What lens would you recommend for shooting in Alaska?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by christal|1, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. I'm at the beginning of my search for a new lens. We'll be leaving for Alaska in a few weeks, and I think I'll be frustrated with my current lenses when it comes to shooting wildlife and glaciers. My current equipment is a Canon 40D, and the lens I use most often is the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. I tend to be good about using a tripod when I shoot, but when I'm in Alaska I wonder about the practicality of using a tripod while trying to shoot moving animals, whales, calving glaciers, etc.
    The guy at the photo store recommended to me the Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6:3 AF APO DG OS HSM Telephoto Lens. He said it would be relatively light for a telephoto, and it can be hand held quite successfully. I do plan to take my camera and try it out. But the research I've done on it says it's not the best in low light. If it's gloomy in Alaska, it may not be the best.
    Do you have any other suggestions for lenses to inquire about? Sigma versus Canon? I think I'd prefer to stay with another Canon 'L' lens, but I don't think they have anything similar in zoom range to the Sigma.
    I own the Canon Zoom Lens EF 75-300mm 1:4-5:6, which I'm considering trading in for something else. I've never been crazy about that lens. After buying my first 'L' quality lens from Canon (mentioned above), I've found this 75-300 lens disappointing.
    Now having said all of this, I do want to mention that I plan to upgrade cameras soon, but I do not have time to adequately research this before our Alaska trip. So I'll stick with the 40D for now, but I do want to be sure that any lens I buy now will work on an upgraded camera (Canon).
    I hope I've given you enough information to go on. Please give me your suggestions for capturing the best of Alaskan wildlife and nature shots. Thanks!
  2. Is this a cruise or no? I went on a cruise and there really weren't many wildlife opportunities. That being said, the 300mm f/4L IS, 400mm f/5.6L, and 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L are all great telephoto lenses, the zoom being the most versatile of course. For landscapes, a lens that is 15-17mm on the wide end may be more useful than the 24-105mm on your 40D. I shot most photos with a 17-85mm when I went. I had a 10-22mm but never really had an opportunity to use it as the ship was generally a decent distance from land. If your not on a ship a superwide may be more useful and fun. Just some things to think about.
  3. I live in Alaska. My long lens is a 100-400 IS. I shoot it on 1.3, 1.6 and FF bodies. It is the most practical option for me without taking a big step up the $$ ladder for a longer or faster lens. The 40D is a great cam, but your trip could be the perfect excuse to get a 7D and add some reach that way. I just bought one because I "need" it for a trip to Denali this fall.
  4. I second Nathan's suggestion of the 100-400 for distant wildlife and geological features.
  5. I just read your post and if your upgrading later it depends on the big body. Or a 7D it Is becoming really popular and
    , you never. Know about the weather AK. Its sunny. And foggy and rainy all in the same day there, depending on the
    location I really think with you not being sure what direction your going. It would be a excellent idea to get a 50mm
    1.8 lens it's sharp its cheap and it does low light ,Well at 2.0 ,and the pictures are. Very sharp and I would try and.
    Take a tripod and at least use the kind that has a mono pole to help you balance and get a perfect shot , when your
    going that far you should make the best of it and it's not to heavy I pack them all day long many days and I'm old , the.
    50mm will give ya a sharp image with the bouquet your probably looking for ,this way you should be safe against
    damaging. High end lens and cameras and the 40d is still very sought after and. Brings the same price it was. 3 years
    ago, be sure to pack. All of you lens an cameras in. Big gallon or quart size zip lock bags so you can let the
    equipment. Adjust to the temperature and remember if your camera gets cold let it warm up. Before you start working
    with it , it helps with mirror lock up issues. And keeps the the rest safe if humidity builds up. I put silica packs in every
    thing I zip lock up, weather is the best way to ruin a good time and I ran into that while down in the KEYS in Fl luckily

    my laptop bounced back after. Three days I should of used a better way to put in case but the cameras came
    through fine and we had some great shots and I tried to shoot a while and put the cameras back in bags to suck up
    humidity while using Back up cameras, I used the. 12 volt coolers that can be ran at room temp. So I would leave the
    lens and camera in the cooler when wasn't shooting seems like over kill but I just had to much. Money tied up to
    loose the use of cameras and even with. Insurance it wouldn't get my cameras back in time , I hope this makes a bit
    of sense if not Sorry I tried and I have done pretty well so far.one can never be to prepared.Thanks for reading and wish you a great trip.you might consider using a teleconverter on the cheaper lento get the distance your after and if you rent it. There is less of an investment overall at least at the store I occasionally rent from.if I'm way off your train of thought I'm interested to see how you came out on your pics and what grid. Use, I have shot in extreme cold in Canada and the great lakes and a few other places and my rather odd method has done me well.
