Help: Photography in Kenya & Tanzania National Park

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Sep 2nd, 2005, 06:22 AM
  #1
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Help: Photography in Kenya & Tanzania National Park

We are going to Serengeti and Masai Mara in early Oct and have a few questions about photography. I plans to buy a Canon S2 IS camera (432mm tele) and Canon ZR300 (22X optical) camcorder for the trip.

1. Is a tripod of any use? Will there chance that we will actually stand on the gound to set it up?

2. How much photo opportunities will you get? How many pictures will you take on average? I am trying to figure out how much memory I should carry.

3. Is there a lot of birds to see on the trip?

Thanks!
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Sep 2nd, 2005, 08:38 AM
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Hi Cheerful, we just returned from 8 days of game drives in Tanzania and between my husband on his Olympus C8080 and me on my Olympus C765 we took about 1500 photos. We had 3 Gbs of memory and 40Gb wolverine as back up. We filled one 1 GB card. There are tons of photo opportunities--you can stop the vehicle whenever you see animals, which is often.

We didn't try to use a tripod--you stay in the vehicle the whole time and it would have been a pain. But others who may have used a tripod will certainly offer their perspectives as well.
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Sep 2nd, 2005, 08:52 AM
  #3
bwanamitch
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cheerful,

To answer your questions:

1) You are not allowed to leave the vehicle in national parks and game reserves, so a tripod is useless. A beanbag will be more useful.

2) Imagine the largest number of pictures you want to take, and multiply this by two or three. (I've made about 4000 images on my last 12-day Kenya safari.)

3) There are a lot of birds to see. However, unless you don't have your own vehicle or book a special birding safari, you won't have much opportunities to make great photos. Most safari travelers are not much interested in birds, and majority rules.

Mitch
 
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Sep 2nd, 2005, 08:56 AM
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Hello,

In my experience, it would hard to find enough room for a tripod in a game-viewing vehicle you were sharing with other people (if you have your own vehicle, there will be plenty of space). A monopod or beanbag is a better option. The easiest is to take a ziploc bag and fill it with rice or beans on arrival -- instant beanbag, and it didn't use up any of your luggage allowance!

Sometimes, Wilderness and CCA vehicles will have beanbags onboard, but this varies from camp to camp.

On my first safari, I think I used about 512 MB a day on a 4 MP camera (this was with editing the shots every night to cut down on the number of redundant or lousy pictures). If you have some citiy stops in between safaris (e.g. Nairobi or Arusha) you should find a place to burn your pictures to CD (ideally more than one copy, and you should check to make sure they have transferred correctly before erasing them from your memory cards).

If you will be out in the bush for a week or more without access to CD burning facilities, I would seriously consider a portable storage device -- it may prove more economical, and sometimes can double as an MP3 player (I used an iPod photo for my last trip to Botswana, which made a compact dual purpose storage device). I think there are a couple of threads about portable storage devices and their pros and cons.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 2nd, 2005, 08:58 AM
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PS For bird photography, you really need a lens of 500mm or more. In your case, you may be better off using your camcorder to capture birds.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 2nd, 2005, 09:57 AM
  #6
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Thanks for the answers. I will give up on tripod, and probably get an extender to boost my reach.

I have a Dell 700m, 12" laptop. It would be nice to look at pictures on the big screen. Do you guys think it would be too much to bring on a partipation camp?

How do you guys get battery charged? My trip is 2 7-day participation camping. Battery will be a big concern for me.

Thanks a lot!
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Sep 2nd, 2005, 10:06 AM
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bwanamitch
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Sorry, I'm still analog and can't answer these questions.
Mitch
 
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Sep 2nd, 2005, 10:12 AM
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Hello,

I'd never bring a laptop on a participation camping trip -- they don't much care for dust and being bounced around alot, both of which are quite likely on a participation trip. Even if that weren't an issue, it's not likely that you'll have the opportunity to charge the batteries often enough to make it useful. You can always look at the photos when you get home.

I haven't done participation camping in Africa at all (my experience is from the scouts in the US, and it was enough to make me swear off camping for life). Based on what I've seen on other threads here, I would be very surprised if there were outlets available at the campsites. Check with your tour operator, and definitely invest in a car charger so you can charge from the lighter socket on your vehicle.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 2nd, 2005, 10:17 AM
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Here's a link to the thread with info on electricity in East African campsites. I think you may have already posted on it, but here it is just in case. You'll need to scroll down to the end to get to the bit you're interested in.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34668517

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 7th, 2005, 06:16 AM
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Thanks everyone for the advice.

I am not familiar with the term "beanbag". I am guessing it as a cushion for put the camera against, say the edge of the window. Is it right?

What do you guy think of zoom range? I am debating whether to buy an extender for my S2.

Thanks!
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Sep 7th, 2005, 06:28 AM
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A "beanbag" is just that, a small balloon-like bag containing beans, or sand, or rice, etc. that molds to balance the camera when you rest it on the windowsill or doorjam, etc. They likely sell them in photo stores, or you can always fill a plastic bag with rice, beans, sand, while traveling, but its probably cleaner to go with a commercial bag since its less likely to leak. Its much better than a tripod for use while in the vehicle.
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Sep 7th, 2005, 07:25 AM
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Hello,

Bring a couple of ziploc-type bags -- fill one with beans or rice, and stick it inside one or two others to guard against leaks.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 14th, 2005, 03:29 PM
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hi cheerful
We have booked the same trip for February. I would greatly appreciate if you could post a mini review when you get back. If there is a power source at some of the campsites it would save me from buying extra batteries and memory cards. Have a great trip and looking forward to your impressions. We used GAP last May to go to the Amazon and the Galapagos and had a great experience so we decided to use their services again.
Richard
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Sep 17th, 2005, 10:53 AM
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Will do.

In the meantime, I am stocking up on memory cards and batteries.
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Sep 17th, 2005, 01:32 PM
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Cheerful

I think I mentioned this before but there is an outlet at Ngorongoro Simba public site - in the cooking area where you may have to share with many others!

There was no electricity in the Serengeti camps. The Manyara camp sites used by most outfitters are privately owned and they have electricity.

BUT - you are on a budget participating camping safari!

Things will get rough. You are sharing a minibus/landcruiser with up to 6 others. Not a lot of room to set up for perfect pictures!

You are camping in places that can be crowded. Your tent will be small and you will be sharing.

You will spend several hours each day participating with camp duties. Setting up your tent and such is messy work and you have to consider the safety of your belongings! It will be impossible to keep an eye on all your photographic equipment while you are doing chores! Your equipment will get dirty and I will be amazed if you don't loose a few items along the way!

Tripods, etc are fine for people on special photographic tours with private vehicles and a slow pace. Your itinerary is just the opposite. Lots of driving covering large distances with hardly any room for luggage!

My advice is to go for simplicity. Pack light - very light. Use simple electronics. Don't depend on having electricity and rush to be first in line when you find an outlet!

Best of luck!
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