africa- photography

May 15th, 2002, 01:15 PM
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africa- photography

To anyone who has been on a safari/game drive: How much "zoom"from a camara lens do you feel is necessary to get decent pictures of the wildlife?
May 15th, 2002, 01:23 PM
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This depends on where you go and how close the animals are to you


Unless you intend to use a tripod or very fast speed film, I wouldn't go much above 300mm. Hard to avoid camera shake.

Since a lot of the time you are in the vehicule, you need to decide whether a tripod is practical.

We had space for the tripod, took it, but didn't use it once.

I had a 28-135 mm lens and a 100-300mm lens and used both. In Mombo we were SO close to the animals I had to use the wide angle one most of the time.

May 15th, 2002, 02:13 PM
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A long lens is very nice to have (up to 600 mm) and with a moderately fast film (200 or 400 ASA) you will not have a shaking problem as the best shots are usually when you are stopped.

Bring along a sturdy (emphasize that) bag or baggie of about 6 x 10 inches or so that you can fill with sand and use to stabilize your camera. Works like a charm on the top of a vehicle (as you stand through the pop-up roof) where tripods (even the shorties) are inconvenient and annoying to others.

If you have the luggage space, two camera bodies, one with the telephoto and another in the 28 - 35 mm range, or a low end zoom, make it easy to switch off as photos present themselves.
May 15th, 2002, 06:17 PM
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You can get amazingly close to the animals, sometimes too close for comfort! Therefore a standard prime of 35,50 or low power zoom is OK but I brought only a 28-200 Tamron which gave me all the versatility I wanted without too much bulk or shake. I used only Kodak Supra 400 & 800 and had excellent results. You may go on a dawn dusk or night game drive so faster films can be an advantage.
Bon Voyage.
May 16th, 2002, 12:03 AM
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asdf mentions the style of vehicules: enclosed with a pop up roof which you can stand up in.
These were predominant when we went to Kenya and Tanzania but when we were in Namibia and Botswana, we were in open 4WDs with no sides or roofs to lean the bean bag on (I took one with me too).

I would say it's worth researching the vehicule and general advice according to the location and the safari you are booked on to help you make these decisions.

May 16th, 2002, 07:24 AM
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I am a fanatic about my photography and blow up to 13x19 with good results. I use a Canon system with 100-400 image stabilized lens. Also have wide angle on another body but rarely use it. I have been to both Kenya and southern Africa and used this system with good results. I also have a converter that can get up to 600mm but don't use it much as the auto focus doesn't work in lower lite. I much prefer Southern Africa. Except for Mala Mala which had too many vehicles for good photos, I much prefer Southern Africa. Email me if you would like to see some of my work. (I am not a pro)

May 16th, 2002, 10:57 AM
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Forget the beanbag, unless you have a really powerful lens. I think mine goes up to 135. Much of the time that was all I would have wanted. I took a beanbag and never took it out of my suitcase and never needed it. We were in a pop-top van. I took 400 film for safari. Sometimes we were so close just a little magnification was all that was needed. I mostly shot at 125 or higher, so camera shake wasn't an issue. My pictures turned out great. I have an older manual Pentax.
May 18th, 2002, 04:26 PM
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I used a Canon Rebel 2000 with a Tamron 80-200mm zoom and it was perfect. We most often got very close to the animals so I could adjust up or down. I used 200 & 400 film and really could not tell the difference. I had tested out an up to 150 zoom point and shoot prior to buying but felt I got more out of the Tamron lens I bought.
May 19th, 2002, 11:45 PM
coconut wireless
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Please excuse my butting in on your message but we have been trying to figure the samething out before we buy a digital camera.
We were thinking of buying a digital but most of them only have 3x optical unless we buy a cannons 90S sureshot which I believe has a 6x optical or buy an additional lens which becomes very bulky. And I read that in South Africa that you should not walk around with an expensive camera around your neck. Anyway anybody out there who has used digitals?
Jul 20th, 2002, 02:37 PM
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Pondering about digital camera also. Any ideas whether it's a good fit for a safari & Egypt? Thanks.
Jul 20th, 2002, 02:55 PM
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200 was perfect for our safari in Kenya. there was no need for a bean bag. I got some perfect photos which I enlarged to 20x30 with fantastic results and I sold two of them to a local magazine. I used simple Kodak 400. I
Jul 20th, 2002, 07:07 PM
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Like Kim, I used the 100-300 Canon image stabilizer zoom lens and had excellent results. Many of the drivers had bean bags available, but we never felt the need to use one. We used Fuji 400 film on both Canon EOS and on our small APS cameras. Suggestion... you will also need a lens hood and a UV filter.
Jul 23rd, 2002, 06:51 PM
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If you are going on safari and taking wildlife pix (esp. if you want to blow them up), I would not use a digital camera. There is no issue with expensive cameras, everyone has them there (just put in a safe at night). My husband and I brought a digital and Canon EOS with 75-300 IS lens and there was no comparison. Digital is good for people shots, informal shots but you need flexibility for the animal shots (telephoto, lighting, depth). Bring both.
Jul 24th, 2002, 06:36 AM
Liz Frazier
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For Jackie-
Thank you for the enlightning post about digital cameras. I have been wondering if it would be good for wildlife shots and I suspected it would not. Thanks a lot for settling that. Liz
Jul 24th, 2002, 07:00 AM
jim Brown
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Don't spend too much time wasting your film and money, when you can get someone like David Anderson to accompany you on a safari. After more than 70 photographic safaris, you will learn all you need to know. The rest is up to your creativity.

I think he has a new site at
Jul 24th, 2002, 11:48 AM
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Jim Brown-
When you take a professional photographer's safari, you are paying passage for him too. Quite a bit for pictures if you ask most of these people planning safaris. This is not for advertising, just personal experiences. Please advertise elsewhere. xxx

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