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Author Topic: What lens for Alaska Inside Passage  (Read 1684 times)
bgpixelman
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« on: February 07, 2013, 01:44:15 PM »
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Has anyone gone up the Inside Passage on a large ship? I am interested in shooting the glaciers, etc and was curious what is the longest lens needed to accomplish this. 200mm, 300mm or 400mm?
I have no idea how wide the passage is. Thanks for any input.
I will be shooting with a Nikon D800.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2013, 02:17:50 PM »
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First of all, usually on a boat, a tripod is out.  Too much boat movement.  The new 70-200 f4 will probably be your best friend.  I've just ordered one to replace my extremely useful but not sharp enough 70-200 f2.8 VRI.

The width of the Inside Passage varies considerably from hundreds of feet to tens of miles, depending on where you are.  The best glacier ops are in Juneau (Mendenhall Glacier) and of course, Glacier Bay. 
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bgpixelman
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« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2013, 02:23:04 PM »
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Thanks. I have an older 80-200 2.8 and have been tempted to get the new 70-200 f4 and the 1.4 teleconverter or maybe this is an excuse to get the 300 f4 and the 1.4 teleconverter?
Earlier today I looked at the Sigma 150-500 but it is a tank and the reviews are not very favorable.
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arlon
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« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2013, 02:35:25 PM »
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I have a D800E and have gotten to the point where I seldom carry or need anything other than the 28-300mm VR. It just covers so many bases for a TRAVEL lens and image quality is certainly satisfactory... I have plenty of other lenses but the more I use the 28-300mm the less I carry anything else, especially traveling or hiking. There are rare moments I really want something wider and will use the 16-35mm f4 but that is a pretty rare thing.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2013, 07:56:24 PM »
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Thanks. I have an older 80-200 2.8 and have been tempted to get the new 70-200 f4 and the 1.4 teleconverter or maybe this is an excuse to get the 300 f4 and the 1.4 teleconverter?

If you're asking about the Inside Passage, you're talking landscape.  I've found that the cropping availability of the D800 sensor is so great, you really don't need much more than 200mm.  But then, I never photograph animals except my cats.  And they're not allowed on LuLa.  : )

FWIW, I've just opened the box on my 70-200 f4 and after a dozen shots or so, I'm favourably impressed.  The small size and weight are a welcome relief after my older f 2.8 VR I model.  More later as I test. 
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bgpixelman
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« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2013, 08:37:48 PM »
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I finally broke down and got the 28-300 VR lens and been quite impressed with it too. Although, I have not tested it yet at the longer focal range. I also have and love the 16-35 VR lens. I also have a few primes. The combination of this camera body and lenses gives pretty amazing quality images.
Guess I need to get better acquainted with what I already have before buying more!
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PeterAit
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« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2013, 04:16:00 PM »
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First of all, usually on a boat, a tripod is out.  Too much boat movement.  The new 70-200 f4 will probably be your best friend.  I've just ordered one to replace my extremely useful but not sharp enough 70-200 f2.8 VRI.

The width of the Inside Passage varies considerably from hundreds of feet to tens of miles, depending on where you are.  The best glacier ops are in Juneau (Mendenhall Glacier) and of course, Glacier Bay. 

Glacier Bay is not part of the inside passage. The Mendenhall is not on the coast, you must drive to it. Not sure where exactly your ship is going, unfortunately the large ships can't get to the most interesting places. Tracy Arm has some wonderful ops, and if you can take a jet boat tour from Petersburg and/or Wrangell, go for it.
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Peter
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2013, 07:56:32 PM »
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Glacier Bay is not part of the inside passage.

But it is part of any cruise ship's route through the area.


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The Mendenhall is not on the coast, you must drive to it.

Not far from Juneau, if my memory serves me.  Lots of buses available.  Maybe this has changed.

 
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Not sure where exactly your ship is going, unfortunately the large ships can't get to the most interesting places. Tracy Arm has some wonderful ops, and if you can take a jet boat tour from Petersburg and/or Wrangell, go for it.

Agreed. Tracy Arm is superb.  Not for the typical large vessel.
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PeterAit
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« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2013, 10:32:34 AM »
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Glacier Bay is certainly lovely, but I found the most interesting part to be the stop at the ranger station near the entrance to the bay. They have trails that give you a look at the natural forest habitat, old trees, ponds, and a host of photo ops. Not sure if the big ships stop there.

