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Old 02-18-2013, 02:09 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by num1DVCfan View Post
It sounds like this is going to be quite an adventure. I can't wait to see all of your pictures. Alaska is at the top of my bucket list.
Thanks. I've always wanted to see Alaska as well. Lou has been once before, but only to Denali.

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Amazing adventure. Who is looking after Natasha ?
Natasha ... Fortunately, our good friend from Arizona is going to take a break from her job for a month and come and stay with Natasha in Maine. She's excited to do this, and knows the pup, as she watched her when we went to Yellowstone.

Natasha joined our family after the trip was booked, and was one reason we almost cancelled the trip. But, she seems to love having her special time with friends. Here she is, just after we got her last January:

She's a poser ...


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Originally Posted by lauriep View Post
I love the idea of doing three consecutive cruises along the passage, giving you a chance to get into all the nooks and crannies with the smaller ship. I agree that with the smaller ship and three weeks you have a pretty good chance of seeing whales at some point. I wonder if I'll ever get used to the fact that I'm retired and don't need to ask for time off or plan flights to make sure I'll be back for work! For my 60th I did a DCL Panama cruise. This just sounds great.
The Panama Canal Cruise sounds wonderful. We feel lucky to be able to do this type of travel now that we have time. Almost makes up for all the years of working with no vacations.

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What a wonderful plan. If I could do a month - I think I would do the 2/2 system - with at least 3/4 days at Denali and 3/4 days at Katmai National Park. Can't wait to read all about your trip!!
Agree the 2/2 might be better for most. The advantage this gives us is it will be easy for me to do shore excursions if Lou wants to hang on the ship. Funny you mention Katmai - that may be on the agenda for the future. But, I would definitely want to go in July/August when the salmon are running and the bears are out.

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Originally Posted by chezp View Post
It all sounds amazing to me.
Thanks, Cheryl.


Coming up Next: Thinking About Photographic Equipment for the Trip...

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Old 02-18-2013, 06:03 PM   #32
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I love Natasha's baby picture. It's no wonder she has so many friends who volunteer to stay with her.
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:35 PM   #33
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I just discovered this PTR, and I'm excited to join along! That Natasha is the cutest thing! I don't think she ever takes a bad picture!

Your cabin looks very bright and spacious! I'm looking forward to hearing about all 3 cruises!
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:12 PM   #34
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I love Natasha's baby picture. It's no wonder she has so many friends who volunteer to stay with her.
lol - I didn't think her last sitters were going to give her back.

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I just discovered this PTR, and I'm excited to join along! That Natasha is the cutest thing! I don't think she ever takes a bad picture!

Your cabin looks very bright and spacious! I'm looking forward to hearing about all 3 cruises!
Thanks! We're looking forward to going.
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:24 PM   #35
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Hi everyone - still in planning mode here. I don't think I mentioned it, but I did complete Week 1 of my C25K program. I imagine I will be repeating weeks along the way, but that should be ok.

I had intended to do a few posts on camera- related stuff, and I will get to that eventually. First, I wanted to share a link to a very good Alaska Trip Report I just finished reading on the Cruise Critics forum. Terri mentioned Katmai, and the author did a land/cruise trip including 2 bear-viewing trips in July 2012 - the report is HERE

I would be remiss if I didn't add that the Alaska TRs here on PassPorters have been helpful as well. The reports by Terri, Cheryl, Marnie, Laurie - just to name a few, have all helped to amp up the excitement for the trip.
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:35 PM   #36
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Thanks for that link. I'm going to go back to read that report in full but for now I just scrolled through the amazing photos! So many bears! Is it really safe to get that close, though? Looks like a really incredible trip. The lupines made me homesick for Maine!
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:54 AM   #37
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Glad the trip reports are helping - you are going to have an absolute ball!
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:16 PM   #38
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Thanks for that link. I'm going to go back to read that report in full but for now I just scrolled through the amazing photos! So many bears! Is it really safe to get that close, though? Looks like a really incredible trip. The lupines made me homesick for Maine!
I don't know how safe it is ... but I did read where each guide carries a magnesium flare, that the bears supposedly hate ...

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Glad the trip reports are helping - you are going to have an absolute ball!
I hope we have a good time
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:02 PM   #39
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Camera Info


This post may only be of interest to a few folks, but I thought I'd include it since I'm in the process of organizing all my camera gear for the trip.


