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Long Lens for Alaska

Discussion in 'Special Sessions, Events, and Tour Announcements' started by jklofft, May 1, 2005.

  1. I'm going to Alaska for 2 weeks this summer. I'm trying to decide if I should buy (or rent) a 300 f/2.8 VR. I have a 70-200VR and both the TC14 and TC17, but I'm not sure that 340mm will be long enough for some of the wildlife. Weight is the key thing keeping me from taking the 300. What are people's thoughts? Thanks in advance.
  2. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005

    If you are going to be shooting wildlife, then no question, you need something longer than the 70-200VR. I have one, and all three type II TC's. I shot a lot of birdie pics with it, and finally gave up and got the 300 2.8. I couldn't be happier with the results.

    I do suggest that if you are going to rent instead of buy, you might even want to consider the 500 F4.

  3. drueter


    Apr 24, 2005
    Southeast Texas
    Jeff -- I was in Alaska for 2 weeks last summer and the longest lens I had was 70-300. That was way too short for most of the wildlife shots. If I was going again, I'd want at least the 200-400 or a 500 along with the TCs you have.
  4. Jeff,

    We spent three weeks in Alaska last summer. The longest lens we had was a 70-300ED. It depends where you are going to know if that is enough. Shooting from a ship or in a place like Brooks Lodge in Katmai National Park it is probably enough, in Denali National Park you need all you can get... 500mm is better than 300 but the critters are more likely at 1000+ range.
    You might want to take a look at the four postings I did in this forum:

    It is a neat place to take photos!!
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  5. Hi Jeff,

    It really depends on how you are going to Alaska. Are you going on a cruise ship with excursions or flying/driving on your own? This makes a big difference.

  6. Joe,

    The answer is a little of both. We're starting with a week long Northbound cruise. We'll be doing one or two flight tours. At the end of the cruise, we are renting a car and driving to Anchorage for a day. After that we are going on a small group (16 people group) tour to the Kenai pennsula and Denali National Park (both Telketna and Kantishna). Finally back in Anchorage for a couple of days.
  7. Hi Jeff,

    I did the Alaska cruise thing (got a free ticket when a friend of mine had to cancel) and took the 600mm f/4 AFS I.

    It never left the ship.

    I did get a few really nice shots with it (including a lady flashing the boat from her hotel room as we pulled out) but it was waaaay to heavy to lug off the ship for excursions (2 plane, 1 helicopter, 2 boat).

    What I did use was the 70-200VR with TC14. That was my primary lens for whales, eagles, wildlife in general otherwise it was all wide. Alaska is built for wide angle photographs and panoramas.

    The thing is, with the cruise lines the excursions don't allow you any time to sit still and focus on the photography and you can't get to the good stuff without doing the excursions (it was my first time to Alaska).

    I now have the 200-400VR and I would recommend it. Now that I've been I would not recommend the 500 or 600 maybe not even the 400 2.8 as they are all too heavy to lug around waiting to be used.

    If you know you'll have time to focus on photography, bring what you can, otherwise, go light. The big glass is really only good for wildlife anyway so make the determination what you're going to focus on and bring what's appropriate.

    It was also hell getting that 600 on/off the plane (got some fun looks) as well as taking care of it. Got some awsome reach with the TC14 on it though (840mm).

    Finally, if I were you, I would not be nervous about going up there with a maximum length of 200-300mm and I'd also suggest that if you don't have one, bring a high quality wide angle lens as the scenic up there is out of this world!

    Have a great time, it sounds like a fantastic trip you have planned!

  8. Hi Joe,

    Can we see that shot for technical purposes? :p :p :p 
  9. Of course Jonathan!

    D100, 600mm f/4 AFS I:

    Note: If the powers that be object to this image, please let me know and I'll take it down.
  10. *LMAO* I think her paint is peeling :)  Proud thing, isn't she!!!???
  11. ScubaDuc

    ScubaDuc Guest

    Have not been to Alaska yet but I hear it is wonderful. I do have a bit of experience shooting wildlife in Africa and having spent days trekking in the Okavango delta, I can only begin to appreciate the needs of a wildlife photographer

    Regarding the lens choice, I guess it would depend if you are using a digital or a 35 mm film body.
    VR is less important if you are shooting slides

    I still like the latter and I use a Nikkor 500 mm f 8 reflex. It is a bit bulky but less so then normal lenses and the manual focus is a beauty. Quite light if you remove the tripod attachment also. You can probably get one dirt cheap at a second hand shop. Normally, I also carry a Nikkor 200 mm IF Micro, a small zoom (35-70 Micro), and the wonderful Nikkor 20 mm f4. A second body is great if you have a bit of room left.....

    I would commend a ring flash if you are into micro photography

    Happy shooting!
  12. Depends on the camera body. For example, if you had the D2X, your 200/2.8 with the 1.7x would be equivalent ( in 35mm) to a 680mm f/4.8, when shooting in the high speed mode. This would be a nice relatively light weight alternative.l My experience there was with film and the the 500/4.0 with 1.4 and 2x. I could of used more lens for some shots, but with lighter weight gear, I might of hiked more. There's probably a lot of 'right' answers. Have a great trip.
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