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Alaska cruise lens suggestions??

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by jcm5, Jun 10, 2014.

  1. jcm5

    jcm5 Mu-43 Veteran

    212
    May 12, 2014
    USA
    Hi, my family and I are planning a trip probably next year and I don't think my current set up of EM10 + primes would help me in getting certain shots. Does anyone have any suggestions for a lens that could possibly work well in that kind of environment (or even from personal experience from going on the Alaska trip themselves)?

    Thanks so much. This forum has been such a great resource!
     
  2. foxtail1

    foxtail1 Science geek & photo nut

    Dec 30, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Kristi
    I probably got the most use from my Panny 100–300 mm. I just looked back through my album, and it's certainly the lens from which I got the most keepers, though I got some wonderful landscapes using wide angle (I have the Pan 7–14 mm). If you'd like to see my keepers, they're at https://www.flickr.com/photos/kristi_decourcy/sets/72157634189478908/.

    This is totally gratuitous advice, but if you're stopping in Skagway, I really recommend renting a car and driving up the Yukon highway. (I went as far as Carcross and Emerald Lake.) Amazing scenery and wildlife, and the cost to rent a car is much less than excursion prices. I paid $130 for the car, and the cost per person for any excursion was way above that.
     
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  3. jcm5

    jcm5 Mu-43 Veteran

    212
    May 12, 2014
    USA
    Thanks for the tip, I will def give that lens a hard look, it seems like it paid off for you. I'm definitely thinking a wide-angle + longer lens would be a good pair to take on this trip... now if I can just come up with the $ for them
     
  4. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    David
    Definitely something wide and the longest zoom.

    For a zoom I've taken to buy/sell for vacations. About a month or so before you plan on leaving start looking here and elsewhere for a 75-300/100-300. Buy it and then list it back for sale when you get home. Probably end up costing $50-$70 with fees and such to have the lens for a month if you buy and sell used, more if you buy new. Last time I did this was actually for a land/sea Alaska trip several years ago with the older Nikon 80-400. That's higher priced lens ($900-$1000 at the time) and I think it only cost me about $40 in the end.
     
  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    What is your current setup, and what are you lacking in?
     
  6. jcm5

    jcm5 Mu-43 Veteran

    212
    May 12, 2014
    USA
    I'm currently using only the 20mm f/1.7 and the 45mm f/1.8, though I've been in the market for a wide angle lens, but haven't found the right price used and hesitant about shelling out the big bucks for a new one (I'm thinking 7-14, 9-18, or 12mm, though on the cheap side, I've been curious whether the BCL 9mm could be a thrifty option at this point).
     
  7. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Hi,

    Took a Holland America cruise 4 years ago; I took a P&S; the only thing a longer lens would have been good for on my trip would have been the bald eagles I saw by the docks in one of the smaller ports (Sitka or Ketchican).
    Also a tele if you're interested in the calving glaciers, although I don't find them very interesting even with a good tele; they were very dirty-looking rather than blue.
    I didn't go on any of the inland tours to see bears, etc.; I stayed in the towns instead.

    If you're going to Butchart Gardens, you may want something with basic macro capabilities, but on our trip we got to the gardens around sunset and it was very dark soon after while we were inside.

    Take a fast normal or wide lens for inside the ship.

    Barry
     
  8. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    919
    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    I've been to Alaska twice, by plane to Anchorage, and by car to Skagway. In both cases we drove when inland, and made use of the Alaska Marine Ferry to move between some of the coastal towns. I didn't have the gear I have now. First time was film cameras and a compact digital. Second time was DLSR with the two basic kit lenses plus some compact digitals. I could get by with my EM5, 14-42 and 40-150 if I went again, but of course I gotta have my 9-18, and the fast primes. Add the fisheye too.

    Weather and luck will probably be a greater factor in your photography than your gear. On the coast. it seemed like it rained every morning, but often turned sunny in the afternoon. When you are subject to the schedule of cruise boat excursions, you might catch a good day or a overcast one. We took the White Pass train ride out of Skagway and it rained and turned partly cloudy, However, we already had seen a lot of that country driving south from the Yukon, and we stopped as needed to look and shoot.. It was overcast every day in Juneau so we never saw the Mendenhall glacier in the sun.

    We didn't go looking for wildlife much. I spent a morning looking for eagles at a bird refuge near Haines (which is so dead that the cruise ships no longer stop). Nada, unless you count birds high in the sky. Then we stopped at a McDonalds near Sitka for burgers, and the waterfront was full of them, close enough to use the 40-150. A passerby told me they called them dumpster chickens.

