Lens for Yosemite

Started May 4, 2016 | Discussions
ttcyclist Junior Member • Posts: 38
Lens for Yosemite

I'm going to be traveling to California in mid June and was looking for lens advice. I will be spending time in San Francisco and Davis, but to me the highlight will be Yosemite. I want to find a balance between having the right lens and traveling (somewhat) light. I will be shooting a canon 5d3 and have the following lens to choose from:

canon 24-70 2.8 II

canon 70-200 2.8 II

canon 100mmL macro

canon 400 5.6

canon 50 1.8

I also have extension tubes and a 1.4 extender

I was leaning towards the 24-70 and 70-200 with the 1.4 extender and extension tube. Will that give me enough reach? Also, I'll bring a tripod and some basic filters, but is there any other gear people would recommend? Thanks

 ttcyclist's gear list:ttcyclist's gear list
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Canon EOS 5D Mark III Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS
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hotdog321
hotdog321 Forum Pro • Posts: 20,987
Re: Lens for Yosemite
2

ttcyclist wrote:

I'm going to be traveling to California in mid June and was looking for lens advice. I will be spending time in San Francisco and Davis, but to me the highlight will be Yosemite. I want to find a balance between having the right lens and traveling (somewhat) light. I will be shooting a canon 5d3 and have the following lens to choose from:

canon 24-70 2.8 II

canon 70-200 2.8 II

canon 100mmL macro

canon 400 5.6

canon 50 1.8

I also have extension tubes and a 1.4 extender

I was leaning towards the 24-70 and 70-200 with the 1.4 extender and extension tube. Will that give me enough reach? Also, I'll bring a tripod and some basic filters, but is there any other gear people would recommend? Thanks

I've been to Yosemite many times, often for up to two weeks at a time. For me, the 16-35 f/4L IS is a perfect lens for this magnificent park. But if you can't buy or rent it, the 24-70 will have to do.

A 70-200 with a 1.4 or 2X is occasionally useful, so it makes a nice secondary lens. I'd leave the rest at home since you need to do a fair amount of hiking.

I used to carry a tripod, but don't anymore. I find I can usually get the shot I want, even long exposure shots, by placing my camera on a handy rock or pressing it against a tree.  Of course, some will violently disagree. Again, remember you'll  have to schlepp all this stuff, along with water, food, and whatnot on hikes with up to 3,000-foot vertical ascent.

A quality CPL is useful on occasion for cutting aerial haze, intensifying blue skies and saturating foliage. A ND filter can be useful on select shots since the place is loaded with waterfalls and flowing streams.

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pixseal
pixseal Veteran Member • Posts: 3,951
Yosemite

ttcyclist wrote:

.... I will be spending time in San Francisco and Davis, but to me the highlight will be Yosemite...

Craig (hotdog) gave you some good lens advice.  Yosemite is mostly about landscapes and water - wildlife is not the big draw here.

A big consideration for Yosemite in June is where you are spending the night and how much time you'll have there. Yosemite is very popular in the summer and 95% of its visitors spend all of their time in Yosemite Valley. Many people stay outside of the Park and many come in for one day only. Traffic within Yosemite Valley can be brutal.

The Valley is the highlight of the park (it's where most of the waterfalls are), but there are some things that you can do to minimize the crowd impacts to your photography:

  • Stay within the park to minimize your driving (staying outside of the park will add .5 to 1.5 hours each way)
  • Start really early (like at 6 am) for your hiking and/or photography. If you're a hiker, be sure to wear sturdy boots, bring plenty of water (or a water filter) and a lunch.
  • Consider hiking to the top of Yosemite Falls or up the Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls.

Yosemite Valley is about 10 square miles in size; the rest of park is 1,200 square miles. Consider a trip up the Tioga Road toward Tuolumne Meadows - stop anywhere (off the road, please) that interests you and shoot away. If you drive to Glacier Point (recommended), consider hiking one of the trails down toward the Valley to get away from the crowds.

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hotdog321
hotdog321 Forum Pro • Posts: 20,987
Re: Yosemite

pixseal wrote:

ttcyclist wrote:

.... I will be spending time in San Francisco and Davis, but to me the highlight will be Yosemite...

Craig (hotdog) gave you some good lens advice. Yosemite is mostly about landscapes and water - wildlife is not the big draw here.

A big consideration for Yosemite in June is where you are spending the night and how much time you'll have there. Yosemite is very popular in the summer and 95% of its visitors spend all of their time in Yosemite Valley. Many people stay outside of the Park and many come in for one day only. Traffic within Yosemite Valley can be brutal.

