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Thread: Dream with me: Alaska Cruise v3.00

  1. #1
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    Dream with me: Alaska Cruise v3.00

    Some may remember my previous post about picking rental lenses for an Alaska cruise at http://community.the-digital-picture...ead.php?t=7434 - thanks again for everyone's commentary.

    We did another (shorty) Alaska cruise in April, and I had a blast with gear. My wife had a 5D3 with 11-24 and 24-105, and a 7D2 with 70-300L. I had a 1D3 with 16-35/2.8II, a 1Dx with 100-400II (and a 14/2.8II for true wide needs), and a 1Dx with 600/4II and 1.4x TC III. We also took the 85/1.2II and the 100/2.8 Macro IS for fun.

    We're thinking of doing another Alaska cruise in August, and I want to ask your opinions and insights for the wide end of what I plan to take. I'm pretty well set on the 1Dx/100-400II and the 1Dx/600 with TCs (I'll probably take a 1.4x and a 2x just to play a bit). However, I've decided that my trusty 1D3 is not only showing its age (ISO limit of 3200) but the 1.3x crop factor is also "inconvenient". So...assume money is no object BUT that I don't have a sherpa to carry a plethora of lenses. Figure that I'm willing to carry two lenses in the 11mm-99mm range, I'm willing to tolerate a reasonable gap between what I do carry in the 11-99 range and the 100-400, and that I'll be shooting either from a cruise ship (possible tripod at times, otherwise handheld), possibly walking around town (assume handheld), or possibly on an excursion (lighthouse/totems/eagles tour on a boat, whale watch on a boat plus glacier viewing "hike" on foot, photo safari by van with some time on foot, whale watch into sunset). Which of these lenses and cameras would you pick (two lenses max, one camera max):

    11-24/4, 14/2.8II, 16-35/2.8II, 16-35/4IS, 24-70/2.8 (I own v1, but could rent a v2 if worthwhile), other suggestions are reasonable.
    6D, 5D Mark III, 5Ds R, 5Ds.

    Specifically, is the 5Ds[R] a waste if handheld?

    Sidebar: as much as I absolutely loved the 11-24, odds are extremely high that I'd rent one for my wife, and could use it when we weren't on an excursion, but would probably feel like it's a waste to rent two of them "just to have it all the time". We already own the 14/2.8II, the 16-35/2.8II, and the 24-70/2.8, but would rent the 16-35/4IS and/or the 24-70/2.8II if there was reasonable input from the forum that they'd make a difference. I also feel like the 11-24 is so big that it'd be a challenge to use with my existing LowePro LensExchange 200 case.

    Thoughts?
    We're a Canon/Profoto family: five cameras, sixteen lenses, fifteen Profoto lights, too many modifiers.

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    I'll reply "immediately" with a twist worth mentioning. Last year, when the cruise visited Tracy Arm, we opted for the $200pp excursion that allows 150 people to board a "small" boat right off the cruise ship and go further into Tracy Arm, allowing some spectacular glacier viewing that was second to none. I suspect we'd be booking this cruise too late to get tickets for that excursion in August, but if we do I have a thought: the aft corners of the small boat on the lower deck are normally off-limits to passengers, but I'm tempted to contact the tour operator ahead of time to see if I could clamp a camera to the railing as low as possible and put it on a timer remote and/or remotely trigger it with a PW Multimax. If so, I'm thinking of renting a 17mm tilt-shift and "blindly" aiming it in the 7 o'clock direction and shifted up so I can get the most majestic shot of the cruise ship, as well as glacier shots if/when the boat was pointed in the right direction. Would the 5Ds[R] be good here, or would the potential vibration of the ship's engines negate the benefit of MEGA pixels?
    We're a Canon/Profoto family: five cameras, sixteen lenses, fifteen Profoto lights, too many modifiers.

  3. #3
    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peety3 View Post
    I'll reply "immediately" with a twist worth mentioning. Last year, when the cruise visited Tracy Arm, we opted for the $200pp excursion that allows 150 people to board a "small" boat right off the cruise ship and go further into Tracy Arm, allowing some spectacular glacier viewing that was second to none. I suspect we'd be booking this cruise too late to get tickets for that excursion in August, but if we do I have a thought: the aft corners of the small boat on the lower deck are normally off-limits to passengers, but I'm tempted to contact the tour operator ahead of time to see if I could clamp a camera to the railing as low as possible and put it on a timer remote and/or remotely trigger it with a PW Multimax. If so, I'm thinking of renting a 17mm tilt-shift and "blindly" aiming it in the 7 o'clock direction and shifted up so I can get the most majestic shot of the cruise ship, as well as glacier shots if/when the boat was pointed in the right direction. Would the 5Ds[R] be good here, or would the potential vibration of the ship's engines negate the benefit of MEGA pixels?
    Well....a couple of things to consider.

