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Archive 2012 · Gear advice for Alaska trip
  
 
srudy
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Gear advice for Alaska trip


I will be buying or renting Canon equipment for a two week Alaska trip in May. I'll be on a small boat (6 cabins) travelling along Prince William Sound. The days are a combination of on land on on-the-boat shooting. The principal theme will be birds (I assume) and what ever is floating around the Sound. I own Leica equipment - possibly the worst possible set up for wildlife, but I'm covered for wide angle and normal range focal lengths. The Canon will be for telephoto and rapid sequence shooting.

I'm thinking the 1D Mark IV for the body (until recently I shot 1D series so I'm comfortable with them.) I can get my hands on a 400 f/5.6 but the aperture seems limiting to me. I've been looking at the 500 f/4 or the 300 f/2.8, both with extenders. The 400 2.8 seems to heavy. As for cost, I am likely to buy the lens and sell it after this trip, or rent. (I may keep the camera and pick up a 70-200 later on.)

Any advice is welcome. I usually shoot street so this is new territory.



Dec 15, 2012 at 02:36 PM
OwlsEyes
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Gear advice for Alaska trip


Hello... Sounds like a great trip.
Alaska in May & on the water will offer overcast lighting on most days. Lots of reflectivity, but not the best for a 400mm f5.6. In addition, because you will be on a boat, wou will have to combat a lot of motion. The 400 f5.6 is a non IS lens. I own a 300 f2.8IS, so that & a 1.4x would be my choice. If I were renting, I'd cosider the 400 f4.0IS DO lens (light weight & sharp, but less contrast than non-DO's). Add a 1.4x, and you're good to go.
Bruce



Dec 15, 2012 at 02:47 PM
firstgear99
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Gear advice for Alaska trip


I would suggest a 7D with the 1.6x, in Alaska you can never have enough lens reach....we have been up there on 3 cruises and multiple times flying into Anchorage and driving around to the Kenai peninsula. In almost every case I wished I had a longer reach with the lens. I had a 40D with 100-400L and 1DII. I wished I had more!

Only exception and you have that covered, shooting on the boat with you Leica equipment.



Dec 15, 2012 at 02:47 PM
dgdg
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Gear advice for Alaska trip


The 400mm DO is very portable and easy to put in your carry on bag. Easy to tote around during tours compared to the 500 f4. It is a great mammal and large birding lens. I have hiked 6 miles with it on my neck and a 22 pound toddler on my back. Couldn't do that with the other big whites. Definitely a 1.4 extender will be handy with brighter light. With great light, I drop in the circular polarizer, so make sure to rent this as well. With tripod sensing IS, you can take good photos of static animals at low shutter speeds, keeping your iso down.
With the 600mm II out, I would consider renting this over the 500mm.
The 300mm 2.8 and 400mm DO are about the same size/weight. So it depends what focal length you need. If you are doing wild life, most people will want the longest lens they can get, then add an extender. The 300mm 2.8 is supposed to be super sharp, but I wouldn't make that your main deciding point.
Crop body will give mildly better results IF you are focal length challenged, o/w full frame is mildly better. If you are used to 1D series, I would get the IV instead of the 7D. I don't have either, but I understand it has better noise, weather performance and you can AF at f8. The 400 mm DO can do well with a 2x, but you will need to stop it down a little to f10/11 - that requires a lot of light for anything that moves.
don't worry about the contrast and sharpness critiques of the 400mm DO - it takes great photos that are easy to post process. Some sample shots.

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1159029/0#11056764
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1148436/0#10965602



Dec 15, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Tlazer
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Gear advice for Alaska trip


I own both the 7D and the 1D Mk IV and I use and prefer the 1D Mk IV over the 7D. Both are good cameras but the higher ISO capabilities and the weather sealing (chances are you will need) of the 1D Mk IV are better than the 7D IMO. I also own a 400mm DO and love it, easy to carry in a camera case and have room for other lenses and accessories, but the 300mm would also be great because of the f/2.8 aperture, and you are correct the 400mm f2.8 is a beast weighing in at 11 pounds, to heavy to handhold and takes up the whole camera bag. On the boat you would be able to handhold either the 300mm or 400mm DO. The 500mm or 600mm would be nice but harder to handhold and then you have the issue of how much camera gear can you take since you will also be taking you leica system. Purchasing the lens and selling makes sense, that way you get a chance to shoot with the camera and lens and become comfortable with them before your trip.


Dec 15, 2012 at 05:47 PM
RansomRR
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Gear advice for Alaska trip


Two weeks is a good length of time- you should see both good and bad wx. PWS can be very wet so ensure you have rain covers and good rain gear. The 1DIV would be a much better choice than the 7D- you'll need the higher ISO on the all too common cloudy days. Its also sealed much better. Between a 300/2.8, 400/5.6 or 400/4 I'd pick which ever one you can comfortably handle on a bouncing boat. You need to be able to safely and comfortably use it or it won't do you much good. You might consider bringing a shoulder stock if you're a serious bird shooter. A 500 or 600 would be very handy for shore trips or when you're at anchor. If the water is flat you should be able shoot with a tripod on the boat. If you're in AK in early May, consider going to the Cordova shorebird festival. A 100-400 or 70-200 is also very handy for whales.


