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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Last Piece of the Puzzle Solved

200mm f/4   &  70-200mm f/2.8

Last Piece of the Puzzle

     I solved the problem of the heavy wide angle zoom 16-35mm f/4 with a straight 20mm f/2.8 lens,  and so my attention turned to shedding the heavy 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto zoom with a straight 200mm.  A telephoto is essential to carry with you for all types of photography.  My requirements for this lens was that it had to be light weight and fast enough for low light photography.  I looked at all of the manual zooms from 80-200, 70-210, you name it, I looked at the specs on the lens.  I settled for a straight 200mm f/4 manual focus lens.  It is light, and fast for an f/4 and it had great reviews.  In addition, I bought this one for $86 on eBay.  I can also carry this lens in one vest pocket and the 20mm in the other.  I just can't wait to put the two to work on our next travels.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Legs

Benro C-1691 Carbon-fiber tripod and B-0 Ball head

     Another thing that I changed is tripods.  My old carbon fiber tripod was the Slik 614.  It is light weight and small, too small.  I wanted something a little sturdier and could handle the D3s without me worrying if it would top over.  I researched the current carbon fiber tripods available and found this Benro C-1691.  It is called the "Travel Angel".  I found the lowest priced one on eBay, of all places, from Hong Kong and ordered it.  The tripod came DHL express in 3 days.  It is perfect.  The legs fold up over the ball head making making it easy to put in a suit case.  I am going to try it downtown if the weather would just warm up a little bit.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Glass

Sold on eBay
Nikon 24-120 VR  vs  Nikon 24-85

The rumors from last two years about two new Nikon lenses became fact in 2010 with the release of the 28-300mm and the 24-120mm, both with VR (vibration reduction).  After the Med trip I was ready to sell the 24-85mm, which is a great lens, however, it requires a moderate amount of light and only goes to 85mm.  I found myself taking the lens off and putting on a 70-200mm for people shots.  It did not have enought telephoto for portrait shots walking around.  I then had to decide which new Nikon to purchase.  I thought about this long and hard.  Both lens are superior travel lenses.  I looked at the photos from the Med trip and found that I took more wide angle photos at 24mm than all other ranges.  In fact I carried a heavy Nikon 16-35mm f/4 for extremely wide angle photos, mainly in buildings like churches where there is limited lighting.  So I chose the 24-120mm, bought it, sold the 24-85mm for about what I paid for it years ago.  The 24-120mm is a 77mm AFS VR lens and it is very, very sharp.

My next project was to eliminate taking the heavy 16-35mm wide angle zoom with me.  I decided to go with a prime 20mm f/2.8 wide angle.  I had one years ago and regeted the day I sold it on ebay.  l found a replacement and bought it.  The 16-35mm will now stay at home and the small, light-weight 20mm will go with me in the bag and transferred to my vest pocket when walking around.

20mm f/2.8

I put a lot of thought time in to trying to reduce how much gear to carry while traveling.  It made no sense to me to carry a big heavy lens like the 16-35mm if I used it sparingly.  The smaller, faster 20mm fits in my vest pocket and will get used often on our next trip.  

16-35mm f/4

Monday, January 3, 2011

Changing Equipment: #1 New Camera Bag, Think Tank Urban Disguise 50

Think Tank Urban Disguise 50
      After we got home from the Med cruise I realized that I needed to change the way I carry my photo equipment.  I used a small roll-on Swiss Army luggage as a  camera bag and a shoulder bag for my laptop computer.  The problem with carry-on luggage is it must be stored in the overhead compartment of your airliner.  We would often find ourselves getting on the plane with the last group and all the overhead compartments were full.  These excess bags would be taken by the flight crew and sent below with the checked baggage.  That happened on our flight from Nice to Venice.  However, I removed my camera and lenses putting the camera around my shoulder and the lenses in my vest pockets.  Another problem I encountered was if I did find space in the overhead for my photo gear it was not where I was sitting.  This necessitated me making a mad dash to the bag on the final stop at our destination. Either way I had two carry-on bags.  My goal was to eliminate this problem.  I began a research of bags and at the suggestion of a friend, David Billingsley, I looked at the line from Think Tank.  The one I chose to purchase was the Urban Disguise 50.  It has compartments for a pro DSLR with lens attached, 2-3 additional lenses, accessories with a pocket for carrying a 15 in. computer.  I began to watch for it on eBay and found a used mint Urban Disguise for around $50.  I won the auction.

The Think Tank holds exactly what I need to take with me on travels; Nikon D3s, normal zoom 24-120mm, wide angle 20mm, med. telephoto 200mm f/4, and a 50mm f/1.4.  Looking at all the photos I took on the Med cruise, these lenses will cover 95% of them.  I will miss the 16-35mm wide angle zoom, however, I will not miss the weight.

     In addition I can take the wife's laptop in the side pocket and all this in one bag which will fit under an airline seat.  If you noticed I made some changes in lenses also. This is the subject of the next blog.