  6. SCL


    Take the lens you have...you'll probably use it more than anything else due to the immense grandeur. Whatever telephoto you choose, think tripod, unless you're aboard ship or a helicopter...both will transmit vibration right to your camera.
  7. Nathan, we're spending 5 days on our own on Kenai Peninsula......hope to go halibut/salmon fishing and maybe go over and see some bears. During those 5 days we plan 2 days of boat trips.....one out of Whittier to specifically see the glaciers and another where you're supposed to see a lot of wildlife in Kenai Fjords National Park. Then we'll take a cruise from Seward to Vancouver. We'll do some of the excursions offered by the cruise line, but we haven't decided which ones yet. We're still working on researching that. But the point is that we will be off the cruise ship a lot.....and will also be doing a lot of hiking, so I will take plenty of pictures off the cruise ship.
    I have a 10-22 lens......but nothing in the 17-85 range. I may have to consider that. Since I posted my question I've been doing further research. Some people complain about the 100-400 lens being soft at 400, which is where I'd probably use it most of the time. So I'm wondering about the idea of getting a prime 400 lens. Do you like yours? It's only 2.9 lbs, which isn't bad.
    Thanks for your input. I looked at your portfolio and you have some great shots there!
  8. Thanks Mitch.......okay....you got me thinking........yes, of course I'd love a new camera. But I haven't decided if I want a full size sensor. I really need to spend time researching. To spend that much money without researching carefully could leave me disappointed.
    The other problem is that I want to know my camera intimately when I go. How similar would the 7D be to the 40D? I'm not sure I'd learn all of it's ins and outs of a new camera before I leave on my trip. And what did you mean by the 7D 'adding some reach'?
  9. Thanks, Dan. Do you have any problem with soft focus when it's extended to 400?
  10. Jim,
    Jim, thanks for your helpful post. You make many good points to consider. I am confused about your suggestion for the 50mm though. Most of Alaska is so grandiose, and we won't always have control over how close we get. Is the 50mm lens really the way to go in such circumstances? I would think I'd need some kind of zoom.
    I know exactly what you're talking about when it comes to weather changes. We got off of an air conditioned bus in Costa Rica and my camera fogged up in the humidity, and I missed being able to take pictures at the banana plantation. The zip lock bag idea is a good one......will help equalize the temperature.
  11. Stephen,
    I'll definitely take my favorite lens, but I'd like to add a little more zoom capability. And I am a die-hard tripod user, so that will definitely be part of my 'kit'. Good point about the ship vibration.....I wouldn't have thought of that. Thanks!
  12. Hi Christal,
    I assumed you were staying with APS-C sensor, so your decision may not be that easy. From your gallery shots here, excellent by the way, I think you would absolutely love a full frame cam and use it to full benefit. That would make good use of the 24-105. I see from your later posts you are going to be on a cruise, which likely means Southeast Alaska where I live. Around here I am very happy with the 5D2. If I was to take a cruise here I would take that cam, my 24-70 and 100-400 as a minimum set up and be covered very well. Shooting locally I do use a 17-40 on a tripod quite a lot.
    My 7D suggestion was aimed at shooting wildlife. By "reach" I meant that since the 7D has more pixels (greater pixel density) you can crop more than with the 40D. That is why I bought one for the Denali trip. Last year I used a 8 megapixel 1D2n up there and want a way to get "closer" to the wildlife. On a cruise wildlife is going to be somewhat incidental and you will need some luck, if you go to one of the known bear viewing spot 400 mm should be plenty. There is no real difference in pixel density between a 5D2 and 40D so that aspect doesn't come into play.
