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TP: Shooting on safari & shooting wild animals

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Bob J View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Bob J Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: TP: Shooting on safari & shooting wild animals
    Posted: 02 June 2007 at 09:56
If you have been on safari or have expereince of the kit and issues raised by shooting large animals, please post here..

Bob
 



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seagr112 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote seagr112 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 June 2007 at 10:22
Hi Bob,

Was in South Africa a few years ago (Southern Cape).

You'll need at least a 300mm lens, and the faster the better. On safari, most times you are in a vehicle, so a bean bag is handy as a support on the door frame/opened window.

But also carry a standard zoom as you'll be amazed at how close the wildlife can get. Finally, get a second body so you aren't forever changing back and forth.

A storage device is good to have for clearing cards at the end of the day.

Put it all in an easily carried, accessible gear bag like a backpack. Bring the wife or girlfriend to carry it. (just kidding!) But bring her just the same if you want a place to live when you get back home.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote RosieA100 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 June 2007 at 11:15
I had prior warning about this Talking Point so had some time to think about what I was going to write...

I tried to research what would be best for me to take, the most important part of my trip was the gorilla trekking in Uganda – everything else was a bonus.

I didn’t have a DSLR when the trip was booked, I didn’t know what to take as I only had my Dynax3 and a few lenses.

Everything I could find told me I had to have something that could catch low light as the gorillas were usually in thick forest that was quite dark but also with shafts of bright light coming through and therefore harsh contrasts. I looked at a few compact digital cameras (one thing I was sure about was that I NEEDED to know that I had at least one shot – you know – by looking at the screen and knowing it was there!) I was also worried about humidity in the forest, I had heard it was pretty bad – what to do???

If truth be known, I was really hankering for the SonyA100 even before it came out but as hubby had given me the Dynax3 only 2 years before I had to so some begging, etc… I finally got the A100 in October, and then I had to address the issue of lighting.

Again, I looked at many lenses as flash photography is not allowed with the gorillas, but then it came down to affordability – so the 50/1.7 was an easy choice. The humidity issue was still big for me so I secured every little pack of silica gel I could find and put it into every nook and cranny in my camera backpack and also decided to try and walk around with one camera around my neck so it would acclimatise (I did this in Antarctica and never had a problem with fogging or freezing for that matter).

The only other major issue was storage and that was solved with the purchase of a 40GB DigiMate III – I was set!

I took my film camera as well so that I wouldn’t have a problem with dust whilst we were travelling on safari and for me the combo worked well. Most of the time I had the 75-300 on the A100 and the 18-70 on the Dynax3 zoomed to around 24mm to avoid vignetting. I must have looked a sight but had a ball taking the pictures.

For the gorillas I needn’t have worried, they were out in the open, no forest, no thick canopy overhead so used the 75-300 for 95% of the pics and the 18-70 for the others, the 50/1.7 never got a look in!!

On safari I was really glad to have the 2 bodies as the only other person with DSLR on the trip had dust problems. I had a battery issue with the Sony one day so I just switched to film for the day and have some great pics. In all I took 12 rolls of film and around 3600 digital pictures and around 2500 are now in scrapbooks – I believe in printing my pictures.

Most of my pictures were taken from the inside of a moving safari truck or 4x4 (we did stop a lot too) and whilst I did have my monopod with me, it never came out! I don’t think I encountered any major problems, except – coulda, woulda, shoulda taken more pics!!!! What else did I NEED?? The list is long and VERY expensive, but I think I did ok with what I had, I’ll just have to win the lottery and go back and shoot it all again with better glass and more time to stop!!!!
a700,a100
16-80Z, 50/1.7, 70-210/4, 75-300G SSM, 100-400APO, 15-30, 28-300, 90 macro, 19-35, 100/3.5, Lensbaby Composer

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Hobgoblin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 July 2007 at 23:36
Was on safari in Kenya and Tanzania in Feb/Mar 2006 and am going back in late January/early feb in 2008.

If planning a safari in these countries do try and find out about the wildebeest migration before booking so as to give yourself the best chance of some real exciting shots. Calfing time is January/February in the Southern Serengeti and you might be lucky enough to get shots of wildebeest actually giving birth.

dust is a problem at all times and even worst if you get overtaken by a dust storm as we did when everything was covered in red dust and it even got inside our underclothes. Dust is best avoided by keeping one lens on the body all the time when out in the field - take two bodies if possible to give two lens options - a film camera is a good choice for a back up. I took my KM5D and two sigma APO lenses the 170-500 and a 70-300. You can see a few pics taken with the 170-500 in the sample images threads. I also took my KM A2 with its 28-200mm equivalent zoom for the closer in stuff.
Take some clear plastic bags and some elastic bands to make sleeves for lenses with extending zooms to prevent sucking dust in. A large clear bag is also useful if you do find it essential to change lenses in the field.

