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Going to Tanzania in June - need camera for 18 year old daughter for Safari - any suggestions?

Going to Tanzania in June - need camera for 18 year old daughter for Safari - any suggestions?

May 12th, 2008, 07:07 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Going to Tanzania in June - need camera for 18 year old daughter for Safari - any suggestions?

Hello - as a high school graduation gift for our youngest child, as well as probably our last trip together as a family of 6 (oldest daughter just graduated from college this weekend, and our 2 sons are in college at present), we are going to Tanzania in June for a safari! My daughter does not have a camera, and I'd like to give her one for her graduation present to use in Africa on safari. I'd like to get her a good camera, but one where she doesn't have to switch lenses around. Are there any digital cameras which are point and shoot which would be easy for her to use, but have excellent pictures for printing out? I myself have a Nikon D-200 and a 80 - 400mm lens which I plan to bring along.. hopefully that's good enough for me, but for her, it'd be too much. She enjoys photography, but wouldn't benefit from such expensive (as well as heavy and cumbersome) photography equipment! I'd like her to be able to "zoom in" on wildlife that is kind of far away... and then, if her pictures come out great, be able to print out 8 x 10's or 11 X 14's or perhaps even 16 X 20's from her shots. Also, what's an excellent portable x drive for storage of our photos? What should I look for? Thank you very much!
teadrinker is offline  
May 12th, 2008, 07:55 PM
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We have used P&S Canon S2s and S3s, (model is now S5) for two years on safari. (I also now mostly use Nikon D200 etc.) The Canon S3, S5 have a zoom lens range that is great for safari, 38-430mm equivalent. I have printed 11x14 with very good results. Have not tried 16x20, that may be pushing it some depending on your degree of perfection. Large prints require sharp images and that depends a lot on the photographer. The Canons also take very good videos that add another dimension to the camera. We use that a lot. Panasonic and Sony also make comparable superzoom models.

As for portable storage, my stuff is a few years old thus no longer available to recommend to you. There's a lot of it out there, you might to check this forum discussion group on the dpreview.com site - http://tinyurl.com/b3rce

regards - tom
ps - if you want to see a few photos all taken with the Canon S2 on our 2005 safari - http://tinyurl.com/377m5w
cary999 is offline  
May 12th, 2008, 08:07 PM
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Dear Tom, thanks so much. It's getting late here, and I wanted to say that the models I've narrowed it down to (maybe you can help) are these:
Panasonic - DMC Fz18 (or is it F218)
Panasonic Lumix F 27 ( is it F Z7)?
Sony DSC-H2
Canon S 3 or S 5 (due to your suggestion)

I just don't want a camera that has too many technical gadgets on it that she won't use, nor do I want one with an LCD screen that she won't be able to see in the sun, which is the worst, isn't it?
I'd love her to be able to zoom right up close on something and to not be encumbered by a heavy camera. We'll need a bag, too.. so if you have suggestions. Thank you for the links.. I'll check them out for sure, but for now need to put a lid on this for tonight. Will check in again this week! Thanks again!
teadrinker is offline  
May 12th, 2008, 09:11 PM
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Hi TD - All of those cameras can be simple or not to use, depending on how you set them up. E.g. shoot in "auto" or shoot in "manual". Some of them have so many buttons on the back side that it can drive you craaazzy when you accidentally press one. As to which one has the brightest LCD, I don't know. We are "old school" and use the eye viewfinder. Which, BTW, is really terrible compared to your DSLR. But don't tell your daughter that . You need to visit a Circuit City or Best Buy or camera store and compare those models.

No suggestions on bags for those cameras. Doesn't need to be big, just to carry a spare set of batteries and a few memory cards.

I know you'll have a great safari. All of mine have been and I can't get enough. I'll soon be on another trip (not safari) until mid June so good luck with the new camera. Your D200 with 80-400 will be very useful, if you have a little wider (18-55mm) one also you will have occasion to use it. My next safari is in Sep. Will take D200 with Nikon 70-300, D40X with 18-200 and Canon S2 for video. PLUS another equally large bag full of electronic support/backup kit !!!!

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
May 12th, 2008, 11:55 PM
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Hi Teadrinker

I would highly recommend the Panasonic FZ18. It is an easy to use camera and takes great photos. I have finally upgraded, but this will now be my backup camera. I really like the Panasonics as I have also had a FZ20 & 30.

I myself take a large number of memory cards as I have had a dreadful experience with a backup and it never worked.

Kind regards

KayeN is offline  
May 13th, 2008, 12:45 AM
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I agree with Kaye N, this is a remarkable camera for the price, especially as it has a Leica Lens. Our pilot used one in Mahale and got very good Chimp photos despite the low light.
May 13th, 2008, 04:47 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
I just upgraded from a 10X Optical Fuji 5mg, point and shoot to the Fuji 8100 18X Optical, 8mg. It looks like a DSLR, but is idiot-proof (the category I fall into... can't be bothers with to many widgets to move, adjust, lenses, etc.)

