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Costa Rica Gear Planning
  
 
davekatz
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p.1 #1 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


If you clicked on this thread, chances are you've been or are planning to go to Costa Rica soon- excellent! So am I!

I'll be in Costa Rica from the 28th of January to the 6th of Feburary (the dry season, apparently- less concern for rain protection and whatnot). I certainly am too young and early into this photography game to specialize, but I know I like to shoot food and people and everything that comes about when the two join, which may be considered lifestyle. The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 has been practically glued to my D600 for the past 6 months.

My question then, is would it be worth my while to rent something like a 14-24 for landscapes and 'forestscapes', while taking on any implied risk of taking rented gear on a trip, or am I better off keeping the gear simple and focusing on being in the right place at the right time and making each shot count? As for birds, taking my 70-200 again, seems a bit excessive, considering my bread and butter is NOT wildlife photography...Not that I don't think it would be cool, but I think keeping things lightweight and mobile may be my best bet. Keep in mind, we won't have a car in country, just public trans and backpacks.

The tripod thought has occurred to me as well, and I'm leaning towards nay, despite the abundance of waterfalls and beaches, for the reason that I will be staying in hostels (relatively unsafe) and hiking quite a bit. Not that I couldn't use the workout, but I'm not convinced that it'll be worth the pain in the ass to lug around my regular tripod around the country with me. Unless somebody can persuade me otherwise!

Please share your thoughts, they would be much appreciated!




Jan 02, 2014 at 03:08 PM
workerdrone
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p.1 #2 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


how about a 70-300? Relatively light, decent performer, not frightfully expensive. You can always stitch to simulate a wider angle but there's no substitute for some reach.


Jan 02, 2014 at 03:26 PM
AMaji
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p.1 #3 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


Costa Rica is in my bucket list but for bird photography. 70-200 on a D600 is not long enough for birds, imo. I think a 24-70 is a great all purpose zoom, though it gets heavy for all day shooting. I think you need a back up camera too. So, plan accordingly and remember to buy gear insurance.

Enjoy.



Jan 02, 2014 at 03:33 PM
davekatz
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p.1 #4 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


workerdrone, the 70-300 would be great but my interests don't lie so much in the realm of wildlife photography. Some sloth portraits would be cool, but I'd be much happier with some local chef portraits.

AMaji, I would agree with you there. I had a 24-70 on my trip down the West Coast last year and found it to be annoyingly heavy to the point where I would hesitate to bring it out. I think I'm becoming a prime man

Maybe a 14mm f/2.8 would be fun for some beachscapes and whatnot? Or maybe I'll just stick with my trusty 35mm and splurge on better coffee and food



Jan 02, 2014 at 03:40 PM
thedruid
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p.1 #5 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


D600, 18-35mm G, 50, 70-200mm is my travel kit no matter where I'm going...I don't shoot birds or animals. I sometimes add a Canon 50D close up lens or substitute a 24-120VR for the 50mm, this becomes my walk around. My most used lens in Costa Rica was the 70-200. Food was not one of the highlights, outside of the lodges.


Jan 02, 2014 at 04:11 PM
JohnC
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p.1 #6 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


If you really want to do any wildlife photography in Costa Rica you are going to need some longer glass (the monkeys and birds are plentiful but not real close) and its dark in there with really bad contrasty light. Also with one body I don't advise changing lenses out in the field. There is lots of opportunities to shoot in the villages and towns and the usual mountain and seascapes, but if you're going to do any adventure type tours such as canopy tours or whitewater activities you will want a small water resistant p&s (I used a Canon S95). I just returned from a two week trip (to Africa) and if I had to do it again I would leave the big dslrs at home. Just enjoy the trip and if you keep it simple you will take more pictures.


Jan 02, 2014 at 04:15 PM
binary visions
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p.1 #7 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


I would skip the 70-200 and pick up/borrow a cheap 70-300mm VR. You say you aren't into wildlife, but there's some pretty beautiful wildlife in Costa Rica. Would be a shame to not have at least a lightweight lens that you could snap a photo or two with - I think the first time you see a toucan might change that whole, "not into wildlife" thing

JohnC has a good point - there are many adventure tours that involve water, including a lot of great experiences like doing waterfall rappels or rafting. A water resistant camera would not be out of place, though it depends on what you're doing. I can't agree with not changing lenses in the field, though, and I'm having trouble figuring out even why that would be advised? In Africa there's a lot of dust, but not so in Costa Rica.



Jan 02, 2014 at 06:52 PM
AtelierPhoto
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p.1 #8 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


knowing what gear you have available will help us cast our thoughts...

