Camera Gear

Hi,
Going on SA Elegant Adventure - what kind of camera equipment are you taking? Camera body, lenses?

«1

Comments

  • You might want to check out the archives for this tour and the other two African Tours (K&T Classic Safari, and Zambia, Botswana and South Africa). This topic has been discussed at length. It also depends on what you consider your photographic experience and the type of gear you own. The archive posts will give you an idea of what others have taken and help you refine and focus your question.

  • AlanS, thanks. I actually did look at the archives, just wanted to get a more current view on what others are taking with them. I looked under Camera Gear, Photography, what others can you suggest? Thanks!

  • On this trip I took a Sony A7RII body with two lens. A 24-70mm, and 70-200mm with a 2x multiplier. I used the 24-70mm mostly when not on safari and the other while on safari. You will love this adventure.

  • edited November 11

    JTGoldstein25, 7:49AM, AlanS, thanks. I actually did look at the archives, just wanted to get a more current view on what others are taking with them. I looked under Camera Gear, Photography, what others can you suggest? Thanks!

    You can search the applicable forums using common camera and photography terms, or just scan the subject lines in each archive (see right margin). (Don't forget about Google- "best camera to take on a safari") But again, without knowing your photo interests, skills, goals, equipment (or how much you are willing to spend on camera and gear), etc. it is hard to make a recommendation, e.g. will you be doing post processing, will you be enlarging and printing photos, or will you just be sharing on social media. You'll get detailed suggestions like Ed's, but also ones saying all you need is a cell phone! Some people load up on gear- multiple bodies, multiple lenses, etc. The archive posts will also often discuss potential downsides to various approaches, like the danger of swapping lenses in a likely very dusty environment or a bouncing safari vehicle, total lack of space and time to set up and use a tripod, luggage weight and size issues with a camera bag full of gear and maybe a bean bag, etc., etc. All these topics have been discussed in previous threads. You'll also see discussions of the dangers of missing the big picture if you spend all your time looking through a view finder as well as the excellent suggestion that, whatever you take, you need to be comfortable with and really know how to use it- some of the greatest photographic opportunities can be fleeting- spend more that a second or two messing with a camera setting, and the opportunity is gone.

    Personally, I take a middle ground- a mid-grade Canon DSLR with an after-market 16 - 300mm Tamron lens. That gives me good wide angle (16mm) yet almost the max telephoto (300mm) usable without some sort of camera/lens stabilization, but again, this info is in the archives.

  • My wife and I recently were on the September 25th K&T trip. I brought two Canon camera bodies, one with a 24mm to 105mm f4 stabilized lens, and the other with a 70mm to 200mm f2.8 stabilized lens. Also had a 1.4x and 2.0x to use with the 70 to 200. The two bodies were used to avoid changing lenses during the dusty parts of the safaris, which occurred quite a bit. I had UV filters on both lenses to protect the front lens element. I also had the 1.4 extender with the 70-200 (ie: 98 - 280) on the second body most of the time and sometimes stacked the 2x extender with it which gave me a range of 196mm to 560mm when I needed it. I never felt that I needed more than this because we were always fairly close to the wildlife. However, the Zoom capability was definitely a must.

    Below is a link to a youtube video slideshow of some of my favorite shots and videos using the above equipment.

  • I’ll be really interested in the Photo equipment that I see on my return to K and T next month. On my recent China tour, I met a guy who has a degree in photography but he now just takes his cell phone for photo taking. On another travel website, I follow a woman who takes amazing photos, she loves to take street photography. Her most recent ones were with a new iPhone, they were wonderful. I’m wondering how many others will ditch a traditional camera.
    I’m taking my camera, but this time I may take my iPhone along, although I will be very cautious if I take it out since I’ve seen phones dropped right by wild animals more than once. Then it’s goodbye phone.
    Peter, your photos are very good but I challenge that they could be taken equally as well with a much simpler camera since mostly we are able to get right next to the wildlife on safari.

  • The wife and I are doing this trip over the holidays and I think after doing a good bit of reading we're going to keep it pretty simple. I have a Sony A6500 with a Sony - 35mm f/1.8 Prime lens for portraits and around town and a Sony SELP18105G E PZ 18-105mm F4 G OSS for out on safari. I'm an average photographer at best but I've been working for a couple of months on changing settings quickly and setting up some of the customizable buttons for likely scenarios. She'll likely user her iPhone and I expect I'll use mine a fair amount. They do take really good pictures.

