600 F4 II or 300 F2.8 II and extenders for a Safari kenya

Hector1970

EOS 6D MK II
Mar 22, 2012
1,094
271
H All,
I asked one or two of the members about advice as to what lens to bring on a safari.
I was recommended to bring the 600 F4 II to Kenya.
It's a great lens and usually I have it on a tripod and wimberly head.
I'm not as strong as I used to be and I find it very heavy.
I've been having rotator cuff problems on an off after long stints of photography handheld with 70-200 or 100-400II ( I often just do too long a stint without taking a rest).
The 300 2.8 II feels much lighter to me to hold than a 600 F4 II.
I'll be resting it off the top of a van with a bean backg most likely but you still have to move the camera and lens up and down and do the odd thing handheld.
While it would be a shame to have a 600 F4 II and not bring it on a safari I'm concerned it will be a pain weight wise.
Did anyone have a similar conflict on safari (Kenya I think is a bit more wide open than other locations)?
Anyone use a 300mm 2.8 II combination with extenders (1.4 and 2.0 III)?
Any recommendation would be welcome and I need to make a final decision soon and stick with it.
I will bring the 100-400mm with me.
I'll have a 5D IV and need to decide between a 5DSR and 7DII as the second camera.
I was half thinking 7D II 300 2.8 and 2.0 extender but I've never tried that combination.
 

AlanF

Canon 5DSR II
Aug 16, 2012
5,750
3,081
The 300mm f/2.8 II works very well with extenders indeed. I decided to trade mine for a 400mm f/4 DO II (+ 1.4 and 2xTC work easily as well) because of the extra range, which is very good on the 5DIV. If you have the 100-400mm then you will be able to deal with close ups any way.

The 7DII is an excellent camera, and I got much use out of mine. For me though, the 5DSR is now the better option. It definitely has the edge on IQ and you can squeeze more out of it when cropping distant wildlife. I also like that it combines the field of view of a FF and the reach of the crop, although it isn't as fast with fps. A 400mm on the 5DSR will give you the field of view of a 250mm on a crop.

f/2.8 does give you an extra stop over f/4, which at first sight would seem an advantage at dawn or dusk. But, if you can fit the view from a 400mm into the frame, you can shoot at a stop higher iso and downsize to the same noise level.

By the way, even though the 5DSR goes up to only iso6400, it has sufficient dynamic range that you can underexpose by a stop or 2 and push in post. I highly recommend DxO photolabs for both the 7DII and 5DSR as it really takes care of the noise at higher isos when shooting RAW.
 

edoorn

EOS RP
Apr 1, 2016
235
148
I used a 300 2.8 with extenders last year in Zambia/Bots in combination with the 100-400. The 100-400 is the more flexible lens although the 2.8 of the 300 is great for low light (plus it's an amazing lens). Mind you, the very low light levels are usually early morning and evening; sun rises and sets quite fast in Kenya ;)

Coupled with the 100-400 I would take the 600, since my experience was I used the 300 mostly with the 2x extender, so basically as a 600 prime. After last year I decided to sell the 300 so I could fund a 500 (I don't shoot primarily birds so the 500 is good for me) and loved the combination in January in the Mara with the 100-400. It's ok to shoot; not as light as the 300 but noticeably lighter than a 600. In the vehicles you'll probably shoot from a bean bag, not hand held.

Both options will get you great shots!
 

Hector1970

EOS 6D MK II
Mar 22, 2012
1,094
271
Thanks Edoorn and AlanF.
I'm still conflicted but all opinions will help me make a final decision.
It's a long time since I was on Safari and it was in Tanzania in 2000 (wow 18 years ago already).
Back then it was film and 200mm seemed to be a long lens.
In Tanzania things we very close but maybe I couldn't spot the things faraway.
I believe Kenya animals are further back.
Safaris vehicles are also supposed to be way more numerous than they were.
I just don't know how hard it is to work with a 600mm lens that heavy for many hours a day.
It's not that I can't lift it. It's more that extra 2KG really seems to take its toll quickly...

