Telephoto lens

Dec 7th, 2008, 02:48 PM
  #1  
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Telephoto lens

What lens should i take? i may rent. Fellow Fodorites have said not to go with less than a 300mm
My husband (whose camera i will be borrowing) asked if that is a 300mm or 400mm on 35 mm camera or digital camera, as he finds that a 400mm on a 35mm camera is equivalent to a 300mm on a digital.
thanks
amy
amycyma is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 02:49 PM
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oh yes for those who don't have any idea where i am going its Botswana.

amycyma is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 03:31 PM
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Amy, I should state at the beginning that there is no single right answer to your question. In general you need less reach or shorter focal lengths in Bostwana than in East Africa and 300mm might be enough on a crop body SLR (either a Nikon 1.5X or a Canon 1.6X). For these crop cameras you can multiply the crop factor (1.5 or 1.6) times the focal length of the lens to get the equivalent 35mm focal length. If you are interested in birds (and Im guessing you are interested but not commited to bird photography) then a 300mm lens on either one of these crop bodies will be enough. This is due in part to the ability to go off road in Bostwana and so get closer to your subjects than for example in Tanzania. If you are planning on a single camera and lens combination, look into an image stabilized zoom lens (Canon or Nikon or third party) and most important practice for several days before you go. Some people find it more cost effective to buy and resell a lens rather than rent. However, that can be a bit of a hassle and might not suit your way of doing things. Keep in ind that frequent lens changing on safari risks introducing dust which deposits on the sensor (not a good thing). Newer cameras have antidust systems but they are only partly effective. Last, plan on some method to stabilize your camera (bean bags work even on open Botswana vehicles). Try and shoot at shutter speeds equal to your lens focal length X the crop factor. In other words, if you are at 300mm on a 1.5 crop Nikon camera, use a shutter speed of at least 1/450 of a second. Whatever you choose practice around home before leaving, it's a lot harder to deal with for the first time when you are faced with exciting situations and the shooting conditions vary from moment to moment.
Chuck
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Dec 7th, 2008, 04:02 PM
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Chucks got it down. Wish he'd put up some of his photos on web site so we all could see them. I've seen a very few and they are simply outstanding.

Amy - of course I'm assuming you're actually talking about zoom lens? A 75-300 or similiar is great for safari. Along with a "shorter" zoom.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 04:55 PM
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I agree 100% with Chuck's recommendations, and also Tom's comments about Chuck not sharing his photos with the rest of us.

andybiggs is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 05:58 PM
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Tom & Andy thanks for your much too kind comments quot;> Coming from you both, they are flattering indeed. As you both know I have just recently aquired a high speed internet connection (I live in a rural part of the mid atlantic, on Chesapeake Bay). Since returning from our last safari I have spent all of my free time processing files and getting prints matted and framed. A website is in the future, I will work on it.
Regards-Chuck
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Dec 7th, 2008, 06:31 PM
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Chuck, if you need any help with a web site, email me. I have gone through this many many times, and have some experiences you could probably benefit from.
andybiggs is offline  
Dec 8th, 2008, 09:32 AM
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I would also like to see some Chuck pictures on the web! Get to work, Chuck!

In terms of focal length, my own view is that you have to decide what you are expecting to get in terms of photographs, and how much gear-carrying and lens-swapping you want to do, and let those things determine what you take. I would probably recommend a Canon 100-400 or the Nikon 80-400, and then a wider-angle lens for a 2-lens kit.

For a one-lens solution there are 18-200 lenses by Canon, Nikon and third-parties, and Tamron even makes an 18-270. These lenses are versatile and relatively small, but they give up some image quality in exchange for that.

Let me re-emphasize something Chuck said: whatever you take, practice with it first. Knowing what your gear will do in various situations is absolutely critical to getting good shots in the field. If you know your gear only works well in good light, for example, you won't waste time trying to take shots in deep shadows and you will concentrate on the areas where you can get the shot if it appears in that area. If you know your focal length works best within a certain distance, you will concentrate on subjects within that distance. Knowing what is possible and what isn't, and how to set the camera for various conditions, makes a big difference in results.

Good luck with your decision, and enjoy your trip. And Chuck, get those pictures up!