The price was right ($300), from B&H Camera. Uses the same batteries (4 AAs) and media as the 10X, so decision was a no brainer. Surprisingly, this model actually uses two different type of memory media - XD and SD cards, nice as the SD card also works in my small Canon, the one I easily toss in my tote-bag for everyday use.

Another I looked at was the Olympus S570, also 8mg, but 20X Optical, but with manual zoom... again, too much for me to deal with... I'm a strong believe in KISS (keep it simple stupid!) Price though was a tad higher.

Both the Fuji and Olympus have face recognition and stabilization.

Good luck!

sandi is offline  
May 13th, 2008, 06:50 AM
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This is great information!
I will read it and make a choice from your suggestions either today or later on this week!
Wonderful help everyone!
teadrinker is offline  
May 13th, 2008, 09:36 AM
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Posts: 72

I bought a Panasonic FZ18 a few months ago, to use on our August safari. It's easy and fun to use and I've been entirely satisfied with the quality of the photographs. I think a 16x20 print would be pushing it though.
The LCD is difficult to use in bright sunlight, so I've been practicing using the electronic viewfinder. I think it's pretty good but not as good as the optical viewfinder on a DSLR. But I didn't want a DSLR so I accepted some compromises.
BTW, I don't think the battery lasts as long as the manual claims it does. I have 2 batteries. As for storage, I found that I could get such good prices for 2G SanDisk Extreme III's, that I bought 4 of those. I think I paid USD $21 or $22 each on Amazon.
May I suggest that you buy her a camera sooner rather than later so she'll have time to get acquainted with a few settings that she's likely to use, beyond the Program or Auto modes.
What a great family trip!

ccipups is offline  
May 13th, 2008, 10:02 AM
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Can I endorse the extra batteries I have no idea how long they last but take 2 better to be safe than sorry and get plenty of cards they have fallen in price so much of late. Do not forget your charger and if possible check to see if where you are going has cigarette lighters in the vehicles that can be used to connect the charger.
May 13th, 2008, 11:19 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Batteries - if AA size. If you want rechargeable get Sanyo Eneloop NiMH. These self-discharge much slower than typical NiMH rechargeables. If not rechargeables get Lithium (not lithium-ion) AAs. They are twice the cost but last much longer and have a shelf life of like 12 years. (I carry a set just for backup).

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
May 13th, 2008, 11:36 AM
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I'd go for one with an eye-level viewfinder, given that your daughter will be working in bright sunlight much of the time. Also, most of these cameras also have a "video" mode and she can shoot some videos of the wildlife in action. She'll have the sounds, as well.
ShayTay is offline  
May 13th, 2008, 11:55 AM
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Just to add to the cheap storage thought. Circuit City has 2 gig SD cards on sale right now for $14.99 each.
aowens is offline  
May 13th, 2008, 12:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 76

I purchased a Canon S5 for our safari in June and have found it takes very good pictures, videos with sound and is very easy to use.

I also, purchased a Tamrac 3536 Express 6 Camera Bag from Amazon.com. It holds the camera, extra batteries, battery charger, extra cards, camera manual & my Wolverine MVP photo back-up and charger. Another nice thing to have is the Tamrac MXS536801 Memory & Battery Management Wallet to hold the extra cards and batteries all in one place, also from Amazon.

Have a great family vacation!

llorear is offline  
May 13th, 2008, 05:42 PM
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This one is a biggie

"I'd go for one with an eye-level viewfinder, given that your daughter will be working in bright sunlight much of the time"

Maybe they all have this.

I use Sony DSC H2 and H5. Pretty much idiot proof. The Canon was not intuitive for me. I get great results with H2 and H4. The H2 will use regular AA batteries if recharging will be a problem. You just have to take quite a few.

Any of those high end point and shoot cameras mentioned here would be fine.

Unless you really want it to be a surprise, have her try it out. That part is so important, being comfortable with the camera. That's why I didn't get the Canon that I had my heart set on.

Have a wonderful family trip!
atravelynn is offline  
May 30th, 2008, 05:49 AM
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The Panasonic FZI8 is all packed up and ready to be given to my daughter tomorrow... and I got the two chargers as recommended. Now the other daughter wants a camera. I have a camera Rebel and some other little NIKON but not long lens.. so now I'm wondering should I buy the long lens for one of these or another of the other recommended cameras (I don't want to upstage the Panasonic camera gift which I'm giving to my younger daughter for her graduation)!
teadrinker is offline  
May 30th, 2008, 06:34 AM
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How about a video camcorder? You can get one that records on mini-DV tapes that's fairly inexpensive. A safari is the perfect place to shoot videos.
ShayTay is offline  
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