I plan to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton for the first time with extended family members in early September (9/2 to 9/11). I'm going with two of my young kids (age 3.5 and 1.5), two sister-in-laws (my kids' aunts), and two in-laws (my wife's parents). One of my sister-in-laws is also into photography, but have less gear and less into it than myself. The other adults are willing and able to take care of my young kids / watch them, so I will have some time to take pictures, though this is not a photography trip per se. Since we are traveling with young kids and elderly people, we are not going to do any strenuous hiking--probably just 1-2 miles on flat trails max.
Here are my current gear:
Canon 5D Mark IV with L-bracket
Gitzo 6X Carbon series 1 travel tripod (GT1541T) with Markins Q3T head (I think)
Canon 600EX-RT flash
Canon 420EX flash
Canon 11-24 f/4L
Canon 16-35 f/4L IS
Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II
Canon 24-105 f/4L IS (version I)
Canon 70-200 f/4L
Canon TS-E 24 f/3.5L
Canon 35 f/1.4L II
Canon 100 f/2.8L Macro IS
Canon 135 f/2L
I can only take 3-4 lenses with a tripod -- it needs to fit into a backpack and be portable enough to do minor hikes. I'm currently thinking of taking:
1) a wide angle lens for landscape: 16-35 or 11-24.
2) the 24-70 for family shots.
3) a longer lens for wildlife and some landscape.
4) if there is room, a specialty lens: either the TS-E 24 or 100 macro.
5) a tripod, some CPL and ND filters. Does not plan to bring flash.
1) Any thoughts on which wide angle lens I should take? I'm leaning toward 16-35 because it's smaller and has IS, but not sure if wider than 16mm would be nice to have.
2) Do you think the specialty lens will be worth the weight? I'm leaning against the macro because not sure if that will be useful at Yellowstone. I really enjoy the TS-E as a "fun" lens and use it mostly for panorama, and sometimes for special effects. But it's a manual lens that takes time to set up correctly, and I don't want others to wait on me all the time. Your thoughts are appreciated.
3) What long lens do you think I should take / buy / rent? My sense is that my 70-200 is not long enough. I could either (1) buy or rent a 100-400 II with a 1.4 or 2 extender; (2) rent a big white like 500 or 600 and a 1.4 or 2 extender; or (3) something else, but not sure what. I'm really not sure what to do here.
Renting the big whites with extender will obviously give longer range, bigger aperture, better image quality, but the drawbacks are: (1) they're big and heavy and I'm not sure how to carry them around; (2) I've never handled a big white before; (3) they're expensive to rent (e.g., a Canon 500 f/4L IS II goes for $745 for an 11-day rental with insurance, a Canon 600 f/4L IS II goes for $890 with insurance), plus additional $48 to rent the extender; (4) my Gitzo travel tripod cannot handle these lenses and I would have to either rent or buy a bigger tripod and gimbal head, adding to the expense (Gitzo GT3542XLS and Induro GHB2 Gimbal package rents for $205). At this point, the rental costs around $1000 or more, which is more than half of the cost to buy a 100-400 II.... I'm leaning against this option because it seems like if I'm going to spend that much money (and I can afford it), I might as well spend it on buying something I can keep (e.g., the 100-400 II or a new Gitzo tripod, see below).
Renting a 100-400 II with extender is $200 plus insurance. But the lens is slow, especially with the extender -- not sure how big of a problem this will be. I am also not sure if my Gitzo travel tripod can handle this lens (it's definitely not rated for this focal length). I'm open to renting or buying a bigger Gitzo tripod set up if needed. What do you think about this option? Which extender do you think would be best? Do you think this can be realistically hand held with the IS (i.e., maybe I don't need to worry about tripod)?
Sorry for the super long post, but your thoughts are greatly appreciated! Feel free to propose alternatives not listed here.