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I have what might be a slightly different approach - at least different from what Ben describes.
But first, I actually like his concept of simplicity a great deal, and the 50mm plus wide zoom plus telephoto zoom can cover a lot of ground. When I backpack I often do something like that, though I tend to use all zooms. (I may work with fewer lenses than Ben describes in some of these cases - as few as a single zoom occasionally.)
However, I have own more lenses than that because sometimes that isn't the ideal setup for certain situations or subjects. What I tend to do is select various subsets of the whole depending on what I'm shooting, how I'm shooting, and perhaps even practical matters including how much stuff I want to carry.
For example, when I shoot landscape and have access to a vehicle - though much of the shooting will be done while out and about on foot - and will be out long enough that I want to cover all of the bases, I might carry up to four zoom lenses covering 17mm to 400mm. Although I have some primes, in these cases there is very little advantage to using them, so I don't take them. Well, I usually don't take the whole kit, though if I'll be working very close to the vehicle and know I'll be on the road for a long time, I might. Cases in point... I spend the better part of October shooting in Utah last fall. On the first trip I travelled a lot by car and I carried everything with me for two weeks. On the second trip, three of us were jammed in one vehicle and we did a lot of hiking into slots and so forth, so I pared my kit down to three zooms.
But I shoot other subjects, too. I do some street photograph in combination with what might be termed "urban landscape." For this I may go out with as little as a body and a single prime... or I might augment this by carrying a couple additional primes... or I might us a single zoom. It all depends on circumstances, subjects, and how I intend to shoot. I also photograph musicians, often classical musicians and backstage. Since a lot of this is done in low light but close quarters, I frequently work with just a few large aperture primes.
I guess my points might include:
1. What you carry will vary a lot based on what and how you shoot.
2. The right lens(es) for one sort of subject might not be right for another.
3. Even if you have a lot of lenses, it is rare to want to carry all of them.
4. Related to this thread, sometimes you may want zooms and sometimes primes... and sometimes a combination.
5. There is not direct correlation between a preference for either zoom and primes and the quality of the work produced.
(BTW: Ben is certainly not the only landscape/nature photographer using a setup like the one he describes. He is in good company as a number of other quite good and well-known folks shooting such subjects rely on the wide zoom plus the telephoto zoom. One who I shoot with occasionally carries only the 17-40 and the f/4 70-200. Period.)
Edited on Mar 22, 2013 at 04:36 PM · View previous versions