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Camera Lenses

Toronto, Canada
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42 posts
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Camera Lenses

In preparation for my trip to the Galapagos Islands in March, I'm trying to gather up any and all camera equipment I think I might need. I've thoroughly read through the FAQ photography tips at the side - there's some great advice in there.

However, I'd like to know if my current camera lenses will be enough:

18-200mm zoom

10-20mm wide angle

50mm prime

Between my husband and I we'll have 2 DSLR's, and we'd like to avoid changing lenses (we likely won't use the 50mm).

I'm considering splurging on a 70-300mm, but before I do I'd like to know if what I have is sufficient. Any extra tips would be greatly appreciated - thank you!

Quito
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532 posts
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1. Re: Camera Lenses

Hello Speegee,

I believe with the lenses you have, you will get very good pics!

The widlife in the Galapagos is very unafraid of humans so you will be able to be quite close to get very good photos. In some events, where you can not get too close to them the 18-200mm zoom will do it.

I was there with a 70-300 and it was quite good to take photos of very detailed things, however the lenses you have I believe will do!

Hope this information is useful!

Fernanda

Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: Camera Lenses

Hi Speegee,

I agree with the above poster. I brought my DSLR with only my main walkaround lens (Sigma 17-70mm) and it was plenty. We also had a point & shoot Olympus that could go underwater. You can get so close to most of the animals and birds that something with more reach than a 200mm wouldn't really be necessary in my opinion. Here are some of our pictures on Flickr, so you can see which cameras we were using & when. http://goo.gl/RSXDl I even ended up using my iPhone quite often because I was interested in the GPS tagging on the photos. If I could have brought something else, though - it might have been something to get better pics underwater. What we were able to capture barely scratches the surface of what we saw while snorkeling. Do keep in mind that if you're doing a boat tour that some of the island landings are straight onto the beach where you'll be jumping out of a boat & into knee high water. With too much equipment, that could be an issue. Enjoy your trip!

Dan

Bristol, United...
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850 posts
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3. Re: Camera Lenses

It depends a lot on how into photography you are. You can certainly get a lot of good shots with what you have but in my opinion you need at least a little longer to get best shot selection and record some of the smaller less tame species. You can't stray from the paths so you have to zoom with the lens and not your feet.

In terms of image quality, the 70-300 is likely to be better than the 18-200 simply because there are more compromises needed to produce a wide angle to telephoto zoom. If you never make large poster prints then you may not notice so much. You have the wide angle covered by the 10-20 and I don't think you will miss the 20-70 range.

Just to show what you can do with a long lens in Galapagos, there are some with my 800mm at www.dpphotoimages.com

Dave Peters

DP Software

Toronto, Canada
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42 posts
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4. Re: Camera Lenses

Thank you everyone for your replies. You've given me some good advice to think about...

(and shared some good photos to boot!)

New York
Destination Expert
for Travel Gadgets and Gear
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1,501 posts
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5. Re: Camera Lenses

One other thing to consider and I can't tell from your post. If you are each using a DSLR then you are each likely to want to be using a zoom most of the time, although there are plenty of opportunities for the wide angle lens. So if you only have one 18-200 then I would buy the additional zoom so you can each use one.

Boston, MA
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275 posts
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6. Re: Camera Lenses

DS - Your photo captions have made me laugh out loud at least 10 times.

Inter species slumber!?!?!?! GENIUS!

If I had a bunch of money I'd pay you to come with me to take funny photos.

SC
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9 posts
56 reviews
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7. Re: Camera Lenses

I am doing a National Geographic photo expedtion on Feb 4. I am a semi-professional photographer. From what I have read, you will want at least a wide angle for landscape and a long zoom lens. Even though you can get close to the animals, they may not do the behaviors right under your nose. Also, you may need the longer reach for elusive birds. And leave the flash at home as it is banned on the islands.

Here is what I am bringing (Canon): EOS 40D (backup camera should something happen), EOS 7D (main camera), Tamron 18-270 lens, Canon 100 macro and Canon 100-400 lens (many others recommend the 70-200). Also, G11 camera for pocket use and underwater (also a housing for it as you will want a camera underwater).

