an all-in-one. What are your thoughts about this? I feel that the wide angle might be one of those ‘extended wish list’ lenses as I really do like shooting street photography and the 18mm might be enough for any architectural shots (PS Now know why interiors look so vast in those real estate shots!)

  10. You should check out abesofmaine.com for prices. Before I got my digital camera, I used a SLR and had the telephoto lens, wide angle lens, filters, and a tripod. I had a camera bag that I wore around my waist like a fanny pack. I’ve taken many many pictures in several different countries wtih that camera. I loved that I had more control over my settings. Now I have a panasonic Lumix small camera that has settings which I can adjust manually, but it isn’t the same as my old camera. There are still limitations. However, I love that it is convenient and easy to carry and I get great shots with it. I bought it from abesofmaine.com

    • Karen! Thank you for your comment. I just checked out the website and it is very competitive and much easier to search the different lens manufacturers and their various features. Did you find that you used the wide angle lens alot with your previous camera? What about the telephoto?

      • I kept my wide angle on my camera most of the time. It went from normal to wide angle. I shot a lot of architecture and buildings so it was good for that. I used that lens more than any other one.

      • Karen, thank you! can you tell me what focal length your wide angle lens was? I wanted a wide angle but am reconsidering.. but I still want it!

  11. Marina…you have a great list! I’m sort of in the same “boat” as you, although I’ve had my Nikon D-80 for 5 years. (it’s outdated now! lol but I love it) I have enjoyed reading what others have to say. Like you, I’ve wanted a 50 mm lens for a while and I love the Passport Sling bag. In fact, I was planning on purchasing it. Thanks for your review!
    My D-80 came with a 18-135mm kit lens that has proven to be very versatile for me. I recently purchased a Sigma 70mm 2.8 macro. It’s a great lens, so I can attest to the quality of the Sigma brand.
    Just a suggestion: From CowboyStudio.com I purchased a mini table top studio (lights, light box etc) for food and other small items.

    • Hi Judy! great to hear from you. What do you think about the 50mm f1.8 vs the 35mm f1.8 vs the 70mm f2.8 (aside from the f-stop)? Did you need to make a choice between any of these before getting the 70mm? Though I am more looking for food pics on the road – restaurant meals and markets, vs studio shots (which is fun but I don’t cook!) When it comes to back, it really is a personal choice but this works for me. I hope you enjoy it is you buy it. I bought black, of course, but it matches everything! I am just not a fan of backpacks as I had an incident in Korea where my handbag was cut from behind and these days, I am all about having my bag at my side! Let me know how you go with your bag pucrhase and I look forward to hearing back from you!

  12. I wanted to thank everyone who has commented on this post. The comments are so appreciated and I think it’s a great discussion to engage in for amateurs, budding photographers, and professionals out there. Either to learn, or reevaluate current equipment. Thank you for sharing your insights and time. This generosity is one of the great things about the blogosphere.

  13. Hi Marina,
    Are you feeling overwhelmed yet?!
    My favourite lens, incredibly useful although no longer available new:
    Nikkor 24-120mm 1:3.5-5.6D (A review if you are interested in looking for a second hand one: http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/24120af.htm -this guy does great reviews…)
    It does everything and although I have other lenses I use this most of the time. (you could research the replacement for this lens, I’m not sure what it is.

    UV filters for any lens you buy is a very good idea, you leave them on all the time and they protect your lens from scratches. Other filters just screw over them.

    Definitely get a polarizing filter, it is a wonderful tool.
    Best wishes in your research! 🙂

    • Karen! Thanks so much for your feedback – you know I appreciate it 🙂 I was feeling a wave of nausea this afternoon but it has passed – though I am still so confused as to what I should invest in from a ‘telephoto’ perspective. I would like to have something that starts at 18mm – do you find this to be a hindrance with the 24mm? Also, what do you have any thoughts on prime lenses – specifically the 35mm or 50mm? last question – I know you shoot architecture. What works best for you from an exterior perspective?