The Valley is the highlight of the park (it's where most of the waterfalls are), but there are some things that you can do to minimize the crowd impacts to your photography:

  • Stay within the park to minimize your driving (staying outside of the park will add .5 to 1.5 hours each way)
  • Start really early (like at 6 am) for your hiking and/or photography. If you're a hiker, be sure to wear sturdy boots, bring plenty of water (or a water filter) and a lunch.
  • Consider hiking to the top of Yosemite Falls or up the Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls.

Yosemite Valley is about 10 square miles in size; the rest of park is 1,200 square miles. Consider a trip up the Tioga Road toward Tuolumne Meadows - stop anywhere (off the road, please) that interests you and shoot away. If you drive to Glacier Point (recommended), consider hiking one of the trails down toward the Valley to get away from the crowds.

Yeah, it's actually pretty easy to get away from most of the crowds if you get out of the Valley proper. This is an enormous park! And if you hike, for instance, the Panoramic Trail from Glacier Point past Nevada and Vernal Falls to the valley floor, you often go long periods of time without seeing another person except at key areas. The hike up Yosemite Falls is surprisingly tough, so take water, a water filter pump, food and give yourself plenty of time.

They only let visitors stay a week in the Valley, plus space is quite limited and requires a one year advance registration. We usually stay at El Portal and drive in.

One year there were a couple of avalanches in the Valley (which happen pretty often) and they cleared everyone out of Curry Camp. We shifted to El Portal then, too.

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Krusty79 Senior Member • Posts: 2,592
Re: Lens for Yosemite
1

I can't imagine going to Yosemite without my ultrawide.  You MUST do the drive to Glacier Point.  Good place for sunrises too.

The Mist Trail to Vernal Falls is absolutely fantastic!

Don't forget Tioga Road either.

All taken with a 10-18 or 10-22 on my APS-C body.

Mirror Lake

Mist Trail

Merced River

Mirror Lake

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OP ttcyclist Junior Member • Posts: 38
Re: Lens for Yosemite

Thanks everyone. Those pictures are amazing, can't wait to get out there.

I've been eyeing the Rokinon 14mm for a while to use for astrophotography, so this might be my excuse to buy it. I figure it's cheap and light, so I'll give it a shot. It'll be more of a specialty lens as opposed to everyday, so I won't need the best of the best. I get good results with panoramas from my 24-70 too.

Thanks again

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Krusty79 Senior Member • Posts: 2,592
Re: Lens for Yosemite

ttcyclist wrote:

Thanks everyone. Those pictures are amazing, can't wait to get out there.

I've been eyeing the Rokinon 14mm for a while to use for astrophotography, so this might be my excuse to buy it. I figure it's cheap and light, so I'll give it a shot. It'll be more of a specialty lens as opposed to everyday, so I won't need the best of the best. I get good results with panoramas from my 24-70 too.

Thanks again

There is also a 24mm 1.4 you might consider - http://www.lonelyspeck.com/best-lenses-for-milky-way-photography-canon/

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Len_Gee
Len_Gee Veteran Member • Posts: 9,880
Re: Lens for Yosemite. Take them all.
1

ttcyclist wrote:

I'm going to be traveling to California in mid June and was looking for lens advice. I will be spending time in San Francisco and Davis, but to me the highlight will be Yosemite. I want to find a balance between having the right lens and traveling (somewhat) light. I will be shooting a canon 5d3 and have the following lens to choose from:

canon 24-70 2.8 II

canon 70-200 2.8 II

canon 100mmL macro

canon 400 5.6

canon 50 1.8

I also have extension tubes and a 1.4 extender

I was leaning towards the 24-70 and 70-200 with the 1.4 extender and extension tube. Will that give me enough reach? Also, I'll bring a tripod and some basic filters, but is there any other gear people would recommend? Thanks

Why not take them all? 👍👍

Enjoy your trip.. And post some pics here when you get back.

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Craig Gillette Forum Pro • Posts: 11,548
Re: Lens for Yosemite

Too many lenses may make it hard to choose and you don't need to carry all of them all the time.  But I agree with "all of them" but suppose you might pass on the 100 macro and 50/1.8 if they aren't a usual part of your repertoire (I have a 50/1.8 and almost never use it, for example but it takes up so little space and offers so many possibilities).  But I also suggest something wider like the 16-35.

Spyder531 Regular Member • Posts: 291
Re: Lens for Yosemite

I'm seconding the 16-35l 4. I took the 24-70 to Disneyland and only that lens and it worked amazingly and I love that combo. But... the 16-35 has a legit 4 stops of IS and for those epic vista's and trees it would be great. I can't wait to go do some landscapes with mine. I think you'll find the you want that extra 8mm and the IS.

