Camping Safari and camera memory?

Apr 17th, 2005, 06:36 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 9
Camping Safari and camera memory?


I will be on a 10 day camping safari in Botswana in June. I have a digital camera and digital video camera and am wondering about how much memory and tape time to bring. I am NOT a serious photographer, but enjoy having a record of people and experiences. I also do not plan to have the camera rolling instead of actually looking at what I am seeing at the time, but would like some recorded memories. Does anyone with similar needs and experiences have a recommendation or story about how much memory and or tapes they used? Are there any kind of facilties at mobile camnps (like generators) that would allow batteries to be charged? (I have about 3 hours of battery from one charge, so it may not be an issue for my needs).

lizly is offline  
Apr 17th, 2005, 10:01 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 814
Even a casual photographer will get caught up in photography on safari. Most of the camps do have some way of recharging batteries. You will need at least one, and hopefully 2 extra batteries, as you might have to leave one in camp charging when you go out on drives. I like to have one battery in the camera, and one extra with me on drives. With digital photographs, it does depend on the file size you are shooting. But on many drives I have taken well over 200 photographs, and sometimes over 300. So figure out how many memory cards you need given a really high estimate, because you will take more photos than you have ever done before!

Some people choose to just carry lots of memory cards (the cost has come down alot in the last year)...or you could get a portable hard drive (some are tiny) and download the cards when you are back at camp. Last Friday the New York Times had a very good review of the tradeoffs associated with various hard drives for photos.
tashak is offline  
Apr 18th, 2005, 11:25 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 705
My wife takes a huge number of pictures on our trips (we did a 10-day camping Safari in Botswana in 2003 and two weeks in the Amazon last year) -- she generally takes 3500 pictures or more on each trip. We used a portable hard drive called a Smartdisk Flashtrax on our Amazon trip, and it worked out great. They have a built-in compact flash card reader, come in 20-80GB sizes, and the battery lasts about 2 hours per charge. We did not have access to any electricity whatsoever while we were in the Amazon, so we bought an extra battery and everything worked out great.
On our Africa trip, we took our laptop with us to store photos, and although we thought we would be able to recharge it from the safari truck's cigarette lighter, that actually did not work and we were forced to rely on our laptop's primary and spare battery (which lasted 10 days with no problem).
Personally, I love our portable hard drive and would recommend it to anyone who takes a lot of pictures. It is light, convenient, and has all the storage we need. We'll be traveling with it instead of our laptop from now on.
Chris_GA_Atl is offline  
Apr 18th, 2005, 02:38 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 334
Hi Lizly,

My husband and I were in Tanzania for about four weeks in January, which included about 9-days of safari, a 4-day hike through the highlands (sleeping in two-man tents) and a 4-day hike up Mount Meru (no power at all).

We are avid photographers and so we brought our digital camera and video camera with us - and don't regret it for a second! We ended up taking a TON of photos (about 3500 when all was said and done!) - you can't even imagine the photo opportunities you are going to encounter!

Our camera is a Nikon D70 and we brought along 2 batteries (one for using, and one for charging while the other was in use. I'm in agreement to NOT rely on the car's cigarette lighter with an adapter!!! Our first vehicle (which we had for the first 4 days) had a working one, and it worked alright to charge the battery (although every bump we hit as we went over the grass potentially knocked it out!), but then they switched our vehicle for the rest of the safari and it didn't have a working one at all... thank goodness it didn't prove disastrous for us...

Along with our 2 camera batteries, we brought along the Nikon Coolwalker. It's a photo hard drive (it only came out about 3 months before we left for Africa, so we were very lucky!) and it has a screen on it, so that you can actually see the photos while they are transferring). The unit cost about $400, and although I was a little skeptical at first, it was the best purchase we ever could have made! Being able to see our photos on screen gave us the peace of mind that our photos were actually transferring. Also, my husband was able to view the photos, to ensure that they were coming out, and although the screen was fairly small, it allowed him to check his photos at the end of the day, to ensure proper composition and help him with things to fix for the next day... Our photos are amazing, and I would recommend the Coolwalker to anyone going on safari - the batteries lasted a very long time, we didn't have any problem at all when without power for 4-5 days, even whilst transferring a couple hundred photos to it every night.

As for the digital video camera, I just brought 2 batteries, and they lasted for quite awhile. We didn't have enough tape (we only brought 4 hours, which we found was barely enough) and so the batteries got us through with no problems...

Hope that helps. Have a fantastic vacation!
alwaysafrica is offline  
Apr 19th, 2005, 07:07 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 413
lizly - I've found that a good rule of thumb is 70 "keepers" per day of travel. That's just me and I'm no pro by any stretch.

I take many more than that per day but, back at the hotel or tent, I go through them and pare the photos down. When in doubt I leave them on the card for a closer look back home.

Ten percent more usually fall out at home. So I take enough memory cards to accomodate 80 photos per day, plus one card extra for safty and to handle the few short videos I might shoot with my camera.

As for batteries, I always take three sets. One in the camera, one on my person as an emergency backup, and one charging somewhere. Don't count on being able to charge batteries everytime you need to.
Favor is offline  
Apr 20th, 2005, 06:49 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 9
Thank you all for your tips! I am going out to buy more memory now.
lizly is offline  

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