      • I do use a 18-35mm lens for architecture and landscape and I’m sure you would find a lens starting at 18mm very useful.
        Have you considered renting a lens (or 2) for a weekend to get a feel for what you might need or like?
        Some places will do that and then you would really have a feel for how it fits your needs.

      • I do own a 18-55mm already though am warming to the 18-100+ as it is hard to zoom into anything with it. That said, I am wanting the prime fixed becasue of its speed. I am aware of a rental place and might spend the money if it makes sense. Thanks Karen!

      • Karen, I just read Ken Rockwell’s review on the 18-200mm VR lens and it sounds very good. Now it’s about researching how today’s Sigma stacks up against it. I might be saving for my own birthday present which would be a pretty exciting present to self. Thank you for sharing!

  14. Marina,
    I just did a lot of research on the 18-2XX lenses and decided on the Nikon for my use. The reviews basically say that the Sigma is a good lens but not as sharp as the Nikon across the range of the lens. The sigma is better at eliminating some forms of distortion but the sharpness is more important to me. I also looked at the Tamron lens in the same class. It was rated better than the Sigma for sharpness but not as good as the Nikon. Pretty much every review I read had the Nikon 18-200 as the best of the all in one breed for Nikon. I’m buying it for a trip this fall to the Riviera and Italy where the subjects will be architecture, landscapes, and people. My current 18-105 kit lens would almost work but I always find that more reach for candid people pics is very useful. OBTW – the Nikon lens is backordered (as I understand it frequently is). Hope this helps.

    • That’s so helpful as I read Ken Rockwell’s review on the 18-200mm VR and he says it is the best lens. With your further recommendation, I think I may need to invest in Nikkor. I also like to photograph architecture, landscapes and people, and want the best possible lens. I might be able to find this lens – first version from a few years back? Lucky you – Riviera traveling! Thanks Scott. Your feedback is appreciated 🙂

  15. After having just critique some of your pictures in another post it’s fun ti read this piece. You are definitely on to getting your equipment together. I don’t have much to add, except go for less lenses and get then best you can get instead. I don’t think you are going to use a fisheye lens enough to justify the price, for instance. I have already given you my input on tripod. Just one last idea for equipment. When I travel I back-up all my files on a 32 or 64 giga SD-card. It’s so easy to use since it goes straight into a slot in my notbook. And then it doesn’t take any space at all. Finally just a word about the photographs. These are both excellent, you are much more focus here compared to the beforementioned pictures I critiqued. I particularly like the one with the palms.

    • Hi Otto,
      The fisheye lens was just a joke! I would never pay $32K for it though it does put into perspective on the premium placed on lenses vs camera body.
      I am thinking of investing in a Nikkor 35mm f1.8 especially for street shots and night shots without a tripod. What do you think? later on, I may invest in a Nikkor or Sigma 18-200mm lens though I am in no rush for it now. I’ll look into the SD card – sounds neat. I am glad you enjoyed these photos 🙂 Thank you!

      • Look at that, I didn’t even get the joke. I think the 35 mm f1.8 is a good choice. I am not so sure about the 18-200, though. With such a huge zoom from extreme wide angel to tele, quality will not be the best. I would rather go for two lenses covering the same angels, although of course it’s gonna be more expensive. I know others say something else, so in the end it comes down to what you feel for yourself – and money of course.

      • It’s ok – I hope you made you laugh this time around. I am not a fan of fish eye at all. I have read good things about the 18-200mm lens though as I am not in the market for it now, I hope to learn as I go along – maybe test drive a few – and determine when I need it. I did read about the quality being compromised. I need to prioritise – so will practice my street photography first and look at shooting exotic photos later. Thank you for your honesty.