    So let me be the devil on your shoulder telling you you need a 5D2 for your trip! As to learning the 7D, having shot 20 and 30D's and the 5D2 it is pretty easy to pick up. There are enough differences that I spent a couple of hors going through the manual and setting up the cam and after taking it out 3 times I can get it to do what I want without much thought. There ae some bells and whistle aspects I haven't worked through yet but the leap from a 40D is not much of a learning curve.
    After all this the reality is you will get great shots with the 40D. A good telephoto is in order. On a 40D I would want 400 mm, though a 70-300L could be o.k. I would also want some thing wider than 24 mm on a 1.6 cam., but you are going to come back with great shots from the 24-105 if you go that route.
  13. Oh, read more closely and see you are going to Kenai/Seward country too, fabulous area. Here is a link to my site with shots from around the state. If you mouse over the upper right corner you can see the focal length and the camera which might be helpful in deciding what to bring:
  14. Christal - your posted photos are well done - some very nice work. I think you know your way around that 40D, and two weeks before a major trip I personally would not bring a brand new camera body into the picture (so to speak). Since you are going to be "on the ground" for a few days you will have opportunities to use the 10-22, which is light and doesn't cost much to carry. We always carry a 70-200, but that doesn't have the reach that Mitch shows in his photos, and if you add a TC the penalty on f-stops can translate to shutter speed, and camera shake. Last year I rented a 100-400 for a 10-day trip in the US Southwest (first time I've tried renting) I got some really nice photos at 400, using my 50D. I have considered picking up a used version of this for my auto-racing shoots as a result of that. It needs a tripod, or at least a monopod - it's heavy, but sharp enough in good light that I was surprised and pleased with the results.
    Sounds like a great trip - I'd love to see some shots when you get back.
  15. Lensrentals.com is a great place to rent lenses.. check them out.
    Last year my wife and I did a Montana/Alaska trip that included Glacier National Park and several legs of the Alaska Railroad and then we did the cruise from Seward to Vancouver.
    The 100-400L would be hard to beat at the tele end of things. For better low light capabilities you would need to put yourself at the mercy of lugging around a 300 2.8 or longer and for most that is not going to work. Now for whatever reason I took a 300 f4 and a 1.4TC instead of my 100-400L and that worked but I don't think it was much better than the 100-400L.
    My lens collection I took: Canon 10-22, Zeiss 21mm 2.8, 24-70L, 300 f4 IS, TC 1.4. My most used lens on the trip? 24-70L
    Some of my pictures are here on PN. I've got a bunch more on flickr.
    When I go back there will be a concentration on wildlife and then I'll be packing a 500 f4.
    Just my thoughts..
  16. Christal. I have a five year old 100-400L. I also have a 12 year old 70-200 2.8L. I used a 2x converter on the 70-200 until I got the 100-400. I won awards with those older pictures. The 400 end of the 100-400 is sharper than when I used the 2x. I think I must have a very good copy of the 100-400 because my pictures a 400 are very sharp. The drawbacks to the 100-400 are weight at three pounds, the maximum aperture of 5.6 and you may not like the push-pull. I like it ok. It focuses fast enough for me. The IS is probably good for two stops but helps not at all with moving targets although the lens has a tracking feature. I do use IS at all times when off a tripod because at least it takes care of camera shake to a degree. The good things include the zoom. I get close a lot of the time in my shooting and I don't have to change lenses. When I shoot indoor swimming meets I use the 70-200 because I need the 2.8 aperture a lot. The new 2x and 70-200 L IS may be considerably better than the earlier combination I used. I do like and use the 100-400. There may be a successor lens as it is quite old but I have no idea when it would come out. I am satisfied with what I have. I don't like paying big bucks for marginal improvement when I do satisfactory work (not exceptional in my case) with what I have. That's why I keep my 1997 vintage 70-200 2.8L. It works for me as does the 100-400. If I were going to Alaska and I have been there several times the 100-400 would go with me.
  17. Sometimes when I post on photonet the picture for some reason gets a bit over saturated. There are also some artifacts in that picture that are not actually in the larger cr2 file.
  18. Since I posted my question I've been doing further research. Some people complain about the 100-400 lens being soft at 400, which is where I'd probably use it most of the time. So I'm wondering about the idea of getting a prime 400 lens.​
    Christal, the EF 400/5.6 L is a superbly sharp lens that's quite easy to shoot handheld, but, alas, it doesn't have IS. And the 300/4 L IS of course does, but it wouldn't give you enough reach. The respective limitations of these primes lends support to getting the 100-400.
