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09-01-2019, 04:12 PM   #1
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Which lenses should I take on safari in addition to the ones I already own?

Hi friends,

I use two Pentax K3 camera bodies when on photo safari in Africa, and will be going to several countries again next summer. So my question is related to which lenses you believe will be the best combination for safari vehicle wildlife filming in Kenya, South Africa and Botswana. I will be taking two of my own lenses and plan to rent one or more to complement what I already have.

Background: I own and plan to take (1) Sigma 18-250 f3.5-6.3 DC Macro HSM; and (2) Sigma 70-200 F2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM. Both of those lenses I have used quite extensively on previous trips. The 70-200 F2.8 is a really nice lens and does a great job in lower light conditions. I also own and have often used a 50-500 big mama, but I'm not planning to carry it along this time. So, I'm looking for the best replacement for either longer range zoom or a prime lens to complement the 18-250 and 70-200. And remembering this is a crop sensor camera, I remind myself that the actual reach of the lenses is x1.5 the mm of the lens.

So specifically, here is what I have found available for rental, and I can't decide between the two. In addition to my two lenses above (70-200 and 18-250), should I rent a Pentax HD D FA 150-450mm f4.5-5.6 DC AW zoom....OR should I instead rent a Pentax SMD DA 300mm f/4 ED SDM? I can get both of these from a lens rental place I have used before. I haven't tried a fixed/prime lens in this situation before, but I'm leaning toward trying the 300mm rather than the longer zoom this trip. I would have liked to rent a 400mm instead of the 300, but I can't find one to rent for Pentax K mount. I realize the 300 is not that much longer than my 18-250, but I'm thinking the 300 might give me better quality photos than either my 18-250 or the rentable 150-450 zoom at the far end of its reach. Am I thinking correctly? Also, if anyone knows where I could rent a 400mm for Pentax K mount, I would love to know that too. I just haven't found one. If I find a 400mm I will just rent that and it will take care of my question.

I will appreciate ideas and opinions, especially from any of you who have done wildlife photography.

Thanks for your feedback,
Mary Lippold
Los Angeles, CA

09-01-2019, 05:05 PM - 1 Like   #2
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DA 300 f/4 and DFA 150-450 are both excellent lenses. The 300mm is (relatively) small and light for what you get and would IMHO run rings around the 18-250. The 150-450 is new modern glass and in my experience holds its own with the 300mm. Pixel peepers might see some difference, but I own both and in the real world images from either are better than my ability. The downside is the 150-450 is a beast.

If you want my opinion the flexibility of the 150-450 overrides everything else and that's what I would take but be prepared to tote a real big chunk of glass.
09-01-2019, 05:39 PM   #3
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To me, the DFA 150-450 is a magical lens. The image quality is exceptional. And I use it on the K1, so on the K3 you get even more reach.

However, I do not understand why you wouldn't take the Bigma if you already own it. Optically, it is very good, though not quite up to DFA 150-450 class. The ability to zoom back to 50 is also very handy should an elephant suddenly emerge from bush right in front of you.
09-01-2019, 06:04 PM   #4
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I would also consider your Bigma unless you have any doubts about that lens.

09-01-2019, 06:23 PM   #5
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I haven't used the DFA 150-450, I do have the DA 300* and it is excellent. I would also recommend the DA 55-300 PLM zoom, it has a slower aperture, but the autofocus is fast, it would also run circles around the 18-250 and it is extremely light weight.
09-01-2019, 09:26 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Ideas:

1) Rent the DA 150-450 to give you the length and to compare with the Bigma you already have. Forum users seem to suggest it is as good as the DA 300.

2) Rent a 16-85 and a 55-300 Plm. Compare these to the 18-250.

3) rent the DA 100 macro or DA 35 Macro and the DA 12-24 or DA 15. Explore a different part of photography.

