When I go on safari, what’s in my camera bag?

Canon Rumors Guy

EOS 1D MK II
Jul 20, 2010
7,645
338
Canada
www.canonrumors.com
You had me until you said you weren't a fan of the 100-400! haha I would like to know your reason behind your not liking the lens. I have been nothing but satisfied and impressed with this lens - and that includes using a 300 f/2.8 and 400 f/2.8. Everyone has their personal needs and tastes, but I don't know why someone wouldn't be a fan of that lens after using it.
I dislike my inability in most safari situations to create isolation using it at 400mm. There's nothing wrong with the lens, it's just not for me.
 

Canon Rumors Guy

EOS 1D MK II
Jul 20, 2010
7,645
338
Canada
www.canonrumors.com
Tom, many thanks for the great tips! I am focused more on the North and birds (and hope for a trip to the Antarctic region during the next years). But whenever I'll go for the Big Ones to Africa I'll keep it in mind - friends have been recently in Kenia.

I personally like your fast prime approach to photography much! Zooms make you lazy, primes force you to a much more creative framing. If you get too close for a total coverage, you make a portrait of an animal or even a detail of a portrait and you get a much more interesting image. Recently I made a trip with both a 500 mm prime and a 150-600 mm zoom, a Tamron G2. This lens is quite nice, but using it I realized that I started to tend to those boring "always complete animal" shots I thought I left behind me many years ago. So I fixed a focal length and worked with that to release more creativity.
I'm with you, I shoot far better with a prime over a zoom.
 
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Reactions: justaCanonuser
Aug 9, 2018
1
1
I always like to hear the 1,000,001 and beyond on this subject.

I've been to Africa twice (S. Africa and Botswana). This past time (May 2018) I better had what I needed based on the first time back in 2010. And, man, has the IQ gotten better on newer generation cameras since then.

I tended to split duties with my wife with me on video (C200) and my wife taking more of the stills.

The stills were 7DMK2 with the 200-400mm pretty much exclusively. This gave great reach fully extended with the flexibility of a zoom.

The 2nd body was a 5DMK4 with what ended up being a surprising good fit even in the slightly dated 28-300mm L. There have been better made lenses since then (newer 70-200's and 100-400's) but for the range on a full frame camera, it was almost perfectly matched with a crop sensor using the 200-400mm. I would tell people that we had a range from 28mm to 896mm covered one way or another between two bodies. With that range, the only switch we'd ever make was for the 11-24mm on the 5D to get something really wide (typically a landscape, not wildlife) when we had stopped for a bit.

I'll echo the most reach you can get the better. The first time I had a 100-400mm on crop sensor and 70-200mm on full frame and was always putting the 1.4 or 2x extender on the old 5DMK2 most of the time. (It was in the Sabi Sands area which is more wide open).

The other echo is to have two bodies. Typically most shots are long, but you'll get wildlife close to the vehicle fairly often and you don't want to be changing lenses then. If you don't own one, rent one (ditto for the lenses).

Another tid bit that some may not like is using auto iso. Typically a Tv setting appropriate for the focal length will be a starting point and let the camera do the rest. Not always, of course, but many times you'll come upon scenes and that could be be the difference in getting the shot at all (and doing noise reduction later) or fiddling with settings because it's too dark or light from a prior iso setting and missing the chance all together. Most game viewing is around dusk and dawn when light is changing by the minute. I'm good, but not -that- good to keep up with it in settings on the fly, especially with a dose of adrenaline as you see _insert animal name here_ doing something amazing. There are some great bird viewing opportunities, too, that don't usually stay put for very long.

Ok, there's 1,000,010.
 
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Ladislav

EOS RP
Feb 13, 2013
332
44
37
Czech Republic
When you go on safari to Africa, how do you plan that? Do you go with some provider or do you plan it yourselves? I've seen some interesting "packages" but they very pretty expensive. Considering that Africa is very poor region, I find it bit suspicious when someone asks around $10k for 2-3 weeks per person without flights and insurance.
 

Canon Rumors Guy

EOS 1D MK II
Jul 20, 2010
7,645
338
Canada
www.canonrumors.com
When you go on safari to Africa, how do you plan that? Do you go with some provider or do you plan it yourselves? I've seen some interesting "packages" but they very pretty expensive. Considering that Africa is very poor region, I find it bit suspicious when someone asks around $10k for 2-3 weeks per person without flights and insurance.
I use my friend Andy Biggs to set trips up. He leads safaris as well as plans them for people.

