Lenses for Galapagos Islands

Discussion in 'Nature' started by tdigi, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. I was hoping to get some suggestions on lenses/gear. I currently have a 40D with a 10-22, 24-105, 70-200 2.8, 50 1.4 and 100 2.8 macro. I was thinking of probably bringing everything except the 50mm but obviously its a lot to lug. I am considering a hyperzoom or possibly adding a 70-300 since I will get some more reach without having to carry the 70-200 2.8 which is by far my heaviest lens. Or should I just take all my stuff and possibly ad a G10 or something light to take on boats or places where the SLR gear will be to much.
    Any suggestions, in the past, before I got into photography I missed so many great photo ops by not having good gear so I would like to be ready this time.
  2. You have some very nice lenses so I would use what you have. Why settle for a soft super zoom? The 50/1.4 is so small you might as well take it. The 10-22, 50, and 70-200 would cover all the focal lengths required. If I had to leave something at home it would be the 24-105 and maybe the macro. I suspect the islands would have great macro subjects though but I do not know. I would not take another camera.
  3. Sounds to me like your focus should be on an ergonomically ideal carrying rig or modular system so that can comfortably handle the payload. I couldn't imagine getting myself all the way out to the Galapagos Islands and not having pretty much every bit of glass I own (and a spare body!) along for the ride. Far too once-in-a-lifetime of a trip to worry about a few pounds, one way or another. Take a trip over to Think Tank for a look at some of their travel and carrying products. The right rig can make all the difference, and pushes the payload to the back of your mind (behind the shooting, where it belongs).
  4. zml


    On land, you will be very close to the critters in Galapagos so a really looooong lens is superfluous and a short wide-angle-to-normal zoom might be more useful, esp. on a 1.6x crop body. On water, you might need some extra millimeters but the 70-200 should be plenty long and you can always attach a 1.4x TC for some extra oomph. A light tripod that can go low to the ground might be useful as well (stalking a blue-footed Booby...)
  5. I would leave the 50mm and 100mm behind. The 50 is redundant with your other lenses and you don't really need the speed. Macro really isn't the focus of the Galapagos, and you won't have much time for it either. The problem is that you have to stay on the trails, and stay with your guide. You just can't wander off and do your own thing. You're also restricted on how long and when you can be on the islands - so no getting out before dawn or staying out after sunset. Macro photography takes time, and I can't see your group standing around while you get set up. A longer lens would be useful because, as noted, you're restricted to the trail.
    Bear in mind that the Galapagos is one of the view places you can do wide-angle wildlife photography, so I'd look for those opportunities. Bring a point-and-shoot for snapshots.
  6. I was in Galapagos two years ago. Took different lenses that did not get used. You do not need super wide or very long tele lenses there. You can get close to animals and the light is quite good. You can use your 70-200 mm for most the time but it is pretty heavy lens to carry and use of tripod is not very convenient. I would suggest that you take only two: 10-22 mm for landscapes and 24-105 for the rest. If you plan to buy new lens 18-200 should cover your needs. There is no problem of taking your SLR on trips off your boat to the islands. If you have G10 take it but you don't need to buy for trip to Galapagos unless you need and probably should have a backup camera. Make sure you have something to bak up your images from the camera. Enjoy your trip. Sandy
  7. Great info thanks, Also if anyone has been there ( which is sounds like you have ) please tell me how you liked it or any other info about what to expect, I have always been fascinated with Galapagos.
    As to gear ( besides lenses ) I do have a fairly small tripod that I would bring as well as thinktank bags, which are very good. I really like macro so it may be hard to leave that one behind. The 50 does seem like a waste so that will stay home.
    As to the long end, It seems outdoors the 2.8 would be a waste so having a 70-300 seems to make more sense. But obviously I am spoiled by the my high quality stuff so getting a hyperzoom or 55-250 or cheaper long lens may leave me wanting more.
