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Digital cameras you are considering for upcoming safari???


May 16th, 2005, 10:05 AM
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I attended my first photo workshops this weekend AND went to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. I do think I learned some useful information and will be attending another class during the week and go to a workshop this weekend.

I think I am hooked now.

With the 17-85mm lens and the 80-400mm lens, I do think I need something between these ranges that will give me lower f-stops, and I am considering the Sigma 70-200mm f 2.8 lens for about $650.

There is an awesome Sigma lens that is 70-300mm f 2.8 but it is about triple the price and I don't think I can swing it right now. The 70-200mm f 2.8 lens would be perfect for the Sabi Sand when I don't need a super long zoom, as well as for whale watching and sharks viewed from the boat while cage diving.

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May 17th, 2005, 08:37 AM
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I just put in my order for a Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 lens. In my test shooting so far, I rarely go beyond 200mm, so a high quality lens like this may prove very useful.

I figure that I can wait until a couple weeks beforehand to pick up a backup camera body but that I need all the time I can get to practice with different lenses.

I would have loved a Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 lens but it would have been triple the price, or the same price as the lens I did choose + a Canon 20D body, to put it in perspective.
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May 17th, 2005, 08:38 AM
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With the 1.6x conversion factor, a 70-200mm lens is the equivalent of a 112-320mm lens, while my existing 80-400mm lens is the equivalent of 128-640mm but at a much higher f stop.
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May 18th, 2005, 06:41 AM
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Rocco -- appreciate your continued posts on this subject. I also purchased a Canon 17-85 IS lens to go along with my Rebel XT, and have been trying to figure out which telephoto lens I should buy to go along with it for my trip to Londolozi. I have to say right now the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM lens is the front-runner for me because of its range, its image stabilization capability and especially its size. I certainly like the price (and f#) of the Sigma lens you bought, but it looks pretty big! Also, do you know whether it has IS capability? Did you consider the Canon 70-300 at all?
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May 18th, 2005, 06:50 AM
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I never considered the Canon lens that you mentioned, but I did consider the Canon 100-400mm IS "L" lens, but then I read numerous reviews where photographers stated that the Sigma 80-400mm OS (same as IS) was the equivalent of the Canon 100-400mm lens at about $500 less. It is for this reason that I chose the Sigma.

My dream lens is the 120-300mm Sigma f2.8 but I don't dare buy this before my trip has been paid in full and I have absolutely all other accessories...but to quench my thirst, I did pick up the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 for about 1/3 the price...I should have it in hand by early next week.
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May 18th, 2005, 08:27 AM
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Roccco - don't wait too long to pick up your second body. You never know when you will have a problem even with a new camera.

zpenci - I haven't read much about the 70-300 lens.

Here are some random statement others have said about the Canon 70-300 and the 100-400

1. I owned the 70-300 do for a while, but sold it (no regret there). The construction does not allow for extenders unless you use third party, you need to step down two stops before it has reasonable sharpness, it is very expensive given it's limitations. The only thing that it has going for it is that it is small. You would be better off getting the 100-400 which IMHO is a better lens, though larger and heavier, or the 70-200 f/2.8 IS with a multiplier, which is much better than either.

Or if you want superior optics in a lighter package than the 70-200 f/2.8L IS, get the 70-200 f/4L - I am just floored with the quality of this lens - hands down the best zoom lens for sharpness I have ever owned and its very light.

2. I would not describe the 70-300 DO lens as critically sharp especially at either end (70 or 300). It is a useful lens because of its size. As you can see, it is a nice lens for throwing it in your pack when you go out. Sorry I don't have a nature shot at 300mm as you requested.

3. I have found the 100-400 very sharp but extra slow in initial focus acquisition, not very good with the 1.4X and poorly built. Mine has been rebuilt twice. It also sucks in dust when moving in/out Handling is not as good since the lens changes length balancing is not as easy.

The 70-200 might be the sharpest zoom Canon Makes? and the 400 5.6 acquire focus about as fast as any lens Canon makes. Partly to the poor minimum focussing distance.

Neither of these two can do what the 100-400 does without changing lenses and it is lighter than the other two. I guess it is all a matter of compromises. There is no best just what fits the circumstances ....... I have no plans in selling my 100-400 I'm sure they will be a time when it will be handy and would not hesitate to use it !!!!

4. I bought a 100-400mm about at year ago and I love it! I takes exellent pictures and works well with the 1.4x converter (manual focus). The IS really makes a difference early in the morning and late in the day when you want to keep the ISO low. It works okay for flight shots of slower moving birds (herons, egrets). For flight, I would either lock down the lens at 300mm and turn the IS off, or place the IS in mode 2 and find the bird in the frame at 100mm, and slowly zoom to 400mm, before taking the shot. I've used this lens extensively with my Digital Rebel and my 20D.

