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Author Topic: Gear for WALKING safari in Tanzania  (Read 15210 times)
MarkH
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« on: February 10, 2009, 08:48:44 AM »
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I've used the Search functions already and have seen much discussion on camera/lense selection for many types of Safaris but most refer to shooting form a Vehicle.

My wife & I are headed to Tanzania in June for a 13 day walking safari with Hoopoe( http://www.hoopoe.com/treks walk on wild side.htm).
This particular safari concentrates on getting out of the vehicle and walking about, so the lens choices are potentially different.

I was wondering whether anyone here has experienced such a safari and has any recommendations?  We have been shooting mostly underwater stuff for the last 8 years and really have no idea where to start.
I'm contemplating rental of a 500MM lens but it will cost over a grand for the 4 weeks I'll be gone.  A new Canon 5D Matk II may be in the plan as well.
Been looking at urchase of a zoom telephoto but can't seem to make a choice so maybe someone can sway me.

We already own the following gear:

2 Canon 5D bodies
All canon glass:
  24-105MM F4 IS (L)
  14MM F2.8 (L)
  16-35MM F2.8 (L)
  135MM F2 (L)
  85MM F1.2 (L)
  300 F4.0 IS (L)
  1.4X extender
  100 MM macro

Thanks!

Mark

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kikashi
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« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2009, 12:33:00 PM »
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Quote from: MarkH
I've used the Search functions already and have seen much discussion on camera/lense selection for many types of Safaris but most refer to shooting form a Vehicle.

My wife & I are headed to Tanzania in June for a 13 day walking safari with Hoopoe( http://www.hoopoe.com/treks walk on wild side.htm).
This particular safari concentrates on getting out of the vehicle and walking about, so the lens choices are potentially different.

I was wondering whether anyone here has experienced such a safari and has any recommendations?  We have been shooting mostly underwater stuff for the last 8 years and really have no idea where to start.
I'm contemplating rental of a 500MM lens but it will cost over a grand for the 4 weeks I'll be gone.  A new Canon 5D Matk II may be in the plan as well.
Been looking at urchase of a zoom telephoto but can't seem to make a choice so maybe someone can sway me.

We already own the following gear:

2 Canon 5D bodies
All canon glass:
  24-105MM F4 IS (L)
  14MM F2.8 (L)
  16-35MM F2.8 (L)
  135MM F2 (L)
  85MM F1.2 (L)
  300 F4.0 IS (L)
  1.4X extender
  100 MM macro

Thanks!

Mark
The 100-400L would seem to fit into your lineup quite nicely, particularly for a safari. I speculate that if you're on foot, much of the wildlife (the dangerous kind, anyway) is going to be some distance away! You seem to have rather more at the wide end than you're likely to need on this trip.

Jeremy
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scubarob639
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« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2009, 06:10:07 PM »
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I did a week of walking/hiking in Tanzania in 2007. I went with a 1D2, 70-200 f4is, 17-40, 1.4 extender, Monopod and that was about it. put it in a Dryzone 200 pack and it worked well and was light weight.  In the areas where we walked, the large animals were long gone before you could see them, however, birds, monkeys, reptiles, some enormous bugs, Masai, we saw a lot of.  I wish I had taken a 100 macro, and maybe a 400 f5.6.  I agree with the previous post, that 100-400mm might be the ticket! You don't want to be changing lenses a lot.  The national parks seem to have many more large animals near you, but I don't think they will let you walk in any of the major national parks.    Have a great trip, Rob

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Plekto
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« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2009, 07:28:58 PM »
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Good shoes.

Someone slower than you.    

Though, I second the macro.  Sometimes tiny stuff is just as interesting.  Good choice on the 14mm prime.  You'll probably use this a LOT.  

Oh also consider the newer 2x type II teleconverter.  This might give you a little more reach without having to get a massive zoom, especially since you can stack them if required.  Sure you lose 2 stops this way, but digital plus the fact that there's often too *much* light outdoors during the day...
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MarkH
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2009, 04:28:29 PM »
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Quote from: kikashi
The 100-400L would seem to fit into your lineup quite nicely, particularly for a safari. I speculate that if you're on foot, much of the wildlife (the dangerous kind, anyway) is going to be some distance away! You seem to have rather more at the wide end than you're likely to need on this trip.

Jeremy


Got lots of wide glass due to my previous Underwater Photo hobby
Appreciate the info on the 100-400 but one of the things I don't like is the push/pull zoom instead of a zoom ring like all the others.

So, I think the wife would like the either the 70-200 2.8L and would probably run 1 1.4x extender on it.  Any opinions on this option?

Also, Given that I will probably rent a long lens for the trip and will carry it "hobo style" on the end of a monopod... I'm torn between the 400 2.8L and the 500 4L.
The rental cost difference is negligible but the weight difference is 1500 grams!
I like the faster glass but at the expense of 100MM focal length and almost 3.5 pounds might be excessive...

Opinions??
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2009, 05:07:23 PM »
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Quote from: MarkH
I'm torn between the 400 2.8L and the 500 4L.

Opinions??

Have you considered Canon's 400 f/4 DO? Would be smaller and lighter than your two options above.  A friend of mine who has gone on a number of African photography trips uses one to good effect.  However, I do seem to remember that early copies had a sharpness issue.

Paul
« Last Edit: February 11, 2009, 05:09:30 PM by PaulS » Logged

Paul Sumi
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2009, 05:08:35 PM »
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Quote from: Plekto
Good shoes.

Someone slower than you.    