I was interested in opinions on the 7DII versus 5DSR too.
I think both a great in plenty of light but both a similarly poor in low light but by default the 5DSR limits it upper limit on ISO to 6400 (but it can be extended to 12800).
Would I need 10 FPS on Safari - Cheetahs running etc..
 

PCM-madison

EOS 80D
Dec 9, 2013
114
44
I own both a 7D II and 5DS R, and I've used them both with the 100-400 II, 300 F2.8 IS II, and extenders. I would definitely go with the 5DS R. It is better than the 7D II in many ways including image quality, focus performance with the lenses/extenders mentioned in your post, and low light performance (frame rate being the only thing better about the 7D II). For low light, it is true that the 5DS R gives little pixel-level advantage at high iso over the 7D II. However, if you re-size 5DS R images to the same size as the 7D II, the 5DS R has much better low light image quality. Since I got my 5DS R, I almost never use the 7D II even for sports and wildlife. Hope this helps, and have a great trip.
 

AlanF

Canon 5DSR II
Aug 16, 2012
5,750
3,081
PCM-madison said:
I own both a 7D II and 5DS R, and I've used them both with the 100-400 II, 300 F2.8 IS II, and extenders. I would definitely go with the 5DS R. It is better than the 7D II in many ways including image quality, focus performance with the lenses/extenders mentioned in your post, and low light performance (frame rate being the only thing better about the 7D II). For low light, it is true that the 5DS R gives little pixel-level advantage at high iso over the 7D II. However, if you re-size 5DS R images to the same size as the 7D II, the 5DS R has much better low light image quality. Since I got my 5DS R, I almost never use the 7D II even for sports and wildlife. Hope this helps, and have a great trip.
+1, and it's a myth that the 5DSR has poor low light performance. Downresolved to the same number of megapixels, it is as good as the 5DIV.
 
  • Like
Reactions: tron

xps

EOS 6D MK II
Oct 19, 2011
893
32
Middle Europe
Hector1970 said:
H All,
I asked one or two of the members about advice as to what lens to bring on a safari.
I was recommended to bring the 600 F4 II to Kenya.
It's a great lens and usually I have it on a tripod and wimberly head.
I'm not as strong as I used to be and I find it very heavy.
I've been having rotator cuff problems on an off after long stints of photography handheld with 70-200 or 100-400II ( I often just do too long a stint without taking a rest).
The 300 2.8 II feels much lighter to me to hold than a 600 F4 II.
I'll be resting it off the top of a van with a bean backg most likely but you still have to move the camera and lens up and down and do the odd thing handheld.
While it would be a shame to have a 600 F4 II and not bring it on a safari I'm concerned it will be a pain weight wise.
Did anyone have a similar conflict on safari (Kenya I think is a bit more wide open than other locations)?
Anyone use a 300mm 2.8 II combination with extenders (1.4 and 2.0 III)?
Any recommendation would be welcome and I need to make a final decision soon and stick with it.
I will bring the 100-400mm with me.
I'll have a 5D IV and need to decide between a 5DSR and 7DII as the second camera.
I was half thinking 7D II 300 2.8 and 2.0 extender but I've never tried that combination.
Hello Mr. Hector!
I´m suffering from similar problems. After an plane crash I´m suffering from neurological deficits for some decades and now Im over 80. So strength is often missing.
When I was on Safari back in 2016, it was no problem to organize the help of an Ranger, who built up my tripod and my 500mm lens on some of the Observation platforms.
In the Jeeps it was more difficult and I often had severe problems by holding the body and lens. So I used the 300mm 2.8 most of the time, with 1.4 and 2.0 extenders. And it was especially an good combo in twilight.
One other older photographer had two clamps (for windows and to clip it on the steel pipes of the Jeep) with an tripod head and an bean bag with him. He leaned me one and it was an great help for me. You can find such products in the www.

Definitively, the 5DSR is the better choice. On our Safari, nearly almost all animals were not as fast as birds, so AF performance was not the question. But the win in imagequality at dawn was worth the extra weight.
 