Travel-wise, I would suggest investing in a (cheap but decent) monopod... great for a walking stick on the trails, excellent as a baton if needed, and helps with slower shutter speeds or composing panoramas when lugging a tripod around isn't feasible.



Jan 02, 2014 at 07:10 PM
Frogfish
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p.1 #9 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


20mm MF Nikon, your 35/1.4, 70-300 Nikon & a light, small, cheap throwaway Chinese tripod (I usual advise a mono but it's not going to help you here, you want the tripod for waterfalls etc.).


Jan 02, 2014 at 07:24 PM
xelas
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p.1 #10 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


Dave, do you already have an itinerary? because knowing where are you planning to go it will be easier to give you advice. Anyway, after three pretty long (4 weeks, 3 weeks, 2 weeks) travels to Costa Rica, I have found that wildlife is much more photogenic, and easier to find, then landscapes. Or forestscapes. Yet anything shorter then 300 mm and slower then f4, just forget. As for the food photography, well, most of the staple food of Ticos is quite unassuming: a casado which is a plate of rice with beans, some vegetables and a meat of your choice. There are also plenty of upscale restaurants catering for wealthy people, and I am talking US upper level prices here.
People is generally friendly, and does not object to be photographed. Out in the country anyway. A zoom lens is very usable (mine was 16-85 on a DX body) as trey might be across the street, on the horse, etc.
Tripod is pretty much useless if not for photographing from the set place (like blinds). Monopod ditto. But good for shooing away a few-de-lance .
It is humid, even in dry season (rain forests do not grow without plenty of rain) so bring along a lot of silica gel. And put your gear in a nondescript backpack, and have it on you all the times. Petty theft is a norm down there.
Hope that helps. Again, let us know your itinerary for better feedback.



Jan 02, 2014 at 07:44 PM
 

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davekatz
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p.1 #11 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


Thanks for all of the feedback.
The exact itinerary is not yet completely in stone, but we'll be in Arenal and Monteverde for 3 days a piece and then Montezuma for the remainder. Hiking, ziplining, exploring, mostly. A coffee farm tour will definitely happy as well. As much as seeing wildlife up close and personal is exciting, making awesome photos of them seems like it's going to be more hassle than it's worth...

I've got the 35mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.4, 105mm f/2.8 & 70-200mm f/2.8...Right now it's looking like my best bet is going to be to just bring the 35 and dedicate any energy that would otherwise be spent on worrying about rental gear, deciding which lens to use for a given activity or day and switching lenses to making the right shots with the lens I'm most comfortable with and confident in.

A tripod would be great, but it just doesn't seem very feasible, given my preferred subject matter and plans in the country. As for a monopod, it's still hard for me to justify. I wouldn't get down to the shutter speeds necessary to get silky waterfalls but would still have to lug it around (and rent it!)

Here's to keeping it simple



Jan 02, 2014 at 08:03 PM
Dpedraza
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p.1 #12 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


which part of costa rica are you going? I went to Puerto Viejo a couple years back its on the eastern side of the country south of Limon.


I took my canon 5d 50mm 1.4 and 17-40mm f4. I wish I would have taken a 70-200mm or something longer because the wildlife was pretty cool down there. I don't like to shoot wildlife but I really wished I did have a longer lens. Since you like people and food 24-70mm 2.8 or 28-70mm 2.8(cheaper but just as nice as the 24-70mm) would be decent for that.



Jan 02, 2014 at 08:05 PM
kcartwright27
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p.1 #13 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


thedruid wrote:
D600, 18-35mm G, 50, 70-200mm is my travel kit no matter where I'm going...I don't shoot birds or animals. I sometimes add a Canon 50D close up lens or substitute a 24-120VR for the 50mm, this becomes my walk around. My most used lens in Costa Rica was the 70-200. Food was not one of the highlights, outside of the lodges.



Funny how peoples experiences are different.. I had unbelievable food and drink.. I was on the Southern Pacific side though and not in the typical gulf side resorts..
I found that a lens with some reach is very important.. a good 70-300 was very valuable to me. I found i really need the reach for shooting jungle wildlife.. and that was with a dx body as well !! Maybe a 70-200 2.8 with a 1.4x converter if you want to lug the weight around. To be honest that 2.8 or even 4.0 aperture would have been nice in some of the dark jungle shadows.

The other is a wide angle zoom such as the 18-35 mentioned above.. most of my shots were all below the 35mm equivalent focal length when i look back on my photos.. I will throw up a few pics later tonight when i get home..

