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Lenses for Alaska?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Paintguru, Mar 28, 2007.

  1. Paintguru


    Dec 28, 2006
    Detroit, MI
    I currently have an 18-70mm lens and I would like to pick up one more for my Alaska Cruise in June. I was thinking of the 70-300VR. Any reason not to go with this? I would like a lens that I will use long past this trip and my budget is about $500. Thanks.
  2. Chris,

    I was in Alaska a couple of years ago. I brought 10.5, 17-55, 70-200 and 300 f/4 along with TC1.7. I felt that I was fine on the wide end with the 17-55 (only using the fish occasionally), but there are huge (really huge) open spaces and sometimes the animals are far away. Take a long a lens as you can. Here's a link to some of Alaska photos.


  3. If that is your budget, that would be the best lens, IMHO :smile: I bought that one to supplement others, especially for handholding and it is a great lens, but it is not one that you could put TC's on, too slow at the distance end. But, for the budget it is the best. If you had a bit more to spend you could maybe look at the Sigma 100-300 f4, which I have heard does do very well with TC's. My husband and myself are going on an Alaskan cruise in July, so have been putting together my stuff too.:smile:

  4. If you can stretch it a little and have a tripod to take there is a Sigma 50-500 for sale on the cafe.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  5. Paintguru


    Dec 28, 2006
    Detroit, MI
    My problem with this is I just don't know how much I would need 500mm after Alaska.

    I assume TCs simply extend the zoom of the lens? As David knows, I'm still learning the in's and out's of this whole photo-graphy thing :) .
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  6. TC's also change the aperture.

    For example Flygirl1 mentioned the Sigma 100-300 f4. A really good lens, add a 1.4TC on the lens and it becomes a 140-420 f5.6. I have heard of people putting a TC on the 70-300, but that would make the 300mm a 420mm f8. That is not enough light in general for the camera to focus, meter, etc. But the lens is not made for a TC and at 70mm the front element of the lens will hit the TC.

    When I go (as we talked, also this summer) I'll be getting one of these four:

    Nikon 70-300 VR
    Nikon 80-400 VR (sold one in January and may get one back)
    Sigma 80-400 OS (their version of VR)
    Sigma 50-500 (called Bigma)

    One interestin thing about the Sigma 50-500 is that it is made to work with a TC. They have a limiter switch to stop the lens from hitting the TC. At f8 it may be really slow but there is a lot of light in Alaska depending on what you are shooting.

    The 70-300 and 80-400 (either) are much better as a walking around telelphoto because of the VR/OS.

    But again, with out VR/OS you'll probably want a tripod.

    Even if I get a lens with VR, I'll probably bring a tripod anyway for landscapes.
  7. Dave


    Feb 7, 2007
    Suwanee, GA
    I would suggest the 70-300 VR also. It is light enough to walk around with and VR helps so that you don't need to have a tripod with you. I don't know what kind of vacations you take, but I have never taken a tripod on a vacation and if I tried it my wife would probably keep walking and leave me there with it as I setup for a shot. Now, if I was getting paid for my pictures, sure I would use the tripod and she would be more understanding, but I'm not. :) 

    Have fun on your trip! My wife and I are working on taking that cruise up through Alaska ourselves here soon.
  8. dagored


    May 4, 2005

    Take a long lens. You will need it. Where are you traveling to?

    I took a Nikon 70-300 D-ED and the 18-70 that came with my D70, three years ago.

    Inside passage
  9. rvink


    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    I think that's the best choice. With two lenses you have 18-300mm covered with no gaps or overlaps. Both lenses accept 67mm filters so you will be able to share caps and filters. 300mm on the long end is more than long enough (it's equivalent to 450mm supertele on a film camera). VR will definitely help to keep the lens steady.
    You may also want to consider a small, fast lens like a 35/2, 50/1.8 or 85/1.8 for low light shots. Take a polarizer - it will really help to boost the colors.
  10. Paintguru


    Dec 28, 2006
    Detroit, MI
    Good tips. I was thinking of trying to find a 50/1.8 right away, since that would be a handy indoor lens for just around $100. Of course, I did want to get a macro down the line as well which are usually also handy portrait lenses, correct?
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