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Statefan Apr 24th, 2008 05:36 AM

YACT - Yet Another Camera Thread
My better half and I went shopping for a 2nd camera for our trip to Africa the other day because we currently own a P&S w/ 3.8x optical. We went in expecting to focus on the Canon S5 and the Sony H9, but after playing around with everything for a couple of hours, we kept coming back to the Nikon D80. As silly as it sounds, we love the "rapid fire" the dSLRs offer and might buy one just for that. Having said that, we understand the need to for education and practice if we go that route.

So, where I need help is deciding what lenses I would need to purchase versus what I should rent for Africa only.

For the most part, we take pictures of: our kids doing the usual stuff, sporting events, fmaily events and sightseeing during our annual vacation (typical sightseeing). What lenses would I need for these types of activities?

Do I need an additional lens for South Africa considering the recommendations above? I know you need a supertelephoto for East Africa, but was not sure for South Africa.

Thanks in advance.

lbodem Apr 24th, 2008 06:23 AM

I have a Nikon D70 and just bought the new D300 but I am by no means an expert. I will say that the Nikon 18-200 is a great lens and sounds like it would be perfect for what you described. It is a very versatile all around lens. For a longer telephoto you may consider the 70-300VR or the 80-400.

safarilover Apr 24th, 2008 06:56 AM

After owning one of the original Nikon D100s, I set out to buy a D200, but bought a D80 instead--smaller, lighter, and takes an SD card. I also purchased the 70-300VR lens after seeing the results a friend with a D40 got from it. It is great for safaris anywhere and definitely a superior lens. I am extremely happy with both camera and lens.

cary999 Apr 24th, 2008 08:00 AM

I have Nikon D200 and D40X bodies. Did you look at the D40X, now the D60? It is bit smaller than the D80. Both have the same "rapid fire" rate (I think) of 3 frames per second. The thing I love about DSLRs is the large bright optical viewfinder. (I grew up with 35mm SLRs).

As for lenses, the Nikon 18-200mm zoom is a decent all round very versatile lens (I have it also). However on safari a bit "longer" lens is usually good so I have a 70-300mm lens. It is the lens I use 80% of the time on safari. But the 18-200mm works for safari and I used only it on safari in 2006. Also, in May I'm going on a Mediterranean cruise and the only camera I'm taking is the D40X and the 18-200mm lens. The D200 and 70-300mm stays home.
Canon makes comparable DSLRs and you might check those out also to see which one you like best. (It's the Indian, not the arrows that make the difference).

regards - tom

Chris_GA_Atl Apr 24th, 2008 08:34 AM

One thing missing here is a discussion of the budget and goals involved. It's hard to recommend lenses without knowing a budget, as well as a person's desire/willingness to carry a lot of gear. But doing my best to infer that from the post, I would recommend a 2-lens kit consisting of the Nikon 18-70 (for wide angle landscapes, people shots, etc.) and the Nikon 80-400VR (for wildlife and daytime outdoor sporting events). I think this would cover a large variety of shooting situations and keep the expense and weight of the gear down to a reasonable level. I don't generally recommend the 18-200 because the extreme zoom range results in compromises in image quality, but if that isn't a big concern it is a really handy a flexible lens to have.

If you had a larger budget and the willingness to haul around a much larger and heavier lens for your safari, I would recommend the Nikon 200-400/4VR and a 1.4x teleconverter. New, it costs about $5,000 and weighs 7 pounds, but the image quality is really excellent and it has a very useful zoom range for safari photography, and can be used with a 1.4x teleconverter to get even more reach. I have several friends that use this lens and they produce excellent quality images with it. So if you wanted to rent a lens just for the safari, that would be the one I would recommend, with the huge caveat that you need to think about carrying it around and then supporting it while you shoot, because it is too heavy for most people to handhold for very long and will require a larger camera bag than anything else that has been discussed on this thread. If Canon made a lens like this I would buy it in a heartbeat.

Anyway, Statefan, if you could give us some more indication of your budget and other preferences we can probably refine our recommendations a bit more, but I am betting the 18-70+80-400 kit is the right mix for you.


lbodem Apr 24th, 2008 08:49 AM

I second Chris_GA_Atl recommedations. I purchased the 80-400 when I bought the D300 and I really love it. I was concerned that it was "older" technology since it has been out for a while but I think it is an excellent lens. The 200-400 is too expensive and too heavy for me but it is indeed the ultimate safari lens.

Statefan Apr 24th, 2008 09:24 AM

Thanks for the replies. I don't want to sink too much into this to start so I do want to keep it to 2 lenses.