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DMKAlex
DMKAlex Veteran Member • Posts: 5,559
Re: Lens for Yosemite

ttcyclist wrote:

I'm going to be traveling to California in mid June and was looking for lens advice. I will be spending time in San Francisco and Davis, but to me the highlight will be Yosemite. I want to find a balance between having the right lens and traveling (somewhat) light. I will be shooting a canon 5d3 and have the following lens to choose from:

canon 24-70 2.8 II

canon 70-200 2.8 II

canon 100mmL macro

canon 400 5.6

canon 50 1.8

I also have extension tubes and a 1.4 extender

I was leaning towards the 24-70 and 70-200 with the 1.4 extender and extension tube. Will that give me enough reach? Also, I'll bring a tripod and some basic filters, but is there any other gear people would recommend? Thanks

If you're going to bring only one lens, the 24-70 is the default. If you want to bring two, add in the 70-200, and the 1.4 extender.

If you're staying for the sunset, moonrise and sunrise, you need a tripod and release cable.

If you're staying late for the milky way, you need something less or not longer than 20mm.

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MingTzu Regular Member • Posts: 290
Re: Lens for Yosemite

Going to have one week starting on 10/31 to spend in Yosemite/Lake Tahoe/Death Valley. No real specific plans so open to anything. Looking for good day hikes and spots with great views. Also, is it feasible to park anywhere in the park and sleep in the car for the night? Not much of a camping guy, especially since I'm by myself and never camped solo before.

1971_M5
1971_M5 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,740
Re: Lens for Yosemite

I've only done 2 hikes in Yosemite -- during the last week of July 2014 and it was blazing hot.  I believe it was at least 95F in the Valley and maybe even approaching 100F .  It was almost 110F in in Fresno.  The hike from the Valley floor to the top of Yosemite Falls is good if you want some exercise.  We did it in an afternoon including stopping for photos.  Since it was so busy with tourists, the next day we drove up Tioga Road and hiked North Dome.  Amazingly, there was almost nobody there at the peak of the tourist season.  Apparently, all the tourists were all on the Valley floor in the trinket shops.  Anyway... North Dome is an easy hike with amazing views of Half Dome and all kinds of other stuff.  Highly recommended.  Don't know about the camping situation (we stayed at Bass Lake).  I carried 2 lenses with me... 17-55 (for wide stuff) and 70-200.  Shot a lot of panoramas.

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Craig Gillette Forum Pro • Posts: 11,548
Re: Lens for Yosemite

MingTzu wrote:

Going to have one week starting on 10/31 to spend in Yosemite/Lake Tahoe/Death Valley. No real specific plans so open to anything. Looking for good day hikes and spots with great views. Also, is it feasible to park anywhere in the park and sleep in the car for the night? Not much of a camping guy, especially since I'm by myself and never camped solo before.

Start with the camping question.  No.  In Yosemite, it is not permitted to car camp outside of designated camp grounds and it's not entirely clear that you can even sleep in a vehicle in a campsite, that is in tent sites.  For example, when I camped at Wawona, there are several tent only designated spots.  You can't sleep in the car in your designated parking spot.  (Although I suppose under bad weather conditions like some of the ridiculous rains I've been in there, that they probably wouldn't drag you out of your car or pickup shell, etc., but you can't park a camping type vehicles in those parking places.

Not following  Sierra area weather so you'll need to check that out.  I doubt Tioga Pass will close by then but we had real rain in the L.A. area today, so, things do change.  If the high Sierra passes are closed or in danger of closing, the alternate routes allowing you to catch Yosemite valley, accessible from the west, and still getting to either Lake Tahoe or Death Valley or other areas east of the Sierras, are substantially longer.

All of those plays have a lot of opportunities for hikes and views.  I'd suggest spending some time with maps thinking about driving routes and if you really want to try to get all three.  It's certainly do-able but it would be a lot of car time.  In any event, you'd probably want to start at either DV or Tahoe and do Yosemite then hit the last one, not Yosemite first.

MingTzu Regular Member • Posts: 290
Re: Lens for Yosemite

Craig Gillette wrote:

MingTzu wrote:

Going to have one week starting on 10/31 to spend in Yosemite/Lake Tahoe/Death Valley. No real specific plans so open to anything. Looking for good day hikes and spots with great views. Also, is it feasible to park anywhere in the park and sleep in the car for the night? Not much of a camping guy, especially since I'm by myself and never camped solo before.

Start with the camping question. No. In Yosemite, it is not permitted to car camp outside of designated camp grounds and it's not entirely clear that you can even sleep in a vehicle in a campsite, that is in tent sites. For example, when I camped at Wawona, there are several tent only designated spots. You can't sleep in the car in your designated parking spot. (Although I suppose under bad weather conditions like some of the ridiculous rains I've been in there, that they probably wouldn't drag you out of your car or pickup shell, etc., but you can't park a camping type vehicles in those parking places.