    I doubt very much that the 70-200/2.8 L IS II w/ the 2x extender would be as sharp as the 100-400 at 400mm, but its IS system is much better, so you might be able to obtain sharper images with that combination. (IS doesn't help with with subject motion, of course, but it does help to mitigate the effect of camera movement, which is particularly pronounced when using longer telephotos). I think it's worth comparing these two options. The 70-200 would certainly be the more useful general purpose zoom.
  19. Christal-I am surprised no one has commented on the advice to get the Sigma 150-500 lens. I do not believe that it will reliably autofocus at 6.3. There are many competent camera store employees out there but , if he didn't point this out to you, I would be very cautious about taking his advice.
  20. When I went to Alaska, my most used lenses were my ultrawide (Sigma 10-20) and telephoto (200/2.8 + 1.4x TC).
    I made do with 300 mm, but 400 mm or even 500 mm (Sigma 150-500) would be a nice thing to have. With 300 mm I managed to get eagles, sea otters, moose, grouse, stellar jays, and a few smaller birds.
    Some good upgrades from your 75-300 would be 70-300 IS, 70-300L IS, or 100-400L IS. 100-400 is a very popular lens and justifyably so. As for the Sigma 150-500 OS - some people seem to love it, others hate it.
  21. 40D, 10-22, 24-105 seems like a great start to me.

    Adding the 7D will add all kinds of goodness but unless you need video it won't bring anything your 40D already does
    pretty well.

    However adding a quality long lens is a good idea when you want long range wild life or long landscapes. For the first
    the 100-400 is probably the best compromise. For long landscapes the 70-200/4 or the 70-300L are great. (on a
    budget the 70-300 non-L or the 55-250 will do)

    Hope this helps, Matthijs.
  22. Post scriptum.

    Under ideal conditions the 18 MP of the 7D add 34% to the details. (square root of 18mp/10mp)

    That's nothing to scoff at but it's not even close to the effect of adding a telezoom.

  23. We were just on a 3-week birding tour to Alaska in June 2011 -- Anchorage area, St. Paul Island, Denali area, Nome area, Kenai Peninsula (including a 9-hour pelagic trip to the glaciers in Aialik Bay), and Barrow. I brought a 40D and 30D body; EF300mm f/4L IS, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS, EF24-70 f/2.8L and EF16-35mm f/2.8 lenses; 1.4x & 2.0x convertors; and polarizing filters.
    I ended up using the 300mm f/4 with 1.4x convertor handheld for birds and wildlife, the 70-200mm f/2.8 for most landscapes, the 24-70mm f/2.8 for a few 'vistas' and close landscapes and polarizing filters for snow/mountains in sun. I didn't use the 16-35mm at all and probably could have left the 24-70mm and 2.0x convertor home.
    Another person on the trip had the Nikon equivalent of what I did and used a tripod for most shots--I couldn't do that as I also carried a tripod and spotting scope for birding...she was only doing photography, not birding. I don't think there was a huge amount of difference in the photographs we both took.
    It's beautiful country -- the mountains in Cook's Inlet, Kenai and Denali will knock your socks off.
  24. Just letting you all know that I just read through about half of your remarks, and now I have to go to work. You all are great! Thanks so much for your responses, and I'll get back to you as soon as I have time.
  25. Christal,
    You won't regret the decision to get the 100-400 if you can swing it! And besides, if you absolutely don't desire to keep it after your return, . . . you'll probably get near what you paid for it if you resale it.
    Have a great trip! Regardless of your decision!
  26. I took an inland passage cruise last year and took my 500mm, 24-105mm f/4L IS, my 70-200mm f/4L IS and my 1.4x TC to use on a 7D and a 5D MkII. To buy just one, I'd suggest the 70-200mm f/4L IS and the old series II 1.4x TC. This is a very versatile set up with incredible IQ.
    I wonder about people that say there are no photo opportunities on a cruise. I was constantly shooting, off the ship and on inland excursions. It's an incredible place.
