Lens for Alaska?

Reader Tyrone asks:

I’m going away to Alaska on a cruise and was wondering if you had any recommendations for particular lenses that I should get for this trip.


First, it is not easy. You will want a wide range of focal lengths, from very wide (say a 10-20mm lens on a crop camera – this will give you depth and National Geographic type shots) to long (say, a 70-200); as well as a fast lens (a prime 50, say, for indoors portraits, or a prime 24 or 35).

The long lens is for faraway scenes and whales – but long lenses need fast shutter speeds and even then, when a ship is not steady (it is a ship after all) you will blur many images. Still, there will be whales and you will want the long length. A stabilized lens (IS/VR) is a big bonus.

So I would say, if at all possible: one wide, one long, and one prime fast.

Why not, say, an 18-270 all-purpose lens? Because its image quality is not as good, and its smaller aperture will reduce your available shutter speeds.

Two final notes.

  • You can also rent lenses!
  • Bring a spare camera, spare batteries, storage.

And finally: have a great cruise!


2 thoughts on “Lens for Alaska?

  1. We did the Alaska cruise last summer. I took a Rebel T2i, 30D, 10-20, 18-250, 100-400, 50 mm f/1.8 and 2X teleconverter. Everything went into a Computrekker Plus for the plane. I put a Stealth Reporter 400 into the luggage so I had a smaller bag for side trips (it still holds the 100-400 with the body attached).
    I left the 70-200 at home, it is not long enough and you do not need the speed, the T2i, T3i, and 60D can all be used at at least ISO 3200 with very little noise.
    Shooting whales and eagles, the 150-500 might be a good choice if it can focus as fast as the 100-400.

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