Shooting with a Canon T6i. Going whale watching near Anacortes, WA next month. What is a good lens to use? I currently have an 18-135mm and the 75-300mm kit lens. Will these be good enough?

  • 2
    "Good enough" for what? Getting yourself a National Geographic cover, no.
    – Philip Kendall
    Aug 30 '17 at 20:59
  • If I had to bet, I would bet spending money on additional whale watching trips will produce more good whale watching photos than spending the money on a lens that a meaningful upgrade from your current lenses would require.
    – user50888
    Aug 30 '17 at 21:26
  • 2
    from nationalgeographic.com/travel/… STEVE WINTER, CANON REBEL T5i Canon's Rebel was the first truly affordable digital SLR. The original six-megapixel camera has been continuously improved over the years and is still one of the best cameras to be had for the money. It's surprising to hear that National Geographic's Steve Winter was named BBC's Wildlife Photographer of the Year for photos shot with Canon's ultimate beginner camera.
    – dav1dsm1th
    Aug 30 '17 at 21:27
  • 1
    @dav1dsm1th The question is about lenses, not whether an entry-level camera can be used effectively by a highly-skilled photographer
    – osullic
    Aug 30 '17 at 22:23
  • 1
    From #11 of the same NatGeo article as #7 cited above: STEVE WINTER AND TIM LAMAN, CANON EOS-1D X AND 1D C Canon's EOS-1D X is the descendent of Canon's original full-35mm-frame digital camera. But now it's grown into a super-speedy monster, with all the best attributes of the EOS-1D series in a single camera... "It does everything I want it to. Whether I'm trying to capture an animal sleeping or running, it's all at my fingertips. And you can shoot in very, very low light," Winter says.
    – Michael C
    Aug 30 '17 at 23:56

Since you're asking this question, I'm going to assume you haven't done this type of photography before. Given that fact, your T6i and the lenses you mention won't be the limiting factor on the shots you get. I'm no expert but I've been a few times with equipment comparable to yours and have achieved pictures I'm happy with.

The challenges I found were predicting where the animals would surface, and maintaining a stable base to shoot from on a pitching boat. If you've done this kind of photography less than a few times, I reckon those will be your limiting factors.

My tips for whatever they are worth

  1. Set your camera to AF, centre point only. Area AF will be confused by the sea and unless you're very fast at MF they'll be gone before you find your target.
  2. The bright surface will tend to confuse your metering, expect to apply some positive compensation, I'd expect a stop or so although best to take some test shots. Consider manual exposure if lighting is consistent.
  3. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and try not to fight the motion of the boat, you'll get less shake by going with it.
  4. Where on dry land you would want roughly 1/focal length to freeze motion, remember that you have to freeze the motion of the boat too. I'm not sure what modes your canon has available, on my Pentax I'd set TAv 1/1000 f8 and let the camera handle the ISO, opening the aperture up a bit if I had to to keep the ISO down to a sensible level

Unless you're very lucky, the 75-300 is probably your best bet. I have been lucky enough to want 18mm on a dolphin boat, but only once. Good luck.

  • The 75-300 is the worst lens Canon currently sells. A 70-300 or 55-250 would be a much better bet.
    – Michael C
    Aug 30 '17 at 23:42
  • @MichaelClark How much of a factor would the performance of the lens be given other elements such as photographer experience and highly variable conditions?
    – user50888
    Aug 31 '17 at 1:29
  • @MichaelClark Which 75-300? I have the IS and it’s lovely.
    – Steve Ives
    Aug 31 '17 at 6:05
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    @SteveIves I'm glad you like it. The 75-300mm IS is not a lens Canon currently sells. The optical formula for the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM (1995) is totally different than the optical formula for the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III introduced in 1999 at about 1/3 the price that is the only 75-300 in Canon's current offerings. Just compare the two block diagrams at the Canon camera museum: 1995 IS vs. 1999 III.
    – Michael C
    Aug 31 '17 at 8:09
  • @MichaelClark Thanks - turns out I have the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM anyway :-/
    – Steve Ives
    Aug 31 '17 at 8:16

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