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Thread: Suggestions on gear to take on a quick trip to the tropics

  1. #1
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    Suggestions on gear to take on a quick trip to the tropics

    Hi,
    I would appreciate some advice from the experienced travelers on the forum!

    My wife and I are planning to spend our 25th anniversary in Costa Rica for about a week. It seems that every time I travel with the DSLR – I always over-pack. Any recommendations would be very much appreciated.
    I really enjoyed the pictures from Kayaker’s trip there earlier in the year – and would be glad to hear your opinion! It looks like many awesome shots used the 1.6x crop and 400mm combination.

    These are a few options I am considering:
    1) 5D3;8-15L;40pc;24-105L;70-200L2.8v2;2ext3;100L;(60D;300L4;1.4ext2 for telephoto)
    2) 5D3;8-15L;40pc;[70-300L-would need to buy];100L;(60D;300L4;1.4ext2 for telephoto)
    3) 5D3;8-15L;40pc;[70-300L-would need to buy];100L;300L4;1.4ext2 (heavy cropping in PP)
    4) 5D3;8-15L;40pc;[70-300L-would need to buy];100L;70-200Lv2;2ext3 (heavy cropping PP)
    5) S100

    As noted – I am considering buying the 70-300L for traveling, and would like to hear others thoughts on IQ satisfaction compared to the 24-105 f/4L and the 70-200f/2.8L v2 (at comparable apertures and focal distances) since that is what I am used to and happy with.
    I have spent hours comparing the ISO charts but also realize there is more to it than that.

    Would anyone recommend a speedlite flash for the wildlife there?

    Being an amateur – it is hard to say what “type” of photography best describes my interests (I still am shoting at everything that gets in front of me), but here are a few that may be helpful to your suggestions:
    -Wildlife (both telephoto and macro..nothing underwater unless it is through a glass bottom boat!)
    -Scenery/landscape (flowers, beaches, sunrise, rivers, etc.)
    -people (portrait, action)

    Thanks in advance – I really appreciate the great information provided by this site and forum.
    Brian

  2. #2
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    I say take the 5D III, rent a 300mm F/2.8 L II, a 1.4x extender, a 24mm F/1.4L or tilt shift and leave everything else at home. But…that is just me.

    I don’t like option 1 or 2, I would go with the 5D III and deal with the crop if I had to.

    Option 3 would be ok if you do not intend to carry everything. It would be a lighter option than 4.

    In option 4, why would you need the 70-300L if you are getting the 70-200mm L II with extenders? Seems like overlap. If I took my 70-200mm II I would leave the 100mm macro at home, unless I wanted to shoot macro. No reason to have it with the 70-200mm II. (or should I say limited reasons to have both, there is allot of overlap in use with owning both)
    Option 5 might be the best option if what you are really working on getting another 25 years of marriage.
    Last edited by HDNitehawk; 09-10-2012 at 04:48 PM.

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    Looks like option #1 with slight modification could work very well.

    I might omit the 300 f/4 since the 70-200 v2 works so well with extenders and you have the 100 macro.

    The 60D with 70-200 + 2X TC would be great for birds as well,..... so bring both bodies.

    The lenses NiteHawk suggests are an upgade for sure but you incur the rental costs.
    Last edited by Joel Eade; 09-10-2012 at 04:50 PM.

  4. #4
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    I can't comment on the majority of your post, but my 70-300L is far sharper than my 24-104mm ever was. The only question you should have about the 70-300L is whether the aperture is wide enough for you. Also keep in mind that it won't work on your extenders if they're Canon extenders.

    If it's just for the week of travel, consider renting it instead.

    The 100L should work as a nice portrait lens, and with the 5D3's IQ at higher ISOs you won't need a faster prime.

  5. #5
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    Brian,

    Where are you going? I'll write more later (just taking a break from work), but I was amazed at the low light in the rainforests. I had to go to ISO 6400 a couple of times with my f/5.6 glass. So the 5DIII or faster glass will be nice there. Also, good filters helped a lot. I used a CPL for many of my day shots on water to minimize glare. For sunsets I used the Singh Ray 3 stop reverse ND filter (the 4 stop may be better).

    Let me know where you are planning to go. But you should have a great trip. My wife and I liked it so much we are planning on going back March 2013.

    Thanks,
    Brant

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    Since you are traveling with your wife, and it is the anniversary, I would keep it to a minimum. And don't spend too much time with your face behind the camera, it gets old for spouses pretty quick. If you want to make her realyy happy, take the S100 only and take pictures of each other, or both of you together
    The maximum I would be willing to carry around when with family is one body and two zooms plus the pancake. I vote for the 24-105, 70-300L or the 70-200 with extender, and pancake on the 5D3. The 70-300 is smaller and lighter than the 70-200

    Happy anniversary!
    Arnt

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    Thanks guys! I am not very familiar with the geography of Costa Rica, I am trusting the travel agent a lot!! We are planning to stay at the Westin in Playa Conchal.

    You are right about not spending too much time behind the camera! great advice!

