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Gear Talk => Lenses => Topic started by: KorCoug on February 04, 2013, 04:48:15 PM

Title: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: KorCoug on February 04, 2013, 04:48:15 PM
I have lurked on CanonRumors for a couple of years and learned a lot from reading some of the forum posts.  I am hoping some of those that have been on an African safari can provide insight on what lenses to take.  I am taking my son for his high school graduation in August and will spend one week in Zambia (Vic Falls and South Luangwa) and then a week in the Masai Mara for the migration.  I have a 7D and my new 5DIII is on its way from B&H today.  So obviously taking both cameras along with the G15.  I am trying to figure out what lens combination to use.  Lenses include 100-400, 70-200 2.8 ver 1, 24-105, 17-55, and the new Sigma 35 1.4.   I can borrow a friend's 300mm 2.8 ver 1 with extender and am contemplating buying the 70-300L for travel as it is smaller then the 70-200.  I can't really afford for a 500mm lens at this point and I don't see a new 100-400 on the horizion. 

Given the weight limits on some of the African flights what would you recommend as combinations for the 7D and 5DIII? 

I am thinking - 7D with 17-55 and new 70-300L.  5DIII with 24-105, 300 2.8 and 100-400.  I would also probably take the Sigma for low light.  Any thoughts?  Too many lenses?  Thanks in advance. 

Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: Botts on February 05, 2013, 01:25:41 PM
Yikes. I wouldn't want to carry your camera bag if your thinking of bringing all of that!

The weight limits are likely far smaller than you are expecting.  Weigh your camera gear some time, it's heavier than expected.  I'd consider purchasing a LowePro CompuTrekker AW Plus.  It's huge, but it balances weight well.  In mine I had a 7D with 500L mounted, a T2i, 70-200 f/4, 10-22mm, 430EX II, 15" MacBook Pro, and Gitzo 3541LS with Wimberley.  It weighed a ton, but carried everything I needed.

I'm looking at a Botswana Safari soon with a maximum of 46 pounds of luggage including carry-ons.  That really limits the options.

Some fast glass would be great if you're thinking of any evening animal shots.  I'd still bring the 7D, but maybe not the EF-S lenses, keeping the 7D as a backup only.  I'd also leave the 100-400 at home if you're thinking of the 70-300L.
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: Lurker on February 05, 2013, 05:10:52 PM
Lots of Focal Length duplication.
17-55 on crop has similar Field of view as 27-88 on FF.
You have 24-105, 27-88, 35, 70-200, 70-300, 100-400, 300, 300+ (It's good to have friends)

You did not say which TC with the 300.  Would you have 300/420 or 300/600?
I'm not familure with your equipment or how the pieces work together so keep that in mind.

My tendency is to trade some IQ for convenience and use zooms over primes.
When I went I had the 100-400.  I used it at 400 a lot but the zoom was really useful too.
You never know if you'll find a Zebra next to the road or a flycatcher in a tree 20 feet away
(or a hippo in your camp at midnight).

Besides budget, why do people use crop?  The extra reach.
If you have the 300/600 option I'd hang the 300 on the 7D (w/wo extender as needed) and leave it there.  If you have
the 300/420 option I might do the same thing or I might use the 100-400 and leave the 300 + tc behind.

I'd use the 5D III for low light and close encounters (may be more likely than you think). 
Hang the 24-105 or 70-200 on the 5D III.  This makes the 100-400/7D less likely, just switch cameras instead.

I would not buy the 70-300, you have that range covered already.  I would leave the 17-55 home, use the 5DIII w/24-105
for those shots. I'd probably leave the 35 home too unless you have specific situations you know you want to use it.
Leave either the 100-400 or the 300+TC at home.

