Traveling with serious gear: D800E De-Light Travel package.

Traveling with serious gear: D800E De-Light Travel package.

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First shot from my trip to Big Bend, shot with the Nikon D800E and the 24-120mm f3.5-5.6 G ED VR

You are probably wondering what happened to my beloved Fuji gear and the GR. I won’t beat around the bush (pun intended), pro quality video was the main reason I picked the D800E over any mirrorless I currently own (not counting my Sony FS cams).
more after the break

Update: Great deal on the D600 here at BH.
slightly different view, shot with the Nikkor 300mm f4 ED.

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I much prefer mirrorless cameras for video shoots as the advantages are obvious, built in EVF’s or external EVF options, some even offer usable af. Although not a fan of non-articulated LCD and loupe combo, the D800E delivers incredible video footage. Fuji’s and Ricoh’s video implementation is just pathetic. This doesn’t apply to Sony’s Nex line and the fantastic RX100II, however, I really needed more options (then the RX100II) and my Nex’s have been replaced with Fuji’s-for now ;) I admit, the added resolution from the D800E was a plus for landscape shooting and in the end I am glad I went with my Nikon gear.


shot above: Nikkor 300mm f4


image above: 24-120mm f3.5-5.6


image above: 14mm f2.8


Image above: 24-120mm f3.5-5.6


image above: 24-120mm f3.5-5.6

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image above: 24-120mm f3.5-5.6


shot above: Nikkor 24-120mm f3.5-5.6

Would I have taken the Fuji X-E1 and a bunch of lenses if it could produce top quality video? Most likely.
The D800E turned out to be extremely versatile even though I left some of my best glass at home to keep the backpack at a reasonable weight. Below is the list of my D800 “travel light”.
D800E body
Nikkor 50mm 1.4 D
Rokinon 14mm f2.8
Nikkor 300mm f4 ED
Nikkor 24 120mm f3.5-5.6 ID VR
total of 5 batteries
Zacuto Z finder
a set of automatic Vello macro extension tubes (full af)
Sirui carbon fiber Tripod 1205 with Manfrotto fluid head
Various ND, faders and CP.
Lowepro DSLR Video Fastpack 350 AW
The Rokinon 14mm f2.8 delivered mind blowing resolution and was a joy to use. A serious alternative if you don’t shoot with extreme wide angle lenses on a regular basis and can’t justify spending $$$ on the Nikkor 14-24mm, as a bonus it is quite a bit smaller and lighter. I intended to use the 24-120mm f3.5-5.6 for video only, however, I also ended up using it for photos quite a bit. Don’t expect a miracle from this lens – keep it at the optimum aperture (f6.3) and it delivers, even on the D800E! As a bonus it is quite a bit lighter then the 24-120mm f4 version. I love the Nikkor 50mm 1.4 D and re-discovered the incredible Nikkor 300mm f4, capable of delivering tack sharp results already wide open. I wouldn’t recommend it for sports although I didn’t find af speed unreasonably slow – more than adequate for anything I encountered on this trip. I ordered the Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF for this trip, unfortunately it didn’t make it on time. A few test shots confirmed this teleconverter delivers impressive results on the 300mm (stopped down 1 stop) and as a bonus communicates the correct focal length and aperture values to the camera.
Another positive surprise were the Vello macro tubes, I was a bit worried because of the plastic construction, however, never had any problems and they performed as advertised. To get the most out of a tele photo lens, a sturdy tripod is a must. I have a few Sirui’s and ended up getting the carbon version for this trip. Easy to operate, folds down small, stayed tight and can take some abuse. Definitely a keeper.
I am a big fan of the Lowepro DSLR-Video series, I could fit everything and get to it too.

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4 thoughts on “Traveling with serious gear: D800E De-Light Travel package.

  1. mike.kobal Post author

    Thanks Derek! I was a bit disappointed with the f4 version, the center was sharp wide open, the borders weren’t acceptable until 5.6 and overall, the lens never reached impressive levels. A bad sample, perhaps. Replaced it with the 28-70mm f2.8 ED, which delivers tack sharp images across the full range already wide open.
    One of my fav lenses for studio and fashion work in general. Its a brick, the reason I didn’t take it.

  2. derek

    thanks for sharing this.
    but why do you not use 24-120mm f4G VR?
    I think the new constant f4 VR version is sharper than older variable aperture version.
    the 300f4D looks nice and I might get one too.

    thanks and have a nice trip.