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Safari advice

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Someguy, Aug 3, 2008.

  1. All,

    I'm getting married on August 30 of this year! For our honeymoon we have booked a safari to Tanzania that will last just over a week, followed by some days on Zanzibar to catch up on sleep.

    Over the last couple of years I have collected enough gear that should get me through the trip - i thought. This was my plan:

    I have (and most likely) will be bringing the following:
    • 2 bodies: d50 for my then wife, and D2x
    • sigma 18-200 (98% of the time slapped on the d50)
    • sigma 10-20 (for landscapes)
    • nikkor 10.5 (not 100% sure on this one, but it weighs almost nothing compared to the rest).
    • nikkor 28-70 2.8
    • nikkor 80-400 vr
    • batteries, cleaning stuff, small tripod, memory etc

    Yesterday I walked into a store and saw the new sigma 120-400, which is HSM and as a result somewhat faster than my slow focussing nikkor. It was only 700 Euro, so that is not that much. And then I had a look on the web (including this forum) and I saw threads about 300 2.8 VR, sigma 120-300 2.8. So, now I am in serious doubt. Would it be worth it to replace my telelens, I will probably not go on such a nice trip every year.

    On the other hand, the 80-400 is not bad at all and I have already a lot of expenses with all the other stuff - even though our parents sponser a significant amount of the celebrations.

    My girlfriend is a bit too busy with other 'more important' stuff for the moment and does not want to ponder the choices together with me, let alone spend money as a result. So, I turn to the cafe, where I know good advice is given and money spent ;-)
  2. Steinar


    Aug 16, 2007
    I have never been on a safari, so I can not give you any advice here, but you write you are not sure about the 10,5mm, and here I will say - keep it in your bag, even you have the Sig 10-20.

    There is some "special" about the pics. - like another thread here with 5 stars - "it is like being there"
  3. Steinar,

    I agree. That is why I said it does not weigh much, and it might result in some uique photographs. I will most likely take it with me.
  4. demosaic

    demosaic Guest

    Tanzania can get very, very dusty. Lens changes under these conditions are not a great idea. Once you're in the truck and out in the park, you should stick to whatever you've got mounted on the camera.

    Definitely take the 80-400, because even 400 will prove too short for much of the wildlife you'll see. Leave the 28-200 on your wife's D50 and you're all set. Maybe bring the 28-70 for your D2x when you're back at the camp/hotel or relaxing in Zanzibar. Include spare batteries because you may go awhile without a charging opportunity, and beanbags so you can steady your cameras on the roof of the truck (if not provided by the safari company).

    Also bring two good binoculars so you can both enjoy the wildlife; this is way more important than a camera. I'd leave the rest of the kit at home. Sure, there are pictures you won't get, but there are always pictures you won't get.
  5. Seems like a great kit you have. Take note of the dust as demosaic writes and try to take a flash for some fill light in people shots because of the dark skin colours and usually very bright surroundings.

    And try to see with your own eyes and not everything through a lens. You will miss out on a lot if you do.
  6. Some very interesting and good points you make here, demosaic. I'll try to get a second pair of binoculars, and will be very careful as far as changing lenses is concerned!

    A bean bag is something that I should look into as well. Next week I'm in a photoshop, so this makes my list again.


    Hi Kees. Very sound advice you give. I'm a bit concerned that it will all be over way too soon... You are right, I should not let the photo's distract me from the experience!

    Thanks all.
  7. Kris,

    One thing you might have not yet considered is where to store all the images. Flash memory is rather cheap these days so make sure you have enough. Also bring some offline storage device (I use a Nextodi 2500 with a 80Gb HDD inside but the new 2700 uses SATA disks so you could go as far as 320Gb with this one) so you have backups of your images. Try to make the backup a daily routine at night just as topping of all batteries used.

    I've been to Uganda last year and in three weeks I only shot about 25Gb of RAW images using two cameras. With a safari don't be surprised when you shoot away hundreds of shots in just a few hours.
  8. general


    Apr 30, 2005

    I went on a two-week safari to Kenya a couple of years ago and I shot the vast majority of my 3658 exposures with the 80-400 and the 300 f/4 with TCE-1.4. Storage of exposures is a factor but easily managed; just plan on how to do it in advance.
  9. demosaic

    demosaic Guest

    Definitely bring two binoculars, even if you have to sell the D2X to do it.

    Sharing binoculars just doesn't work. Imagine watching something moving around in the great distance -- you just can't trade back and forth; that's a total drag. And since you're going to spend hours looking through the things, I recommend getting decent ones. http://www.birdforum.net/forumdisplay.php?f=112 has a lot of reviews.

    Enjoy your trip.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2008
  10. Kris,

    With respect to binoculars I'm using a Steiner Skyhawk 8x32 which, according to my birdwatching brother, gives a very decent picture. He uses some Swarowski himself but that was about 5 times what I paid for mine.

    As you are from Belgium you could look here: http://vogelbescherming.nl/documents/pdf-files/optiekcatalagus.pdf

    It is in Dutch but gives a nice overview of some of the better binoculars.
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