  16. People have already made lots of good comments. I’ll add just a few. I agree with whoever made the comment that the vision of the shooter is more important than any gear. Of course gear is important, but if you have a vision and a good command of basic photographic processes (you do), you can easily accomodate compromises in gear.

    camera: the D5000 has been replaced by the D5100. It’s a nice camera. But I’d go with the D7000 – higher pixel count, much better camera allround, brilliant image quality.

    Wish list: the new D800. (which is a full-frame camera)

    lenses: Iive by three lenses, all nikkor, a 12-24 f/4 wide angle; a 17-55 f/2.8, which is my main lenses and shoots 65% of what I do; and a 70-200 f/2.8 VR. These are all pretty expensikve lenses. For fixed lenses, I do own the 35 f/1.8. It’s a wonderful lens, very fast, and ideal; focal length. Note that 35mm is = 50mm in equivalent full-frame, so for a DX camera, the 35 would b e a “normal lens. If you are getting prime (i.e. fixed) lenses, I’d get the 35 and a comparable 85 for portraits.The nikkor 50mm f/1.8 is a full-frame lens.

    Tripods: Go for the best, sturdiest, weight-supporting, and light. That means manfrotto carbon fiber. Do not skimp on the tripod.

    Filters: polarizing yes. UV is overrrated, lots of photographgers do not use them. Only value is _some_ protection for the lens. I do use them. A _graduated_ neutral density is good if you shoot high contrast scenes like sunsets, oceans, lots of landscapes with bright sky. It can tone down the sky allowing you to expose for the details. Other filters no.

    Memory cards: 4GB is too small. Shoot raw only, which makes bigger file sizes. I use 8GB and 16GB cards. For some shoots I might use a 32GB. I hate having to use more than one card for a shoot.

    Cable release or remote wireless or cabled is essential.

    We use the same camera bag – Is great! But you’ll need bigger bag if you decide to carry more than one extra lens.

    Oooh, this is fun!

    Joanne

    • Hi Joanne! Thanks for commenting. That’s lovely of you to say I have the vision – I do enjoy photography so it encourages me to push through the tough shots 🙂 I actually own the D5000 and not looking to upgrade the camera body. I love my camera and hope to keep it for a while. With lenses, I do have an 18-55 f5.6 kit so this will serve me for a awhile. You make a good point about the 70-200mm as that is the focal length I am missing – that is for my wish list! I really do want the 12-24 f/4 wide angle though that’s after i buy a fixed lens – 35 f/1.8. My style is alot more street photography versus landscape, and for now, with the architectural shots I can probably get away with my 18-55mm. With a tripod, I do own one and I don’t use it – I love to shoot on the run and need to try and perfect that. Once I get used to the tripod I own now and need t .upgrade, I’ll go for the Manfrotto, for sure 🙂 With the filters, I don’t have any so I may just go with what you say – UV and graduated ND. With memory cards, I have never processed a RAW image and need to get a tutorial on it. For now, they are all jpegs and I know I must learn soon. It all takes so much time! Lastly, cable release – yes, this might entice more tripod usage especially as I love to photograph movement. I have an assignment coming up that experiments with shutter speed so i might just get one. I’ll take a look on Amazon.

      Phew!! Thank you!!

      • Re the lenses, I meant to say _I_ live by the three lenses… But I think your lens choices are good. I think the 35 1.8 is your ideal choice. It’s interesting what you say about tripods, I actually have a couple, high end, but I rarely use them. I also find that taking time to drag out and set up the tripod and all ruins the spontaneity and speed I’m after. Slightly more often, I use a monopod.

      • Manfrotto, with a small (but not the smallest) Manfrotto ball head. Carbon fiber. There are smaller ones, but I usually fling the thing over my shoulder with camera on and I want to know I can trust it! The Manfrotto is light and reasonably priced.

      • I have heard that manfrotto is good, so I think that’s the brand. No Gorillapods for me 😉 Thanks Joanne! I feel your passion for photography through your comments!

