Looking forward to a photo tour of Yosemite in three weeks, I am questioning whether my 24-70 will suffice at 24mm for wide angle vista shots or whether the purchase of a new 16-35 f4.0 would be more suitable. The 24-70 goes on the trip regardless. Grateful for your opinions about this quandry.
I have done lots of Alberta mountain trips with both the 24-70 and 16-35 along for the ride and rarely dug for the 16-35 from the bag.
However, last fall shooting some HDR with sun in the frame on my 24-70 I experienced quite a bit of flare on the +1 and +2 shots. After seeking some advice here, I was advised the 16-35 has better flare performance. So I have given my 16-35 more work since then.
Over the course of 14 trips to Yosemite, almost 20% of my frames have been shot at FOV wider than 24mm equivalent. That includes the Sigma 12-24 on FX, the Sigma 10-20 on DX, and various fisheyes. I've only used lenses longer than about 130mm in relatively rare conditions; indeed it's almost nil if we exclude birds.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!
Since you list the D300 as your camera in your equipment profile, I would suggest wider than 24mm for your wide angle. The 24-70 is fine for everything but the wide vistas that Yosemite provides in aboundance. The valley floor is not that big so to get some of the key features fully in a single frame while not being too far from them will require wide. A 10-24 Nikon or 10-20 would certainly give you wide on DX. I have not been there for years, too crowded for me, I prefer the back-country, so I have not shot it with anything but film where 24 was wide enough. Stan St Petersburg Russia
Never been there but as a keen rock climber, Yosemite is legendary for its massive rockfaces and deep valleys. I would have to have something wider than 24mm if I ever went there. 24mm and longer is for scenes that you can see out in front of you. 16-35VR will be a better choice for those locations where you feel as if you are immersed inside the scene you are shooting. I used a sigma 10-20 on D300 for a long time and it was great for this type of scene. 16-35 is the FX equivalent in terms of FoV.
Ultra wide lenses can be dramatic at cliff edges (and halfway up), in amongst big trees, under expansive skies......
I'm not sure if your equipment profile is up to date or not, but on the last trip I made to Yosemite, I used a D3 with a 17-35mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm and a 300mm 4.0. The 17-35mm and 24-70m were used for about 35% of the shots each, the 70-200mm about 25% and the 300mm was used for 5% (but it was a good 5% ). Those numbers were similar in both my total numbers, as well as "keepers". If it were me, I'd definitely want a 16-35mm.
If you're still using the D300 in your profile, I'd want a 10-24mm or a 12-24mm.
BTW, wide-angle vista shots usually don't work. What works is getting tight into a foreground with good supporting middle and background elements. That's where a 16-35mm really works.
For images of Tunnel View (El Capitan, Half Dome & Bridlevale Falls) you're going to be around 35mm full frame. For individual images of El Capitan you're goiing to be as wide as you can get. To expose Half Dome from the bridge you'll want to bring a telephoto lens and the same will probably apply to distance wxposires of Yosemite Falls and Bridlevale Falls.
I'd recommend a complement of lenses ranging from 16mm to 200mm.
I'll echo Rick's suggestions to some extent - I routinely take a 70-200 and 1.4TC with an FX camera when visiting Yosemite - or, truthfully, almost anywhere. Just because the valley seems to be big, huge, and contain a lot of beautiful things doesn't mean that your images need try to capture it all at once. It's not always how much you capture, but what you capture. Having too many things in the image can be a distraction, causing the viewer's eye to wander all over the frame. Caveat - I tend to be a minimalist, whether at Yosemite or anywhere else, and I take wider shots as well for variety.
Don't forget the details - ice, waterfalls, a few rocks or a fallen tree along the Merced River, using a longer focal length to compress a scene, etc.
Here's an example. Upper Yosemite Falls in winter. FX camera, 70-200 at 200mm with a 1.4TC, and cropped some more. Imagine the flow due to snowmelt in the spring. Check the snowpack, temperatures for the last week, etc. And by all means, talk to the rangers. They have a ton of both long and short term knowledge in their heads.
Your responses are much appreciated and helpful. I neglected to point out that I now use an FX D800. Putting that correction together with the majority of your responses suggests to me that the 16-35mm would be a wise move for the Yosemite trip. Do you agree?