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Trip around the Kalahari
Posted By: tcom, 04-14-2010, 12:10 AM

Hi

I am back from a wonderful 3 weeks trip around the Kalahari desert.

The tour started in Windhoek and headed south for the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Parc (KTP). Then, we left that parc for a few days in the Kaa Concession area and ended with the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), including mostly the Deception Valley.

The first week was very hot and dry (making it really dusty), the other two weeks showed us that the rainy season was not over. A rain or thunderstorm at midday or in the evening was likely. This washed away the dust, but humidity raised, up to the level of having quite dense mist on early mornings.

I finally decided to take the following equipment:
  • 2 K-7
  • DA12-24/4
  • DFA100/2.8 WR
  • DA*200/2.8
  • DA*60-250/4
  • TC 1.7x
  • Solarpanel with powermodule and Ansmann Vario Pro charger to charge the K-7 batteries when away from power supply.
  • Netbook

What worked well
  • The weather sealing of both K-7 and the weather sealed lens worked perfectly. Even in such conditions, I never had any dust on the sensor[
  • With the help of the 26W solar panel, a power module and the ansmann vario pro, I could charge all my batteries (K-7, AA batteries for GPS and the battery of the netbook). I even charged the batteries of other people in the group.
  • All lens delivered great IQ.
  • Quite frequent use of high FPS was really helpful to follow actions such as playing lions
  • Sorting the RAW photos on the netbook in the evening was not quite fast, but still very usable. I do now have to sort "just" out of 800 shots, while I did really take over 2500 shots.

What did not work as expected
  • DA12-24 does not zoom so smoothly anymore, so weather sealing seem to make the difference
  • Because of the dust and rain, the DA*16-50 would have been the better choice than the DA12-24.
  • As it is not allowed to leave the car while in the national parcs, composing nice wide angle landscapes with the DA12-24 is not as easy.
  • Normally, on such a safari, I took both DA*200 and DA*300. This time, I took the DA*60-250 and DA*200 instead. I was quite surprised that the DA*60-250 was not what I expected. When taking a wild animal with a prime lens, if you are too close for the used focal length, you take a detailed shot or portrait shot, if you are too distance for the used focal length, you try to show not only the animal but also the surroundings. When using the 60-250, you always hesitated in taking a detailed shot or a shot showing the animal in its surroundings.
  • The 1.7x TC on the DA*60-250 takes too much light on early morning and late afternoon shots.
  • On many occasions, I missed a longer lens. I do really wish a prime lens in the 500mm region. Hopefully Pentax will soon bring a lens going beyond 300mm, or I might well take the Sigma 500/4.5.


Last edited by tcom; 04-27-2010 at 09:41 AM.
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04-18-2010, 06:04 AM   #31
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27 Sunset
DA12-24,1/15s f/4.0 at 18.0mm iso400


To be continued...

04-18-2010, 06:05 AM   #32
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very nice shot indeed. it is very nice that you got up real close to the animals and the landscape pictures are simply amazing. looking forward to see more photos from your trip.
04-18-2010, 06:05 AM   #33
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No, I did not use any CPL during the whole trip.

In my opinion, the CPL was very usefull in film days, but I do find its effect too strong on digital.

You do not get as close everywhere. On the most driven parts of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Parc, the animals do have a much shorter safety distance than in parts where there is seldom someone.
04-18-2010, 06:10 AM   #34
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hmm thats nice. just curious, why did u not bring ur 300mm lens?

04-18-2010, 06:21 AM   #35
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I thought the difference between the long end of the DA*60-250 and the DA*300 would not be that long and that I would be more flexible with the zoom.

I had to find out that the flexibility of the DA*60-250 made me miss many wildlife shots. I always hesitated in either taking a portrait shot or a photo showing the animal in the environnment, and finally lost too much time. Using primes is less flexible, but you just compose the frame with the given focal length.
04-18-2010, 09:29 AM   #36
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Now this thread is getting super-fantastic. It's like you're taking me on some sort of a safari...

