African Photo Safari - Packing Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by dburgess56, Mar 4, 2011.

  1. dburgess56

    dburgess56 TPF Noob!

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    In a few weeks, my wife and I will be leaving for a trip to the African continent. A highlight of the trip will be a week long stay at a game lodge, where we'll be taken on twice daily excursions to nearby game preserves to photograph wildlife.

    Because we'll be doing a good bit of touring besides the stay at the game lodge, I'm trying to strike a balance between traveling light and having all the essential gear I'll need. Here's a list of the basic gear I own:

    FX Stuff
    • Nikon D700 camera back
    • AF Nikkor 24-70 F2
    • AF Nikkor 70-200 F2 VRII
    • AF Nikkor 50mm 1.8

    DX Stuff
    • Nikon D90 camera back
    • Tokina AF ATX 12-24/4.0
    • Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS
    • Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6G

    Misc Stuff
    • Nikon SB 600 strobe
    • Full size heavy duty Manfrotto tripod
    • Manfrotto monopod

    I obviously can't bring all of this stuff with me. Also, is there any essential gear that I'm missing?

    Any suggestions from anyone who's been there and done that?


     
  2. bigtwinky

    bigtwinky No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Tough decisions.. it is very dependant on how close you will be to the animals.

    A friend did that not too long ago and she had an XSI and I loaned her my 70-300 lens and she said it was fine. Crop body + 300 = 480mm effective focal lenght. Her images were good, but I'd love to get some even closer in. Her impression was being closer than she thought she would to the animals

    For the wildlife part, I'd ditch the 50 1.8, 18-200, 12-24, tripod and strobe
    But you might need some of those for the other shooting you might do.

    I'd bring both bodies as the D90 will give you that extra reach if you need, plus if the D700 craps out, you dont really want to be stuck without a camera.
    Daylight shooting with the 70-300 should be fine shooting at 5.6.

    Other options would be renting better glass, 400mm prime might be nice. Maybe look at rental companies that will drop the lens at the lodge you are staying at and have the lodge send it back?
     
  3. Formatted

    Formatted No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    FX Stuff
    Nikon D700 camera back
    AF Nikkor 24-70 F2
    AF Nikkor 70-200 F2 VRII
    AF Nikkor 50mm 1.8

    DX Stuff
    Nikon D90 camera back


    Misc Stuff
    Nikon SB 600 strobe
    Manfrotto monopod

    That is what I would take, why double up on lenses?

    See if you can rent a 200-400 it would be perfect and if you could get a 1.4x then that would be even better.
     
  4. PASM

    PASM TPF Noob!

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    I would bring all this stuff with me other than the 1.8/50 :) so..obviously I am not much help here :)
     
  5. Formatted

    Formatted No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm a little confused why you own

    The Nikon is a million times better, sell the Sigma :)
     
  6. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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    The Nikon 24-70 and 70-200 are both f/2.8, not f/2.
    The difference between f/2 and f/2.8 is an whole stop slower.

    As far as essential gear: You don't specify the monopod model you have. I'd recommend a ballhead for the monopod, assuming the monpod you have has sufficient capacity to handle your heaviest camera/lens combo and doesn't already have a ball head on it.
    I would want much more throw and power than the SB-600 can provide (85 mm, max) and I would want at least 2 speedlights (SB-900's, 200 mm throw) ,and radio triggering rather than relying on Nikon's optical (infrared - not good in sunlight, around corners) CLS.

    If I was reasonably certain I would have the opportuinty to shoot wildlife at night using strobed light, I'd want to have a Better Beamer attachment for both my speedlights to enhance the 200 mm throw even more.
     
  7. Eco

    Eco TPF Noob!

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    If you plan on doing any close up work when the sun is high in the sky maybe a reflector likehttp://www.photography-lighting.com/reflectors.html

    Does the lodge have power/current so you can charge your batteries? I've had extended stays in places that I could not charge my equipment, it's no fun having a camera with a dead battery!

    Maybe a 1.4 or 1.7 teleconverter for the animals that you can't close enough to?
     
  8. dburgess56

    dburgess56 TPF Noob!

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    The 70-300 is a kit lens that came with a D50 I bought a few years ago. I purchased the Sigma along with the Tokina short focal zoom in a package deal at a camera shop. The Sigma pairs well with the D90 when I want to travel very light and carry just one lens and camera back.
     
  9. RyanLilly

    RyanLilly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I know at least in southern Africa where I have been, The winter is the dry season and there are seldom even clouds in the sky, I was there from may to June a few years ago, I'm not sure when the season begins though. Try to find out more about the climate where you are going. Get some longer glass, at least 400mm preferably. Either a prime or even a good zoom with a teleconverter. Often on a game drive, when you find a good spot, the driver can stop the land rover and shut off the engine for a couple minutes. That way you can get a nice steady shot with your monopod and long glass, even using slower shutter speeds. And just for fun, there are even jumpseats bolted to the hoods of many landrovers!

    For sure bring your 24-70, 70-200(we did rhino tracking on foot, this would be nice) and something long, even a Bigma, or similar superzoom can be a good choice.
     
  10. soylentgreen

    soylentgreen TPF Noob!

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    My friend just came back from a trip last summer and needed to pack really light due to the travel requirements. Some of the parks he went to used small planes to travel where he is limited to 35 lbs. of gear TOTAL. Bag, clothes, camera, etc. Not sure what limits you may or may not have. Check with the travel company to see. You definitely need a 400mm lens to get some shots from the trucks.
    On my recommendation, my friend bought a 100-400 f/4-6.3L IS and a 24-105f/4L IS. He is not a big photographer, but wanted decent pics once he got there. Those two lenses pretty much covered the gamut of what he required with weight being an issue.

    I figure for Nikon, renting the 200-400 will be the way to go, 70-200 mixed in with a 24-70 and a 105 macro, 1.4X TC. There are night shots too, so the 50 will not be bad to bring along. I have a co-oworker that has traveled to Africa 40 plus times and that is pretty much what he carries in his trips. Don't forget some sort of support too.
     
  11. Formatted

    Formatted No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Let me put it this way, I'll be off to to Kenya this summer to go stay with some family that own a tourist lodge, I'll be bring along a partner in crime which is why I'm taking 2 telephotos.

    As well as a couple of changes of clothes, I'll be taking mostly camera kit, minus my lighting rig that I'll be using for some quirky night shots.

    D3s
    D700
    Cropped body D300s or D400 (Depending on release)
    200-400 VR II F4
    600 VR F4
    70-200 VR II F2.8
    105 F2.8
    14-24 F2.8
    50mm F1.4
    1.4x II (x2)
    2x III
    Gitzo Tripod
    Gitzo Monopod
    Wimberley Head
    Ball Head

    All in a Think Tank Street Walker Harddrive and a Think Tank Airport International.

    What I am saying that if you serious about going on Safari and getting some brilliant shots you can't skimp on equipment, rent the 200-400 and ditch the DX lenses.
     
  12. Bram

    Bram TPF Noob!

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