  • edited November 13

    Someone once said that the best camera is the one you have with you. From that point of view, cell phones are great, because most people have them with them all the time. And there are pros that do whole series of photos with cell phones that are gallery worthy. That being said the difference in image quality between a cell phone and a good camera can be dramatic. A DSLR gives the educated shooter so much more creative control over the image than a cell phone. You are very limited on cell phones with regard to controlling shutter speed, depth of field, focusing and iso, if you can control them at all. Learning to control those elements creatively can change a shot from OK to wow. While some cell phones overcome this to an extent with multiple lenses and software tricks, there's only so much you can do with a simple tiny lens and tiny sensor. And those tiny sensors just can't perform in low light. Plus, because cell phones don't have a viewfinder, they are hard to hold steady and it can be hard to frame the composition. Also, with most cell phones, the zoom function is a digital crop, rather than an optical zoom. That means when you zoom in you are throwing away much of the resolution of the sensor. So if you try to blow up those pictures, they will look awful.

    I'm not saying that everyone should go out and buy a DSLR. I always get a chuckle out of people I see on tour with an expensive DSLR that they don't even know how to hold properly and never take out of full auto mode (total waste of a good camera).

    As you learn about photography, you also learn to view photos with a more critical eye. For example, if you're taking a portrait of an animal (or a person for that matter) it is important that the eyes be in tack sharp focus. That's hard to do with a cell phone, but relatively easy with a DSLR. Where you might look at a photo and say "nice lion picture", I might say the eyes are too soft.

    Anyway, I think the best cameras for the casual photographer on safari are the superzooms or bridge cameras. The can zoom in close without loosing resolution (not all animals are that close) and are fairly reasonable in price. They also have a viewfinder, which allows you to better frame the subject and make holding the camera steady easier. But for people with the knowledge and the money, nothing beats a good DSLR with the right lens.

    Anyway, people should choose a camera based on their desire to learn about photography. If you don't have the desire to learn, a cell phone or a point and shoot camera are the right choice. But educated shooters with a good camera can take photos that you couldn't come close to matching with a cell phone.

  • Another item to consider- since you loose picture quality any time you use digital zoom (on any camera), you might consider an add-on lens adapter for your phone. A friend on our last trip (Botswana) used one on her iPhone most of the time and got some incredible photos. I think the adapter was similar the one pictured below. I believe it was a protective case equipped with a small wheel holding 3 add-on lenses. To change lens she just rotated the ring until desired lens was over the main phone lens. Sorry, but I do not know the name, cost, or specs of the lenses. Quick Google and Amazon searches yielded many brands and styles, most at very reasonable prices.

  • edited November 14

    To answer the challenge British stated in her post, it is true that some of the photos taken with a good cell phone or simpler camera can match a good DSLR. However, there are many situations you can encounter on safari that require the capabilities of a good DSLR, quality optics, and ability to know how to use them to produce exceptional results. Ken from Vegas did a good job of explaining the reasons for this.

  • To PeterU. We watched your slideshow last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing it on the Tauck Community Forum.

  • To AshvEd. Thanks, glad you enjoyed the slideshow. The K & T trip was a wonderful experience.

  • We recently returned from our Tauck African Trip to Zambia, Botswana and South Africa. It was a great trip! I thought I would give my perspective of photography on this trip while it is fresh on my mind. I consider myself a serious amateur photographer. I have shot with DSLRs for years now starting with the Canon 10D, then the 5D, 5D MK II and the 5D MK III. I own about a dozen lens give or take and numerous Canon Accessories. I bought my wife a Canon Rebel T7i for Christmas. She is not a technical photographer but has a good eye.
    The equipment we took on this trip was the 5D MK III, a 100-400IS L II, a 24-105L, a 35IS prime and an 85 1.8 prime as well as external flash. For Cathy we took the T7i, a 28-135 and the 18-55. The only lens not used on this trip was the 18-55. For the game drives, I had the 100-400 on my camera and Cathy used the 28-135 (45-216 equivalent). Shooting dual cameras worked out well for us. Between us, we took close to 5,000 pictures.

    My first surprising observation was that I was the only one using a DSLR in our group. Many were shooting with small point and shoot cameras. Several were only using their phones. One person had a higher end bridge camera. I wanted to document this trip as well as I could. I expected it to be a photography heaven and it did not disappoint.
    To say I was happy with the 100-400 would be a big understatement. The sharpness, color rendering and quick focusing of this lens is incredible. I seldom wished for more than 400 on the far end. The guides got us closer to the wildlife than I expected. I did take a 1.4 extender, but never used it.

