After visiting the canyon multiple times I learned some lessons and would like to pass those lessons on to my readers. I am calling it Antelope Canyon Tips and Tricks. You can find a previous article I published a couple years ago on Antelope Canyon found here. When I first visited Antelope Canyon in Page Arizona several years ago, I was still learning photography. I was really excited to get some fantastic images, but when I returned home I was left wanting more detail shots of the canyon. When I had the opportunity to visit the canyon again I had a plan, or so I thought. I had my 5DIII and recently picked up the Canon 16-35mm f4 IS. I really wanted to use this lens to test it out, but I kept reminding myself I wanted to get those detail shots I missed on my previous trip. I decided to go with a 24-70mm.
June was way more crowded than the crowds in May a couple years ago. It was hard to get an image without having people in the frame. The wider the angle, the better chance of having people in your image. For someone that has never visited Antelope Canyon, imagine black friday at walmart right when the doors open. It's that crazy! Im not kidding! It's somewhat sad and discouraging but depending on the time of year, it's better or worse. Our guide said March is the best time to visit Antelope Canyon due to the low crowd numbers. In any case I was happy to be using the 24-70mm. At least I could zoom in and avoid people photobombing my images.
I was content for a while and then I began seeing (in my minds eye) images in wide angle. Eventually this feeling got the better of me and I changed my lens. This is a big no no in the Canyon. The dust and sand is very fine and can very easily get on your sensor making post processing very tedious, Not to mention you now need to have your sensor cleaned along with all the nooks and crannies of your camera and lens. I was lucky for the most part and I am glad I made the change. All that being said, I would recommend the 16-35mm on a full frame body. 2 camera bodies with 2 different lenses would be good, but then again with it being so crowded, it would be hard fumbling around with the camera bodies. It's seriously shoulder to shoulder in there. So depending on your style I would say a 16-35mm or a 24-70mm. Anything over 70mm in my opinion would be a waste. You could get some good images, but I think you would miss more than you would make.
For photographers, do yourself a favor and book a photo tour with a guide of your choice. Most guides offer this service and in my opinion the guides have very little difference in terms of service. In fact they all know and work with each other, guiding their groups through the canyon. With the photo tour there's more time in the canyon, while the regular tour is guided in and out a photo tour will wait at each attraction for the light to be right and for people to be out of the way. If you want quality images a photo tour is a must, along with a tripod.
Antelope canyon is an awesome sight! If you haven't been I would highly recommend it. Don't say I didn't' warn you about the crowds. It's a major flaw for this location. You can make some great images but often the stories that go along with said images aren't ones of peace and serenity. It quite the opposite. I think for this reason alone it's a turn off to many nature photographers.