    Maybe instead of buying another lens or G10 I should get another body, maybe a used 5D. this way I can use my 24-105 most of the time and keep the UW on the 40D. I have used my 24-105 for macro and gotten so decent shots. Not ready to spend the $$ on a 5d2 right now.
    I will take a point and click as well.
  8. You might want to consider the 17-40 / 24-105 combo if you are going to carry both bodies. 24-105 as a long-ish zoom on the 40d and the 17-40 as WA on the 5d. they would also double as mid range zooms on opposite cameras.
  9. Tommy, I think you came up with your own best answer: a used 5D with your 24-105, plus the 40D & 10-22 (if you need to go wider) or 70-200 (if you need to go longer). Three lenses, two good bodies, full focal length range, compact enough to take everywhere, and high quality throughout--you're good to go.
  10. Tommy: sounds like you have all the lenses you need. I would not purchase any more lenses, but use that money if necessary to ensure daily backups of all your photos. My son and I are planning a summer trip and my main concern is ensuring we have enough cards and adequate means to do daily backups, possibly a viewer or even a computer which the files could be copied onto a hard drive in addition to saving to DVDs. But, that is not cheap, nor would lugging a computer around on short to moderate hikes be any fun. An extra camera body would also be helpful with a different lens or as a spare.
    Even more important, especially on a once in a lifetime trip is to enjoy what you see and not let photography become an overwhelming burden!
  11. Good point Kerry I think a view/reader is a good call along with a bunch of memory cards and probably a good polorizer. Its also a good point about not making what you see a overwhelming burden so it will not just be about taking photos. Most of the time I think this way and leave the SLR at home only to regret it later so I will not let that happen here.
    I am not going to buy any more lenses and I would probably be fine with just the 10-22 and 24-105. I will take the 70-200 but I don't see it getting that much use. When the trip gets closer I will consider a second body. I already have a Digital elph point and click so I am leaning more toward another SLR then a G10 or LX3.
  12. zml


    If you are beyond the "just a camera and a lens" phase in photography, bring also some small foldable reflectors (silver, gold, a shoot-through scrim) 30-40" in diameter that fold down to 15 or so inches, and a polarizer: the former to brighten up the local critters under the tropical haze and the latter to add some "pop" to colors.
  13. I do have reflectors but not so sure about using them on a hike, since they do fold down maybe I'll take one along and see if I get inspired. I will be using polarizers.
  14. Tommy:
    I'm making an assumption that you can safely keep extra lenses on the boat even when you depart. If that's the case, I would suggest bringing everything you have. Along with another body.
    Would you be fine with just the 10-22 and 24-105? Yes. What happens if the 24-105 breaks. Will you be fine with just the 10-22?
  15. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I wrote an article for this forum after my trip to the Galapagos back in 1995: http://www.photo.net/learn/nature/galapagos It is hard to believe that was over 13 years ago.
    I think it is a good idea to bring a 70-300mm type lens. While you can get very close to the animals in the Galapagos as they have no fear of humans, you are also restricted to the trails for the most part. A longer lens will certainly be helpful to photograph the animals that are farther away.
    You are not allowed to use flash on the animals, but on the vegitation it is ok. I assume that rule hasn't changed. A small reflector can be helpful.
    Will you be doing any snockeling? If so, some underwater camera may be useful. And definitely bring a backup body.
  16. Here's a suggestion: Buy a second body in case your 40D dies.
  17. stemked

    stemked Moderator

    I'd second the 70-300. I had a friend who borrowed several lenses on his trip to the islands. The places he needed the pulling power of the 300 side included shooting penguins from a boat. 200mm would likely be a bit short.
    A couple of other issues. He was told that flash guns were NOT permitted, so keep that in mind. As to the lighting it was often pretty harsh for him (he was there in January) as the tour determined when he was at good spots for landscapes.
  18. I was there almost exactly one year ago. I got by with a 35mm 1.4L, a 200mm 2.8L MkII and a Tamron 17-50mm. There were a few moments I wished I had a longer lens, but not as many as you might think. You can walk right up to most of the animals so having tons of reach isn't as big of an issue. A wider lens would have been nice at times (Isla Bartolome). Don't worry too much about low-light, since all tourists have to be off the uninhabited islands before sunset.
