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Author Topic: Am I the only one who thought Nathan's Safari $$$$  (Read 6660 times)
mlevison
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« on: August 29, 2007, 01:59:31 PM »
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Am I the only reader who thought Nathan's budget stupendously large?

Nathan's recent article Digital Safari Equipment Tips was excellent. Unfortunately Nathan has lost touch with the world the rest of us inhabit. He recommends we have nearly $30,000 worth of equipment saying its a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity both to experience incredible scenery and wildlife and to make some amazing photographs". Sure it is Nathan.

My detailed analysis is at: http://www.notesfromatooluser.com/2007/07/...fari-with-.html

What do you think is 30,000 too much? Do you already have that much equipment? Are you a working pro?
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Rob C
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« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2007, 02:45:02 PM »
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Am I the only reader who thought Nathan's budget stupendously large?

Nathan's recent article Digital Safari Equipment Tips was excellent. Unfortunately Nathan has lost touch with the world the rest of us inhabit. He recommends we have nearly $30,000 worth of equipment saying its a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity both to experience incredible scenery and wildlife and to make some amazing photographs". Sure it is Nathan.

My detailed analysis is at: http://www.notesfromatooluser.com/2007/07/...fari-with-.html

What do you think is 30,000 too much? Do you already have that much equipment? Are you a working pro?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=136229\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

When I was a working pro I had a lot more than 30,000  bucks worth of equipment - I had to! Now, since deciding that health comes before anything else. I´m down to a single 35mm F3 body and also a D200, both firing on occasional cylinders via the same three lenses: 24, 50 and 135mm.

Funny how it takes a lifetime to learn the important things.

Rob C
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Christopher
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« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2007, 05:40:11 PM »
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When I was a working pro I had a lot more than 30,000  bucks worth of equipment - I had to! Now, since deciding that health comes before anything else. I´m down to a single 35mm F3 body and also a D200, both firing on occasional cylinders via the same three lenses: 24, 50 and 135mm.

Funny how it takes a lifetime to learn the important things.

Rob C
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His his list nice and good to have ? Yes. Would I bring similar stuff ? Yes. Would it be possible to spend just 15.000 ? Yes.

In the End it depends what you can spend.

Yes three 1DsMk2 bodies would be a dream, but you can easily go with three 5D bodies or even two.
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mikeseb
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« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2007, 06:26:41 PM »
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The guy's a Microsoft billionaire who flies around in a Gulfstream (IV or V, not sure which) so he ain't schlepping bags through TSA security.

I think Nate can afford the gear--and apparently his work is quite good from what I hear. If I was that rich, my gadget habit would make Michael Reichmann look like  he took a vow of poverty in some mountaintop abbey. I'd need a C-17 to haul it around.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2007, 06:28:03 PM by mikeseb » Logged

michael sebastian
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« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2007, 06:58:19 PM »
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If Nathan had been using a medium format back the back alone would have been worth $30,000.

Many pros and affluent amateurs travel with as much as $50,000 or more in gear at a time. Some do fine with less. No point in getting your knickers in a twist over it one way or the other. Nathan wrote about his own experience, which many who can afford African photo safaris will find of value.

It's like being upset that one person drives a $100,000 Mercedes and another a $10,000 Honda. No point to it.

Michael
« Last Edit: August 29, 2007, 06:59:23 PM by michael » Logged
pobrien3
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« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2007, 08:19:03 PM »
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What do you think is 30,000 too much? Do you already have that much equipment? Are you a working pro?
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No, I'm not a full-time pro but my camera equipment purchases over the last few years have come to more than that amount.  My 1DsII plus a selection of decent lenses (I don't have a 600mm lens) and accessories add up to that pretty quickly.  Most of us don't rush out and buy all of our gear in one go, we accumulate it over time.  Not worth getting excited about.
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mahleu
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« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2007, 02:23:59 AM »
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Nathan wrote about his own experience, which many who can afford African photo safaris will find of value.
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Just to comment on that, the actual safari doesn't need to be expensive (except the flights to get there). You can get into decent parks in South Africa for under $20 and accomodation is cheap too.

