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Digital cameras you are considering for upcoming safari???

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Feb 24th, 2005, 10:55 AM
  #81
 
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It's certainly a highly regarded make and model... do let us know how you find it!
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Feb 24th, 2005, 03:15 PM
  #82
 
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We didn't buy an additional lens with the Panasonic - we think the 12x optical zoom will be good enough for our purposes. The camera also comes with a hood/sun shade.
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Feb 24th, 2005, 05:00 PM
  #83
 
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My Panasonic Fz15 just arrived! I'm just got it charged up and took my first digital photos. I believe I'm going to be very happy with the Panasonic, especially for $375. Only problem is the 8mb card - memory filled up after 4 HD pictures! I'm off to buy the 1 GB SD card. Thanks to everyone for your advice. Now I've got to learn how to make our African wildlife phots as wonderful as those that I've seen posted here!
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Feb 25th, 2005, 06:11 AM
  #84
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I am pretty certain that I will be going with either the new Canon Digital Rebel XT or the Canon EOS 20D.

So, a few more questions...

I will be investing in the 100-400mm lens should I choose either of these cameras. From what I understand, this is "L" quality glass on the lens.

Is there any reason to invest more than a couple hundred dollars in the lens that will serve as my 28mm lens? I notice that there are also "L" quality lenses in the 28mm size, but such a lens would be upwards of $1,000.

I will be staying at fairly luxurious and new camps in Zambia and I do not expect charging my batteries to be a problem at most places. However, while at Kutandala in North Luangwa, I will be very isolated. Kutandala does not even feature a generator, so I may have no chance to recharge batteries for my four nights in Kutandala. How many batteries would be suggested for a four night stay? While there are bush walks only at Kutandala, half of my pictures while at Chichele Presidential Lodge last year took place on one of the bush walks, meaning that in some bush walks you see as much as you would on a game drive.

Filters? I will be in Zambia in early September, about 2/3 of the way into their dry season. Things will be dry...do I need any filters to help the photographs and/or to keep dust out of the camera?

Lens cleaner?

Flash? How much flash? Will too much flash make the photos look artificial or are the photos much more likely to be ruined with not enough flash? Is there any etiquette I should know when using a flash (other than not to point it directly into the other guests face while doing it)? Fortunately, for at least 3 of my 5 stops (Luangwa River Lodge, Kutandala and Simbambili) I expect to have a private vehicle and/or private bush walks (I think there is a strong possibility that the 6 bed camp at Kutandala will be blocked off for my party of four).

Lens Hood? Does this really help the photos?

I do think that I will probably just use my existing camera as a combo camera/video camera, rather than investing in a video camera. I am still a little uncomfortable with the idea of video.

Is it safe to buy the camera and equipment online? I have had terrible experiences buying accessories for my Sony F707 online, but that was before I knew anything and just assumed that all lenses and memory sticks were built equal. Hopefully by understanding what I am buying now, I will not have any further bad experiences.

Has anybody found counterfeit material to exist? I mean I am a bit concerned about dropping $1,300 on a 100-400mm lens if there is a possibility that I will get an inferior 100-400mm counterfeit lens.

Last question...does anybody know when the Digital Rebel XT will go on sale?

Thanks for all the feedback thus far.

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Feb 25th, 2005, 06:24 AM
  #85
 
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Buy from a reputable vendor and you won't get a counterfeit lens.

I don't know that I'd personally invest in L glass as a novice SLR user... doesn't seem worthwhile.

I've been using SLRs for a very long time and can afford L glass yet I don't choose to buy it (yet) as I don't think the benefit outweighs the cost given my current skills level.
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Feb 25th, 2005, 06:29 AM
  #86
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Kavey,

Isn't your 100-400mm lens "L" glass? I thought there was only one 100-400mm lens available?

Also, I guess I need the most help on the 18-55mm lens. Some lenses are called EF-S while others are called DC and I believe others are called UMS. Huh?????
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Feb 25th, 2005, 06:31 AM
  #87
 
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Roccco - I don't have time to really answer any of your questions right now but give Allen at Allen's Camera a call. 215-547-2841. He is in Pennsylvania and I can give you dozens of names of photographers who have ordered from him - both pros and amateurs. He was recommended to me by Charles Glatzer http://shootthelight.com/ (anyone reading this go to his site and look at the photo he has showing now. Beautiful)and several other photographers from all over the US.