    This is typical of what you can expect with the 70-200mm off the ship:
  27. Well, I'm going to go against the trend here and recommend you stay away from the 100-400. Several of my employees have shot them over the years, and not one of them have produced photos good enough to meet the standards of my agency. They all eventually gave up and dumped them. I borrowed one and shot with it for a day and honestly thought it was garbage (sorry guys...) It was worse than any other Canon lens I had ever shot, particularly on the 400 end...
    I do heartily recommend the 400 5.6 lens - a top performer in every aspect. Can't recommend it more. Cheap and great. And just stay away from that Sigma, no no no no.......! Keep the 40d.
  28. I would suggest the Sigma 100-300 f4.0, very little advantage that the 100-400 Canon L lens would have over the Sigma in regards to light 150-500; Canon 100-400 f4.5-5.6; Sigma 150-500 f5.0-6.3; The other recommendation if you prefer a Canon lens would be the Canon 70-300 Do Lens f4.5 -f5.6 it has the advantage of being smaller and lighter and the 70mm low end would be better for landscape.
  29. Okay, I'm finally able to get back to all of your responses.
    Mitch......As much as I'd love a new camera (and I confess that after all these responses I was thinking about it), I still think in the end I'll get better pictures if I stay with a camera I 'know'. I don't have much time between now and when we leave to learn all the ins and outs of a new camera. I also just recently learned about the 60D....of course there is a lot of discussion about it versus the 7D. Thanks so much for your images and the exit info on them. That's the way I learn best, and I plan to spend a lot of time looking at your excellent shots. Where do you live in Alaska?
    David.......Yep, I've come to the same conclusion......just keep the camera I have for now. I'm going to get lenses instead. I've read good and bad about the 100-400 lens. It appears that the biggest problem with it is when it's extended all the way. But at the same time I see some great pictures taken with that lens. And the pictures in your portfolio are quite good (not sure which lens those were taken with). I checked into renting that lens, but it doesn't make sense for me. It would cost me nearly $600 because we'll be gone 3 weeks, and they will only credit 1/2 of one week's worth toward the purchase if I should choose to purchase the lens. So I'm thinking of buying that lens. I talked to the photo shop today, and he thinks that may be my best option. I'll keep you posted, and I will certainly post pictures when we return. (I'll only be in Alaska 10 days.....then on to Edmonton to visit our new granddaughter).
  30. Richard......So you were on the Millenium? That's what we'll be cruising on.......did you have a good experience? But back to photography... :) I'm thinking I should get a lens like 24-70 or 17-85. Several people have mentioned that it was their most used lens. Thanks so much for your wonderful pictures. Unfortunately, it lists the camera you used, but not the lens. Out of curiosity, for instance, which lens did you use for the Hubbard Glacier shots? Thanks so much for your help!
  31. Dick.....another vote for the 100-400, which I'm leaning toward, despite some negative reviews I've read. And you have the 70-200 also? I have that lens and have never been happy with it. As I was reading reviews, I found out a possible reason. Apparently it's optimal usage is between 70-135, but I almost always used it at the full 200. Good to hear you like it, and thanks for your input!
    Mark.........and yet another vote for 100-400. I may also want a 70-200 as an all-purpose lens. I'm going to look at that one as well. Thanks for the suggestion. Sometimes my 24-105 (as much as I love it) doesn't offer me quite enough zoom power. I appreciate your help.....thanks so much!
  32. LJ......we actually have a great photo store here in town. And now the 2nd salesman has also suggested the Sigma lens to me. But I'm reading a lot of negative reviews on line. I'm also completely sold on the 'L' lenses by Canon, so I think I'm going to stick with Canon. Thanks for your post!
  33. Arie......Interesting how you used your ultra-wide a lot, and others said they didn't need it at all. I assume you were on land much of the time, and not trying to shoot from a cruise ship. Still......I looked at your outstanding collection of shots and was hoping to learn something from them. Unfortunately, it doesn't list the focal length or lens used (unless I'm just not figuring out how to access it). But thanks for your suggestions. It appears that you didn't have a super zoom, yet you were still able to gather an impressive collection of shots. That's encouraging. :)
  34. Matthijs.....you and Arie are basically recommending the same thing. I am going to look at the 70-300L lens. Unfortunately, it does not accommodate extenders. But it would still give me much more than I currently have. I'm veering more and more toward the 100-400, especially since we're flying and cruising. When we retire and start traveling by RV, then I can buy bigger zooms at that point. Thanks so much for your help!
