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Photography Question 

Lens and Film for Trip to Costa Rica Rainforest

Going to Costa Rica in September, and I would like to know what film speed should I use with color and black and white? Also, what types of lenses would you recommend I carry. My camera is a Canon EOS Elan7e.

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8/3/2001 1:36:14 PM

Jeff S. Kennedy   Without knowing what you want to photograph, how you want to photograph it, and what your style is I (or anyone else) could not possibly tell you what film and lenses you should use. There are just too many variables in the equation.

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8/4/2001 2:55:00 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  This is a question I've seen here and elsewhere. Jeff's right about too many variables related to your style and typical choice of subject material. These will answer your question more than the specific location of the photography. There's nothing about Costa Rica as a location (extreme weather or climate) that would affect film and equipment considerations.

From a pro and semi-pro perspective, different film and new equipment are not something used the first time for "critical work" at a location that cannot be revisited easily, or an event that will not (cannot) be repeated. New equipment and film is used first with familiar, non-critical subject material to gain experience with it. Then it's incorporated into the photographer's style, methods and subject material with known capabilities and limitations.

Think about what you normally use in equipment and film for the type of photography you would typically do away from home, indoor and outdoor. For quantity of film, what is your normal usage rate away from home on a trip or vacation? Then take a little extra. Ensure you have extra batteries for anything that requires them.

-- John

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8/11/2001 2:46:23 AM

Dave Richardson   Surely the Question is Really:

Wow, I'm going to Costa Rica soon! I don't know too much about the place. What sort of Fantastic Things will I see? What sort of advice can you wiser and more experienced photographers offer me to capture these Fantastic Things?

Admittedly a quick Web Search would have answered a lot of these questions, so no points for expecting someone else to do the legwork.
However someone with experience could point out that a Wide Angle lens would help for the landscapes and to cram all that lush foresty goodness into a picture.
Similarly knowing what sort of wildlife to expect (Nice fast telephoto lens).
Then we could have done the sarcastic "If you don't know the conditions or what to expect, and you can't make a guess, and you don't know what sort of film you prefer, then just take anything, 'cos yer pics will be rubbish anyway" type answer.

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4/18/2002 8:50:28 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
I'm sorry you feel my response is sarcastic; it isn't. It's based on personal experience with incorporating new equipment and film into my photography for 25 years. Using new film and equipment in familiar locations with familiar subject material before relying on them for unfamiliar material in unfamiliar venues is a personal rule. I wouldn't have suggested it unless it's self-imposed, and 25 years of experience tells me it's an important one. My remarks were intended to give "fuzzy" the best probability for success, not to denigrate his question.

The rationale behind my reply:
There have been numerous occasions when I didn't know what might be encountered until I'm there. Under those conditions I take film and equipment with which I am already familiar. They can be adapted to the situation at hand much more easily because of that familiarity. Lens focal lengths and speed selections are based on experience with what can be used or adapted for a wide range of what I've done elsewhere. Adding more "unknowns" with equipment or film that have not been used before adds more risks to those already present. With things I've already used, what they will do and how they will perform can be predicted with much greater accuracy under conditions not encountered before, and it's much easier to develop work-arounds and "field expedient" methods with them. It's called "risk mitigation." Using a "new" film and new equipment is a personal choice, but it should be an informed one that recognizes the inherent risks in doing so.

Again, from my 2-1/2 decades of personal experience, there is nothing magical about any particular film being "better" or "best" for a specific geographic location. My film selection is based on what I do and the subject material I do it with, not what state or country it's done in. In the absence of "perfect information" I take what I would for anywhere else, for the type of photography I normally do when traveling.

-- John

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4/18/2002 2:04:11 PM

Dave Richardson   John,
Firstly an Apology. I didn't think your reply was sarcastic. I'm sorry if it came out that way. The question would have received a far more sarcastic response anywhere else on the internet.
And my answer was sarcasm to the n-th degree. (I'm a Brit, we're naturally sarky.)
My point was that 'fuzzy' should have done more research and asked some specific questions, then he'd have received some great answers.
I'm going to ask a Hall of Shame candidate question soon, about a trip to Hawaii and Mexico. I'll go formulate a question (and think before I exercise my typing fingers).

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4/23/2002 3:51:22 AM

Mark Freeman   Mmmm... I only have been a member here for less then an hour. What I have found is a great website until I noticed the "Hall of Shame"
The shame is that a website can have a such a section. The first question was a typical one asked by a beginner. To have his or her question placed into a "hall of shame" is in my view not very nice. As the president of a local Camera club I get this type of question all the time and I try and help by asking more questions to obtain details on how I can help the person. NOT try and show them up as a fool or as a total beginner to poke fun at. And how does one know if a question has been asked before too many times? I guess at the time the person asked the question with good faith that someone would help in some way, not place their question into a "Hall of Shame"

I wonder if the members that have questions here in this section still come back here or tell others about the website? ...Most likely not and thats a shame !!

Just a thought guys.. :)

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5/5/2002 11:04:23 AM

Mark Freeman   And Im just tired and have had a bad day and to see this section on such a great website .. well I thought I would add my bit and let of some steam.


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5/5/2002 11:08:12 AM

Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
Contact Bunny
Bunny's Gallery
  Check out
to see what this talented photographer used to do his amazing pictures of the Costa Rican rainforest.

My pictures are nothing like his. Nor is my equipment, although this man really inspired me. He uses a Canon 10D, but had used film before.

It depends what and how you want to photograph, as to what equipment you should take. Also, how much you want to carry.

I took 100, 200, and 400 Provia slide film by Fugi --most of which was 100. I almost always used a tripod, except was when I was on the aerial tram over the rainforest.

Be certain you take a lot of silicon gel for your equipment and film, to keep out the moisture. Also, take, or make a heavy duty camera raincoat. You'll need one with the fragile electronic Caon Elan.

I made one for my Nikon FM3A (which is built like a tank). I used the lens hood as a hood and to keep the raincoat in place and the water away from the lens.

I took a:
Nikon 105mm f/2.8D AF Micro-Nikkor
(Nikon's term for macro), and a Nikon AF 28-105mm F3.5-4.5 D SLR Lens because that was all I had.

I also took a Sekonic flash meter so I could measure my flash (and create lighting ratios), a long extension cord for my sync. (Which you won't need with Canon equipment, and I wouldn't have needed if I had a Nikon flash.)

But my tripod was of critical importance. I needed something sturdy enough, yet light enough for me to carry, as I did not have a helper, and had plantar fasciaitis and no cartilage in my knee. Hence, I could not carry a heavy backpack full of equipment.

I took UV and polarizing filters. Again, that's all I had. I now have 2 and 3 grad filters by Singh-ray. I had a need for them before, but didn't own any until after the Costa Rica trip. They would have come in very handy.

Hence, this is what I did with what I had.
Go to the Costa Rica trip. Click on individul pages, then Bunny and Bruce's Photo page, and Bunny's Photos.

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1/20/2005 11:02:43 PM

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