Before heading off on our 2-year around the world adventure I wanted to make sure I had the right camera gear. Choosing the right camera gear for travel is easier said than done. If I had the money I would have splurged on a Leica M9 and a couple of Leica lenses and called it good. Since that wasn’t an option, I had to find the perfect gear that would be lightweight, affordable, and produce sharp, vibrant photos.
After considerable research I purchased a Nikon D7000 DSLR camera with the 18-105mm VR kit lens. Shortly after buying the camera I took it on a trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua where I took some pretty good photos. The camera worked great, but I wasn’t happy with the 18-105 VR lens. The pictures were too soft and the distortion was awful.
After reading every lens review I could find, I decided to buy the highly recommended Nikon 50mm f/1.8D prime lens, aka the “Nifty Fifty.” It was cheap, small, lightweight, and took super sharp photos. Unfortunately, on a DX sensor, the 50mm was like a 75mm telephoto and was too tight for the type of photography I wanted to do. I also found a huge limitation with the lens and found that it was worthless stopped down below f/8.
You can read about the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D problem here
I spent 2 years buying and selling lenses before I finally found the perfect combination to take traveling around the world. And these would be:
- Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR
- Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 SP Di macro
- Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 AF-D
All of these lenses are great, but there is one lens that is on my camera 95% of the time, and that would be the Nikon 18-55 VR. I never thought that I would get such great shots from a cheap, plastic lens as this one.
After reading several reviews stating that the Nikon 18-55 VR was really sharp, I was skeptical. I decided to purchase it anyway and try it out. If I didn’t like it, I could easily sell it for about what I bought it for. The reviews were absolutely correct and this lightweight $200 lens is great. The photos are sharp, the colors pop, the distortion is easily corrected in Lightroom or Capture NX2, and the image stabilization is a huge benefit. And the best part, I can easily carry it on my camera all day long and the weight and size is not a bother. This is truly a great travel lens.
Sample images from our travels using the 18-55 VR lens: