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Lens choice for a trip to the Galapagos Islands ?

Discussion in 'Wanderlust and Travel' started by Dunnart, Jun 30, 2008.

  1. Hi folks

    I was hoping someone might be able to help me out here if you have been lucky enough to get to the Galapagos recently.

    Its early stages yet, but I will be in Bolivia in November 2009 for a conference and I am thinking of taking the opportunity to head back to the Galapagos Islands for a tour.

    I was fortunate to visit the islands in 1998 where I used an F70 with 24-120 lens. It gave me some pretty good results, but I know I can do better now (I can afford better lenses now :) . From memory, I found the 24-120 a little short sometimes, but it was generally a pretty good focal range as you can get very close to the wildlife a lot of the time.

    I am prepared to carry more photographic gear this time so I'm starting to think about what lenses I should take.

    My current kits is made up of
    50 f1.8
    17-55 dx
    80-200 (2 ring)
    300 f4
    28-105 f3.5-4.5
    Tokina 20-35 f2.8
    Tokina 12-24 dx f2.8
    Tokina 1.4 TC

    I'm prepared to take both bodies and up to three lenses. Currently this would be the 12-24 dx, 17-55 and the 80-200.

    However, I'm starting to think the Beast or its newer incarnation the 24-70 might be a useful focal length, especially on the dx cameras and it would be a good excuse to get one:) . One of these lenses would replace the 17-55.

    If Nikon brings out a fx body with the low light capabilities of the D3 in a D300 type body and price range (yeh right !) I might well be tempted to buy it and take it along instead of one of my other bodies.

    Sorry about the long post, but if anyone has been to the islands recently, I'd like your opinion on lens selection and any other comments and suggestions you might have (not including offers to carry my bags:) .
  2. Hi Steve,

    I too am hoping to travel there in Nov'09 and was recently researching this same issue. I think this is one of the best articles I've read so far: http://www.bythom.com/gallens.htm

    Key points:

    You need waterproof cases for your gear.
    Wildlife isn't too far away, so big guns aren't really necessary.
    Keep weight in mind.

    My plan: 14-24, 28-105, and possibly a 70-300 (if I buy one). Otherwise, 80-200 + 1.4TC, and 50/1.4 for shallow DOF work.
  3. Hi Gretchen

    Thanks for the link - it was a good read and exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for.

    I didn't quite get the same messages from the article as you did. The messages I got were;

    1. take a waterproof bag
    2. take a wide angle lens - at least 24mm wide
    3. don't worry too much about the mid range (Tom would take the 17-55)
    4. take longer focal lengths - even though animals will be close - 300 to 400 (the 70-300vr looks like a good option here and may be better than the 80-200 + 1.4tc)

    Thanks again Gretchen and I hope you have a great trip.
  4. Whoa !! Just finished reading Gretchen's post when I find the announcement of the D700 !!!

    The drool has started already :biggrin:
  5. I am interested in this too, as my wife and are are considering a trip to the Galapagos and Machu Picchu next year.

    However, I think this thread is in the wrong forum. "Wanderlust" is for posting travel photos.
  6. Hi Jim

    I must admit, I thought about posting this thread in either the bird or other animal forums, but I thought there might be more chance of someone who reads this thread having travelled to the Galapagos recently . The Galapagos is a fairly unique place photographically - you can get much closer to the wildlife than is usual for nature photography and so I am trying to tap into some fairly specific photographic experience.

    If I don't get much of a response (although Gretchen's was very useful), I'll cross post the thread to some other forums.

    I've been to Machu Picchu before. It gets really crowded between 11 am - 2pm when all the tour groups turn up. I suggest you stay in Agua Calliente, the town below the site, for a couple of nights and take a bus up to the site. That way you can get a few hours photography in before and after the crowds are there.

    I hope you and your wife have a great trip to the Galapagos and Machu Picchu - they are both very special places.
  7. I'll move it over to Wanderlust. :smile:
  8. :confused: 

    I actually thought Lens Lust would be a better choice. That's where I post my lens questions.

    Thanks, Steve, for the Machu Picchu advice. If we go, it will most likely be with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) or Linblad Expeditions. They take care of all the details.
  9. cvansickler


    May 17, 2008
    Is Galapagos seasonal? Better times to visit than others.
  10. I'm not sure cvanslicker, my timing is dictated by other circumstances. I was there in Oct or Nov last time and the weather was pretty good. Not much rain.

    El Nino and La Nina patterns are probably more important as they not only influence rainfall in that part of the world, but they also influence seafood abundance (has to do with ocean currents I think), which influences the amount of wildlife on the islands (if there is less seafood, they stay away from the islands for longer while they search for food).
  11. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    I visited Machu Picchu and the Galapagos and enjoyed them very much.

    Machu Picchu presents opportunities to capture photos of the ruins and the landscape. The Galapagos offers unprecendeted opportunities to get up close and personal with a wide variety of species.

    For my trip I had the newer version of the 24-120 VR and my trusty 80-200/2.8. These lenses covered almost every shot I wanted. Of course, on my D100 they equated to a 36-180 and a 120-300/f2.8.

    Certainly the 17-55 or the 24-70 would be a nice upgrade from the 24-120. And while the 70-300 is a little lighter and longer, it's hard to leave behind such a sharp lens as the 70-200 or the 80-200. Augment these with either the 12-24 or the 14-24 and you'll have the wide end covered. That's just 3 lenses! If you want, you could add a 1.4 tele. I did use my tripod a lot!

    I never found the need for a waterproof bag, but then I was athletic and had no problem getting in and out of the pangas.

    One more note. I took the OAT trip. Nice, but geared to old clientele who may not cover ground very quickly or be very stable on their feet. Our guide actually had us join another tour group because they took longer trails and went to more varied areas where the paths were a little more rocky.

    Don't underestimate the power of the sun at the equator. Take a heavy duty sunscreen and use it!

    Enjoy! I'd go again if I got half the chance!
  12. We were there in November 1997 and it seemed like we saw about everything. If I recall correctly :confused:  I think the Albatross and Sea Turtle nesting is seasonal (we saw only one Albatross on one island but several breeding Sea Turtles while snorkeling). Most of the rest of the critters were year round, the isolation is what makes for the odd species, per Darwin, they can't get off the islands to interbreed.

    Bob & Nan
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