    1) If the boat is moving up and down significantly, the smaller pixel pitch of the 5Ds / 5Ds R may mean that you need a faster shutter speed (and higher ISO) to keep image blur to a minimum.

    2) The TS-E 17mm f/4L is not weather sealed. None of Canon's tilt-shift lenses are. If the camera and lens will be subject to sea spray at that location, I'd consider a different lens. Of course, sea spray sticking to the lens element would be a concern with any lens as it would certainly impact image quality.

  4. #4
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    As you've done this before, you know what to expect more than us (and definitely more than me!), so my answers will contain questions.

    For the body, I'd say... if you're expecting low-light, 6D. Otherwise, attempt a 5Ds is you think resolution is important. It give you the same reach factor (after cropping) as a 7D2 would, but you also have the option to not crop and have mega resolution. If burst rate would be more useful than resolution, then go 7D2. You've got one full frame, the crop body will make all you lenses dual-purpose (assuming it's safe to swap lenses on the boat!)

    Other than that, I think the 16-35II and 24-70II provide sharp enough images that I wouldn't bother with a 14mm prime. It's not giving you any aperture advantage. Perhaps it's got a bit less distortion, but the versatility of the zoom (since you can't zoom with your feet very easily on the boat) would outweigh any slight distortion advantage, I'd think.
    On Flickr - Namethatnobodyelsetook on Flickr | On the web - http://www.GrassStainedPhoto.com
    1DsII | 7D | 7DII | 10-18mm STM | 18-135mm STM | 24-70mm f/4L | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 | 50mm f/1.8 | 85mm f/1.8 | 70-300mm f/4-5.6L

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Setters View Post
    Well....a couple of things to consider.

    1) If the boat is moving up and down significantly, the smaller pixel pitch of the 5Ds / 5Ds R may mean that you need a faster shutter speed (and higher ISO) to keep image blur to a minimum.

    2) The TS-E 17mm f/4L is not weather sealed. None of Canon's tilt-shift lenses are. If the camera and lens will be subject to sea spray at that location, I'd consider a different lens. Of course, sea spray sticking to the lens element would be a concern with any lens as it would certainly impact image quality.
    I'm not too worried about getting good enough shutter speeds. Here's an example from last year: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alibea...7646305661819/ - ISO 200 and f/8 gave me 1/400th. I suspect ISO 400 is still mega-clean on a 5Ds variant, and 1/800th at 17mm ought to be fine. Good point about salt spray though - I may suck it up and just mount it upstairs where it'd be a little more protected.
    We're a Canon/Profoto family: five cameras, sixteen lenses, fifteen Profoto lights, too many modifiers.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidEccleston View Post
    As you've done this before, you know what to expect more than us (and definitely more than me!), so my answers will contain questions.

    For the body, I'd say... if you're expecting low-light, 6D. Otherwise, attempt a 5Ds is you think resolution is important. It give you the same reach factor (after cropping) as a 7D2 would, but you also have the option to not crop and have mega resolution. If burst rate would be more useful than resolution, then go 7D2. You've got one full frame, the crop body will make all you lenses dual-purpose (assuming it's safe to swap lenses on the boat!)

    Other than that, I think the 16-35II and 24-70II provide sharp enough images that I wouldn't bother with a 14mm prime. It's not giving you any aperture advantage. Perhaps it's got a bit less distortion, but the versatility of the zoom (since you can't zoom with your feet very easily on the boat) would outweigh any slight distortion advantage, I'd think.
    I'm not expecting low light, or at least during any multi-camera (in other words, on excursions) work. That said, the 7D2 is a no-go for me. I've used it (with a 70-300L) alongside a 1Dx (with a 100-400II), and it's night and day. 10fps goes to <10fps so quickly in AI Servo with a 7D2, but 12fps stays right there with a 1Dx. I also don't like the noise levels on the 7D2. I'm OK with swapping lenses on the boat, within reason, but I don't want to end up having mixed-crop cameras and having to shuffle what goes where. Here's an action shot of yours truly earlier this month: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alibea...7652539474358/ - 600 stays on the stick, 100-400 stays on my right shoulder, something wider stays on my left shoulder, and widest hides in the LensExchange case in front of my left leg. If I'm not shooting the 600, the monopod goes into my left elbow, and I grab something else: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alibea...7652539474358/ (yeah, I'm almost over the top when I cruise...maybe I'm over the top...)