Not following Sierra area weather so you'll need to check that out. I doubt Tioga Pass will close by then but we had real rain in the L.A. area today, so, things do change. If the high Sierra passes are closed or in danger of closing, the alternate routes allowing you to catch Yosemite valley, accessible from the west, and still getting to either Lake Tahoe or Death Valley or other areas east of the Sierras, are substantially longer.

All of those plays have a lot of opportunities for hikes and views. I'd suggest spending some time with maps thinking about driving routes and if you really want to try to get all three. It's certainly do-able but it would be a lot of car time. In any event, you'd probably want to start at either DV or Tahoe and do Yosemite then hit the last one, not Yosemite first.

When you say car camping, do you mean any vehicle or only the big RV type autos?  To clarify, I rented a SUV with the hope that I can just sleep in the car somewhere in the park, to get a jump start on the crowds for the next day's activities.  I don't want to have to leave the park for the day, spend a few hours driving, then spend a few more hours driving back in the morning.  But if it's not legal, then it's not legal.  Was just wondering.

Thanks for the info!  I think the prelim plans is to stay in Sacramento on Sunday night, and then head to north region (e.g. Lake Tahoe area) first thing Monday morning.  Then, throughout the week, make the loop around DV and back up to Yosemite.  Need to plan out driving times so may adjust if I am spending more time driving than actual hiking/sightseeing/etc.

Craig Gillette Forum Pro • Posts: 11,548
Re: Lens for Yosemite

You can't camp in a vehicle, sleep over night, that is, except in designated camping areas. Like not in the parking lots, roadside turnouts, etc. Campgrounds have RV/tent spaces where there is room to park an rv and/or set up a tent (some limits apply) and there are tent only spots where the parking space may be there or close. You can't park an rv in those spots.  So if you want to be in the park, you can try to make reservations or find an open/available spot.

The Yosemite NPS website gives details on camp reservations, etc.  There is also the possibility of camping in adjacent national forest areas as well,  Some areas are reservable and facility availabilities are reduced during winter off season periods.

pixseal
pixseal Veteran Member • Posts: 3,951
Re: Lens for Yosemite

Craig Gillette wrote:

You can't camp in a vehicle, sleep over night, that is, except in designated camping areas. Like not in the parking lots, roadside turnouts, etc. Campgrounds have RV/tent spaces where there is room to park an rv and/or set up a tent (some limits apply) and there are tent only spots where the parking space may be there or close. You can't park an rv in those spots. So if you want to be in the park, you can try to make reservations or find an open/available spot.

The Yosemite NPS website gives details on camp reservations, etc. There is also the possibility of camping in adjacent national forest areas as well, Some areas are reservable and facility availabilities are reduced during winter off season periods.

To clarify what Craig wrote, in Yosemite National Park you may sleep in your car only within campgrounds that allow small (or large) RV's - that's most campgrounds during the winter, except Camp 4 in the Valley. You may not sleep in your car in a parking lot or on the roadside.

On October 31st, there is a 50-50 chance that Tioga Pass will be closed (most likely just for 1 or 2 days if there has been a storm).  Tioga is a very high pass in an area that gets extreme snowfall amounts.  The rangers will close the road between Tioga Pass and Crane Flat even if there is just a chance of snow - and they will not plow that road at night or during snowfall.  You need to check conditions before leaving Death Valley or Lake Tahoe and make a course change if necessary.

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RBFresno
RBFresno Forum Pro • Posts: 13,012
Yosemite in November-- Weather, Weather, & Weather

MingTzu wrote:

Going to have one week starting on 10/31 to spend in Yosemite/Lake Tahoe/Death Valley. No real specific plans so open to anything. Looking for good day hikes and spots with great views. Also, is it feasible to park anywhere in the park and sleep in the car for the night? Not much of a camping guy, especially since I'm by myself and never camped solo before.

Hi!

I know that you asked about lenses, but they'll be irrelevant if the weather turns on you.

That time of year, the weather can be highly variable. One year, 10/31 might be balmy and the roads clear, and another year you might have blinding winter storms with chain controls. And even if there are no chain controls, you might be required to carry chains, and possibly turned away by the Highway patrol if you don't have them. The weather is looking reasonable from Nov 1-5.

Typically, there is still some "fall color" on the trees in Yosemite Valley.

It's now 10/27, so we have a fairly reliable 10 day forecast:

Yosemite 10 day Forecast.

Check out the road conditions on your planned route. The Highway patrol updates information several times an hour:

You can call or look online to check road conditions:

1-800-427-7623 (Road)

Not only are there restrictions for sleeping in your car in Yosemite, but be aware of not keeping food in a parked car:

Bears Breaking into Yosemite Cars to Get food

That said, sometimes the best photo ops in Yosemite are when the storm clouds are just right:

(The pictures with the Fall colors of the trees were all taken the first week in November a few ago)

Best Regards,

RB

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