    Denali is a different. Our bus had bears circling it..




    .
     
  9. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    The 9-18mm is a very affordable lens, and a worthy value. I can't imagine you getting any cheaper than that for a decent ultra-wide. If you have a 4/3 mount adapter, you can get the 4/3 version for even cheaper. You don't need fast native autofocus on an ultrawide.
     
  10. foxtail1

    foxtail1 Science geek & photo nut

    Dec 30, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Kristi
    I had very good luck with the weather last year (almost exactly a year ago). It was warm and sunny every day except the day in Glacier Bay.

    One other thing — someone mentioned Butchart Gardens. I was very underwhelmed with Butchart Gardens. It was crowded, touristy, and had very common flowers, nothing that I couldn't see in a garden shop in Virginia. I wish I had instead explored downtown Victoria.
     
  11. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Btw, It rained a lot on our trip... Make sure to protect your gear.

    Barry


    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43
     
  12. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Hi, I'm happy with my BCL FishEye, especially for travel.

    Barry



    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43
     
  13. biomed

    biomed Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 22, 2013
    Seattle area
    Mike
    We have been to Alaska twice. I took all of my gear with me. The 25/1.4, 20/1.7 and the 45-200 saw the most use on my GH3 saw the most use. If you are in Skagway definitely ride the White Pass & Yukon RR. I posted a few photos from out last trip here.

    Mike
     
  14. db96

    db96 Mu-43 Regular

    145
    Jun 10, 2012
    Central Indiana
    Great question jcm5.
    We have booked an Alaska cruise for next summer for my parent's 50th anniversary. My husband and I are doing a week inland first, then meeting the family for the cruise.
    I think we have what we need in lenses, but I might pick up a 40-150 and the body cap fisheye.
    What I am really considering is a used E-M5 just to keep my 100-300 mounted on. I am more of a landscape and macro shooter, but I am afraid of fumbling with changing lenses when I need the longer zoom. (Once in a lifetime trip, you know.)
    Thanks everyone for sharing your photos!
     
  15. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Based on my trip to Alaska I'd recommend the 100-300 as the "MVP", especially for wildlife. Just about everything interesting was pretty far away so most of the best shots were at long focal lengths.

    Next to that, the most use was out of my 14-140mm lens. It was pretty bright out for most of the trip with the long summer days, so I rarely reached into the bag for my faster primes. I was also surprised to find I barely touched my 7-14. The landscape opportunities were *so* vast I actually shot tighter than I expected I would, and anyway the 14-140 was convenient to avoid lens changes on the go so I tended to shoot it instead.

    7868322414_b9a8af04a7_c.
    Grizzly on the Ridge 2 by jloden, on Flickr

    7861270880_5a5e44da7d_c.
    Mt. McKinley by jloden, on Flickr
     
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  16. jcm5

    jcm5 Mu-43 Veteran

    212
    May 12, 2014
    USA
    thanks for this suggestion, I think I'll have to put the 100-300 and 9-18 (maybe 7-14?!) on my next to-buy list. my related question is, do you guys think the lens prices would go down in the next 8-10 mos or do you think it's better to just make the purchase for these lenses if I see a decent deal for them either new/used? I know Amazon/BH/Adorama are running some sales right now (I forget if those 2 lenses are included) so I'm wondering if should just pull the trigger now or wait

     
  17. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    I could always be wrong, but I doubt prices on any of those are likely to drop any time soon with the exception of the 7-14mm. That one only because the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 will be coming eventually and *probably* will drive a bunch of people to sell their Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 lenses.
     
  18. jcm5

    jcm5 Mu-43 Veteran

    212
    May 12, 2014
    USA
    Darn, I had assumed as much...
     
  19. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    If you see a good deal, take it!

    You may want to consider the Oly 75-300 over the Pana 100-300; there's several threads about them here.

    Also, unless you're going on some wildlife excursions, or want to photograph the eagles in the harbor, or calving glaciers, you don't really need a long tele on a cruise.
    I only heard there was one set of whales and one bear spotted from the ship, the whole trip.
    I didn't see any large animals at Mendenhall glacier either; and it was drizzling so I'd recommend a sealed lens for excursions.

    Barry
     
  20. will_f

    will_f Mu-43 Regular

    54
    Sep 2, 2013
    On the boat you want as much range as possible. Lots of wildlife and you'll want to get close.

    A wide angle might be nice when off the boat. Grew up in AK and I can tell you the best opportunities will be off the boat out of town and either on an excursion or in the mountains. There a wide angle will be best.

    Will


    Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43 mobile app