To get the most out of your Nikon D7200 for travel photography you need to pair it with the correct lenses. Choosing the right lenses can be a daunting task, with hundreds on offer. This article aims to down-select the best lenses for the Nikon D7200 for travel photography, providing options for various budgets.
Even in 2023, the Nikon D7200 is an excellent camera for someone who knows their way around a DSLR and is looking to bring their photography to the next level. Especially given the low price point and the features packed into this high-end APC-C camera.
My first camera was the Nikon D3200 which I used intensively for 5 years (60,000+ photos!) before I upgraded to the Nikon D7200 in 2019.
Quite honestly, the image quality of the D3200 matches that of the D7200, which has slightly better low-light performance (with a very small increase in sensor size). The biggest benefit when upgrading was the additional features, which really assisted with getting the shot. For example the increased number of focus points, wheels for shutter speed and aperture control and customisable buttons. However, these only became a benefit when I knew I would know how to use them. This was when I knew it was the right time to upgrade.
If you’re just getting into photography, the best value camera is one which you can learn to use quickly, you can then focus on what matters; composition, lens choice and practice! Buying an expensive camera with many complex features may add confusion if you’re starting and could even put you off altogether.
In 2019 when I purchased my Nikon D7200 I conducted considerable research, and for me, this was the best value camera with the capabilities I required. I considered the newer D7500, however, I couldn’t justify paying more considering the older D7200 has two SD card slots and a higher resolution 24.7Mp sensor vs. 20.9Mp on the D7500. However, the larger pixel area on the D7500 does help in low light, it’s also the same as in the crop sensor flagship Nikon D500.
Overall the Nikon D7200 is still an incredible camera body, and therefore pairing it with the correct lenses is important to get the most from it!
Travel photography lens considerations
Travel photography encompasses many different genres, this brings the need for extreme flexibility.
Usually, to reach the best and most scenic destinations you need to spend time on your feet often walking or hiking, and lugging many heavy and expensive lenses around may not always be feasible. Another consideration is space, with many small/cheap flights having hand luggage space and weight restrictions it may not be possible to take a collection of lenses for every moment. The final factor is time and the environment, both of which can make lens changes a challenge.
Although most people associate landscape photography with a wide-angle lens, personally, I believe landscape shots can be taken with any lens. To give the widest range of composition options a large focal length range is preferred. A superzoom such as the Tamron 16-300mm is a great lens choice, as the relatively narrow aperture of f/3.5-6.3 isn’t an issue for landscapes which are typically shot at f/8-11 to ensure the entire scene is in focus.
A workaround for creating wide-angle shots without a wide-angle lens is to create a panorama of multiple portrait images. These can be assembled automatically in Lightroom using Photo -> Photo merge -> Panorama. An example panorama shot at 16mm using my superzoom is shown below.
Other examples of shots taken at a variety of focal lengths are below, taken in Norway.
The best lenses for wildlife are typically long focal length telephoto prime or zoom lenses. However, these are typically large, heavy and expensive.
For wildlife photography, during travel, a prime lens with a fixed focal length can be restrictive in terms of composition. Regarding telephoto zoom lenses, although they provide flexibility with their focal length range, they’re typically over 2kg, which isn’t ideal for lugging around all day. For example the Nikon 200-500mm f/ 5.6 or Tamron 150-600mm f/ 5.6-6.3, both of which are great lenses but are over 2kg. See further details on telephoto lenses within the Essential camera gear for Antarctica photography post.
A crop sensor camera isn’t only cheaper, but it’s also typically lighter and has a crop factor due to the smaller sensor. For wildlife, this is a significant advantage over full-frame cameras, especially for travel wildlife photography. On Nikon, this equates to a focal length of 1.5x the lens focal length.
For the majority of my wildlife shots, I use my Tamron 16-300mm superzoom, as the reach at 300mm is a very impressive 450mm equivalent on a full frame when considering the crop factor.
A lens like this allows close-up shots which fill the frame such as the Langur Monkey and Cormorant photos below from our trip to India. Note the background blur which makes the subject stand out, made possible by shooting at long 200-300mm focal lengths which aid with lens compression.
Another good option for tame or brave wildlife is the use of a lightweight 35 or 50mm prime lens. This Racoon came right up to us and tried to steal our flip-flops! This made for a great opportunity for a photo using a 35mm lens, shooting wide open at f/1.8 for maximum bokeh. See the best prime lens for the Nikon D7200 for further details on prime lenses.
Cityscape / Architecture
For cityscape and architecture photography lens requirements vary significantly vary depending on the scene. I’ve found having a wide focal range such as with the Tamron 16-300mm gives the flexibility to change compositions quickly without changing lenses. This allows you to focus on picking out interesting compositions. For example, the unique perspective of the iconic Taj Mahal as seen below.
Although I’ve called this section portraits, I’m referring to more environmental shots than headshot-type portraits. These types of shots are normally focused on the subject with a wide aperture to blur the background. These can be achieved with a superzoom lens such as the Tamron 16-300mm, but I also like to travel with a small prime lens such as the Nikon 35 or 50mm f/1.8.
These small and lightweight prime lenses cost very little and weigh less than 200 grams, making them a good choice for travel and a good supplementary lens to a superzoom. A chart containing a comparison of all Nikon prime lenses can be found in this article on prime lenses.
During our helicopter flight in the Dominican Republic, we had limited time, I wanted to get wide-angle shots from inside the helicopter while also getting shots of the scenery below and longer focal lengths. The Tamron 16-300mm lens was an excellent choice, offering this flexibility without losing time changing lenses. The built-in image stabilization allowed for sharp photos even with the fast helicopter movement and vibration.