    If you are planning on spending any amount of time at all in the water, absolutely get an underwater housing for your G10. The seals, sharks, rays and even turtles will swim right up to you, and you'll kick yourself if you can't take photos or video. I had a crappy Olympus that was limited to 10-sec clips and I still managed to get some great movies .
    Have a great trip! You will never forget the Galapagos, they are truly one-of-a-kind. And don't forget to look up from the camera every once in a while :)
  19. I was there several years ago with an old EOS Elan, a 25-105 and a 100-300. I got some nice shots. It was a good range. I only wished I had something faster. You wont be able to use flash on the island but you will be walking near sunset so you might want something fast. You might be able to get some nice shots at the harbor and town while you wait to board so maybe something widish. But the really important thing is to bring a waterproof camera or housing. Even if you do not snorkle you will have time to wade near beaches and some animales swim fairly close. If you dont snorkle I would encourage you to do so. Penguins and seals playing chicken with you - it's really fun! You might also think about a polarizor. You will also want to get down low so maybe a small tripod. whatever gear you bring you will have to lug on and off launch boats so pack smart (and balanced). If you spend time in Quito you have markets and textiles to focus on but your 10-22 might be too wide. Have fun.
  20. I went to the Galapagos 2 years ago as well. A fantastic trip. I over packed, and tried to carry way too much. A few realities...you don't have to stalk anything. The birds and animals know you will not harm them, so you actually will be too close to get some shots even with a 70mm lens on a crop camera. And you really do not need a huge telephoto, unless you want to shoot flying birds. You will sit next to giant tortoises, stand 2 feet from boobies, have sea lions walk up to you. It is truly amazing...I think the 10-22 would be great, and the 24 to 105. If I were going now, I would take only one lens...my EFS 18-200. The other thing is something to load your completed pictures on...I guarantee you will take far more pictures than you believe possible. Enjoy
  21. If I were you I think I would be more inclined to bring the 10-22, the 50 and the 100 macro on two bodies. With very approachable animals you would have opportunity for some exceptional closeups of heads and eyes (hence the macro).
    It would be very tempting to bring a 300 prime or 70-300 zoom (the compact but quirky 70-300 DO?) though for me that one would have to be really compact, relatively lightweight, and emphatically covered by my travel insurance (or bought used & cheap) so it would not be a big financial loss in case of mishaps along the way.
  22. When I went I took most of the wildlife with a 70-300. Didn't take the 100-400 because of weight (similar to the 70-200 f2.8?). It is hot there and you have to be agile to be able to land on rocky shores from an inflatable.
    I did take a 100 macro and got good shots of iguana head details. Check out the marine iguana lips, they are like tyre treads.
    Also took a waterprooof compact
  23. Thanks for all the info. I will pick up an underwater camera for certain. The Olympus Stylus series looks pretty good. I have a backpack case that holds all my lenses so I will probably bring everything ( including a reflector, filters, tripod ) and just take a smaller shoulder bag when I am out with just a few lenses. I may consider another body but I don't want to just take photos the entire time. I do plan to enjoy seeing everything live. At the very least an underwater P/S ( so I can shoot some video too ) and a 40D should be more then enough. If the 40D did die I have 2 point and clicks.
  24. A couple of back up portable hard drives, extra cards, how about a water tight rolling hard case like a Pelican (they make one as a carry-on)? Also you'll probably need a voltage adapter to charge everything. How about a monopod instead of a tripod or even a gorilla grip? Just a few thoughts on details.
  25. I was there in December and it was the trip of a lifetime! You can expect to get a lot closer to the animals that usual. I'm used to sea lions skittering away at the sight of humans. On the Galapagos, they're practically tripping over your feet while you're trying to maintain the 6 feet of distance.
