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Author Topic: Gear Recommendations: Sitka, Glacier Bay National Park, and Juneau ON A BOAT  (Read 560 times)

Ligament

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Hi All,

I've not had time for landscape and nature photography for about 5 years. I have lost touch with gear advancements. Was previously shooting with a Nikon D810 system (no longer have it) and had fairly extensive experience with that system.

I am going on a yacht cruise in mid August, 2021 to Alaska, will be 95% on the water on a friends 72" Yacht. I'd like gear recommendations to do nature and wildlife photography. Here are the criteria:

1. Need to rent from lensrentals.com or similar service
2. Will be shooting 95% from the yacht, on the water.
3. I'd like to shoot the wildlife and landscape as we find it. Not really shooting anything ON the boat. We are not on a photo dedicated cruise, meaning the boat is not always going to be optimized in location for optimized photos.
4. Need camera body and lens recommendations. Would like to keep it to one body and 1-3 lenses.
5. Should I bother with a tripod since I'm shooting from a boat most of the time? Should I get a monopod?
6. Want top tier gear, as long as it will work with the criteria above. I'm open to any brand and any lenses.
7. I'll of course shoot in RAW and likely use capture ONE to process.
8. I actually prefer to shoot in B&W and IR. I don't think an IR system is going to work with the need for telephoto lenses, etc. Maybe I'm wrong.

Any and all advice appreciated. I've never been to this part of the world, and never shot seriously from a large (to me) boat.

I'll be in the general vicinity of the map attached.

Thanks!


« Last Edit: July 20, 2021, 11:55:40 pm by Ligament »
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BernardLanguillier

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I have joined 4 week long sailing trips these past years. We were on boats ranging from 40 to 50 feet. I also sail on shorter crafts on a regular basis in Japan.

I have always brought my Nikons, first D810, then D850 and recently Z7/Z7II. Lenses were typically 24-70mm f2.8 (stabilized E version for DSLR, S with the Z body) and 70-200mm f2.8 (E FL on DSLR and now S on the Z). Changing lens on a boat is doable but it's better to limit that as much as possible. Zoom lenses are therefore preferable. It happens that Nikon makes the best zoom available on the market. The 70-200mm f2.8 S is just insanely good and the matching TC x1.4 is also remarkably good. I find this to be an essential piece of gear on a boat as it gives more range with very small weight penalty. Last time I also brought the 85mm f1.8 S that I consider one of the best portrait lens ever designed. I used it mostly to shoot portraits of people on the boat. If I had wildlife opportunities I would bring my 500mm f5.6 PF which is the lightest high quality super tele on the market.

If the trip I am considering in Nov this year happens, I'll have a tough choice between the Nikon Z7II and the Fuji GFX100s that I own also.

My current direction is to go with the Nikon just because of the quality of the lenses and flexibility of the system but I may still change my mind. If I go Fuji, I would probably bring the 32-64mm, 120mm f4 and 250mm f4. Heavier and significantly more bulky.

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: July 19, 2021, 01:50:20 am by BernardLanguillier »
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Ligament

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Bernard,

Thank you so much. I remember you advising me on here years ago; what a nice surprise to see you the first to reply. Cheers!
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Jonathan Cross

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 Based on photographing from a boat in western Scotland over several years, certainly take a zoom. I would take a 100-400 possibly with a 1.4 extender. As for body, do you want full frame or would APSC be OK to get extra reach?  As for as monopod, yes to one tall enough to be able to stand erect with the camera at eye level.  If the camera and lens weight are not an issue than maybe not necessary. It may not be so good if the boat engine is going as it may transmit vibration.  I meeting the mistake early on of keeping IS switched on when shooting wildlife at 1/1000s. 

Best wishes

Jonathan
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Jonathan in UK

langier

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If you like your 810, stick with it. Best to go with familiar equipment you know rather than get new and then learn in the middle of your trip or worse yet, not know how to unblock....

24-70 or 24-120 on the 810 is good along with the 70-200 as your basics. Nikon also makes a nice 200-500 5.6 zoom, but it grows as you zoom.

When I rode the ferries up the Marine Highway years ago, 400-500 seemed good for the distant wildlife (300 mm 2.8 with TC 14 & TC 20). Today with better digital the 300 f/4 PF would be my choice with a TC 14 or TC 17 and my long lens needs are pretty fulfilled with a stabilized, small and light prime.

