Galapagos and Jungle--do I need a second body?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by john_watson, Sep 14, 2009.

  1. We are headed for the Galapagos with an extra jungle excursion. I 'll bring a D90 with 70-300 and 18-105, plus a waterproof camera for snorkling and a point and shoot. I also have a Tokina 12-24 ( without motor) which I don't think will be of much value, but will bring along.
    Thom Hogan strongly suggests a back up DSLR body for this trip. His point is that this is an extremely hostile environment for cameras--and they are cheap when compared to cost of trip.
    I would be interested in opinions on:
    1. Whether you agree with Thom or think it is overkill--I am not a professional photographer who must get the assignment.
    2. If you do, what body would be a good compliment to my D90. I would normal opt for a minimal one, but hate to lose compatibility with the 12-24.
    Thanks in advance
  2. A second body is an absolute must unless you are totally indifferent to the possibility of coming back with no photographs.
    A D200 seems an obvious choice of backup as it is well sealed, should be relatively inexpensive, uses DX lenses and takes high quality photographs when used appropriately. I use film as a backup often enough - in fact in some ways film is far superior (resolution for a start).
  3. Try to find a used D2h or x(s) you can sell these with less lost after the trip.
  4. I would definitely get another body. These trips are expensive, and if this is a photo related trip, you'd want as best quality to pull out of them.
    Maybe get another D90? That was you can switch between the two bodies and not get too confused? D200 could be a possibility :)
    Unless you are travelling on foot for a good part of the day, I'd say bring all lenses you got - backup - plus you won't know the photo possibilities till you get there.
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I don't know about the jungle part of the trip, but I wouldn't say the Galapagos is hostile to cameras. It is right on the equator so that it is hot, but that shouldn't be a problem. The main risk is that you might drop your camera onto the hard lava rocks or into the ocean.
    In any case, if photography is important to you, always bring a backup camera. It is hard to predict what type of problem you'll run into.
    As far as a backup for the D90 goes, unless you can afford another D90, I would bring either a D80 or a D50. Those two DSLRs can use the same EN-EL3e batteries and SD memory cards as the D90. Just keep in mind that the D50 is not SD-HC compatible so that you need to use smaller 1G or 2G SD cards on the D50.
    BTW, I would study how to compose the lava formation with the 12-24mm zoom. You can include a lot of foreground with a wide lens and create some nice landscape shots.
  6. Any once-in-a-lifetime trip requires a backup IMO. The backup for my D300 is a D50 body--it can use the non motor lenses. In fact on a recent trip to the Washington Coast I used the D50 more that the D300 because it was lighter and more compact.
  7. I'd say you already are carrying a backup camera: the compact. Sure a second body is nice but a must? For a hobbyist?
    If thre is nature trekking, then carring a second body all the time is not ideal. And it will most likely be warm there, so the less you have the carry, the nicer it gets. After all, it's also a holiday.
    I would first check for a good bag for the D90, something to keep the moist out. The jungle tends to be wet and very humid. In my view, that's the biggest risk you're facing but one that can be handled well enough by good care, in my opinion.
    Unless this holiday is devoted to photography (with courses, guides with the knowledge, things like that), in which case a second body would make sense. But if it is meant as a "normal" holiday, I would keep things simple. At max, reconsider if your compact is as good as you really like and possibly upgrade that one.
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    For those who are not familiar with the Galapagos, it is typically a cruise and you stay on the boat. Therefore, you can leave most of your gear on the boat. There are daily landings and you hike under the equator sun. I think I lost like 10 pounds in 11 days there.
    The 70-300, 18-105 and 12-24 are not that heavy. Someone in reasable shape should be able to hike with them. In my trip I brought three camera bodies but only carried one to the hikes at a time. The tour guides tend to make frequent stops there to lecture about the area, so whenever you have a chance, put the camera bag on the ground.
  9. a second body is a must for this kind of trips. knowing that you'll be bringing a waterproof camera and a point and shoot aside from the D90, you are a serious hobbyist if not a pro as you said, i think you would want a second body. that also minimizes lens changes if you are willing to carry two cameras with lenses mounted on each. if not, nice to know that you have the extra body and lenses to go to if the need arises.
    compatibility of accessories is a factor to consider. i would suggest also the D50 being cheaper than the D80, plus i think better at higher iso. you lose the speed though in manual focusing having only one wheel. but because of the smallish viewfinder you might be always autofocusing anyway.
  10. OK, the "2nd body can stay aboard / one day hikes" argument does change some of what I said :) Well, a lot... a second body does make more sense if you can leave it behind safely.
    In that case, I'd get a D80 as backup:
    - Can also use SDHC (2GB cards in a D90 are somewhat less practical).
    - Body is as good as identical to the D90, same button lay-out; the D50 has a different button layout and is more "menu driven" than the D80/D90. So you should hardly notice switching bodies.
    - ISO800 performance of the D80 is better than D50 (forget about 1600 on both). D50 has a reputation for good high ISO performance, but one should not forget the D80 came a generation later - by which time the D50 was already no longer a "High ISO King".
    - AF of the D80 is much better (same as the D90).
    - The D80 viewfinder is like an open sky compared to the tiny viewtunnel of the D50.
    Also, should you re-sell the 2nd body after the trip, I think D80s are easier to sell.
  11. Do you really need another SLR for a backup?

