Going to Alaska in 4 Weeks. What Camera Should I Get?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Dick Whitman, Jun 24, 2014.

  1. Dick Whitman macrumors 6502

    Dick Whitman

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    #1
    Debating between the Nikon D5300 and the D7100. Suggestions?
     
  2. Southern Dad macrumors 65816

    Southern Dad

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    #2
    Look at the Sony ⍺58. I love the Sony alpha series. One great thing is that Minolta lenses are easy to find and inexpensive. There are so many great features. Anyone who knows about DSLR cameras, will understand all the great features of the camera.
     
  3. rick snagwell macrumors 68040

    rick snagwell

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  4. Southern Dad macrumors 65816

    Southern Dad

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    #4
    I also swear by the GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition. The iPhone 5s has a wicked camera for those quick shots. But when you break out the DSLR for those Alaskan landscape photos a tripod is a great tool.
     
  5. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #5
    I'd go for one the smaller micro 4/3 cameras. They're smaller yet produce excellent images.

    I have an Olympus OMD EM5 and I think that would be a great option.
     
  6. Apaflo macrumors newbie

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    Barrow Alaska
    #6
    Between those two, the D7100 is certainly a better camera for general purpose DSLR use.

    As others are indicating there many "quality" cameras, and exactly which would best suit your needs is hard to say without a great deal more information.

    If you have questions about Alaska and photography, I can try provide opinions based on experience (not unbiased though!).
     
  7. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #7
    My perspective has changed over the years. Since the quality of smaller cameras has improved markedly over the years, I contend a small lighter camera is more useful as its less cumbersome to pack and take on trips. Clearly there are many, many people using DSLRs and there's nothing wrong with them but as I take trips with my family, I've found I've enjoyed the trip and the experience more by taking a smaller camera which takes good photos vs. taking a large DSLR and maybe not enjoying the experience as much but taking high quality images.

    Just my $.02
     
  8. MrGIS macrumors regular

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    #8
    Too big. Look into Micro 4/3 options.
     
  9. cgdrummer macrumors member

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  10. fa8362 macrumors 65816

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    #10
    I guess I really don't understand the question, because between those two, the 7100 is clearly the better camera for still photography,
     
  11. Dc2006ster, Jun 25, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014

    Dc2006ster macrumors regular

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    #11
  12. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #12
    D7100- better cropping options for far away wildlife.

    Paul
     
  13. bankshot macrumors 65816

    bankshot

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    #13
    I'm not a Nikon shooter, but our friend The Google points us to these pages:
    http://snapsort.com/compare/Nikon-D5300-vs-Nikon-D7100
    http://www.lightandmatter.org/2013/equipment-reviews/nikon-d5300-vs-d7100-which-should-you-buy/

    You don't say what type of photography you're looking to do, but we'll assume landscape and wildlife in Alaska. Good photographers will all tell you that good glass matters more than the camera body. You can get better pictures with excellent glass and a mediocre body than with mediocre glass and an excellent body.

    Based on all of the above, including what I see at the linked pages, I would strongly recommend going with the D5300 and spending the difference on (a) better lens(es). It sounds like a very capable camera and equivalent to the D7100 in most ways that matter for photography typical of an Alaskan trip. About the only thing I would miss on a big trip is the dual memory card slots of the D7100 for automatic photo backup (but I recently got a Canon 70D for my upcoming Alaska trip, so I won't have that anyway; I solved it by getting a Kingston MobileLite to backup photos which is just $25 right now on Amazon).

    Howso? According to the above links, they use the same sensor.


    About lenses, you might also consider doing what I'll be doing, which is renting a higher end lens for the trip rather than buying it outright. This can allow you to stretch your lens budget even further by putting some truly excellent glass on your camera and getting those killer wildlife/landscape shots. For me, I'm currently looking at renting a Canon 100-400mm L lens for $113 for 2 weeks. Not bad at all, considering that lens is $1600-1700 new. It will nicely complement my existing cheaper lenses and give me the reach to get those nice tight shots of the bears from a safe distance. :)

    Many local places may rent lenses, or you can go with an online place like borrowlenses.com or lensrentals.com.


    Regarding the recommendations to go with a smaller camera, that is often very good advice. I left my old DSLR at home and only took my high end point and shoot (Canon S95 at the time) on a trip to Europe a few years ago. I didn't want to lug the DSLR around because of the inconvenience and looking even more like a tourist in pickpocket-happy areas. The S95 took beautiful shots for a camera its size, and I got several that are now hanging on my walls at home. Current micro 4/3rds cameras will do even better.

    This question will really come down to what activities you will be doing and whether you want to carry the DSLR/lenses all the time. For my upcoming Alaska trip, I evaluated this and decided I wanted the DSLR. It's going to be much different than the Europe trip a few years ago.
     
  14. Dick Whitman thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dick Whitman

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    #14
    Both cameras have pros and cons. The D5300 is smaller, lighter, has the same IQ as the D7100 but lacks weather sealing and more advanced features.
     
