Video Camera On Safari? Yes or No?

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Feb 18th, 2005, 08:11 AM
  #1
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Video Camera On Safari? Yes or No?

Okay, with the overwhelming responses that there have been with the camera question, I am also wondering about a video camera.

I do not own a video camera and I never have owned a video camera. I do, however, think it would be kind of neat to film some of the safari, but then I start thinking that it will be kind of cheesy to do so.

For those who have gone the video camera route (in addition to your cameras), do you treasure the videos you have taken, watching them over and over again, or do the tapes go unwatched in the video camera or with all the other videotapes you do not watch?

Now, for the next question, how much would one have to spend on a really good video camera that is user friendly, high quality, good battery life, good zoom, etc.?

Should I elect to go with a $1,500 camera instead of a $3,500 camera, then I may want to also consider a video camera, although it does seem like a lot of juggling around to be doing, considering that my wife will probably skip half the game activities and instead become a Zambian for our time on safari, hanging out with the staff half of the time. That is her biggest kick on these trips is really getting to know the people.

Anyway, please advise. Thanks.
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Feb 18th, 2005, 08:28 AM
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I'll leave the recommendations to the experts and just put in my two cents about vidcams.

We were deadset against video cameras until we went to Alaska in 2001. It was one of the best decisions we made for that trip and subsequent trips.

I can't imagine going to Africa and not taking a video camera. Pictures are great ... I do the still photography in the family. But the videos capture sounds and actions that still cameras can't. (We have nine hours worth of video from our safari to prove it!)

We have invested in video editing software and have been steadily making a dent into the hours of videos we have shot in the past 4 years. Haven't gotten as far as our Africa footage from last year yet - but that doesn't stop us from popping in a tape of our raw footage every once in a while to relive our brief time on safari.
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Feb 18th, 2005, 08:33 AM
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eenusa,

Thanks.

I am also wondering in what sort of circumstances the video camera is chosen over the camera? Because I will likely need to be handling both about half the time, I do not want to miss any quality still photographs.
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Feb 18th, 2005, 08:51 AM
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Have you considered choosing a digital camera with a decent video option?

We're also afraid of the cheesiness of a video camera (and the extra weight/bulk). We figure that the digital camera with the video option will be adequate - especially for capturing a few charming moments and some sounds of the bush.
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Feb 18th, 2005, 10:02 AM
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I have a digital8 hanfycam sony 20x optical zoom. It is bulkier as it records on tapes - I needed a camera to play my old 8mm tapes from a revious camera that died. It is very easy now to tranfer from camcorder to DVD using a computer. You can even put digital still photos on the DVD. I planning on using both camcorder and digital still photos on safari this June.
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Feb 18th, 2005, 10:45 AM
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We initially resisted the idea of bringing a video camera on our safari too, having never used one on any of our previous vacations. We are so glad that we changed our minds and now can't imagine not bringing one on future safaris. There's nothing quite like watching moving images with all of the sounds to make us feel like we are right there again. We have about 4 hours of footage and have watched it twice (soon to be 3 this weekend) since returning home last week.

We're still in the process of transferring the raw footage to DVD. We just purchased editing software, a DVD burner, etc. before our trip so the final edited version will probably take much longer as we try to figure out how to use everything.

The video camera we used is pretty inexpensive but does have 22x optical zoom and is easy to use. We got a second extended battery for it so that we wouldn't run out in the middle of a game drive. It took some practice to hold it steady with the optical zoom fully extended.

One of us would use the still camera and the other would take video on each game drive so it made it easier not to have to switch. But even if traveling by myself, I would still bring it. We didn't just use it on the games drives either. We took a lot of video just at camp capturing the early morning and evening sounds and also of sunrises and sunsets.

We probably wouldn't bring a video camera on other types of vacations but on safari, it's now a must for us!
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Feb 18th, 2005, 11:22 AM
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I am not an expert on video cameras Have never owned one. However, I am still going to put in my 2 cents worth. While on safari recently, I found it very annoying when a video camera user would spoil the peace and quiet as the rest of us sat in silence enjoying the view. I am sure you would have wonderful memories on tape..but I always wonder..did you not enjoy in the full sense that initial experience?
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Feb 18th, 2005, 11:28 AM
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Mincepie,

You bring up a wonderful point.

Thanks for all the feedback so far.
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Feb 18th, 2005, 11:40 AM
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How should I take that response Roccco??
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Feb 18th, 2005, 11:41 AM
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Sorry Roccco..I am in a bad mood..ignore please.
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Feb 18th, 2005, 12:39 PM
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I'm not sure why someone videoing the scene would be any more annoying than someone photographing it... it's all down to the consideration shown in both cases.

I've been on trips where a stills photographer has constantly been asking his wife for this lens or that accessory or demanding that someone move out of his way to give him a clean shot (and then taking forever to take the image whilst the poor unfortunate gets cramp hunching out of his way).

In most cases photographers show consideration and accept that they will have a great view at some sightings and a less great view at others. Where people are considerate with each other, everyone gets the image they want.

We have taken a video camera with us on safari (though not yet edited the footage down, which we really need to do) and I think it's less intrusive than a regular camera, with it's click click click of the shutter.

That said, some video takers insist on providing a running commentary and that can be annoying. I'd rather they just ask the guide a question and record his response OR add their voiceover when they get home.

