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07-04-2013, 11:14 PM   #1
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South African Safari equipment check!

Hi guys,

I am heading to South Africa in a couple of weeks to compete in a week long sporting event in Durban (the World Transplant Games).

The best bit though is that I am also taking the opportunity to go on a short 5 day Safari tour. The tour starts in Durban and ends in Johannesburg.
I've never been to South Africa so really looking forward to it. I've made a list of the equipment that I am planning to take and would be interested in feedback on any thing I have overlooked please.

Firstly a copy and paste of my intinery to give you a feel for where I am heading:

Day 1:
Durban to Hluhluwe via St Lucia….River cruise in the World Heritage Wetlands (iSimangaliso Wetland Park)
First game drive through Umfolozi
Overnight accommodation in Game Lodge.

Day 2:
Drive through the KINGDOM of SWAZILAND,
lunch at the beautiful NISELA SAFARI LODGE
then into MPUMALANGA..
Evening open vehicle game drive
Overnight at BONGANI GAME LODGE

Day 3:
Early morning game drive prior to breakfast…
then into The Kruger National Park
Lunch in the park
visit the quaint town of SABIE
Accommodation at LONE CREEK RIVER LODGE

Day 4:
From SABIE via the PANORAMA ROUTE…through Sth Africas gold mining history…then via the awe inspiring BLYDE RIVER CANYON
and on to MAKALALI PRIVATE GAME RESERVE …
Afternoon Game Drive

Day 5:
An early start to catch the bushveld as it comes alive whilst on your last open vehicle GAME DRIVE….
after breakfast head to the picturesque village of DULLSTROOM…
then on toward Johannesburg
An amazing stop at A MARKET…. ONE OF the LARGEST MARKET in Sth Africa…
Continue into Johannesburg for your last night

Excuse the caps locks above but I just copied and pasted off of the itinerary that I was sent. I'm looking forward to the 5 open vehicle game drives.

The equipment I plan to take includes:
  • K30 + DA18-135mm
  • K30 + DAL55-300mm
  • Primes: DA15, DA40 & FA77mm Ltds
  • Sigma 10-20mm
  • Sirui N2204 carbon tripod with Sirui K20X ballhead - which also converts to a monopod
  • Bean bag
  • Corded remote control for long exposures
  • Lowepro Slingshot 200 AW bag
  • Lowepro Sirrus 140 small bag (for second body when not in use)
  • 4 x batteries
  • AA adaptor as an emergency
  • 2 x battery chargers
  • 4 x 16GB SD cards (45 MB/s)
  • 4 x 4GB SD cards
  • Lens blower
  • Lens cloth
  • Lens pen
  • Power adaptor + power board (4 x socket) to charge up batteries, laptop, phone etc
  • Laptop to backup photos (#1 backup)
  • 500GB USB portable drive to backup photos (#2 backup)
  • Variable ND filter for Sigma 10-20mm
  • Polariser filter for DA15mm
  • GoPro3 Black edn plus spare batteries and charger for some video

It looks like a long list but when on Safari I would just take the K30 + DA18-135mm, K30 + DAL55-300mm, Lowepro Slingshot 200 AW bag, blower and lens cleaners and leave the primes, Sigma 10-20mm and other gear at base camp. I will likely leave the tripod at basecamp as well and only use it for early morning late afternoon captures (maybe take the monopod though?).

Based on recommendations, due to the dust I will have a UV filter on both the 18-135 and 55-300mm lens.

I usually shoot in RAW + jpeg but in order to save card space I will probably shoot just in RAW.

Anyway, interested in any feedback and tips to help finalise my planning for the trip. I leave on Thursday 25th July, so not long to go now.



cheers,
Bryan


Last edited by WA-surfer; 07-05-2013 at 05:37 AM.
07-04-2013, 11:29 PM   #2
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I think you might need more reach at the long end. Perhaps a 1.7x or 1.4x teleconverter and a long prime? I use the K300/4 + 1.7x Pentax AFA and quite happy with the results. And it is only a bit slower than the 55-300 at 300. I donīt know how much sharper though... The DA*300 is a big upgrade for sure but heavy on the wallet too.
Also, I know there are some speical tripods that have a clamp to attach to the bars on the jeep. If not an option, perhaps you can use the monopod for that but take it with you. It is a must, really helps at long focal lengths. Make sure to use a ballhead with it.
07-05-2013, 12:03 AM   #3
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You might want more reach. If you are open to equipment purchases I'd suggest a bridge superzoom instead of the 55-300. That way you also don't need to change lenses, just keep the 18-135 on your K-30 all the time.
07-05-2013, 12:19 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Giklab Quote
I'd suggest a bridge superzoom instead of the 55-300
Thatīs a good idea, but why not a Sigma 150-500? complentes good with the DA18-135. But then, some kind of support is crucial.