  15. Apple fanboy macrumors Core

    Apple fanboy

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    #15
    If this is your first DSLR I strongly suggest you get it now and shoot, shoot, shoot!

    The last thing you want is to be on a once in a lifetime trip trying to work out how to change the white balance or something.

    I own the D7100 and it's a nice camera. However I think the more important question's are;
    What do you want to shoot (landscape, wildlife etc)
    What lenses will you use.
    My list is below.
     
  16. Dick Whitman thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dick Whitman

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    Oct 16, 2012
    #16
    Thanks for the thorough response. I will try to provide more detail once I'm back home.

    What made you go with the 70D? I'm still trying to figure out why this camera is so popular when the image quality has been shown time and again to be inferior to that of the D7100. Not saying that the IQ is bad by by any means, but for me personally, I'd rather have the best IQ over any amount of features (e.g. articulated touch screen, built in Wifi, etc.), however convenient.

    I was thinking of renting a lens or two as well. Namely the Sigma 10-20mm or Tonika 11-16mm. Thinking about buying the Nikon 35mm f/1.8g. But with whatever camera I get I plan on going with the 18-140mm lens kit.
     
  17. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #17
    Yep, I was thinking of the D5100- mea culpa.

    Paul
     
  18. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    #18
    Either of those cameras should work well for you if you get some decently chosen glass to go with them (lenses).

    I'll just add my two cents here on some of the discussion -

    1) whether cameras share the same sensor is of little consequence given that it is what is done with the sensor that matters. Thus, two or more cameras could share the same sensor and output different results.

    2) Mirrorless vs DSLR - While in general the DSLR (certain models/makes) have the advantage over mirrorless cameras, there are some models/makes that bridge the gap and then some. They make for excellent vacation cameras and some also can do (with practice) hand held panoramas.

    3) Over the years, zoom lenses have become more the norm and in turn, quite complex and improved overall sharpness. However, many of these super zooms from fairly wide to long telephoto will have trade offs - some end up with reduced contrast at one end of the zoom, or sharpness and vignetting and then some. It might be a bit less practical but carrying two lenses that cover the span of wide to longer telephoto often provides more positives if the lenses are of quality. Thus a 28-70 and a 70-200 (just examples) would fair better than a 28-200 all in one solution. Many might argue but again, it is picking the right lenses (quality).

    4) Understanding your location. You are going to Alaska so it might make sense to see what the whether is like, the places you will visit before packing up your gear. If you in an area that is mostly snow and ice, you may find that various filters would be of use - neutral density and polarizers come to mind as example. As well, a sturdy but portable tripod or monopod is a very handy tool that can make the difference in quite a few situations. If the weather will be a challenge, consider as well protection of your equipment and gloves that still allow you to operate the camera. If the weather is more agreeable, consider it a plus.

    There are so many things that make each photographer a bit different in the way they do things, the equipment they choose and carry. Given you are more about where you are going, I'll say again both cameras will work nicely for your needs (hobbyist level). If I had to choose for myself, I would pick the 7100 as it is more to my 'personal' liking. Then again, I left the DSLR camp and went into the mirrorless family and found that it works extremely well for me. If you are curious about mirrorless, there are plenty of people in these forums that own them and would more than likely want to persuade you to get what they got. I'll just say I have a couple of Fuji's mirrorless, but also find the Olympus upper line to be amazing for what they are and how they handle and of course many swear by Sony and Panasonic.

    Hope you have a fantastic trip, take time before you go to learn how to get the most out of whatever camera you chose (learn the menus, best combinations of camera features that line up with your given shot at a given time) and get some real "keepers" of images.
     
  19. bankshot macrumors 65816

    bankshot

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    #19
    For me (and I suspect many others) it was ultimately the versatility of the 70D that won me over. Image quality is extremely important to me, but after studying various sample images of both cameras, I felt that the difference wasn't enough to justify sacrificing the Canon features I would find useful, including the ones you mention - wifi, articulating touchscreen, better autofocus (especially live view / movie). For real world situations, the difference only seemed to be at the level that pixel peepers would notice or care about, if that.

    I still get a little heartburn over not having the absolute best image quality at this price level, but I'll live. :) The truth is that both cameras are such a step up from my older gear, much larger than any difference between them. And if I really wanted meaningfully better low light performance, I'd have to blow the budget on a full frame camera. Maybe one day, but not now...

    The only other major factor for me is that I'm simply more familiar with the Canon ecosystem, including lenses, accessories, and the built-in menu systems. I was more than willing to jump to Nikon, but the superior image quality just wasn't enough to push me over against all of these factors for the Canon.

    I hope that helps explain it. If you don't care about the extra features of the Canon, then either Nikon is a clear winner.

