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One Camera, One Lens and One Focal Length for 500 Miles
Oftentimes you'll hear photographers stressing over what gear to bring on a big trip or photography outing. There are a thousand and one "what's in my bag" videos out there. To be honest, I can't stand those videos. I'm amazed at how much gear some photographers lug. To lighten the weight of their bag, if not the complexity, many photographers are moving toward mirrorless cameras. I'm moving in a different direction. I've built up a collection of the Nikon f/1.8G prime lenses. These lenses are a terrific value and provide excellent image quality.
On my Camino de Santiago pilgrimage this fall, I took one camera, the Nikon D800, and one prime lens, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G lens. I took only one extra battery and one extra CF and SD card. This kit was all I needed for a six-week trek. The battery life on the D800 is so good that I never had to recharge batteries, which is a good thing, because I didn't bring a charger. I did not miss one shot on account of only having the one focal length to choose from. I just zoomed with my feet. After all, I was walking five hundred miles, so what was a few more steps to me.
There is a freedom that comes with only having one focal length to choose from. When I head out to the woods to photograph, I usually go with only the 28mm f/1.8G Nikon lens on my D800. The 35mm f/1.8G lens I brought on the Camino is a great travel and street lens. By going with the f/1.8 version of these lenses, I reduce the size and weight of my kit. I know photographers that just have to have the absolute best lens out there, but for me it's a compromise between image quality, price and portability. The fact is, unless you often shoot with your lenses wide open to get a heavily blurred background, you really don't sacrifice any quality with the f/1.8G versions of these lenses as compared with the f/1.4 versions. Other than the 2/3 stop difference in the widest aperture, the main image quality difference between Nikon's f/1.4 and f/1.8 prime lenses is in the bokeh, or the out of focus highlights. Because I rarely shoot wide open, preferring apertures of f/5.6 to f/8, bokeh is not a big deal to me.
Going at photography with more of a minimalist mindset can free you up to be more creative and observant. Rather than viewing each image-making opportunity as a problem to be solved by employing some piece of gear in your bag, why not approach it as an opportunity to say something meaningful with the camera and lens that you have in your hands.
I was thinking of bringing an zoom lens (18-55mm on APS-C canon DSLR) for camino, but I am now leaning towards to bring only 24mm f2.8 pancake lens (38mm - FF equivalent) with my camera after reading this valuable post. Less is more! :)
I have a side question. I prefer not to put an filter for my pancake lens due to small lens size and want to keep it compact. How's the environment of camino (France)? Is it necessary to put an filter to avoid dust/moist?
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