Rocco's last second questions for East Africa

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Feb 21st, 2006, 09:36 PM
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Rocco's last second questions for East Africa

Down to the last 33 hours or so...this one will be a little different with a 7AM flight, stopping over in Atlanta and then onto Amsterdam. I would have preferred a non-stop flight, but maybe it will not be so bad to break it up a bit.

Anyway, most of the last second questions are photography related. Here is what I am taking for sure:

(2) Canon 20d bodies
Sigma 80-400mm Optical Stabilizing f/4.5 - 5.6 lens
Canon 17-85 Image Stabilizing f/4-5.6 lens
10 Gigs of CF Cards (just picked up a 2GB 133x speed CF card today at Samy's Camera for only $134.99)
8 Camera Batteries
Expodisc Custom White Balance Filter (I expect this will really help with my photos)
Expodisc Warming Filter

Now, I am not sure whether or not I should take the following:

Sigma 70-200 f/2.8
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8
Sigma 1.4x teleconvertor
Sigma EF-500 Superflash
Monopod w/ piston grip ball handle

I really don't want to travel as heavy as last time, yet my fastest lenses are on the maybe list. However, the slower lenses are Image/Optical Stabilized, so this should help offset the difference.

Which items on the questionable list should be undoubtedly taken along?

Thanks for the feedback.
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Feb 21st, 2006, 09:41 PM
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Rocco,

Take the TC and the flash.

Have a great time!

James
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Feb 21st, 2006, 10:52 PM
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Jim,

About the TC, would this be for the 80-400mm lens? If so, it will be manual focus but will get me up to an effective 896mm zoom, although at a pretty high f/stop.

The TC and flash will take minimal space, as will the monopod, since this will go right at the bottom of a suitcase.

I really like both of the f/2.8 lenses, but I cannot take everything, I suppose.

Hard to believe that at this time next week, I will have just concluded Lake Manyara and Tarangire and be headed to Ngorongoro Crater. Definitely it was the right move to add those two nights at Tarangire Treetops.

In what will REALLY be inconvenient, I cannot believe that I need to go out and buy a 67mm UV filter for my 17-85mm lens. I forgot that I had dropped my camera at the Twelve Apostles last year and shattered the UV filter...better the UV filter than the lens, of course. I really thought I was all done, but nooooo.

I am tempted to pack lightly enough to not only use my backpack for my camera gear but also my carry on suitcase...dangerous for my gear but it will allow me to bring all the lenses I want.
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Feb 21st, 2006, 10:52 PM
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(Thanks for the suggestion)
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 03:53 AM
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Hey Rocco! I've been doing a lot of chatting over at Fred Miranda, and they, too, have convinced me to take my flash, so I would second James' suggestion. Here is just a thought: What if you take the TC and the 70-200 f 2.8 and leave your 80-400 at home? As I understand, the animals are a little closer in Tanz? This is just one option if you're wanting to take that faster lens. Have a fabulous trip!!!
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 06:15 AM
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"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

Sorry, any discussion of leaving and taking always reminds me of that scene from "The Godfather."

Leave the monopod. Take the teleconverter.
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 07:55 AM
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Hi Rocco,

I think taking the TC is a no brainer as it is so small.

I would still leave behind the 70-200 in favor of the bigger lens.

Use the TC for times when you can carefully focus manually... like for an eagle or other bird that's sitting far off maybe.

I use my flash mostly for up-close day-time sightings when there's a bit too much shade but I want a few pics. Also good for night-time pics in camp.

James
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:34 AM
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James,

Thanks for the feedback. Do you see any benefit to also taking the 70-200 f/2.8 lens. It does seem to be a bit better in its range than the 80-400mm f.4.5-5.6 OS.


