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Which lense would you recommend?
Nikkor 70-200 2.8 + 1.7x t/c 33%  33%  [ 3 ]
Nikkor 80-400 33%  33%  [ 3 ]
Sigma 150-500 33%  33%  [ 3 ]
Other (please elaborate) 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Total votes : 9
Author Message
 Post subject: African Safari
PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 2:33 am 
Hi all,

No photos here (please keep reading!), just a bunch of questions (which will hopefully assist me in getting some photos :P).

So I'm planning to go on safari in South Africa and possibly on a 28 day course in the bush (both in the Kruger Park area).

I currently have a D60 camera and 70-300VR and 18-105 lenses.

I'm considering upgrading to a D300s for better dust protection, more focus points and overall better handling.

As far as lenses are concerned, I guess I'm pretty happy with the 18-105 but I'm worried the 70-300VR will be a bit short. (I also wonder if these lenses will survive 28 days in tough conditions...).

Ignoring prices for the time being, as I may be able to cut costs in other places, these options come to mind as possible replacements for my 70-300VR:

1. Nikkor 70-200 2.8 with 1.7x teleconverter - longer focal length, better IQ and useful 2.8 aperture for low light situations (both w/o the t/c of course).

2. Nikkor 80-400 - longer focal length.

3. Sigma 150-500 - longer focal length.

4. Any other suggestions?

Keep in mind that I'm not looking to waste money. If the 70-200 with the t/c will give me slightly better IQ than the 80-400 but will cost double, I'd rather go for the cheaper option.

I'd really appreciate any comments you have about this equipment (for example, IQ of 70-200+1/7x t/c vs 80-400 vs 150-500 vs 70-300, "don't get the Sigma it won't survive the dust", etc) or about safari photography in general (such as "forget about the 2.8 aperture, you won't be taking any photos at times that will need that" - I believe the opposite is true, butyou get my point).

I'd also love to hear any safari photography tips you have to share with me!

Thanks in advance!!!

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:42 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Dec 22, 2007 10:43 am
Posts: 512
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
I don't have much knowledge about the Nikon gear (since im a Canon user) but i have been on a Safari.

First of all you wan't to find out as much as possible about the place ur going on safari to. Find out what animals you will be shooting, so you know how close you're gonna be able to get (and how big the animals are).

When I wen't (that was in Uganda though) I had my Canon EOS 400D w. the 55-250mm. Pretty much beginners stuff, but it actually worked quite fine. I had two major strugles:

1. The focal length weren't nearly enough for all animals. Especially birds and hyenas caused me problems, since birds are small and hyenas too far away.

2. Low light, since you usually start off pretty early, i wasnt able to shoot until after sunrise. But the question is weather a better lens would allow you to anyway.

Dust actually werent much of an issue. Yeah the camera got dirty, but no dust managed to get into the house or lens. And bring a sweater (u most likely will since it will be freezing cold in the morning), to use for support if shooting from a car. At least that was possible for me, and worked out quite fine.

In case your interested, you can see some of the photos i took in my old post or at my flickr (link in signature).

Hope that helped you out a little, even though i couldnt help with the specific gear :)


Canon EOS 400D + EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS + EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS + EF 50mm f/1.8
My Photos - My webpage (danish)

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 1:39 am 

Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:06 am
Posts: 1977
I'm in the same boat as Noceo.. canon user.. I had the chance to go to Botswana 4 years ago.. back then I didnt have a dslr but knowing what I know now I would say a 250mm lens will do ok but a 400mm will cover most situations you encounter... you will still have some issues with birds but mammals should be covered just fine...

something in the 100-400 range will also allow you not to worry about changing lenses too much so you dont need to carry a lot of lenses with you.. just add something that covers 18-100 and you should be good to go. Of course you will not capture everything and the will be frustrations but 2 lenses in this range are very workable and you're not lugging a ton of gear.

I know I always talk about these but if you can... carry your stuff in a pelican case.. basically indestructable.. weather proof.. water proof.. you really cant go wrong with it.. especially on a tour like this.. well worth the investment and should last you forever. depending on where you are going the roads/trails become rough to say the least... a backback bag, unless you carry it on your lap all the time, probably wont cut it as things get banged around during the excitement of the chase.. a hard bodied case holds up 1000 times better than a soft case under these conditions... especially if it falls out of the vehicle... you dont have to worry bout putting it down in the mud.. on rocks on a shoreline where it may get wet or even fall in.. if its raining... you get the idea...

