Going to Alaska, would like a camera recommendation

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Decrepit, May 2, 2010.

  1. Decrepit macrumors 65816

    Decrepit

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
    Location:
    Foothills to the Rocky Mountains
    #1
    Hi there,

    I'm heading to Alaska this summer for a few weeks. Some will be by car/bus/train, some will be by boat/cruise ship.

    Based on this, and the fact that I am not and will never be a real photographer, what would you recommend?

    It's most likely all landscape shots, long distances, daylight shots for the most part, etc. There will be some motion involved, but I won't exactly be doing sports photos.

    I have a cheap HP point and shoot, 8 MP, 6x optical zoom.

    I'm hoping to be able to take 3-5 incredible pictures, amongst a few hundred crappy ones. :) When I went to Italy, I used a crap camera, and still got one perfect picture, and a number of really nice ones. The perfect ones get printed and framed for my home.

    I appreciate any guidance you guys can provide.

    Thanks!
     
  2. ARF900 macrumors 65816

    ARF900

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2009
    #3
    ahh Alaska, such a beautiful place. Have a good trip :D
     
  3. Decrepit thread starter macrumors 65816

    Decrepit

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
    Location:
    Foothills to the Rocky Mountains
    #4
    I don't want to run amok, but will take all recommendations before I set the budget. Since I'm not a pro, I don't need to spend bank. But since I would like to buy quality, I'm keeping an open mind.
     
  4. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #5
    Speaking as a fellow amateur...

    1) You could keep the camera you have now. This means you don't have to re-learn all the settings and have a certain comfort level. It also may or may not mean that if something goes wrong you know how to fix it already. You said you wanted to make prints of the good shots you take- how did the prints you made before turn out? Were you happy with them? If so I'd go this route. New equipment doesn't mean better pictures.

    2) If you were going to buy a new camera, I'd look at the various models of P&S cameras on the market now. You'll still have a good idea of how to use it effectively and a newer model might make up for some deficiency you noticed in your old one. There are many good P&S cameras ranging from low-priced (like the Canon A5XX series) to pseudo-DSLR replacements (Canon G11 or whatever they're on now).

    3) If you really want to take a step up, consider an entry-level DSLR. You'll need to learn a bit more about how the camera operates, but that's usually not a bad thing. There's a full-auto mode to fall back on if all else fails. A DSLR might be too big of a leap for you if you're pretty casual. It also means you have to lug around significantly more camera wherever you go.

    I'd probably do 1 or 2 in your situation, mostly because of the comfort factor. If you want a recommendation, I've been happy with my Canon SD850 IS for a couple years now as a companion to my DSLR. I have heard good things about the newer SD780 IS as well.
     
  5. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
  6. AxisOfBeagles macrumors 6502

    AxisOfBeagles

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Location:
    East of Shangrila
    #7
    ^^ Makes a lot of sense to me. If you're not looking to pursue some specific photographic goals that require more equipment, why spend the $?

    I've been to Alaska a few times and have done both the 'cheap point and shoot' (while on backpacking or rafting trips) and taken the DSLR route. Both have given me satisfactory results - as long as my expectations aren't greater than what I or the camera can deliver.
     
  7. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    SLC
    #8
    Ok, hypothetically speaking..

    You could go this route, which would be essentially "renting" the gear, if you have some cash saved. BUY USED, and one with all boxes, papers, etc!

    Buy a 40D for about $600 with low clicks. Buy a 100-400L ($1100ish), a 24-105L or a 17-55IS. Use that gear (you WILL NEED a tele for sure!, and the 100-400 is probably the best you can get for that price!) and when you get back, you SELL it for what you paid.

    Or you could buy a 40D (or whatever) and rent the gear from lensrentals.com or whatnot, but it will cost you money you cannot re-coup. I mean how often you going to get to go to Alaska for several weeks in the summer?!
     
  8. cr2sh macrumors 68030

    cr2sh

    Joined:
    May 28, 2002
    Location:
    downtown
    #9
    I went to Alaska last summer. Two weeks, starting in Fairbanks, down through Anchorage and into Whittier. I boarded a boat an continued down to Vancouver, stopping in Glacier Bay, Juneau, Skagway and Katchican along the way. It was an amazing trip.

