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Updated July 2008 by Philip Greenspun.
Bring a Tripod
For rainforest photography, I recommend digital camera settings of ISO
100 and ISO 400 or 800. If it is moving, use a flash and ISO 400 or
800. If it isn't, use a tripod and ISO 100. It is dark, dark, dark
under the canopy.
Want animal pictures? Bring the Mother of All Lenses
Or buy postcards. Animals in Costa Rica are mostly small and mostly far
away high up in trees. Bird photography anywhere starts with a 600/4
lens and goes up from there. You might squeak by with a 300/4
and a teleconverter, but expect to crop. A Canon 600/4 costs $7500 and
comes in its own suitcase.
If you have a point and shoot camera, forget about taking animal
pictures. If you have a 70-210 zoom lens, forget about taking animal
Get Contact Lenses
I wear eyeglasses and after ten minutes in the rainforest couldn't see
anything because my glasses were fogged and soaked in sweat, as was
the viewfinder of my Canon EOS-5. I survived by trusting autofocus
and burning lots of film.
About the Photos I took
Almost all of the photos here were taken back in 1995 with two Canon
EOS-5 (European A2E) bodies, and 20-35/2.8, 35-350L, 50/1.0, 50/2.8
macro, or 14/3.5 lenses, all mounted on a Bogen tripod with ballhead and
quick release. One out of 45 rolls was exposed with a Yashica T4 point and
shoot. The "rafting down the Pacuare" roll was taken with a waterproof
Nikon Action Touch.
I came back with 24 rolls of slides, mostly Fuji Sensia but some Fuji
Velvia. I exposed 17 rolls of Fuji 400 negative film.
Of course, the modern way to do this would be with a Canon EOS digital
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