camera for safari

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Dec 2nd, 2002, 06:35 AM
  #1
cj
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camera for safari

Can you tell my what cameras you are using for safari and how pleased you are with your pictures? Thanks
 
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Dec 2nd, 2002, 07:32 AM
  #2
kavey
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If you do a search here for camera or film you'll find lots of earlier advice.

I use a small and light 35mm SLR camera (Minolta 505si) - not too expensive - body is about £200uk.

I have two lenses - both Sigmas - one is a 28mm-135mm and the other a 100mm-300mm. Great lenses. Specialists we met had lenses which were much more expensive but allowed for larger apertures at fast shutter speeds. These are very expensive.

Don't bother with much more zoom than 300mm as it is not suitable for hand held shots and you'll mostly be taking shots fast and on the move, not using a tripod or anything. At most take a beanbag for added support when vehicle is stationary - rest camera against side rest or such. We didnt use our tripod once.

I use Fuji film and last time took various speeds from 100-400. The 200 and 400 performed better because lighting varied so much between dawn and evening that some shots were blurry because low speed film meant too long a shutter speed and I couldnt hold the camera still by hand. Next time I wont bother with 100 speed.

I am very pleased with my photos.

I dont have the URL handy (though it's on this site somewhere) but you're welcome to view them, I will repost it here when I find it.

The quality isnt great online as they photos are badly scanned in using a very old flatbed scanner and I didnt then have photoshop to try and restore colour balance etc. They are much better originals.

Kavey
 
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Dec 2nd, 2002, 07:34 AM
  #3
kavey
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Just did a search on this site = here is the URL.

You will need to create an account and log in to Ofoto but it takes seconds to do.

http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?m=62396601403&n=1677567491
 
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Dec 2nd, 2002, 08:03 AM
  #4
RnR
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Kavey's advice is right on!!

My small thoughts: keep it very, very simple - and know your camera inside out - and have it loaded, ready to use, always.

Be able to hand hold your camera - leave the tripods, unipods, beanbags, etc. at home! Just reach, grab and shoot!

Automatic focus and exposure - huge help. BUT, be able to go to manual focus at times - the automatic cannot nomrally decide what to focus on when an animal is in a bush. Branches, etc. tend to confuse Nikons, Leicas, you name it!

We use zoom lens - 35-80 and 70-300.

Film speed - normally 400, but it gets touch toward twilight.

I ALSO take along a 1987 Nikon automatic - 35 mm lens - just a point and shoot thing! And keep it in my pocket fot shots inside the Rover.

Have a very simple flash system on your camera, ready to use instantly - it can help you push the film a bit in low light situations.

Above all, else: keep it very simple, and know your camera well BEFORE you go. Abd when in doubt, shoots LOTS - at different settings! We keep only 5-10%, and toss immediately 90-95%.

Figure out how much film to take, and then take at least 50% more!!

And have all film checked by hand at security - don't pack it in your suitcase. No xrays, I don't care what the airport security sign says!! And take your camera(s) UNloaded. They'll ask you to click one or two!

Have a good trip. And look again at Kavey's tips!!
 
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Dec 2nd, 2002, 12:52 PM
  #5
Michael
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I've been using a Nikon F-100 with two Sigma lenses (28-210 and 200-400). I usually rest the longer lens on the window, a beanbag or something else stable and my shots are not blurry. I also use slower film (ASA 100 or 200), and haven't found a need for faster film.
 
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Dec 2nd, 2002, 01:06 PM
  #6
RnR
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Micheal, I'm sure you get great color resolution with a slower speed of film, but unless you have incredibly, incredibly fast (i.e., heavy) lens, how do you get an acceptable picture of a dark animal in the bush in late afternoon when you're out at 300 plus mm? Sure, if you have an absolutely steady position to rest on, but in a rover, it's anything but steady. And the animal has to stand still as well. I've looked at all the alternatives, talked to many pros, and I just cannot see how you do it. Would love to know your secret!
 
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Dec 2nd, 2002, 01:51 PM
  #7
evelyntrav
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My approach was the same as Kavey's and RnR's, Fuji 400 and two camera's. If you are going to purchase a new zoom 75-300 lens, we were very pleased with the Canon Image Stabilizer lens. If you want more info on this lens, look at the comments on www.photo.net. Also, I suggest a UV filter and a lens hood as the sun is really bright in some places and we sometimes found ourselves shooting almost facing the sun. I one more thing, since it can be dusty you will need to be using a lens cap often so get one which attaches to the camera. Actually, these caps even took too long to take off so I started using a glove which was really easy to whip off and put on. Hope all this info helps.
 
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Dec 3rd, 2002, 06:44 AM
  #8
RnR
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Great ideas, valuable discussion. Juts remembered - we were advised to take one of those ear bulbs, to "whoosh" air across the UV filter to get the dust off back in the tent in the evenings.

Also, be very adept at loading your film in a moving vehicle - as in land rover - while you're moving along tracking something, hoping you'll get a picture or two.

One idea for security: take all of your film out of the cannisters (leave them at home!), so security can do a fats job - so you can facilitate the inspection which you must insist be done by hand - no xrays!

The lens hood is valuable for the daytime - great idea! Do remove it when you shooting with flash - it can interfere with the evenness of the light, at least on Nikon SLRs.