Mikehit

EOS 5D MK IV
Jul 28, 2015
3,225
415
I have not been on safari in Kenya but one comment I have read repeatedly is the space available in the vehicles to wield big lenses like the 600mm f4. Some vehicles have seating platforms on something like outriggers but if you are in the middle of a 'communal' seating it will be tougher - it is worth contacting the tour company to find out about seating.
 

Hector1970

EOS 6D MK II
Mar 22, 2012
1,094
271
Thanks for all the comments.
I think the transport is a Toyota Van with a roof that pushes up.
Did anyone use a 600mm F4 in such circumstances. It’s 5 passengers in the vehicle.
 

edoorn

EOS RP
Apr 1, 2016
235
148
it will greatly depend on the type of trip and the operator.

The mini vans are indeed not the most comfortable photography vehicles; they usually have quite some people in them and the sides are not fully open. Photography oriented trips in the mara usually have no more than 3 guests in a vehicle so each one has a full seat row to themselves and use landcruisers that are fully open sided. I always insist on this on my trips there.
 

Hector1970

EOS 6D MK II
Mar 22, 2012
1,094
271
Yes it was a Jeep in Tanzania all those years ago which is somehow more in keeping with a real Safari.’
I have visions of dropping lens and camera overboard. I’m can’t remembet how potentially easy that is to do.
Camera gear was a lot lighter in the year 2000.
 

tron

EOS 5D SR
Nov 8, 2011
4,059
359
Not same experience (substitute birding for safari) but the 400mm f.4 DO II with 5DsR rocks for IQ and weight. I got 5DsR in addition to 7DII based on Alan's experience and I am happy about it. The IQ is much better at lower ISO ( say up to 1000 or so, up to 1600) and equivalent to 7D2 at higher levels. But I cannot stress enough the less weight and the short length of the 400 DO II how much a portable combination makes it (compared to other big white = 500 or 600, solutions)
 

AlanF

Canon 5DSR II
Aug 16, 2012
5,750
3,081
tron said:
Not same experience (substitute birding for safari) but the 400mm f.4 DO II with 5DsR rocks for IQ and weight. I got 5DsR in addition to 7DII based on Alan's experience and I am happy about it. The IQ is much better at lower ISO ( say up to 1000 or so, up to 1600) and equivalent to 7D2 at higher levels. But I cannot stress enough the less weight and the short length of the 400 DO II how much a portable combination makes it (compared to other big white = 500 or 600, solutions)
For our birding safari in Tanzania, my wife will use the 5DSR + 100-400mm II (mainly without a TC). It’s nearly as good as the 400 DO II at 400mm but the DO leaps ahead with a 1.4xTC in IQ and AF. This will cover us for zooming and close ups down to a metre. It’s a fabulous combination. I’ll use the 5DIV with the DO + TCs. To be frank, I’d prefer a second 5DSR as I love it at 560mm. But, the 5DIV never lets me down with BIF, although the DSR is very good too.
 

DavidA

EOS M50
Nov 22, 2014
36
0
Re: 600 F4 II or 300 F2.8 II and extenders for a Safari k

I have been on two safaris in Africa that included SA, Botswana, Rwanda, and Tanzania where I found that 560mm met 95% of my shooting needs. I carried the Canon 200 - 400 w1.4x TC and 100-400 II as my primary lenses on both safaris. I was in a group of 4 on both trips which was ideal for the vehicles used on safari. I only had one animal sighting and a few birds in Tanzania where the 560mm didn’t meet my needs. Atmospherics becomes the biggest issue with the long lenses in dusty environments. I have shot alll of the big whites at some point on wildlife trips.

I borrowed the 400 DO f4 II last year for an air show and it is an awesome lens for IQ, AF and lightweight versatility. Most of my shots were with the 1.4x TC III and they were all incredibly sharp. Not scientific, but I would call the DO II + 1.4x TC III @ 560mm sharper than native 100-400 II. All of my lens / camera combinations are calibrated by Canon or a local lab with/without TC’s. I haven’t done the 300mm 2.8 II combination, but I am going to borrow the DO again to retest with 2x TC before my next safari. I love my 200-400, but it is heavy and bulky.