The cost... $10K per person for 2-3 weeks is really good. There are different levels of cost depending on the country you're going to. Botswana is probably the most expensive, and most luxurious. Kenya is middle of the road and Tanzania the least expensive, based on my experiences. I have no price knowledge of South Africa or Zambia. Namibia is different and you do it overland, it was probably my least expensive trip to Africa.

Rwanda is probably the most expensive, but gorilla permits and accommodation around the park are very expensive. However, that money is really going to the conservation of the gorillas and to the people living near the park. Uganda for chimpanzees isn't bad.

Once you see the camps and how it all operates, you appreciate why the costs tend to be high. There's a lot of people, vehicles, park permits, food and logistics that have to be paid for. A lot of people would rather use small planes in Botswana, Kenya, and Tanzania than do it overland. Those planes are usually part of packages and raise the cost.

It also costs more if set up for photography, as there are fewer people in each vehicle, so more vehicles are needed. This depends on your size of group.

Reaching out to Andy above to help plan a trip is highly recommended, but you're not going to find much below $10K. I'm sure there are cheaper ways to do it, but it all depends on the experience you want.
 
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takesome1

EOS 6D MK II
Aug 23, 2013
1,482
110
98
Licking, Missouri
I use my friend Andy Biggs to set trips up. He leads safaris as well as plans them for people.

The cost... $10K per person for 2-3 weeks is really good. There are different levels of cost depending on the country you're going to. Botswana is probably the most expensive, and most luxurious. Kenya is middle of the road and Tanzania the least expensive, based on my experiences. I have no price knowledge of South Africa or Zambia. Namibia is different and you do it overland, it was probably my least expensive trip to Africa.

Rwanda is probably the most expensive, but gorilla permits and accommodation around the park are very expensive. However, that money is really going to the conservation of the gorillas and to the people living near the park. Uganda for chimpanzees isn't bad.

Once you see the camps and how it all operates, you appreciate why the costs tend to be high. There's a lot of people, vehicles, park permits, food and logistics that have to be paid for. A lot of people would rather use small planes in Botswana, Kenya, and Tanzania than do it overland. Those planes are usually part of packages and raise the cost.

It also costs more if set up for photography, as there are fewer people in each vehicle, so more vehicles are needed. This depends on your size of group.

Reaching out to Andy above to help plan a trip is highly recommended, but you're not going to find much below $10K. I'm sure there are cheaper ways to do it, but it all depends on the experience you want.
So 10K with airfare or without?
I was wondering if his base cost had up-charges that end up costing you.
So actually from the US it would end up costing 12 to 15.

I see he had one listed for $6999 that they are on now.
 

JumboShrimp

EOS RP
Sep 9, 2012
275
0
USA
First, protect whatever equipment you carry. The extremely fine powdery dust (think: baking flour) will get everywhere.
 

Canon Rumors Guy

EOS 1D MK II
Jul 20, 2010
7,645
338
Canada
www.canonrumors.com
So 10K with airfare or without?
I was wondering if his base cost had up-charges that end up costing you.
So actually from the US it would end up costing 12 to 15.

I see he had one listed for $6999 that they are on now.
Airfare to Africa is generally not included.

Additional costs are usually alcohol, tips and souvenirs. Stuff like hot air balloons (Mara or Serengeti) or helicopter rides (Namibia) can also be extra costs.
 

Danglin52

EOS T7i
Aug 8, 2018
54
38
Hi

I did 3 safaris and enjoyed your write up can i see your work please

appreciate your time

Kind regards Andre
From Malta
https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrefarrugia/
Malta, I habe only uploaded a couple of Africa photos, but if go to Anglinphotos.com and use the Contact selection to send me an email address I will share a link to a presentation with a broad selection of photos from 2017. I do this for fun and not good about updating the site. There are photos from other trips using the same gear.
 

RGF

How you relate to the issue, is the issue.
Jul 13, 2012
2,816
35
Good choices but I would opt for the 200-400 for flexibility. Possibly 7D II for additional reach and some sort of backup "long" lens in case the 400 or 200-400 dies.

Finishing the safari w/ only the 85 would be a downer
 

Canon Rumors Guy

EOS 1D MK II
Jul 20, 2010
7,645
338
Canada
www.canonrumors.com
Good choices but I would opt for the 200-400 for flexibility. Possibly 7D II for additional reach and some sort of backup "long" lens in case the 400 or 200-400 dies.

