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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎12-11-2017

Advice on equipment for Alaska trip

Hi- I’m seeking photo equipment advice for trip to Alaska next year. I have a Canon 7D M II and a 100-400 zoom lens. What additional equipment would you recommend? I’m considering a wider angle lens suitable for landscapes, a polarizer filter and a remote control. Is there anything else you would recommend? Please include specific brands and models if you have them. Thank you!

Honored Contributor
Posts: 5,839
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Advice on equipment for Alaska trip

I would recommend a good ND filter, or two, or even a good variable ND filter.  I would also recommend having a backup of everything, when it is practical to do so.  For example, do not carry just one rain cover for the camera.

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Reputable Contributor
Posts: 909
Registered: ‎02-06-2013

Re: Advice on equipment for Alaska trip

Alaskan landscapes are breathtaking...so I'd bring something like a 16-35mm and a tripod with you, along with other landscapes accessories.  The 100-400 is also a really good choice for wild life and icebergs/glaciers.  And don't forget rain equipment during the summer...it tends to rain a lot.

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Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,176
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Advice on equipment for Alaska trip

The answers depend on how much you want to fuss over your images and how you plan to visit. 

 

Are you in a group?  Are you able to work at your own pace?  Is your primary purpose or major goal of the trip to do photography?

 

I own a set of gradient neutral density filters... but this is a lot of fuss if you’re not specifically there for the primary goal of doing landscape photography.  In other words, if you are there with other people (friends/family/etc) and photographs become incidental things you do throughout the day rather than structuring the day around the photography, then I wouldn’t recommend gear that involves a lot of fuss.

 

A wide-angle lens for landscape is recommended... the 16-35 III is basically the pinnacle of all the options.  There are a few wider lenses such as the new 11-24mm... these are not cheap lenses.

 

The polarizer does need to specifically be a “circular polarizer” (sometimes abbreviated “CPL” filter).  In the days of manual focusing film cameras that didn’t use built-in light meters, the polarizer was a simple “linear polarizer” (sometimes called a “top polarizer”).  But polarized light makes the auto-focus sensors struggle and it also gives the built in metering system some complications.  To fix this, the “circular” polarizer is actually a “linear polarizer” in front, with a quarter-wave plate immediately behind it ...  the quarter-wave plate (it’s a layer .. you don’t actually see two pieces of glass) alters the polarized light in such a way that it doesn’t create problems for the auto-focus or metering sensors in the camera.  Any camera that supports phase-detection based auto-focus or built-in metering should use a “circular polarizer” instead of a “linear polarizer”.

 

A standard “neutral density” filter is light sunglasses on your lens... it just dims the light.  But doing this allows you to do one of two things... you can either increase the exposure time (especially useful if you want to “blur” something in motion... such as a stream, waterfall, etc.). Or you can use a wider aperture (which results in a narrower “depth of field” so you can have a sharp subject and a blurred background.)

 

But then there’s something called a “gradient neutral density” filter.  These are typically rectangular (not round thread-on filters) and they “slide” into a filter-holder bracket.    The filter is tinted on one half... clear on the other half... with a transition from clear to tinted which is either rapid or slow.   The idea is that it allows you to darken the sky more than the foreground to create a more balanced expososure.  They come in “hard edge” (rapid tint change) or “soft edge” (slow tint change) versions... and even in different strengths (how dark the tint is).

 

If you’re pulling out gradient neutral density filters (abbreviated “GND”) then you are, by definition, “fussing” over the photo and taking your time to capture it.  This isn’t something you do in a hurry.  You switch on spot-metering and manually meter the sky... then manually meter the foreground... determine how many stops of difference there is between sky & foregrond... then select the appropriate filter based on the difference that meter reported.

 

If you are with friends and family who are NOT photographers... this is the point where they start to give you the evil eye and regret you coming along on the trip.  (Hence my previous questions).

 

BEFORE YOU GO... any new gear you pick up will need a full shake-down with lots of practice sessions.   The time to learn about new techniques and how to use new gear is not in the midst of the trip.

