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Peter Gostelow

Adventure cycling, Photography, Writing

Camera talk

Many people have said nice things about my photographs over the last few years.  Most of them were taken with a Sigma 18-200mm lens, which is a good travel lens, although when compared with those made by Nikon and Canon there is little comparison in clarity and quality. For less than £100 I’ve just ordered a Nikon 50mm 1.8, which for anyone who knows a little about photography, is a great lens. I’m eyeing up one of these and also a D300 for the next trip, which would mean a serious investment in photographic equipment. Perhaps it would be wiser to stick with my current D50 and just replace the lenses, but I’m doubtful it would survive Africa’s roads after being knocked around Asia for a few years.

Nikon-50mm

2 Comments

  1. Hi Peter,

    Some of your photos were absolutely awesome. Although I have a Canon system, here goes my 2c worth.

    First, don’t take Ken Rockwell seriously. He’s a fanatic with very little objective information. I think you should stick to the Sigma lens. Aside from the image stabilization (which you may decide you really need) the Nikon 18-200 doesn’t add much. In terms of image quality they’re quite comparable (check the MTF plots at http://www.photozone.de). They both have a significant amount of barrel distortion at 18mm and both seem to feature a duo cam zoom mechanism (which as you might be aware is not optimal for dust: it gets in between the chambers and a grain of sand can get stuck and make an annoying noise). But overall they are similar. I have one expensive Canon L zoom lens, and for 80% of the uses I find it to have comparable image quality to a much cheaper Canon zoom. So the hype to move to more expensive glass just for the sake of image quality is greatly exaggerated. And to get a little more of image quality you need a lot more money…

    I would personally not take a 50mm f1.8 lens with me. First, I find the field-of-view too narrow on a crop sensor camera (~80 mm), which is of little use. Second, there is the lens swap thing. On the road you’d like to keep the sensor and inside of the camera as clean as possible, which means not swapping lenses that much. And with the 18-200, I’d just stick to keeping that on the camera at all times to avoid getting dust in. On the other hand, the f1.8 would be great for low light and open up many interesting possibilities…

    For cameras the most significant improvement in regards to your D50 has to be the sensor cleaning filter. I did notice in some of your photos the occasional dust on the sensor. I’ve had that too in trips and it’s quite frustrating. The new generation of Nikons should all have the new filter. I would suggest the D90 instead of the D300. It’s aggressively marketed by Nikon and eats on the sales of the D300. According to the DxOMark (check http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/eng/DxOMark-Sensor/(appareil)/D90 and sort by price), it’s better value than the D300 and they even measure better image quality. They also provide HD video, but I doubt if this is worth it for your trip. With likely access to old computers and slow internet, it’ll be hard to upload them. And you probably won’t take enough card space to keep the videos from all the trip with you.

    • Thanks for that information. I have spent a fair few hours reading various reviews. http://www.flickr.com/groups/d80/discuss/72157604309898999/
      The Sigma is a good lens, but images are soft when blown up and the lens is pretty slow. All of these superzooms have barrel distortion. Advantage of D300 is that it is stronger than D90 and has more focus points. Would be nice to have the video camera, although I’m not sure how much I’d use it.

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