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General Chat - not just photography => General Photography Talk => Topic started by: REX (aka TG) on January 17, 2012, 09:28:35 PM

Title: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: REX (aka TG) on January 17, 2012, 09:28:35 PM
As the title says i am planing at the end of 2012 to go to Kenya Safari. I would like from your experience to advice me about the following:

Photography equipment.
  One or two bodys
  Tele lens until 400mm is it enough for example 70-200G or 70-400G or will i   need a 600mm reach lens?
  Prime 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f2.8 macro will be needed?

I will be there in our winter there will be summer. What kind of clothes will i need.

Pictures storage.
How many GB card will i need. Do i need a computer to upload the pictures or is it any other way to store the pictures and empty the memory cards?

Any advice will be appreciate
thanks in advance
Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: Clive on January 18, 2012, 04:19:13 AM
REX (aka TG)

Wow! Sounds like a great trip. I have friends who have been. Since I've not been, I'll make some general comments...based on my experiences elsewhere. 

Bodies and lenses...on such a trip I'd take two bodies, one as backup. But probably would only use my best one day to day vs using two at once. My friends were often (only?) shooting from safari vehicles (no tripods) and I imagine space to be somewhat limited. I think up to 400 mm would be suitable. The 600 is BIG (ask fud) and bulky. It might not be practical.

Clothes...light warm-weather clothes. I prefer cotton. Ask the tour organizers.

Picture storage. I take a lot of photos on vacation but never have more than 12 GB of cards with me. However, I could not imagine going on a trip without a laptop, tablet or notebook computer for viewing and storage. I'd also take a small  external drive. I just purchased a cigarette-pack-size WD 350 GB EHD for about $80.  Anyway ... every day I'd load the day's photos onto the laptop and immediately copy them to the external HD.

You need to find out of you will be able to get electrical power every day for your computer. If not, you may need more cards.

To determine card needs...average file size X number of shot you expect to take each day (assuming you can download at night) Say, you will take 800 photos at 20 MB average (depends on RAW/jpeg and picture size)...that's 16 GB of card space each day. 800 is a lot (maybe not at a race track)....I think that is the most I have ever taken in one day.... a typical heavy wildlife day would be 400 might take 1500 in one day..I doubt it. My guess is that you will only have 4 to 6 hours of shooting per day...max.

Good luck



Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: chappo1 on January 18, 2012, 05:39:17 AM
I have been to SA a couple of times for business when I was working but only had a half day in a safari park just out of Port Elizabeth so have no real wildlife experience.
If you are shooting from a vehicle then a monopod might be more practical than a tripod.  At least it would steady the hand.
Again for lenses- I only go to the 70-300G on grounds of weight.
Like Clive, I always take a laptop and download the days shots each chance I get.  I do not always back up to an external drive though, figuring if the laptop crashed, I would still be able to get at the images.

Clothes- yep I would wear them- they tend to put you in jail if you don't.  :mrgreen:  Seriously, late 2012 is early summer.  It does ot get really hot in the southern hemisphere until Feb/March.  Then you need to consider where you are going.  Around Jo berg it is quite high and can get cold at night.

Other than that not much help from me....john
Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: subbu68 on January 18, 2012, 08:29:39 AM
From what my sister told about her trip to Kenya a couple of months ago...

Animals come very near to your vehicle. So long lenses may not be required.

it is a very pleasant climate. no need of fans even. in fact in safari lodges they switch off the power at night.

Nairobi has a dubious name of Nairobbery. Be careful to choose only reputed tour operators. Do not venture out alone or at places not advised by them. Keep you precious gear under wrap to the extent possible.

Again no direct experience. Just what she told.

Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: Fud on January 18, 2012, 09:56:58 AM
I went on safari in Kenya years ago in the days of film, so full frame, with the longest lens a 200mm and still got some good shots.  From what I remember 70-400 will do for most of your photography especially if mounted on the A77.  I would also take another body with a wider angle lens as sometimes you do get quite close to some animals (a male lion walked almost by the side of the land rover) and you don't really want to be swapping lenses regularly. I would take a monopod and a bean bag as well especially if you are trying to shoot on the move from the vehicle.  The tripod might be worth taking as well if you want to do any landscape/sunset photography and especially if you want to shoot any night star scenes.

