Camera Gear

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

  • This is Steve. Sam that is also my recollection.

    Back to photography and the original question. What you take mainly depends on how serious you are about photography. I would not buy a new camera and take it without considerable practice. I found many of the best answers on what cameras/lens to take on the various photo sites on the web. I am a serious amateur so photography and good equipment was important to me. I already answered what I took and plan to take the same kit to Australia in February.

    I did not put my photo equipment in our checked luggage with the exception of the tripod which weighs 5 pounds and I broke it down to two parts putting half of it in each checked bag. My camera bag with all listed equipment weighed 12.5 pounds and counted as my carry on. Our laptop weighs 4.5 pounds and was in a backpack with binoculars and a few other things weighing probably around 10 pounds. The laptop is small but powerful, a Dell XPS 15 with a 4 TB SSD with the complete Adobe Photography Package loaded on it. We also have approximately 2 TB of photos.

    The 100-400 seems to be the lens of choice on most photo sites for trips to Africa, The Canon 100-400L IS II has a four stop advantage. If you have a steady hand, you can easily get a sharp picture at 1/100.

    We also print large pictures. We printed 5, 20x30 photos, 3 11x14s, a 13x19 and 15 8x10s as well as several smaller prints. So, you need to determine if you will be printing or just sharing photos on the web.

    There are no wrong answers on what to take. It is just a matter of priorities and your comfort level with cameras.

  • This subject has been discussed rather exhaustively, but, one might note that the technology in photography is changing so fast that it is possible to bring less and less equipment -- one can capture some excellent images with the latest cell phone technology. That being said,
    1. One has to know what level of skill, what level of interest, what level of bother one is willing to endure on a trip, and what your goals in creating images are. Like Steve, I am a fairly serious amateur, and was fortunate enough to have one of my KT photos published in a two page spread in an international photography magazine. You can view my Africa Collection here: https://imagesfromthequirkyeye.smugmug.com/AFRICA/
    2. You can tailor the amount of gear you bring to the particular trip. For Africa, I used a whopping 840mm equivalent lens to get the above photo, "Leopard In A Tree." But for India and Australia, I was content with a 24-200mm equivalent, plus a portrait lens.
    3. Tauck guests are wonderful. I mentioned that I would share my images with them on the Africa trip, and they went out of their way to ask if I wanted a particular position in the vehicle, etc., but I usually declined. If you are facile with your gear, you'll get enough good shots.
    4. Irregardless, if you're going to use semi-professional equipment, you need to know it thoroughly, so that you won't become anxious and lose opportunities. So, that might include things like being able to change batteries in the dark, knowing to use your camera on Manual mode, etc. But, if you aren't that avid and a photo nerd, then just enjoy yourself. You'll get enough good shots to be happy.
    5. Be mindful and considerate of other guests, and of bringing an unwieldly amount of equipment. Even travel tripods usually prove not worth the weight and space, and not usable in vehicles. Bean bags can be substituted by a piece of clothing or a soft hand, and a low f-stop lens. Plan to use only one seat in the vehicle. Keep in mind the 15 lb. limit for carry-ons for the intra-country airlines. You can take a camera and a spare within that limit. I usually take a back-pack, like the Tumi Westwood for the 15 lb carry-on, and a smaller "brief-case size" back pack to fit under the seat. Between the two, one can get two cameras, a laptop, medications and "stuff".
    6. It seems to me that most Tauck folks aren't that heavily into photography, so one sees fewer and fewer people loaded up with gear.
    7. As an example, I just came back from India, using only an Olympus with a 12-100mm (24-200 equivalent) and a 75mm portrait lens. You can see the results here: https://imagesfromthequirkyeye.smugmug.com/INDIA/
    8. It's really how avid one is, and how you wish to divide your time and attention to creating images or just enjoying the sights and food on the trip.

    Best,
    Doug

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