Galapagos -- rangefinder or SLR or...

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by stephen_york|3, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. ... a digital SLR from one of those evil companies.
    Seriously, I have a rangefinder with modern lenses -- 35/2 asph, 50/1.4 asph and 90/2.8 -- and a slr with optics from the 1970's up to 400mm w/ extension tubes for macro. The 70's lenses are good, but the M lenses are clearly better.
    My upcoming trip should involve good light, so I should be able to stop down to the optimum aperture with the R lenses, but my gut is telling me to go with the modern lenses. Part of this is because I've used rangefinders for 15 years and I'm very comfortable with the camera, but I've used the old SLR system for the last two trips. Trip #1 was fine, but trip #2 was a disaster for a variety of reasons.
    Does anybody have any thoughts on what I should do here?
  2. Keep the M handy at all times - with 35 mounted for landscapes - 50 and 90 close by (belt-pouched or something similar)...and keep the SLR (with 400mm mounted) in a backpack - ready for getting up close and personal with the amazing wildlife (birds, seals, iguanas, etc.).
  3. When are you going? If it's soon, go with what you know. I would take both your M and SLR. Don't rush out to buy a new rig that you're unfamiliar with just before a trip.
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    There is plenty of wildlife photography at the Galapagos. While sometimes you can get fairly close to the animals there since they are not quite afraid of humans, it is still a good idea to have longer lenses: 200mm to 400mm.
  5. Good advice. I never considered taking both -- I'm more of the "one or the other" type of person.
    And Luis, I found out on my last trip that what you say is so very true. I went to Churchill, Canada to view the polar bears, and there was perfect light (very rare) and lots of bears, but it was a "perfect storm" of things that went wrong. I left a bag of film at home. One of my mechanical cameras broke, because I loaded the film wrong (your point). I had virtually no experience using telephoto lenses and as a result there were a lot of blurred shots (your point). And one of my lenses malfunctioned. Very disappointing. If I had a DSLR, it all could've been avoided. But I did get a handful of good shots.
    FYI -- I have two months before the trip.
  6. Weight is an issue too. I have a bad back, and don't want to be hiking with too much gear.
  7. Weight is an issue too. I have a bad back, and don't want to be hiking with too much gear.
  8. Take two cameras. Use one; leave the other locked up somewhere. You'll need long lenses.
  9. Galapagos with a Rangefinder? Isn't the idea of a Galapagos trip to take pictures of mostly animals? No way would I consider a rangefinder for that kind of work. SLR all the way - leave the M at home.
  10. Galapagos is unique, because you can get very close to the animals. From what I've read, most shots are taken in the 35mm to 135mm range. And that's all well w/in rangefinder use.
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Galapagos is unique, because you can get very close to the animals. From what I've read, most shots are taken in the 35mm to 135mm range.​
    The Galapagos is unique because the animals are not too afraid of humans. In some situations you can get pretty close. However, in most cases you are supposed to remain on the trails and not walk all over the place. Moreover, frequently the animals are just farther away on a cliff or in a lake that you just can't get too close.
    I have been to the Galapagos once, back in 1995. I used my 80-200 zoom and 300mm/f4 a lot, sometimes with a teleconverter. If I go back, I'll take my 200-400mm zoom.
  12. Actually, you're right. I've read plenty of both accounts. There are folks that say all you need is up to a short telephoto and then accounts like yours who say that you do need long telephoto also. Very confusing.
  13. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Stephen, some people need no more than a point and shoot at the Galapagos, and they too are happy with the images they get.
    If you don't have a strong back, I wouldn't recommend carrying a 200-400mm/f4 with you, but something like a 300mm/f4 or 70-300mm/f4-5.6 could be very useful. You can indeed bring no more than a 135mm lens on your M; you simply skip all photo ops when the animals are farther away.
    It all boils down to what type of results you want to achieve and how much equipment you can carry.
  14. I guess that is sort of the issue with which I'm struggling: Do I opt for the Leica M stuff, limiting my flexibility, but gaining better optics, or do I just stick with the old circa 70's R stuff, or do I sell it all and go digital. I know there's probably no right or wrong answer, and it's very individualistic, but it helps to hear what other think.
  15. I'm not sure that the "better" optics of the Leicas will show up in your photos, unless you are using a tripod.
    Seems to me that an SLR with a longer stabilized lens, and a decent zoom would be the way to go.
