Advice for the Photographicaly Challenged!

Jun 7th, 2006, 10:44 AM
  #1  
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Advice for the Photographicaly Challenged!

O.K., all you photo experts...I love all the post about cameras and various lenses, equipement, etc. But here's a question for those of us who are not hobbyists or dedicated amateur photographers...just your ordinary fella type who wants to get the best pictures!

What's the best basic set-up for safari wildlife photography for somebody who doesn't want to spend more than $1,000 all in on camera and equipment, but does want better shots than for your run of the mill trip to Thailand or Italy?

I've just gotten a new Nikon D50 body and Tamron18-200 F3.5-6.3 DI II wide angle zoom lense, with the hope that that one lense will do the trick for my (basic) needs.

Does that sound good? If so, what other essentials should I bring with? And will the power cord for the Litium batter work with just a regular adapter?

I want to get this right, but am afraid if I over equip I'll end confused and over my head!! Thoughts? And thanks in advance!
Mike14c is offline  
Jun 7th, 2006, 11:14 AM
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Hi Mike

I think you've already got a great start with a D50 body. Although I am not too familiar the the digital Nikons, I think one of the posters, Johan, is. He has done some amazing work using Nikons. I think he's just got back from another safari but I'm sure he'll catch on to this thread and advise you on the best lenses.
Africa is offline  
Jun 7th, 2006, 11:21 AM
  #3  
 
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You will definitely need a longer lens. The 70 -300 Nikon is effectivly 105 - 450 equivalent and should do. Be aware though that Nikon for example have different series of lenses. For example the 70 -300G is a cheap lense, I am swapping mine curenntly for the 70 -300D which costs almost 3X as much, because the G lense is simply not sharp enough.
The D50's battery charger is multi voltage so all you should need is a plug adaptor.
Buy some UV filters and Polarizers, they are much cheaper do replace than a scratched or cracked lens.
shmulb is offline  
Jun 7th, 2006, 11:59 AM
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The D50 Nikon is an excellent body. The 18-200 lens equates to a 27-300mm referenced to 35mm film. I think this is a nearly perfect zoom for safari. Last year we used Canon S2s which has a 35-430mm zoom range. It did a great job. This year I am taking a Nikon D200 with the Nikon 18-200 VR zoom and that is the only lens I will take. If the 200mm (300mm) length is a bit too short then I will crop the photo in post processing. The short end 18mm (27mm) will also be useful for landscape and village/people shots. However, if you are keen on bird photos, you probably would like to have twice that focal length (400-600mm)

What you have left of the $1,000 get another battery (or two). I think the charger will be fine as is. And also maybe 4 1gig SD cards. What will you do if you fill up the SD cards? All this should take care of what's left of that $1 grand.
regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jun 7th, 2006, 12:56 PM
  #5  
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THANKS! Great suggestions, all. I'll have to decide last minute whether or not to go for another lense (finances will determmine that -- one thing Africa isn't is cheap!), but I'll definately take these other suggestions. Polarizers sound intimidating, but I'm sure once I understand what they are and do, I'll be a polarizing pro in no time!

Any more thoughts are wellcome!

Mike
Mike14c is offline  
Jun 7th, 2006, 01:26 PM
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In addition to batteries, one key thing to think about and budget for is plenty of storage -- make sure you have more than you think you'll need -- and I would strongly recommend backing everything up on something other than just your cards. (E.g. Wolverine, Epson, video iPod, whatever you can squeeze into your budget.)
lisa is offline  
Jun 7th, 2006, 02:24 PM
  #7  
 
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Hi Mike,
A lot of good advice here. In addition I would add two things. First, you will need bean bags of some sort for stabilization. I like the Kinesis Safari Sacks, but anything is better then nothing (or a folded up towel). Second, I would learn one of the several methods used for sensor cleaning. Practice it before you leave and be prepared to clean while on safari. Spend as much time as possible practicing a develop a comfortable relationship with your setup. Have fun..........
KIBOKO is offline  
Jun 7th, 2006, 02:50 PM
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So, you see, as usual the $1,000 you thought would be enough has now become about $2,000. PLUS, you have 10 pounds of camera. lens, and electronic kit to lug about. Taking up all of the space in you carry-on flight bag. You're not going to ship it as luggage are you? I for one, sometimes wonder.....
regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jun 8th, 2006, 03:57 AM
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The polarizing filter works exactly the same way as your polaroid sunglasses, although it does cut down on the light entering the lens, it also darkens and intensifies the blue of the sky and cuts reflections from water. Most are on a rotating mount so you can spin them to get the best result. The circular part is not something you can see with the naked eye. Older autofocus cameras could not focus through linear polarizers but this does not seem to be much of a concern nowdays, although most prefer to play it safe and stay with circular.
So how do you know if you have linear or circular ? If you have 2 linears(like sunglasses for example) you hold them both up together and rotate one and your view will darken and lighten, then flip ond around (front to back) and you should see the same effect. Circulars on the other hand will only darken when both are facing front to you. If you flip one filter around then rotate again, your view will not darken.
shmulb is offline  
Jun 8th, 2006, 04:41 AM
  #10  
 
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I have an olympus e-500. I'm still new to digital slr cameras - what methods for cleaning sensors does anyone recommend?
Thanks
dmjapril is offline  
Jun 8th, 2006, 05:12 AM
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dmjapril,

Oly's have an electronic dust filter. Some "sonic wave" thingie. So you're one of the lucky few who don't need to clean your sensor. You'll need to clean your lenses though, but that's another story (and far less dangerous).
pixelpower is offline  
Jun 8th, 2006, 05:20 AM
  #12  
 
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Thanks pixelpower. I presume I'll just need the dust pads changing if and when I get the camera serviced. What is the best method for cleaning lenses? Can you recommend any cloths that don't leave smear marks? Also I bought a special pen that was supposed to clean the lens, but it ends up leaving bits on the front of the lens, which defeats the object.
dmjapril is offline  
Jun 9th, 2006, 01:30 PM
  #13  
 
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For a circular polarizer I suggest getting a "Moose Filter" from Hoya. Was specifically designed for use with wildlife and landscapes. Basically it is a combo polarizer and warming filter all in one. I also suggest longer lens. Just don't think you'll be happy with what you have if you want some good close ups.
Txtrav1 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2006, 12:43 AM
  #14  
 
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For charging batteries etc it helps to carry the correct type of power cord. What type of power socket do you find in Kenya. Is it the 3 square pins as found in UK or is it the 2 pins like some of asia?
Mohammed is offline  
Jul 7th, 2006, 05:48 AM
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I would have to agree that you will want more reach. I used a 100-400 mm lens on my trip to Zambia. I would not want to give up that reach, so think hard about that!
I hand-held the camera for all my photos as well; did not use a bean bag or any other support. (Sometimes a bar on the vehicle.) You could always use a fleece jacket or something. Or take an unfilled bean bag to fill there, if you want.

Good luck!
cooncat3 is offline  
Jul 8th, 2006, 02:33 PM
  #16  
 
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More reach definitely would be useful. I most often work at 600mm and have gone to 800mm (I use film cameras without the cropping factor of digital sensors). I wouldn't use a polariser on wildlife, though...why handicap your combo more than you need to? A cpol would be OK for landscapes in good light, though the slower shutter speed will almost always require camera support for better than family snapshot quality. Otherwise, just use a skylight or uv filter for lens protection.

Many of my shots are here: www.afrigalah.com
afrigalah is offline  
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