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08-16-2009, 07:41 PM   #1
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Lens quesiton: Baltic Sea cruise. Would I get to use a 300/2.8?

There are many times when I wish I had a slower, long tele zoom for convenience & flexibility. But I only have 300 f/2.8 prime. With TCs, it's a great safari/wildlife/birding lens.

But, as mentioned in the title, going on a 10-day cruise in the Baltic Sea. It's mainly a cruise to bring you from excursion to excursion; stops in a bunch of countries, a different port every day. So the question I have is, is there anything to see on that sea <pun intended> that might call for a long lens? I wouldn't be bringing the 300/2.8 on excursions in the cities. I can't see many uses for it when sight seeing so I'll save the back. But are there interesting sites to see off a ship in the Baltic (in the sea or on land) ?

Thanx much for any informed replies,
-steve

08-16-2009, 10:46 PM   #2
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That sir, entirely depends on your style of photography. Is taking shots of birds and far away things something you frequently do or plan to? If you do, I'm sure you'll find plenty of instances where the lens will come in handy. I myself rarely need anything longer than my K135 f2.5 and that's all I'm taking on a two week trip to Europe.
08-17-2009, 09:00 AM   #3
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If I were you, I would leave it a home. Cruises don't really call for any long lenses. Maybe if one of your stops has a little forest you can go by to take animal life photos, but still... carrying that lens around on your vacation kinda ruins it, dontcha think?

Just my thoughts.
08-17-2009, 09:41 AM   #4
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A tele/zoom like the 55-300 would be a good travel choice or the cheaper Sigma or Tamron 70-300's. You would still have the tele lengths if needed and the shorter lengths which would have more practical use on a cruise. Lugging around heavy gear all vacation can get old. I have on occasions left my SLR at home and just brought a P&S. I usually end up regretting it. It's hard to guess if taking a trip to an "unknown" what to bring. I would agree that a 300/2.8 would be a monster to lug around and a the necessary tripod too. If I was making that trip I would bring a wide angle, kit lens or equiv, and the 70-300. Maybe a fast 50mm prime if you have one for indoor shooting in low light,

08-17-2009, 02:38 PM   #5
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Depends on the type of photos you will take, but to start with you will spend a lot of time going slowly close to islands with houses, fortresses, windmills and what not. Only Sweden has some 200 000 islands. I don't know which places you will go to, but especially entering and leaving Stockholm will be a nice experience, lasting hours. You can expect birds to follow the ship, and I have taken photos of a seal from a cruise ship close to the harbour at Ĺland. You should also know that most people around the Baltic sea owns a boat. To avoid taking shots that look as if they were taken from a helicopter you will need a long lens. I would probably go for 200mm, but if 300 is what you got, I think you should bring it.
08-18-2009, 06:57 AM   #6
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All good thoughts. I was leaning towards leaving the 'BiggerMa' home, 'til quarc's colorful comment regarding taking shots that look like they're taken from a helicopter reminded me you're sitting-up really really high on one of those cruise ships and one needs to make up for that lost distance. Learning there will be more than just industrial port, nondescript landscape, then open sea along this ship's track is exactly what I was wondering and looking for.

I think I'll then be taking the biggest bag, the back-pack with pretty much the whole kit, monopod, and maybe even my tripod. I do have reasonably good shoulder and arm strength and have a lot of success handheld for long periods even with a 1.x or 2x TC. But as this stateroom will have a balcony, I'm thinking I'll get to make use of it w/o it being cumbersome to bring, and probably the only place I will be using it (well, as long as the sights are on the side I'm on ).
08-18-2009, 07:02 AM   #7
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300/2.8 just seems too bulky for a travel lens.

I'd suggest one of the cheap 70-300s (or the Pentax 55-300, but that's over twice the price of the Sig or Tamron 70-300 lenses last I checked) - the Tamron 70-300 is an incredible performer considering its $150US price. (Biggest problem is purple fringing in high contrast situations.)