Cameras for Alaska

Yes, there will be more than one camera ... read on for more info:


My primary camera is a Canon DSLR - the 5D MarkIII. This is a high end enthusiast camera. I will also be taking my Canon 7D - this is a mid-level DSLR. And I'll have a smaller super zoom camera - the Canon SX50. I'll probably even bring my pocket camera - the Canon S95. Still debating the need for a waterproof camera. The 5D is the most weather resistant of the cameras I'll be taking along.


Why so many cameras? You might want to skip this part if you have no interest in the technical aspects of photography Let me explain the strengths of the cameras (note, photos of the cameras are from Amazon, I'll get some comparison pics up soon):





5D Mark III - this is a "full-frame" camera. This just means that the camera has an image sensor that is the same size as sensors in a traditional non-digital 35mm SLR. When you use a 50mm lens, you get a field of view that is the same as it would be with a 50mm lens on your Dad's SLR. People fight in forums all the time about the pros and cons of full-frame cameras; I'll just tell you what I like about this camera, compared to the other cameras I own.


The larger sensor means I can get better results in low-light. The 5D is capable of shooting across a wide range of ISO settings. Most DSLRs from just a few years ago could produce decent images up to ISO 800. The 5D does a good job up to ISO 3200 and produces usable images at even higher settings. Higher ISO settings give you faster shutter speeds - this is good for snapping photos on dark rides and getting sharp images of moving targets.


Here's an example:



This was shot at ISO 8,000. It has some noise, and wouldn't make a great print, but it's fine for sharing on the web. I'm not expecting to see Pirates in Alaska, but the same principles hold for shooting in the evening or when it's very overcast and cloudy.





The 5D MIII has a faster, more accurate auto-focusing system than my other cameras. This can be important when trying to capture wildlife in motion







It can bracket up to 7 exposures for one scene. I like to do HDR, and will do from 3 to 7 exposures to use for HDR processing. This example shows 5 frames, where the camera automatically doubled the exposure time with each click. These images are then combined using a special program to give a better overall exposure (HDR = High Dynamic Range)





The quality of larger prints is usually better with the 5D images. This seldom matters to me, but what if I get that perfect National Geographic Shot? You just never know ...





It is well-suited for shooting landscapes with a wide-angle lens







There is more flexibility wrt depth of field - this isn't so critical to me, but it really helps if you want that dreamy look in the background of your photo






If the 5D is so great, why bring the 7D?





I don't want to go on a trip for a month without a back-up DSLR. I could drop my camera off the side of the boat, and then what would I do? Besides cry, of course.


The 7D is popular with sports photographers and many wildlife photographers as well. It can shoot more Frames per Second than the 5D (8fps vs. 6fps - this isn't as much of a factor as it was with the previous 5D model). Higher FPS can be helpful when capturing action, and also when you want to shoot continuous bursts.






The 7D is a "crop-factor" camera with a 1.6 x crop factor when compared to the 5D. Using a 200mm lens on my 7D gives me a field of view that is 200mm x 1.6 = 320mm. This means those whale tails are going to appear closer when I look through the 7D, compared to the 5D. I could get the same image by snapping it with the 5D, then cropping the image in Lightroom. But - it's often easier to see your subject, and place it in the frame with the crop-sensor camera.


This apparent magnification comes at a price - usually the images will be lower quality. This is because the image sensor in the 7D is smaller than in the 5D. A smaller sensor usually means images will be noisier, or less sharp. But, in good lighting situations, the differences aren't big enough for me to worry about.


I'll use the 7D mostly for wildlife shots, and the 5D for landscapes and everything else. I could take only the 7D and the results would be just fine 90% of the time. I don't really need the extra 10% from the 5D - I just like it





SX50: This is Canon's latest super zoom bridge camera.





It's got more bells & whistles than many Point & Shoot cameras, and it has an optical zoom that goes to 50X. In 35mm equivalent terms, this little camera zooms from 28mm to 1200mm (the true focal length is 4.3 to 215mm, or a crop-factor of 5.6). That's a lot of zoom in a camera that is so much smaller than most DSLRs. I got this camera specifically for the Alaska trip. There are times when I won't want to take a DSLR. I wouldn't be happy dropping this off the side of a kayak, but I might only cry 10% as much as I would if I drop the 5D in the water ...

This is the camera I'd be taking if I wanted to travel light and could only take one camera. There are some disadvantages compared to the DSLR setups:
  • It is slower to focus, which may make the difference between getting the perfect whale shot, or a good shot of eagles in flight.
  • It has an even smaller sensor, so it's not going to perform as well in low-lighting situations, and may struggle when it's overcast.
  • It is difficult to get sharp photos at the 1200mm end of the zoom without using a tripod, which I won't be using with this camera. Using a super zoom takes practice.
  • Depth of field throughout the zoom range is deeper, meaning you can't get those artistic blurred backgrounds.



