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02-06-2013, 10:46 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Trip to Africa in 2014 - what lens/camera?

May I pick YOUR brains for a sec. I have the Pentax K-r and love it. I took it to Africa with me in 2012,. I used a Sigma 28-300 mm lens. This lens worked great, but there were many times I would have LOVED a longer range. I am returning to Africa in 2014, and am looking for something to boost my capabilities.
I don't want to carry multiple lenses, as I have a 35lb weight limit for everything, and I have concerns about changing lenses in the dusty environment. I have been looking at the Sigma 50-500 mm bigma lens, but I've read pros and cons about it. Many people saying I will be sacrificing quality.
Not to mention it is heavy and I won't be bringing a tripod.

Do you have any suggestions for me? And/or would upgrading to a different camera model i.e the K-5II improve my capabilities

Thanks, Elise

02-06-2013, 10:51 AM   #2
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I think the issue may have been that you were using a superzoom lens. Those lenses aren't as sharp at the long end, so I would recommend getting something sharper and not necessarily longer.

I would say that a K-5 with the Sigma 120-400mm, or even the DA* 60-250mm, you'll get much better shots than with your current setup.
Sigma 120-400mm f/4.5-5.6 DG APO OS HSM Autofocus Zoom 72A109

For tele shots I found the 50-500mm to not be that great past 300mm, not to mention that it's slow out there too.

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02-06-2013, 11:08 AM   #3
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thanks Adam! My shots were actually pretty clear even at the full 300 mm range. I really want something that will allow me longer zoom. I was not able to capture birds or other animals that were at too great a distance. The 120-400 mm would be good, but will wind up then needing a shorter range lens, and I don't want to have to swap out lenses? Is there such a thing as a 28-400 or 50-400? Someone told me about lens extenders? Are they useful?

And I was actually looking at the K-30 since the price is slightly less than the K-5II , but sounds like a great body
02-06-2013, 11:11 AM   #4
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if you are limited to one body, the only really suitable lens is the Bigma (AKA Sigma APO 50-500 EX DC not sure what other acronyms the current model has)

If it were me, I would take 2 bodies, and be done with it.

02-06-2013, 11:27 AM   #5
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thanks Lowell. I guess 2 bodies is a possibility, but I have a 35lb weight limit for EVERYTHING I bring. So what 2 lenses would you recommend?
02-06-2013, 11:45 AM - 1 Like   #6
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Whatever you do, if you take film don't have it processed in Africa! I did and lost a few hundred what would have been very nice slides. The only good pics I got were taken with a little Nikon Coolpix 4600 which I only carried for here and there shots. The real good stuff, animals, sunsets, etc I took on film and they were ruined.

On camera safaris, if the game has not been hunted your PH will be able to get you up close. I could have reached out and touched elephant and even buff. (I suggest you don't try to pet a cape buffalo however.) Wild kudu and zebra about 35 yards away, so big telephoto lens not needed. If the game has been hunted, I mean with rifles, they'll stay far off. Better not to even go there.

Photo opportunites in Africa abound. Get your shots and take your pills. BE CAREFUL while out in the bush or near the townships. (If you are in South Africa.) Not safe like within our national parks here. Beer is cheaper than water! You'll eat a lot of wild game, boks of all kinds, ostrich (good) fish(not so good). The night sounds are wonderful, yipping and chirping and growls and barks. Things happen at night in Africa.

If you are going 5 star it will be easy and safe. My wife and I rented a car and toured ourselves which was very non-5 star, but we did stay at some nice places....and some not so. We booked an excellent camera safaris ranch on private land where we received first class accomodations and outings into the bush. All wild game. Sun downers in the hills looking into the sunset. Touring alone, we drove up and down the southern and eastern coast of South Africa. Interesting. Challenging. The moon was upside down. Being Americans we were not often treated very well. We were kicked out of one restaurant...just because we were American. Nor did I see any other Americans anywhere. Lots of Germans and a few Brits. Few French, lots of Australians.

Africa was a "trip", but I'm not going back anytime soon.

Last edited by stepmac; 02-06-2013 at 11:52 AM.
02-06-2013, 11:45 AM - 1 Like   #7
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take the sigma 150-500 and the da*16-50 or 17-70. You won't miss much in between on safari.
02-06-2013, 11:48 AM - 1 Like   #8
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It also depends on where your destination in Africa is. In some of the parks in South Africa you get pretty close to the animals, and 300mm may be quite sufficient. In the parks in East Africa - Kenya, Tanzania - the distances are often longer.
Superzooms compromise a fair amount of image quality in favour of focal range. So far there is no exception to this rule.
To some extent I include even the big Sigma“s in this category. In the long end they turn soft and AF tends to hunt, depending on the lighting conditions. Primes are faster and have better IQ, but cannot provide the same flexibility. As usual, it is a tradeoff.
No matter whether you are using primes or zooms, I have found working with two bodies to be the only viable option in this kind of conditions.