Lisa,

Haha...I could just imagine it...the Godfather and his cronies on safari in their bad suits and all. Would have to be convertible Cadillacs in place of the Land Rovers and how about the dialogue??? That is a screenplay waiting to be written (and rejected).
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:57 AM
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Rocco
Have fun buddy
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 09:02 AM
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Definitely take the teleconverter, at least to experiment. It should really help with bird photos (and who knows, you may get distant views of wild dogs ;-). If the photos don't work well with the teleconverter, you can always delete them (benefit of digital vs. print).

Have a great trip.
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 09:30 AM
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Rocco,

My thoughts are that since your 80-400 has IS, you are really looking at an 80-400 in the f/2.8-f/4 range (or something like that depending on your support, etc).

Bringing the 70-200 seems like overlap UNLESS... you keep the 70-200 on the 2nd 20D. If you want to have both bodies available or have your wife taking pics at the same time using the 2nd body, then it might make sense to bring it. Otherwise, I'd leave it behind. My 2 cents.

James
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 10:56 AM
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Rocco-
I second James' opinion. Definitely take the 80-400. And the TC. You don't get as much off-road in the Serengeti and Crater so you'll need as much zoom as possible if the animals are away from the road.
You've got the 17-85 and 80-400 which overlap quite nicely without a lot of wasted space.
I've found I usually use my 80-400 as the main lens and I have my 17-35 as my landscape/wide angle. I also pack my small 35-105 for my "just in case" lens. It's small enough not to take up too much space.

Have a great trip!
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 09:11 PM
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I resisted the final urge to buy an ultrawide lens today. I do think that I will feel most comfortable bringing along the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, just in case anything goes wrong with my 80-400mm lens.

On the same paranoid note, I will also bring my Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens, just in case. Complete overkill, but I prefer my Tamron lens to the Canon 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS. I will reserve the Canon for its 17mm ability, which is really 27mm on a Canon 20d.

I cannot really believe I am leaving in under 10 hours. There has not been time to hunger for this trip as there was for prior visits. Also, part of it is not really knowing what to expect...as a longtime Southern Africaphile, I have put a cap on expectations for East Africa that will surely be surpassed. It will be odd not to arrive in Johannesburg, but rather to arrive in Kiliminjaro.

My only regret with this trip is that I was unable to shave a night from here or there to do an educational/familiarization visit for a 4 night Volcanoes Safaris Gorilla trekking itinerary. With just a little more notice, it would have been fairly easy to do. Something like this for my 23 nights:

Moivaro Coffee Lodge (1)
Tarangire Treetops (2)
Lake Manyara Tree Lodge (2)
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (2)
Nomad Masek (3)
Mbuzi Mawe (2)
Palms Zanzibar (3)
Serena Inn (1)
(7AM departure to Nairobi and onto Kigali)
http://www.volcanoessafaris.com/camp-rws4.html
Volcanoes Virunga Lodge (3)
(Kigali - NBO - AMS)
Canal House, Amsterdam (2)
King George V Four Seasons, Paris (2)

Amazingly, there is hardly a difference between my itinerary and this one, except that I would be able to add a short gorilla trekking expedition with 2 full days of gorilla trekking, likely, thanks to early departures, not even needing to spend a single night in Kigali or Nairobi.

Rwanda and Uganda are just two more locations that are starting to fascinate me, but it will likely have to wait until June/July 2007 since I already have 23 nights booked to Southern Africa in November/December 2006.

Here is just one great looking itinerary that would be introduce each Rwanda and Uganda:

http://www.volcanoessafaris.com/camp-rws2.html

No sleep planned for tonight. Leaving for the airport at 4AM so we can eat a light breakfast prior to departing. I really think I will appreciate this trip much, much more once I am in the air. Probably working way too hard recently and really need a good vacation and don't even realize it yet because the desire is to stay behind and work! Duh.

It will be nice to get away from this cold weather, just sorry I am missing some great fights (boxing) while I am gone. Perhaps I will get lucky in Paris on my final night and at 3AM I will find a place televising the heavyweight championship fight.

