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Thread: Lens recommendations: Iceland in winter

  1. #1
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    Lens recommendations: Iceland in winter

    I'll be on a tour of Iceland in February and was wondering if it would be worthwhile to take my 70-200 f2.8 zoom. Being on a tour I won't have the opportunity to go off on my own much. There is also only 6-7 hours of daylight at that time.

    I'll be taking my Nikon D750 along with a 24-120 zoom, a 14-24 zoom for the northern lights and a 50mm prime. Looking over our itinerary and others photos I am not sure I would use the 70-200mm enough to justify carrying the weight.

    Has anyone been there that could offer some advice.

    Thanks,
    Peter

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Lens recommendations: Iceland in winter

    I've been to Iceland twice, but not in the winter. I would leave the 50mm lens at home and take the 70-200mm lens, if that is the longest lens you have. Make sure you take a heavy duty tripod with a remote release; I assume you are planning to do so if you are hoping to photography the aurora. If your tripod has a hook, hang your camera bag with all that weight on it; Iceland is a very windy place and you will want to add the weight for stability.

    You will likely be travelling along Road #1 (Ring Road) and much of the scenery will be some distance away, so a longer focal length will be an advantage. If you are on a tour, you really won't be carrying your gear far from your tour vehicle. If you are worried about weight, consider leaving the 14-24mm at home.

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    Re: Lens recommendations: Iceland in winter

    Peter you are going to have at least 7 hrs of daylight with an hour added before and after sunrise and set, each day getting longer by 6 something minutes a day. and those are the best times.
    As for lens I took for a Nikon a 16-35mm, a old 28-70mm, and a 70-300mm. Now it depends on the location, sometimes the 16-35mm mostly around 28mm, pans 16mm (Portrait ordination), a lot of the time the 70-300mm at 270-300mm as you want to get in tight to the ice without getting wet. As for the 28-70mm hardly used but it is really small.
    And one last thing, take something to wear that will turn the wind and help shed water, as it can be a little windy, a mild breeze 40mph, up on the ice strong breeze 90mph.

    Enjoy: Allan

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    Re: Lens recommendations: Iceland in winter

    Thanks Manfred. I do have a tripod and a small net to put local rocks in for some weight. I usually carry the 7-200mm and a teleconverter for wildlife and really had not thought about landscape photos with it.

    The 50mm weighs nothing and I use it in cities since it makes my camera look smaller there. The 14-24 f2.8 is for the northern lights where the tripod will have to be really stable. Thanks for the reminder about the wind.

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    Re: Lens recommendations: Iceland in winter

    Thanks Allan. It looks like maybe I should be taking the 70-200mm after all. I do want to get some good ice pictures. I do have good cold/wet gear. I am really looking forward to seeing and feeling everything I read about as far as the weather. As long as it isn't a blizzard

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    Re: Lens recommendations: Iceland in winter

    Peter a couple of little things, "cities", really there are two, you likely only will go to one, Reykjavik (pop355K). Another is your definition of a blizzard is and mine maybe different. Ok you are from Stockton Ca. so it you have been up in the mountains on 80 than your definition and mine maybe close, however if not, your idea of a blizzard to me would be a bit of winter weather.
    You and going to have a good time.

    Cheers: Allan

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Lens recommendations: Iceland in winter

    I think you will find there will be somewhat limited opportunities for street photography as people tend to not stand around and linger when it is cold out. This situation is true in a lot of northern countries and as Allan has suggested, Reykjavik is likely the only city you will see. There are definitely some interesting buildings; the Hallgrimskirkja (church), the Perlan and some of the downtown buildings, but it is a fairly small city. If you get up to Akureyri in the far north, it is the only other large town on the island.

    Iceland is all about the landscape, which is absolutely stunning. Wildlife, not so much and is mainly birds are are out at sea at this time of year. The Icelandic ponies made lovely photographic subjects, but again, I'm not sure if they will be out and about in the winter.

    We have a friend who just got back from a couple of weeks in Iceland about 2 weeks ago. She and a friend drove the whole Ring Road. They are experienced winter drivers and they found the drive challenging, so as you are on a tour, I think this was probably a wise choice. Lack of daylight and the strong winds were an issue and I don't think they ever saw the aurora.

