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| p.1 #1 · Appreciate your advice on selecting lenses for an Africa / Europe trip |
I'm planning an Africa and Europe trip for mid-year and looking at taking the new D800 with me, along with my P&S w/underwater housing for when I go shark diving. I'll be driving the garden route in South Africa, visiting Victoria Falls and spending a week on safari in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia before flying to London and the continent for two weeks.
I'll be taking a set of 100mm Lee Filter Grad and ND filters, so would like to be able to use them on the lenses, which rules out the Nikon 14-24mm lens (as it requires the Lee 150mm filter set).
My challenge is deciding which lenses to take with me.
I've got a Gitzo 2541 monopod, wimberley sidekick and beanbag for support. May take a joby gorillapod for long panoramic exposures on the wideangle lens (or securely tie my monopod to a fence), esp at Vic Falls. I've been advised by the safari operator that there is no point taking a tripod on the safari and the luggage restrictions on the flights to/from SLNP make weight savings a priority. Given my flight schedules, there is no option to securely leave it at one airport and pick it up again later - unless I'm willing to leave it unsecured at Lusaka Airport for a week (ie have it stolen).
Whilst in Africa, I'll be taking a mixture of animal safari shots and landscapes, with long exposures at Vic Falls too. In Europe, shots of relatives, street shots and some landscapes.
One lens path I considered was all zooms (let's call it path 1):
1a) Nikon 17-35 f2.8
1b) Nikon 24-70 f2.8G
1c) Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VR II
1d) Sigma 50-500 OS
Cost: about $7200 and total lens weight: 5.15kg
If I were to drop 1c) as it overlaps with 1d), this would come down to $4800 and 3.6kg, but arguably it would result in a (significant) loss of image quality beyond 70mm.
An alternate path is a mix of zooms with primes (let's call it path 2):
2a) Nikon 16-35 f4
2b) Nikon 50 f1.8G
2c) Sigma 85 f1.4
2d) Sigma 120-300 f2.8 OS + Nikon 2x Teleconverter
Cost: about $6000 and total lens weight: 4.9kg. Could add a 105mm macro lens with the savings.
As I see it, Path 1 covers all focal distances up to 500mm, which I'm told is the minimum length by the safari operator that I'll need. Path has the higher image quality at wide angles, but lower image quality on the long zoom than Path 2.
Path 2 sacrifices a little on the wideange and requires me to zoom with my feet between 35mm and 120mm, but has better image quality with the primes and from 120mm onwards. It also goes up to 600mm at f5.6. Path 2 is also $1200 cheaper and slightly lighter in total weight.
I'd appreciate your collective wisdom as to whether either of these Paths is a good idea, or if there is another path that you'd suggest (with a total lens budget of $6-7k). I also hope to make use of the lenses upon returning home, so general useability is also a factor.