I have had no qualms about recommending him to others and they have been extremely satisfied with the prices and service provided by him. If I were you I would calll and speak to him and tell him what you are doing and ask him the questions. He very patiently walked through everything with me when I was in your shoes. He steered me away from stuff I thought I needed and didn't. He recommended stuff I hadn't thought about but really did need. If you call him, tell him Cindy from San Antonio said to call.

As for the no electricity in some camps, you can get an inverter that plugs into a cigarette lighter that converts the battery power to 110 volts of AC power and you can charge on game drives.
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Feb 25th, 2005, 07:14 AM
  #88
 
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Rocco
I don't have a 100-400!

I have a Canon 75-300 IS (which is not L glass) for the 20D and a Sigma 100-300 for the Nikon.

I personally don't think my needs justify the price of L glass at this point, though who knows about the future.




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Feb 25th, 2005, 07:16 AM
  #89
 
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EF-S = Canon's digital only range of lenses. It has a slightly different mount to their main range and only fits the 300D, 20D and the new XT. It doesn't fit the 10D or the full frame professional range.

DC = Sigma's digital range, I think.

USM = Ultra Sonic Motor, which I think I did refer to above. The motors within these lenses are quieter and faster than the motors in non USM lenses.
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Feb 25th, 2005, 07:19 AM
  #90
 
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Of our Canon stuff:

We have the 18-55 that came with the camera (was cheaper to buy the camera with this lens than body only). It's EFS fit.

We have Sigma's 18-125 Canon EF fit lens which was about £200 GPB.

We also have the Canon 75-300 IS USM lens. It is not L glass. Standard EF fit.
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Feb 25th, 2005, 06:00 PM
  #91
 
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Re: Canon EOS digital cameras

I can't decide if I should go with the older Canon Digital Rebel(6.3mp), or the new Canon Digital Rebel XT. I'm definitely an SLR novice. Do I justify the additional cost?
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Feb 25th, 2005, 08:14 PM
  #92
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A few more questions...

What good is a 10x zoom if the starting point is 8mm and it only gets you to 80mm. Isn't a lens that goes up to 200mm still 2.5 times as powerful as such a lens that starts out so low and ends up with only 80mm at its most powerful zoom?

Is there any reason NOT to always take pictures at the largest possible size, other than to save memory to allow for more pictures?

How are lenses under 28mm used in taking pictures (for what purpose)?

How would having "L" glass NOT help an amateuer photographer such as myself anymore than a normal Canon lens? I don't want to spend an extra $1,000 if there is a strong likelihood that my photos will be no better.

Thanks.
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Feb 26th, 2005, 02:36 AM
  #93
 
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Rocco
I can't answer the L glass question for you. L glass is undeniably better but it's all a question of degrees.
My personal feeling is that, unless one's photography is at a really high level already, the minute difference spending $1000 more on an L glass lens might make is overshadowed by the larger differences made by one's own skills level and knowledge on how to use one's existing equipment to it's best.

As for the 28mm question. 28mm (or thereabouts) is the widest you can go before seeing noticable distortion - the fish-eye effect) in your images. It's useful for landscapes - especially open plains, when you really want to show the wideness of the scene. Because a regular 28mm lens comes out at around 45mm on the digital SLRs we're discussing, I go for 17 or 18mm as my widest on these cameras which comes out as equivalent to around 28mm.
If you're not interested in full and wide landscapes you don't need to go as wide as that.
Personally, I always take images as the highest resolution and best quality I can and ensure I have enough storage media with me to allow it. I can't predict in advance which image will be the one I love above all others and want to enlarge/ sell etc so I want every image taken to be available to me at it's best.
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Feb 26th, 2005, 05:15 AM
  #94
 
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Roccco-

"Isn't a lens that goes up to 200mm still 2.5 times as powerful as such a lens that starts out so low and ends up with only 80mm at its most powerful zoom?"

Yes, it is. But people use different lenses for different reasons. Some people take pictures of people. If you had a 200mm lens on your camera you would have to yell to them from across the room if you wanted them to change poses. Actually, you wouldn't be able to fit inside a normal sized room.

"Is there any reason NOT to always take pictures at the largest possible size, other than to save memory to allow for more pictures?"

You won't ALWAYS want the subject in your photo at the largest size - sometimes you will want to capture habitat in your picture.

"How are lenses under 28mm used in taking pictures (for what purpose)?"