As for storage I would take at least 3 16GB cards plus either a laptop (if you are going back to camp imbetween trips and will have time to download) of a portable backup drive (I have a vosonic which has 500GB)

Clothing I would take light clothing that also protects from the sun if possible as you are almost on the equator so the sun is very strong and believe it or not a light top layer for the evening (especially the ladies as they seem to feel the cold more)

I will be envious of you as we get later in the year as I have always wanted to go back
Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: REX (aka TG) on January 22, 2012, 07:45:02 PM
Thanks all for the advices.

Which tele lens would you take with you. The 70-200G + 1.4 converter or the 70-400G.

The reason i am asking is that he 70-200G extent not when zooming so less possibility for dust to enter inside the lens VS 70-400G extend in/out wen zooming
Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: Clive on January 23, 2012, 03:22:58 AM

I think I'd opt for the 200 with the converter. Makes more senses to me.

But I've no experience on a safari. I'd normally go for the longest tele.

Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: Jumeirah on January 23, 2012, 04:03:19 AM
REX, excellent plan. Hear the masai mara is a must see.

A lot of my friends have done it. Apparently the best months to see the animals real close is the cooler months from July to September as you witness the annual migration.
Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: markc on January 23, 2012, 09:21:49 AM
Rex - I'm completely jealous. A safari is one of my dream holidays but the other half has tinnitus and can't take malaria medication (it makes it worse - a LOT worse!).

My lens choice would be easy - Bigma and 16-50 f/2.8 with Alpha 77 body.

I would take my trusty Panasonic TZ7 along as backup but that would be it.

I reckon the 16-50 would get little use TBH as 50-500 gives a lot of scope and I have carried it around all day (at air shows, zoos, etc.) so I know that I can do so.

The A77 gets a wee bit over 1000 shots on a 32Gb card so I would probably make sure that I had a couple plus enough batteries for a day. I would seriously consider getting a grip (as I have for my Dynax 7D) as it gives more stability and longer continuous battery life.

Take a laptop! You will want to download and look at the photos in the evenings plus it will give you the peace of mind that they are off the cards. For the same reason i would probably take an external hard disk (to have a spare copy).

Tripod (as has been said) is probably not necessary BUT if you are doing evening shoots from a hide or static position (check with the tour operator) then it could be useful.

In summary

One body plus compact as backup

16-50 plus 50-500 lenses

2 (or more) x 32Gb 95Mb/s SDXC cards

Spare batteries for camera

Battery grip (optional)

The nice thing is that all of the above fit in my camera bag (I have a Tamrac Cyberpack 6)

Dont forget the chargers, cables, power adapters, etc., that you will need.

Clothes: lightweight, cotton, enough for the time that you are there (you will sweat - so bank on changing tops every day).

Enjoy yourself you lucky, lucky man!

Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: rannari on January 25, 2012, 06:58:41 PM

What a great journey! I envy you ... a lot :-)

I can not add anything what others have said. Just shoot like in hell.

Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: Mister V on February 05, 2012, 05:30:57 PM
Rex, can I add by how jealous I am!!

Hoping to do the same later this year but nothing booked yet!

The big question is, which national park are you going to? The reason I ask is because you get closer to the animals in some parks than others and that will give you an idea as to what equipment you should take. That being said, I guess you don't want to take the risk and get 'caught short'.

I went on safari in Kenya (i went to Tsavo East and Tsavo West) not too long ago and can advise you on what I did and what I would do differently next time:

Photography equipment.
Last time I took one body and a small Sony P&S camera. If I had two bodies then I would definitely have done that and kept a wide lens on one and a big zoom lens on the other.