  35. Bob......good to hear about your experience. Thanks for your input! I would love to see some of your Alaska pictures, if you have time to load them on. :) I like shooting everything, including birds, but I'm not primarily 'in' to birds. I hope to get some good shots in Alaska though. I know the 300 and 400mm lenses are supposed to be great for bird shots. It's just that I'm not sure how much I'd use them once I got home. :)
  36. Jim........good point. I know the 100-400 is a popular lens, so I should be able to sell it or trade it in easily enough. I don't want to 'waste' money by renting it, as we'll be gone nearly 3 weeks. Thanks for your vote for the 100-400. :)
  37. David.......thanks so much for going to the trouble to show me an example of what you could shoot off the ship. I had been wondering about that. Knowing me, I'll be outside looking for shots most of the time. You have a wonderful collection of shots (Alaskan and non-Alaskan). Love your moon shot. I probably won't have a 500 lens on this trip, unless someone can really convince me to buy the Sigma 150-500, which I don't think is going to happen. :) Thanks for your help!
  38. Mike...........I hear you........I've heard other similar comments about the 100-400. Yet I also know some people who have gotten quite good and sharp shots with it. So go figure. I have read that it's worst at the 400 end for sure. I'm just not sure that I want (or can) take all the lenses I want on this trip, since I'm flying and have other stuff to take also for my daughter who we'll be visiting. So a 100-400 zoom would serve me well. As Jim pointed out above, if I really hate the lens, I can sell it or trade it in on something else. On the other hand, I could buy a prime 300 lens, which at least would give me more than I have now. Decisions, decisions..........ughhh! Thanks for your vote on the Sigma.......I don't know if you read all the posts above, but I've now had 2 photo professionals recommend that lens to me.
  39. Manuel, I know the Sigma lenses are good and they're cheaper too, but I am SO in love with the 'L' lens I have that I think I'll stay with Canon. Although I actually have wanted to look at the lens you recommend.......the Canon 70-300 DO Lens f4.5 -f5.6. I'll see if they have that at the photo store for me to check out. I appreciate your input....thanks!
  40. Christal, the 500mm has a steep learning curve, so I wouldn't recommend using one the first time on an "important" trip.
    Shipboard, a 70-200mm with a 1.4x TC or a 70-300mm will give you most of the reach and range that you need. That and a wide-angle to normal zoom will cover maybe 80% of your shooting opportunities. For off-ship excursions you'll also be good with that two-lens combination, so long as you're not too intent on wildlife.
    I think you're looking in the right direction with the 70-200 or 70-300mm lenses. About the 100-400mm, I don't own it, but my professional photographer friend, Bob Rozinski and his partner Wendy Shattil have one interational awards with theirs.
    About the 400/5.6L, that's a great, sharp lens with super fast AF, but it has no IS. In that long a lens, particularly shooting off a ship, I want IS. When I owned that lens, I got many keepers, but when I moved up to the 500mm with IS, my keeper ratio jumped significantly.
  41. Hi Christal,
    Ketchikan, have a great trip!
  42. Christal,
    The 100-400 seems to be the most contraversial lens Canon currently makes. I own one and have for many years. I also own a 500mm. Of the 100-400 mileage varies greatly based primarily on operator headspace and conditions. It is hard to make a zoom lens that will perform uniformly to a high standard across its entire range. Many people think that the trombone mechanism has faults. It is my experience that the 100-400 perfumes admirably when fully extended if the slide lock ring is employed and the user limits themselves to shooting at around f8 to f-16. The number of factors that are required to be managed to get good performance with this lens is higher than a lot of people are experienced enough to manage effectively when the light is low and the subject is uncooperative. If you are shooting in good light you will likely do well with this lens. If the light gets dim and the subject is distant you will likely do better with a fast fixed focal length lens. I get great performance out of mine I just don't ask of it what I know it can not do as well as my other hardware unless it is the only lens I have with me at the time. It frequently is.
  43. it


    I would take a wide one and a long one.