    Thanks.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Brian,

    Ha....my brother-in-law (and soon to be sister-in-law) will be staying at that same resort starting September 24. You are in the Guanacaste region at the top of the Nicoya Pennisula. It is not the part of Costa Rica I went too in March, but it is the general area my wife and I are looking into going next March. It is a dryer area of Costa Rica (a desert is just to your north) that should be very tropical. The area is known for great beaches and a few waterfalls further down on the Nicoya Peninsula. So, lots of beach/sunset pictures. I've seen pictures of monkeys and other wildlife from near the resort. There may also be a couple of estuary tours if you want to see birds/other wildlife. Overall, I would expect staying here to be much more about relaxation and beach sitting than photography (if we go there in the spring, that is what we'll be shooting for). I don't know if you have any escursions planned, but in general, I think most shots you take will be with a general purpose lens and a telephoto. Going back to you lists, the 5DIII, 24-105 should be great for landscapes and either the 70-300 L or 70-200 II with extenders for the telephoto. I would get some filters as you should have the opportunity for some excellent sunsets and maybe a tripod/gorillapod. Anything else would be extra, in my opinion.

    Quickly on my trip, I took the EFS 10-22 (hardly used it, but in the desert areas you may have better use of a wide angle), EF 15-85 (second most used lens on trip), 100 mm L macro (never left the pelican case, if I had gone to the frog ponds in Monteverde, I would have used it...next year ), and 100-400 L (most used lens, @ 400 mm). But I specifically targeted a number of their National Parks/refuges to see wildlife. I also had a flash/better beamer but was heavily discourage by the locals from using it on wildlife. I did use a CPL extensively during the day and 3 Stop-reverse ND filter for sunsets (as I said above, 4 stop may be better).

    I'll try to look in our guidebooks to see if anything else jumps out.

    But, mostly, you should have a great trip. I don't want to create too high of expectations as expectations can kill anything, but it was fun. Good, different experience.

    Brant

  9. #9
    Senior Member thekingb's Avatar
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    I'd keep the kit to a minimum. If you are worried about the weight of the 70-200, the 70-300L is a fantastic travel lens. Combined with the 24-105 on the 5D3, you arguably wouldn't need anything else other than accessories. Maybe a fast prime. Have fun!

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    Thanks

    Sorry for the long post – instead of replying individually, I put everyone’s together!
    Thanks so much for all the suggestions – I am glad there are several weeks yet before we leave so I can consider everyone’s input. Thanks for everyone’s concern that I take good care of my wife. That is my #1 priority…as many older and wiser men have said “A happy wife = A happy life”. I am thankful to have been married to my best friend this long and am being careful not to let a hobby endanger that. This trip is still a surprise to her – and I assume it will remain a surprise, as she has never been interested in reading an online photography forum!

    HDNitehawk – Thanks for the input, I had not considered renting the 300f/2.8 or the other lenses, it is definitely something to check into (I have never rented a lens so am a little apprehensive to break myself in on this trip!). You are right about the overlap in the 70-300 and 70-200. Maybe I should rent the 70-300 and leave the 70-200 at home. Good point on the macro too – my “macro” is probably more accurately “close-up”…I don’t have the rails and ring flashes, etc. – I just like the IQ capabilities of the 100mmL handheld.

    Joel – Thanks, you are right about the 300f4 – that has been my favorite for birds (60D-300f4+1.4vii) so I tend to bring it along more than I need to. Bringing the 60D body along is great for close-ups too. If my 1.4 extender worked as well on my 70-200 as is does on the 300 – I would probably sell the 300…but for some reason, IQ of the 1.4ii disappoints on the 70-200 (but the 2.0iii extender is great on that lens). The difficulty for me is when I use the 70-200 2.8 with the 2.0extender – the whole setup is very heavy and unwieldy. After holding that for a while – the 300-1.4 combo feels like a breath of fresh air!

    David – I appreciate your comparison of the 70-300 and the 24-105. I am now considering renting the 70-300 (maybe leaving the 24-105 and 70-200 at home). The 8-15, 40mm, 70-300 would be a compact option.

    Brant – Thanks so much for sharing pictures from your trip, and also the very helpful tips. I am checking into the CPL and ND filters you recommended (there seem to be a lot of options!) – I am not very experienced with them, so it will be a great opportunity to learn (without adding too much weight to the luggage!).
    I appreciate any insider suggestions on tours from you and your brother-in-law. Hopefully we will be able go on a couple tours, we won’t be leaving for several more weeks (early October) – look forward to hear how their trip goes, and any other travel info you would like to share! One that looks interesting is the “water safari” type tour – it looks like you might be able to get fairly close to the wildlife along the river, from a dry, shaded boat.
    Using the Speedlite for wildlife will come off the list – thanks! Some of my favorite pictures have come from the 100mm – but you are right, when I travel with it – too often it never comes out of the bag. Since I have a bad habit of NOT using a tripod – your reminder to take that is helpful. It sounds like once you go to Costa Rica, you start planning your next trip when you get home!

    ahab1372 and jrw - Thanks for the suggestions! Maybe I will try to keep my face in the camera on a photo walk, only when she is enjoying the SPA

    Brian – Thanks for the suggestion – you are right, my only concern with the 70-200 is the weight. Based on the ISO charts I just struggle with the 70-300 compared to the 70-200 IQ – but I see so many awesome pictures from it, I really appreciate real life input from experienced users like you.

    Thanks again to everyone – since I have a really busy schedule between now and when we leave, it is helpful to have the experienced input from all of you. It will save me a lot of time when I start packing – and has given me many great things to consider that I had not thought about.
    Brian

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