S95: This camera is small enough to fit in my pocket.





It has good low-light performance for a small sensor camera, so usually produces acceptable indoor and food photos without flash. It only has a 3.8X optical zoom, so the telephoto lens goes from a 35mm equivalent of 28mm to 106mm. The sensor on this camera is the smallest of all, but it has the advantage of having an aperture of 2.0 at the wide end. You don't know what this means? You don't care? If you have any interest at all, hang in there for the next post on lens selections. Otherwise (and, I wouldn't blame you at all), just skip the next few posts



Summary

Each of these cameras offers advantages and disadvantages, in terms of
  • Size & Weight (5D = 1.9 lbs + lens, 7D = 1.8 lbs + lens, SX50 = 1.3 lbs, S95 = 6.1 oz)
  • Image Quality (think smaller sensor usually means lower quality)
  • Zoomability
  • Focusing Speed
  • Cry Factor (directly proportional to cost to replace, and emotional attachment)



You'll notice I haven't even mentioned megapixels - we'll touch on those in a later post.



Coming up in Future Posts about Photography Stuff
  • Lens Selection
  • Tripods and other accessories
  • Laptops, Memory Cards, and Back-up Strategy
  • Post-Processing

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Old 02-21-2013, 01:26 PM   #40
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Great info! I am another who carries several cameras; a DSLR, a point and shoot, and a water camera! My name is Lisa, and I am addicted to cameras!
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Old 02-21-2013, 03:10 PM   #41
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Most of the info on the cameras went in and out of my brain without making an impact, but it interests me and each time I read about cameras a bit more information sinks in and I learn something! I really wish I'd had a better zoom on my Alaska trip, as the camera I had (the S95 you have!) seemed to make things look further away on the regular setting and the zoom only brought things to where they looked like what I saw. It did have a rapid-burst, though, which was very important on this trip. For Africa I have the Canon SX260, which had a better zoom but is still pocket-sized.
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Old 02-21-2013, 03:25 PM   #42
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Interesting about all the cameras. I must admit, much as I love cameras, I make do with the one. I didn't like the bit about "what if something happens to it?" - that's a nasty thought and one I hadn't considered before.
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Old 02-21-2013, 03:35 PM   #43
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Great info! I am another who carries several cameras; a DSLR, a point and shoot, and a water camera! My name is Lisa, and I am addicted to cameras!
Hehe ... and, these aren't even all the cameras I own ... just the ones I'll probably take to Alaska.

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Most of the info on the cameras went in and out of my brain without making an impact, but it interests me and each time I read about cameras a bit more information sinks in and I learn something! I really wish I'd had a better zoom on my Alaska trip, as the camera I had (the S95 you have!) seemed to make things look further away on the regular setting and the zoom only brought things to where they looked like what I saw. It did have a rapid-burst, though, which was very important on this trip. For Africa I have the Canon SX260, which had a better zoom but is still pocket-sized.
If I was in the market for one all-purpose pocket camera, the Canon SX260 is the one I'd pick. I think it has the best set of features overall - small enough to take everywhere, still with a good zoom.

I can see where the S95 would be a bit frustrating as your main camera for Alaska. It's a great little camera (and expensive when new!), but it's really ideal for an all purpose family camera (as opposed to travel). BUT, your Alaska photos came out just fine.

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Interesting about all the cameras. I must admit, much as I love cameras, I make do with the one. I didn't like the bit about "what if something happens to it?" - that's a nasty thought and one I hadn't considered before.
One camera is usually just fine. There's a lot to be said for traveling without all the extra stuff. I just enjoy playing with the gear.

You've probably always got Mark's camera as a back-up. Lou's camera gear was stolen a few years ago on our way to Indonesia/Australia/New Zealand. I TOLD him not to check it. While it was insured, it almost ruined the trip for him, because he was so upset. He really hasn't been that into photography since.



I'm supposed to be sorting out furniture selections for the house in Maine, but we are totally stressed over the whole thing, so I am taking a break!!! Maybe I'll go buy a new camera ... (just kidding!)
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Old 02-21-2013, 03:38 PM   #44
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Great information about your camera, as it does help us that are not very camara freindly but love to take pictures. Thank you for that information as I am looking into getting a new one before our trip. Your plans sound so much fun and WOW 30 days. That is going to be some trip!!! Can't wait to read all about it
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:20 PM   #45
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Great information! Much of it went over my head, but still very interesting. I hope to learn more about photography someday.
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