Of course you can go the other route and stay in 5 star aircon tents in an exclusive reserve with your personal driver with a tracking device stuffed up each animal's bum.

But you can get by on a budget. I'm a student and I get to see the big 5 quite often.
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Josh-H
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« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2007, 02:50:24 AM »
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$30,000 sounds a lot... but then for interests sake I sat down and did a quick calc. on my own equipment and was shocked to see it total only a few grand under that.

It doesnt really take that much gear to end up with 30K+ I think - especially if you throw medium  format into the mix, or even a couple of L series Big Tele lenses and your virtually there.
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Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2007, 04:47:17 AM »
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I think that there´s quite a lot more to the issue than money - that´s only the passport to purchase.

As I mentioned before, I certainly had to have a lot more gear than the thirty thousand bucks worth this thread is about, but of course, there was no way I needed to have it in motion all the time.

There is a distinct difference here between the amateur and pro concepts of usefulness - on has to spend the money to make more of it; the other spends the money because he enjoys either the product, the images he might produce, the glow of ownership or all of those things.

I have found that, wearing my pro hat, more equipment got moved around the world than was required, much of it just dead weight and responsibility that had to be carted around to no great purpose. Now, freed from the money-making aspects of the game, I find that even the tripod becomes a mental barrier to taking a camera for a walk; a perfectly good Gitzo lies on a cupboard shelf gathering guilt-inducing dust.

In conclusion, I wonder if Doisneau, HC-B et al would have done what they did if saddled with the stuff the modern guy seems to have to shift each time he goes onto the street. Less often really is more.

Rob C
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DaveW
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« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2007, 07:13:38 AM »
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Yeah, I was more concerned about the volume and weight of gear - although the cost is a bit prohibitive too.  (I *could* spend 30k in photo gear, I have other things I should be spending that money on - like retirement savings and paying the mortgage down quick!)

I'm off to Africa in just over a month, there's no way I'd take that much gear with me - the first part of my trip involves climbing up Kilimanajro.

Gear for my wife and myself includes two cameras, two zooms, two wide angle lenses, on telecon, one macro lens, one lowlight prime, two tripods (carbon fibre will be coming up the mountain, big metal one stays at the hotel!), and a portable hardrive/card reader to back up our shots in.  Our entire photographic equipment budget is probably less than cost of one one body and one lens in the authors equipment list.
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mlevison
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« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2007, 08:27:08 AM »
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It's like being upset that one person drives a $100,000 Mercedes and another a $10,000 Honda. No point to it.
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Thanks for the courtesy of a reply Micheal. A couple of details - I understand that Nathan was writing from his experience and it was an interesting read. Unfortunately it was almost alien to me because cost is clearly not an issue for Nathan when his thinking about his tools.

Also I'm not upset or even envious - I just found the article of limited value because its all theoretical.

When our kids are old enough to be left alone for a few weeks my wife and I will go Safari so the article is of more than academic interest.

A far more interesting article would be from someone who does Safari's on a slightly more limited budget. It would also be helpful if they provided their sense of priorities so I could gauge where money would best be spent.

More than anything it just struck me that Nathan's safari was so far out of the reach of many of your readers that it was worth commenting on.

Cheers
Mark Levison
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luong
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« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2007, 01:48:45 AM »
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I didn't see anything unusual in the equipment list. Most serious wildlife photographers use a similar kit.  If I was to travel to Africa for the purpose of photography it wouldn't make sense for me to spend that much time and money and not have the equipment that would give me the best chance to do the job properly. If it was a once in a lifetime trip, I might get a free 600/4 loaner from CPS, but I doubt that one doesn't return to Africa. Besides, as illustrated by Larson's "Mystical San Francisco", 600mm lenses can be put to good use in the city as well...
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2007, 03:53:46 AM »
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Once you get into pro-grade equipment, it's pretty easy to spend $30,000. I've got at least that much invested in my photo gear, and then there is the black hole of computer stuff; computers, monitors, laptops, printers, hard drives, RAID controllers, NAS devices, networking gear...I'd estimate about $40,000 for everything. My basic camera bag has about $20,000 in it.

