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lmavolio Jul 8th, 2007 04:23 PM

New Camera for Safari?
Hi All - I have read many of the previous threads on cameras for safari, but I do have a few additional questions based on new models that are out now.

I was originally hoping to get a digital SLR, but I leave for my trip in a month and a half, and they seem too complicated to learn within that timeframe...So, I am now leaning toward a higher end point & shoot.

I went to several camera stores and many are recommending the Sony H-7 (15X Zoom, 8MP, lithium battery). This apparently has pretty fast shutter speed and the highest optical zoom available on a P&S.

I also noticed many on this board have successfully used the Canon S3, now available in the S5 (12X zoom, 8MP, AA batteries). I've heard that the shutter speed is not quite as good on this camera as the Sony, but the color quality is more natural...

I have also considered the Canon G7 or the Panasonic FZ50, but I haven't done a ton of research on these yet...Any advice?

I want a camera that is easy to use, has a strong zoom, high picture quality, & operates well in various lighting conditions.

How big of a difference will Sony's 15X zoom make over the 12X zoom from Canon?

I am really trying to make my decision within the next week so I can begin getting some experience with it before I leave...Any input would be appreciated. Thanks!! - Laura

thit_cho Jul 8th, 2007 04:44 PM

Even George Bush could learn to operate a digital SLR in a month and a half. If that's what you want, you have plenty of time to learn how to take excellent photos with it.

Chris_GA_Atl Jul 8th, 2007 06:41 PM

I agree with Michael. You have plenty of time to learn a DSLR if that it what you really want. Also, since you specified that you wanted a camera that works well in various lighting condtions, that would also point toward a DSLR. The small sensors in point and shoot cameras are particularly ill-suited to low light, high-sensitivity photography. Try to take a low-light picture and you end up getting a whole lot of noise. Of course, to have the best low-light capability with a DSLR, you have to buy fast lenses, which of course are the most expensive. But they give you the most flexibility and the best image quality.


hills27 Jul 8th, 2007 08:17 PM

If you think you will want a DSLR long term, go for it.

If worse comes to worse, you can set everything to manual. My mom is an idiot with a camera, but give her a DSLR on auto and even she can take pretty good photos.

If you aren't ready to spring for a big lens, you can always rent one for your trip.

p.s. has some great online classes with instructors who critique your uploaded photos.

spiegelcjs Jul 8th, 2007 11:37 PM

If you click on my name you will find that I had the same questions. I finally made the decision to go with the DSLR and it was the correct decision.

I got the camera about 30 days before, (I bought a Pentax k100D with a 28x300 Tamaron lens.) I practiced some and even went to the zoo. Nothing , however, makes you completely ready for this type of photography unless you have been doing this for years.

I learned as I went. The Pentax is extremely easy to learn and the setting buttons are easy to use and the LCD screen is excellent.

It uses AA rechargable batteries which was important to me. I was able to shoot in fine using a 2GB Ultra card and the batteries usually lasted all day. I did however recharge them during the afternoon rest time. I also brought an extra set which I did not use at all.

Many friends tried to tell me that I could not learn to use the dSLR but my brother who is an avid photographer said go for it.

The biggest difference is the ability to take continuous shots. There were times when I was shooting so fast, and I could not have done that with even the best point and shoot.

Be brave and go for it.

spiegelcjs Jul 8th, 2007 11:45 PM

These are a few pictures I took with the K1000D camera. I have many more but have not had time to go through them.

These are not retouched.

Copy and paste this .

cary999 Jul 8th, 2007 11:48 PM

Consider cost of a DSLR with equivalent zoom lens will be 2 or 3 times the cost of the equivalent P&S. Also consider the size of the DSLR with equivalent lens will be same multiple times larger. Also, the P&S will take video clips which you might find fun (I do).

regards - tom

lmavolio Jul 9th, 2007 04:18 AM

Thanks everyone! Maybe I will revisit my D-SLR decision...

In the interim, if I were to go the route of a Point & Shoot, which would you recommend?

atravelynn Jul 9th, 2007 06:01 AM


You only practiced at the zoo? When I spoke to your ranger from Africa, he thought you had taken many photography lessons. So that's an endorsement for a DSLR from a knowledgeable source even if you have only a month to practice.