    As Allan has suggested, the worst part of your trip is likely to be the weather. Warm, windproof clothing with adequate cover for your extremities is critical. Once your feet get cold, you are really done for the day as they take a long time to warm up again. The "good news" is that Iceland is not really all that cold for those of us that live in colder climates. I suspect that you are used to warmer winter temperatures than Allan and I are...

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    Re: Lens recommendations: Iceland in winter

    Peter...

    You mentioned, "I usually carry the 70-200mm and a teleconverter for wildlife and really had not thought about landscape photos with it.".

    You are not unusual! Lots of people automatically think of wide or ultra-wide lenses when it comes to landscape photography and disregard the capabilities of long focal lengths. Telephoto lenses not only allow you to get closer to some sites (zooming with your feet is often not an option in landscape photography) and enable you to isolate portions of the scene but, my favorite capability of long focal length lenses in landscape photography is the image compression that they allow as in this neat shot by Donald: Wait and thy shall be rewarded ... or the advantage of shooting locally

    I opted for the 70-200mm f/4L IS (Mine is a Canon but, Nikon also has a 70-200mm f/4 lens) because of its far lighter weight. At 1.67 lb or 760 gr, it is half the weight of the 2.8 model which weighs 3.28 lb or 1.48 kg I carry this lens everywhere and use it on both crop and full frame cameras. I have a 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS ii lens which weighs about the same as the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 models and I will only carry that lens on trips in which I expect to shoot wildlife or other long telephoto required imagery...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 3rd December 2017 at 07:27 PM.

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    Re: Lens recommendations: Iceland in winter

    Thanks for all the advice. I have heard Reykjavik is quite small and being winter I guess not many people will be hanging around. I am also going to spend several days in Copenhagen and that was really my thoughts on any street photography.

    I'll have to do a little practice at home doing landscapes with the telephoto, I had forgotten about the image compression as most of what I photograph is quite a ways away.

    I am hoping for milder? weather but have a nice wind and rain proof parka, insulated waterproof boots and even waterproof pants if necessary. I get cold easily so I always over dress when going to cold locations.

  10. #10
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Lens recommendations: Iceland in winter

    Except for specific venues such as wildlife and sports I could be happy shooting anywhere at virtually anytime with two lenses...

    Full Frame: 24-70mm f/2.8 (such as the Tamron with VC) and 70-200mm f/4L IS

    I no longer own a 24-70mm. I sold my Canon 24-70mm Mark-i to fund my 17-55mm f/2.8 IS when I was shooting only crop format cameras. However, I "think" that I might select the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.9 Di VC for my full frame camera if I were to make a trip.

    Crop format: 17-55mm f/2.8 IS and 70-200mm f/4L IS
    I have traveled the world with the two above lenses and have never lacked since am not a great fan of wide angle shooting.

    I would toss in a 1.4x TC to use with the 70-200mmsince the weight is negligible.

    If I wanted to carry a third lens, it would be a fast wide angle. I don't own one of these so I make do with my 12-24mm f/4 Tokina.

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    Re: Lens recommendations: Iceland in winter

    I think what I am going to do is take the 14-24 f2.8 for landscape and aurora and the 24-120 zoom for all around use. I'll take the 50mm f1.8 prime too since it weighs almost nothing and is small for use indoors. My wife has a Sony RX10 IV that I will use when I want to use a long zoom. The Sony goes to 600mm and takes excellent photos for a 1" sensor. I went out yesterday with the Sony and was able to get some nice photos even though it was a hazy day. Both cameras are set to take raw photos so I can post process for the best results.

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    Re: Lens recommendations: Iceland in winter

    Quote Originally Posted by pbourget View Post
    I think what I am going to do is take the 14-24 f2.8 for landscape and aurora and the 24-120 zoom for all around use. I'll take the 50mm f1.8 prime too since it weighs almost nothing and is small for use indoors. My wife has a Sony RX10 IV that I will use when I want to use a long zoom. The Sony goes to 600mm and takes excellent photos for a 1" sensor. I went out yesterday with the Sony and was able to get some nice photos even though it was a hazy day. Both cameras are set to take raw photos so I can post process for the best results.
    As Richard pointed out telephoto lenses can offer some interesting perspectives in landscapes. However if it's not something that you already do then teaching yourself to do so on a trip like that is not the time. Given the size of the 70-200 2.8 you're making a good decision to leave it home. On the other hand if you already own and extender you could carry that along for potential use with the 24-120.

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