  44. Alaska has so much to offer it is hard to answer that question. My first field trip to Alaska was in 1966 and I've been back over 60 times. Are you going to be in the fog on salt water in a small boat? Are you going to be in a floatplane or glacier tired small plane? Are you hiking, traveling by cruise ship? Headed to Homer, Denali, Skagway? Just what are your plans? I'd think about the pictures you want to come back with and take the lenses that match that vision. If you are backpacking weight is an issue. If you are on a cruise ship-- take everything.
  45. David.....well, the best laid plans, as they say.......I went to the photo store today and ended up with something completely different than I thought I wanted. We ended up buying the Sigma 150-500. I know, I can hear the screams from some now. :) But in the end, we really wanted that 500mm zoom. After trying the fixed 300mm, I just didn't think it was versatile enough for the $$. The good thing is that we have 2 weeks to 'play' with this lens, and I can return it if I can't get really sharp pictures out of it. But, I also bought a 60D camera......quite an impulse move, but I've really been wanting a higher megapixel camera. Also, my husband is tall and I'm short, and we have fits adjusting the tripod when we're shooting. So the flip screen is going to make life easier for us. It's a such a great price point and very similar to my 40D. So I can use it until I decide I need an upgrade. Maybe it will suffice for awhile. Thanks for all of your help with my search.
    Mitch, thanks! We'll be in Ketchikan. I'll wave as we cruise by! :)
    Michael........we may still end up with the 100-400. I'm going to try the Sigma for a couple of weeks, and if we're not pleased with it, I'll try the 100-400 next. I really didn't mind the push-pull lens at all. And you're absolutely right. I'm learning that each lens has its strengths and weaknesses. It's a lot to learn for sure. The Sigma will have difficulty in low lighting situations, but I'll have 2 other lenses that are good in low light, so I think we'll be okay. Thanks for your wise words.
    Ian......we'll mostly be on a cruise, so we'll be able to take more lenses than that, but when we go out hiking we'll most likely pare down to 2 or 3 lenses.
    John.......yes, I realize that my question was very general in nature. But it was just a place to start. WOW! 60 visits to Alaska! I'm jealous! We'll actually be traveling by car through the Kenai Peninsula (Girdwood, Homer, and Seward) before embarking on a cruise from Seward to Vancouver. We won't be going to Denali on this trip. :-( We do hope to take some excursions.......halibut/salmon fishing, a glacier cruise and the Kenai Fjords wildlife trip. So we'll be shooting from the ship as well as on land. I think the problem I have (if you can even imagine this after being there 60 times) is that I simply can't envision the type of pictures I'll be taking. I don't think I can understand the grandeur or distances until I've been there. So I'm depending on the wise counsel of people who have been there before me. :) And next time we go, we'll certainly have a better understanding of what we'll need. Also, the next time we go will most likely be for 6 weeks in an RV, which will allow us to take bigger lenses. At any rate, if you have any more words of advice or suggestion for things to see/do in Alaska, I'm all ears. Thanks for your input!
  46. I recently rented a Canon 300mm F4.0, great wildlife lens. You can rent one for $165 for 1 month from
    www.borrowlenses.com as well as a better body if you like. Try before you buy!
  47. Mark, I was actually looking at that very lens, which is supposed to be great and sharp. In the end I opted for a zoom because we just don't know what we're going to encounter up in Alaska. And although I won't turn away from a great wildlife shot, we don't actually go hunting for wildlife shots either. I may consider this lens down the line. Thanks for your feedback on it! And I'll also check out the lens rental place you suggest. Fantastic shot you've got there.....thanks!
  48. I've used the 150-500 OS and it did pretty well for surfing, bright light, and closer birding. However it was a tad too soft for me @500 for small subjects afar. It did better at 400mm, so keep that in mind if you don't need the extra 100mm, try shooting at around 425mm for maximum sharpness. Nice lens for the price. If it was better at 500mm I'd not bought my 500f4IS. The sigma is a perfect idea. Have a great trip!
  49. From the looks of your photo collection, it really sounds like you know what you're talking about! :) Quite an impressive collection! Yes, I've already discovered what you're saying. I've been trying out the lens, and I think I'm going to keep it. We'll be in Alaska where the days are long with plenty of light, so I think this lens will serve me well. Even at 400mm it offers me much more zoom than I currently have. Since I bought an 18 megapixel camera hopefully I'll be able to afford a little less zoom, and then I can crop in when I edit. Thanks for your input, Linda!

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