Polarizer filters (needed for looking "into and under" the water) and lens hoods for each lens, a rain cover (Think Tank-do bring something to protect your camera as we are in a La Nina-more wind, rain predicted. Also can be used to protect camera from spray on the pangas), Kodak Sport video camera that can go underwater, Dry sac to protect gear while on the pangas, Trek Pod (mono pod/tripod/hiking stick), photo vest (in case my photo bag gets weighed, then I can shove gear into the vest as you are allowed only so much weight in your carry on and checked bags-do keep your photo gear in your carry on!). For storage, portable hard drive, Epson portable viewer/storage device, lots of memory cards 4 GB+ as they will fill up and can fail, chargers, extra batteries, cables....I think that's it. Sounds like a lot, but you won't be able to buy anything or get anything fixed should it break. I am leaving the laptop at home due to space and weight. I am bringing some cd roms too as the ship has computers and a kiosk to back up photos.

I debated what all to bring and after lots of research, this is what I have settled on lugging. It all fits into Think Tank's Airstream roller bag with room for a laptop, a Kindle, iPod, etc. In my checked bag I have a Lowepro hip pack to lug the extra lenses, filter, and batteries on the island. It has a rain cover to keep it dry.

Bristol, United...
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850 posts
11 reviews
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8. Re: Camera Lenses

You have some good advice there. Just a couple of points to consider:

Flash is allowed on the boats where it can be useful as fill flash for portraits against the sunset. Also its allowed in towns and most cruises go to Puerto Ayora at some point. So you might want to take it along but leave it on the boat most days. If you have underwater flash then you can also use that anywhere - try to get it off camera to avoid backscatter.

That thinktank bag looks nice but at nearly 5kg weight if it gets weighed you will almost have to empty it to be within the allowance. Having said that, so far I have not had my carry-on weighed on a flight to Galapagos - only on internal flights between islands.

Dave Peters

DP Software

SC
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9 posts
56 reviews
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9. Re: Camera Lenses

Thanks Dave. I did consider those points. Because of weight and space, I opted to leave the flash at home. Not sure I really want to be attached to my camera 24/7, but I will have the G11 to carry around on board and in ton (plus leaves my dslr to charge). As for flash, though not ideal, the on camera one will be fine for fun shots (plus I have a diffuser).

I worried about the weight of the airstream, but will take a chance. From what I've read, no one has had their carry-on weighed (watch me be the one)! I chose that bag as it should fit under a seat easily and rolls. Debated between it and a rolling backpack, but those were heavier and larger.

I'll let you know how it goes when I get back!

Toronto
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154 posts
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10. Re: Camera Lenses

Dear Speegee: I have a few suggestions from my 2 visits to the Galapagos:

(1) take an underwater point and shoot (we took the Olympus but consider the new Canon if you buying one). Much of the action takes place while snorkeling. In my opinion it's better to have a underwater camera as the back-up rather than 2 land only cameras. Of course all 3 would be ideal.I took a bunch of lens and my 28 to 105 and the 70 to 300 were used the most. In retrospect I could have left the 50mm and the 400 mm behind.

(2) remember that the light is extremely bright and that the contrast is also very very high - you'll often be shooting gray iguanas on black volcanic rock. My solution was lots of bracketing.

(3) you should remember to take polarizing filters for every lens.

(4) take lots of memory and have a way to download the images at night - while no one on either of my trips got their cameras soaked (and lost images) it is possible when transferring back and forth to the pangas.

(5) unless you're on a photographers tour a tripod is a waste of energy - remember that you're often shooting from 9:30 to 4:30/5:00 at the equator so light (and decent shutter speeds) is not generally a problem. A monopod worked well for me.

(6) While it's a bit dated read the article "Shooting the Boobies" at http://www.bythom.com/Galapagos.htm - lots of great advice.

(7) Try to keep your camera ready all the time - we witnessed a mass feeding by blue-footed boobies (thousands fishing by dive-bombing simultaneously ) which lasted less than 2 minutes from start to finish.

Have a great trip and e-mail me if you have further questions. Bill.