Jump to content
diveh2o

Telephoto in Africa

Recommended Posts

I appologize to ask a question unrelated to underwater photography, but I will be going on a safari in South Africa this July, and I was wondering how much lens I am going to need.

 

Currently my longest setup is the 70-200/2.8 with the 1.7x teleconverter on a D200.

 

Any suggestions?

 

Also... monopod? tripod?

 

thank you and sorry again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Depends on your budget, we are going to SA in June. After a lot of reading I went with

 

Nikon Zoom Telephoto AF VR Zoom Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED Autofocus Lens (Vibration Reduction)

 

After this you are looking at +$5000 lenses. Most people I talked to say you should have a monopod and beanbag

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hello

 

I have used a Sigma 80-400 OS/VR, nice focus is faster than the Nikon, and all the reviews say the optical quality is the same.

 

however it is a brut, but has a totally usable tripod collar, unlike the nikon, which is a little on the poor side.

 

regards

 

craig...

 

ah and the sigma is much cheaper.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the set up you have is great unless your budget is unlimited. 2,8 lenses are the way to go. Get or make a beanbag to support it in the truck like a tripod.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your best reasonably-priced option, I think, is the Nikon 80-400VR. I have used my Canon 100-400 IS lens on two previous Africa trips and have been pleased with its size and performance. With the newer DSLRs, the lens speed is not much of a drawback since you can boost the ISO with little image degradation. With the crop factor, the 400mm lenses give you the view of at least a 600mm lens. This will be good enough for just about anything except for small birds in faraway trees! You'll definitely want a beanbag (though some safari operators provide them in their vehicles). I've never needed a monopod or tripod since generally you can't get out of the vehicle. Beanbag and VR or IS should be plenty for sharp shots.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd also vote for the Nikon 80-400 VR. I took mine to Africa in 2004 - it had been a gift from my wife the Xmas before. I was very happy with what this lens could do with wildlife, also with it's very reasonable weight, size and cost. You really can hand hold this lens at 400, though a monopod helps. (I didn't have a monopod then, and so ended up using my tripod configured as a kind of bipod in the safari vehicle, which worked well.)

 

The midday light in most parts of Africa is very bright and lasts a long time - you shouldn't have any problem getting fast shutter speeds at normal ISO levels during most of the daylight hours. If you happen to run into a great action sequence requiring very high shutter speeds in the early morning or at dusk, then you might wish you had a 2.8 lens, but you'll still be able to get a reasonable shot by kicking up the ISO. When the animals/birds you're shooting are stationary or moving slowly, as is usually the case, there is no real problem.

 

All these were shot with the 80-400 VS, either handheld or propped on a tripod used as a monopod.

 

DSCF4078_C.jpg

Cheetahs

 

DSCF4280_C.jpg

Terrapins

 

DSCF3486_C.jpg

Burchell's coucal

 

Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The short answer is: as long a lens as you can afford.

 

The first time I went to Africa, I had a 100-400 on a film body, and got good shots.

 

The last time I went to Africa, I had a 500/4, 1.4x and 2x TCs, a 1.6x and a 1.3x crop body and I still wanted more focal length! I used the 500 + TC + 1DMk2 for almost 75% of my shots.

 

The bare minimum for me would be the 100-400 or 80-400 zooms. Make sure you take a standard zoom to cover wideangles and scenics (I got some full frame lion closeups with my G6).

 

My Africa photos are here:

http://www.photosafariindia.com/articles.htm

 

Vandit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Save your money. Your 70-200VR with 1.7 is fine, if not better, combination than the 80-400VR. If you going to spend money upgrade to a 500 f/4 or a 200-400VR zoom not on a 80-400 lens.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Vandit,

 

I just have to say that your website, in addition to having some beautiful photos, is a wealth of information. I've recently been researching long lens choices, and your discussion of gear -- especially lenses -- is perhaps the single best (and most understandably presented) discussion of lenses for nature photography I've seen!

 

I've bookmarked it, and I hope you periodically update it (as new lenses come out)! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tokina makes a pro quality fixed 400mm f5.6 prime that is pretty good and VERY cheap. It's sharper than the 80-400 and it's very small and light. Focus isn't fast, but then neither is the 80-400 or the 70-200 w/ teleconverter.

 

Here it is w/ a buy it now of $285:

 

http://cgi.ebay.com/TOKINA-AF-400MM-5-6-SD...1QQcmdZViewItem

 

Just another lens to consider.

 

Cheers

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BMYates - Thank you very much for your kind words and glad to know you found it helpful... yes, I do plan to update this site and add more content. Have neglected the website for almost 6 months - the following few weeks are going to fix that! Have some techniques and stuff coming there soon.

 

James - I actually went to Ebay to try to buy that lens, till I found it was a Nikon mount. <Homer>Stupid Nikon</Homer>. That's a great buy, though... thanks for pointing it out.

 

That would make a cracking lens to have on one body, with the 70-200 on the other. I would never shoot in Africa with just 1 prime + camera, however.

 

Regards,

Vandit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, I didn't know you had a Canon mount - they make the lens for both Nikon and Canon. I recently bought one for my Canon mount for $300.

 

Cheers

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Heh, the OP has Nikon, so that'll be helpful to him. I was merely considering sneaking off with the lens you recommended... hehe :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great topic for me. I'm in the proccess of booking a trip to see the gorillas. I'll be in low light jungle, with alot of trompling though the brush. No flashes allowed, any tips for that situation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...