Be forewarned, a lot of equipment from Nikon is on perpetual back-order and shipping can come to a crawl...

If you do go with new, the D850 is a super replacement for the 810 and your 810 can be your secondary body or the Z6/Z7 with the 24-70, 70-200 and the new matched TCs is quite nice. If you can get them sooner than later.

Between the Z6 and the Z7, if you are not making large prints, the 24mp of the Z6/II and it's a little better lowlight is great. If you are going to "sofa-size" prints or don't want to pack long glass (400mm and longer), go for the Z7/II and simply crop. The crop mode on both Z7 and the D850 gives you a pretty nice 20MP image, like a "free" 1.5x teleconverter ;-)

Any change to newer equipment before travel needs to be done weeks before to make sure you find no issues, have the time to test and practice the new tools and figure out the idiosyncrasies such as battery life, best settings, color/iso settings, create new muscle memory. Also, don't forget about the hidden tax of new flash media (The 850 takes both SD and XQD, the Z6/7 take XQD but can be updated to C-Fast and the II of either also takes SD cards. SD cards in a dual-card system are slower and most of the cameras will default to the slower of the two cards installed.) Also, make sure your software and computer system can handle the newer raw formats and you have plenty of HD storage...

In any case, the main thing is to have a safe, trouble-free (especially with your photo gear), fun journey and you'll be in a spectacular environment with quickly-changing weather that can challenge even the best and that's part of the wondrous journey that you will remember for ages.
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Larry Angier
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Jim Metzger

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I had a D810 and loved it but I had issues with it in wet conditions. Regardless of what other advice you get, I'd recommend renting a second body to take along, keep it sealed in a waterproof bag (ziplock works) just in case. I have a D850 now (no built-in flash but better weather sealing I think) and the files are better right out of camera, very happy with it. The ability to do big crops may negate the need for very long lenses.

I also think having an older digital (I have a D700) is just fine as a back up camera.

Put filters (I use clear, not UV) on every lens. You will thank me as you are wiping salt water spray off your equipment.

A water-resistant cover like the Think Tank less expensive version is pretty vital to have. Make sure the size you get will cover your longest lens. Even calm days at sea can be harsh conditions for electronic equipment.

Sounds like a great trip, stay safe and bring back some stellar images.
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Ligament

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Hi All, I no longer have the D810 system so I'm open to any suggestions...
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Jonathan Cross

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I agree with Larry. If you are going in a month then you do not have much time to get the kit and become fully familiar with it. Wildlife does not wait around while you change settings. Do you like to back focus?  Do you want to use burst mode with wildlife?  How will you set up focus tracking?  Etc,etc.

As for recommendations, many people have their favourites and good reasons for that choice. Most of the major companies have very good offerings, so it comes down to what you want and is important to you. Is weight a factor?  How about ease of navigating menus?

I would certainly take 2 bodies for two reasons. One is to have a spare in case of failure. The other is to have a long lens on one and a shorter one on the other. Do think about a monopod.

How are you going to carry this kit?  Do you need a backpack? 

Do give time to knowing how to use the kit so that you can maximise the opportunities you will have.

Above all, have fun and enjoy the trip.

Best wishes,

Jonathan
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Jonathan in UK

Ligament

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To emphasize: I'll be on a 72" yacht 95% of the time. So, I don't need to carry anything. I'm just shooting from the deck of a luxury yacht. There is unlikely to be any salt spray or exposure to severe weather as it will be August.
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Rand47

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Since youre familiar with the Nikon gestalt, Id suggest taking a look at the D850.  LensRentals has it available.  They also show availability of a good range of lenses, including some pretty long ones. 

Rand
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Rand Scott Adams

Ligament

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Interesting to see Nikon recommended heavily here. I thought the Sony A1 body and lenses had taken over as king in the past few years...thanks everybody for the advice.
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wcarlew

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Ok, for another viewpoint.  As photography is not the focus of the trip, why not rent something that intrigues you?  As you mentioned Sony A1 is in the spotlight as is the Canon R5.  A 24-70 f2.8 and something long 220-600?  You will have time to learn the camera with some videos and practice, might give you an excuse to retire from the others to "study"  ;)  Might even get you hooked again.  I only know the Sony, for setup and how to use the A1, Mark Galer's youtube channel has some videos that cover a lot!!  I'm sure there will the equivalent for the Canon.
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