I decided to go to Italy pretty light this time. I put the Nikon D300 with the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 zoom in my small, unpadded LowePro Terraclime along with the Nikon 12-24mm f/4 and a flash, my SB800. These are the two lenses that I use most frequently by far. This kit is lacking on the long end, but my only lenses longer than the Tamron are the 105mm micro and an older 70-300mm Nikon zoom which never gets used.
As was typical, the Tamron stayed on the camera most of the time. I switched to the wider 12-24 a few times, but if I went out for a walk, it was just the Tamron that went along. I would have been fine on the trip with the one lens alone. It’s fast (f/2.8), sharp (far superior to the Nikon 24-70mm VR), and compact compared to the Nikon equivalent. The build quality is not the same. The lens ring that holds the shade is a bit loose and rattles now, but it doesn’t affect any optics.
When I looked at this image, I thought that it was with the 12-24mm since I put it on to get the wide view of this famous church in Assisi. It’s actually the Tamron at 17mm. I’m now interested in filtering the Aperture library to see whether the 12-24mm actually contributed at all. If not, the 12-24mm stays home next time.
There were times when the 50mm reach of the Tamron wasn’t enough. I would have liked to have a VR long lens to get me to 150mm or so. Certainly something to consider for the next trip and future lens buys. The ability to push ISO up to 1600 without severe comprise in image quality with the D300 is great. In combination with an f/2.8 lens it allows light light shooting and preservation of a handholding shutter speed. I wouldn’t consider bringing a tripod an a trip like this.
The flash never was used. It’s mostly because I was walking and shooting, walking and shooting. If I had a few days just to photograph and not sightsee, I might have used it. I’ll continue to bring it along on these kinds of trips.
My wife had the Nikon P5000 compact. It was her sketch camera and I used it a few times when I didn’t have the SLR and she had the compact in her purse. So it would be inaccurate to say I didn’t bring a compact backup. It captured a few nice images as did the iPhone camera, my ultimate backup for really casual shooting (restaurant dishes, etc). Some compact backup is always necessary. Nice to have someone to carry it and share the trip.