I used the Canon 16-35mm lens in Italy. I wanted to capture wide expanses of what I could see. I could not have gotten either of these picture without a wide angle lens. dhttp:/s/www.pbase.com/cjw/image/30172192 or http://www.pbase.com/cjw/image/30171965.


Roccco - If you can afford the L lens then buy it. There are as many convincing opinions on both sides of the fence as their are opinions about anything. Is a Mercedes worth more than a Toyota? Yes to some people and No to others. The Canon L glass is some of the best out there. There is no way for anone to decide of it's worth it to you.
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Feb 26th, 2005, 05:29 AM
  #95
 
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Oops - I misunderstood one of your questions "Is there any reason NOT to always take pictures at the largest possible size, other than to save memory to allow for more pictures?"

If you plan on just viewing them on the computer instead of printing, you would not need the largest file size. Or if you only print small pictures. I would not use a smaller file size to save memory.
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Feb 26th, 2005, 12:01 PM
  #96
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Sundowner,

I was just following your links, and I ended up in one of your photo albums.

This is an amazing photo!

http://www.pbase.com/cjw/image/28018813

While I am sure I am equally amazed by the subject aardvark, it is also undoubtedly a very high quality photograph. Which lens were you using for this particular photo?

I see that you say that it was taken at 385mm, but I would like to know which exact lens it was, as I am really still clueless when it comes to lenses.

I love this photo, as well. Despite some shadows, the photo of this yawning lion cub came out great:

http://www.pbase.com/cjw/image/30637221

Another favorite, this of the oryx:

http://www.pbase.com/cjw/image/30639771

Beautiful sunset...just wondering, why was this picture taken at 85mm? For a more panaromic shot wouldn't 28mm have been preferable? (I am not second guessing you one bit, I just have a lot to learn)

http://www.pbase.com/cjw/image/31503513

A shy hippo in this pic, but the quality of the lens/camera is obvious...sure wish I had this camera while I was at Kaingo's hippo hide last year! Fortunately, at Mwaleshi in North Luangwa there should be quite a few hippos to help me save face!

http://www.pbase.com/cjw/image/34582514

I have never seen such a close up a vulture before! Almost looks like the vulture is a model with too much make-up!

http://www.pbase.com/cjw/image/34582929

What a beautiful leopard!

http://www.pbase.com/cjw/image/39546673

I don't know how I missed these photos originally, but they are incredible. Thank you.

I do, however, want to go bang my head against the wall for not investing in a better camera since the beginning. Never a photography buff, it really seemed to me like my Sony F707 was a very good camera, when it was junk compared to other cameras at the time.

Live and learn...

I will be well equipped come this September! My only concern is that during my very first stop at Kasaka River Lodge that my canoe will get tipped over by a hippo and bye bye camera (and probably bye bye Rocco).

At once I don't want to take a Canon 20D in the canoe but I am also well aware that there is SOOOO much to see while canoeing and the birding is fantastic. One is able to get twice as close to the birds while canoeing than while in a vehicle or on foot.

Thanks again for the amazing photos and any feedback you can give me on my earlier questions about the lenses and choice of lens for the sunset shot will be appreciated.
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Feb 26th, 2005, 01:46 PM
  #97
 
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This is a follow-up for JazzDrew on the question of memory speed. I was surfing around and found this mention of the utility of faster memory cards: www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FZ15/FZ15A2.HTM

The reviewer said that a 32x card dramatically improved shot-to-shot time. Having said that, you shouldn't get too carried away on the card speed. As Kavey mentioned you reach a point where the camera is the limiting factor (like the way my pokey dial-up limits my web-browsing no matter how fast my Pentium chip might be).

I may go the Fz15 route myself. Used Fz10s still routinely command over 300 USD on Ebay, and for another eighty bucks I'll take the AF-assist, TIFF, and warranty and give up the hot-shoe and audio.

Finally, I'd like to recommend you and any other Panasonic users to the dcresource forum. They have "stickies" which permanently top very nice threads about batteries, cases, and other accessories.

http://www.dcresource.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=26
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Feb 26th, 2005, 03:57 PM
  #98
 
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Roccco

The aardvark was an amazing sight to me because I didn't really expect to see one. Especially in broad daylight. This was taken with a 70-200mm f/2.8 with a 2x teleconverter on it. The lowest f/stop on this lens is 2.8. When you add the 2x teleconverter it changes the ability of the lens and the lowest f/stop is 2x or 5.6. The 70-200 with a 2x teleconverter makes the lens a 140-400mm on a 35mm camera and because I have digital (10D) the lens is really a 224mm-640. So at the camera reading of 385mm tells me it was really 616mm. The camera stores this information for you. I just looked at my file of this picture and the subject distance was 25 meters away. This image is full frame (meaning I didn't enlarge it any) and I was 82 feet from the aardvark.

