Which lenses to pack for 2 month Africa trip



  • autofocusautofocus Posts: 625Member
    Can I go with you? I'll bring enough lenses for both of us. I'm sure you'll be happy with whatever you take. Have fun and be safe.
  • MegapixelSchnitzelMegapixelSchnitzel Posts: 185Member
    My rifle glass is either Zeiss or Nightforce depending on the purpose. The NF is on all my long range and bench rest rigs. Well, okay, one exception: a Leupold 45X on my rimfire BR rifle. (A six inch target at 1,000 yards is exceptional, by the way. Its usually too windy and way too much mirage here in Sacramento to pull that off most of the year. If this was not a photography forum, I'd like to know more about your 7mm Mag rifle and the loads you have worked up for it. I'm using a 6.5 x 284 for that work, myself).

    Let us not be banished for going off-track.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,341Member
    I have not shot seriously since my early 20s when I moved to the big city. That was 20 years ago. My dad was an accountant like me but had a gunsmith licence and made the rifle himself. It had a 26" Douglas Premium Grade floated barrel (replaced twice). We did our own hand loading and I shot Speer 160 grain Grand Slam bullets that combined with the long barrel gave excellent range and a flat trajectory. We were able to get close to, but not quite, 3,200 fps, Initially it was a cheap barrel as I was only 8 and growing. When I was 12 he put a walnut stock on it. Fiberglass barrels were not common yet. Bolt action of course, but I don't recall the specifics.

    My dad shot a 7mm Shooting Time Western which I loved, but I did not shoot it much.

    Now we need to get back on topic.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,351Member
    edited September 2016
    Transition back on topic. A real "African Safari" would be to walk, sleep in tents and eat what you shoot (which would be the plentiful deer family prey animals, not the "trophy" animals) and taking photos only with a rangefinder. Sleeping in luxury lodging, eating gourmet meals, and driving around in Land Rovers to take pictures of animals without risk is not a real "African Safari," in my opinion. It is an African Luxury Vacation Wildlife Photo Shoot which is a diluted experience. I don't know if real African Safaris are even offered anymore. They would probably be too hard for people to endure and few would want to pay for the "retro" experience.

    There are a lot of recommendations to take a big telephoto lens. However, I keep reading comments that coming back with "headshots" is simply producing photos which look like everyone else's photos and could be taken in a good zoo. Getting shots of animals in their natural environment (the so-called environmental portrait) is something you can only do in Africa. A moderate telephoto zoom is probably the best lens to get these shots unless you are very close to the animal. Also, I notice you list a lot of prime lenses. These will require changing which means dust will get into your body. In a Land Rover traveling through the back country it is probably better not to be changing lenses often. A different Zoom on each body may allow you to cover a great range without changing bodies. For example, mount your 70-200 on the DX body and buy a 200-500 to mount on the FX body. Now you have a range of 105mm to 500mm without changing lenses when shooting from an open Land Rover in dusty conditions. In order to get a wide angle shot from a dusty Land Rover take along an old Coolpix A (28mm, very small and DX sensor). When you are in non-dusty conditions, such as in an air conditioned car, you can use your primes and changes lenses more safely.

    Another article to consider: http://bythom.com/photographic-travel/africa/the-portable-safari-kit.html
    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • proudgeekproudgeek Posts: 1,422Member
    Donald, have you done either of those things you've described?
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,351Member
    proudgeek: In my youth I did a lot of backpacking in the US, Canada and Alaska; sleeping in a tent with wolves and grizzly bears around (I was even charged by an adolescent grizzly bear once when I got too close taking photos). I was shooting with a Nikon film camera and prime lenses so I know the difficulty of changing lenses and changing film "in the wild." I did not eat what I killed; in fact, I ate less calories than I burned. I always wanted to go to Africa to photograph the animals. For photography the best experience would be from a land rover so you can move around more to find animals and can shoot from higher than ground level. For really experiencing the reality of an animal like an elephant or lion the best experience would be to do a walking safari with a rifle because the danger is real; you cannot drive away quickly in a land rover and the animals can all run faster than you can. At age 69 I no longer want to go to Africa or travel anywhere out of the USA. Risking danger and suffering discomfort for adventure is for young, not old, people.
  • AndrewzAndrewz Posts: 122Member
    Interesting discussion, the last rife a carried around was a M-4 with COC, but that was government issued, great weapon.

