Question for Safari/Photography Buffs

Old May 5th, 2008, 08:16 AM
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Question for Safari/Photography Buffs

We are going on our first safari (Wilderness Safari) in late August/early September. My husband just recently purchased a new Nikon camera with an 18/200 lens. He was wondering out loud this morning if he would need a 70/300 lens. I have absolutely no idea what this means but I thought if anyone could answer his query, a Fodorite who had been on a safari AND was a photograph buff could.

Any suggestions? Does this make sense???
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Old May 5th, 2008, 08:35 AM
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He will do OK with the 18-200 but a lot of times the critters are far away and a longer lens is better, so while he doesn't "need" the 70-300 he will do better with it ... until he decides he "needs" the 80-400, which will be fine until the day he decides he "needs" the 500 f/4

In other words, whatever you have will work OK but most photography buffs are always yearning for just a little longer lens ...

I would suggest he looks into renting the 80-400 VR or 70-300.

Bill
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Old May 5th, 2008, 08:52 AM
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You can rent lenses for a fraction of the cost of actually buying one of the super telephotos. A good alternative if you know you probably would not need 400mm for other uses. Even as a professional I have no use for a lens that long except when I go on safari. Lensrentals.com is a good company used by many board contributers. you can rent the Nikon 80-400 VR for 2 weeks for $138 which includes insurance and shipping one way. The longer you rent it the cheaper the weekly fee gets. Good luck.
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Old May 5th, 2008, 09:01 AM
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I agree with Bill. Most probably your Nikon has a 1.5X crop camera sensor which will give his zoom his zoom lens the equivalent field of a 27-300mm lens. If in Botswana, that should be enough for many things but birders will always want at least 500mm. If you will not be doing safaris in the future, then investment in longer lenses might not be wise. You can rent good lenses for relatively little and make a more personal decision later on. As Bill suggests, he will be O.K. with the 18-200mm but if it were my first safari and if I wan't sure I'd be doing another, I would definetly take or rent the 70-300 or 80-400mm lenses.
Cheers-Chuck
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Old May 5th, 2008, 09:55 AM
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You didn't mention which camera he purchased. I have all three lenses. The 18-200 is fine, lightweight and relatively compact but I think he would definitely benefit from the 80-400 for wildlife photography. If it is too expensive to purchase then definitely rent it. I would strongly suggest that he practice with the lens well before the trip so don't just rent it the day before you leave. Since the camera is new as well then all the more reason to practice. A local zoo is a great place to go.
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Old May 5th, 2008, 11:20 AM
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In Sep 2006 I took my Nikon D200 body with the 18-200mm lens on safari to South Africa, Zambia and Kenya. Here are a few photos taken with that combo. http://tinyurl.com/35m9y5

However, I do prefer a "longer" lens on safari so for safari 2007 I also took the Nikon 70-300mmVR (along with the 18-200). And used it, 70-300mm, most of the time. It is not that expensive to buy, less than $500 so if you want it, I'd be tempted to buy it and not rent it. But even with the 70-300 or 80-400 or such you will still want the wider image capability of the 18-200mm on many occasions.

regards - tom
ps - careful, your husband's desire for another lens could be the beginning of "lens lust"
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Old May 6th, 2008, 08:01 AM
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WOW! So many great responses! Thank you each and every one for your thoughts and advice. My husband hadn't even considered renting the lens and as he THINKS this will be the only time he will need one of that caliber, that is probably the route he will go.

Tom, I think my husband already suffers from "lens lust" because he initially was curious about the 70/300 but now tells me it is the 80/400 that he will rent!!

Again, thank you all. Your advice was priceless!!!
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Old May 6th, 2008, 08:36 AM
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If your husband is shooting digital and he only has one camera body he should stick with the one lens - changing lenses on safari just introduces dust. We took a camera body for each lens we brought so we never had to change lenses. I also found that we shot as many wide angle frames as telephoto - the landscapes were so beautiful.

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Old May 6th, 2008, 12:39 PM
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I wasn't going to mention it but since silverparrot has - a second camera body is a good thing. If you're into photography like I am, to have my only camera fail would really put a damper on my safari. So, a second body for backup and keep the wide angle lens on it. Then no need to change lenses and fight dust. That is, I take D200 with 70-300, D40x with 18-200 and Canon S2 for video. All this plus spare batteries, chargers, backup drives, etc and you have your hands full (actually two bags full).

regards - tom
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