Another thing I like doing is having a raincoat, if needed, larger than you really need so you can put the camera with your largest lense attached to it inside it while the coat is zipped up.... comes in more handy when on the water but has also come in handy for me on hikes and walks in the rain or when there is a threat of rain... makes it easy to carry the camera in the rain and pull it out for a quick shot if needed.

Lastly.. cagro pants/shorts with big pockets rock... if you keep your large lense on the camera its easy to carry smaller lense(s) in the pockets as well as other accessories you may need. If there is a threat of rain carry the extras in ziplock bags..

One more thing... scoop up a few shower caps from the hotels you stay in.. they make for good emergency covers if you are shooting in the rain and have nothing else handy.

Depending on the humidity of the area it might be a good idea to carry an extra lens pen with you... in really humid areas I have gone through one before the trip was over and if you're not near a camera store....

Mono pod/walking stick like manfrotto's is also handy... makes hikes a lot easier and if you're in lowlight conditions or at extreme ranges where you are worried about shake they really come in handy... I know the ons that double as walking sticks are not the best but I value the security of having a walking stick for crossing streams or hiking trails where footing isnt the best and lastly... a walking stick makes for a last line of defence for over curious creatures if needed. I never take a hike without one.. not cause of the camera situations but for the other reasons I mentioned... they really do make long hikes easier to manage and safer.. having them around for an out of the ordinary shot is a bonus.

Canon 7D + 50D + EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM + EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM + EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
Pelican // Black Rapid // Think Tank // Manfrotto // Garmin

Reflections On Canadian Wildlife
My Flickr

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:34 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Dec 23, 2008 7:48 am
Posts: 227
Location: Largs, Scotland
Completed a trip to Kenya, Masai Mara back in September 2009. I dont have a Sigma so it was a no brainer for me, my Nikkor 80-400.

As you dont want photos I would ask that you scroll down the bottom of this section and find some of the photos I posted. They were all taken with the Nikkor 80-400. The busiest most congested place by far was the river crossing. This was the only location where getting close was a problem, but again twas still close enough to get excellent results with the 80-400. GAwd how I felt for the poor peps who were holding up their little point and clicks, they must have been so disappointed when they got home. I was not disappointed with the quality of shots from the lens and have had some of the shots printed out at poster size. If I was going back next week I would be more than happy to take the same lens.
In the Mara you are not allowed to walk so it was land rover all the way, but the guides got you real close to the action anyway. To be honest light wasn't a problem either, from memory I think the highest ISO setting I had on some occassions was 500 ish.

I did have other lenses with me but the only one I had a reason to use was the Nikkor 17-35mm, which was for the scenic shots. The sunrise and sunsets are stunning.

By far the biggest problem for me was dust!! dust!! dust!! However I was prepared and had my cleaning kit with me.

Hope you have a great trip, enjoy :)

D4 & D700


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 4:03 pm 
Thanks for the responses! (and GREAT photos!!)

I'd love to get more responses from other people who have been there.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 5:59 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 3:18 am
Posts: 1781
Location: Nova Scotia Canada
Africa is on kpr's "to do" list but may take a while.
I have Sigma's and I have taken them alot of places in all differant types of weather...wet,cold you name issues to speak of.

I'm with wolf on the Pelican Case.
It can be locked and safely transport all your gear on the plane and to the resort.
I don't think they make a baggage handler that could hurt your gear in it.
Basically a hard suitcase and depending on the size you get it could carry everything you need (camera wise) for the entire trip.
On your day trips,remove padlock and camera is secure from whatever happens but accesible behind two simple latches,open lid and cam is in your hand.
Take it out when you NEED it,the rest of the time it's virtually bulletproof. :wink:

Looking fwd to your pics.
Have fun-safe journey.

Pentax K-5
Pentax 18-55mm,Pentax 50-200mm,Sigma 17-70mm,Sigma 70-300mm, Sigma 50-500mm

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