I am taking a trip to New York city next week. I would be visiting the usual tourist places - Statue of Liberty, Top of the Rock, One World Observatory, Brooklyn Bridge etc. I am also planning to take the hop on hop off bus and ferry tours. I am also taking a one day tour from NYC to Washington DC where we are visiting the Washington monument, Lincoln Memorial and White House.

I currently own the Nikon D7100 with 18-140mm kit lens and 35mm 1.8 DX prime lens.

Since I will be walking around the city the whole day, I want to carry only the 35mm prime which is a 50mm equivalent on full frame. Is this a good idea, or should I take my zoom lens?

I am not a pro. I don't expect to take stunning wide angle shots. Will my 35mm DX be able to reasonably cover the usual tourist attractions?

Also, has anyone tried to visit NYC with only a 50mm (full frame equivalent) and was not disappointed?

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    Cartier-Bresson did his whole career with just a 50mm lens. You should be fine with just one lens for a few days. If you want some pictures of the touristic places, there are thousands great pictures of them on the internet. Enjoy your trip! – Eric Duminil Apr 23 '18 at 10:57
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    @EricDuminil, not true. if you state it in this way. HCB also used other focal lengths, for example ~85mm. – Carsten S Apr 23 '18 at 12:34
  • @CarstenS: "Most of his career", then? I think he'd have done just fine in NYC with just one lens. – Eric Duminil Apr 23 '18 at 13:18
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    POB. Some people like to shot it wide, others like to shot it tele. Some like the landscape, others like the detail. There is nothing but opinions here. – Agent_L Apr 23 '18 at 15:05
  • I have the D7100 with 18-105 and a 35mm, and I have gone to those places. Do you plan to also use your phone as the "documenting" snapping device? Do you plan to be taking portrait pictures? Do you want a challenge? do you usually carry your camera around? those are important facts to answer your question. – Agustín Amenabar Apr 23 '18 at 15:52

If you're going to be moving around Manhattan all day, you'll probably want to bring some sort of bag with you to carry things like a light jacket (it can get chilly in the shade, or on the water, and certainly in the evening), a bottle of water, a map, a guide book, things you might buy along the way, etc. I'd recommend a backpack, but one that doesn't scream "camera bag!" If it's a little beat up, so much the better. Having a bag with you will give you a place to stash your camera when you want to blend in a bit better, like when taking busses or the subway, when when you want it out of the way, perhaps when you're in a restaurant.

Now, you certainly don't need to drag a big kit full of photo gear around the city with you, but you do want to have some flexibility. I'd recommend taking your zoom lens if you're only taking one lens. There are lots of interesting things in NYC that you simply can't get very close to: the ground, from tops of tall buildings; the tops of buildings from the ground; the Statue of Liberty from almost anywhere; etc. And there are also some great big things that you can't far enough away from to get in a single frame at 35mm: various façades; the craziness of Times Square; and the grandeur of the Brooklyn Bridge to name a few. Your 18-140mm zoom will give you a lot more options than will a single prime lens at any focal length.

But your 35mm lens probably weighs less than half a pound. Since you'll have a bag with you anyway, just toss your extra lens in there with the other things you'll need. If you're concerned about protection, buy a padded lens pouch big enough to hold either of your lenses. If you don't have time to get one before your trip, you can pick one up at B&H or any of the many camera stores in the city.


(Personal opinion)

It depends on you.

The big advantage of the zoom lens is... you can zoom. With it you can make shots from all places without having to move so much. Lady Liberty - zoom - click - done

Using a 35mm prime forces you to zoom with your feet, move yourself through NYC in order to get the best shot. Lady Liberty - hey, she doesn't fill the frame as I like - let's go to another spot - click - done

A prime lens somehow forces you to rethink how you take photos of tourist attractions. But you may end up making better photos, because you have to take a different perspective as when you're using a zoom lens.

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    "zoom with your feet" frequently isn't possible for any number of reasons, especially in a space-constrained place like Manhattan, and it's really effective only when the distance to the subject is relatively small. – Caleb Apr 23 '18 at 6:55
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    Being able to zoom is the only advantage of zoom lenses. – Eric Duminil Apr 23 '18 at 12:35
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    zooming is not the same as moving closer, anyone who actually has done the experiment knows the difference. You get quite different results. – Agustín Amenabar Apr 23 '18 at 15:53

I'd take the 18-140mm for daylight and the prime for nighttime. A 50mm eqivalent is quite narrow in such an environment. However you could use the panorama function to capture more if necessary.

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