Nikon D800 with Nikon 28-300 lens (and some thoughts on travel gear)

I consider the Nikon 28-300 f/3.5-5.6 to be a travel lens for those situaions where you don’t really want to mess with changing lenses while walking around. I clearly separate a dedicated photo trip from traveling. When I visit new places, I really want to enjoy them with my own eyes, take my time to see sites and attractions, and generally enjoy my travel without force myself to make fantastic images.

My travel kit is usually composed from small and light cameras. I never carry a DSLR with a huge lens, since I don’t want to attract much attention, and also i don’t want my back hurt after hours of walking. I will either pack the Sony NEX 5N with its four lenses (16mm, 18-55, 55-210 and 50mm f/1.8). This combo fits in medium size camera bag and its extremely light and easy to carry. If I’m looking for “more quality” I will pack the Leica M8 with one of the following setups:

1. 15mm, 28mm, 50mm, 90mm
2. 21mm, 35mm, 50mm, 90mm

The M8 combo also fits in a medium bag and although heavier than the NEX, still I can easily walk for hours with no problem at all. I can also fit the NEX 5N body in the same bag if I want to shoot after dusk or interiors, since the M8 has lousy ISO performance. All my M lenses work perfectly with the NEX 5N, so I have the best of both worlds.

Now, if I want to devote more in making some good images while traveling, I will choose a film setup, which includes the Leica M7 and the Plaubel Makina 67 MF camera. The lens choices for the M7 are the same as with the M8, and to be honest, I prefer both setups with a full frame camera (35mm film, that is!) since I am really more into wide angles. The Makina 67 with its 40mm equivalent focal length is good for pretty much anything when traveling. In the film setup scenario, I will usually leave the snapshots to my wife (with her digital camera) and focus in making more special images. With film, I don’t shoot like crazy, since film costs real money, so I can enjoy more my travel.

So, after this long introduction about my travel gear preferences, lets take a look at the D800E / 28-300 travel combo.

(Nikon D800E, Nikon 28-300 f/3.5-5.6 lens, B+W 110ND, 30 seconds exposure, tripod)

I don’t carry a tripod when traveling, but at this photo trip, I didn’t visit any new places, use wanted to test this lens with the D800E and see how it behaves, so the subjects are the ones you rate used to see in this blog !

(Nikon D800E, Nikon 28-300 f/3.5-5.6 lens)

The good thing by having a lens like the 28-300, is that basically most of the subjects around are approachable. Although I prefer prime lenses, and the way they make you think, approach and shoot an image, I can’t deny that many times is very convenient having one lens that “does it all”.

(Nikon D800E, Nikon 28-300 f/3.5-5.6 lens)

I noticed that most of my images were taken near the 300mm focal length, which is natural, since I have repeatedly visited the the locations and I looked for subjects that I had not been able to capture before, mainly due the fact that usually my longest focal length is 50mm or 90mm.

In this respect, the 28-300 allowed me to take broad my view and get new images from locations I often visit.

(Nikon D800E, Nikon 28-300 f/3.5-5.6 lens)

The 36 megapixels of the D800E allows some serious cropping, which means that often it felt like I was using a 400mm or even 500mm lens. It was a nice experience to be able to take images of sites and subjects that I could not shoot with my usual gear. So, for a couple of trips, the 28-300 is a good tool for making different images than usual.

About the quality of this lens, well, I didn’t expect of course to get the 100% of D800E’s sensor, but for its purpose, I consider it to be a decent lens. After all, the compromises of a lens like this, are known to everyone. A decent one lens setup, but of course it lacks the quality of a good zoom or prime. Furthermore, the slow aperture really is something that frustrates me, I am used in shooting faster lenses.

As a general conclusion, if I used a DSLR in my travels and didn’t need the high IQ, I would definitely pack this lens together with the 35mm f/2 or 50mm f/1.4 and enjoy my trip.

(c)2012 Konstantinos Besios. All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to Nikon D800 with Nikon 28-300 lens (and some thoughts on travel gear)

  1. Hoeras says:

    I like a balanced review like this. I have the same combination and my recommendation for two practical lenses for all round use with D800E is this lens and the 50mm 1.8G – and if you can manage it, cost wise and travel weight wise, add the 16-35mm F4.0 VR. You will have lots of bases covered.

    • kbesios says:

      I totally agree. I can fit my D800e and 28/300 in a medium size bag and I can also add the 50mm f/1.4 and a second battery in the same bag. Very convenient indeed. And although its not supposed to be a pro lens, I have made 40 inches wide prints with this combo and the quality is very good (maybe a little soft in the corners but still looks very good).

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