4) Rent the hd da 1.4x converter for your 70-200.
09-01-2019, 10:08 PM   #7
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, I suggested to buy a K1II and use your bígma , this combo works great .Be sure you made af microadjustment needed. And 70-200 2.8 for low light.
09-02-2019, 01:17 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mary Lippold Quote
Hi friends,

I use two Pentax K3 camera bodies when on photo safari in Africa, and will be going to several countries again next summer. So my question is related to which lenses you believe will be the best combination for safari vehicle wildlife filming in Kenya, South Africa and Botswana. I will be taking two of my own lenses and plan to rent one or more to complement what I already have.

Background: I own and plan to take (1) Sigma 18-250 f3.5-6.3 DC Macro HSM; and (2) Sigma 70-200 F2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM. Both of those lenses I have used quite extensively on previous trips. The 70-200 F2.8 is a really nice lens and does a great job in lower light conditions. I also own and have often used a 50-500 big mama, but I'm not planning to carry it along this time. So, I'm looking for the best replacement for either longer range zoom or a prime lens to complement the 18-250 and 70-200. And remembering this is a crop sensor camera, I remind myself that the actual reach of the lenses is x1.5 the mm of the lens.

So specifically, here is what I have found available for rental, and I can't decide between the two. In addition to my two lenses above (70-200 and 18-250), should I rent a Pentax HD D FA 150-450mm f4.5-5.6 DC AW zoom....OR should I instead rent a Pentax SMD DA 300mm f/4 ED SDM? I can get both of these from a lens rental place I have used before. I haven't tried a fixed/prime lens in this situation before, but I'm leaning toward trying the 300mm rather than the longer zoom this trip. I would have liked to rent a 400mm instead of the 300, but I can't find one to rent for Pentax K mount. I realize the 300 is not that much longer than my 18-250, but I'm thinking the 300 might give me better quality photos than either my 18-250 or the rentable 150-450 zoom at the far end of its reach. Am I thinking correctly? Also, if anyone knows where I could rent a 400mm for Pentax K mount, I would love to know that too. I just haven't found one. If I find a 400mm I will just rent that and it will take care of my question.

I will appreciate ideas and opinions, especially from any of you who have done wildlife photography.

Thanks for your feedback,
Mary Lippold
Los Angeles, CA
you can have a used Sigma apo tele macro 400mm f/5.6. 600mm equivalent on your K3. Much less heavy than the 150-450 and good optically.

09-02-2019, 01:28 AM - 1 Like   #9
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Totally, definitely rent the DFA150-450. I have the DA*300 as well and it's a wonderful lens, but the extra reach and convenience of a zoom is perfect for safari shooting.

Personally, I'd leave the Sigma 18-250 at home and look at something like the DA16-85 or DA*16-50 to compliment your 70-200.
09-02-2019, 03:52 AM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mary Lippold Quote
I also own and have often used a 50-500 big mama, but I'm not planning to carry it along this time.
This makes me curious. Among the lenses you list I would see this as the obvious pick for a safari. With e.g. a DA16-85 on the other body you should be well equipped for any game drive.
09-02-2019, 07:37 AM   #11
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Take the 18-250 on one body. You need wide for big animals that let you close (elephants or giraffes). There is plenty of light so you don't need fast lenses.
If you do not want to carry the BigMa (I get that), take your 70-200 and crop when needed on the other.
Do not bother to take a long prime. (Yes I am a prime pentaxian at heart).


Seb

Edit: you need a proper hood. Plenty of light.
09-02-2019, 07:54 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mary Lippold Quote
. . . for safari vehicle wildlife filming . . . should I rent a Pentax HD D FA 150-450mm f4.5-5.6 DC AW zoom....OR should I instead rent a Pentax SMD DA 300mm f/4 ED SDM? I can get both . . . . Thanks for your feedback,
Mary Lippold
Los Angeles, CA
the OP used the term " filming " I have no experience with video, I hope she meant photographing
______

I recently returned from a trip to Tanzania and like the OP I sought advice before going,

( follow the link if you are curious about the advice I got and my decision making process ) :

[ safari photography techiques sought - Page 10 - PentaxForums.com ] -

__________________________________________


my D FA 150-450mm was my telephoto of choice and was mounted on either my K 3 or K 3 II until it suffered catastrophic breakage in the Serengeti.

then I was very glad that I had taken my DA 55-300 PLM on the trip.