02-06-2013, 11:55 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiodoc Quote
thanks Lowell. I guess 2 bodies is a possibility, but I have a 35lb weight limit for EVERYTHING I bring. So what 2 lenses would you recommend?
franc is pretty much on the right track.

if you only have 35 pounds total, I would go for the lightest zoom you can find that gets to 400 or 500 mm. 400 might be a better option, because maybe, just maybe you could stack a 1.4x TC onto it and still get AF. Also most lenses that go only to 400 seem to me a tad sharper than those that go to 500, unless you are into 3+ kilos of lens.

on the short side, i dont really see much need to go below 28mm, because you don't really want to make landscapes etc seem insignificant and small, you want to compress the distance i think, I would take my 28-75F2.8..

Actually considering for a moment my kit, and I know this is unfair because it is unlikely you will get my zoom anywhere quickly, I would take 2 bodies, K5 and K7, plus the tammy 28-75/2.8 and my sigma APO 70-200/2.8 EX (non DG non macro) plus 1.4x and 2x TCs. the sigma zoom is the shaprest that they made wide open and at 200 mm until the last HSM II OS version, but the latest lens does not work with sigma's TC because the sigma TC for pentax is screw drive.

back to what you should do, how much are you willing to spend? a second body, if you go for any of the CMOS sensor bodies should do OK, and you can get one used cheaper than new, but the long lens will cost $$$
02-06-2013, 12:04 PM - 1 Like   #10
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I was recently in Kenya with my wife. I ended up with the F35-105 on the K-x and the F70-210 on the K-30.
We used both, big animals close up require a wide lens. And the 210 was not long enough, so I had a 1.6x extender.

To sum up, the Bigma 50-500 is the only single lens I would recommend. Definitely not the 120-400 or the 170-500.
And use a big hood, many of my shots were overexposed when sun was behind. You do not have time to change lenses that much.

Seb
02-06-2013, 12:54 PM   #11
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haha ok i am really confused now.. Lowell and Bassek are telling me completely different things.. ARGH!!!!
I already have 2 bodies, I have the K-x and the K-r. I was thinking of upgrading to the K-30. I just am resisting taking 2 camera's. I won't have room for clothes!
02-06-2013, 01:17 PM - 1 Like   #12
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Maybe this might interest you, as an alternative solution to your problem?

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-q/209474-adapted-lenses-tested-q-r...ce-thread.html

Many people are getting wonderful results with the Q and adapted lenses, and it's certainly lightweight. And you can get it very cheap right now.
02-06-2013, 01:23 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiodoc Quote
haha ok i am really confused now.. Lowell and Bassek are telling me completely different things.. ARGH!!!!
I already have 2 bodies, I have the K-x and the K-r. I was thinking of upgrading to the K-30. I just am resisting taking 2 camera's. I won't have room for clothes!
Clothes? what are they?

actually, I think 35 pounds should be quite doable.

If I look at what I would take from my kit, K5, K7, my sigma, with both TCs, and the tammy, what I get is the following

K5 - 740 G
K7 - 750 G
2x batteries spare 160 G
sigma 2x TC 234 G
sigma 1.4x TC 134 G
sigma 70-200/2.8 - 1270 G
tamron 28075 F2.8 510 g

total is 3.8 K, add 1 kilo for some form of bag plus a flash(I forgot to mention you should have one) and you are set. that would bring you in at about 4.8 kilos total or 10 pounds give or take, allowing 25 pounds for something else.

I think it is very doable, considering your bodies weigh less than the K5/7 and your batteries would be AA type, compatible also with flash so you can cut extra charger and batteries down if you want.

don't fret about the weight, MANAGE IT
02-06-2013, 01:29 PM   #14
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thanks everyone for the advice. Lowell, sounds good. So the concensus seems to be to go with 2 camera bodies and lenses vs the 50-500. So should I invest in the K-30 or is my K-x and K-r sufficient?
02-06-2013, 02:49 PM   #15
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Superzoom?

Maybe you should take a look at the Panasonic FZ-200 which has a sharp 24-600mm 35mm equiv., constant f2.8 lens. In addition to my several Pentax APS-C bodies and lenses, I got an FZ200 for those times when I need long reach and f2,8. I shoot almost always at ISO 100-200 and image quality is very acceptable. Very good camera and very good Leica lens with complete manual control, excellent shake reduction, good color, etc.
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