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Sony Alpha 300 DSLR w/50-200mm lens - adequate for safari or need 75-300mm?

Sony Alpha 300 DSLR w/50-200mm lens - adequate for safari or need 75-300mm?

Aug 10th, 2009, 10:54 AM
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Sony Alpha 300 DSLR w/50-200mm lens - adequate for safari or need 75-300mm?

We take a lot of photos but can't describe ourselves as avid photographers but would like a new camera for our Africa trip. Are very happy with our current Sony so it will become the second camera and are looking at a DSLR for the new one.

The 100-400mm lens seems really expensive and heavy for the fact we are not going to use it alot. Our local Sony Store has this camera for $599 Canadian which is $200 off - but we were thinking we would buy a 75-300mm lens.....

Sony Alpha DSLRA300X 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera with Super SteadyShot Image Stabilization with DT 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 & DT 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Zoom Lenses

Obviously we can add a 75-300mm lens ($250 or so) but that renders the 50-200mm sort of redundant (does it?) - for good photographers is the 50-200mm lens sufficient?

Any comments on that particular camera?

Elizabeth_S is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 11:52 AM
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I think I was premature to seem to dismiss the 100-400mm lens - if the consensus is we'll enjoy it then we could buy it separately - comments appreciated
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 12:05 PM
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A lot of photographers/visitors to safaris stand by this focal length (100-400) because of the convenience of framing the subject and the versatility.

Canon or Sony, image quality, price...that's a separate topic.

As for me, I use primes at 300,400 and 600 (except for a 70-200 zoom). But since they stay on seperate bodies, I can switch cameras when I need that zoom convenience of a 70-200.

Bottomline, go ahead with the 100-400...
KennyK is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 12:17 PM
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Thanks Kenny - we're pacing each other!

Yes, we are still seriously considering the 100-400mm - here's a funny question for you - are there good "Camera Backpacks" - we have a camera bag but we'll kill ourselves if we drag it around and we ordinarily each carry a backpack (mine with computing stuff, Richard's with books/etc but it could become the camera backpack).

Have you contemplated binoculars yet?

Elizabeth_S is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 03:23 PM
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The canon backpack EG 200, is a relatively cheap backpack,light,small and very versatile. Just look at the sheer number of reviews on Amazon, I own one and use it occasionally for light travel 2 camera bodies, 2 lenses, there's a lot of space for cards, bottles,energy bars, sweater..and what not. No space for a lapto,fyi. You can re-arrange the provided spacers and adjust space for your needs.

2cents: I either use a black sharpie to cover the "CANON" logo that says "STEAL ME,PLEASE !!" or just break it...if I can to make the bag look a little less conspicuous in public.


As for binocs, I have a pair of nikon 10 x50 binocs (also bought from amazon last year). They're just a bit bigger than I would have wanted, but view/build quality is lovely.


I am planning to get another cheaper pair of compact bushnells with same or similar specs (8x or 10 x 50) or something. I can handhold '10x' binocs but not a "12x" . My father in law's 10 year old bushnells still perform nicely and I hardly notice any difference by paying a $100 premium for the nikons. Need something smaller and manageable.
KennyK is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 04:43 PM
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Kenny -thanks so much for the backpack reco - it looks terrific.

Any other lens comments would be appreciated.
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 09:15 PM
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For a camera bag I use a typical carry-on bag with good wheels. Then inside this is another "real" camera bag and another bag with electronic support kit. Wheels, only way to go through long airport walks.

As for lenses, the 100-400 would be nice. But if you crop a 200mm (or 300mm) shot you can make it look like it was a 400mm lens. Depends on what you do with the cropped image, small print, large print, flickr, etc. This also assumes you use Photoshop or such for image optimization.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Aug 11th, 2009, 08:17 AM
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My husband and I are photographers and would probably fit into your "avid photographer" category. We take A LOT of photos, but not professionally. Just a serious hobby . . .

We are planning a trip to Tanzania next May and are planning to bring two camera bodies each to eliminate the need to change lenses constantly. We will be bringing two Canon 20Ds and two Canon 40Ds. We will have 100-400 lenses on two of the cameras, a 28-135 another and a 17-40 on another. This will give us a wide range of focal lengths which we hope will serve us well. You may not think you will use the 100-400 alot, but I bet you will. Like another person said, it is SO versatile. We use ours all the time and do a lot of animal photography. I've also found that a flash unit is great addition when photographing animals.