    If I had to carry only two lenses with my Canon DSLR, they would be the 28-135 IS and the 300 f/4L IS.
  16. I'd recommend bringing a monopod that can double as a walking stick. I also agree that a long lens can certainly come in handy for closeups of Frigate Birds and Land Iguanas. A 70-200 (or about) is good for bringing in Sally Lightfoot crabs. It is probably the most useful zoom to have there, without being too heavy. If you intend to snorkel take a waterproof camera. Bring some sort of protection for your camera gear when in the zodiac boats.
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I know there's probably no right or wrong answer, and it's very individualistic, but it helps to hear what other think.​
    Stephen, this is precisely your individual decision.
    FWIW, if I were going to the Galapagos again and cannot carry a lot of equipment because of weight, I would get either a Canon or Nikon APS-C-format DSLR with a 70-300mm/f5.6 type lens to cover wildlife and then another 1 or 2 shorter lenses to cover some landscape, etc. Any 70-300mm/f5.6 lens is not going to be the greatest, but they are fairly light and compact. The Galapagos is right on the equator so that you should have plenty of sun light.
    However, if digital is new to you, you need to think about post-processing as well as image storage during the trip. The good thing is that memory cards are dirt cheap nowadays. If you indeed go down that route, I would get a DSLR now because you'll need another month or two to get familiar with it.
  18. The reason the first settlers named those bird boobies is because they could walk right up to them and hit them on the head for dinner. No predators, no fear. For some strange reason, snorkling I found that the fish showed no fear either. You could swim right into the middle of a small school of fish and they would not swim away as they do everywhere else I've been. You could join the school for as long as you could stay under. We were there last April. With great luck because that is the mating season. Highly recommended time to visit. Animals all over the place. Back to the blue or red footed boobie or whichever it was. Sitting on the open ground with an egg under its foot. You could walk right up and take the egg if you wanted to! More importantly, you could even use a wide angle lens, or let's say 28-50mm anyway. I used a Leica M8 with 35mm Lux (a la 50mm perspective) and sometimes a 28mm. With another strap over my neck I had a Panasonic G1 with the 45-200 a la 90-400mm zoom lens. One in each hand, both light enough to carry at once. I also ended up using a 50mm rigid cron on the G1 a la 100mm lens, which seemed to be enough most of the time. Everyone forgets how high the resolution is from the Leica lenses. You can easily crop to get close-ups of many animals. So, the suggestion to use the RF most of the time with the zoom lens//camera in a backpack in reserve is a good idea. I clue what it would be like in July (our other option), though they said that was when the whales come (hence, longer lens). Check with your tour guide about what will be there when you arrive. Oh Yeah. Unbelievable experience. Anyone who goes is lucky indeed. If your into photogaphy, you're in heaven with the birds.
  19. When I was there I almost exclusively used a 5d2 with a 70-200 2.8. I was told you don't need a long lens there ( glad I did not listen ) The 70-200 almost never came off ( I also took a 24-105). I don't know who said you can just use a 35mm lens, I would have been lost with just that but many times you can walk right up. the turtles, lizards etc. but the birds are not always so close and the reach came in handy. I could have used more reach actually.

    With that being said, make sure you enjoy the trip, some of it is grueling as it gets hot, if you have a bad back take as much as you can be comfortable with, the experience is simply amazing and no photo will ever match living it.

    1 important thing, if you are planning on going in the water ( I highly recommend you do ) I also took an underwater p/s which proved to be the most fun. I shot sea lions, sharks, even a small octopus. The water there is amazing and filled with all kinds of life. Its an amazing place.
    Here are some shots I took while in Galapagos.
  20. I am heading off for Galapogas in May next year. I too am diciding which lenses to take. I have a Canon 70-200f4L and 100-400L. I think I will opt for the 70-200 with the 1.4 extender. I am trying to keep the weight down. On the wide side I may take my 16-35 but I am seriously considering buying the new 15-85. In addition I have a G10 which takes great pictures at the wide end.
  21. Stephen,
    Take as much reach as you can get. It enables you to picture spectacular close-ups.
    Don't forget to watch all of it with the naked eye too (without a lens ;-) ), it's great over there.
  22. Salgado was a Leica man his whole life, and with Genesis he now shoots the Canons. Check out his Galapagos work before your trip. Tommy, thanks for a look at some terrific photos!

Share This Page