I’m headed into Yellowstone NP for a week, and yet again I find myself wondering what lenses to bring. I know this trip is packed with wildlife, so the easiest decision is to bring my 200-400mm with 1.4x. Next up I will need a middle telephoto, so that will be my 70-200mm F4 (amazing lens! review coming after Yellowstone). For wide angle I will bring my 24-70mm F2.8. I’m already at 4 lenses, but at this point I will only have my 24-70 and 70-200mm in my pack, not much at all (200-400 stays in the snow coach unless wildlife is nearby). And the last lens I will bring, my 50mm 1.8.
This might surprise some folks. Why bring this ‘standard lens?’ Nothing exciting about it, just a plain old 50mm, not even the latest version. First, this lens gives me a backup if my 24-70 goes down. I’ve never had a problem with my trusty (beefy) 24-70mm, the lens takes a beating and keeps on producing exceptional quality images (I use my 24-120mm F4 for travel shoots…has VR, wider range and weighs less). Second, this lens weighs next to nothing, and is tiny. It literally disappears in my photo backpack. Third, the 50mm has traditionally been a very sharp lens. Numerous versions of the Nikon 50mm have come out through the years, and they all have excellent sharpness. Fourth, this lens costs just over a hundred dollars (the newest version is more). If it breaks or gets stolen, it is not the end of the world. And finally, sometimes is it very liberating to walk through a market using just your 50mm lens. Remember classic journalism shooting with fixed 35mm, 50mm and 85mm lenses? For those reasons my 50mm travels with me everywhere I go.