Minimalist DSLR Gear

I recently had the fantastic opportunity to go to the Powder Mill Fish Hatcher in New Durham, NH with my son on a class field trip.  Recently becoming owner of a new Nikon 24-70 f2.8 you would think the decision would be slam dunk to bring that along.  Did I end up taking the right lens?

Fish in Alevin Stage
Looking at Fish in the Alevin Stage of Development (D40 18-200 VRI @ 24mm)

The 24-70 is an amazing lens and its as good as everyone says it is.  Heading into the field trip I wanted something lighter and I thought the the range would limit me too much.  I opted instead for my D40 and 18-200 VR-I superzoom, which has been a great combination.  If you remember from a different post, I mentioned how I don’t like the 18-200 on my D90, but love it on my D40.  Some cameras and lenses just work well together.  And yes, I’m still using a D40.

Bear Claw Fishing Pole Holder
Bear Claw Fishing Pole Holder in Visitor Area (D40 18-200 VRI @ 36mm)

BTW for all you equipment hounds.  What did I bring with me?  The D40 and an 18-200 VR-I with a camera strap.  Nothing else, not even a bag or an extra battery.  In the end the one thing I should have brought was a Circular Polarizer and had I thought about it, I should have known since I knew I would be shooting water.  Now before you get all wild on me, had I been taking pictures for someone else and under some sort of obligation, I would have had a full camera bag with my D90 and 24-70 in the trunk of my car as a backup even if I wanted to shoot my D40.

Fish in Pond at Hatchery
Show Fish Ponds at Hatchery (D40 18-200 VRI @ 18mm)

I had a great field trip and took a bunch of pictures.  When I came home and processed them they turned out fairly decent, though the light was very hard and I had issues with that. The photos are posted on my photo site, though those photos are password protected since they are not all of my own kid. One of the things I love about Zenfolio is the ability easily manage access controls.

While writing this article I decided to take a look at the EXIF from the photos that I decided to keep. Did I take the right lens?  Like everything in life, yes and no. I could have totally gotten away with the 24-70 and it would have been fine and the photos would have been even better, however I would have lost a little of the short end and that was 50% of the photos I kept.  Did I need the 70-200 range? Nope. What I really needed to bring was a 17-55 f2.8, which I don’t own since I’m only buying FX compatible lenses now.  Here is the breakdown of EXIF focal lengths of the photos that were keepers:

18-24mm = 35
24-55mm = 29
55-70mm = 4
70-200 = 2

As you can see if I had a 17-55mm I would have covered 92% of my photos.  The 24-70 would have given me 47% of my photos.  What really surprised me is that I thought there would be more than 6 keepers over 55mm, and I didn’t expect 50% to be under 24mm.  If I had only had the 24-70 mounted I would have made due and it probably would not have been that bad, but still a total surprise.

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