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I'm looking for gear recommendations to shoot environmental/lifestyle portraits for promotional/travel photography purposes on a 2 week trip to the wilderness. For most of the time I will be constrained to 12 feet and a fast moving subject with natural light because these photos will be taken on a small racing sailboat. If I'll be using my current camera body I would like to shoot at no lower than 1/(3*focal length) sec. shutter speed and no higher than ISO 400 on my current camera body towards the end of the the golden hour, or with overcast sky, so probably between f/2.8-f/4. I'm thinking of buying the sigma 24 f/1.8 prime (35 mm ff equivalent) for my nikon 300 body, and I'm also taking a 2 spare batteries for my camera, a small reflector and hot-shoe flash. Will this give me the versatility to do promotional photos, do I need a wider lens more/different gear? Is there some alternative technique/style that I might want to consider instead of buying or renting a new gear/leans and where can I read up on it?

additional info I don't have too much experience but my preferred field of view at which I'm comfortable with the distortion is 28mm-35mm full frame equivalent (around 65-75 degrees) but could probably work with a 24mm. I prefer deep field of view for most photos, but would like subtle bokeh when stopped down one f-stop for subject-background separation. I realise doing a test shoot on the boat beforhand would be the best option but this will not be possible before deciding on the gear.

my gear Off camera flash, reflector and tripod. Nikon d40 and Nikon d300, 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 lens, nikon aw1 11-27.5 f/3.5-5.6 lens. I could also probably rent a Canon mark II D5 body but would prefer not to.

purpose promotional/travel sailing photos for website taken on a 2 week sailing tour.

viewing conditions fullscreen website viewing on a 1920x1080 screen, possible viewing on a HD projector.

price range up to 850 USD, could invest around 350 USD more for new camera body or great lenses, but only if I really need it.

If there are any other factors I need to consider please let me know.

  • Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A maybe? – null Jul 2 '15 at 12:33
  • It sounds like, if we strip out the background, you are just looking for What is the formula for percent of frame filled at a specific distance and focal length?. Is that correct? – mattdm Jul 2 '15 at 12:36
  • @null Thank you for the recommendation. That looks very good and within budget, would you recommend that over a prime in terms of image quality at 2.8 and versatility? – Chris Novak Jul 2 '15 at 13:32
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    If ALL you need is web usage, rent 3-4 GoPros. They are waterproof, small, and reliable plus you can shoot both video and stills. Rent a couple of lenses to fill out your Nikon collection (extreme wide-angle zoom, longer tele). – Lumigraphics Jul 2 '15 at 20:58
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    In tight quarters, the widest lenses you can get are good. Make sure you get damage insurance. There will be salt water everywhere so you MUST have underwater housings. That's why I suggested GoPro cameras. – Lumigraphics Jul 6 '15 at 15:35
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Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A

Is a lens that I do not own. I thought that it fits your requirements rather well, hence I suggest looking into it. It is wide angle and very fast.

How fast are your subjects relative to you? If you are on the same boat, you should be fine. I mention that because sometimes Sigma lenses have trouble with autofocus. You should have your bought or rented copy before the event to familiarise yourself with it.

would you recommend that over a prime in terms of image quality at 2.8 and versatility?

For image quality, you'd have to compare sample images from the Internet as I don't have any. For your intents and purposes it should be plenty enough. You are "only" publishing an HD video sized image.

As far as versatility goes it's an easy win for the zoom. If you are on a boat with a prime and you are photographing something spectacular subject, but cannot take that one step further back, because the size of the boat doesn't allow it, you'll be tempted to say

We're gonna need a bigger boat.

You'll also want to bite into something because of the frustration you have for not being able to capture that shot. (ok, enough jaws puns))

On the other hand, the zoom of the sigma is very narrow. Maybe too narrow. That's the price you pay for the aperture.

Fiddling around swapping between several prime lenses on a boat does not look like a dry option to me.


Just to be clear: You should definitely bring your longer focal length kit lens, too. For the occasional wildlife photograph this the lens to use.

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