If you really want to buy something new for the trip (who wouldn't) Sell the old 70-200 and maybe even the 100-400
and buy a 70-200 f/2.8 II with 1.4x and 2x iii TCs (adjust this based on what you can borrow from a friend).  To save $ buy
a Kenko 1.4 DGX TC instead of the canon 1.4 iii.  You could also look at a 1.4x (maybe 2x) TC to use with the 70-200
f/2.8 you already have if it plays nice with TCs.

24-105 and 70/200 w/ a TC would make a nice compliment the 300 on the 7D.

This gets you to 3 lenses (24-105, 70-200, 100-400 OR 300) with 1 or 2 TCs and 2 bodies.
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: johnf3f on February 06, 2013, 08:17:06 PM
I have lurked on CanonRumors for a couple of years and learned a lot from reading some of the forum posts.  I am hoping some of those that have been on an African safari can provide insight on what lenses to take.  I am taking my son for his high school graduation in August and will spend one week in Zambia (Vic Falls and South Luangwa) and then a week in the Masai Mara for the migration.  I have a 7D and my new 5DIII is on its way from B&H today.  So obviously taking both cameras along with the G15.  I am trying to figure out what lens combination to use.  Lenses include 100-400, 70-200 2.8 ver 1, 24-105, 17-55, and the new Sigma 35 1.4.   I can borrow a friend's 300mm 2.8 ver 1 with extender and am contemplating buying the 70-300L for travel as it is smaller then the 70-200.  I can't really afford for a 500mm lens at this point and I don't see a new 100-400 on the horizion. 

Given the weight limits on some of the African flights what would you recommend as combinations for the 7D and 5DIII? 

I am thinking - 7D with 17-55 and new 70-300L.  5DIII with 24-105, 300 2.8 and 100-400.  I would also probably take the Sigma for low light.  Any thoughts?  Too many lenses?  Thanks in advance.

You have a very good friend if they will lend you a 300 F2.8!
My suggestion would be to keep things simple, light and cheap!
Firstly take both bodies - they are both good or very good and give you greater framing and iso versatility.
As to lenses - take the 24-105, it is useful on the 7D and excellent on full frame - the 17-55 is only duplication (though faster). If you can manage the weight take the 70-200 F2.8. If yours is like mine then it is an excellent lens, though I must admit I rarely use these focal lengths. The one lens you simply must take is the 300 F2.8. Even without extenders it beats the 100-400 (I have had both) in all departments except weight. With extenders it will out range and give better images than the 100-400 - it is simply a far better lens.
Note I have never been on a photographic safari - these are just my suggestions from my experiences of the cameras and lenses you mention.
Hope it helps.

Whatever you decide take the 300 F2.8!
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: Halfrack on February 07, 2013, 01:13:39 AM
You'll want to do the G15 as your wide.  The 17-55 and 35 are both unlikely to be used. 

You should get a better idea from your tour guide - how close do they end up getting to the animals and how safe folks with big white lenses are.
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: RJB on February 12, 2013, 01:55:59 AM
Hi there,

I live out in Tanzania and spend a fair bit of time in the parks. Something to consider is the dust - imagine living inside a talcum powder bottle; that's the Mara in August... With that in mind, I'd advise against changing lens as much as possible - I actually don't change lenses 'til back at home.

I'd put the 100-400 on the 7D - you can't get enough length for wildlife, ever... This gives you huge reach. I wouldn't worry about the slower aperture on the 7D, most of what you'll be snapping will be in (very) bright light... Bring a bean bag though - tripods are a bit useless for in-car shooting (you can't get out in the Mara) - and the 100-400is system is not all that amazing.

On the 5Diii I'd shove your 70-200. Useful for low-light for early morning drives, you can get wider shots (useful in the mara, you'll see...) and about as good iq-wise as you can get on the EOS system. It'll also stop the dust getting in your 5dii (hopefully)

As for wide, the G15 will do you very nicely. With decent light, you'll get very good images. Just remember to give the lens a wipe every now and again...

Finally, I take a huge kitbag, including heavy tripod, nearly everywhere on internal African flights. Never had a problem. Rules seem to be that if you can carry it, you can take it on board with you...

