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11-04-2016, 03:02 PM   #31
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QuoteOriginally posted by noelpolar Quote
Nice shots Nicholas....I'm heading that way next year.....wife wants to see Gorillas.
Thanks and well, sure this will be interresting! Even if Gorillas are a bit hader than Zebras or Lions. Be sure to show us some pics

11-04-2016, 03:23 PM   #32
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QuoteOriginally posted by savoche Quote
They also tend to have the highest density of tourists which can sometimes be a bother. This depends a lot on the time and place, though. The northern part of Serengeti is less visited, but more remote and expensive to get to. The private concessions around Maasai Mara also have fewer tourists - and are quite expensive.
I can't say for Kenya, but I can say for Tanzania. I have been in september. So there no northem hemispheres vacations at that time and you are in the dry season. The lodges/tented camps where most often almost empty and there were a few cars overall. If you have the possibility, I think this is good choice: less wait to enter the parks, few 4x4 on the sightseeing and also lower prices for lodges/camps. The price difference pay for the private car.

The guide explained us that there can be lot of tourists any time there are some vacations, like end october (Halloween vacations), december (christmas) on top of course the classical july/august.

QuoteOriginally posted by savoche Quote
That said, a guide will still find stuff you won't, and they are very knowledgeable. It's usually possible to go on guided excursions from the camps, and doing so at least once will be worth it in my experience.
My experience is the guide was listening and discuting on the radio and also discussing with other drivers when crossing them on the road. This way he knew where to go to find that familly of lion or to see that cheetah... I think this is quite valuable... I don't know what I could manage myself if I was the driver...

QuoteOriginally posted by savoche Quote
Hmmm, this turned a lot more long winded than I intended - my apologies!
No, that was nice, quite valuable aditions . Thank you!
11-04-2016, 03:59 PM - 1 Like   #33
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nicolas06 Quote
A few giraffes/birds/elephants

K3, DA55-300 @300mm, f/10, 1/2000, iso1600



K3, DA55-300 @87.5mm, f/8, 1/500, iso200



K3, DA55-300 @300mm, f/8, 1/1000, iso160



K3, DA55-300 @210mm, f/8, 1/500, iso200



K3, DA55-300 @300mm, f/9, 1/1000, iso500

I am Nicolas' father and was in the car with him and his sister Caroline (=my daughter).

I shot almost the same scenes and our pictures look very close (I have only posted a few ones on my flickr gallery, will add more next week, couldnot before, I have been too busy).

I used also K3 and DA 55-300 (a lot) + DA 18-135 (a little) and a Fuji X10 for unexpected wide angle snapshots while the 55-300 was on K3.
Nicolas had borrowed my DA 17-70 and Caroline had borrowed my K30, she used it with a film era entry level all plastic tele lens, FA 100-300.
Caroline is rather on the pocketable point and shoot side, she doesnt like DSLRs, but, after some tests at home, she admitted she could not go only with her Panasonic LF1, and the K30+ 100/300 was needed to increase her reach. She got some nice pictures once she understood she had to shoot in TAv mode rather than trusting the green or P mode, to avoid too slow shutter speeds or full aperture shooting.

We were only the three of us with the driver, which was very nice, as Nicolas explained.
But, though we had a lot of room in a big 6 seats car, we often had to exchange our positions to be able to see the action (and shoot) each in turn: quite often, two of us had the best view and the third waited for his turn to be in front....Thus you can imagine how it goes when you are 6 crowded in a 4x4, or, worse, 8 or 10 in a minibus.

Most of the time you are not allowed to exit the car (with lions, you dont want to anyway). And it is very difficult to shoot while the car is moving, you have to wait for the driver to stop the car if you want usable pictures.
But there is so many wildlife that it is really an outstanding experience!

At 200-300mm, best results for everyone was in TAv, 1/1000 or faster, f8 (sometimes f7/f11 depending the light), and auto-ISO 100-3200. As most of the time we were in open fields, ISO were usually in the 400-1600 range.
The light was rather harsh in september, the sun being almost zenithal (equinox), and most of the time the sky was not very interesting.

---------- Post added 11-05-16 at 12:13 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by savoche Quote
Thanks for the report and pictures Nicolas, good stuff! Looks like you had a wonderful time


I find the 55-300 to be a brilliant lens for safaris. When in a vehicle you often get close to animals (at least in the areas where the animals are used to visitors) and a 300 mm prime would be too long. When on foot I can sometimes wish for a longer lens as it is harder to get as close, but then the 55-300 is wonderfully small and light. That's worth a whole lot when you walk with camera in hand for hours. Better to spend your carrying capacity on water!


I agree 100% on the point of limiting the number of parks/destinations. staying longer in each place will give a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience.


East Africa has the highest density of wildlife and might as such will give you the most photo opportunities per day. They also tend to have the highest density of tourists which can sometimes be a bother. This depends a lot on the time and place, though. The northern part of Serengeti is less visited, but more remote and expensive to get to. The private concessions around Maasai Mara also have fewer tourists - and are quite expensive.