One suggestion - if you have a camera store nearby that rents camera equipment, it might be worthwhile to rent a Canon camera body and the 100-400 and see how you like the combination. Then go to the zoo and practice a bit. This was advice I received and it has proved invaluable.

On to bags. We have a Lowepro Computrekker with wheels. It worked great when we went to Alaska, but was a tight fit when it came time to put it in the overhead bin on our flights. Air Canada almost made us check it (that was a tense time, believe me!). We managed to stuff it in, but it was touch and go there for a while! So love the bag, just don't stuff it too full. Here's a couple links to the product:



This is a nice write-up regarding safari photography. A little old, but still has good solid information.


Anyway, I've went on enough! Hope some of this proves useful!
novarra is offline  
Aug 11th, 2009, 08:37 AM
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I have the same Canon backpack as KennyK. I've used others, but this is, indeed, versatile. It held all my camera and video equipment, as well as all the items I wanted to carry onboard my international flights. It also fit under the plane seat (if I took out those in-flight items.) Good idea to cover up the "Canon" label, KennyK!

You should be able to rent a lens for your safari. It's a much cheaper way to go if you're not going to be using the lens very often. I'm not sure what companies you might have in Canada that would do so, but I'd check that out before buying an expensive lens.
ShayTay is offline  
Aug 11th, 2009, 10:42 AM
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Eliz, We just bought two pair of Leupold "Acadia" 8 x 42 waterproof binoculars. The price was great. We got them for $90 each in the "Bargain Cave" section of Cabelas. We tried out a lot of binoculars in the store and the thing I loved most about these is that not only are they really, really sharp on distance, but they are great for near objects as well. I use them to watch the hummingbirds up close at our feeder.

TC is offline  
Aug 11th, 2009, 10:52 AM
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Thanks again - I had started to price rental lenses for the 400 but the fact we're away for over 2 months negates much in the way of savings.

We've decided to buy the basic Alpha 300 DSLR - it comes with a 200mm lens - and play around with it for a while. Then we will decide whether we will be happy with the 300mm or if we want to look for rental or perhaps used 400mm, while keeping our eyes out for a good price on the 300mm.

A friend is coming over this weekend who is a very serious photographer and he has good contacts for rentals, etc.

Now - onto binoculars!
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Aug 15th, 2009, 11:31 AM
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Hi, Elizabeth. You helped me a few months ago with some information about Egypt (and Ahmed). I'm excited to read that you are going to Africa! I am going to Tanzania the end of October with Good Earth. Are you going with a safari operator? I imagine if I look back at your past messages, I'll be able to find out. lol

I recently bought a new lens for my safari. It's a Tamron 18-270, was about $500. It covers the wide and telephoto all in one. (I hate switching the lenses... it takes too long and I feel like I'm going to scratch something or get dust caught inside with my clumsy hands.) I only recently got the D-SLR camera, it's a Canon 40D. Am definitely no professional, but I love the looooooong battery life, the heavy duty quality, and the super quick speed. I agree with the person who said if you just crop a photo at 200mm you'll get a very nice result. Not magazine quality, but still very nice.

I loved your blog on Barcelona. I very much want to go there now after reading about you stay there. Looking forward to your future take on Africa!
Idnas71 is offline  
Aug 16th, 2009, 04:44 AM
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I humbly (and kinda hesitantly, considering all the great photographers on here!) give you the link to my recent safari photos: http://travel.webshots.com/album/573764645dRwTwz so that you can get some comparisons: these were taken with a Nikon 55-200 lens (or a 17-55, but not too many of those) and a d40. It fit in my camera bag, which made me happy.

Oh, and my binoculars were Leupold 8x32's; I tried a number of them at the store, and these just worked best for me. Definitely do a reconnaissance shopping trip for those--the ones that I thought I wanted from the research didn't work for me at all! I was very happy with these--reasonably compact and lightweight, but I didn't miss a thing.
Amy is offline  
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