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12-21-2015, 01:55 PM   #1
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Do I "need" the 300mm for our Galapagos Islands trip?

Maybe I'm just looking for justification for my LBA, but I am debating whether to get the 300mm for our trip to the Galapagos Islands in May. We are travelling on a small, specialist ship (Galapagos Islands jun 2016 - Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris) for 2 weeks, and will be travelling a bit further afield, with more time on the ground earlier and later in the day, than some cruises, if that makes a difference (not sure it does).

We are planning to bring at least 3 bodies: my two K-3s and his K-5IIs (and maybe his K-30 as back-up). And we are thinking that our set-up will be to walk around with 3 bodies - one each equipped with the 55-300 WR zoom and the third reserved for the prime of choice, depending on the circumstances (e.g., the 300mm + teleconverter if we need a longer focal length, a macro, or a wider lens.

In the longer range we already have two 55-300 WRs, the 200mm 2.8, and the Sigma 120-400, the Pentax 50-135 2.8, and the Pentax 1.4 teleconverter. But that Sigma is huge, hard to hand-hold and it's not weather-resistant.

I am limited as to what I can carry (bad back and a gimped right baby finger), but Mr frogoutofwater will chivalrously carry some of the load.

What do you think? Bring on the justifications And maybe someone can be the voice of reason.

And here are a couple of completely irrelevant photos taken in Puerto Vallarta this morning with my 55-300. The 1x1 is cropped a fair bit, while the 2nd photo is not cropped at all.

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12-21-2015, 02:54 PM   #2
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I went to the Galapagos a couple of years ago and my kit at that time was a kr with Tamron 18-200 and l never felt the need for any more reach (except perhaps for birding shots on mainland Ecuador) as you can generally get considerably closer to the wildlife than you would expect.Here's a link to my flickr album from the trip.
https://flic.kr/s/aHsjHBYxkx
Enjoy it as it's a once in a lifetime experience.
12-21-2015, 02:57 PM   #3
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Wildlife trip of a lifetime, you need the 300 and maybe a 60-250 too. I'm sure that is not a cheap trip, personally would not save money by skimping on lenses. As DCshooter mentioned you can rent them too. I had a very good experience renting from CameraLens Rentals. I don't know if one rental place is better, just nice to have options.
12-21-2015, 03:00 PM   #4
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Hi there my wife won a trip for two 8 days on the Nat Geo Endeavour with Lindblad from Perth Western Australia to the Galápagos...I took my K3 and 18-35 f1.8 sigma and 70-200 2.8 sigma I wanted the new 150-450 for the trip but the Australian supplier couldn't get one in in time...I also took the Pentax QS1 with the 02 & 06 lenses. We had 33 hours there and 36 hours back on the plane from Ecuador to Boltra we were only allowed 20kg checked baggage so you have to carry your gear...although there were a quite a few times where I missed some shots being limited to 200mm I did get quite a few great shots making do with what I had sometimes less is more here is the link to my Flickr album enjoy.


12-21-2015, 03:03 PM   #5
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Don't know what happened there but here is the link...https://flickr.com/photos/26742697@N08/sets/72157659323690758
12-21-2015, 03:51 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies so far. There certainly are a number of situations where a good quality 300mm would be useful - it can come in handy with the photography I do at the farm rescue as well. And we have a trip to Africa on the horizon in 2018.

For me it's more a question of how much better would the 300 (with or without teleconverter) be when weighed against ... well, the weight/size. Currently, I find that I don't use my 200 or the Sigma that much. It's partly a size/weight issue and partly a versatility issue. I don't want to be tied down to a single focal length when faced with a scene, but carrying two bodies and two lenses around is a burden. And I'm wondering a bit about how much better the 300 will be if I'm shooting without a tripod. (We'll probably bring a tripod and/or monopod, but I'm not sure I've got the discipline to haul it out all the time.)

But maybe it's worth it for this trip - and I will have a sherpa
12-21-2015, 03:59 PM   #7
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I can not say about the lens. What I learned from going to high humidity places carry a can of pffft without the straw.

Being able to exchange hot humid air for dry cool air has saved my day a couple of times.

12-21-2015, 04:07 PM   #8
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You need the 150-450...
12-21-2015, 04:24 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by frogoutofwater Quote
Maybe I'm just looking for justification for my LBA, but I am debating whether to get the 300mm for our trip to the Galapagos Islands in May. We are travelling on a small, specialist ship (Galapagos Islands jun 2016 - Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris) for 2 weeks, and will be travelling a bit further afield, with more time on the ground earlier and later in the day, than some cruises, if that makes a difference (not sure it does).

We are planning to bring at least 3 bodies: my two K-3s and his K-5IIs (and maybe his K-30 as back-up). And we are thinking that our set-up will be to walk around with 3 bodies - one each equipped with the 55-300 WR zoom and the third reserved for the prime of choice, depending on the circumstances (e.g., the 300mm + teleconverter if we need a longer focal length, a macro, or a wider lens.