Chris
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Dec 8th, 2008, 11:17 AM
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Chuck and all
thank you for the detailed info (which i will relay to my husband, as i don't fully understand it, granted i have a horrible head cold i probably don't even fully understand that 2+2=4)
But the point about not switching lens too frequently due to dust - that i understand - and would not have thought of, as it has been awhile since i did the type of photography that had me switching lens in the midst of a "shoot"
and his camera is a Nikon D80
my husband will look into 3rd party lens prices he has in the past bought Tameron for his 35mm cameras
and yes i am talking Zoom
the bean bag sand bag idea i have heard, but is it worth shlepping a monopod???
and I will practice practice practice!!! ( another reason to perhaps buy rather than rent)
amycyma is offline  
Dec 9th, 2008, 01:05 AM
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Amy, although I have taken monopods on safari, I no longer bother. I find I can do much better with a lage bean bag (Safari Sack by Kinesis "http://kgear.com/") or a Ball Head on a Manfrotto Superclamp + Wimberely Sidekick for my really large lenses. The latter arrangement is overkill for what you will be using, but a Kinesis Safari Sack would be perfect. You can buy these unfilled and put rice or beans in when you get to Africa. In my opinion the bean bags some ground operators provide are way too small for anything but a point and shoot camera. When I fly between camps in Botswana, I return the rice or beans after each camp stay and refill at the next camp, it reduces weight. In East Africa I buy it at a local market upon arrival (approx. 8 lbs of rice). In East Africa you will be in a closed vehicle with a pop top. These vehicles make bean bag use very convenient since you stand up with your upper body through the top and can rest the bean bag + camera on the roof. The open vehicles typical of Botswana and South Africa, make it a bit more of a challenge. One additional thought, if someone comesalong and convinces you to take a monopod, be certain to get a quick release clam so that you can detach it quickly. With monopod attached you will be swinging a lethal weapon arround and you vehicle mates might get wacked.
Let us know what you end up with and have a great safari.
Chuck
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Dec 9th, 2008, 01:08 AM
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oops-should read "quick release clamp" not calm.
safarichuck is offline  
Dec 9th, 2008, 05:18 AM
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The Nikon D80 is a 1.5x crop body so with a 300mm lens yu should have the equivalent reach of a 450mm and that should be great.

In Botswana you often go on safari in open vehicles with roll bars. A bean bag is very useful and flexible for support suggest you tp look at http://www.vertexphoto.com/BeanBag.aspx you can take this bag empty and fill it with some rice or beans when you get to your destination.

If you want a more sophisticated support set up do look at the Manfrotto clamp with a wimberly sidekick combo http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/top...2086/0#3796022 however inho the bean bag can be equally effective, simpler to use and much cheaper too.

Have a great trip!

Mohammed is offline  
Dec 9th, 2008, 11:31 AM
  #13  
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thanks Chuck and Mohammed
i will start looking at the 300 zoom telephoto (rent or buy) and seems like i should forget the monopod, i will most likely hit someone with it. and go with the bean bag/rice options everyone seems to use.

ok now my next question is, given the dust factor you mentioned, should i take as a 2nd camera a small point and shoot for wide angle shots, then i don't have to take 2 lens, and won't have to worry about dust.
the point and shoot we have is a small but good camera (Nikon)
amycyma is offline  
Dec 9th, 2008, 11:45 AM
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amy,
Take the point and shoot as a back up and for those close up shots in the vehicle and your tent and camp. Some people are more interested in where you sleep than in the wildlife (go figure). My solution to the dust is simple and cheap. Get a waterproof pillowcase from Walmart ($7.00) and keep the camera and lens in it on your lap between sites. The waterproof pillowcases work really well and when it gets soiled you take it into the shower and by morning it is dry. I'm sure some monopod users are upset by my statements so just take it as a personal opinion, it just didn't work for me. One last thought, as you travel to a sighting, try and pre set your camera for the conditions you are most likely to encounter. If for example it is early morning, turn your ISO up and adjust your aperature accordingly. That way you will be ready as soon as your guide positions the vehicle.
Chuck
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Dec 9th, 2008, 12:13 PM
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chuck
thanks for the pillowcase idea, i like it better then the plastic bag others have mentioned. but now that i think of it i have just the thing, i got a new duvet, and it came in a plastic zippered thing, that should be perfect, ( which i hope i kept) and then i don't have to got to Walmart-but that is for a different forum.
and if anyone wants just to see the places i slept and the people in my vehicle, i am a snob, and will not bother to show them my photo, which of course doenst mean i won't take the pictures..
and thanks for the tip of presetting for the lighting conditions.
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