Hope that helps...

Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: brad goda on February 12, 2013, 05:29:22 AM
100-400 on 7D
24-105 on MkIII

and keep them on...
or what ever you choose when you get into the field do not swap lenses unless trouble..
keep the dust out...
bring black plastic bags... to keep the dust out...

wow have fun!!! bring a remote trigger to shoot lots of portraits of your son and you!!!
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: Apop on February 12, 2013, 08:17:28 AM
Take the 300 f2.8 with you...., that on the 7d
70-200 on the 5d, if you also take a 1.4 converter with you , you will be covered for most shots

After the first two safari's i also thought i would be always shooting at f8, but on the recent trips, even f4 or some times 2.8 wasn't fast enough for what I wanted...., so i think you cannot go wrong with the 300 f2.8, great IQ, reach on the 7d , and it's fast for action shots!(both af an aperture), 420mm f4 with the 1.4 converter, and not extremely heavy.

You could also put the 100-400 on the 7d, and 300 f2.8 on the 5dIII, and the 24-105/70-200 in the bag :P
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: nubu on February 12, 2013, 08:30:55 AM
I just come back from a similar trip with my 17 year old son to Kruger NP, South Afrika. I ALSO own a 7D and a 5DIII. The lenses combinations I used:

5DIII + 500/4
5DIII + 500/4 + 1,4x
5DIII + 24-105
5DIII + 8-15 fisheye

During night drives 5DIII + 70-200/2.8 plus 600EX flash

fixed 7D + 70-200/2.8 combo

During the long car rides trough the park we always had the two cams
with the 500mmm and the 70-200 lenses. From time to time I had to change
to the 24-105 or add the 1,4x to the 500/4.

It worked perfectly with two persons...
(also to share all the equipment in two hand luggages)

All the best for your trip
nubu
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: KorCoug on February 12, 2013, 09:41:47 AM
Thank you all for the great advice.  It really helps.  I am planning to leave the 17-55 and 35 home.  I will take the both bodies with the 24-105, 100-400, and 70-200 with converters, and the 300.  I will shoot the 5DIII with the 300 and put the 100-400 on the 7D for my son.  For early morning drives, I will probably swap out the 100-400 for the 70-200.   I think I will split it between 2 bags or just let my son carry all the gear...  And I will try to remember to stop down on the 7D and prepare for the dust.  For a bag, I am thinking of getting a Gura Kiboko 22L+.  Has anyone used this bag.  It looks like it may hold everything but could be tight.  Any other options that you would recommend?
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: Apop on February 12, 2013, 10:06:38 AM
sounds like a good plan!, i wish the two of you a wonderful trip!!!

Hope you will get addicted to Africa :)

I have no experience with such a bag, i used a 'normal' hand luggage bag and a peli case,
some mono pod and tri-pod gear in the normal bags.
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: DArora on February 12, 2013, 10:46:55 AM
Thank you all for the great advice.  It really helps.  I am planning to leave the 17-55 and 35 home.  I will take the both bodies with the 24-105, 100-400, and 70-200 with converters, and the 300.  I will shoot the 5DIII with the 300 and put the 100-400 on the 7D for my son.  For early morning drives, I will probably swap out the 100-400 for the 70-200.   I think I will split it between 2 bags or just let my son carry all the gear...  And I will try to remember to stop down on the 7D and prepare for the dust.  For a bag, I am thinking of getting a Gura Kiboko 22L+.  Has anyone used this bag.  It looks like it may hold everything but could be tight.  Any other options that you would recommend?