Batteries could be a problem if you are 'roughing' it. I stayed in luxury lodges and there was always a reliable electricity supply for charging batteries overnight. If possible get a 12v car charger for batteries - they are available on e-bay for around L8 or so - and you have the possibility to charge batteries from the vehicle you are travelling in.
I have half a dozen or so batteries for the 5D and all but one are cheapo generics but apart from a slightly reduced charge life they are just as good as more expensive OEMs. A grip that takes AA batteries is a good idea as you can get these at many lodges.

The been bag as mentioned by seagr112 is good. I made my own from an old cut off trouser leg filled with polystyrene beads. Its very light and takes up hardly any of your baggage allowance on aircraft. Sew or glue in a cheap tripod screw mount so if your lens has a tripod bracket you can screw the beanbag to it - otherwise use elastic bands. A dropped beanbag could be unrecoverable as you are not permitted out of the vehicles in some areas.

A decent safari driver will put the vehicle in the best position to get shots of animals you come across but if there is something special you have in mind let him know and usually he'll do his best to oblige. Most people on safari are after sighting the 'big five' Lion, Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo and Leopard - so you might find yourself at odds with fellow travellers if your tastes are more towards giraffes and hippos for example. Remember unless you have organised everything yourself you might be sharing a vehicle with total strangers.

The locals usually expect payment of a few dollars if you want to take pictures of them. Agree a price beforehand to avoid embarrassing arguments. Reward children with a pen - take plenty of cheap biros and you'll be a big hit with the kids.

Don't try and photograph official buildings or policemen when in towns - your camera gear could be confiscated and you might find yourself in worse trouble.

Take as many flash cards as you can and an image bank device. Copy the cards on to the image bank at the end of each day and don't re-format them until you have to. That way you have two copies of each shot so if something breaks or is stolen your precious shot can still be saved.

Have fun


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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dinostrich Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 August 2007 at 12:35
Do you still want comments on this ?

If so it would help if you could say if you are going to be in a mini-bus with a lot of others or up-market in your own vehicle.
I shot some film yesterday. I was told last night that film was dead so today I shot some more.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote tomcat1983 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 September 2008 at 09:20
I'd still like comments on this!
I'm going to Namibia next year and i'm a little short on the long end. I've got the tamron 17-50 and 70-200 2.8 . Any reccomendations for the longer end of town? I don't know if i should get a tammy 200-500, a 300 or 400 prime and a teleconverter or if the 200 with a 1.4x teleconverter is enough, any opinions?
Cheers,
David
 



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Post Options Post Options   Quote wetapunga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 September 2008 at 09:39
In film days, the most common 'travel kit' for wildlife photography was the 70-200/2.8 and the 300/4 (being lenses that were portable and covered a range of likely shooting situations). I still have colleagues who go into the Kurueger with nothing longer than a 300.

Two bodies is a good idea as well (applies generally to travel photography). Build in as much redundancy as you can manage (comfortably).

The beauty of the 300/4 is that it is such an excellent travel telephoto, and can be readily combined with a 1.4x TC for extra length. The 400/4.5 is also a nice option but you pay for that with extra weight.
a7R, a77ii, QX100 | Minolta 17-35mm G, 20mm, 35-105mm O, 50mm M, 70-210 beercan, 85mm G, 100mm M, 300mm G | Sony 16-50mm, CZ16-80mm, 70-200mm G, 135mm f2.8 STF | Tokina 11-16mm
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Post Options Post Options   Quote tomcat1983 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 September 2008 at 10:35
Are you talking the minolta 300/4? The annoying thing is finding these discontinued lenses!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote wetapunga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 September 2008 at 10:57
Yes, I was talking about the 300/4. Sony alas, does not quite cater to the wildlife photographer.

The Sigma 100-300/4 is a good subsitute but with your existing zoom, a little less attractive.
a7R, a77ii, QX100 | Minolta 17-35mm G, 20mm, 35-105mm O, 50mm M, 70-210 beercan, 85mm G, 100mm M, 300mm G | Sony 16-50mm, CZ16-80mm, 70-200mm G, 135mm f2.8 STF | Tokina 11-16mm
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Pavel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 September 2008 at 16:21
I would take with me 300 or 400 mm prime,1.4xTc 70-200 ssm g or similar lans.Two cameras,one for zoom and one for prime(you must be quick in action).In my opinion 300mm is more than enough for reach,shoting subjects over long distances is not a good idea(there is always enough warm air to spoil a picture)but 400 might be good for birds!Take one good wide zoom and wide prime might be good for landscapes.