"Some kind of armoured ground cricket": You must have been pretty close with the DA35, or is this critter the size of a banana?

"our first lion": Such beautiful creatures. Perfect exposure here in the shade. What a shot!

"Springboks": What lovely delicate faces they have. I don't think I ever realised.

"Jackal": You listening to me, kid?

"Young ostrichs": I know they are a bit hidden but I like the perspective.

"Ground squirrels":
"Hey Bob, do you think those photographers over there will get our good side?"
"Well, Sam, just to be sure I'm standing just like this."
"Hey Bob, great idea!"
"Just act natural, like."

QuoteOriginally posted by tcom Quote
I had to find out that the flexibility of the DA*60-250 made me miss many wildlife shots. I always hesitated in either taking a portrait shot or a photo showing the animal in the environnment, and finally lost too much time. Using primes is less flexible, but you just compose the frame with the given focal length.
That is my opinion in other domains of shooting as well.

Last edited by rparmar; 04-18-2010 at 09:38 AM.
04-18-2010, 09:52 AM   #37
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Wow great series lots of great stuff here!
more
04-18-2010, 12:05 PM   #38
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Awesome shots, well done!

04-18-2010, 01:08 PM   #39
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Just came back from pretty much the same trip. I did not feel a longer lens would have helped as the guides were able to drive us quite close so most shots were taken with the DA* 200mm f2.8.
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04-19-2010, 12:02 AM   #40
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Thanks for all the comments.

rparmar: while this cricket can get pretty large, that one was still a very small one. I could approach it without too many problems.

ahab: in the Auob or Nossob valley of the Kgalagadi as well as in the Deception Valley of the Central Kalahari, the DA*200 would have been enough.

But, in very remote areas where there is seldom someone, or where the animals get hunted, it is a different story. Their "saftey distance" is much longer making even a 300mm not long enough. That was the case for me in the Mabuasehube area of the Kgalagadi or the Kaa Concession area.

Also, the guides can only drive you close to the animals when the animals are directly beside the tracks as you are not supposed to leave the tracks while in one of these two National parcs.

And there are also a lot of tiny birds, especially in the rainy season, where a longer lens would also be helpful.

Last edited by tcom; 04-19-2010 at 12:07 AM.
04-19-2010, 04:20 AM   #41
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27th March: Two Rivers to Polentswa

Today, we leave the camp at Two Rivers to make our way along the Nossob river up to Polentswa where we build up our tents for 2 nights.

28 Oryx
DA*60-250, 1/1600s f/6.3 at 180.0mm iso200


29 Yellow Mongoose
DA*60-250, 1/1250s f/5.0 at 250.0mm iso100
04-19-2010, 04:22 AM   #42
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30 Secretary Bird
DA*60-250, 1/1000s f/5.0 at 250.0mm iso100


31 Oryx family
DA*60-250, 1/200s f/6.3 at 250.0mm iso100
04-19-2010, 04:24 AM   #43
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32 Red Hartebeest
DA*60-250, 1/800s f/4.5 at 250.0mm iso100


33 Nossob Valley
DA*60-250, 1/160s f/11.0 at 60.0mm iso100
04-19-2010, 08:52 AM   #44
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Yellow Mongoose made my day. I've never before seen a picture of these cute critters. For some reason there is no LOL Mongoose site on the web.

These shots are a great advert for the DA*60-250. It seems to work very well in your hands. The bokeh is nice in most cases. For instance the Red Hartebeest seems to be a difficult situation but there is very good definition of subject from background.

Only on Secretary Bird is the busy background distracting. Although both shots are at f/5. Must be more to do with your distance from the subject.

Nossob Valley is a classic shot perfectly executed.

Thanks for continuing to share these.
04-20-2010, 02:13 AM   #45
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Thank you rparmar.

Yes, the 60-250 performed very well on this trip. The background of the secretary bird is busy as the stuff behind it is pretty close, given the distance of the bird to me. On the yellow mongoose however, I could take a low level photo making the background further away in comparison of the distance to the mongoose.
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