I would say keep Sigma 35 in your bag as well. Will be useful in low light night photography.
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: tapanit on February 12, 2013, 11:17:30 AM
Thank you all for the great advice.  It really helps.  I am planning to leave the 17-55 and 35 home.  I will take the both bodies with the 24-105, 100-400, and 70-200 with converters, and the 300.  I will shoot the 5DIII with the 300 and put the 100-400 on the 7D for my son.  For early morning drives, I will probably swap out the 100-400 for the 70-200.
Sounds like a good plan. Given that there're two of you, I'd consider getting an extra body to keep the 24-105 in (or get a Rebel and take the 17-55 instead). There will be situations where you have the 300 mounted and something comes up close suddenly. And there will be situations where it's so dusty you don't want to change lenses. And a body may break and you'll have to fight with your son who gets to use the remaining one. Actually I'd even consider having two extra bodies, two for each of you.

(I've carried two crop bodies with 17-55 and 100-400 mounted and the combo works well. I regretted not having a 70-200/2.8 for low-light mornings and evenings, though, so you're better off there.)
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: DArora on February 12, 2013, 11:39:17 AM
Sounds like a good plan. Given that there're two of you, I'd consider getting an extra body to keep the 24-105 in (or get a Rebel and take the 17-55 instead). There will be situations where you have the 300 mounted and something comes up close suddenly. And there will be situations where it's so dusty you don't want to change lenses. And a body may break and you'll have to fight with your son who gets to use the remaining one. Actually I'd even consider having two extra bodies, two for each of you.

(I've carried two crop bodies with 17-55 and 100-400 mounted and the combo works well. I regretted not having a 70-200/2.8 for low-light mornings and evenings, though, so you're better off there.)

If you haven't noticed, he is already carrying 2 bodies, 7D and 5D3.
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: hendrik-sg on February 12, 2013, 12:13:23 PM
I was on safari in south africa 2 years ago, with my wife who also shot.

we had with us:

- 50d
- 5d mkii
- 300 2.8is (+ 2xiii)
- 70-200 4 is
- 24-105
- 17ts
- ex 580
- strong tripod with gimbal
- enogh cards and batteries

All of this fits in one backpack which goes as cabin baggage, its weigts about 15kg

Most of the time we used 50d with 300 w/wo 2x and 5d with 70-200 or 24-105. The flash was used for some snapshots of humens (i didn't flash animals) and 17mm for some landscapes and in cities. In low light the 300mm was used on the 5d

keep things as simple as possible and dont shoot to many dublicates, it makes less sense to have two similar lenses on two different bodies, better complement each other. With this said, the 300mm is worth gold, and the wider perspective is done with the other body. If one body breaks only one person can shoot, but the other one can spot and help change lenses.

Dust was no problem, we just had a professional cleaning set, but one must practice to use it in advance.

Practice with 600mm on crop, its not easy to find and track the "target" if it moves, just try to shoot some common birds for practice.

In doubt dont use the extender, in critical light its better to crop the final image than to shoot at high iso and add motion blur and camera shake.

Dont forget to enjoy your trip with your eyes not just trough the viewfinder.

With some training i was able to carry the backpack with me the whole day, but it was the limit.  i wouldnt have liked to carry a bigger tele, or additional lenses.

Viewing back, i would have left the flash at home and taken a fast 50mm with me instead, we missed some impressive night action because i didnt have it.
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: Hozik on February 12, 2013, 12:31:23 PM
I would not sweat it too much, you have way too much camera gear. Being ready to shoot at moment's notice is way more important than worrying about which lens you got on your body. I was just in S.A for 3 Safaris and had my 5D mk I with the 70-200mm F4 IS and 40D with 300mm IS 5.6. ->Used 90% of time in that config. I also brought the 1.4x extender but it was too dusty to open up the camera so never used it. I also brought the 17-40 with me  for landscape, but used it very seldom (mostly at camp and while doing guided hikes). We swapped the bodies with my wife while in the Rover. She also had her S95 for video and as a backup to the two bodies or if animals got right beside the Rover. If you are doing any hiking Safaris I would suggest your longest lens mounted on your 7D and a teleconverter and your next longest on your 5D as you will not get as close as in a Rover. I would suggest to tip the guides generously to get you to the action. Remember to enjoy it. We are already planning to come back soon.
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: charlesa on February 12, 2013, 01:10:10 PM
Both bodies, the 300 and the 70-200, which will stay on most of the time, except for when you want to go ultrawide to get scenic landscapes. And yes, dust will be a problem so change lenses as least as possible!
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: tapanit on February 12, 2013, 03:08:25 PM
Sounds like a good plan. Given that there're two of you, I'd consider getting an extra body