    I'm also thinking about adding that Tokina to my rental list for wider shots. It gets great reviews, and would also be very handy for any interior shots on the cruise portion of our trip. Biggest dilemma is I don't want to go overboard [ha ha] and carry too many lenses if I can get away with fewer (without regrets). :rolleyes:
     
  20. Apple fanboy macrumors Core

    Apple fanboy

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    #20
    Too many lenses? What are you talking about? You can never have too many lenses. :D
     
  21. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

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    #21
    I've started getting duplicate copies of some of my lenses. ;)
     
  22. Mother'sDay macrumors newbie

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    #22
    When we went a couple years ago, I took my d50, if you can imagine. Yes, you read that right, a Nikon d50. Old! I was just using an 18-55 kit lens on it at that point, and honestly on a crop sensory that could do ALMOST everything you wanted to there. It was wide enough for glacier shots, fast enough to catch moments. We were in an RV driving around, and not needing to change lenses was good. (You get a lot of dirt in the RV on the denali hwy.)

    When we flew Denali, then you wanted a longer lens. Doesn't nikon have an 18-105? You could go with that or an 18-200. Sure it's variable ap, but you're a newbie who's going to shoot on auto. One lens, no changes while you're in all that dirt. I used my 70-300 variable ap on the plane, and that worked for glacier shots. I had to switch though. (back to the dirt issue). Be more brave than I was and clean the window where you're going to sit before you get on the plane.

    Now if you plan to hike glaciers, you're not probably going to take your expensive new camera. You're going to pay up on your insurance for when you drop it and take your iPhone or something slim.

    Not to swizzle your brain, but when I was there most people were shooting canon. I love my d7000 and can rock it, but I'm just saying most people up there were shooting canon. If, when you go on the bus into denali you want distance, well then you're going to wish for that 200-300. Really though, you're not going into Denali to be a photographer, kwim? The bus will stop and the driver is going to snap a picture of you and yours with the mountain in the distance. Photographers get special permits. If you hike you're going to take some candids. If you're into nature, you might find yourself doing macro shots of interesting plants. Just depends on what you want to do, kwim?

    I wouldn't go back to JUST the iPhone, just because I'm addicted to the SPEED of a dSLR and need it with my kids. But you know, you can have some serious fun with something as slim as an iPhone. You can get an app and upload and blog those shots immediately. The focusing distance on the iPhone is surprisingly good. You'd just be surprised what you can do with it. Take a couple things (your new d7100, an iPhone, etc.) and just use the thing that's appropriate for the situation. When you take a day boat trip to all the glaciers, you'll use a mix of wide and zoom. Sometimes I zoom on my iPhone, and it's sort of a mix. If you've got money the money, but the d7100 and enjoy it. :)

    If you decide to take just your iPhone, get an iphoneography book and work on maxing it out. :)
     
  23. MCAsan macrumors 601

    MCAsan

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    #23

    Fully agreed. The wife and spent last weekend shooting wildlife in Minnesota without Olympus E-M1 and mostly with the Panasonic 100-300 lens. Great combo. We will use that combo to shoot raptors in the fall, brown bears in Alaska next summer, and wildlife in Kenya next fall.
     

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  24. Apaflo macrumors newbie

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    Jun 25, 2014
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    Barrow Alaska
    #24
    This does suggest that a DSLR is what you need to get the type of image you want. That is perhaps somewhat more true of shooting in Alaska than other places...

    Some significant advantages of the D7100 over a D5300 are the weather sealing, the longer battery life, more cross points for AF, and 2 memory cards. Of even greater importance is the pentaprism viewfinder vs a pentamirror. And possibly in the long run the built in focus motor which allows you to use certain older AF-D lenses as well as the modern AF-S lenses.

    That adds up to the D7100 being significantly better for what you are apparently intending to do than virtually any other non-full frame DSLR on the market.

    This indicates you are interested in landscapes and general protography, but not particularly in wildlife? If wildlife is in fact of interest, take a very hard look at the new Tarmron 15-600mm lens. And that is true for those with Canon cameras too, because while the Canon 100-400mm is nice lens, it just isn't the same as a 600mm lens.

    Personally I would not really consider using the 18-140mm. The zoom range is too high. The 24-120mm f/4 is a fairly good lens, and with one of the other wide angle lenses for landscapes it would serve well as a walkaround general purpose lens.

    For renting, as far as I know Stewarts Photo in Anchorage is the only "local" store that has rentals. Google them to get a phone number and their webpage, and check to see what they have.
     
  25. Dick Whitman thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dick Whitman

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    #25
    Thanks for the info. I plan on taking my iPhone 5s, a Go Pro HERO3+ (which a friend is lending to me), and my new DSLR. You're definitely right in that I will most likely be doing a lot of, if not all, shooting on auto. Really I just need to the order the damn camera. I'm four weeks away from leaving and am still thinking and debating. I wonder why more people were shooting Canon when you were there. The EOS 70D does interest me for the reasons I indicated earlier, but I still want to see more comparison shots between the D7100. Also, I fully plan to take my DSLR everywhere with me (e.g. when hiking glaciers, dog sledding, helicopter tour, etc.). The only exception I think I would make is if I go kayaking.

    Going with the lighter D5300 may be better for travel, especially when the image quality is identical to the D7100. I would save money, which would allow me to put more towards lenses. But I can't say there isn't a subjective, aesthetic-based, style-driven aspect of this decision, because there is. However silly, there's just something about the bigger, more menacing, more professional appearance of the D7100.
     

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