Safari etiquette, camera and/or binoculars

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Aug 14th, 2005, 01:32 PM
  #21
TC
 
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Absolutely take binoculars. Do not consider going without. First you have to find the wildlife, before you can photograph it. Searching for animals using your tele-lense would be impossible.

If you take a digital camera, do ask about recharging. The batteries don't seem to last very long on some cameras and need constant recharge. Not all camps will have the proper facilities for this. You may need a special voltage adaptor. Some digital cameras will use either rechargable batteries or standard batteries. You would also want to check the number of photos your memory will hold.

We found that very little disrupted the wildlife...noise that is. They seemed quite comfortable with tourists as long as one stays in the safari vehicle.

How lucky you are. Do enjoy. Cheers.
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Aug 14th, 2005, 09:11 PM
  #22
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Yikes!!! My boss brought his camera in for me today, it is a Minolta DiMage A1 and it says 7x on the side. I am not sure how to tell the zoom range but I do know one thing for sure....there is no way in %[email protected]@ I will ever figure this thing out!!!! Very high tech for my inexperienced self. He told me "good luck"! Just reading one page in the manual made my head spin. So my question is, what is a good digital zoom camera for a rookie to take on safari?

TC- I just read one of your threads and you offer a wealth of information on what to take and not. This will be very useful, thank you for taking the time to pass this along.
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Aug 15th, 2005, 09:19 AM
  #23
 
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Take a deep breath. Call a friend who is tech-savvy, and ask them to come over some evening and help you. You can do this! Sorry, I fear that ALL digital cameras are this way when you first look at them. However most have some simplified program modes where the camera will decide how to shoot the picture. Once you find this, it will be much easier.
So get a friend (preferably one who already uses a digital camera), and prepare to spend a little time with the manual. There is no easy digital camera I fear, but you can find an easy way to use the one your boss loaned you!
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Aug 15th, 2005, 10:58 AM
  #24
 
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Carla,

I teach beginners how to use their digital cameras, and can certainly appreciate that "yikes" feeling you had when confronted with the Minolta. The A1 is an advanced digital compact --a fine camera, but there is a significant learning curve involved. In my experience, the Dimage series is not the most user friendly camera on the market either.

If you are willing to buy your own camera for this trip, you might go to a local store and look at a variety of them in terms of their user-friendliness. For example, if you can make an important choice by simply pushing a button, rather than having to go through a menu and a submenu to make the same choice, it will be a lot easier for you.

And yes, get a tech savvy friend to go with you, to explain the various functions.

In my experience, Canon and Kodak seem to be among the most user friendly cameras, while Nikon, Minolta, and Olympus are a bit more on the complex side. Sony, Panasonic, Fuji and others are in the middle of the pack in terms of user-friendliness.

Choosing a camera comes down to your objectives as a photographer and the level of learning you are willing to tolerate. For your own purpose, it seems to me that you would want a zoom lens that can bring distant animals relatively close. The Dimage you mention is a just a 7X zoom, which only reaches out to 200mm. Its great strength is in its wideangle capabiity. It zooms as wide as 28mm, which is great for some subjects, but not that great for wildlife.

If you want a budget camera designed for a first time user that can reach out and "grab" wildlife for you at 380mm, take a look at the Kodak Easyshare 740. It costs about $300. You can read the review conclusions here:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/kodakz740/page12.asp

Canon's comparable camera is its S2 IS. It zooms out further (432mm), to make your animals bigger and it has an image stablized lens, which will give you sharper images when you are zoomed out all the way. But it costs about $150 more than the Kodak.

You can read review conclusions here:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canons2is/

If the terminology confuses you, please don't hesitate to ask me what it means, either here or by email. I would be happy to help you.

Phil
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Aug 15th, 2005, 11:03 AM
  #25
 
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Sorry, Carla -- I gave you to wrong link to the page of Canon S2 review I wanted you to see. The correct link for the review's conclusions is:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canons2is/page15.asp

Phil
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Aug 15th, 2005, 02:49 PM
  #26
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Tashak, what time can you be over?

Or Phil? Who lives closer? Thank you again for all the details. Three of my friends also have the Kodak and Canon and if they can manage, I certainly can too. I haven't given up on tackling this Minolta, but I don't have a lot of spare time right now. I will look into your suggestions.
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Aug 15th, 2005, 05:51 PM
  #27
 
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hahaha...depends on where you live!
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Aug 15th, 2005, 06:22 PM
  #28
 
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Carla, I don't do house calls. But if you are anywhere near Phoenix, Arizona, let me know and I'll see what I can do for you!

Good luck,
Phil

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Aug 16th, 2005, 07:33 AM
  #29
 
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Carla,

I'm also a very non-technical photographer, and had a great time with the Pansonic Lumix FZ20. It has a 12x zoom and basically as easy to use as most point-and-shoot cameras. I think I got some awesome pictures. There's a new model, FZ30, that I'm dying to get for a next trip.

Let me know if you have other questions or would like to see some examples.