 

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎12-11-2017

Re: Advice on equipment for Alaska trip

You asked some really good questions and helped me manage my expectations. I will be traveling on a small ship with about 100 passengers (and my husband). I really don’t want to fuss too much with my camera, but would like to capture the beauty and wildlife around me. I also don’t want to ignore my husband by being too pre-occupied with my camera. We will have land excursions. 

 

I’d also like to use the same lens for a trip to the Smokey Mountains and something I can use in Florida, where we live and have a lot of water and sunshine. So, while I’m asking for advice, what filter is better for photographing animals in the water, such as manatees and fish?

 

I do do plan to get the lens months before out trips so I can learn to use it. 

 

Thank you you for your great advice!

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,176
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Advice on equipment for Alaska trip

In that case I'd just get a moderately wide-angle lens (the EF 16-36mm f/2.8L USM III is THE lens (about $2200 but currently available on holiday special pricing for about $2k)... but honestly you wont really need or use the f/2.8 focal ratio for landscapes.  There is also an f/4 version of the lens (about $1100 but currently available on holiday special pricing for about $1000).

 

For landscape photography you generally want most of the scene in focus and that means you'll be using higher focal ratios... perhaps f/11 or f/16. 

 

From a distance, most of the time you'll probably want to use your 100-400.  But wide-ish angle lenses are very nice when you are closer to the landscape and want to take in a broad view.  If you want to photograph wildlife then the Canon 1.4x III tele-converter will change the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 to a 140-560mm f/6.3-8 so you can photograph from a safe distance.  

 

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
VIP
Posts: 8,449
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Advice on equipment for Alaska trip

OK here is what I would use if I had a 7D Mk II.  Great camera BTW.

 

Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens for Canon

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 for Canon EF

 

Those are the lenses I would take but I would select from them for the specific outing you are about to go on.

 

Not wanting to go that deep into photography, my short list is;

 

Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 for Canon EF

 

I would not take a tripod since you don't sound like photography is your main most concern.  They are cumbersome and hard to handle when you don't need them.  Which also makes the short list more favorable to you.  Remember, it isn't fun if you have to work at it.  That said you can come back with some breath taking shots with just the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens and Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 for Canon EF.  You can sell the 100-400mil to help fund this.  It just isn't long enough for Alaska unless you devote time in getting close.  That may not be possible!

 

Don't make a chore out of your photography.  Bring back some memories instead.

 

 

 

A lot less stuff for 2018 but still a lot of Canon stuff. Along with, a lot of other stuff.
Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,858
Registered: ‎02-26-2015

Re: Advice on equipment for Alaska trip

[ Edited ]

ebiggs1 wrote:

 

Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens for Canon

 


I agree with those as your wide angle choices, especially the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 over the Canon EF 16-35. Since the Canon is a full frame lens you are paying a lot for edge to edge sharpness that you literally never see on an 7D Mk II.

 

Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,858
Registered: ‎02-26-2015

Re: Advice on equipment for Alaska trip


TTMartin wrote:

ebiggs1 wrote:

 

Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens for Canon

 


I agree with those as your wide angle choices, especially the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 over the Canon EF 16-35. Since the Canon is a full frame lens you are paying a lot for edge to edge sharpness that you literally never see on an 7D Mk II.

 


For the longer end your EF 100-400 L IS II is ideal. If you don't have the version II of the 100-400 it is worth upgrading.

 

If you do have the version II add the Canon 1.4X TC III to your list as it works great with the newer lens and the 7D Mk II.

 

For a mid range lens, the EF 18-135 IS STM or nano-USM is the lens of choice. 

I don't see the need for the EF-S 17-55 f/2.8. If you need the wide aperture go with the Sigma at 35mm and f/1.8. For the rest of your needs it is just a duplication.

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Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,858
Registered: ‎02-26-2015

Re: Advice on equipment for Alaska trip


Sandy_T wrote:

 

So, while I’m asking for advice, what filter is better for photographing animals in the water, such as manatees and fish?

 


A circular polarizing filter will allow you to see through the glare on the surface of the water for pictures of manatees or fish.

cp

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