I am doing the NANPA sponsored trip to the Galapagos Islands in August and would appreciate some advice from folks who have been there on camera gear I should make sure I have. I have a canon 5d mark11 and 100-400 and 24-70 Canon L glass lenses. What lenses are most useful and what filters beyond the circular polarizer and GND. If a ND filter -- how many stops (I can;t afford the variable stop one). And I presume a tripod is needed -- but then again, it is wild life and rocky terrain and boat life.
Also any recommendations on an underwater camera to rent -- I;ll only be snorkeling
I have made two trips to Galapagos - and I'll be taking my third trip later this year. I find the best lens for the wildlife is the Canon 100-400. For the few landscapes and seascapes I shot (after all, you go for the amazing wildlife!) I used the Canon 24-105. Those two lenses will cover at least 95% of your photo needs. The 24-70 f2.8 is perhaps a better wide angle fit in that it also offers passable macro capability.
I was able to capture everything from birds in flight from a panga bobbing on the ocean to the entire amazing panoply of land and marine animals.
If possible, be sure to take a camera for underwater. Fully 50% of the wildlife will be in the ocean. For my first trip I used a simple Canon point and shoot in a Canon housing. For my second trip I used an old Canon D60 SLR in an Ewa-Marine underwater housing.
I didn't use an ND filter and had no real problems - and both of my earlier trips pre-dated HDR!
I took a tripod but didn't use it very much. Most of the time on land you will be moving with a group and your setup time could be quite limited. Group size in Galapagos National Park is limited to 16 at a time but there are likely to be multiple groups at any given location. You will be restricted to the trail - even setting foot outside the trail for slightly better composition will be strongly discouraged and even criticized. We were not allowed to use flash in order to avoid stressing the wildlife - as if we tourists don't produce any stress.
See my website to get a sense of what you might encounter as well as the results I managed using the equipment I had back then.
Cindy Miller Hopkins, one of our tour leaders, will be sending out lots of packing and equipment information to all participants very soon. She has been to the Galapagos several times already. I believe both systems are represented in our leaders - Nikon and Canon, so you will get some specific equipment recommendations according to your system. She does tell me that no flash is allowed anywhere in the islands, above or below water. I have also read recommendations to take a long-reach macro lens.
We at the Foundation are very happy you are on the trip, and I will be joining you as well.
Sorry for the slow reply, but I'm on a photo assignment right now and the internet is spotty at best! Yes, I agree that the 100-400 will be a great lens to take. For Nikon shooters the 80-400. I also bring a 18-200, 300, 60 mm macro. The beaches are great for nice shell shots and there is some nice plant life to shot as well. I have already had questions about 500mm lens ... really, in my opinion it's overkill for the trip. It might be nice for possible whale shots, but other then that most wildlife is pretty darn close. You also have to consider the baggage weight issues for the internal flight. PACK everything you need ... but leave everything else HOME. As for tripods, yes they are handy, but again keep in mind that alot of the time we will be in small zodiac boats getting to and from the islands, and you will have to carry everything. Sometimes we are just viewing wildlife from the boats, where a tripod is really not needed, if fact, in the way sometimes. I will be home in a few weeks and will be sending out full packing suggestions for gear and clothing for the Galapagos trip. As soon as I return, we will get down to getting ALL of your questions taken care of. Looking forward to traveling with all of you on this great trip!
Cindy Miller Hopking - group leader