Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

EOS Rebel T2i Whale watching lens recommendations


I'm going on a cruise to Alaska in Augusr 2024. I was given a Canon t2i camera with a efs60mm lens and an ef 75-300mm lens. Will these lenses be enough for whale watching and wildlife photos taken on excursions, or is there another lens I should be looking to purchase? Thanks




Hi and welcome to the forum:
I've done quite a bit of whale watching from Victoria, BC, Canada, and both US and Canadian authorities have a prohibition for whale watching boats as follows: 
"Federal law requires vessels to remain 100 yards away from humpback whales in Hawaii and Alaska waters, 200 yards from killer whales in Washington State inland waters, and 500 yards away from North Atlantic right whales anywhere in the U.S."
Now, that doesn't stop whales from getting close and personal but given that unless they are breaching, whales present quite a small target at those distances.   My personal suggestion would be to consider obtaining (this could be a purchase or a rental if you don't think you'll need it again) of the Sigma 150-600 Contemporary lens.  It is a brilliant optic, relatively light, and will give you a much closer view of whales.
Do take the shorter lens, because they can get close if they so choose.

All of these were taken, hand-held, with the Canon EOS 5DMkIII, and the EF 100-400L MkII, IS USM, but the first two were cropped quite a bit (I didn't have the longer lenses on this occasion).
A grey whale prepares to soundA grey whale prepares to sound A large grey whale sounding.A large grey whale sounding.

A male Orca cruises by - they have big dorsal finsA male Orca cruises by - they have big dorsal fins   Up close with three OrcasUp close with three Orcas
Sealions and Eagles.jpg  Sealions.jpg  

No matter what lens you use, you need to download the manual for your camera and become familiar with the controls: practise a lot, (try photographing birds in the meantime) so that you don't have to think about what to reach for.  Whales don't hang around, and having to spend time struggling with your controls will potentially cost you critical images.
You can find the manual here: eosrt2i-eos550d-im3-c-en.pdf (

I also suggest learning about whale behaviour (or any other wildlife you may encounter) so that you can appreciate the moment, but also have a better ability to anticipate what they might do next, lots of good videos on whales, just make sure you know which ones! You are liable to see sea lions, seals and various kinds of sea birds as well as whales.  If necessary, engage with the cruise line and they should be able to help with that - they may well publish info on their website.

If switching lenses in the field, turn off the camera and point it downwards to avoid dirt and spray from entering and impacting the sensor - that will screw up  your image. Keep front and rear lens caps on your cameras when not in use.   Try to keep the camera and lens dry, your T2i is not weather sealed and salt water is death to camera gear - investing in a weather cover, or even a clean bread bag is a good idea to protect your gear from rain and spray.

Take spare batteries and a charger, and a couple of cards - the compatible ones are listed in the manual.  At the end of each day, download your SD cards to a laptop or other device, put the cards back in the camera and format the cards in the camera.  Do not just delete the files, it can cause corruption errors.

cheers, TREVOR

"The Amount of Misery expands to fill the space available"
"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris


Excellent advice from Trevor. I have the Sigma 150-600mm. I like it for all kinds of shots- nature, sports, etc. I don't think you would be disappointed with it. Rent the lens if you don't want to by one unless you think it will be used in the future. FWIW, we have a sand hill migration locally. I have used the Sigma for the last two year. One is limited to access to the area so a long lens is needed.


Canon EOS T7; EF-S 18-55mm IS; EF 28-135mm IS; EF 75-300mm; Sigma 150-600mm DG



I was in Alaska mid August 2023 - September 1. 

We traveled from Seward to Vacouver BC (cruise).  We saw very few humpbacks.  I was told weather and climate conditions plays a big role in seasonal migration patterns.  This year we were a little late and they had started their southern migration just weeks before we arrived.  If you are traveling north at the start of your trip, you will likely see plenty of whales.  Don't expect to see a bunch of whales breeching.  Every once in a while you get lucky, but the majority of those shots can take hours to capture and are limited in duration.  

A good guide is helpful, he/she will tell you what to look for and how to understand whale behavior.  Similar to what Trevor mentioned above.  You can tell what the whale is going to do based on what its tail does.  It can be challenging catching shots and many times all you get is the tail.  A monopod can be helpful since it helps to be in a semi-ready to shoot position.  A whale can surface 10 yrds away or 100 yrds.  You just won't know.  So you keep your zoom in the middle and then stand ready to start snapping photos.  I had a bunch of lenses with me on my trip. I did use my RF 100-500 quite a bit.  For wildlife, a long lens makes a big difference.  

Since the T2i is 14 yrs old. Investing further in DSLRs or EF lenses should be done with consideration. Its capabilities are also limited in comparison to more modern body's.

I might consider renting one or more lenses and see if the T2i and lenses will meet your needs. You have 8 months before your trip.

Bay Area - CA

~R5 C ( ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10, 430EX III-RT ~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw/MF656Cdw ~Pixel 8
~CarePaks Are Worth It


I would definitely explore the, in this case, Sigma 150-600mm super zoom. Normally I recommend the Tamron G2 and perhaps even for you it may still be the better choice but on your Rebel T2i I think the big Siggy will be the way to proceed.

The advantage of the Tamron G2 is it is way more weather sealed than the Sigma but it costs a few hundred dollars more. However, it will better handle any ocean spray that might be a factor.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!