    People have pretty much covered the land needs, so I won't bother restating. The only thing I would keep in mind is that my guide told me that you are not allowed to use a flash within 10 feet of an animals. However, lighting there wasn't a problem except when the animals were hidden under bushes. I might be tempted to leave behind some of the gear just because I was so hot there and the realities of trying to disembark off a dinghy.
    As for underwater, I'm not sure if you're a diver, but if so, seriously consider a strobe for your underwater pictures. Although the viz is pretty amazing, you'll just get better shots with a strobe. This is especially true for sharks which are often farther away and hovering in a current, which causes an oily-looking thermocline. I got along fine with my built-in flash, but my friend's strobe setup took much nicer pictures. Although, we both got better macro shots when we dove our P/S cameras with built-in flashes.
  26. Before you commit yourself to a particular boat, which will serve as your base during your tour of the islands, be certain that the toilet facilities are acceptable to you. The larger boats are more acceptable to "western" eyes, but often do not allow you to spend as much time on the islands due to maximum visitor restrictions.
    Get your passport stamped at the tourist center before you leave to go back to the mainland.
  27. I would forget about a tripod and the macro. Your tour group will not give you enough time to use either effectively. Only bring the 50 if you want a low light lens for use in the interior of the boat or at night on deck. Don't bother taking it with you on shore.
    I don't think you have said whether your 70-200 is the IS version or not. But either way, you should bring it along with at least a 1.4x teleconverter, if not a 2x (stop down the lens/2x combo to f/8 or f/11 and you'll get sharp enough pictures--you'll have plenty of light). You can get the two teleconverters for about the same price as the 70-300. Get a monopod to use as a walking stick and to support the lens, especially if your 70-200 does not have IS.
    There will be times that you will want 400mm on a 40D, such as the penguins someone mentioned, the waved albatrosses far from the trail, the Galapagos hawks as well as all of Darwin's finches. I got a shot of a vermillion flycatcher at 300mm that would have been better at 400mm. Flying frigatebirds and tropicbirds also would benefit from 400mm.
    Personally, I would keep the 24-105 on my camera most of the time, with the 10-22 and the 70-200 (with the 1.4x attached) in the bag ready to grab. Only use the 2x when you really need the reach. Remember that all three of these lenses use the same filter size (you will want to use a polarizer all of the time). If you buy the 70-300, you introduce a new filter size.
    As someone said, this is probably a once in a lifetime trip. Don't take an inadequate lens in this case because the 70-200 is big and heavy. Also, go ahead and buy a used 20D or something as a back up camera just in case. That's my two cents worth of advice.
  28. Thanks for all the advice and info I am really excited about this trip. I was seriously considering leaving the 70-200 2.8 ( I have the Non IS version ) at home but everyone convinced me that its worth taking along so I will. I am still not sure about the macro and 50. Its hard to leave the Macro at home but I may since the 24-105 does a pretty good job of close up photos and I don't want to switch lenses all day. I will get another body but I am going to wait as long as possible and hopefully get a good deal on something ( 5D2 would be Ideal but more then I care to spend right now ) I will take along various filters and having the same size is a nice plus and I will probably take along one of those tiny gorilla pods and not bother with the tripod. Again I don't want to make my vacation a job of lugging around gear.
  29. Tommy,
    I envy your trip. We debated on going back this year and decided on a couple of shorter trips to spring bird rookeries and a June trip to Yellowstone.
    Absolutley take the 70-200!, with an extender. There will be a few instances where you want some reach, and at times even some BIF's. I would take the macro lens as well, we found several great macro opportunities. The 10-22 will be fine for the wide opportunities and the 24-105 will be used as well.
    You should get a backup body, a used 20D or similar is a good idea and a P&S with a waterproof housing will be perfect for the snorkeling (if your intinerary includes that) and for quick shots in town and on board the boat..
    A couple of items that have not been mentioned yet.
    A rain sleeve to stick in your bag, just in case
    If you can swing it in your budget take a look at a low angle viewfinder. I brought one along at a friend's recommendation and used it a bunch! Lots of low critters!

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