I only took my D7000 on that trip and it did well.. I do have better glass now than then but i will tell you i took my 17-50mm 2.8 and my 70-300mm tammy which are both decent but not pro level lenses.. they both worked just fine for 95% of my shooting. I would take at least one good low light fast lens though such as the siggy 35mm 1.4 which i have now and love.. or the 50mm 1.8 on the inexpensive side, and like thedruid mentioned above a close up filter or a macro lens as you will have a lot of opportunity for insect and flower shots :-)


Edited on Jan 02, 2014 at 08:55 PM · View previous versions



Jan 02, 2014 at 08:48 PM
workerdrone
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p.1 #14 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


Sounds like he's happy with the 35 1.4 and that might do it - if that was the case for me (single fast FL) I'd be tempted to bring a compact like an X100 or something. It depends how much photography is part of the entire vacation for you - for me I'm willing to haul a bit of weight since a good part of my recreation and relaxation involves finding pictures.

If I was headed to Costa Rica this afternoon (don't I wish, it's snowing hard here now), I think I'd pack the D800, 18-35, Zeiss 100, and 300mm f4 w TC.



Jan 02, 2014 at 08:53 PM
AtelierPhoto
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p.1 #15 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


workerdrone wrote:
Sounds like he's happy with the 35 1.4 and that might do it - if that was the case for me (single fast FL) I'd be tempted to bring a compact like an X100 or something.


I couldn't agree more. For me, renting an X100s would for less then $150 for the whole duration, sounds much more appetizing then lugging around a DSLR if only taking one lens... (also may be less appetizing to prying eyes)
But, then again, it still couldn't render the same as 35f1.4 on FX, and if that were the image quality I were seeking, there isn't a better combo!



Jan 03, 2014 at 01:51 AM
OwlsEyes
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p.1 #16 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


Based on the description of your intended photographic subjects, I'd suggest you go with what you have… one lens and one body. I am a wildlife and nature photographer and have been to CR 8 times and heading back in march for 11 days. When I go, I bring it all… from 17mm to 400mm w/ converters, 4 cameras and two tripods. If my intent were to go for cultural travel and travel-log type photojournalism, I'd bring my X100 or something similar.

Since you want to focus on the people, the food and the place, a one lens/one body approach will serve as a constraint that will force your creativity. Costa Rica has a very rich and diverse culture. It's variety of ecosystems make is a nature photographer's paradise. You will miss a lot of photographic opportunities w/ your 35mm (think wildlife), but you will be able to create opportunities that others will miss.

Finally, I was going to suggest that you pick up something wider (fisheye or 16-35), but you could choose to do some pano-stitches to get wide if you want to stick to the one lens ethos.

If you want to see what a full bag can get you in CR, check out my website and look at both the Home gallery (lot's of CR in there) and the Costa Rica gallery in the portfolio. http://btleventhal.com

finally, let me know if you have any specific q's as I've done a trip like yours and loved every minute of it.
regards,
bruce



Jan 03, 2014 at 11:52 AM
Dpedraza
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p.1 #17 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


kcartwright27 wrote:
Funny how peoples experiences are different.. I had unbelievable food and drink.. I was on the Southern Pacific side though and not in the typical gulf side resorts..

yeah the food where we were was excellent. We did cook sometimes since we rented a house but we usually ate out.



Jan 03, 2014 at 01:19 PM
czaro
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p.1 #18 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


With your current gear and objectives you should be fine with the 35mm and the 70-200mm which will allow you to capture great photos of people, food, plants/flowers and limited wildlife should you happen to change your mind.
Lots of good tips here...such as the ones from Xelas regarding zooms and using a non flashy backpack. Pretty much any pic taken in Costa Rica will be a good pic...Enjoy your trip



Jan 03, 2014 at 02:17 PM
davekatz
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p.1 #19 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


Bruce- I think that's what I was trying to get at: the exercise in creativity coupled with the convenience of having my favorite lens and not having the physical and psychological burden of extra (some rented) gear. I do have my friend's Sigma 10-20mm- despite it being built for a DX body, it might be fine for what I anticipate will be relatively limited usage.

Your wildlife work is excellent, by the way!

I'm probably going to use my Lowepro backpack (fastpack 350) for the gear...the only totally nondescript bag I have otherwise is more for city shooting and I don't want her getting dirty

I'll think about the 70-200. The thought of having that stolen is still bothering me...I suppose it's a matter of how much I would care about any missed shots as a result of not having it along...




Jan 03, 2014 at 06:45 PM
jester4176
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p.1 #20 · Costa Rica Gear Planning


Sorry to revive an old thread, but I'll be in Costa Rica in mid July. What did you end up carrying , and could you share some photos Dave?


Jun 13, 2014 at 10:23 PM
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