    It is very dusty when you are out in the safari vehicles. Changing lens in the dusty environment is not a good idea. We put the lens of choice on for the day and did not change. Also, we kept our cameras covered when we were not using them. We used the blankets that were provided for the morning coolness. The ATV drive was nothing but a dust bowl, so we took extra precautions to keep the camera out of the dust.

    I used the 24-105 when I knew we were taking excursions that would not require a telephoto lens. The 35 2.0 IS was primarily used for low light situations such as a group dinner, photos of our rooms, etc. The 85 1.8 was used for a few portraits. Cathy exclusively used the 28-135.

    We also took our laptop on the trip and downloaded our pictures every night. I took two 64 GB memories for my camera and two for Cathy’s. We never used the second memory. We also took a spare battery for each camera but never needed them as we were able to recharge our batteries as needed. We took an external hard drive to back up the computer in case of a crash. So, we were ready for most disasters, but luckily did not need our back-ups. I shot all Raw shots and Cathy shot jpg. Probably if I had it to do over, I would have had Cathy also shoot RAW. This allowed for quick tweaks on the pictures in Camera RAW as I downloaded them.

    I was very pleased with our choices in equipment to take and am very pleased with our pictures. We are still sorting through the pictures deciding what we want to print and what size to print. This was a very photography ripe trip. I do not understand people trying to document a trip of this magnitude using a phone, but we are all different and have varying goals.

  • Just wondering if 'cathyandsteve' could describe the amount of space and weight in their luggage/carry-ons that was committed to photography equipment and accessories, including the PCs. It seems like you were equipped as well as a small photography laboratory. You certainly were prepared.

  • edited November 15

    We each carried a suitcase weighing less than 50 pounds which included our duffel bags and we each carried a camera bag and a back pack. The backpacks had the laptop and the binoculars and paperwork. The Camera bags carried the equipment described above. We flew premium coach.

    In Botswana, we each had to repack into the duffel bags and send our suitcases into storage also sending the clothing and toiletries and shoes we would not need in Botswana. I do not know the exact weight of the duffel bags since they were not weighed in our sight. We also carried the back packs and camera bags. Each small plane had an area in the back of the plane to place the back packs and camera bags. There were no issues.

    When we arrived in Maun, we gathered our suitcases and had to repack everything back into the original suitcases, back packs and camera bags and the bags were weighed and were approved for the flight to Cape Town.

    There was only one laptop and I would certainly not call it a photography lab. It did not appear that we had more than the other 20 people on the same tour with the exception of one couple who had carry ons only for the entire trip.

  • Cathy and Steve did not stick to the 44 pound guideline that Tauck asks. They have said this before. It’s not really that luggage didn’t get weighed, it’s about consideration of local people working for Tauck having to lug really heavy cases around. Yes, I know the airlines say 50 pound In most cases, but it is not what Tauck asks of us. As I pay the same as everyone else, I would like to think that we all equally keep to the rules, like we do not using our cell phones to talk while on the bus and adhere to seat rotation and things like that which make Tauck a superior company to travel with compared to much of the competition.

  • This is Steve. I do not know what British is talking about. We very clearly followed the rules. Our bags for the aircraft weighed under 50 pounds each, if I recall about 46 pounds. Our duffel bags were not weighed in front of us, but, I doubt they were over 40 pounds each as we sent well over 10 pounds per bag on to Maun. So, please do not assume you know what we did. We were well within the limits and had no issues at any of the locations.

  • Don’t want to labor this anymore but Tauck ask you to have a 44 pound limit on your checked bags.

  • Ken from Vegas, I read and learned from a few of your older posts on another thread before going on the K&T tour in October. We purchased a bridge camera you had mentioned (the Sony RX10 IV) in time to get some practice in before we left, and we shot in RAW + JPEG. I'm a very amateur photographer but knew I wanted to make the best I could of the incredible opportunities the K&T safari provided. The camera was everything I had hoped and I'm very pleased with it. Now, further following your sage advice, I've purchased Adobe Lightroom (Classic) and am currently completing a course on CreativeLive's website to learn all of Lightroom's features before tackling the processing on my RAW images. I'm not sure how my finished photos would look to your educated eye, but even my untouched JPEGs have me smiling from ear to ear. As I work in Lightroom, I'll be sure to watch for tack-sharp focus on the eyes ;) I can't thank you enough for your advice and for your willingness to share your knowledge on this forum!

  • Miguelado - good choice with the rx10iv. Ive had one for about a year and use it for everything except street photography. My other cameras are getting jealous. 😁

  • miguelado-
    Thanks for your kind words. I am so happy you are pleased with your camera. Good luck with Lightroom. I think you will be amazed at the difference it makes, but it is definitely a skill that takes some practice. You'll find that starting with the RAW image, you'll want to add a little contrast, vibrance and clarity to most images (+5 to 10 on the contrast and vibrance sliders and +15 to 20 on the clarity). That's the kind of processing that most cameras do to get to the JPEG.