    I think you're right about the 16-35 and 24-70 though. I can't say I missed my 24-70 too much on the last cruise, so I might try a FF camera on the 16-35 and bring the 24-70 just in case.
    We're a Canon/Profoto family: five cameras, sixteen lenses, fifteen Profoto lights, too many modifiers.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Hi Peety.....

    Sound like some epic trips. Quickly, I doubt the 5Ds/r is a "waste" hand held. There would probably be some benefit to the additional MP, especially with faster shutter speeds. That said, you take copious amounts of pictures. I the impact of the extra MP on file size is pretty significant as they range from 50 MB to 100 MB per image. To me, it is as much the image file size that makes the 5Ds/r a niche camera as anything else. I remember you came up with a pretty elaborate system, but I would make sure it could handle the larger image file size.

    Regarding gear, I thumbed through some of your images both last year and just now. Mostly day shots. I do wonder about a lens that would open up night photography a bit more or if you are even interested. The 14 f/2.8 would do that or a 24-35 f/1.4?

    But, covering 11-99 mm with two lenses, you likely already have something similar to what I would take, 14 f/2.8 and 24-70 II. The IS of the 16-35 f/4 would (and does) tempt me, but ultimately, I would (and have) picked having a 14 mm f/2.8 prime as UWA is still a smaller niche to me. And, you've already ruled out a second 11-24, which would be distinctive, but redundant with your wife's kit.

    The 24-70 II covers a very nice range. I am not sure if it is worth the rental vs the 24-70 Mk I you own. There seem to be some nice advantages, but those are mostly wide open. Stopped own, it becomes similar.

    Have a good trip.
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 05-22-2015 at 06:38 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kayaker72 View Post
    Hi Peety.....

    Sound like some epic trips. Quickly, I doubt the 5Ds/r is a "waste" hand held. There would probably be some benefit to the additional MP, especially with faster shutter speeds. That said, you take copious amounts of pictures. I the impact of the extra MP on file size is pretty significant as they range from 50 MB to 100 MB per image. To me, it is as much the image file size that makes the 5Ds/r a niche camera as anything else. I remember you came up with a pretty elaborate system, but I would make sure it could handle the larger image file size.

    Regarding gear, I thumbed through some of your images both last year and just now. Mostly day shots. I do wonder about a lens that would open up night photography a bit more or if you are even interested. The 14 f/2.8 would do that or a 24-35 f/1.4?

    But, covering 11-99 mm with two lenses, you likely already have something similar to what I would take, 14 f/2.8 and 24-70 II. The IS of the 16-35 f/4 would (and does) tempt me, but ultimately, I would (and have) picked having a 14 mm f/2.8 prime as UWA is still a smaller niche to me. And, you've already ruled out a second 11-24, which would be distinctive, but redundant with your wife's kit.

    The 24-70 II covers a very nice range. I am not sure if it is worth the rental vs the 24-70 Mk I you own. There seem to be some nice advantages, but those are mostly wide open. Stopped own, it becomes similar.

    Have a good trip.
    Thanks for your inputs. Good point about file size and storage requirements. I attended the Peter Read Miller Sports Photography Workshop in Atlanta last October, and one outcome of that is shooting much less often in high-speed drive. I think the only time my cameras went into HSD was for some frame-rate comparisons between the 7D2/70-300L and 1Dx/100-400 (mostly because my wife had put the 7D2 in HSD and I wasn't impressed..). I also know that my "wide" camera does not get shot in HSD at all, hence the reason I'm (quite) comfortable with a 6D/5D3/5Ds.