Thanks for the update on the pricing in the Tanzanian parks btw. Seem to have come quite substantially up since I last was there.


Another slight drawback with the national parks in East Africa is the strict curfew from sunset to sunrise. A lot of the interesting action happens before you get out on the morning and after you have to leave in the afternoon. Again, the private concessions generally don't have this limitations. Same goes for some of the parks in southern Africa, at least if you stay in camps inside the park. Again, this will usually add to the cost, unfortunately.


I believe the least expensive option for a safari is probably to rent a car and go on a self drive safari in South Africa or Namibia. Etosha National Park in Namibia is really easy to navigate. Most of the wildlife will congregate around the waterholes which are all easy to find so you don't need a guide for that. Camping there is quite affordable and very easy. That said, a guide will still find stuff you won't, and they are very knowledgeable. It's usually possible to go on guided excursions from the camps, and doing so at least once will be worth it in my experience.


Hmmm, this turned a lot more long winded than I intended - my apologies!


Again, thanks for your report, Nicolas!
A professional guide/driver is very useful, ours talked on the VHF with his siblings to get information about the most interesting ongoing wildlife scenes.
11-04-2016, 04:37 PM   #34
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Great report. My family and I will be in South Africa next June with two Safari camp events in private game reserves, each three days long. I have spent dozens of hours net-surfing to get the exact info provided in this string. I need a long lens for my two K-3s that we're taking. Trying to decide between purchasing a 55-300 and/or 60-250. We will have two 18-135s for close up and landscapes.

11-04-2016, 05:21 PM   #35
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Great shots! Thanks for posting. I have the same combo but haven't used it much.
11-04-2016, 08:52 PM   #36
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QuoteOriginally posted by BDRanch Quote
Great report. My family and I will be in South Africa next June with two Safari camp events in private game reserves, each three days long. I have spent dozens of hours net-surfing to get the exact info provided in this string. I need a long lens for my two K-3s that we're taking. Trying to decide between purchasing a 55-300 and/or 60-250. We will have two 18-135s for close up and landscapes.
Hands down the 60-250..... and maybe the 1.4TC.... if $ aren't an issue.

Last edited by noelpolar; 11-04-2016 at 08:59 PM.
11-04-2016, 09:17 PM   #37
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Thanks for sharing Nicolas. I wanted to add you have a really good eye for composition.

And you may have talked me out of selling my 55-300.
11-05-2016, 03:33 AM   #38
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Amazing photos! The 55-300mm is a stupidly good lens for the money - sure, the corners aren't great, and it likes plenty of light, but it offers a great zoom range, good centre sharpness, WR, in a small, very affordable package. One of the best consumer telephotos out there of any brand.

QuoteOriginally posted by BDRanch Quote
Great report. My family and I will be in South Africa next June with two Safari camp events in private game reserves, each three days long. I have spent dozens of hours net-surfing to get the exact info provided in this string. I need a long lens for my two K-3s that we're taking. Trying to decide between purchasing a 55-300 and/or 60-250. We will have two 18-135s for close up and landscapes.
I currently own both, and despite their obvious overlap, I think both have their place due to their respective advantages. Big plus for the 55-300mm is that it is relatively compact and quite light - easy to toss in your bag. For a recent trip to the US east coast (NYC, Boston, Niagara, Chicago) I took it and left the 60-250mm at home - but I knew that I would only need the longer focal length a handful of times, so I placed a lot of value on the size and weight (as it lived in my camera bag). It's my grab-and-go and just-in-case telephoto.

The 60-250mm, on the other hand, is all about the IQ, which is nothing short of brilliant. When I pack it I know it is going to be used. Sure, it costs a lot more, but it is a no compromise lens (except for the focus breathing... downside of internal focus).

If money is no object, go the 60-250mm, its extra size and weight is not going to be an issue when touring in a car. A TC makes a perfect companion, and well worth it is budget allows. But don't write off the 55-300mm, as this thread shows, it is a very capable lens!

11-05-2016, 04:53 AM   #39
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QuoteOriginally posted by BDRanch Quote
Great report. My family and I will be in South Africa next June with two Safari camp events in private game reserves, each three days long. I have spent dozens of hours net-surfing to get the exact info provided in this string. I need a long lens for my two K-3s that we're taking. Trying to decide between purchasing a 55-300 and/or 60-250. We will have two 18-135s for close up and landscapes.
You'd be in winter. The days would be short as you are quite on the south. Sunrise at 7am, sunset at 5:30. June is like december in northerm emisphere for that. But as a consequence, you should have quite more interresting light but its intensity also would be lower. This would be also begining of dry season so you could find yourself with a bit more flora than I got. Easier for animal to hide. As for the exact private game reserves, that you to check what they have . It would be likely harder than Tanzania that has the biggest density worldwide of wild animal and reserve with no much flora in dry season.

I feel like the 60-250 would be a bit more helpfull for your case than it was for me. But I consider it quite an investment, especially in europe where it is extremely expensive. You should get more cropping capabilities (so more reach) and get better control of high isos.