  • cathyandsteve, thanks so much for your in depth response. Did you have to use a monopod for your 100-400mm lens? Was it easy/hard to hold it steady in the jeep?

  • edited November 16

    We did not take a monopod. The lens is heavy but we managed also the lens we used were image stabilized. As I said in another thread...it is very hard to take pictures in a moving vehicle...it is bumpy and dusty...but the guides were wonderful to stop when they spotted an animal and they also got as close as they could. Every guide/driver we had was wonderful.

  • The rule of thumb on handholding long lenses is to choose a shutter speed faster than the inverse of the length of the lens. So if you're shooting at 400mm you would want to shoot at 1/400th or faster. This rule is for full frame cameras. If you are using a crop frame sensor (if you don't know what type you have it's probably a crop frame), you would need to multiply focal length by the crop factor (1.5 for Nikon, 1.6 for Canon). So a 400mm lens on a Canon would need a shutter speed of 1/640th or faster. This ignores any image stabilization. If your lens provides 2 stops, you can (in theory) reduce the shutter speed by half for each stop (so 1/160th). This assumes that you are in a good holding stance (arms into the body and on stable ground). On safari, I used the rule of thumb and let the extra stops of the image stabilization compensate for the engine vibration and people jostling about in the vehicle.

  • Ken from Vegas,
    Thanks for the info on RAW to JPEG adjustments cameras make to contrast, vibrance, and clarity. I have only four more chapters of the 20 chapter Ben Willmore course to complete before beginning my work in Lightroom. Don't want to hijack this thread, but my next trip is a northern lights cruise in late January along the coast of Norway. I would love to hear any suggestions you might have on capturing the lights (if we're lucky enough to see them).

  • edited November 17

    Haven't photographed the aurora borealis myself, but looking around on the web I found a little info. You will need a good sturdy tripod (maybe a small table top one if you don't want to carry a full sized tripod). Shoot in manual mode with your lens wide open or close to wide open. Probably zoom to the normal to wide range. Your light meter is worthless in this case. Choose an ISO in the 100 to 400 range. Exposure times will be in the 15 to 30 second range. Use a remote shutter release, if your camera will handle this, or use the self timer (to lessen camera shake when your push the button). The light from the aurora will vary rapidly and the exposure is pure guesswork, so it may take a number of tries. If you were using a DSLR, I would say to put a lens hood on, but that obviously isn't an option. If you're in an area with street lights or other manmade light around, it will be very hard to do this shot, so try to find a dark area with a clear view of the ski and nothing in the foreground. Don't forget warm clothes and a small flashlight. I have some gloves with finger tips that fold back so that you can operate your camera. They are made by Freehands and available at Adorama.com (and probably elsewhere). Good luck.

  • Ken from Vegas, once again, thanks for your advice. I do have an old Canon EOS 30 and Canon EFS 17-55mm lens with image stabilization, as well as a lens hood, that I had considered taking as well. Tripods are supposed to be provided by the guides we've booked to chase the lights, but I'd rather err on the side of caution and bring one I know to be sturdy--your table top suggestion is great, and one I had not thought of. We scheduled the trip for a time with minimal moonlight, and the guides will try to optimize our chances by finding areas of clear, dark skies. I'd planned on buying a remote shutter release for the Sony from Adorama at some point, so I'll order one for the Canon as well and add on a pair of the Freehands gloves. There are several shutter release models available for the Sony, and although the bells and whistles are tempting, I'm a bit skeptical of the ability of some of the more sophisticated ones to operate well for me in the cold conditions. I'll probably go with one of the most basic models. I've ordered extra batteries in anticipation of the cold temperatures as well.
    Since the ship is always moving at least a bit, I'm thinking of trying one of the Iphone apps solely for any middle of the night wake-up announcements to grab your coat and camera that the crew makes when the lights are sighted from the bridge. It won't be ideal, but possibly better than missing a fleeting opportunity entirely.
    Thanks again--as always, your advice is spot-on!

  • miguelado - Good luck. I don't think you can photograph the lights well from a ship. Remember to always shut off your image stabilization when you mount your camera on a tripod. Surprising as it may be, image stabilization actual works against you when you are using a tripod.

  • Ken from Vegas--I did not know that about image stabilization. Thank you once again.

  • An extract from the South Africa: An Elegant Adventure website.

Sign In or Register to comment.