Btw - bean bags on roof seem to be most common solution in Tanzania.
 

HPL

Jul 25, 2018
1
0
Germany
I just came back from our fifth safari in Africa. My wife and I had a 7dII and a 5dIV with us. Most of the time I used the 100-400 II with or without TC 1.4 on a 5dIV. Long focal lengths are good us earlier discussed, but I want to point out another aspect.
In several cases bigger animals come so close that you want to have a shorter focal length on your camera. In such situations a FF camera is better than a crop camera like 7dII with the same lens attached. With shorter lengths I mean <100 mm on FF.
 

AlanF

Canon 5DSR II
Aug 16, 2012
5,750
3,081
HPL said:
I just came back from our fifth safari in Africa. My wife and I had a 7dII and a 5dIV with us. Most of the time I used the 100-400 II with or without TC 1.4 on a 5dIV. Long focal lengths are good us earlier discussed, but I want to point out another aspect.
In several cases bigger animals come so close that you want to have a shorter focal length on your camera. In such situations a FF camera is better than a crop camera like 7dII with the same lens attached. With shorter lengths I mean <100 mm on FF.
I do waiver between taking two 100-400mm IIs with us rather than 100-400mm II and the 400mm DO II for our 5DIV and 5DSR, both for the small weight saving and the ability to zoom and have close-ups for both of us. Neither choice would be a disaster. What would you advise? (The weight restrictions on the internal flight worry me, 15 kg each of us.)
 

Mikehit

EOS 5D MK IV
Jul 28, 2015
3,225
415
AlanF said:
HPL said:
I just came back from our fifth safari in Africa. My wife and I had a 7dII and a 5dIV with us. Most of the time I used the 100-400 II with or without TC 1.4 on a 5dIV. Long focal lengths are good us earlier discussed, but I want to point out another aspect.
In several cases bigger animals come so close that you want to have a shorter focal length on your camera. In such situations a FF camera is better than a crop camera like 7dII with the same lens attached. With shorter lengths I mean <100 mm on FF.
I do waiver between taking two 100-400mm IIs with us rather than 100-400mm II and the 400mm DO II for our 5DIV and 5DSR, both for the small weight saving and the ability to zoom and have close-ups for both of us. Neither choice would be a disaster. What would you advise? (The weight restrictions on the internal flight worry me, 15 kg each of us.)
Hmm... your 400 DOii or the wife's 100-400.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhyrjbvDHT8
 

Canon Rumors Guy

EOS 1D MK II
Jul 20, 2010
7,719
354
Canada
www.canonrumors.com
Hector1970 said:
H All,
I asked one or two of the members about advice as to what lens to bring on a safari.
I was recommended to bring the 600 F4 II to Kenya.
It's a great lens and usually I have it on a tripod and wimberly head.
I'm not as strong as I used to be and I find it very heavy.
I've been having rotator cuff problems on an off after long stints of photography handheld with 70-200 or 100-400II ( I often just do too long a stint without taking a rest).
The 300 2.8 II feels much lighter to me to hold than a 600 F4 II.
I'll be resting it off the top of a van with a bean backg most likely but you still have to move the camera and lens up and down and do the odd thing handheld.
While it would be a shame to have a 600 F4 II and not bring it on a safari I'm concerned it will be a pain weight wise.
Did anyone have a similar conflict on safari (Kenya I think is a bit more wide open than other locations)?
Anyone use a 300mm 2.8 II combination with extenders (1.4 and 2.0 III)?
Any recommendation would be welcome and I need to make a final decision soon and stick with it.
I will bring the 100-400mm with me.
I'll have a 5D IV and need to decide between a 5DSR and 7DII as the second camera.
I was half thinking 7D II 300 2.8 and 2.0 extender but I've never tried that combination.
I'm off to Kenya next month. I've done safari's a bunch of times and this is what I'm bringing.

1DX2 * 2
EF 400 f/2.8L IS II
1.4 TC
2.0 TC
70-300L
Leica Q for a wide

In the past I've used the 200-400, 400 DO, 600 & 800.... the 400 2.8 just gives such a unique portrait look of animals and it performs flawlessly with TC's.... it is heavy though.

