Which camera + lens for Iceland?

Discussion in 'Travel' started by sven keil, Jul 24, 2009.

  1. The context : two week trip to Iceland from mid August to the end of August.
    The problem : Optimise camara/lens selection from my available equipment.
    Who should answer : People with some experience to Iceland, who can tell me which lens they used in most of the ocasions.
    My camaras (and preferred use) : Nikon D700 (low light, FX), D70s (infrared, DX), Fuji S5 (dynamic range - sunlight versus shadows, DX)
    My considered lenses : 28mm /f28, 35mm /f14, 50mm /any, 85mm /f14, 180mm /f28 and a DX kit lens zoom 18-55mm/f3.5 (I am not a big "zoomy")
    Particular interest : Is there a lot of vegetation in iceland, such that infrared is worthwhile? Does the sun show up a lot, such that Fuji S5 pays off? Or is it usually so dark that I should take the D700?
    Subjects : Landscapes of course, and person(s) in front of landscape scene(s). We have a rental car.
    Disclaimer : I searched the forum, but did not find satisfying answers to my questions.
    Well, thanks for any answer!!!
  2. Frankly I'd get something wider. I wasn't big in to photography when I was there, but I remember there being quite a few sweeping landscapes that would benifit from a 24mm or wider lens. I'd say the minimum on the wide end would be 24mm if no 18 or 20mm. I'd personally take the 28, 50 and 180 and throw in an 18, 20 or 24mm lens in there as well. A used 24mm f/2.8 nikor isn't that pricey.
    And its okay, I've been trying to do the zoom thing, but I just can't. The only time I actually like using a zoom better then a prime is when I am getting over about 100mm in focal length. Of course some of it could be my only long focal length lenses are an 85mm, 135mm and 400mm, so I guess of course my 70-210/2.8 or 70-210/3.5 get most of the use in the longer focal lengths.
  3. For one, get a hold of a weather report on the island; one that gives sunrise and sunset times. There should still be more than equinox light in August.
    Second, you will see mostly landscapes without forests etc, maybe low bushes etc maybe, and volcanoes, barren cliffs, sea sweepes etc. What do the tourist sites show you? Do look! So use a wide lens and the FX camera for its lack of crop factor. Of course details of rocks, tidepools, ... might ask for a macro lens and a tripod, too.
    Thirdly: do not buy a lens specifically for this trip. Learning curves will bug you ... If you are happy and comfortable with 28mm wide, so be it. Two weeks in Iceland that is a long and wonderful time. To get to know the people, their lives and living rooms, too. Enjoy! And google before you go, please.
  4. Man, have you even researched the trip at all? you're going to a country the size of England (not UK) with fewer than 300,000 inhabitants, 90% of which are concentrated to the SE. You're going at a time when you'll have over 14 hours a day of bright sunshine. And you're going to a country with a total of like 6 trees or something. There's some grass - not much - and enough low bushes (as another poster mentioned) to count on the fingers of both hands. There's loads of volcanic rock, tons of rivers and waterfalls and mountains and, of course, glaciers. Infrared? People in front of landscapes? Where are you hoping to find those people?
    What you will find is drizzle, clouds and wind. Cold not so much at the time you're going, but then again, you never know. Weather conditions change every 30mins around the time you're going. And some of the more amazing vistas can only be reached after some 2+ km of hiking - so pack light and with every weather eventuality in mind.
    I more than second the advice for a wide lens. 20 should be fine. There are indeed tons of wide sweeping views. But then, if you think about it, why all the super-fast glass? chances are you'll be shooting on a tripod and going over f16 anyway.... Still, it's a matter of preference. But you'll sorely miss the reach of a good zoom if you choose to go on a whale watching tour. 180mm is nowhere near and when those massive fins come close, you'll only be able to catch a small part (or scramble constantly to change lenses in a windy, humid and drizzly environment).
    I think you should do some more serious research on the place before you start thinking about camera gear and lenses.
  5. stemked

