What's a really good lens to take to an aquarium?

Started Jul 20, 2013 | Discussions
Smiller4128
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What's a really good lens to take to an aquarium?
Jul 20, 2013

Hello,

I picked up my D7100 and 16-85mm Nikon Lens just a couple of months ago and have been loving it! I wasn't sure about making the switch from Canon (T4i) but I'm very happy I did. I've taken it everywhere with me so far! Small weekend trips, hikes along the river, even to Catalina island! However, I'm looking at going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in a few weeks and was thinking I might need a better lens for the low light conditions. I was thinking of picking up the 35mm 1.8 but I'm not sure if that'd be the best option or not so I'm looking for some advice and recommendations?

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David Lal
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A fisheye?
In reply to Smiller4128, Jul 20, 2013

n/t

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JeffryZ
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Re: What's a really good lens to take to an aquarium?
In reply to Smiller4128, Jul 21, 2013

The only aquarium I have visited was fairly dark in the fish exhibits so you will definately want something fast.  How wide depends on how much of the aquarium you want to show or if you want more closeup shots of the fishes. The 35mm may work fine.  Even though it is not as fast you may also try using the lens you have.  Being dark you will probably need to use higher ISOs to avoid motion blurs.

If you do use any flash (generally not recommended) keep it at an angle to the glass so it doesn't bounce off the glass and into your lens causing a hot spot. It will also show any fingerprints on the glass better.  Another suggestion- wear dark clothing and have your camera as close to the glass as possible (unless say trying to show the entire tank) to minimize reflections.  Enjoy the trip and share some pics when you get back!

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RUcrAZ
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Re: What's a really good lens to take to an aquarium?
In reply to Smiller4128, Jul 21, 2013

Hello,

You already have a great combination, and you do need as wide-angle a lens as you can get to do justice to aquariums. I have had excellent luck with a similar cam-lens combination recently, with relatively high ISOs. You might want to take a look at this thread I started not long ago.

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51731457

The Monterey Bay aquarium is great, and it has several outdoor settings, where the Pacific Sea Otters come to play, so a telephoto lens is useful.

In my experience, typically aquariums are dark, flash is either not permitted or is counterproductive, but the new cameras show remarkable quality in spite of high ISOs.

Have fun (good luck with parking, too!)

RUcrAZ

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Alberto Tanikawa
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Re: What's a really good lens to take to an aquarium?
In reply to Smiller4128, Jul 21, 2013

I've been to a few aquariums in the Northeast (Norwalk, Boston, and Mystic), and every time I bring three lenses that I use most: 28-70/2.8, 105/2.8G macro, and 24/1.4G.The 28-70 is my general purpose lens, and the 105 and 24 are more specific to certain situations. Like in a tank of jellyfish, what I thought was slime/dirt on the inside of the glass, turned out to be tiny jellyfish larvae that I was able to capture with the macro lens. I used the 24 for the shark tanks at Norwalk's and Boston's aquariums. A fast lens is always helpful when in low light situations. I would love to go to the one in Monterey Bay one of these days

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JPMontez
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Re: What's a really good lens to take to an aquarium?
In reply to Smiller4128, Jul 21, 2013

As wide and fast as possible!

I got satisfactory results with a D7000 and a 35 f1.8 in Lisbon Oceanarium. But it was a chalenge to work in such conditions... Very low light, glass wall distortion, fish moving fast, getting a slot close to the glass wall (without people in between...) and when there managing the angle limitation...

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R Dunlop
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Re: What's a really good lens to take to an aquarium?
In reply to Smiller4128, Jul 21, 2013

I second the statement "as wide as possible" and forget flash unless you can direct it from above into the water. The light will just show up the tiny spots floating in the water like snow. Need to rest the camera on the glass and take a cloth to give it a wipe first. At super wide (8mm - 16mm) you will have lots of DOF, try and use hyperfocal distance settings and leave the camera on manual focus with max aperture. Keep ISO up to improve shutter speed and if you are resting on the glass its better to turn OFF VR.  Same as for a tripod. Have fun.....

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Hotworks

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Cope
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Re: What's a really good lens to take to an aquarium?
In reply to Smiller4128, Jul 21, 2013

I have had good results with any 2.8 lens.  I have not tried my 16-85, but what ever lens I use, I attach a circular polarizer.  Our local zoo has some nice exhibits, but the glass is usually either dirty or steamed up due to Houston's high humidity.

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Sammy Yousef
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Re: What's a really good lens to take to an aquarium?
In reply to Smiller4128, Jul 21, 2013

I don't have a lot of experience shooting in aquariums but what I have used is:

Nikon 28-105D (bought used). - really worth having some macro ability handy!
Nikon 18-70DX
Nikon 70-300VR

SB-800, SB-900.

Flash can be used at the aquarium if you take care to prevent reflection off glass and if the water isn't dirty. The way some aquariums are lit, there is really no other way. You will often get a very different look with vs without flash.

Bump up the ISO and don't be afraid to experiment with FP-sync for faster shutter speed.Though you can get weird effects because FP sync doesn't stop motion you can compensate with high shutter speed to some degree so long as the fish are nice and close.

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My forum postings reflect my own opinions and not those of my employer. I'm not employed in the photo business.

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Alberto Tanikawa
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Re: What's a really good lens to take to an aquarium?
In reply to Alberto Tanikawa, Jul 21, 2013

Sample shot with 24/1.4G

24mm, f/1.4, 1/125s, ISO 1800

Sample shot with 105/2.8G Macro

105mm, f/4.2, 1/40s, ISO 6400

No flash on both, only available light and handheld.

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Alberto T.

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GlennW
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Re: What's a really good lens to take to an aquarium?
In reply to Smiller4128, Jul 21, 2013

Smiller4128 wrote:

Hello,

I picked up my D7100 and 16-85mm Nikon Lens just a couple of months ago and have been loving it! I wasn't sure about making the switch from Canon (T4i) but I'm very happy I did. I've taken it everywhere with me so far! Small weekend trips, hikes along the river, even to Catalina island! However, I'm looking at going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in a few weeks and was thinking I might need a better lens for the low light conditions. I was thinking of picking up the 35mm 1.8 but I'm not sure if that'd be the best option or not so I'm looking for some advice and recommendations?

With your D7100, the 16-85 will be fine for general zoo/aquarium pictures. You may want something longer only if whales are out in the bay. The close focus ability helps. You could get a close focus achromat filter to cut the focus distance. A plarizer will be needed for the glass.

A 35 1.8 may be fine for low light.

The 10.5mm could be cool to get some video. not sure what kind of "big tank" they may have. Would be a different view if they do any whale/dolphin show.

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