Depending on what national park you are going to, you really shouldn't need anything more than 400mm (in my opinion). However, there was the one occaision where I would have loved (and could have done with) something like a 600mm (it was a leopard in a tree eating a fresh kill). Like I said, it was only the one time but I could have done with it. If you have one then by all means take one out there but be careful where you are changing your lenses, you will be surrounded by a LOT of dust!

I had my 70-300G lens attached for 95% of my Safari drives and found it to be MORE than adequate. My advice, if you have something of a longer range then take it. Your driver may not want to get too close to a certain animal but at least you are covered if you have more reach, so if you have a 400mm/600mm lens - take it. Next time I am sure I will take something a bit longer, just in case the opportunity arises again.

I also took an 18-55mm lens with me, a Minolta 50mm lens, some spare (and fully charged) batteries, battery charger, spare memory card, rucksack to keep it all in. I then kept my memory in a bullet proof case (not literally, but you get the idea) and had in my sight the whole time afterwards due to fear of them getting damaged/erased.....someone above mentioned taking a laptop/external HDD - not a bad idea really.

I was told that I would need something fairly warm-ish for early morning and evening game drives because the temperature gets cool. I wouldn't really agree to this as it is still very mild, it's just not as hot as the day. Avoid bright colours though, this has been known to scare animals away. Go with neutral colours - khaki and denim are both fine. You MUST take a hat with you as the sun will be very strong. Also take sunglasses and you MUST take mosquito repellant with you.

Pictures storage.
I left mine on the memory card but removed it from the camera and kept it in a safe, dry place. You can take a laptop/external drive with you but it might be a lot to carry with you? I don't know where you are staying but it might be easier to take as little as possible unless you are going to carry everything with you. Depending on how long you are going for and which National Park you are going to, you may travel from lodge to lodge so I wouldn't bank on keeping anything in the room.

I know there is a lot of info there so I hope everything there helps! Let me know where you are going and I can advise you further if you want.

Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: REX (aka TG) on February 05, 2012, 08:37:40 PM
thank you to all for the comments and advise.
i am goiing to the kenya safari and going to visit the following places:masai mara,lake navasha,amboseli, tsavo east and mombasa. any further advise wil be appreciated. i might be planning a little too eary but because it's not a trip you can do everyday,  i want to be prepared and well informed so that this once in a lifetime trip must be mistake free :D
Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: Stef. on February 05, 2012, 08:40:43 PM
Rex- I have not read all of the above comments and I have not been on a safari before, but I remember one advice that was given and that is to not forget to take also a good wide angle lens as there are stunning landscape shots to be taken as well. I soooo envy you!
Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: REX (aka TG) on December 22, 2012, 05:31:00 AM
The time has arrived i am almost ready, I am flying today afternoon  from Cyprus to Dubai (9 hours waitting) and then to Kenya/Nairobi tomorrow midday.
15kg Camera bag (a900&16-35*24-70) (a99&70-400) & (a77&300G&2X) one monopot and one small tripod.

Thanks all for advises and recomen tation's i will be back next year :) and hope with lots good photos.

Merry Christmas's & Happy new year 2013 to all of you
Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: rannari on December 22, 2012, 04:02:19 PM
Have a great trip Rex! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2013 to you and your family. Can't imagine a Christmas in a place without snow :-)

Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: REX (aka TG) on December 22, 2012, 11:00:15 PM
Thanks Kurt i am waitting now 9 hrs :( for the connection flight but that i will be tomorrow to Kenya makes me happy.. Happy white christmas and regards
Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: Tom F on December 23, 2012, 12:29:48 AM
Hope you have a great time!
Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: Stef. on December 23, 2012, 12:32:54 AM
Have a superb trip! Stay safe and bring back tons of pics!
Merry xmas!
Title: Re: Kenya Safari advice
Post by: REX (aka TG) on December 23, 2012, 06:09:52 AM
Thanks Tomf & Stef :) very much appreciate in a few minutes i am boarding and i may not have any intranet connection to share with DD some first pictures
from Nairobi.
All the best to you and your family's for the 2013