    Why not get a decent point and shoot for ~$200? Casio makes some great ones. Compact, decent AF, decent resolution. Plus, its something you might use in the future.
  12. Pay me a small fee plus shipping plus work out some assurance you're good for it, and you would have my D70 for the trip. Alternatively, buy a D70 of ebay and resell it after your trip - you couldn't lose that much $$. The suggestions to get a D200 (a better camera than your current one) seem odd.
  13. "The suggestions to get a D200 (a better camera than your current one) seem odd"
    They have a better body but that's about it. Image quality is not as good as a D90. And they cost far less used than a D90. What's odd about that?
  14. You may never need a second body, but I can guarantee that if you do, and don't have one, you'll be most unhappy. I never needed a second camera in the Galapagos, but I did twice in Africa. There are all sorts of possibilities such as shutter failure, theft, and just forgetting to bring it along. Also the possibility of having a second lens immediately available, or film emulsion can justify it.
  15. Why not a D5000, which is almost identical to the D90 in IQ? Its flip out screen makes it easier to frame shots and shoot low lying animals at their eye levels and you can use it to shoot some videos.
    In terms of the lens, if you plan to take the 70-300, do you still need to bring both the 18-105 and the 12-24? I would learn how to frame with a WA lens and bring just the 12-24.
  16. You spend thousands to get to Galapagos. On your first day there you begin taking some of the best photos of your life of the incredible wildlife. You can't believe those are your shots! Second day is even better--you're on a roll! Third day you're set up for what's shaping up to be a stunning ocean sunrise. But then, you trip and fall on some slippery rocks. Your camera goes arcing up in the air, you scream "NO! NO! NO!" It lands with a thud anyway. You pick it up, but some of it stays on the ground! Oh no! It's busted! Now what? You run into the village and ask where the camera store is, and they give you a blank look. You call up B&H on your cell phone and say, "Ship me a camera!" They say they can, but it will take 10 days to get there and the shipping charge is $400. Looks like you'll just have to come back next year to get your shots, huh? When I bought my D300, I figured my D80 was worth less than $500. It's a pretty good camera. It's small, easy to use, and takes same battery as D300. I kept it. If I'm up on an Arctic island, taking photos of musk ox (life long dream) after paying $6,000 for bush plane ride, maybe I'll slip on an icy rock and bust my D300. Without missing a beat I'll pull out my D80, and maybe a spare lens if that got busted too. I'll just keep going, like the Energizer bunny. A small older generation camera like a D80 doesn't cost much, takes all lenses/flash/accessories I already have along, and can save the day when disaster eventually DOES strike. It's cheap camera insurance.
    Kent in SD
  17. When I went to the Galapagos in 1987, I carried two Nikon F cameras most of the time, one with a 28-105 mm zoom and the other with a 300 mm telephoto. This combination worked well for me. It was worth the effort of carrying two bodies to not have to change lenses. The biggest problem I had was that the 300 mm wouldn't focus close enough for many of the animals, which are quite unafraid. We hiked more than most visitors but I didn't find carrying two cameras to be a problem. We stopped frequently to watch animals and take photos. I would recommend a waterproof pack to keep the cameras in while ferrying from the boat to land. I think the 12-24 mm lens would provide some very interesting opportunities. I also took a waterproof point and shoot for snorkeling.
    Last year I used a a similar but updated system (Nikon D80 with 18-200 mm and D300 with 80-400 mm) for a trip to eastern Africa to photograph wildlife. Again I found the two camera approach to work well, especially not having to change lenses in a dusty environment. I also carried a Canon point and shoot in a vest pocket all the time and got a number of shots that I would have otherwise missed.
    I think a D80 would be a good second body for your system.
  18. I agree with Charles. You will have the opportunity to get up close to almost any bird, lizzard, or seal. Longer lenses are good if you are going after fiches but an 18-105 and 78-300 should be perfect. I did not find the environment at all hostile. You are only allowed to walk along the designated trails with your guide. Have a great trip and take a back up body just in case.
    Mark Nanes

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