    I didn't want to miss anything, so I took a lot of gear:

    Nikon D700, 12-24mm, 28-70mm, 70-200mm, 15mm fisheye, 50mm
    Nikon D40, 18-200mm, 35mm
    Canon SX20is (super zoom with 720p video)

    I found that I took the D40 and the SX20 everywhere. The D40 for high quality photos and the SX20 for high quality video. The D700 was largely unused.. it was just too heavy. Most of the time though I regretted having to carry two cameras and thought I should have bought a DSLR with video capability.

    Of everything I shot, looking back now.. the video is the most amazing. That camera has a 28-560 zoom range and shoots 720p the entire way. I have so many amazing moments caught on video with sound and in crisp HD. It was a great purchase.

    I would strongly advise going with something like the Nikon D5000, that shoots video and has good image quality. If you pair that with a lens like the 18-200mm you'll get a lot of range and good image quality. If you want to really be serious, throw in the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 and a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 and you'll get every shot you want. You will need to buy a book and start reading now.. learn to use this gear before you get out there.

    Two pieces of advice that some of the people I went with learned the hard way:

    1. Point and shot cameras are slow too react.. if there's something happening and you want a photo of it, if you don't have a real camera you'll probably miss it. We saw a few whales surface and very few got the shot because their cameras took too long to start, autofocus, and react. Get a real camera and learn to use it. Anything else will be frustrating and disappointing.
    2. Arrive with everything you need.. there is very little you can buy while you're out there that you won't pay through the nose for. Memory cards, readers, batteries.. make sure you have it before you get there.

    If you have any specific questions feel free to PM me. :)
     

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  9. M-5 macrumors 65816

    M-5

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2008
    #10
    I own the D5000, and I really enjoy having the video feature on it. Though if you think you might be more concerned with the video, I think Canon's video functions are better than Nikon's on their DSLRs right now. Nikon's maximum resolution is 720p, but that's very much acceptable even though 1080p is becoming standard in my opinion. I wish the video feature on the D5000 had more manual controls like on the D3s for instance, and the mono-mic is terrible. I'm considering purchasing a high quality external microphone to sync with the video later on a computer, since there isn't a mic input on the camera.
     
  10. RHVC59 macrumors 6502

    RHVC59

    Joined:
    May 10, 2008
    Location:
    Eugene, Oregon
    #11
    Very good advice. Nice shots as well.

    Fast lenses and a body that has low noise, are very useful. Everything just moves so fast here in Ketchikan. And do not for get the sturdy tripod for landscapes, sun rises, sunsets, and twilight shoots!


    [​IMG]
     
  11. B.A.T macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2009
    Location:
    Idaho
    #12
    If you're going to spend any money do it in Anchorage and you won't pay sales tax. There are two Costcos in Anchorage. Buy a camera there and return it when you get home if you don't like it. Keep your old camera and bring both with you on the trip. Be prepared for rain.
     
  12. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #13
    Given the stated uses, I don't think this is so much of an issue. Depending on the budget, plopping down hundreds on an expensive camera you may or may not master in a short time doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

     
  13. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2008
    Location:
    Alaska
    #14
    Any of the entry-level offerings from Canon and Nikon will be fine for Alaska. During the summer we have plenty of daylight (nearly 24 hours of daylight around June 21), specially in the interior of Alaska.

    The only problem I can see is that you may have to spend a lot of cash on lenses. If you skip the lenses that have IS (Canon), and the same technology used on Nikon lenses, you may be able to save a lot of cash. Also, long lenses with aperture around f/2.8 are a lot more expensive than the same lenses with apertures around f/5.6. For example, I use a Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM (no IS), and this lens costs around $1,200.00. This is a prime lens (not a zoom lens). Another prime that I use is the EF 200mm f/2.8L USM II, which is a superb lens and only costs around $700.00. Canon's EF 70-200mm f/4L USM (zoom without IS) costs around $600.00.

    Used the 200mm prime for these:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Used 400 prime for these:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    So, you can always save cash buy purchasing used or perhaps new but older-model camera. For example:
    -Canon XSi
    -Canon 40D (the one I use)
    -Nikon D300
    -Nikon D90

    Or new entry-level camera such as a Canon T1 or T2. Since I don't know which Nikon entry level i should recommend, I will let somebody else tell you. However, as far as I can tell you can save on canon L lenses as the ones i mentioned above compared to Nikon's best lenses.
     