5. I purchased a 10D and a 100-400mm in April of 2003. Since then I have used the 100-400mm, often in combination with the 1.4xTC, to shoot over 80,000 images. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the 100-400mm lens.
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May 18th, 2005, 09:05 AM
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Just a wee note... there is more than one Canon 70-300. There's a basic one, then one that has USM and IS but isn't L glass and then one that has USM, IS and is L glass. Sometimes one finds reviews on websites and the people posting haven't realised there are three and have put a bad review against the two better ones when they have used/ owned the crappy one.

Not that I'm saying this is the case with you, Sundowner!
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May 18th, 2005, 09:50 AM
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Actually, I think there is only one 70-300 (DO, IS, USM, and extremely compact), but there are 2 75-300s, one IS & USM and one not.

I am currently looking at Canon's IS lenses and trying to decide how much I can afford to bite off...
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May 18th, 2005, 09:57 AM
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Hi Kavey
I hadn't heard of more than one so I had to look it up! Canon only lists one 70-300 on their website. There are three different 75-300's.

In doing so I found a review comparing the 100-400L IS, 75-300 IS and 70-300 DO IS. http://www.photo.net/equipment/canon/70-300do/
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May 18th, 2005, 12:45 PM
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Sorry must be me getting confused...
Now I can't even remember which one I have! LOL
I know I ran into this problem in the past where I was trying to get feedback on a lens in a discussion forum and was surprised at the variation in comments and finally worked out that some were talking about the basic version and others had the USM or L glass versions!!!
Sorry for adding confusion!
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May 18th, 2005, 07:13 PM
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Here are some user reviews of the Sigma 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 EX OS APO lens:


I think what I am going to try to do for Zambia is have the Sigma 80-400mm lens on one camera, and have the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 lens on the other camera. I think I will have time to stage most wide angle shots that I will want to take with my Canon 17-85mm lens.

In the Sabi Sand it will be a tougher call, as there will be times that even a 70mm minimum may zoom too close on the leopards that may likely walk within a couple feet of the vehicle, as has happened on each of my prior two visits (to Singita and Djuma Vuyatela).

In this case, I may just keep my 80-400mm lens on standby while I shoot away with the other two lenses.

Here is what I hope to take, as far as camera equipment goes:

Canon 20D

Canon 20D (second body...at this point, it is only about $350 more than a Digital Rebel XT and seems much more solid)

Sigma 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 EX OS APO lens

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX APO IF HSM lens

Canon 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens

Epson P2000 Storage Device

Laptop computer (my wife will mostly use this but I may download some images on CD's to allow for two copies of everything I shoot)

(4) 1 Gig memory cards

(2) 512 MB memory cards

(4) Batteries


Backpack specifically designed for camera & accessories with dividing panels


Some sort of waterproof bag for my camera gear for the canoeing, although if a hippo knocks the canoe over, I have bigger problems than some wet camera gear!

Appropriate filters for lenses

20 Blank CD's

Sigma EF 500 DG Super Flash

---I cannot possibly think of too much more that I will require. I do think I will start taking steroids so that I can get strong enough to carry all this equipment!

I would have NEVER NEVER NEVER imagined that it would take so much time, effort and money to switch over to a DSLR with the appropriate accessories...but, somehow I don't mind, but I do have high expectations.
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May 19th, 2005, 07:18 AM
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Thanks, Rocco. You've certainly come a long way since your first message on this thread ("I am willing to spend up to about $1,500 with all accessories" - sound familiar?)! I've really appreciated being able to tag along with you, though, and have made good use of the comments and advice everyone has given you and me.

I read the reviews you pointed out to me and hope to make a decision soon. I could probably spend up to another $1,250 on a lens, and the two Sigmas you mentioned certainly rate pretty well, and generally better than the Canon 70-300 lens I'm also looking at.

A question, though. When we go out on game drives in the morning and evenings (August), how is the light level? I'm wondering if I really need the low-light capabilities that the lenses with the lower f# have.
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May 19th, 2005, 07:42 AM
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I am looking for a backpack to carry my 20D and accessories and was wondering what people have come across and perhaps used. I would like it to have decent shoulder straps and waist band for when I want to walk a distance with it. Pour harness systems can have the effect of cutting off circulation to the arms!

Thanks in advance

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May 19th, 2005, 08:13 AM
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Jules39 - we just got the Tamrac Expedition for my 20D - I got the next to smallest size, but my husband got the bigger one for his video equipment.
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May 19th, 2005, 11:57 AM
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I finally moved over to Lowepro camera rucksacks about a year and a bit ago and I'm SO delighted!

