- A wide angle lens for landscapes, something like a 24-70mm
- A lens with a range in focal length, like a 70-200mm or 70-300mm. This range is useful for when you're out on Zodiac trips and won't be able to swap lenses easily, allowing you to capture both landscape and wildlife photos. When you're out on Zodiac landings, like at a penguin colony, the wildlife largely isn't too far away and curious penguins often approach you so you don't need a very long zoom.
- A long zoom lens, like a 100-400mm, 150-500mm or 150-600mm. Consider the weight of this as they can be very heavy and bulky. Whilst the longer the zoom the better, it won't be any good if you can't manage the weight handheld. This zoom would be great for whilst you're on the ship and spotting wildlife, or while you're out on landings if you're able to carry it, but it could be too cumbersome while you're out on the Zodiac.
You may want to consider a second camera body if budget and weight allows so you can easily swap between wide angle and telephoto, and in case one is affected by the cold or runs of our battery while you're away from the ship. You can get around this by charging batteries in advance and having spares on hand (we'd recommend at least two spare batteries as the cold causes them to drain faster), and by protecting your equipment (read on for more tips on this).
We know all of this kit can cost a lot of money, and you may be getting it for your once-in-a-lifetime polar expedition and then be unlikely to use it much again. If this is the case, have a look into hiring lenses, or buying them used from a reputable camera retailer.
You'll obviously need a way to carry all of this equipment so get a good camera daybag for your trip. You'll likely want to access your kit frequently and quickly so easy-access sling bags or bags that open at the side or back are best. If you can, try and get one with a little extra space for other things like hat, gloves and sunglasses.
Whatever DSLR or camera kit you end up taking, practice packing it altogether in your bag and take note of the weight. If you're doing a fly/cruise and you plan on taking it all in a camera daybag, there may be a tight weight restriction on the flight.
Of course you don't necessarily need to spend thousands on expensive camera equipment, it's also possible to get great photos just from your mobile phone - make sure it's fully charged before you go out on Zodiac trips and that you have enough storage space.