By using the lowest possible aperture of f/3.5 and a relatively wide focal length of 16mm allowed me to get this shot of Ieva inside the helicopter.
Another opportunity to use my 16-300mm was when we hiked to the Copolia Trail in the Seychelles. Once again using the lowest possible aperture of f/4 at 31mm allowed me to capture both Ieva and the scene behind in the photo below.
As mentioned above, for optimal portrait shots a prime lens is preferred, I have both the Nikon 35mm & 50mm f/1.8, both of which are great lenses. Many of my favourite portraits of Ieva were taken with my 35mm f/1.8, however, since purchasing my 50mm f/1.8 I’ve used this a lot more. The additional reach, especially on a crop helps with lens compression in comparison to the 35mm f/1.8.
Crop sensor coverage options
- Wide angle: Landscape, Seascape & Architecture
- Prime: Portrait, Wildlife (If up close)
- Superzoom: All genres (two options below)
Although I’m recommending three lenses, the 16-300mm superzoom lens stays on my camera the majority of the time as it can be used for all genres of travel photography. The 50mm prime lens can then be taken out if you know you’re going to want to take portraits or be up close and personal with wildlife. The 11-16mm wide angle lens is great to have on hand for wide scenes including landscapes, seascapes or architecture.
|Lens type||Lens Description||Approx |
Cost & Weight
|Super-zoom option 1||Tamron 16-300 mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD||£499 / 0.54kg||Great value ✔|
Wide @ 16mm ✔
f/6.3 @300 ✘
|Tamron 18 – 400 mm f3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD||£699 / 0.71kg||Good value ✔|
f/6.3 @300 ✘
18mm vs. 16mm ✘
|Wide angle||Tokina AT-X PRO 11-16mm F2.8 DXII||£418 / 0.55kg||11mm ✔|
Only 11-16mm focal range ✘
|Prime lens||Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G||£220 / 0.31kg||Only 0.31kg ✔|
Fixed focal length ✘
Summary table: Wide angle, prime & superzoom lens – Crop sensor coverage
|Super zoom||11-16mm f/2.8||50mm f/2.8||16-300mm f/3.5-6.3||Total|
As shown in the table above the cost and weight of the three recommended lenses are reasonable, especially in comparison to the full-frame coverage options shown below.
Full-frame coverage options
Full-frame lenses haven’t been included in the recommendations above as they typically are double the cost and weight of their crop sensor coverage equivalents. This being said they are still preferred by many due to a number of advantages.
For comparison purposes, I’ve included full-frame options below, focusing on the cost and weight to compare to the three lenses above.
If you have the budget then the options below will allow for incredible images. However, It also comes with a significant increase in weight and size, especially when considering the larger/heavier full-frame DLSR camera. The cost is also significantly higher when compared to crop sensor coverage lens options.
However, full-frame lenses are a great investment as they can be used on crop and full-frame camera bodies.
Prime lenses – Full frame coverage
These are some of the best Nikon lenses, especially for low-light situations due to their wide aperture. The 50mm f1/1.8 is my favorite lens for portrait photography, especially with aps-c sensor dx cameras. This is the reason it’s in my recommended lenses given its affordable price. When covering a wide focal range many lenses are needed due to the fixed focal length.
|Nikon Prime:||20mm f/1.8||35mm f/1.8||50mm f/1.8||85mm f/1.8||105mm f/2.8||300mm f/4||Total|
“Holy Trinity” prime f/2.8 zoom lenses – Full frame coverage
The so-called “Holy Trinity” are a collection of high quality lenses and the best choice for those who want to retain performance in low-light conditions while also giving the flexibility of a zoom lens. The 24-70mm f /2.8 is a fairly versatile zoom range, especially on a full-frame sensor camera. The 70-200mm f 2.8 is a great portrait lens and is owned by nearly all professional photographers. But these all come at a significant cost and weight penalty as summarised below.
|Nikon “Holy Trinity”||14-24mm f/2.8||24-70mm f/2.8||70-200mm f/2.8||Total|
In summary, there are three main options to cover all travel photography genres:
- Prime lenses – Full frame coverage
- “Holy Trinity” prime f/2.8 zoom lenses – Full frame coverage
- Wide angle, prime & superzoom lens – Crop sensor coverage
A chart providing a cost and weight-based comparison is shown below:
- Prime lenses – Full frame coverage
- Lowest aperture fast lenses ✔
- Highest possible image quality ✔
- 5 lenses – Many lens changes needed ✘
- High-cost option ✘
- Fixed focal length – Reduced flexibility ✘
- “Holy Trinity” prime f/2.8 zoom lenses – Full-frame sensor coverage
- Low aperture fast lenses ✔
- Variable focal length – Increased flexibility ✘
- 3 lenses – some lens changes needed ✘
- Highest cost & weight option ✘
- Wide angle, prime & superzoom lens – Crop sensor coverage
- Lowest cost & weight option ✔
- The best balance of prime/large focal range lenses ✔
- Least lens changes with highly flexible superzoom ✘
- Crop sensor coverage only ✘
Based on your priorities one of the options above should meet your needs for travel photography, of course, you can mix and match different lenses within the options above based on your preference or photography style.
Although a compromise in terms of image quality and maximum aperture, I’ve found the Tamron 16-300mm to be a game changer in terms of an in-one lens with an affordable price. The low weight enables me to take my camera everywhere I go without being concerned about the weight.