The sunset was also taken with the 70-200 without a teleconverter. I framed this shot the way I wanted it to look and it just happened that it needed to be 85mm. I didn't have a wide angle lens on that trip. I had just purchased the 70-200 f/2.8 and the 300 f/2.8. If you've been pricing lenses you can probably guess why I didn't have a wide angle.

Look at this picture http://www.pbase.com/cjw/image/30634521/large or this one http://www.pbase.com/cjw/image/31504585. Under the picture you have size options. Choose "original" and you can see how much detail has been captured. Amazing camera and lenses.

If I had to re-buy a lens now (after having used the 10D and the 2 lenses listed above) I would buy the same ones. If I could only buy one it would be the 70-200 f/2.8L IS and I would buy the teleconverters. Since you probably haven't gone to a store and tested these lenses, one of the features of the 70-200 is the internal zooming (or whatever it is called). You know how when a photographer is focusing the lens they twist the lens and it goes in or out? This lens does that on the inside. The outside of the lens does not move. I don't know how much dust affects the lenses that go in/out but with this one it isn't a problem.

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Feb 26th, 2005, 07:19 PM
  #99
 
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99mkw - Thanks for the info. I couldn't wait to get more memory so I ran out and bought a 1 gb 32x card - amazing to fit so many images on a postage size card. I spent the day on a hike with my Panasonic Fz15, loaded the images of squirrels and family on my computer and am amazed! The raw images at 12x are beyond my expectations.

I have really enjoyed the instant feedback with the Panasonic fx15. The ability to compare Auto vs. Aperture Proirity vs. Shutter Proirity vs. etc... shots on the fly is amazing. The learning curve is much steeper when you don't have to wait weeks to get film developed. It is also nice to know that you can take 4 shots of the same thing at different settings without cost. I think I'm getting this. I actually took some shots on manual that turned out better than program! I can't wait to take safari photos and share with you all soon after our return in July. Hopefully I'll continue to improve.

Tonight I am enjoying the dcresource site. Another great message board to prepare for the Africa. Thannks 99.

Roccco - You HAVE to check out this Panasonic camera before you buy the Canon. I know that the Canon is better, and the SLR is flezible, but the zoom on the Panasonic is amazing. I am am absolute beginner, but I can't imagine spending 10 times the money on better equipment. It seems to me that the equipment might not be the limiting factor to the sort of images that I've seen but how to use what we have. I know that you would like to publish, and for that reason I am sure that the added cost of the Canon Rebel and additional lenses is justified, but as I re-read your original post, I believe that the Panasonic Fz series is worth another serious consideration. I have less than $500 invested and my jaw is on the floor! By the time you master the Fz, the cost of the next generation Canon Rebel will be so much lower.

I have gotten caught up in the "gotta have the best" game more than once. I was strongly into 6 digits with audiophile equipment in the 80's before I quit chasing the "best". I kick myself now!

When it came time to buy a digital camera I decided to explore the more frugal philosophy with photography - although I can already feel the same "high" with this photography equipment as I did with audio. Maybe I'm addicted to high-end consumer electronics

At any rate, I would suggest that you consider exploring the "what you get for your money philosophy" that you use in planning travel to your photographic equipment! Maybe your find the Panasonic Fz series as amazing as I have and save yourself a couple grand for your next safari!

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Feb 27th, 2005, 12:28 AM
  #100
 
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Jazzdrew, you have hit the nail on the head in terms of one of the biggest advantages of digital - you can take more pictures of each subject and disgard those that aren't as good and you can see the impact of various choices of settings immediately and make changes as appropriate.


You are also absolutely correct when you say that "It seems to me that the equipment might not be the limiting factor to the sort of images that I've seen but how to use what we have".

Unless one is actually hitting the limits of one's current camera and using that to the best of it's capabilities one may not see as much of a benefit with a new camera. Some advantages one will see immediately - the extra zoom will help get closer to a subject as well as give more flexibility in composition of a shot and the wider aperture will allow shooting in darker conditions - but other advantages one may not see immediately unless one really invests the time to learn the features and make best use of them.
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