If you haven't noticed, he is already carrying 2 bodies, 7D and 5D3.
Yes. For two people. I think two people would need four bodies.
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: +tof on February 13, 2013, 05:53:46 AM
Please take as few big lenses, as you can.  I think 100-400 with 7D for long distance will be enough.
Take 24-105 because it is all around lens for 5DIII, and 17-55 because of the same for 7D.
Remember 24-105 with 7d is  24x1.6=38.4 - 106x1.6=168 !
If one of them, camera or lens brokes, you can always have got the replacement.
At 19 or later it is getting dark. Your Sigma 35 1.4 lens will be perfect. It is a small lens, and not heavy.
Do not show you have got expensive camera, or big lens, when its dark, even on the main street.
Take your G15, it will be good for you, at those places. Try to take pictures without flash. With the flash you alert all people around.
Take extender 1.4x, just not for using it, but only if something wrong happens, and you have to combine it with 100-400 and 5DIII.
640mm (400 mm x 1.6) in your 7D is just the limit for hand-shooting i think.
On safari, If it seems to you, it is too far, do not take pictures. Ask the driver go closer. Tips can work miracles.
Your driver is worth 2 or 3 your big and expensive lenses.
Do not take any tripod. You can not use it in a car because of the crowd inside. Monopod sometimes can be usefull. But bean bag, or fleece sweatshirt in a shape of a ball will be much much better. In a car allways keep your camera straps on your neck, just not to lose your camera. Change lenses only when seating. Just to protect your lens falling out of the car. Much better is not to change lenses at all. Only in a hotel room. After day or two you will have the sand everywhere, in a pockets, in your bag, in your socs, pants, ears and eyes. The bag for the camera is important, but I have never found good enough for me. So I prefer the cheap ones and unobtrusive.
Take some plastic bags to wrap and protect your gear. There are storms in the middle of summer and you can have all your things get wet in your bag.
Take additional batteries for the camera, allways keep them fully charged (power failures). Small led torch will be usefull.
And the absolutely must have: binoculars. Animals generally are far far away, first you have to find them, reach them and then take pictures.
Do anything under the sun to see wildbeast crossing Mara river! Give up on baloon ride. It is expensive, boring and for old ladies, I think.
Too bad you do not take wide-angle lens. It is perfect for landscapes in Africa, but maybe your lenses will be enough.
I think one big lens is enough. Really. One man is taking pictures, the second one helps him by watching with binoculars. When the photographer will be bored and tired swap your gear.

summary: binoculars!,
5DIII, 7D, G15, batteries,
Sigma 35 1.4,
17-55
24-105
100-400

Have a good time.

and sorry for my english (not good enough)
Title: Re: African Safari Lens Help
Post by: amazin on February 13, 2013, 06:33:24 AM
Hi,

i'm just back from 2 weeks in Namibia last month.

Here is what  i had :

5d mk3
24-70 2.8l ii
70-200 2.8l is ii
extender 2x iii

all fitted in a lowepro flipside 200 aw, which was pretty convenient to carry.

as you have 2 bodies, i'd say longer lenses on the 7d and wide ones on the 5d mk 3.

imho no need to have many lenses. just pick one carefully for each body and stick to it.
try to find a bag where you can put them both with the lenses already fitted to the bodies (it will save you time to clean).

consider a wide range tele like the 100-400 with maybe a teleconverter. it might be a more versatile option over have multiple lenses.