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06-11-2013, 12:05 PM   #31
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QuoteOriginally posted by john5100 Quote
One thing to not forget is a good quality superzoom point and shoot for the long shots. There are some really good ones now and they will not weight as much. A DA*300 is great but very heavy. Seems to me that the DA*16-50mm, DA 55-300mm and the superzoom is a good option.

This guy used a Canon SX40 but Sony has just come out with a very pocketable HX50V that has a 720mm lens. I have the HX30V that has a 500mm lens and it's great in decent light. It's easily 85% of what my DA Pentax lenses can produce in the right conditions. I printed some of my Italy shots and it's hard to tell the difference between my P&S and MY DSLR.

Canon SX40
African Safari with Canon SX40HS superzoom: Nature and Wildlife Photography Forum: Digital Photography Review
I don't know were to Africa you are heading but I've been to Kenya three times during the last 18 months (my daughter has been studying in Nairobi) with different equipment ant this is my humble advices in random order:

Decide if you are shooting for your own memories or show others, If the first, shots not technically perfect could be great keepers in the long run.
Majority of my shots was taken with the 18-135 or 55-300, so if to take only two lenses, look at this range. My old Sigma 170-500 was not satysfying but the Sigma 10-20 was useful for landscapes and city scenes.
My best shots, however, was probably taken on my first safari with a K-R, kit 18-55 and a cheap Sigma 70-300. The equipment is not the deciding factor for great shots...
The power outlets are not europe two-pin, as stated in reply above (exept for bathrooms and shavers, though fully ok to charge batteries) but UK three pin. Bring an adapor.
Two batteries are ok for a full day, no grip needed unless for balance.
Bring memory cards, they are cheap, consider like 16GB/day of Safari if shooting RAW+ and deleting obvious bad ones directly
A (light) monopod is nice when/if on a walking safari
No need for a separate camcorder unless you want someone else to use it (if you have decent capabilities in yor camera). It's far too time consuming to swap equipment on site. Watch the animals behaviour instead.
While dust is around for sure, all advices about not changing lenses is exagerated. Be careful, change lenses while not moving, with body face down, use dust removal function and blow every night and you'll be ok.
Most, not to say all, camps have power though not 24/7
Do ask the driver to switch engine off when shooting.
I didn't really use my primes (50 1,7/28 2,8). For in camp pictures use the flash or squeze the ISO.
If you are luck and say, see a hunting cheetah, swap to JPEG only to shoot continuosly for longer than on RAW+
An external flash is only useful at nightshots at water holes etc.though I missed mine at my latest safari when a group of hippos was grazing only a few yards from my room and when two black rhinos was struggeling with a massive elephant herd to get to the salt pitch. In other word, bring the flash...The animals are not concerned about flashes!
People in general does not like to be photgrafed unless asked in advance (and sometimes payed...) All thoose nice "local people in motion pictures" should preferably be taken with long lenses.
Don't miss the scenes on your way. We've seens donkey carriages without drivers, overloeded bicycles and motorcycles (not to mention Matatus), wild animals like zebras grazing along with sheeps and cows, crazy road signs and funny marketing paintings and endless more nice things to remember
A very small compact camera is nice to bring when on restaurants etc

Godd luck and a safe trip!

07-01-2013, 09:59 AM   #32
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Ugh! My DA* 300mm is in for repair, and it will not be ready in time for my safari. Do I run out and buy a Sigma 50-500mm, or do I just use my 60-250DA* for maximum reach?
07-03-2013, 03:35 AM   #33
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The IQ of the DA*60-250 is good, so crop when you have to. If you felt the DA*300 had enough reach, then you can do with 250 as well.
The lions will be far away anyhow (if you spot one).