If you are going to go to the time and expense of traveling to Africa to do the safari thing and photograph wildlife, it's kinda stupid to only pack a disposable film camera or two, especially if you intend to sell the images. If you're going to be there, bring the right tools for the job. And that will cost you.
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Rob C
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« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2007, 10:24:44 AM »
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The lure of Africa is largely the fault of one Ernest Hemingway, who presumably spent just enough time there to get sufficient background material to enable him to knock off a few pot-boilers and then beat a hasty retreat to the much kinder shores of the Florida Keys.

I had the misfortune to have to go to Kenya to shoot one part of a calendar for a lager company.

The pleasure started in London, when the Kenya state carrier had to abort two take-offs due to explosions in an engine. The second aborted attempt required an overnight stay at the airport - yes, they did give us a hotel for the night. On arrival at Nairobi - late, and nobody had turned up to meet the party - we were put into a very nice hotel where we managed to stay just long enough for my wife to find her way into a shopping area where she bought some props for the model to wear.

The next bit was a flight with Biggles to a place called Kitchwa Tembo (forgive the spelling if incorrect - long time ago) where we were shown to our tents and the en-suite facilities were pointed out: a secondary end to the tent where a duckboard covered a hole in the ground. Above the board was a system of tubes and watering can spouts which were the showers. Yes. The duckboarding was thick with webs, God alone knows what lay underneath or who would be brave enough to set foot upon them.

Meals were to be had in the luxury of the dining-room - a sort of beach-bar edifice where mystery meats were on the menu.

Nightfall was the coming of darkness and fear. The tents, to describe them briefly, had long, sagging pockets alongside the ´beds´ and it was just our luck to come back the first night to see a large arachnid wander down the wall into said pocket. Now, as anyone who has lived in Australia or India (India in my case) will be able to tell you, you don´t take these creatures lightly. Well, we never did manage to get the mother out of his pocket, try as we might, and the night was passes in a state of utter exhaustion and hallucination wherein I saw dozens of the cute wee things crawling over my wife´s bed and coming up through the folds in the groundsheet. I honestly don´t know which part of it was real and which was dream.

Up in the morning and off to school - oops! no time for Chuck here - off in the truck to see the animals and get some pics with model in foreground. Naturally enough, the driver wouldn´t let us off the vehicle. Great. Explain that back at the ranch.

From there and the tent of horrors, we flew in a second ´light´ aircraft to another place called Buffalo Lodge. This one, at least, had proper walls if the roof was still thatched with the breeding grounds for heaven-knows-what. And a direct view of Mount Kilmanjaro. Except that it didn´t - there isn´t one because there is no Kilimanjaro. What you see are two peaks: a lower one, off to the left which is at least craggy and interesting to look at, and a second one to the right which has the snow, but neither is called Kilimanjaro. The left one is something like Uluru (reminded me of the Ayer´s Rock name at the time) and I forget the name of the one that gets sold as Kilimanjaro, but K it isn´t.

The ladies on the trip had been all dewey-eyed when, on arrival at Buffalo, they spied a cute little cat which had just given birth to a litter of kittens on the tiny terrace by the doorway to one of the huts. On telling of this event at the Reception desk, they were not at all prepared for the panic which ensued as the staff vanished in pursuit of this happy family. Clearly, nobody had bothered to pre-warn us intrepid travellers about the reality of rabies...

After Buffalo, we had to go to Mombasa for another idyllic location dreamed up by the ´sponsor´. This time, instead of a flight plan we had a truck ride. This seemed to take forever and consisted of two memorable events: the first was when the driver stopped at a roadside shack and came back with a rather long knife which he put under his seat. When the silence was eventually breached, it turned out that it wasn´t for us, but for his protection because the homeboys in Mombasa were not his homeboys. The second incident was when we had to take some time off-road. This wasn´t anything at all to do with Safari Rallies or anything like that, just a little meander to avoid rock road blocks set up by other, unseen, tribes persons. The welcoming side of tourism, you might feel.