I would consider if I was you, how often I'd use the lens after or the rest of the time and how often I would find it conveniant to have a somewhat big/heavy lens with me in general. For me that was: almost never. So it was the 55-300. Really, counting the price, you can buy it without thinking and there nothing lighter/smaller except its own new version to achieve the same. The 60-250, maybe you'll want to rent it to ensure you are not too bothered if you need a bit more reach or a wider apperture?

As for doing 2x 3 days, not going to too many places for the safaris, I think it look like a very good choice! Enjoy!

Last edited by Nicolas06; 11-05-2016 at 05:01 AM.
11-05-2016, 05:10 AM   #40
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QuoteOriginally posted by Biff Quote
Thanks for sharing Nicolas. I wanted to add you have a really good eye for composition.

And you may have talked me out of selling my 55-300.
Thanks for the kind words !

I always try to get compo right at the begining and correct it a bit as necessary in post. To achieve this, I tend to use a single off center AF point. No tracking by the camera, photographer tracking keeping the camera looking in the right direction. I use AFC but to remove all the quirks it may have, I don't have any AF on the shutter button. AF is only done when I push the AF button so in a sense I get both AFC and AFS in a single setting, with great control of what the camera does. This also mean I have to crop less in post productio, so if iso are a bit high, this allow me to not get that noise too visible.

Using off center AF point and tracking yourself, is quite valuable to keep a great composition and using the AF button also quite helpful to keep in control. Most of the wildlife doesn't move that fast, so it tend to work well. I don't say it would work for quite fast moving subject like action/sport, but for me for everyday shooting, it get me very nice results. I just go to 27AF points when shooting landscapes and not wanting to loose time tunning the AF.

I also take time to correct colors/contrast/micro contrast). The 55-300 and sometime harsh light required a bit more slider pushing than I would have done with my primes, so it is a bit more work, but overall I am quite satisfied.
11-05-2016, 06:46 AM   #41
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What a great approach to focusing. Thanks for taking the time to explain your technique, I never would have thought of doing that.
11-06-2016, 04:03 PM   #42
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tatouzou Quote
A professional guide/driver is very useful, ours talked on the VHF with his siblings to get information about the most interesting ongoing wildlife scenes.
Oh, most definitely! I wouldn't want to go without a guide most places. There are a few parks where it is quite easy to do self-drive, though, such as Etosha (Namibia) and Kgalagadi/Kalahari (South Africa/Botswana), which can make the safari considerably less expensive. I would still highly recommend going on at least a few guided day/half-day trips from some of the camps. But a good guide is almost always worth the extra cost.
11-18-2016, 12:15 PM   #43
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I know this is an old thread but I have just spent a few days in Kruger National Park and would suggest based on that experience, that while you don't need top of the range gear perhaps, the Pentax 55-200mm definitely didn't cut it both in terms of reach and image quality. So yes, season, place and mode are the most important considerations, there is a MINIMUM level of gear that you absolutely must have.
11-19-2016, 01:38 AM - 2 Likes   #44
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QuoteOriginally posted by Theov39 Quote
I know this is an old thread but I have just spent a few days in Kruger National Park and would suggest based on that experience, that while you don't need top of the range gear perhaps, the Pentax 55-200mm definitely didn't cut it both in terms of reach and image quality. So yes, season, place and mode are the most important considerations, there is a MINIMUM level of gear that you absolutely must have.
Regardless of price and quality of gear, I think 50-200 is not long enough for a safari. For the same price, a 70-300 from sigma/tamron would have worked better. You don't need expensive gear, but you still need gear suited to the job: 300mm is unexpensive to get and give you 50% more reach than 200mm. That help significantly.

Then the place is not the same. This is very important. Serengeti for example in Tanzania has 76 animals/km2 while kruger has 8 animals/km2 from what I could gather with a fast search on the net:
The Kruger Experience: Ecology And Management Of Savanna Heterogeneity - Johan T. du Toit, Harry C. Biggs, Kevin H. Rogers - Google Livres
zq=density%20animals%20kruger&f=false

So even with the best gear, the likelyness of an encounter is around 8 time less. And so that many less opportunities for a great shot.
11-19-2016, 02:04 AM   #45
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nicolas06 Quote
Regardless of price and quality of gear, I think 50-200 is not long enough for a safari. For the same price, a 70-300 from sigma/tamron would have worked better. You don't need expensive gear, but you still need gear suited to the job: 300mm is unexpensive to get and give you 50% more reach than 200mm. That help significantly.

Then the place is not the same. This is very important. Serengeti for example in Tanzania has 76 animals/km2 while kruger has 8 animals/km2 from what I could gather with a fast search on the net:
The Kruger Experience: Ecology And Management Of Savanna Heterogeneity - Johan T. du Toit, Harry C. Biggs, Kevin H. Rogers - Google Livres
zq=density%20animals%20kruger&f=false

So even with the best gear, the likelyness of an encounter is around 8 time less. And so that many less opportunities for a great shot.
Good points Nicholas. I actually have a Pentax 55-300 mm but didn't bring it as it has fungus in it and I was worried that would 'infect' my camera and other lenses.
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