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11-29-2010, 06:18 PM   #1
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Lenses For Rain Forest Photograpy

So I am heading off to Costa Rica in a couple months and am wonder what lenses to bring to take photos in the rainforest? My initial thoughts were fast, since it is dark, weather sealed. Anyone who has taken photos in a rain forest (or anyone else) have some advice? My personal collection is limited, but can use this trip as an excuse to get some other glass. (Now honey, you would not want me to miss that once in a lifetime shot of ....) I have a K-7 for a body.

Thank you for any and all thoughts.

Aaron

11-29-2010, 06:26 PM   #2
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You have a few choices.
DA*16-50
DA*50-135
DA*60-250
DA*200
DA*300
For a two lens kit, I would consider the 16-50 and the 60-250mm.
For a three lens kit, I would consider the 16-50 , 50-135 and either of the two primes.
I believe TCOM has taken some pictures in the rain forest and there are probably some threads on that at the DPreview forum. From what I remember, you are right, fast glass is nice to have when in the rain forest.
Good Luck!
11-29-2010, 06:29 PM   #3
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If you want weather sealed, seems to me you have two choices - cheap or expensive:

1) DA18-55WR and DA50-200WR
or
2) DA*16-50, DA*50-135 and either DA*60-250 or DA*200
11-29-2010, 07:03 PM   #4
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I have shot in subtropical rainforest and there are 2 key issues:

* weather resistance (WR) and

* low light conditions.

You want to have a WR camera and some WR lenses. However, for the lens, I found that some solid lenses can also work very well (eg my Voigtlander Nokton 58mm).

For low lights, you want to have at least one large aperture lens, typically a fast prime f1.4. In addition, if you are to shoot at dusk, dawn and night, take a MF lens. In very low light, MF is much, much better than AF.


There are off course other issues:
- you need some waterpoof containers/bags; I often have a hard plastic waterproof box to store my camea and lenses, and a small rainproof carry bag
- take enough batteries
- MF lenses use less energy and keep your camera battery running longer
- take a large enough SD card (of good quality).

Hope that the comments will help...

11-29-2010, 07:26 PM   #5
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Original Poster
Thanks for the replies. Just to clarify, weather sealing is not a must, if it is not required. Just seemed logical.

QuoteQuote:
2) DA*16-50, DA*50-135 and either DA*60-250 or DA*200
Wow, that would be an expensive kit. Unless the extra stop was truly needed, I would likely skip the DA*50-135.

Between the DA*200 and DA*300, any thoughts on whether the extra reach would be better than the extra stop? (I have the 300, but I can likely borrow the 200 if the stop would be more useful.)

There were a few threads on dpreview. And TCOM took some excellent pictures in Africa.

Aaron
11-29-2010, 08:16 PM   #6
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Your first priority is to identify and prioritize the lens focal ranges you will need. And if some have WR capabilities, then that's even better.

After shooting in the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest for over 30 years, including living and working in the Olympic Peninsula interior, I'd say WR is just one of several requirements that have to be balanced.

I've also shot in the tropical rainforest while visiting family in Guatemala. That environment is remarkable on many different levels of magnification. I would suggest bringing an ultra-wide angle lens to capture the scale of the trees and jungle and any ruins you may come across. The DA Ltd 15mm is small and just wide enough, though I would probably bring the DA 12-24mm. Both of these are not fast, but I would suggest a lightweight tripod or an Ultrapod II.

You will also need some support to photograph closeups. The insects are really amazing (and I'm not a bug shooter) as are the plants. So yes, a macro lens or something that can get 1:2 would be worthwhile. And a small flash you can aim diffused light with will allow you to capture stuff you're simply not going to see elsewhere. Something 50-90mm could double as a moderate tele/landscape lens.

And then I'd recommend some kind of telephoto; a 200mm f2.8 would be superb. The birds are very colorful; the monkeys in the trees amusing, until you get hit with the feces they toss down for their amusement too.

If you add up all this the load will be heavy, so sift through what's important to you. Anyway you go, you'll have a great time.

M
11-30-2010, 02:50 AM   #7
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If humidity is a concern, I personally would go for lenses which are waterproof, as opposed to merely WR. The reason I say this is that, unless a lens is an internally-focused prime and well sealed, air will inevitably (I think) be drawn into the lens (and maybe camera body also) during use.