The Mendenhall is not that interesting. The trails and visitors' center were built a number of years ago, and since then the glacier has retreated a long way due to global warming. So there you are in this terrific visitors' center and the glacier, which used to be right there, is now 2 miles away. 2000mm lens anyone?

Alaska is a great place, a photographer's paradise. Have a ball!
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Peter
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Chris Calohan
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« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2013, 07:33:48 PM »
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Been on several Alaska cruises and I can tell you, you aren't going to get very close to a glacier. At tops, a 1/2 mile but doubtful even that close. Too much danger if one produced a large calfing (some as big as the Empire State building)...lots of wave action even at a mile out. Still, the 70-200 or the 70-200 with 1.7 converter would be handy.

What you want to do is get near the fore deck early in the morning, just as the sun is rising when inside the passage...ooooh, lots of great wildlife, eagles, dolphins, orcas and the occasional whale. I've even seen bear and you'll be amazed at how close they come to shore in some places.

As to tripods, it depends on the ship but if the seas are calm and you're on the inside, a tripod will certainly help. I did a 3 second night exposure on the Allure of the Seas and it is dead on steady, perfect. I posted it on here somewhere.
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Alan Klein
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« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2013, 09:36:32 PM »
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My inside passage cruise took us to Hubbard Glacier not Glacier Bay.  Since I use a medium format (Mamiya RB67) I always used my tripod.  Although this picture was taken from afar, the ship actually stopped about 1/2 mile from the glacier. Pretty much all lenses would work.  Some of the crew got dressed in cold water suits and swam aound near the glacier and ran some motor boats so there was interesting activity beside the glaciers.  Since you'll be standing on deck for awahile, take a warm jacket as it gets cold around the glacier even in summer. http://www.flickr.com/photos/alanklein2000/6060527164/
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2013, 10:44:10 PM »
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then the glacier has retreated a long way due to global warming. So there you are in this terrific visitors' center and the glacier, which used to be right there, is now 2 miles away. 2000mm lens anyone?

Sheez.  I was last there in the 70s.  I guess things have changed.
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bgpixelman
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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2013, 10:20:18 AM »
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I wanted to thank all of you for your replies. They are much appreciated! I have a much better sense of what to expect. Alan, thanks for posting an image, it got me real excited. About 15 years ago I drove to Alaska, from Kentucky, shooting 6x17 panoramics and chrome film. I look forward to this perspective from the water. Wink
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arlon
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« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2013, 04:24:35 PM »
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Other lenses I carry on trips from time to time are the old 80-400mm VR  and a 50mm f1.4. The 80-400mm is a slow focusing lens that really doesn't seem to sharpen up till you're at f11 but it does take very sharp images on the d800e around f11. It's a lens that always gets tossed in the truck on a road trip unless I'm really strapped for space. Seldom gets used but the odd shot where the 300mm isn't enough, it does work well and is fairly compact (still wouldn't hike very far with it). I also have a cheap plastic 50mm f1.4 for road trips. They 50mm does get used a lot for indoor shots when I don't want a flash (or a big zoom lens) drawing attention. Between the ISO performance of the newer cameras and large aperture of the 50mm 1.4 you can almost shoot in a closet and nobody notices it. I seldom leave the house for an overnight trip without the 50mm F1.4, just nothing better for 90% of my indoor shots (best on an FX camera). It's especially useful with the cropability on the d800s... Meal shots, night shots, cabin shots, self shots, all that stuff my wife likes usually ends up being done with the 50mm after the sun goes down..
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bdosserman
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« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2013, 12:26:32 AM »
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For the glaciers, I'd think you'd want both something quite wide and something longer. My recollection from the last time I was there was that we got rather close to one very wide glacier in Glacier Bay; enough so that maybe I didn't have anything wide enough to fit it all in the frame. But other glaciers were further away. Longer lens are also good for icebergs, and to some extent wildlife, although if you're on a big ship you'll probably need an extremely long lens for wildlife. The cruise I was last on did Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm, but was too big to get very far up Tracy Arm (in particular, didn't get close to the glaciers there at all). As for Mendenhall, you can do a canoe trip that gets right up close to the glacier, and was kind of fun.

Brian
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