Camera advice for upcoming Hawaiian vacation?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by rhetthughes, Apr 22, 2012.

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  1. rhetthughes

    rhetthughes New Member

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    Hello, and let me thank you in advance for any light you can shed on upgrading my camera situation for our upcoming trip to Hawaii. My current camera setup is a Panasonic Lumix point and shoot with 12X optical zoom and 10 megapixels, and a Nikon d40. I have been doing some research and have decided that there are 3 things I am interested in doing: 1) get a good underwater point and shoot (particularly the AW100), 2) get a telephoto lens for my d40, and / or 3) upgrade my d40 to the d7000 with the 18-105 mm lens. My hope is that someone who has been on a vacation to Hawaii (or comparable location) might have some insight on what would be the best use of my money as I am on a roughly $1000 budget. So I've worked out 3 scenarios:

    Option 1 - Get the Nikon AW100 underwater camera as I'd love to take some fabulous pictures while snorkling and get the Nikkor 55-300 VR lens for my d40.

    Option 2 - skip the AW100 and go with a the Nikkor 18-200 VR lens. I've read a lot about the convenience of travelling with this lens and not swapping out lenses - but is 200mm zoom enough for what I will be shooting in Hawaii?

    Option 3 - upgrade the camera to the d7000 with the 18-105 lens (I know it is much more than $1000, but we have the opportunity to sell the d40 as well as use reward points at Best Buy so that we could shave about $500 off the cost of the d7000.)

    And I'm totally open to suggestions that aren't listed above - these are just the scenarios that I THINK would be good for a trip to Hawaii. Thanks a million for your willingness to help!
     
  2. Andy Stanton

    Andy Stanton Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    It depends on what your priorities are.

    Option 1 is the only one that makes it possible for you to take underwater pictures while snorkeling. If taking these pictures is a priority, option 1 is the obvious selection.

    Option 2 makes sense if you want a one-lens solution and you don't need a new DSLR. The 18-200mm lens has an 11x optical zoom, which is OK for many uses, but not for bird watching.

    Option 3 would mean replacing your D40 with the much larger and heavier D7000, which is definitely a better camera but won't result in vastly superior images. But if you really want the D7000, go for that option.

    I wouldn't consider any of the three options to be essential for your trip to Hawaii - you can take perfectly good pictures with what you have now. It all depends on your priorities.
     
  3. Jim Keenan

    Jim Keenan News/Review Writer News/Review Writer

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    Been to Hawaii numerous times (Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Big Island) and always with a camera(s). The islands lend themselves to wide angles, so the 18-105 or 18-200 lenses are attractive for the wide end, which will shoot at about 27mm in 35mm equivalents on either a D40 or D7000. Not super wide, but if you go with a 55-300 your wide end is now about 82.5mm, which is a short telephoto.

    Unless you're shooting big waves which typically break a ways offshore or trying to get an erupting volcano from the ground, or trying for wildlife, I'd forego the 55-300. If Kilauea goes off the best view is almost guaranteed to be from a helicopter, and you'll be much happier with that wider lens......

    We also scuba dive and have photographed underwater on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island with a Nikonos V film camera from both the shore and the Kona Aggressor live aboard dive boat as well day scuba trips on Maui and Oahu boats as well. I mention this since the D7000/18-105 lens scenario appears to sacrifice the undErwater camera due to budget. In general, snorkeling from the shore in Hawaii has poorer water conditions than a boat trip further offshore to a site like Molikini crater off Maui. The water is clear to a point and localized conditions may be quite good in some places, but if you're expecting dynamite images like you see in a dive magazine the conditions are working against a shore snorkel. One option might be to take a snorkel cruise or two and see about renting a camera if you forego buying a water camera.

    We have an 18-200 and it's a good lens, but the extra reach over an 18-105 isn't going to make a major difference on most shots. If you get whales offshore you'd like the 55-300, but even that might not be long enough. I think the D7000/18-105 is the setup I'd be tempted to go with. ISO performance on the D7000 is much better if you have to ramp up sensitivity for dim light, but if all your shooting will be daylight (or with a tripod where you can keep ISO low and shoot long shutter speeds) then your D40 should be fine, and I'd get the 18-200 for the extra reach.

    Our typical camera bags (the wife shoots also) for a non-surf photo Hawaii trip are a full frame (D3, D3S) and cropped sensor (D300S x 2) body each with 10.5 and 16mm fisheyes; 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200VR lenses for each of us and medium weight Gitzo tripods and Really Right Stuff ballheads making the trip in our regular luggage. We always carry on the cameras and lenses - tripods have been OK going in the baggage hold, but pack them in the middle of the bag with clothes and other soft stuff around them for extra protection.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
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