Plenty of photos and a detailed trip report is guaranteed. Hopefully my photos will start looking more like the photos from Johan from Belgium and less like my own!

I must confess that I have not used my 80-400mm lens since I was in Zambia last September, but hopefully I have learned plenty since then, on the shorter lenses, that will carry over to the longer lens, as well.

Time to finish packing and I may just want a couple hours sleep.

Cheers for now.
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 09:44 PM
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Forgot the $1 bills and $5 bills for tips. Probably should run to the supermarket and get at least $300 in small bills, huh?
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Feb 23rd, 2006, 03:45 AM
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Hi Rocco,

Make sure you pack the down parka for the 'cold' weather in the Crater -- your thin Californian blood will turn to ice!

BTW, it's snowing in Oxford right now.

Cheers,
Julian
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Feb 23rd, 2006, 11:02 AM
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I sure hope Rocco has left on his trip because it seems I have been spending a good chunk of my life reading his posts lately.

Kevin from California
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Feb 23rd, 2006, 11:26 AM
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Kevin,

There surely must be more enticing things to see on the internet than my Fodors contributions!


Well, it was a sleepless night that included emergency minor surgery on my big toe (ingrown toenail that went from unnoticeable to near septic within 48 hours). Hehe...I was hoping to get by with a pedicure, something I should have done a week ago, but it did require minor surgery, but I was in and out of the emergency room in two hours flat.

So I am now hear at the Atlanta Hartsfield International airport, sitting in the very nice Business Class lounge, wearing regular Business Class wear (business casual) but in sandals with my big toe wrapped like a mummy. Lack of sleep and a couple Vicodin for the pain from the surgery made it a very easy four flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta, as I slept about 3/4 of the way.

I had no idea that the flight was so short, as I have not flown into Atlanta since 2003.

From here, it is a flight to Amsterdam departing in two hours, a short two hour layover in Amsterdam and then an eight hour flight to Kiliminjaro where I first have one night at Moivaro Coffee Lodge, followed by a business meeting at 9AM the next morning and then it is off to Tarangire Treetops.

So, I am about 1/4 of the way there. I hope I will sleep at least half of the next flight. It will be very uncomfortable on the final leg (AMS - Kiliminjaro) as this will be in economy class. At least it is only 8 hours instead of 11 hours for South Africa. Still, 8 hours is no walk in the park in economy.

I ended up using each my backpack and my carry-on suitcase for my camera gear. I totally forgot "The Vest" but fortunately I received a more stylish (non photo) vest that I will debut for this trip. Also, I have these really cool safari hats with the name of some unmentionable venture on them that I will also be wearing while I strut down the catwalk...on the catwalk, on the catwalk, yeah, I do my little dance on the catwalk!

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Feb 23rd, 2006, 11:37 AM
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Rocco-
Shoulda let me know you had a few hours of layover here in the ATL. I would've taken a break from packing for my trip and joined you for lunch or a send off cocktail!

Enjoy your trip!

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Feb 23rd, 2006, 12:09 PM
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Have a great trip, Rocco! I'll be looking forward to your pics with the new vest and hat
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Feb 23rd, 2006, 12:26 PM
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Divewop,

Sorry, I would have loved to meet but didn't remember that you were in Atlanta!

On my return, unfortunately, I fly Amsterdam - Paris (two night layover) and then direct back to Los Angeles.

Hopefully we will be able to get together in November for my next possible time through Atlanta as I do the luxury lodge from hell itinerary.

Luxury lodge from hell is meant in the most affectionate way possible, it is just that these places are sooooo over the top that it must be a sin to endulge in so many of them all at once...Leopard Hills, Earth Lodge, Madikwe Hills, Mateya and then Susuwe Island Lodge and Ntwala Island Lodge from Islands In Africa www.islandsinafrica.com. Hopefully the week I spend at Kwando on the same trip will help towards my redemption.

Cheers.
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