Finishing the safari w/ only the 85 would be a downer
I've used a 200-400 on a previous safari, I didn't like it. Zooming is annoying on bean bags and the time I did use it, 94% of the images were at 400-560mm. No need for an APS-C camera when I have 800mm in the bag. The chance of a big white lens failing to the point of being unusable (it'll still work without AF or IS) is too remote to be worried about. That said, I would have brought a 70-300L had it not broken this week.
 

krisbell

EOS 80D
Mar 18, 2014
166
24
www.flickr.com
You had me until you said you weren't a fan of the 100-400! haha I would like to know your reason behind your not liking the lens. I have been nothing but satisfied and impressed with this lens - and that includes using a 300 f/2.8 and 400 f/2.8. Everyone has their personal needs and tastes, but I don't know why someone wouldn't be a fan of that lens after using it.
I'm not a fan of the lens either - I may have a bad copy but it is never consistent with focus, and woefully out when close focusing. No amount of AFMA'ing seems to help. It is a jack of all trades but as the saying goes, it does nothing well imho. I much prefer the 300mm 2.8 I had before I sold it to get the 100-400.
 

RGF

How you relate to the issue, is the issue.
Jul 13, 2012
2,816
35
I've used a 200-400 on a previous safari, I didn't like it. Zooming is annoying on bean bags and the time I did use it, 94% of the images were at 400-560mm. No need for an APS-C camera when I have 800mm in the bag. The chance of a big white lens failing to the point of being unusable (it'll still work without AF or IS) is too remote to be worried about. That said, I would have brought a 70-300L had it not broken this week.
i have seen people leave lenses on the top of a safari vehicle. Some survived the drop to the grounds, others did not. 70-300 is a nice choice relatively compact but good range.

As far as focal range in south africa I use the entire range of the 200-400/560. In eastern africa yes I tended to use the longer end ofI s the lens. Actually on my last trip I wish had brought my 600. The 200-400 on a 7D II was too short
 

AlanF

Canon 5DSR II
Aug 16, 2012
5,436
2,592
I'm not a fan of the lens either - I may have a bad copy but it is never consistent with focus, and woefully out when close focusing. No amount of AFMA'ing seems to help. It is a jack of all trades but as the saying goes, it does nothing well imho. I much prefer the 300mm 2.8 I had before I sold it to get the 100-400.
You must have had a bad copy. I have had 3 good copies. My latest has good enough AF to catch dragonflies in flight and tack sharp close ups in the last few days as well as all three for birds over the years. An amazing lens.
 

AlanF

Canon 5DSR II
Aug 16, 2012
5,436
2,592
I currently don't own a 5D4, a part of me wishes I did.
You have the 1DXII for action and so IMHO the 5DSR is by far the best choice for a second body, and not the 6DII or even the 5DIV. It will give you 1.4x the resolution of the 6DII on the difference in pixel size plus another 10% or more because ot the AA-filter. I grab my 5DSR over my 5DIV on most occasions for nature photography as it is clearly better for resolving detail on distance birds and even excellent for BIF.

Regarding weight limits, the 400/2.8 (and/or 200-400mm) is fine for the international trips but it is too heavy for small planes on internal flights. If you have to use them, then the 400mm DO II (for 400-880mm) and the 100-400mm II are king and queen and not their fatter brother and sister.
 

Danglin52

EOS T7i
Aug 8, 2018
54
38
You must have had a bad copy. I have had 3 good copies. My latest has good enough AF to catch dragonflies in flight and tack sharp close ups in the last few days as well as all three for birds over the years. An amazing lens.
Are you a CPS member and have you sent in your lens and body for evaluation? I know of enough stellar copies that I trust the lens. My copy has fast, accuate , AF with sharp images.
 

justaCanonuser

Grab your camera, go out and shoot!
Feb 12, 2014
435
247
Frankfurt, Germany
That's why it's best to bring sealed bodies like the 1D, 5D, 7D and not Rebels as well as sealed lenses. I don't even clean stuff anymore until I get home (outside of front elements).
This applies to many rugged environments. If you go out into the wilderness, better use sealed gear. And consider carefully good places or a bag if you want to change a lens. Better have two cameras with different kind of lenses prepared, as others already said here.