    For the record, I haven't completely ruled out a second 11-24.
    We're a Canon/Profoto family: five cameras, sixteen lenses, fifteen Profoto lights, too many modifiers.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kayaker72 View Post
    Regarding gear, I thumbed through some of your images both last year and just now. Mostly day shots. I do wonder about a lens that would open up night photography a bit more or if you are even interested. The 14 f/2.8 would do that or a 24-35 f/1.4?
    I thought about this after I clicked post on my previous reply, and you have an excellent point. On our quick trip earlier this month, my "walkaround" kit was a 1Dx with 11-24, plus the 24-105/4IS, 85/1.2II, and 100 Macro L. In retrospect, I should have re-thought the walkaround kit for daytime vs. nighttime, and have done so for the upcoming (possible) trip. I'm planning to rent the 35/1.4 as my night fun lens but admittedly can't decide if I should do the 24/1.4 instead. I'm also planning to rent the Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro Planar so we have a not-so-bloody-tight macro option: food photography with the 100 Macro L meant having to scoot back from the table, while switching to the 24-105 still meant having to scoot back from the table due to MFD requirements. I think the 14/2.8II would take the place of the 11-24 at night: I feel like 14/2.8, 35/1.4, 85/1.2, and 50/2 Macro would be a better-balanced night kit (three Canon AF-capable primes at a roughly 2.5:1 focal length relationship, plus a MF macro) than 14/2.8, 24/1.4, 85/1.2, and 50/2 Macro (four primes at a 1.7:1 to 2:1 focal length relationship, but the third one in the range is MF only).
    We're a Canon/Profoto family: five cameras, sixteen lenses, fifteen Profoto lights, too many modifiers.

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    I'm in the process of selling off some older/less-utilized gear (which will include two of our 7Ds and possibly my trusty 1D3), and realized that I'm going to have to "backfill" at least one of those cameras, and it needs to be something my wife wants. She wants a second 5D3, and in my head that makes sense (I have two 1Dx, she'll have two 5D3; for events where we each could use a high-rate body, I can take a 5D3 from her and she can take a 1Dx from me, similar AF logic, etc.) That in turn simplified my camera selection process: since she said she'd prefer a 7D2 for the Alaska cruise, my plan is to buy a second 5D3 with the proceeds from selling 2-3 bodies and 2 lenses, and rent a 7D2 for her for the cruise. After that, hopefully she won't miss the crop factor, and I suspect I'll need to buy her a 70-300L or perhaps she'll actually take a liking to the 100-400II.

    As I see it now, it comes together rather well.
    When we're relaxing in the room but on the lookout for whales: 5D3 and 11-24, 5D3 and 24-105L, 1Dx and 100-400II, 1Dx and 600&1.4x
    When we're walking around the ship, daytime: 5D3 and 11-24, 24-105L, Zeiss 50/2 Macro in a Shootsac
    When we're walking around the ship, nighttime: 1Dx and 14/2.8II, 35/1.4, 85/1.2II, Z50/2M in a Shootsac
    For formal portraits in less-busy places: 5D3 and 35/1.4, Profoto B1 and 1x3' softbox

    Three daytime excursions (bear/wildlife hike in Ketchikan, glacier viewing in Tracy Arm Fjord, whale watching in Juneau):
    Me: 5D3 and 16-35/4IS, 1Dx and 100-400II, 1Dx and 600&1.4x, Z50/2M handy in a lens exchange case
    Wife: 5D3 and 24-105L, 7D2 and 70-300L, Canon 11-24 and 100/2.8L IS Macro handy in a Shootsac
    One premium daytime excursion (private photo tour in Haines via Skagway, guide has vehicle where we can store stuff):
    Above plus 35/1.4, 85/1.2, 70-200/2.8IS, Profoto B1 possibly

    One evening/nighttime excursion (orca watching in Victoria BC):
    Me: 5D3 and 24-70/2.8, 1Dx and 70-200/2.8IS, 1Dx and 600/4 (no 1.4x TC), 14/2.8 and 35/1.4 in lens exchange cases
    Wife: 5D3 and 11-24, 7D2 and 70-200/4IS, 24-105L in Shootsac

    I'm still on the fence about the 17 tilt-shift. I really like it, and think we could use it here and there, but it's not making the list for much of what we're doing so I may skip it (again)...

    Any commentary on my (tentative) plan? I've sketched out the "load plan" and it all fits in our two backpacks plus the 600/4 and 70-200/2.8 in a rolling duffel we'll carry on. The laptop bag will ride on the handle of the rolling duffel to handle memory card duties, and my "semi-famous" SSD plus three HDDs will be spread across various bags for safety.
    We're a Canon/Profoto family: five cameras, sixteen lenses, fifteen Profoto lights, too many modifiers.

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