  17. Hi. You have got so many good comments already but I would like to add that you could have a lot of fun with ND filters specially if you like photographing motion. It might not be a high priority thing to get though. I recently get one and it is cool to take pics of such as fountains in a bright day. The camera settings might not be enough to have the perfect brightness when shooting in a slow shutter speed in a bright day. The result of shooting fountains or ocean tide with low shutter speed is really fabulous and that is all I do these days. Most of the equipments on your wish list are also on mine.

    • Thank you so much Anteneh for your comment. I have’t purchased any filter as yet though wondering if the ND filter is as good in capturing motion on the streets? I wish i could take photos of landscapes and water more, though it’s a little more urban photography that i can shoot on a daily basis. let me know!

  18. Hi Marina,

    I am not sure how much of an advise this will be but here is what I had in mind when I bought my lenses and the other equipment

    – memory: You can’t have enough. Never. I have 32GB and 16GB Compact Flash card. Even though, since I shoot in raw-format (with every picture anything between 18-20 Megabytes), a day long festival is becoming a challenge to capture completely. So, whenever you think another 4GB card might be useful, go for it! Memory is hardly an invest I think.

    – filters: I have none and am feeling pretty fine with it. However, this depends on your way of shooting and especially post-processing of the images. I am working on mine excessively and can apply any filters through software

    – camera bag: I got one where I could also get my laptop (Eee-PC) and all of my gear stored. It’s a full and quite stiff rucksack and is working perfectly.

    – PC, editing etc.: I am working with multiple ones (if you think I am a geek, yup, that is the case 🙂 ). For any intermediate storage while on multiple days tour, my Eee-PC is the first choice. The battery lasts for the transfers and the PC is not that big or heavy for transport. As soon as I get home, the raw-files are transferred on a PC with two 2TB hard drives. This is where I also have Lightroom installed and where the magic happens. I do all the exports of the final images onto an external hard drive (2TB for the moment, I am thinking about upgrading this one, too) which is connected again to the laptop and from there all the WordPress- Facebook- email-magic is happening.

    – Light: I have a Nikon SB-700 which works awesomely good once I got used to it. But depending on the venues you can use a smaller one, too. I had to pay upwards of 250€ for this little puppy.

    – Lenses: The initial statement is true from my perspective. You can have the best camera body in the world but it won’t capture any light since the lenses won’t let it through. I have three lenses and am doing very fine with it.
    1. Nikon 50mm f/1.4: Perfect since it captures so much light. I am using it for any event where I have some distance between me and the object. Concerts on bigger stages, portraits with limited movement.
    2. Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5: not a fish-eye lense, but a very nice wide-angle one. It doesn’t change the image as much as a fish eye lense, but covers a really wide area. From my point of view, it depends on what you want to shoot. If I had the choice, I would try to find a lense with less aperture than 3.5 to capture more light, but these lenses are getting quite expensive. I had to pay a lot for this one already (above of 700€ I think), but it was definitely worth it. Whenever I am in front of small stages in small clubs or whenever I want to capture a wide landscape area, this is my lense of choice.

    3. Nikon 18-200mm f/3,5-5,6: The standard lense, but my main one as well. Anything goes with this one. From street photography, to landscape (limited), concerts, portraits, this one works very good. Together with the flash-light, even the 200mm zoom is not an issue in limited light. If I had unlimited money (this one was close to 800€), I would go for The Nikon 70-200mm f/2,8, but that’s just too expensive for an amateur like me.

    As a general recommendation for the lenses – at least from my perspective – try to find lenses which a pretty low in their lower aperture. The band of focus is small, but whenever you go in darker areas, this is helps more than to reduce the shutter speed beneath 80 or 60 (unless you want to have movement blurr), or raise the ISO value and get a noisy picture.

    Hope, this helps a little bit, even though I’m coming late to the party 🙂 Cheers and have fun while shooting

    • wow, thank you SO much for your comments! I am requesting the 35mm 1.8 Nikon lens for my birthday in a few days… and might get the polarising lens as well as a wireless remote! I am keeping your comment for future reference too! Thank you!

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