And a good, sturdy, comfortable neck strap is essential, for each camera body.

Have a good trip, and if you can, do post your pictures later on - would enjoy seeing them!
 
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Dec 3rd, 2002, 07:07 AM
  #9
cj
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Thanks to all of you for the information.
Kavey - I looked at your photos and you should be very pleased with them as they are great!
I already have a Nikon N70 with 75-300mm lens but didn't realize that you get close enough to the game to get good pictures. From reading all of your suggestions (and reading items found in search) I guess my camera will do the job. (I am strictly amateur). I don't have uv filter or lens hood so I'll get those. I do know about the dust - it's horrible. Someone told me about some kind of lens cover you put over your regular lens and you don't remove it to take pictures - it's just there to protect your real lens. Anyone know what this is and if it's necessary? Thanks again.
 
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Dec 3rd, 2002, 07:36 AM
  #10
RnR
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Haven't heard of that lens cover - but do second the need for a UV for each of your lens.

With the N70, I assume you'll be on "program" for automatic shooting. If your camera also offers a flexible option in program, where you can change F and shutter simultaneously, you'll find you may want to close down he appetures for greater depth of field, and more intense colors. We found that the colors of the animals and their surroundings blended so well that we had to work hard for sharp pictures. Hope this helps. When you purchase film, get the best you can afford!
 
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Dec 3rd, 2002, 07:59 AM
  #11
cj
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RnR - you assume correctly about automatic - unless I learn more about photography. (Plan on enrolling in local college for photography class. It's a shame when you go somewhere as 'indescribable' as Africa is and you can't let your photos speak for you because you couldn't capture on film the images you saw)
You said to buy the best film you can afford - what is the best film? When you spend thousands and thousands on a safari, the last place to economize is the film! You also said you had to work hard to get the picture - does that mean at times you will be able to sit and watch and photo game? Some of the other comments make me think you need to be real quick to aim/focus/shoot.
 
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Dec 3rd, 2002, 08:07 AM
  #12
kavey
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Personally I use Fuji Superia and am happy with it.

Serious photogs recommend slide film for better results but I understand it's less forgiving of slight exposure errors so I stick to film.

The "cover" you may have heard mention of is simply the Skylight or UV filter - which can generally be left on the lens permanently.

It's not dense enough to cut out light and impact on your exposures etc.

I also have a circular polarising filter which I can use to darken (enrich) the sky a little when very very bright - this MUST come off when not needed though as it works by cutting out light (it's directional) from entering the lens therefore the camera will not be able to achieve exposure in darker moments.

I can't say I personally used even the beanbag I took, I could mostly hand hold my 300mm - only exception is when I'd stuck a 100 film in during the brighter hours and hadn't finished it and was still using it come dusk.

Tripod is useless for most visitors - obviously those going to Africa on photography commissions no doubt use them!

Thanks for your comments about my photos.

I'll post a comparison of one of them as you've seen and one that's now been rescanned on our new negative scanner and looks more like the original... then you'll see why I am disappointed with the digital versions but happy with the photos in general.

Kavey
 
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Dec 3rd, 2002, 08:13 AM
  #13
kavey
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Here

http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?m=31872652303.84530159603&n=324977154


I just uploaded a couple of examples. I can't find the two identical photos but these are adjacent on the film and the flatbed scanner scanned everything slightly dark and scuzzy and the new neg scanner scans beautifully - sadly it's slow slow slow work!!

Kavey
 
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Dec 3rd, 2002, 08:15 AM
  #14
RnR
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cj, I assume that you'll be on game drives, and if so, I'm sure your ranger or guide will stop and park near the animals for quite a while - in which case you'll have lots of time to photograph.

But, some animals - wilderbeest, for example, or kudus - will look at you for a moment and then leave fast. So, in these instances you do need to be ready to shoot. Lion, other predators tend to stay in one spot, and here you'll have lots of time to shoot to your heart's content. Normally you'll be within 50 feet of most animals.

Best film? I have no idea! Every place I shop claims to have the best. I'd do some research on internet, or look a film books in a book store.

Our Nikons have a so-called "flexible" setting which we can use while shooting in "program/automatic" - the advantage being we can change both F stop and shutter speed simultaneously, thus staying in "coupling' range (i.e., ready to take the picture at what the camera is telling us is the correct exposure) and experimenting at different f stops and shutter speeds. In bright light, we can slow down the shutter and gain greater depth of field. But always remembering that animals can move - thus trying to stay 1/250th of a second minimum. When we find a scene we want to be sure to photograph, we shoot is at five or more different settings, and keep the one we like the best.

You probably can also go to full manual, or to apperture, or to shutter.

One other thought - I mentioned earlier: I am assuming the N70 gives you the option of manually focusing the lens. There will be times when you will want to focus for yourself. We have found that when animals are in bushes, the camera's automatic focus feature cannot pick its way through the bush and focus on the animal. So, we do this manually, and get a sure result - after discovering some pictures from earlier trips had a sharp branch and fuzzy lion! Also, it prevents our having to listen to the camera whizzing back and forth while trying to decide on the correct focus.

Hope this helps. I'm sure you'll do very well indeed!!!
 
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