Judy
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Aug 16th, 2005, 09:27 AM
  #30
 
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Hi, Judy,

Both Julian and I have endorsed the FZ0 (and we are both considering the FZ30 as well) earlier in this thread. It is a remarkable tool for wildlife photography in particular because of its extremely long high quality Lieica lens (432mm), its image stabilization feature which helps us make sharper photos, and its large f.2.8 lens opening, which is unusual for that long a lens. Add all of that to its current low price (it has just been discontinued) and its very light weight, and what's not to like?

Phil
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Aug 17th, 2005, 10:31 PM
  #31
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Hi Judy,
I had a chance to check out your photos on another thread and they are wonderful! If I buy a new digital camera it will be the Pansonic that you all have recommended, the reviews are very favorable. Thank you Phil for the links to the reviews. That was a great source.
Today my brother offered to lend me his Olympus C765 he used in Costa Rica last year. It is a 10x optical zoom so I am going to practice with it to see what happens. My Nikon binos should be arriving any day now. This is all so very exciting!
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Aug 18th, 2005, 09:11 PM
  #32
 
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Thanks, Carla.

If you decide to buy the Panasonic, there are a few things I don't like that you might want to know about:

1) it takes quite a long time to start up.
2) it doesn't have an optical view finder so in certain light conditions (too dim or too light), the LCD screen and the EFV don't work too well.
3) focusing can be slow. I was NEVER able to get a picture of a bird in flight.

Aside from that, it was awesome.

Judy
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Aug 18th, 2005, 11:03 PM
  #33
 
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The first review of the upcoming FZ 30 was posted today on dcresource.com.

http://dcresource.com/reviews/panaso...ew/index.shtml

Enjoy.

Phil
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Aug 19th, 2005, 03:12 AM
  #34
 
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Hi Carla,

I seem to have had a better time with my FZ20 than Judy has. I've been able to get pictures of birds in flight, and wild dogs running flat out through the forest. The start-up time isn't a problem if you let the camera go to sleep and then half-depress the shutter button to wake it up when you think something interesting is about to happen. Even when waking it up from sleep to shoot right away, it only takes about 3-4 seconds.

I have had a few problems with the viewfinder at night, but this is going to be an issue on any prosumer camera -- the only way you're going to get around this while retaining the long zoom lens and anti-vibration functions is to pay a lot more for a DSLR. During the day, you can cup your hand around the viewfinder (it's a lot easier to use than the screen) to block glare; on spotlit night drives, I've gotten very good results by pointing the camera in the direction of the spotlight and letting the autofocus do its thing. Sometimes it is a bit frustrating (if the animal moves before I have a chance to shoot it) but overall it's been a great camera.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 19th, 2005, 04:19 AM
  #35
 
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Hi Julian,

I am certainly interested in you FZ20 camera (if the price is ok). Please check your email...

Best regards,

Marynus
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Aug 21st, 2005, 08:51 PM
  #36
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My new binos arrived last Thursday. I couldn't be more pleased with my purchase and want to thank you all for the great advice. I ended up with the Nikon 10x42 ATB Monarchs. They are not heavy and will fit in my vest pocket too(even though they are not compact).

I am still undecisive on my camera dilema. Linjudy brings up a concern of mine and that is not being able to see through the LCD screen under certain lighting conditions and there is no optical finder? Julian says there is an optical viewfinder? I am confused. Phil, what do you say? It will be another week or more before I can get to the photo shop to check them out.
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Aug 22nd, 2005, 04:04 AM
  #37
 
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Hello,

Sorry if I confused you -- the FZ20 does NOT have an optical viewfinder, but neither does anything else in its class. The only way you will get an optical viewfinder and retain the anti-shake mechanism is to spend a couple of thousand dollars for a DSLR.

The LCD brightness does not really become an issue until it gets dark. If you are going to a private reserve where there are night drives where a spotlight is used to see nocturnal animals, you will find that the viewfinder and the LCD do not work very well under those conditions. That being said, I have gotten some very nice spotlight pictures by just aiming the camera in that direction and shooting even though I can't see more than a vague outline through the viewfinder.

The FZ30 incorporates some new technology which will hopefully improve this situation.

If you aren't doing night drives (many national parks do not allow them) it won't be an issue.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 16th, 2005, 07:56 AM
  #38
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I am laughing at myself reading my first post about not having a budget for new photo equipment...

As Julian says "pop goes the budget"! My trip cost has already doubled...and still 10 weeks to go.

I borrowed my brother's camera to try at the Wild Animal Park yesterday. The zoom was nowhere near what I need. Also the battery died 2 hours into my hike just as a lion was coming straight towards me!

So I will be investing in new equipment. My local photo shop has the Canon S2 IS on backorder. There are great deals on the Panasonic FZ20 now that the new FZ30 is out. But for the price difference it looks like the FZ30 might be worth it.

Phil, are you out there? Have you got yours yet? Julian? Anyone? I need to decide very soon and start practicing with it. SOS.

Thanks,
Carla
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Sep 16th, 2005, 09:40 AM
  #39
 
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Hello,

I haven't got mine yet as they are not yet available in the UK. Phil is on a trip now -- not sure when he'll be back.

The availability of the FZ30 in the US probably means that FZ20 prices are dropping. If you aren't planning on night-time photography (many national parks will not allow night drives anyhow) then the FZ20 should fit the bill splendidly.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 17th, 2005, 08:59 PM
  #40
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LinJudy??? Did you get your FZ30?
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