Sunday, March 9, 2008

Trekking Lenses For Nepal

In April, I’ll be in Nepal to trek or run the Annapurna Circuit and I’ve been thinking about reducing the weight of my photographic equipment. Tempted by the lightweight body, I pulled out my old Canon Rebel XT/350D and, yet again, I’m reminded why I can’t go back, so I’ll be bringing my Nikon D300 along, despite the weight.

This will be my seventh trip to Nepal, and I’ve brought along varying amounts of photographic gear each time. Every time I struggle to crest a hill or pass, I always wonder if I’ve got too much gear.

I presently carry 2 lenses as my minimum setup. A Nikkor 12-24mm (485g) and a Sigma 50-150mm (770g). Add the weight of my D300, and my photography gear is just over 2kgs (4 1/2lbs) excluding batteries, filters, charger and cases.

One lens solution:
Nikkor 16-85mm f3.5-5.6 (485g)
This is tempting. I’ll get a nice range of focal lengths that starts at a decent wide angle. This would be my choice if weight were absolutely critical (like if I was mountain climbing).

Two lenses solution:
Nikkor 18-200mm (560g) and Nikkor 10.5mm (305g)
This will save me 390g (almost a pound) over my present two lens setup. In addition, the 18-200mm is perfect for ‘grab shots’. When I travel, it is a big advantage to be able to shoot quickly with whatever lens is on the camera or otherwise lose the shot. Adding the 10.5mm fisheye gives me more options on the short end.

Or I may just tough it out and go with what I’ve got…

Interestingly, the max aperture of the 18-200 exceed the max aperture of the new 16-85mm at equivalent focal lengths:

16-85mm . 18-200mm
16mm: 3.5 . N/A
18mm: 3.8 . 18mm: 3.5
24mm: 4.0 . 24mm: 3.8
35mm: 4.8 . 35mm: 4.2
50mm: 5.3 . 50mm: 4.8
70mm+: 5.6 . 70mm: 5.0
N/A ........... . 100mm 5.3
N/A ........... . 135mm+: 5.6