Camera Lens for Safari

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Camera Lens for Safari

Postby npodendorf » Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:01 pm

Hello all -
I posted this a few days ago, but maybe I forgot to hit the submit botton, so here goes again...

I am taking the DAKF tour of South Africa, Botswana and Zambia in August 2010 (more people, please sign up!) I currently have a Nikon digital point and shoot, but for this trip I am ready to pony up the funds and go for a new DSLR and zoom lens.

I have heard it is better to spend your money on the lens and then get a more basic camera. I was looking at getting the Nikon D40 or D60 and a 70mm-300mm lens. My question is, do I really need a 300mm lens? I have heard that a 200mm just isn't good enough for capturing animals on a safari. Also, is the image sabilizer (VR in Nikon-speak) a neccesity? How much photography is taken from the moving truck?

I love photography and cherish the photos I have taken on my last trip to Africa and other places around the world, therefore I am willing to spend some money. It seems that the Nikon D40 and VR 70mm-300mm lens would put me pack about $1050. Is this the way to go?

Thanks for you advice, Nicole
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Re: Camera Lens for Safari

Postby Zuleika » Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:30 pm

Hi there - Im a canon girl so cant answer all your questions - but I would definately recommend 300mm for safaari (or even 400mm if you can stretch to the price). I have the 70-300 equivalent canon lens with image stabilization - which is very useful especially when shooting in low light hand held or on full telephoto. A lot of those animals are most active at dawn/dusk. I love to zoom in on the animals faces so 300 is great. You will be the envy of all the point and shoot photographers on your tour too!
With the digital conversion factor this zoom lens is roughly equiv to a 105mm at the short end - so I would also recommend getting a wide angle lens too - for all those lovely landscape shots etc - I have the 17-85mm - which is my main walk-about lens. Nikon have an equialent.

Your initial outlay for all this is expensive - because you also need to think about getting filters - UV or skylight at the bare minimum to protect your (expensive) lens, some spare batteries, something to put it all in, memory cards, I also got a LCD protector. Once I started I bought a new piece of kit or upgraded a piece each year. (I just got the 10-22 this year and cant wait to use it in China!!)
Hope this helps in some way.
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Re: Camera Lens for Safari

Postby npodendorf » Fri Sep 18, 2009 12:07 pm

Thanks Zuleika.

Does anyone have experience with Pentax DSLR's? B&H Photo has a combo kit of the Pentax K-x Digital SLR with 18-55mm and 55-300mm Zoom Lenses (Black). It says that the body has shake resistance for low lighting images. Is that the same or less than Vibration Resistance on the Nikon lenses? How is it difference when it's on a body versus in a lens? WHich is better?

This kit is approximately $200 less than the Nikon combo. Is Pentax inferieor quality? Seeing as I'll now have to add a filter and get alot of other excessories, the price is quite attractive.

Thanks,
Nicole
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Re: Camera Lens for Safari

Postby jimshu » Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:52 pm

Just thinking that since this thread is more specific to photography, we should move it over there, so is available to others who would look in that forum for all this info .
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Re: Camera Lens for Safari

Postby DanielBMe » Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:00 pm

There's another thread here somewhere asking the same questions from my trip to East Africa in May of this year. I had a Nikon D80 with an 18-70 and a 70-300 zoom. You definitely need the 300. For the most part, the 70-300 was on my camera 95% of the time. I previously had a Nikon D40 so can tell you that if you match that up with the 70-300 you'll be perfectly fine. The Nikon D40 is/was great! Just make sure you get the 70-300VR. I can't stress how much you'll need the image stabilization. If you plan on taking some landscape pics, then you'll also want the 18-55vr that comes with it.

Definitely get a UV filter, memory and an extra battery...oh and a blower to clean your camera. Take pics in raw so that you can always fix them up later.

Most of the game drives we did were early morning and mid afternoon. There was always plenty of light so didn't have any low light problems other than actually taking photos at night.
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Re: Camera Lens for Safari

Postby npodendorf » Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:48 am

Thanks Daniel, that's very helpful!
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Re: Camera Lens for Safari

Postby DanielBMe » Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:44 pm

One thing you may want to consider is taking a small compact camera for the landscape pics if you don't want to be swapping lenses. It does get very dusty there. Keep the compact for wide shots and keep the DSLR with the zoom for the close ups. Perhaps you can borrow a friends compact if you don't own one.
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Re: Camera Lens for Safari

Postby ExplorerWannaBe » Wed Oct 14, 2009 1:38 pm

If you're talking about going on safari, you will want the longer lens. 200-250mm just doesn't cut it for some shots. On the other hand, there are a lot of shots that are close by and switching out the larger lens for a smaller one was a pain so keeping a small point and shoot spare for those close-in shots is a great suggestion. I highly suggest having two cameras for these once-in-a-lifetime trips anyway because the last thing you need is to have a major camera malfunction early in the trip and nothing left to record your memories on.

I was very happy to have the 100-400 mm lens with me and the 2x Extender was a bonus for some shots -- especially bird pictures. Having said that, I took a LOT of shots in the 150-250 mm range because we were able to get so close to the animals. Quite a few pictures of the elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, etc. only 30-100 ft away.

A lot of my pictures were taken with the truck still moving and you can tell :( In these cases, the image stabilization didn't really help much but the IS or VR WILL help you at the longer focal lengths even when the truck is stopped.

I think you have a good plan and package with the D40 and 70-300 VR lens but make sure you have a good 18-100 lens (or thereabouts) as well.
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