07-05-2013, 12:21 AM   #5
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Looks like you've got everything covered!
If I was you,though, I would take some inconspicuous small camera for walks in the city, or at least a bag that doesn't scream 'expensive camera gear inside', especially for Durban and Jo'burg. I have never had any problems with being mugged etc. in South Africa and you should be reasonably safe during the day in busy areas, but the more you look like a tourist the more people will approach you for 'donations', 'change money' etc...
St. Lucia and Hluhluwe are really great for Safaris and beautiful parks in it self. Animals come quite close to the car, so I don't think you'll need extreme teles there, unless you plan on 'portrait-style' shots. Most animals are active just before sunset, so try to be in the park around that time. Light is better then,too
Swaziland is also great and a lot more relaxed than SA. If I was you I would plan for some people/ (village) street shots there.
Definitely pack your wide angle and polarizer for Blyde River!

Greetings from Cape Town
07-05-2013, 12:28 AM   #6
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Have a nice time, Bryan. I`ll be visiting the same places in a couple of months too, so I expect full coverage of your trip
I agree on some more mm`s, maybe a used sigma 150-500 is an option for you?

You might also wanna bring the sigma 17-70 for it`s closeup ability, personnaly I would take that one as my walkaround and leave the 18-135 at home.
07-05-2013, 01:01 AM   #7
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300mm is just fine unless you're trying to get small birds. It should be fine for the larger eagles...

Looks like a great trip! All those venues are really nice!!
07-05-2013, 02:09 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by carrrlangas Quote
Thatīs a good idea, but why not a Sigma 150-500? complentes good with the DA18-135. But then, some kind of support is crucial.
I know that it seems the perfect companion for the 18-135, but it's also ginormous and weighs a ton .

07-05-2013, 02:13 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Giklab Quote
I know that it seems the perfect companion for the 18-135, but it's also ginormous and weighs a ton .
Haha, true... But if itīs worth it, as long as it goes from the camp, to the jeep, and back to camp...
07-05-2013, 05:36 AM   #10
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Original Poster
Thanks for the replies.

Yeah, I have debated and debated about a longer reach lens. It was discussed in one of my other threads. I almost bought a second hand Bigma 50-500 the other week but changed my mind. I just don't want to have to carry such a large lens (either a 50-500 or 150-500) around as I am a bit limited walking around on my hip and use a trecking pole for support. So the lighter the better really for me. However I am still a bit down not taking a better IQ telephoto. Ideally I would love to take a DA* 300 but again it comes back to weight I guess.

Good suggestion re bridge superzoom which I hadn't considered. i even came across this post using a Canon SX50 on safari in South Africa which has a 50x optical zoom equivalent to 1200mm on our sensors:
SX50 on Safari in South Africa and Botswana: Canon PowerShot Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

Hmmmmm....that's some fair reach 1200mm. But that would mean two K30 bodies and a bridge zoom. I guess it's doable.

QuoteOriginally posted by TenZ.NL Quote
Have a nice time, Bryan. I`ll be visiting the same places in a couple of months too, so I expect full coverage of your trip
You might also wanna bring the sigma 17-70 for it`s closeup ability, personnaly I would take that one as my walkaround and leave the 18-135 at home.
Yes, will definately post a full coverage upon my return.
I much prefer my 18-135mm to my Sigma 17-70mm though. I find the contrast and colours far superior. I don't think I'll require the macro close up of the 17-70mm to justify taking it with me.
07-05-2013, 09:15 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by WA-surfer Quote
Yes, will definately post a full coverage upon my return.
I much prefer my 18-135mm to my Sigma 17-70mm though. I find the contrast and colours far superior. I don't think I'll require the macro close up of the 17-70mm to justify taking it with me.
That is offcourse a personnel choice
Nevertheless, have a wonderfull and safe trip. I`ll be waiting anxiously for your adventures.
07-05-2013, 01:48 PM   #12
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Do have a fantastic trip and stay safe
07-05-2013, 07:53 PM   #13
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Considered a Mirror Lens?

I think it a bad idea to take a untried piece of equipment--but if you have time to try it out a 500mm mirror lens you may want to consider it (e.g., Tamron SP Adaptall 2--I have the 350mm version and it is nice but the 350mm has gotten pricey) . They are light weight, and reasonably fast. If you are interested in documenting the animals you see it would work well.
07-05-2013, 07:58 PM   #14
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One other suggestion--maybe you should forget about rechargable batteries and simply load each camera w/ Lithium AA, and take a spare set or two of same.
07-05-2013, 08:02 PM   #15
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I was shocked at how close I got to everything on safari. 300mm was plenty for me. And I left the f4 300mm at home, going withnthevzoom.
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