07-25-2013, 10:25 AM - 2 Likes   #34
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I just got back from my African safari, and I would like to thank all of the Pentaxians that responded to this post. I am new to wildlife photography, so I value all of the advice that I have received. For what itís worth, I would like to offer my own reflections on this experience. The parks I visited were: Amboseli (Kenya), Serengeti (Tanzania), Ngorongoro Crater (Tanzania), Lake Manyara (Tanzania), and Masai Mara (Kenya). For all but the last park that I listed, the vehicles are restricted to the (unpaved) roads. Because of this, I highly recommend strong zoom capacity. Just before my trip, my 300mm f4 prime stopped working. Only days before the trip, I purchased a Sigma 50-500 OS HSM. Boy, am I glad that I did. While several members of my group had top-notch FX Nikons, the largest focal length anyone had was 100mm. I was able to photograph things that they couldn't even see in their viewfinders. Also, several of you recommended that I bring two dlsr bodies. I was the only one in my group that did this. Not only does one serve as a backup, but I didn't have to change lenses in the vehicle. There was dust everywhere, and it pained me to watch others changing their lenses under these conditions. (The constant bouncing of the vehicle did not help matters). For most of the trip, I had the Bigma on my K5, and my 60-250mm on my K30. In retrospect, I should have just taken the Bigma, and my 16-50mm DA*. But, weight was an issue, and I was very new to the Bigma. Luckily, someone on this board recommended the Pentax Q. That turned out to be more useful than I expected. It was a nice portable camera for portrait and landscape shots. Finally, I would like to thank those of you that pointed me towards a dedicated camcorder. I was planning to use my K30 for video, but I didnít anticipate just how much video I was going to take. There are certain things that canít be captured with still shots. The scope and sounds of the great migration really comes across on video. And, I was able to capture the beautiful panorama of the Serengeti as we drifted across it on our dawn balloon ride. Itís rare to see no signs of human civilization from horizon to horizon. We recorded lions roaring (we could hear them from our tent), giraffes running, and the ornery protests of dozen of hippos in a single pond. I have several thousand photos to process, but I did manage to post a few online: spmills' Photos | SmugMug . Thanks again for your help. Africa is a beautiful continent, and it is certainly a dream destination for a wildlife photographer.

07-25-2013, 12:27 PM - 1 Like   #35
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Looks like you had a wonderful trip! Brings back lots of memories looking through your pictures... Thanks for sharing!

Glad the Bigma worked for you - you never get too much reach. Personally I find the bulk and weight too much, so I'll make do with my 55-300 and single body on my next trip as well. Small and light is paramount for walking safaris imo, even though more reach would've been great.

Thanks for sharing your experiences as well!

And good to know you're all set for your next trip
07-25-2013, 06:03 PM - 1 Like   #36
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Some wonderful shots in there. In particular I enjoyed your large animal portraits (the African hunting dog and the baboon especially). Gee those crocs on the Mara are big and brutal!
08-08-2013, 11:24 AM   #37
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Very useful feedback and good advise for general African safaris. Well done Ufale on your consideration in reporting back on your findings. This should service as solid advice for others planning to travel on safari. But priorities and preferences may vary.

The two camera recommendation with a good long zoom and a short zoom, and then a further good zooming compact is an ideal kit imho.

As a matter interest, how much did you use the 350-500mm range? Each park is different, and the central African parks tend to be more vast plains so the very long zooms are useful. But several of the South Africa parks are denser bush, and hence the long end of the zooms are less useful as the animals then blend into or behind the bush when at a distance. Also, the longer end can suffer from heat haze distortion making 500mm less practical.

Last edited by KevinR; 08-08-2013 at 11:36 AM.
08-09-2013, 11:36 AM   #38
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Kevin, I can only speak for my own experiences in East Africa. All but one of the parks on my itinerary confined the vehicles to the roads. Because of that, a lot of the best photographic opportunities were pretty far from our Land Rovers. I had two lenses, a Pentax 60-250, and a Sigma 50-500. Considering that my longer zoom had a shorter range, I could have used that lens exclusively. However, if an animal was close enough, I used the Pentax 60-250 for maximum sharpness. That is a very good lens, and it has a better IQ than the Bigma (imho). The 60-250 is also WR, whereas the Bigma is not. In the dustier parks, I used that lens, and kept the Bigma protected. But, when range was needed, I took out the Bigma. I would say that 30 to 40% of my shooting was at a range greater than 350mm. The Bigma was responsible for all of my bird photos, and all of my 'kills.' (If you are lucky enough to see a 'kill,' the action is usually pretty far away. I happened to see three, and I used my Bigma for all of that action.)

People warned me about heat haze, but it was not really an issue. Kenya and Tanzania are in their winter season during the month of July. The weather was pretty mild, and heat was never really a factor.

If I had it all to do over, I would have brought my 16-50mm Pentax over my 60-250. July is also the great migration, and you really do want to grab a large field of view. A landscape lens should be a top consideration.

You really do bring up a good point...not all safari's are alike. I got lucky in that most of the advice that I received was applicable to the parks that I visited. But different equipment would be required if the itinerary involved dense rainforest, mountain vistas, deserts, etc.

I hope you get a chance to visit Kenya and/or Tanzania. It is really the ultimate trip for a wildlife photographer.

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