  14. eastercat macrumors 68040

    eastercat

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    PDX
    #15
    I'm not much of a photographer either, so I can't help you with the high end stuff.
    I personally like using the Canon power shot series. They've got all the automatic controls, plus they have semi-manual and full manual controls. I normally use either the shutter or aperture priority.
    Since you're going to primarily be doing landscape photos, you'll have time on your trip to experiment with f-stops and different shutter speeds.
    For example, if you're taking photos of a river, you can try different shutter speeds to find the speed that gets you your preferred water look. A fast shutter will make that rushing river look like it's standing still. Go a little slower and it'll be obvious the river is a moving one.
    It's the same with f-stops. You can experiment to where all that is in focus is the tree or you can go for everything in focus. Sometimes the experimenting can be lots of fun.
    My experience with older power shots is that it's a little slow to start up. Otherwise, I've enjoyed using the camera. Unless I take a photography class, I'm going to stick to the power shot.
     
  15. AKcameradude macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 17, 2007
    #16
    I live here in Juneau, and I can tell you, pretty much any camera these
    days will do you just fine. I hate to say it, because I run a video production and multimedia/photography business but if you go outside in Alaska, and press that little button that takes the picture, you will get something beautiful. :)
    How do you think a non talented guy like me stays in business?? :)

    I'd personally go with some type of digital SLR because I'm a control freak and don't like the 'auto' settings on most consumer cameras, plus you have a much quicker response and don't miss shots, but I'd use whatever you can get, and you will get some nice pictures. The good thing about the little pocket cams is that you will always have them with you, when you might not want to pack around the digital SLR and a couple lenses.
     

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  16. csau06 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 23, 2006
    Location:
    Brisbane
  17. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    #18
    Budget is probably the most important thing you can post, other than specifying whether you want a point-and-shoot or an interchangeable lens camera (which you also haven't done). There are hundreds of cameras out there and they fall into different categories and price ranges. The least you could do to help people help you is to offer an approximate spending limit.

    Until then, I suggest that you get a Hasselblad H4D-50 with a full complement of lenses. In terms of image quality in a digital camera, it's unsurpassed.
     
  18. cr2sh macrumors 68030

    cr2sh

    Joined:
    May 28, 2002
    Location:
    downtown
    #19
    I would agree with you to a point, but when he finds himself on a back country road and notices a bald eagle eyeballing him in a tree 50 feet away.. and his p&s camera take 10 seconds to start and even longer to hunt and choose a 1/30th of a second exposure and he's left with a feeling of having missed a once in a lifetime photo... that's the point at which I'd disagree with you. I think a lot of people went on the trip with me who thought the camera they had was good enough but regretted not having something nicer. The funny thing is that most of them bought a DSLR as soon as they got home.

    You're right though.. it makes no sense to buy a camera and not learn how to use it. At that point even the nicest DSLR is still just a point and shoot.
     
  19. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
    Location:
    NY
    #20
    what about buying a d5000/canon t2i/t1i with kit lens and then renting one or 2 lens...
     
  20. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    #21
    Another random suggestion: Fuji F70 EXR / F80EXR.
     
  21. eastercat macrumors 68040

    eastercat

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    PDX
    #22
    +1 If you only have $200 or $1000 to spend, that'll shape the camera recommendations people send out. Otherwise, people might feel inclined to recommend a $10000 set up.
     
  22. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    #23
    Why not rent a quality DSLR and maybe a middle zoom and a longer zoom? You have that one-time opportunity, so get the best results possible. Cheaper than a P&S and the memories will be more than worth it.

    Don't listen to the guy who advised buying and returning. Someday he will be doing Bernie Madoff's toenails.
     
  23. bsamcash macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA
    #24
    Pentax K-x

    I'd recommend a Pentax K-x. It's great for those who aren't familiar with dSLRs, but it's powerful. I't get's amazing reviews, and it's inexpensive. Plus, you get 720p video. The MSRP is 650USD, but they can be found online for under 500USD new. The only downside is it's not weather-proof, but I'm not sure if that would be a major factor.
     
  24. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    #25
    A D3x would probably be your best bet in terms of dSLR resolution. I'd recommend at least the 14-24mm f/2.8 and a 200-400mm f/4 for your wide and telephoto zooms, respectively, and either the 24-70mm or 70-200mm f/2.8 to fill in the range (both if you've got the money - the old version of the 70-200 can be found for around only $1800).

    A more affordable medium format solution would be Mamiya, particularly if you want to go the film route, as Ken Rockwell says all real photographers do.

    If I'm totally overestimating your budget, a safe and stylish choice would be this Hello Kitty 1.3MP camera with 8MB of internal memory for only $25:
    [​IMG]

    And be sure to pick up a tripod. It'll cost you somewhere between 20 and 3000 dollars.
     

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