Edited by Pavel - 24 February 2009 at 15:35
A-900+VG;16f/2.8fish;50f/1.4,Sig20f/1.8;Tammy 90f/2.8;Sony135STF;M200f/2.8HS;M 200 f/4 Macro;M 300f/4HS;Sony500f/8reflex;M600 f/4HS;M3x1xmacro;16-35CZ;24-70CZ;70-200SSM;70-400SSM;1.4xTc;2xTc
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Hobgoblin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 September 2008 at 21:54
On my two safaris to Kenya and Tanzania I estimate that around 25-30% of all shots were taken at 350mm or above, increasing to around 50-60% over 300mm and 80%over 100mm

For the longer length I used a Sigma 170-500 APO Aspherical (an older version of the latest DG model).

By the second trip I had acquired a Sigma 100-300 f4 which replaced the Sigma 70-300 APO I had on the first trip and have to say that IQ is a step above the 170-500 and a fair bit better than the 70-300 but without the longer reach of the 170-500 I would have missed the majority of the shots I prefer most and which other people have commented on.

If you've got the time I would suggest that you try and borrow or hire the possible lenses and TC combos you are considering and see which you best prefer.

If money is a problem (and lets face it, it is for most of us) get the best you can afford and even if the IQ is a shade lower than you might prefer, getting the pictures you would otherwise have missed will make up for it.

Have a great trip.



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Post Options Post Options   Quote tomcat1983 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 September 2008 at 00:23
I dare say what i need is a good quality 200-400..... now if only there was one!
Looks like the tamron 200-500 might be the goer.
A850, 50 1.4 & 70-300g, ziess 24-70 2.8
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Post Options Post Options   Quote tomcat1983 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 September 2008 at 00:24
Oh... and thanks guys for your help!!! Its very much appreciated!
A850, 50 1.4 & 70-300g, ziess 24-70 2.8
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Post Options Post Options   Quote maewpa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 February 2009 at 14:33
This thread may mow require a bathroom break to read... if you don't nod off to sleep through the turgid prose of the first part!

In celebration of 500 posts (got to have some excuse) here is the long awaited (by me) contribution of Paul AKA maewpa to dodgy online photography knowledge.

This relates to a 23 day trip to Kenya and Tanzania in September last year. Yes, it took much longer to do this than hoped….. it's long story why. In the meantime, I see some of the things I thought it might be nice to discuss have already been discussed here. I decided to post nevertheless, but won’t be surprised if people don’t want to talk over the same ground again. Since I am not setting this up as an “expert” contribution I thought I should post it in this thread; which was started for this purpose. If nobody notices, I can always do a link post.

My photo posts, with links to galleries cum travelogues are here and here. Here is a link to my current favorite photographs from the trip (I still keep finding the odd one I'd forgotten about).

Africa 08

Here are a few things I personally learned or confirmed in my own mind from my recent trip to Africa. I thought I’d post them for information and discussion - especially the latter. At my level of experience I would be extremely surprised if I am correct in all respects, so please do dispute things if you disagree and put me right if something is wrong.

I don’t intend this to be ‘safari tips’ (although if it anyone wants to discuss that, it‘s cool ) and this is only stuff relevant to my gear and my level of experience - in this case the former was A100 and A700 bodies and the following other gear…

Sigma 10-20, Sony 16-80, Sony 100/2.8 Macro, Minolta 200/2.8 HS 300/4 HS and Sony 70-300G and 500/8 I also took a flash, a monopod and a tripod and had a Sony 1.4x converter. However, we had a vehicle to ourselves most of the time in Kenya and I was then able to leave gear with our guide (who we’ve used twice before) while we went to Tanzania.

The 16-80, 70-300 and 300/4 with TC and flash would have done fine, and indeed I took over 90% of my photos with them - mostly without the flash since I am still reluctant to use it at close quarters with animals in the wild and I don’t have a flash extender. Another thing is that some guides don’t like people using flash because they think it may disturb the animals or other people in the vehicle. I’m still on the fence on this, which is reason enough to use the flash sparingly.

This was my fourth safari with a camera capable of taking pictures of animals and second with a DSLR.


Edited by maewpa - 24 February 2009 at 17:02
Paul aka maewpa
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