Galapagos and Machu Picchu Lens Suggestions
I am planning a two week trip to Galapagos, Machu Picchu, Quito and Cuzo in November 2007 with some good photography friends. I plan to take my D200, 18-200VR, and either my Nikon 300/4 AFS or Nikon 70-300VR. I am also considering adding either a Nikon 17-55 and/or a Nikon 12-24 or Sigma 10-20 to my collection. What would you recommend for this once in a lifetime photo opportunity. Thanks.
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#1. "RE: Galapagos and Machu Picchu Lens Suggestions" | In response to Reply # 0DiploStrat Registered since 06th Dec 2006Wed 11-Apr-07 12:52 PM
I have been to the Galapagos, but not for a long time. There are several threads in the Travel Forum with recent information. Used to get to Cuzco/Machu Picchu fairly regularly.
The short answer is to take the 18-200 VR and leave the rest at home. A lot depends on how you are traveling. Your own car - bring all the gear you like; plane/bus/hike - travel light, especially if you are not used to the altitude. (While Machu Picchu is quite low, Cuzco is up there, as is Quito.)
It can be a pain to carry a lot of gear while wandering around a market, etc. Unless you have made special arrangements, you will take the train from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes and from there, a bus up to Machu Picchu. From there you have the better part of a day before you reverse the trip. You won't want to carry a lot of gear if you want to climb Huyana Picchu - and you do.
More important than your gear is the suggestion that you spend the money to stay in either Aguas Calientes (cheaper) or up in the ruins (more expensive). Staying on site allows you a bit of time before and after the tourist train and this may allow you time to take the time to actually need an exotic lens. In the old days, I shot markets with a fast 35mm and a fast 135mm. Today, you can do it all with the 18-200 VR and a flash.
I just finished a crawl around the souk in old Sana'a. I used an 18-200 VR and I had the 70-300 VR in a Tamrac case, clipped to my belt. While the 70-300 VR is great for headhunting, most of the time it was simply too long. (To say nothing of the interruption of trying to find a safe place to change lenses, etc.) Next time I may leave it at home. (Tamrac makes a little case for point and shoot cameras, the 5686, which clips to your belt and is the perfect size to carry two spare Nikon batteries and a CF card, or a battery and some AA batteries for your flash - highly recommended.)
I would consider taking an SB 800 or similar and especially learning to use it as a slave, triggered by the built in flash. This could prove useful for church interiors, assuming that flash is allowed at all.
I have gotten good results with a micro/tabletop tripod (try before you buy) when making long exposures. Of course, a water glass or beer bottle may work as well.
Needless to say, I would see no use for the other lenses you mentioned. A really fast 35mm or 50mm lens might be useful for photography in the Plaza de Armas at night, but the Peruvians/Ecuadorians will all be shooting off their flash cameras, so I would simply use a flash and high ISO.
While not suggesting that you be paranoid, be aware that theft is a possiblity. Limit your gear, keep it close/attached, and, if possible, travel with a buddy, especially if you are changing lenses, fiddling with gear, etc.
To list of sites/places to visit on your trip is nearly endless; shoot me an e-mail if I can be helpful.
Have a great trip!
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#2. "RE: Galapagos and Machu Picchu Lens Suggestions" | In response to Reply # 1joseazevedo Registered since 16th Jun 2004Wed 11-Apr-07 01:14 PM
I agree with DiploStrat.
When traveling, less is better. Some of my best travel photos were shot with a Pentax 280P (28-80 zoom), an amazingly sharp somewhat advanced point-and-shoot. How come? I was concerned with what I was seeing, not equipment, if somebody was paying attention to myself, if I'd better be using another lens and things like that.
All these may easilt make you forget why you're there. And being invovled by a place sparks inspiration which allows you to see things differently. At this moment, you better have not too many things to deal with. Compose and shoot. A D200 and a 18-200 are more than enough to bring you excellent memories from this amazing trip.
#3. "RE: Galapagos and Machu Picchu Lens Suggestions" | In response to Reply # 2Gerrad1 Registered since 21st Dec 2005Wed 11-Apr-07 02:50 PM
I visited both places in 1984 when I was still shooting with the dark side. I think the 18-200 will work for the islands, since you can really get close to the birds and long glass, while nice, is not necessary. (Of course if it was me, I would be taking the 300) For Machu Pichu, I would seriously consider a 2.8 lens. The ruins are frequently in the clouds and the lighting is difficult. Also, inside the ruins themselves, I would want a large aperture lens to capture the mood as opposed to having to use my flash for every shot.
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