In Mombasa we had to get the truck onto a ferry, after which crossing we eventually arrived at a rather nice hotel - Diani Beach, I think. Now, if ever there was a lesson to be learned about zoos and kindness to animals, I learned it on that ferry: it is NOT cool to be surrounded by a crowd of faces staring in at one and one´s belongings. (One time I wished I hadn´t worn the Submariner, Michael.) They had a very nice PR man in that hotel, who came around to join the group, quite uninvited, and offered to let us all try smoking his hubble-bubble pipe. The only taker, naturally enough, was the model. Sadly, the invitation was rapidy followed by an invoice for the service provided. I like PR men.

And should anyone think that going home was accomplished without pain, I have to relate to you that departure was not permitted without a departure ticket/pass - as distinct from your everyday boarding-pass and flight ticket - which was not available at the check-in as they had run out of them. Eventually, some of us wandered off around the terminal and found a person lounging in a side-office who was prevailed upon to hand out a dozen or so. What in hell the rest of the flight did, I have no idea.

But wait, Africa hadn´t finished with us yet: at the check-in desk, right there in the full spotlight of Mombasa´s tourist doorway to the world, the bloody giant at the desk put my camera bag on the scales, ALONG WITH HIS FOOT, and charged me excess baggage.

And you want to go there to shoot animals?

You can keep the damn continent - it creates its own curse!

Rob C
« Last Edit: August 31, 2007, 10:31:07 AM by Rob C » Logged

Don Libby
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« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2007, 11:00:33 AM »
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Rob -   Thank you for making my morning after what could be called by some a ruff night.  

After reading of your trials I am even gladder that we’ve decided to take a 60 trip to Alaska with all our gear.  Can’t wait to read the responses to your message, reminds me of the old serials where each week was a different adventure.


Don
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Rob C
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« Reply #15 on: August 31, 2007, 02:59:43 PM »
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Rob -   Thank you for making my morning after what could be called by some a ruff night.  

After reading of your trials I am even gladder that we’ve decided to take a 60 trip to Alaska with all our gear.  Can’t wait to read the responses to your message, reminds me of the old serials where each week was a different adventure.
Don
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Yes, but those serials, they were fun, weren´t they?

I suppose that the African trip was perhaps the only one out of a long career which turned out to be such a bummer. Much of the time it was more like living on a magic carpet - except when the ´phone failed to ring, of course...

Glad to have helped your day - this is now 9.53pm and the eyes are getting a bit tired. Actually, the computer tends to make time fly, but I´m playing years-old tapes because my usual typing aid, KLRZFM, seems unobtainable tonight. And I thought the web was infallible.

Rob C
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gunnar1
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« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2007, 09:23:40 PM »
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An analogy may be in order here. I am a professional cabinetmaker and an amateur photographer. My investment is far, far greater than $30,000 in the tools that I need and use to make a living.

I did a project in Brooklyn, NY a few years ago (I live in Milwaukee, WI) and I transported a large amount of equipment in order to complete the project, along with two prior trips in order to detail a scope of the work to be done. We ended up going with three people and two trucks for a month.

The point is that it is all relative. I suppose I could have done the project with a modicum of hand tools and a circular saw. Of course I would have been there much longer and not been able to do nearly as good a job. I also suppose a DoItYourselfer could have done it as well (not likely) but still could not have achieved the level of craftsmanship required. Likewise, one could photograph an African Safari with a Holga, but the result would be commensurate with the equipment used.

Any of us who use equipment in the course of our professions have a different perspective on what is required to complete our work. I am an amateur photographer who doesn't have $30,000 invested in equipment and therefore couldn't bring that kind of firepower on a trip if I wanted to, but in the course of my chosen profession, You're darn right I'll bring every tool I think I might need.

Richard
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