I chose not take my DA 300mm because of the other lenses I was taking and the risk of dust while changing primes in the possible dust of a safari

I would suggest contacting the folks at LensRental.com and see if they might be able to find a 400mm with a Pentax mount that you might be able to rent

the OP should have a great time

Last edited by aslyfox; 09-02-2019 at 08:24 AM.
09-02-2019, 10:17 AM   #13
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I would recommend the Pentax 150-450 for most wildlife shooting. I have a Sigma 150-500 DG OS for Pentax, but if I did not have it, the 150-450 Pentax would be a choice.
09-02-2019, 12:22 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
Ideas:

1) Rent the DA 150-450 to give you the length and to compare with the Bigma you already have. Forum users seem to suggest it is as good as the DA 300.

2) Rent a 16-85 and a 55-300 Plm. Compare these to the 18-250.

3) rent the DA 100 macro or DA 35 Macro and the DA 12-24 or DA 15. Explore a different part of photography.

4) Rent the hd da 1.4x converter for your 70-200.
I agree with this recommendation with one exception

consider the DA 20-40mm limited, instead of the DA 21 limited and the DA 35 Limited

first I don't think you need the D FA * 70-200mm F 2.8

it is a great lens but big and heavy, unless you plan on photographing at night, I think you will find there is plenty of light and you don't need the constant F 2.8
09-02-2019, 01:30 PM   #15
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Wow! So much good advice from so many! OK, let's see if I can answer all your queries... (1) One reason I was thinking of not carrying my 50-500 is mostly because of size and weight. It does take great shots, but it is a beast to carry, especially since I do not use a tripod or monopod in the safari vehicle. I have tried a monopod and it just seemed to get in my way. So hand-holding and using beanbag support or any other stable support I can find in the vehicle has done a good job. But it takes my arm and shoulder several days to get used to toting the 50-500. I may give up and take it, but was just interested in other options. The other reason, is that I have started seeing some dust inside my 50-500; inside the front of the lens. It has not yet affected my photos, but it is there and in a place where I can't get at it to clean it. I understand that happens no matter how much you try to protect your lenses while driving around in the dirt. These are the main reasons I was considering renting the 150-450, which is about the same weight as the 50-500 but about 1 inch shorter, and a newer lens, and would give me the zoom reach. (2) I LOVE my 70-200 F2.8, and have gotten so many crystal clear, sharp images from it, that I will be taking it, despite its semi-large size. Also, yes, I do have a need to photograph at night. On safari, we are out riding after dark as well as daytime, so the F2.8 is very helpful to me when riding around with the only light being a small spotlight from the guide. The 1.4 converter might be a good option for daytime use. Since you lose f-stops with converters, starting at 2.8 would at least give me more to work with. (3) I find from past trips that I have used the 18-250 more than any other lens. Very versatile, both for landscape shots, for that occasional animal who walks right up to the vehicle (we have had that happen many times), and for having at least a little bit (250 x 1.5) of zoom capability. And I do use my K3 for videos as well as stills. Sometimes you just HAVE to take video when there is a baby giraffe running around and playing I always have two camera bodies, and try to have the right combination of lenses on each one so that I don't have to change lenses while outdoors. It's way too dusty to keep risking that. That's why I want to have the best coverage in two lenses.
That said, I will continue to consider the great advice you have all supplied. I have dealt with LensRental.com before, and will continue to do so. They were very helpful and very easy to work with. OOh, slyfox, lens breaking is indeed a disaster. On a trip to Yellowstone Park here in the U.S. I actually dropped my zoom lens over the edge of a cliff while carefully changing lenses (supposedly carefully, that is), and we ended up driving outside the park to a large city in Montana the next day and buying a new/used lens. That is something I hope never happens again!
Thank you everyone. I will check back to see if any additional thoughts occur to you, but I think this has helped me get my brain wrapped around the issue for now.
Grateful for you all.
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