Every segment of photography has its own ideal equipment criteria, and every photographer creates his own niche criteria within these segments to fulfill the needs of his own style. My own place in this broad spectrum is in part that nearly all of my photography is done during multi-day backpacking/mountaineering trips where weight is an important consideration. Common quality concerns like edge to edge sharpness are important for any lens used for any purpose, but beyond quality, there are features and focal lengths. As Iíve puzzled and searched for my ideal lens kit for these trips, itís become clear to me that my ideal kit simply doesnít appear to be available. I shoot a D800, but this topic isnít brand specific. To cut to the chase, here is my current idea of what that ideal kit would be and a few thoughts about why I would choose each lens:
ē 24mm f3.5 Tilt Shift Ė The vertical distortion inherent in wide angle lenses can of course be digitally corrected, but only at the expense of altering the framing of the image. You sometimes end up discovering that the image is not what you thought you had captured. Shift is invaluable at wide angles in part for this reason. This lens is available of course, but the mechanical limitations of the Nikon have me curious about the quality of the new Samyang offering due out in a month or so.
ē 35-105mm f4 - Carrying a larger number of prime lenses rather than one or two zooms would be too bulky and heavy, so I have always looked for the best zooms I could find. Most high quality zooms stay at or below 3x magnification to reduce inherent design compromises and the pro 24-70 and 70-200 zooms commonly offered fall into this category. However, it would be redundantly inefficient in terms of weight carried to have both a 24mm Tilt Shift and a 24-70 zoom. The ideal choice from my standpoint would be a similarly very sharp, pro level 3x zoom with the lower end starting at 35mm. I donít need f2.8; neither am I personally very concerned with bokeh. Given equivalent sharpness across the entire image, weight trumps speed for me. This focal length zoom was once common, but seems no longer to be offered.
ē 100-300mm f5.6 Ė I was intrigued by the new Nikon patent for a 100-300 f4, but again, weight trumps speed, and f4 in this lens would be too large and too heavy for me. My ideal lens would be a pro level model at f5.6 for this reason. The reach to 300mm is a luxury, but has been useful to me in mountain landscapes. Nikon once made a 100-300mm f5.6 and Iíve read some anecdotally good comments about the quality of that lens, but Iím dubious whether it could hold up to testing on a D800 Ė has anyone done this?
None of this is to slight the very fine lens offerings currently available, or to question the lens kits that anyone else has assembled and found to perfectly fit their own needs. I understand that the desire for a 24mm capability without the high cost of tilt shift makes the 24mm a good starting point for standard zooms. But I do wish the standard offerings werenít quite so monolithic in focal length range.
In the end, I guess Iím wondering if Iím alone in my thinking and the lenses that I wish were available, or whether there are others out there who might agree with what Iíve written here. Thanks.