Choosing the right camera for your trip can be overwhelming, and everyone has their own opinion. One aspect that is recommended again and again is an SLR camera (Single Lense Reflex), as they tend to produce better quality photos.
There are two main types of lens that you might consider bringing along:
A wide angle lens is perfect for doing justice to the landscapes; it has a wider field of view, giving you the ability to capture as much of what you're seeing as possible. They also have a great depth of field, meaning the photo will really draw you in. Consider a 16-35mm f4.
With all the amazing wildlife in the Arctic, it would be crazy not to take a zoom lens with you. A telephoto lens will mean that you can get great action shots of animals while still maintaining a really nice shallow depth of field. Our resident photographer, Charlie, really loves the 70-200mm f2.8.
As so much of the Arctic landscape is white, having a filter for your lens is highly important. One of the biggest issues with photos of snow scenes is that they end up overexposed. A ND (Neutral-Density) filter can help avoid this.
Polarising filters are also useful for darkening skies or removing glare from the sun on the sea or the snow, which is invaluable if you're on a boat surrounded by icebergs! You should be able to pick up both of these for a reasonable price. They are light too, so easy to pack.
Although a good consideration, it's worth noting that most visitors to the Arctic will spend a lot of their time on a moving boat. If you do want to spend your time on land capturing stunning HDR landscapes and achieving different effects like motion blur on water, a tripod will be useful.
They can be quite heavy unless you spend a lot of money, so it's worth thinking about what kind of photos you will be taking and whether it's a worthwhile addition to your baggage.
You're going to have to protect your camera from the elements - snow, rain and spray - while you're out on deck or on a zodiac. You could look at getting a camera that has Weather Sealing, meaning that the joints and buttons will be covered and sealed with rubber to reduce exposure to moisture and dust. However, this does not make the camera waterproof.
For full waterproofing consider purchasing a rain sleeve. This is not the most technical piece of kit (it’s basically a plastic bag for your camera) but it should only cost you around £8/$10 and does the job.
The cold conditions in the Arctic have a detrimental effect on your camera battery’s life. To counter this it's worth bringing more than one battery and keeping your spare battery warm under your layers of clothing.
Using a Go-Pro
Go-Pro cameras are incredibly versatile: as well as a funky time-lapse feature, they are able to film underwater, so capturing humpbacks swimming under your zodiac is a real possibility. It’s a good idea to invest in some accessories, like the selfie stick and clamps, and have some fun experimenting with the various cameras functions.
We suggest you get some practice before going on your trip as it can take some learning (especially the ones without an LCD screen on the back). You don’t want to be spending time pushing the wrong button when that humpback is starring in the lens.
There are a number of smartphones available with seriously good camera functions, some of which are capable of shooting in 4K. Many of our own films, including the one below, are shot on iPhones. The advantages are clear, they are light and easy to carry and use, they recharge quickly and will even log the exact time and location of your shots. You can even buy additional lenses for very little to extend the functionality of your phone.