    As far as the Safari kit @protik you know most of what you have are small primes, that don't take up much space and are fairly light. I would bring everything. You wouldn't want to leave home without the 70-200 and thats really the only really large lens you have. I say bring it all.
    D750, P7000, F100 80-200 f2.8 AF-S, 24-120 f4, 50 f1.8D, 85 f1.8G, 14-24 f2.8

    Old friends now gone -D200, D300, 80-200 f2.3/D, 18-200, 35 f1.8G, 180 f2.8D, F, FM2, MD-12, 50 f1.4 Ais, 50 f1.8 Ais, 105 f2.5 Ais, 24 f2.8 Ais, 180 f2.8 ED Ais
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,341Member
    If you can afford a trip to Africa there is no excuse for showing up with anything less than a 200-500.
  • rmprmp Posts: 547Member
    Do you need an assistant? I work for expenses. :-)
    Robert M. Poston: D4, D810, V3, 14-24 F2.8, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 80-400, 105 macro.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,341Member
    Yes, that will be one way to get to Africa.
  • AcierXAcierX Posts: 7Member
    proudgeek said:

    I recently went on a 2-week safari to Kenya. My primary focus is wildlife so my bag may differ from yours:
    1 D800
    1 D810
    1 300 f/2.8
    1 TC20
    1 17-35 f/2.8
    1 70-200 f/2.8
    A few filters and one lightweight tripod that converted to a monopod. Pretty heavy. I see you're driving more than flying. I flew everywhere by bush plane. Weight was everything to me. Even though you're driving you'll want to be comfortable.

    I believe that your 70-200 on a DX body will serve your wildlife shooting needs, given your mild interest. But don't expect that to last; you're going to be blown away.

    I did some astrophotography with my 17-35. I think your 20mm f/1.8 would be great for that. If you're doing longer exposures and stacking images for trails, I'd say you can go with the 24mm.

    I have a 24-70 that I didn't bring, would have been nice for landscapes instead of the 17-35. I found I was shooting that one at the long end or using the 70-200 on the short end for landscapes. What I've found is that landscapes there are so "big" you almost want a longer lens. Your mileage may vary.

    I shot a lot of people in Africa, and found the 70-200 to be perfect for that. Maybe you'll like the 85, but given that you'd only use the 85 for people and the 70-200 will work for both people and landscapes I'd take that.

    Here's what I'd say:
    20/24 (depending on what kind of astrophotography you're doing)
    35 (widest end for landscapes)
    70-200 (wildlife and portraits)

    If you want, try adding a TC1.4 for the long end. There might be days you're looking at lions on a kill and you can't get closer than 50 feet and you want to get droplets of blood on their whiskers :)

    One more thing. You can't pack enough memory. Bring a boatload of cards AND a back up drive. The drive saved my butt when one of my cards failed at upload.

    Have a blast! When I went I called it a once in a lifetime trip but now I'm scheming to get back. Two months will be amazing.

    Here's a small sample from the 7,000 images I shot in just two weeks.

    What bag did you take all that in as I am looking to do a similar trip and trying to be mindful of local puddle jumper weight limits and size constraints. I am considering going just 300 2.8 vs 400 2.8 just due to weight and did you bring 2 tripod heads of different types or just ball etc? TIA-
  • proudgeekproudgeek Posts: 1,422Member
    AcierX said:

    What bag did you take all that in as I am looking to do a similar trip and trying to be mindful of local puddle jumper weight limits and size constraints. I am considering going just 300 2.8 vs 400 2.8 just due to weight and did you bring 2 tripod heads of different types or just ball etc? TIA-

    I used a Kata 3N1-33, which was totally inadequate but I didn't want to buy something new. On fights (there were 4 bush flights and six commercial flights) I had to stuff things in a bit (although I kept one camera out while flying over the bush. I found I wasn't shooting with a tripod so much, especially with the big lens. Most of my shots were handheld or using a bean bag supported by the land rover (most game lodges will have these available). My tripod was a total hack — I used a meFoto. I'd never do that at home, but again, weight was the issue. I only shot animals using a tripod once (nursing giraffes at dusk).
    I felt pretty good about the 300mm + a TC2.0. There weren't many times I felt like I needed more reach than that. For big cats we were within 50' albeit in a jeep. If I go back I'm bringing both a 300 and a 500.

    As for weight restrictions, my camera bag weighed more than my clothing. My group had to get used to seeing me in the same 2 shirts. I think when they arrange these things they account for a certain about of camera gear. No one else in my group was carrying a lot, so I just took their allocation.

    Hope that helps; PM me if you want more details.

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