On the Sonys:
I have a DSC H2 and like it for the AA batteries, image stabilization, and 12X zoom. Most people here prefer the Canon, which also takes AA batteries. They also prefer the Panasonics which do not use AA batteries.

I was all set to buy the Canon but did not like it at the store and preferred the handling and operation of the Sony. I liked the Panasonic but one of my requirements at the time was AA batteries.

I also have a Sony DSC H9 with the 15X zoom. If you want to email me, in about a week I can send you two identical photos taken out of my window, one at 12x with H2 and one at 15x with H9.

The H9 takes a digital battery and I consider that a negative. But it has a better screen and the time between shots is so fast. Plus it has a feature that allows photos without a flash at night. Kind of like night vision. I wanted that feature for an upcoming trip.

If you want a camera that is "easy to use, has a strong zoom, high picture quality, and operates well in various lighting conditions" a high-end P&S used on the automatic setting will make you happy.

npederse Jul 9th, 2007 09:25 PM

As for the DSLR vs high-end point & shoot, I'd say it really depends on your wants/needs. The high-end point & shoots like the S3 have very good lens quality for what your purchasing. What you give up is the flexibility to add/change different lenses, better low-light performance, and sometimes more continuous burst pictures. You should price out what a DSLR + add-on lenses will run.

I haven't had direct experience with any of the high-end point & shoots, but have heard good things about both the Canon and the Panasonic cameras.

I think you can learn either in the time needed -- to me, there isn't a big differnce in the learning curve on the two, as most DSLRs will have the same program modes that the high-end point & shoots have, so you can always fall back on those.

afrigalah Jul 9th, 2007 11:22 PM


A zoo is a good place for a beginner to practise wildlife photography. It is a very challenging location, if your objective is to eliminate all man-made objects and make the images look natural (without digital manipulation afterwards). In some respects, getting acceptable photographs in the wild can be quite easy by comparison.


matnikstym Jul 10th, 2007 02:30 PM

Lynn- how do you like the H9? I'm debating the s3, s5 or the H9. Going to California next week-end so will try and find a camera store and see how they feel. Any problems with the batteries for the h9 (charging) while on your trip? I do like the Canons for the AA use.

lmavolio Jul 10th, 2007 03:30 PM

Hi All - On a digital photography site ( one person responded to my post by saying:

You ought to go with a dslr, imo, unless you go on safari all the time. if you don't go on safari frequently, you'll have regrets when you get home when you realize how many shots you missed and how many are mediocre due to the inherent limits of a p+s, especially in terms of speed and low light performance.

For those of you who have a P&S camera and have been to Africa, have you been disappointed with your pictures?

matnikstym Jul 10th, 2007 03:43 PM

Imavolio~No I haven't been disappointed with my point and shoot pictures (canon s1). Thought I took some pretty good ones. Possibly could have been better with a dslr, but who knows?
there are many links to photos taken here with p&s and dslr and I can't tell the difference unless it's stated on their site.

cary999 Jul 10th, 2007 04:36 PM

I have used both P&S and DSLR on safaris. In 2005 we had only P&S (Canon S2). (This after 30 years of 35mm slide cameras. So, I'm not new to photography). In 2006 and 2007 I switched to DSLR (Nikon). My two favorite leopard photos after three African safaris are still ones taken with the Canon P&S S2. Here is one of them - A good photo is about the subject and its lighting. Not about the camera.

So why then do I now prefer/use a DSLR? Mainly because photography, the equipment, and all of its processes is my hobby. I'm a digital photo geek. A DSLR does give technically better photos (image quality) than a P&S. And, with only a P&S I would miss perhaps one-fourth of the photos I can get with the DSLR.

If you go DSLR, get one that has good and easy to understand photo "quality" settings. A camera like my Nikon D200 can easily give you dull bland images. And if so, you will be saying "why do my sister's photos from her $200 pocket camera have more color than mine using a DSLR?" And one answer (you will hear on this forum) is that you need to take and process your photos in RAW. Are you ready for RAW? (Oh, oh, I may have started something again :-) ).

regards - tom

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