Having said that, WR would I suppose be the next best thing - but be aware that humid air will find its way into the lens and possibly the camera.
11-30-2010, 03:39 AM   #8
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An airtight container for the gear with a supply of desiccant might be a good idea to keep fungus at bay?

11-30-2010, 03:55 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by m42man Quote
If humidity is a concern, I personally would go for lenses which are waterproof, as opposed to merely WR. The reason I say this is that, unless a lens is an internally-focused prime and well sealed, air will inevitably (I think) be drawn into the lens (and maybe camera body also) during use.

Having said that, WR would I suppose be the next best thing - but be aware that humid air will find its way into the lens and possibly the camera.
No lenses are waterproof. not even the DA* lenses.
11-30-2010, 03:58 AM   #10
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I would take some old M series lenses like a 28mm.....fast and if they get water damaged then they are cheap to replace.
11-30-2010, 05:19 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by tux Quote
I would take some old M series lenses like a 28mm.....fast and if they get water damaged then they are cheap to replace.
This is what I was thinking. Maybe a 28 for more of a wide angle and a fast 50 for low light. Although taking primes instead of zooms leaves most important part (the camera) exposed when switching lenses.
11-30-2010, 05:48 AM   #12
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Miguel's report is spot on. He knows what he is talking about.
Here is what i use for birding in the jungle.

I shoot in the rain forest alot. As a matter of fact I am heading to Doi Internon in two days and will be shooting in the forest for 3 months. I shoot birds. but am getting interested in critters. I am going to buy the tamron 90mm 2.8. I think it would be good enough.

Now, for the forest I have the k-7 and the k-x. It get pretty dark under the canopy and the k-7 just doesn't cut it. The k-x is excellent. Also i have the sigma 300mm f2.8 for under the canopy and a sigma 1.4x T.C. Super gear. Not water proof or anything. Never had a problem.
When you get there buy a couple of raincoats and cut the sleaves out of them. You can pick up cheap raincoats with the elastic in the sleaves and cut one where it covers your lens and another to cover your camera body. And a good quality plastic trash bag and a good backpack. That's all i use and i have never had problems. And i have been in some heavy downpoors for hours in the open.

My bird photos are here: Flickr: gary1844's Photostream

All shot with the above gear. But i have the sigma 500mm f4.5 also. I am shooting on the coast now but leave tomorrow to get back to the rain forest. I never liked flash but a good better beamer and flash is handy some times also for me.

Good luck and let me know when you post pics and post a travel report if you have time.

Reguards, Gary

Last edited by garyk; 11-30-2010 at 06:01 AM.
11-30-2010, 05:51 AM   #13
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Have you thought about the new 18-135? It is WR and has a decent range. A macro lens might come in handy too. Looking at TCOM's Costa Rica Pics on his web site, He has lots of bird and small animal pics.
11-30-2010, 06:02 AM   #14
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My take would be to get either the DA* lenses if you can afford it, otherwise consider the 18-135 WR if you can afford it, otherwise get the 1 8-55 WR (around 100$) and get a DA*55 WR for low light. And get a regular zoom.

why a regular zoom? First, even in the rainforst it's not raining all day long. Second if it's raining you won't be shooting that much tele anyway.

Enjoy your trip!
11-30-2010, 06:10 AM   #15
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I would also agree with Migeul to a great extent.

I have travelled through northern rain forests as well, and also been to costa rica. there are many other important things to consider.

in costa rica, much of the rain and worst humidity is at higher elevations, not at sea level, When I was there, (may) the forcast was the same for weeks at a time 28-30C and rain, yet most days it was also sunny until the afternoon,. then it threatened rain. Rain is local, and short lived, but can occur daily. You need a weather resistant camera bag or case. As a minimum a camera bag with integral rain cover. Note also that the humidity is high enough that things don't dry on their own over night,

Visit a local shoe store and ask them to save the silica gell that comes in the shoes. some stores do this and give it away to photographers.

Although fast lenses help, so does a flash and a better beamer.

I would take longer than 200mm if you have it. 400 is better, and you can make do with F5.6 if you have a flash.

Remember also that while there is a lot of dark jungle, there are also open sunny spaces, and field areas that offer opportunities for wild life shots without flash.

You also need to remember that due to the lattitude, there is no real dawn and dusk period as there is in northern environments, the sunrise and sunset are very fast
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