Bottom line - it's not the equipment that's annoying - it's the person using it.

As for whether I think it's worthwhile to bring one - I do. I love good stills but video captures something different - the movements of the animals, the sounds, the story. Both are good in different ways.
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Feb 18th, 2005, 01:14 PM
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Mincepie,
I'm not sure what you mean when you say video camera users spoil the peace and quiet as still cameras make just as much, if not more, noise. Could you elaborate?
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Feb 18th, 2005, 08:08 PM
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My two cents: careful not to spend your entire adventure looking through a lens - of any kind. I have all kinds of cameras, I love photography, but I limit myself to just one type per trip. On the other hand, maybe your significant other could use the video cam. For me, the use of still (digital) photography is enough. Showing my friends and family incredible photos (on-line or framed enlargements) is much more rewarding to me than trying to fast forward to the "really cool stuff" on video - boring. But,to each his own. Enjoy.
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Feb 18th, 2005, 10:52 PM
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Hi Patty. The reason I have found most video camera users annoying is that they give a running commentary!
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Feb 19th, 2005, 04:07 AM
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Adrenaline Boy, I agree fully that it's important not to get so caught up in shooting footage that you don't enjoy the experience fully at the time. My husband is the video operator but he's also into stills and just shoots limited bursts on the video to capture movements, sounds and environment.

As for fast forwarding through to the good bits - the ideal would be to spend some time editing the total footage down into less than an hour (preferably much less) of the best stuff.
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Feb 19th, 2005, 08:15 AM
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Mincepie,
In that case, I agree that it would be highly annoying! I personally don't understand why anyone would want to do that. Most of the time I tried to be completely silent so as to capture as much of the natural sounds as possible. Did occasionally get some back and forth dialogue with our guide in there.
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Feb 19th, 2005, 08:34 AM
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Patty, we're with you. We never put any commentary on our videos of safaris (or anything else) as we know we'll recognise where the footage was taken anyway and it's the sound and movements we want to capture, not our own voices.

Occasionally, I'll not realise my husband is videoing and we'll capture me asking the guide a question and his response to it which is a nice record too.
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Feb 19th, 2005, 01:42 PM
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Hi Roccco, take the video cam : )!
My firts 3 trips I just had my pentax slr and my older point and shoot pentax for the simple basic stuff. People always asked did you take any video? You should try it ect. As it turned out my buddy at work let me use his for this past sept. I used it at home first of course. I had no idea how it would all turn out. As far as the battery, using both ect.
I always had both around my neck. Even on the game walks!! All I can suggest is. Go with the flow. You will know when to use the snap or video. Just go with that moment. I am very glad I brought it. I for one take over 100 pics a day.
Easy.
As far as commentary , people talking.
Mixed bag I guess. I don't mind having gab on the tape. I for some reason didn't want my voice on the tape. But I wanted my drivers, other drivers near by ect. My mom and sister saw one of the ruaha tapes. Now they want some words being thrown around. I suppose if you whisper, those cams pick up just about everything. That should be good commentary. You won't bug anyone else, people at home know what the heck is going on, the whisper- could add a little drama to it.
I went out and bought a canon zr80. I wasn't planning on making a job or something out of it. I wasn't about to go and blow a ton of money. Not needed.
Even my friends 3yr old samsung was fine.
Hope you take one, or try to borrow one.
Oh the battery, I had one of those adapters for the truck. For charging on the go. The camps in So. Tanz, they had power in the eve. So I charged then. Hope this helps, david
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Feb 20th, 2005, 06:03 PM
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Roccco,
My wife and I took a video cam to the Okavango five years ago and it worked out pretty well. You don't have to worry with interchangeable lens; just make sure you've got charged batteries and you're set. We saw an elephant stripping the limbs and bark off a tree. The photos are good but the video is amazing; on the video you can hear every noise and see how the elephant is moving the branches to pull them off.
We filmed about six hours of video that I edited down to just over an hour.
Also my wife posts on this board as mpkp; thanks for the advice on our upcoming Zambia trip.
Mike
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Feb 25th, 2005, 08:31 PM
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Rocco, I brought a video camera on my safari a couple of years ago. At the time it was state-of-the-art DVcam used by the BBC. I just tonight checked in here after a long rest so I don't know when you're leaving. But if you can wait until after April, new cameras will be announced at NAB (a tech show). If you're leaving before then, the Panasonic 100 is one of the most popular DV cameras in the pro-sumer group (around $3300-3700) and can do 24P which gives a more filmic look. It also has a resale life if you decide you want to sell it after your safari. These cameras get outdated about every 3 years (roughly). Then you can edit on your computer, easiest with a Mac but possible on a PC. I'm making it sound easy, it will take some patience. If you get fed up you can always hire a student to edit it.

Once you have edited footage, you won't watch it over and over but you'll watch it with friends and family, and convince them to try a safari too.

Try to bring a small, light tripod or bean bag to steady the camera as the shaking is the worst part. Learn slow slow pans and try not to move the camera any more than you must. Commentary is dumb - it's better to have the real sounds of the snorting lions and the birds and maybe your guide talking. It's best to be as silent as possible to let Africa speak to the camera. You can always add in a commentary later in the edit or do it live.
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