    stemked Moderator

    I have never been to Iceland, but if I went there I would be photographing some of the spectacular waterfalls. Considering the light issues noted a ND filter would certainly be in my bag along with at least one very wide lens (12-20mm for digital)
  6. Really, the answer lies in your own style. You have shot landscape before I presume, what do you like using--take that! If you want to cut down what you are carrying, just don't take the things you use least. Why do you need a big wide lens if you never found a use for one before?--unless you already long for one.
    There is an old saying, "where ever you go there you are!" Our photographic style doesn't change by our location and our ways of seeing are part of us, not external. I would think you would want at least two bodies, your best, and the lenses you love to use as well as a good tripod. You will probably find that having limited choices in lenses will actually make your photography better as you will learn to see with what you have.
  7. Matthew, Frank, Douglas & John - many thanks for your advices. It seems that there is a converging opinion on "the wider the better", so I pack my 35mm in (the 28mm is good at near, but not stunning a far distances). The point with wind and rain is a good one, with respect to changing the lenses under these conditions.
    Marios , how many times have you been to Iceland? Having spent quite a time in preparing the travelling route (also viewing many videos, reports and photographs), I found that specific questions are often left unanswered in forums. I simply do not have other than high speed primes, and as good as no zoom lens. The people I referred to of course are companions travelling with me, it is clear that you cannot do some sort of street-like photography in front of landscapes there. And, I did some nice IR shooting of snow covered landscapes before...but I agree in that for a hand full of shots it is not a good idea to take the IR camera with me. I do not consider whale watching, I am going to leave the 180mm at home as well (on FX this is 270mm, still to short?).
  8. Make sure your rental car is allowed on gravel roads,if not you be missing most of the sights,very few roads are paved.You may need to rent a small SUV because regular cars are ban from many roads because they are not maintained very well.Bring rain gear for yourself and camera equipment it rains often.I was there last Sept.and we had nice weather.You will have 15.5 hours of daylight but can be overcast near the coast most of the day.Try an get to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon many great photo opportunities here (http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/b22c5/3ca6d/).
  9. Great! Thanks, Peter! BTW, this is a very nice photograph!
  10. I was in Iceland last summer. The one thing not on your list is birds. In Latrabjarg and other places are fairly friendly puffins. They are cute and you will want to photograph them. For that you might need a teleconvertor for your 180 mm. Inland, the landscape is fabulous and you may want the flexibility of all the lenses you mentioned. For a nice itinerary and a portfolio of pictures Google Rod Planck and check out his Iceland trip. Here's a puffin at bout 200 mm.
  11. Take raingear and extra socks.
    Hiking when soaked can be miserable. Dry is a huge comfort even if you are cold. Lightweight raingear can be shoved into your pack for the times you need it. You will hate every extra piece of gear you take if you have to hike very far, especially if you give up raingear to pack something you have to carry and not use.
  12. Steve : Well, I'm not sure whether I'll take the long lens with me (space under the raincape is limited ;-), but I definitively will consider that. Perhaps for shooting birds a tripode would also be a good idea...Anyway, the bird in your photo looks really cute and funny!
    John : Ok. Somebody told me that umbrellas won't work because of the strong wind. I remember last winter when I was visiting Toledo and the weather changed within each 30 minutes or so from sun to storm to rain to snow to wind and any combination of the former. My umbrella lasted 10 minutes or so. While I was wearing an ugly raincape, I couldn't take out the camera as often as I wished...and I finally had to get me some new boots because the normal Timbs I wore protected not enough against the cold and the (sometimes nearly horizontally) rain. I guess I'll take your advice and my Toledian experience and take my Mountain Boots to Iceland.
  13. It really depend on your syle, me for example, use a lot the tele lens as you can see in my portfolio, the pictures from iceland was taken august 2008.
    Iceland is practically withouth tree. In August the sun fall about at 23:00 and rise few ours later.
    You need a 4WD car to visit some of the most interesting location like Landmannallaugar, Askjia and viti crater, etc. Tha road to this placa are veri hard to drive through and you need to pass river, so you need a little of experience and remember that insurance (car rental) does not pay for damage in this event. The only road with tarmac is the n. 1 that follow all the perimeter of the nation, the other one are gravel road.
    It's a beautiful country so I recommend you to study your trip because there is a lot to see (lnadscape speaking).
  14. Puffins leaves Iceland at the end of July- first of august, in fact last year i August I did not see it.
  15. I'm planning my next year trip to Iceland so I came into this post and watched your portfolio. You achieved to take some great picture. Congrats!
  16. MS, If you can swing it, I would definitely agree that you should get a wide angle, whether it be a 20mm or a zoom. 35mm will leave you wanting more and how often are you going to be in Iceland? I would leave the d70 and 28mm at home, get a WA and bring everything else, 1 large back pack, 1 small. The small pack won't take up that much extra room and you can rotate our you equipment depending on what you will be shooting that day. If the 35mm is wide enough for you than great but IMO big landscape, screams wide angle.

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