Dec 16, 2012 at 05:27 PM
CW100
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Gear advice for Alaska trip


firstgear99 wrote:
I would suggest a 7D with the 1.6x, in Alaska you can never have enough lens reach....we have been up there on 3 cruises and multiple times flying into Anchorage and driving around to the Kenai peninsula. In almost every case I wished I had a longer reach with the lens. I had a 40D with 100-400L and 1DII. I wished I had more!



yes, never been but I can see wanting longer telephotos with Alaska wildlife. but the 100-400 is small and versatile





Dec 17, 2012 at 10:55 AM
dgdg
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Gear advice for Alaska trip


I rented the 100-400, 500 f4, 400 f4 before I decided on the 400mm. For someone traveling on the light side, the 400 f4 is very nice if one can afford the rental/purchase. A reasonable price on the 400 f4 can be found here on the boards and *bay periodically. I think most persons go with the 500 f4 because brand new it is about the same price as the 400 f4 and many do not care about the size/weight difference. Find a used 400 f4 for around $4,000 and you have a nice lens.
The 100-400 was too limiting with the f5.6 but otherwise a very nice lens with a convenient zoom. The 500 f4 was just too big but o/w I loved it. I think if you plan on shooting with reasonable light most of the time, the 100-400 would be a fine pick.



Dec 17, 2012 at 02:42 PM
 

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big country
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Gear advice for Alaska trip


The new 500mm is a great travel companion. pair it w/ a 100-400, 24-70 and a wide angle + 2 bodies, 1.4x and 2.x tele's and you are good to go.


Dec 17, 2012 at 02:49 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Gear advice for Alaska trip


srudy wrote:
I will be buying or renting Canon equipment for a two week Alaska trip in May. I'll be on a small boat (6 cabins) travelling along Prince William Sound. The days are a combination of on land on on-the-boat shooting. The principal theme will be birds (I assume) and what ever is floating around the Sound. I own Leica equipment - possibly the worst possible set up for wildlife, but I'm covered for wide angle and normal range focal lengths. The Canon will be for telephoto and rapid sequence shooting.

I'm thinking the 1D Mark IV for the body (until recently
...Show more

If you ionly want to shoot small and/or distant wildlife with your Canon rig, one of the very long primes could be fine. I don't own it, but I know folks who are very fond of the 300mm f/2.8 plus the 1.4x and perhaps also the 2x TC. It is obviously great at 300mm, reportedly excellent at 420mm with the 1.4x and quite good at 600mm with the 2x.

As to the body, if you really think you need a 1-series (and I am pretty confident that you do not) then consider the 1Dx for a bunch of reasons. On the other hand, you would almost certainly find that the 5D3 will meet your needs very nicely and even provide a few advantages while giving up only things that you probably can live without.

For my part, I would likely go with the 100-400mm zoom. While I can think of some situations in which an even longer FL could be useful, I can think of far more situations in which the flexibility to shoot at shorter focal lengths without switching lenses and TCs would be extremely critical. Because of its design, the 100-400 also packs relatively small. It is a fine lens - I use it for a wide range of work including wildlife.

Dan



Dec 17, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Tapeman
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Gear advice for Alaska trip


I shoot with a 1D4 and a 300 f/2.8L with extenders a lot I wish I had owned that lens when I went to Alaska. At the time I had a 1D2 and 70-200 f/2.8L and extenders. I used my 16-35 quite a bit for landscape photos but wanted more reach for wildlife shots.


Dec 18, 2012 at 05:32 AM
Jim McCann
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Gear advice for Alaska trip


What I carry with me here in Alaska probably isn't germain to the conversation for the most part 'cause I'm driving my Mega Cab truck full of gear; things like three bodies, lenses from 10-22 on up to the new 500, a heavy Gitzo, a monopod...you get the idea. But resting in a safe place up front with me are a 5D III wearing a 24-105, and a 7D attached to the 100-400 and mounted on a BushHawk shoulder stock. In this manner I'm pretty much ready for any instant and fleeting photo op. The 100-400 is a pretty good choice for lots of what I do. YMMV

Jim



Dec 18, 2012 at 06:50 PM
srudy
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Gear advice for Alaska trip


Thanks everyone for the great advice. I just bought a 1D Mark IV. I may rent the 300 2.8 and the 400 4.0 for a day to see how they handle, and I'll also look at the 100-400. Based on some of the comments I may also pick up a 70-200 sooner rather than later and take a two lens set to Alaska. Everything below that will be Leica territory.


Dec 18, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Jim McCann
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Gear advice for Alaska trip


Yeah, I forgot to mention how useful the 70-200 is sitting near me. Hope you have a great time!


Dec 19, 2012 at 12:21 AM
firstgear99
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Gear advice for Alaska trip


in Alaska,the 70-200 IMO wont be too useful unless you can stick a 1.4 or 2x extender on it. You will never get close enough to a glacier unless you get a helicopter ride on one although there is a glacier park where you can walk right up to one, but hard to get a real view of it....

Eagles, they arent going to let you get close enough to make a 200 length useful, you get close enough they are going to squawk once and be on their way.....

Got close to bears once at a salmon hatchery, they were about 20 -30 yards away and fortunately the salmon were running and they were more interested in the fish than people. Again, the 200 was stretched.....

Get as long as you can carry.....have a 24-105 to wander around the towns etc, but get some length....otherwise you will have to crop a lot.......good luck



Dec 19, 2012 at 02:43 AM
3iron
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Gear advice for Alaska trip


My Alaska gear would be the same as for Yellowstone or other big area photography.
It would include a 16-35L, 24-70L, 70-300L, 300 2.8 is II, 400 5.6, 600 II a 1.4 and 2x with 1DX and 5dIII bodies. Also includes a F stop backpak for the on foot exursions, a monopod and tripod a good set of filters for landscape.
This is a pretty versitle set up and would serve you well in many different situations. The variables are capable of near prime quality. You could use primes in leiu of if you wanted.
Let me know if you have room for another.
Best wishes.



Dec 19, 2012 at 03:23 AM





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