If you don't have a wide angle lens you are incredibly fond of, you might want to look into one of the "compromise travel lenses" - as much as I love my Sig 17-70 + Tam 70-300, I have a Sig 18-250 on order for a trip to Colorado to reduce the number of lenses in my carryon bag to just one.
08-19-2009, 07:29 AM   #8
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It is important to keep in mind that on cruises, especially with a balcony, there's not nearly so much "lugging around" as there is on other vacations. If your travel partner will let you get away with it, it's perfectly fine to pack it in checked luggage, from where it will be taken up to your room for you, from where you can mount the lens on the tripod and never take it out of your room.

I'd be much more concerned with getting a rider on your home owners insurance (if necessary) to make sure your lenses are completely positively and absolutely covered in the case of theft while on vacation for 100% replacement value.

08-19-2009, 07:50 AM   #9
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Lol... also a great point! Calling my insurance agent now.
08-19-2009, 07:53 AM   #10
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when at sea you never know what you might run across and a long tele is the only way to get anything that does not look like a snap shot. While you might never use it, you might also find some really interesting ways to get shots with some near to truly long tele like the 300mm. Even if you happen across a fishing boat, a few shots might be really nice to have.

Only problem is, if you leave it in the room, how in the heck to wander down to the room and get the lens...

If you can stuff it in your bags then why not take it...if you don't use it no harm done...but sure as anything if you leave it home there will be a spot where you will wish you had it...that is the rule ya know?

I agree with Mister Guy on the insurance rider to make 100% sure it's covered for things like theft or loss overboard. Generally I have found cruise ships really safe for things, still, all it takes is one pissed off crew member...
08-19-2009, 10:34 AM   #11
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Lens quesiton: Baltic Sea cruise.

In this year, I took a trip to the Baltic Sea.
I have only my K200D and the DA 18-55 AL II used.
Here are a few examples from me, in a German Pentax Forum:

DigitalFotoNetz.de :: Thema anzeigen - Ostseebad Sellin auf der Insel Rügen, Part I

DigitalFotoNetz.de :: Thema anzeigen - Ostseebad Sellin auf der Insel Rügen, Part II

DigitalFotoNetz.de :: Thema anzeigen - Ostseebad Sellin auf der Insel Rügen, Part III

Regards from Berlin/Germany,
Hartmut
08-19-2009, 10:39 PM   #12
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Thanx very much for posting that. Great series. Boy, that kit lens sure did an excellent job for you!
09-07-2009, 08:19 PM   #13
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I'm back!

Pix to come, in a few weeks. I shot like usual, which is to say I took 10x more than I could/should have. With work commitments it will take me a good deal of time to get thru all the RAWs. (Most of the JPEGs aren't worth sharing, and I need to use the RAWs to make some really nice images, as seen below.) 'Til then, here's one of my favs with the 300/2.8. The primary subject below, which powers St. Petersburg, Russia, is about 5 miles away; the ferry is probably under a mile. You really need to see the full rez to appreciate how much detailwas captured (but only a reduced rez is made available for now). It took manual focusing to get this this sharp, after several tries (thank you Katzeye screen!). After banging my camera up very badly and having it services, it really doesn't auto-focus for sh*t anymore...:ugh:

[IMGWIDEleft]http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2539/3932829543_ff1bce0378_b.jpg[/IMGWIDEleft]

So for the record, the Sigma 100-300mm zoom would have been much much more useful & appropriate for this trip, or some other lens covering a similar range. That, or perhaps even better the new Pentax 60-250/4 for its weather sealing; my 300/2.8 monster got pretty wet a few times from rain.

Further, as I was using a monopod most all of the times, or placed the lens on the railing, I was stopping down a good deal to get good sharpness over a deep range, so I could have got by with a slower lens, tho all the manual focusing I did at dusk may have suffered severely.

There are some really nice shots to come if I may say so myself. Just wanted to share my findings.

Last edited by m8o; 09-18-2009 at 11:09 PM.
09-07-2009, 09:34 PM   #14
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That is an interesting image.
09-08-2009, 07:17 PM   #15
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I thought so too... my wife just didn't see my attraction to it and said so at the time.
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