The guy at Wolf (Ritz) recommended either a 18x55mm or a 18x135mm for everyday use (cannot remember which). Chris - I just did a quick search and could not find any 18x70 lenses for Nikon. All I got was binocs?

Heading into this thread, my thought was to buy one of the above plus either a 18x200 or the 70x300.

If I bought the 18x200, I would probably rent the 80x400. If my search is correct, the 80x400 is $1700 and I am not going to spend that much on a lens - at least not yet.

Chris_GA_Atl Apr 24th, 2008 09:44 AM

First, you will save yourself a great deal of money if you buy your camera and lenses from a reputable online merchant like B&H Photo & Video or Adorama. I have bought many thousands of dollars of stuff from B&H and their service is impeccable, as is their reputation among serious photographers.

Second, here is the 18-70 lens I was talking about:

It costs $329 at B&H.

Based on that you said, I really think that one of the 18-xx lenses and the 70-300 are a better choice. The 18-200 is a "one lens" solution that will overlap substantially with any 18-xx lens you get, so that seems redundant to me and leaves you with less focal length on the long end. If you went with 18-70 and 70-300, then you don't have any overlap and have two lenses that compliment one another and neither one will break the bank. The 18-135 is a good alternative as well.

The 80-400 costs $1429 at B&H, but is a popular rental lens so I am sure you can rent that for your trip. Be sure to rent it and take some shots with it before you go to get used to it, though.


Statefan Apr 25th, 2008 05:46 AM

Chris - I think you have me pegged in terms of what I want to spend.

My local Wolf (aka Ritz) is having a sale so the package deals are exactly the same as those at B&H and Adorama plus I get to go to their local classes for free.

So, putting aside the 70-300VR for a second, my choices are:

Body + 18-55VR for $900


pay $100 more for the 18-135


pay $150 more for the 18-70

I get the impression I should not go for the 18-55VR. So, how do the 18-70 and 18-135 compare? What should I be considering ihn making that decision?

Thanks a lot for all of the advice!

Chris_GA_Atl Apr 25th, 2008 08:14 AM

I cannot assist you with that decision, since I use Canon gear. But go to this web site where a reviewer compares the 18-55, 18-70, 18-135 and 18-200 all as part of the same test. That will give you some pros and cons of the various choices. Reading his comments, I would go for the 18-70 as first choice and 18-135 second.

Also, another really useful site is, which has objective review of lots of Nikon and Canon lenses, including the ones you are considering.

I would say read some reviews of the lenses and see which qualities they have and how important those are to you versus the price.


Cheweyhead Apr 25th, 2008 08:31 AM

sorry to hijack the link for a post.

Do you have the Canon 16-35 f2/8 II. I am thinking about renting/buying one of these for our Alaska trip this June.
Have you hiked to the gorillas in Uganda?


lbodem Apr 25th, 2008 09:24 AM

One other excellent source of information about Nikon cameras and lenses is

Chris_GA_Atl Apr 25th, 2008 09:34 AM

Chewey, no I do not have the 16-35, for our wide angle needs for our next trip we are going to take a 24-105 and and Tokina 12-24, both of which I plan to buy this summer. (We havea 17-85 now which is OK but I want something better). I don't even know anyone who has a 16-35, although from what I read it is a really great lens.

I have gone gorilla trekking in Uganda, both from Buhoma and Nkuringo, in January 2007. If you want to talk about that, or anything else, just email me at chrisgts(at)gmail(dot)com.


isabel25 Apr 25th, 2008 09:47 AM

I remember seeing a post about a great place to buy used Canon lenses, but I can't find it now. Does anyone have a recommendation for a source for used lenses?

chris45ny Jun 27th, 2008 03:17 PM

Isabel-info on rental sites for lenses,etc.

I have a Canon Rebel XTI and am torn about buying vs. renting due to cost. The lens 100-400 for Canon can be rented for about $200 month-also have weekly rates-or can buy same lens brand new for about $1400. Big difference!

Hope this helps.

chris45ny Jun 27th, 2008 03:19 PM

Isabel-forgot to add this for buying used lenses. Can check out or I don't know of any other sites for used lenses. Sorry.

cary999 Jun 27th, 2008 03:31 PM

I've read good things on dpreview about for used lenses. But I have no experience with them.

regards - tom

sundowner Jun 27th, 2008 04:32 PM

I have bought several used lenses from Allen's Camera in Pennsylvania (just google it). You can trust his description to be accurate. Used cameras, too.

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