In the longer range we already have two 55-300 WRs, the 200mm 2.8, and the Sigma 120-400, the Pentax 50-135 2.8, and the Pentax 1.4 teleconverter. But that Sigma is huge, hard to hand-hold and it's not weather-resistant.

I am limited as to what I can carry (bad back and a gimped right baby finger), but Mr frogoutofwater will chivalrously carry some of the load.

What do you think? Bring on the justifications And maybe someone can be the voice of reason.

And here are a couple of completely irrelevant photos taken in Puerto Vallarta this morning with my 55-300. The 1x1 is cropped a fair bit, while the 2nd photo is not cropped at all.



"Justifications"? Well... Mr. Bull frog will carry whatever Mrs. Froggie wants him to carry... ;-)
Seriously though the DA*300 is such a sharp lens plus you will use it after you're back as well. Or there's the new 150-450 but that is getting heavy. Take lots of sun screen and enjoy!
12-21-2015, 04:35 PM   #10
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Any medical conditions set aside on the load you can take, I would take the 120-400. I think you would mis too much without it.

While the 55-300 is a good lens, the speed and reach of the 400 makes it worthwhile, but you need to carry it. For me it would be no issue but I can't say where you draw the line personally.

If you can't hand hold it , maybe a monopod. I hand hold my 70-200/2.8 plus 2x TC all the time, SR also helps
12-21-2015, 04:42 PM   #11
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We went to the Galapagos decades back, then using a ZX5n. Had a Sigma 300 f4 APO macro and also a Kenko 1.5X TC. There were many situations where the birds are so close you could touch them. Sea lions on the beach can be approached within 10 feet easily. Marine iguanas seem to totally oblivious to humans. BUT, there are some birds you cannot approach: owl & hawk to name two. Even with the 300 + 1.5X an owl out waiting to pounce on a bird when it emerged from a tunnel nest was too far away for a really good capture. Hawk in a tree was even further away. Oyster catchers disputing ownership of a dead crab were close enough to use the 300 alone, but only if I remained still. All the finches as well as the lovely vermilion flycatcher are small and even when close a 300mm is welcome. You cannot walk just anywhere so you cannot necessarily get closer to a subject. My advice: take pretty much everything and a 300mm will definitely get used. If you have a TC as well, you'll be glad for it.
12-21-2015, 04:46 PM   #12
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I would say you are pretty well covered with your collection of long lenses. If you aren't happy with the IQ of what you're currently using and you have the money to burn, then by all means add a DA*300 and also a pack animal to carry all that gear.

Seriously, I don't thing bringing all of those lenses is a good move. The 55-300 is light and has good IQ, at least in my opinion. I don't find 200mm all that useful for myself. It seems to always be too short or too long for what I want to shoot. My 200 prime is an older MF lens and I don't have much investment. I own a Sigma 150-500 which is also a big, heavy beast but it does have very good IQ if stopped down a little in good light. I'm not sure how the 120-400 compares to it. I know I don't like carrying my big Sigma very far. I use it for sports quite a bit, not far from my parking spot and my bird and wildlife shots are generally from a kayak or boat. I certainly hope you are bringing along a good wide angle for landscape shots. I can think of several good reasons why the DA 300 would be superior to bringing the Sigma but you need decide if the cost is something you can swing. I have a K300/4 which is very sharp wide open at f4 and performs well when the light gets low. I would love the newer DA*300. BTW, my K300/4 weighs almost as much as my 150-500 so it's also a beast to carry.
12-21-2015, 04:58 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by frogoutofwater Quote
the 200mm 2.8
QuoteOriginally posted by frogoutofwater Quote
Pentax 1.4 teleconverter
So an f4 280mm prime, not bad, but the DA* 300 becomes an f5.6 420mm for an extra two inches and eight ounces . I suspect you will face much the same issues with the 150-450 as the Sigma 120-400, basically need a tripod, which isn't going to be practical most of the time. Unless you have nothing but heavy, dark clouds for two weeks, you could probably leave the 50-135 at home, on the other hand, why not use it to replace one of the 55-300's? I'm assuming the two of you will be close enough that you won't be missing shots because the partner with the appropriate lens isn't available to take the picture. Four bodies, one with the 55-300, one with the 50-135, one with the 300 + teleconvertor and one with a landscape lens.

One final thing, even on a guided excursion you still have to go out to whatever it is you want pictures of and if you can't get close enough to something to get a good picture, the best optics or the longest lenses in the world won't do you any good. You won't be able to set up blinds and spend two months by yourself to capture rare subjects in the right pose in the right light, either.

Sorry, one more final thing. This is a trip of a lifetime, make sure you enjoy the trip itself. What you remember will probably look better than the pictures you take.
12-21-2015, 05:12 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by RGlasel Quote



Sorry, one more final thing. This is a trip of a lifetime, make sure you enjoy the trip itself. What you remember will probably look better than the pictures you take.
Best advice yet!
12-21-2015, 05:29 PM   #15
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Galapogas Hawk

Pentax K3 & Sigma 70-200 f2.8 hand held
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