I'd probably take the 300 f/2.8 over the 600 f/4... there are times you'll wish you had the 600, but there will be more times you wished you could be more mobile in the vehicle. Depending on the number of people in it, it can fill up quite quickly.

Some vehicles are open on the sides, others have a popup top and windows down below. If there are windows, moving that 600 down and out the window will be annoying, but not impossible. If you could find out what sort of vehicle you'll be in, that could help you out.
 

scottkinfw

Wildlife photography is my passion
Hector1970 said:
H All,
I asked one or two of the members about advice as to what lens to bring on a safari.
I was recommended to bring the 600 F4 II to Kenya.
It's a great lens and usually I have it on a tripod and wimberly head.
I'm not as strong as I used to be and I find it very heavy.
I've been having rotator cuff problems on an off after long stints of photography handheld with 70-200 or 100-400II ( I often just do too long a stint without taking a rest).
The 300 2.8 II feels much lighter to me to hold than a 600 F4 II.
I'll be resting it off the top of a van with a bean backg most likely but you still have to move the camera and lens up and down and do the odd thing handheld.
While it would be a shame to have a 600 F4 II and not bring it on a safari I'm concerned it will be a pain weight wise.
Did anyone have a similar conflict on safari (Kenya I think is a bit more wide open than other locations)?
Anyone use a 300mm 2.8 II combination with extenders (1.4 and 2.0 III)?
Any recommendation would be welcome and I need to make a final decision soon and stick with it.
I will bring the 100-400mm with me.
I'll have a 5D IV and need to decide between a 5DSR and 7DII as the second camera.
I was half thinking 7D II 300 2.8 and 2.0 extender but I've never tried that combination.
Hi Hector and congratulations on your trip- I am jealous and happy for you.

I have been twice to Kenya's southern neighbor, Tanzania, and once to South Africa. Here are my thoughts.
My biggest lens is a 300 2.8 II is, and a 400 5.6 (old lens). I don't like to use extenders though I have a 1.4 X II.

First consider weight and size restrictions, usually 20 kg. You should have a bag that fits overhead (ThinkTank rollers for example are great). I always recommend a safari vest to offload weight, as a safari vest is not counted as luggage. Of course you may also buy a second seat.

That all said, my 300 was usually more than good enough. The animal encounters generally close in and many times the 300 was too close!

I would recommend strongly discussing this issue with your safari outfitter so you can make a good choice for you. Als ask if you can go on a night safari drive-awesine,

So I would recommend two bodies. I take my 1DXII and 5DIII. I also keep my 300 on the 1DXII and usually a 24-70 2.8 II on the 5DII so I am good close in and far off. Alternatively, a 70 to 200 will also do great.

I am sure others will have alternate thoughts, but size and weight will always limit what you can bring, and in your case, will affect your comfort. For me, the big problem is what to leave behind, not what to take. I think with all you are saying. you might want to consider leaving the 600 home. Tough choices.

Have fun.

Scott
 

AlanF

Canon 5DSR II
Aug 16, 2012
5,750
3,081
Mikehit said:
AlanF said:
HPL said:
I just came back from our fifth safari in Africa. My wife and I had a 7dII and a 5dIV with us. Most of the time I used the 100-400 II with or without TC 1.4 on a 5dIV. Long focal lengths are good us earlier discussed, but I want to point out another aspect.
In several cases bigger animals come so close that you want to have a shorter focal length on your camera. In such situations a FF camera is better than a crop camera like 7dII with the same lens attached. With shorter lengths I mean <100 mm on FF.
I do waiver between taking two 100-400mm IIs with us rather than 100-400mm II and the 400mm DO II for our 5DIV and 5DSR, both for the small weight saving and the ability to zoom and have close-ups for both of us. Neither choice would be a disaster. What would you advise? (The weight restrictions on the internal flight worry me, 15 kg each of us.)
Hmm... your 400 DOii or the wife's 100-400.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhyrjbvDHT8
It's the 400mm DO II + 100-400mm II vs 2 100-400mm IIs.