Whilst they make it a touch slower to access the gear - one has to take the rucksack off, of course - they make it so incredibly comfortable to carry the large weights and ensure the weight is evenly distributed across both shoulders, which is crucial for those of us with back problems.

These protect the gear well too. Standard ones aren't waterproof but some models now come in AW (all weather) versions which means nothing more than an extra giant showercap the size and shape of the bag) or wholly waterproof ones (Dryzone series) which are waterproof even if dropped in the sea BUT harder to get into and heavier empty.

I have a larger Mini Trekker Classic which can hold two SLR bodies, 4 lenses and a whole lot more and a smaller Micro Trekker 200 which can still hold a whole lot and a Dryzone 100 which we got for the Antarctica trip and which has about same space as the Mini Trekker Classic.
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May 23rd, 2005, 12:54 AM
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Someone asked a few questions and I would also like the answers if anyone has been on a safari.
Do the camps or lodges have power to charge camera batteries?
Should I take along an adapter for the vehicle? I'd prefer not to as it is just something else to have to carry.
I'm totally bamboozled now with all the info. If there is an animal moving at speed should I set the camera speed to 1000 or just let the camera decide what to do. I have a CanonDSLR
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Jul 31st, 2005, 08:14 AM
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Topping for Dlemma, some good stuff on lenses in here.
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Jul 31st, 2005, 06:37 PM
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I missed your post originally, but, yes, I have come a long way...long enough to realize that it will take me years, if not decades, to become a really good photographer! That's fine.

Just finished up a two day photo workshop hosted by Sony and Adobe (but geared at Digital Photography, as a whole). And, oh, how I wish I would have been able to keep the budget at $1500. The amount that I have spent on the camera, lenses and accessories, are as much as my entire 11 night Zambian safari cost me last year!

But, whatever it takes for me to start getting better photographs will be worth it. I am just trying to grasp the very basics with digital photography, but anything will be an improvement over shooting with the point and shoot with a maximum 190mm zoom that I was shooting with until recently. Oh yeah, those 640mm's will be VERY NICE. And although it is not recommended, if I attached the 1.4x teleconvertor, it would be a cool 896mm's or 252mm on my 180mm f/3.5 macro. Still undecided if it will be worth it to bring along the macro lens but I am leaning towards not bringing it.

For sure I will have the following:

Canon 20d (two bodies)
Sigma 80-400mm OS (Optical Stabilizing) lens
Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 lens
Canon 17-85mm IS lens
Sigma 1.4x teleconvertor (Don't know if I'll be able to use it for anything but it is small enough to bring along for the ride, if nothing else)

Still need, and in a hurry:

12" or 14" laptop w/ 60+ GB's, DVD ready
Tamrac 777 or similar backpack

2 GB's of memory (I only have 3.5 right now, and want to have plenty for the two camera bodies...I don't want to be forced to download all of my photos each and every day)

3 batteries (currently I have 3, so 3 more would be nice, again so I am not forced to constantly be charging my batteries)

Some additional filters for my lenses. Definitely need help with this one. 81A filters, or what?

Ballhead for my monopod & tripod (and some quick practice using it). To date, I have not yet shot with a tripod or monopod. A little late to the party on this one.

Anyway, while I believe I will have my best photos yet, this will serve as good practice for Tanzania next February/March. Hopefully I will really learn a lot from the errors I am sure to make this first time around shooting with a DSLR.

Again, I cannot thank everyone on this thread enough for everything I have learned from you and all the great links that have been shared!
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Sep 23rd, 2005, 06:23 PM
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Hi All, This thread caught my eye but I apologize for these simple questions in advance since I am definitely a beginner photographer. I am heading to SA on safari and am taking my Canon PowershotA60 Digital camera. It is 2.0 megapixel with 3x optical zoom and 7.5x combined zoom. We will also be purchasing the teleconverter for this camera which will give us another 2.4 x optical. Do you all think this will be a satisfactory combo for game drives? Also curious how to decide when to use the teleconverter or when to pop it off an simply use the regular zoom? Just curious what distances are best for each. Lastly, when we use the teleconverter do we fully zoom the original lens or do we not zoom at all and then rely on the teleconverter? Thanks so much for any advice.
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Sep 24th, 2005, 04:29 PM
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Thanks for posting and bringing this back to the top.

If your combined zoom includes digital in addition to optical, I have heard that you should not rely on digital. Just use the optical.

In my research which has been done from a position of ignorance, I have come to believe only 10x or 12x optical zoom will approach what I currently have on my 300 SLR lens.

One more question for you digital knowledgables. Is there a downside to the new Panasonic Luminix? That's what I want to get. Any reason not to?
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