 

Paul
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scubarob639
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2009, 07:49:37 PM »
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I think the 70-200 2.8IS is a good option with extender.   I own a 500 f4 and use it on trips here in the U.S.  I thought about taking it on my past african trip, but decided against it due to the amount of walking/hiking we did.  It's a pain to carry long distance, with or without monopod attached and I assume you will also have a backpack?  Their was a couple of times I could have used it-a distant Cheetah, or lion, but the big cats seem to stay just out of sight when you're on foot. If you happen to check out Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire, or one of the parks by vehicle, then a 500 would be a plus(big creatures all around you!)  The walking/hiking trips are very good about taking you where you won't get eaten or trampled!

Rob
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2009, 08:11:57 PM »
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Some comments:

- Have you considered taking with you an APS body (50D for instance)? This will reduce by 1.5 times the need for a super tele zoom. Your 300 f4.0 on the 50D will behave like a 450 f4.0 on the 5D/5DII. You can nearly buy one 50D for the cost of big guns rental. The it is just a question of figuring out whether there is a quality gap between your 5D and the 50D that would impact your results,
- If you walk without a porter, weight is a critical factor, that might make the long teles unrealistic anyway,
- You might want to check whether hand held panoramas could not be a good alternative for your super wide lens. If you intend to focus on remote subjects like the horizon line then this technique should work very well but you will need to devote sufficient time to practising before going (I would say at last 10 hours or so),
- A real tripod might be a big plus for these dawn/dusk images, don't forget also a release cable,
- My experience of these high opportunity/high stress (once in a life time shot) assignements is that the more simple the gear you carry, the more efficient you will be. I would not take too much stuff and concentrate on what you can shoot with what you have instead of thinking about what you could have shot if you had brought something else.

Cheers,
Bernard
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MarkH
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« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2009, 08:52:24 AM »
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Quote from: BernardLanguillier
Some comments:

- Have you considered taking with you an APS body (50D for instance)? This will reduce by 1.5 times the need for a super tele zoom. Your 300 f4.0 on the 50D will behave like a 450 f4.0 on the 5D/5DII. You can nearly buy one 50D for the cost of big guns rental. The it is just a question of figuring out whether there is a quality gap between your 5D and the 50D that would impact your results,
- If you walk without a porter, weight is a critical factor, that might make the long teles unrealistic anyway,
- You might want to check whether hand held panoramas could not be a good alternative for your super wide lens. If you intend to focus on remote subjects like the horizon line then this technique should work very well but you will need to devote sufficient time to practising before going (I would say at last 10 hours or so),
- A real tripod might be a big plus for these dawn/dusk images, don't forget also a release cable,
- My experience of these high opportunity/high stress (once in a life time shot) assignements is that the more simple the gear you carry, the more efficient you will be. I would not take too much stuff and concentrate on what you can shoot with what you have instead of thinking about what you could have shot if you had brought something else.

Cheers,
Bernard

I like the idea of a tripod, but I think this will  be too heave given the luggage limitations.

I'm always confused when folks talk about the cropped sensor making the lens "longer".  Maybe I don't understand the concept very well, but it seems if you have a 5D and crop post-production you end up with effectively the same number of pixels in your image as you would if you used a 50D.  Plus, you lose the capability to take a really stunning 13MP shot with the 50D.

I agree with the comment about simplicity.  I think we have decided upon 3 cameras shared between the two of us.
#1 will have a tele-zoom.
#2 will have a prime long lens

Cameras 1 & 2 will never have the lens removed for the duration of the trip (or so we say now)

#3 will have one of several lenses:  85MM, 16-35MM , 14MM or 100MM macro depending upon the day/evening.

On the prime tele I'm leaning toward the 400 2.8L.  It is IS and I figure I can put a 1.5x extender on it and still have a good combo if need be.  Extenders are cheap and light
On the tele-zoom I think we are leaning towards the 70-200 2.8L.  Same thoughts on the extender but we are also thinking the new 5D Mark II with the 21MP sensor might crop well if we stay with the 200MM
We also already own the 400 F4L so who knows... that just might make the trip instead of renting the F2.8L version.  Money is not a BIG concern but bucks is bucks

Thoughts?
« Last Edit: February 12, 2009, 08:52:56 AM by MarkH » Logged
Colorado David
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2009, 09:25:52 AM »
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I can't speak with authority to your particular situation, but in the camps I've been to in Africa, someone does your laundry every day.  I would find out about those details and then decide to take fewer clothes in favor of a tripod.
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MarkH
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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2009, 11:09:48 AM »
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Quote from: Colorado David
...decide to take fewer clothes in favor of a tripod.
Funny.  I'm fighting with my wife on this already.  She seems to think that more than 2 pairs of underwear is necessary.
I feel that 1 to wear and one to wash is good enough.  In a pinch, you can simply turn 'em inside-out
I plan to use the clothes to pack the lenses and stuff in.

Trust me, I'm a diver and an UW photographer so I know how to pack light clothing-wise.

I think that my current tripod might be a bit heavy but it was purchased to support the camera and a long lens.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2009, 11:10:06 AM by MarkH » Logged
BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2009, 06:19:25 PM »
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Quote from: MarkH
I like the idea of a tripod, but I think this will  be too heave given the luggage limitations.

A good tripod (Gitzo 3 series for instance) and head (RRS or Arcaswiss for instance) weight around 2.5 kg. How heavy is your bag itself?

Quote from: MarkH
I'm always confused when folks talk about the cropped sensor making the lens "longer".  Maybe I don't understand the concept very well, but it seems if you have a 5D and crop post-production you end up with effectively the same number of pixels in your image as you would if you used a 50D.  Plus, you lose the capability to take a really stunning 13MP shot with the 50D.

This has been written about a lot. What matters in the end is pixel density. A 50D packs 15 megapixels in an area that is 2.5 times smaller than that of a 5D's sensor. It means that the 5D only has about 5 megapixels in the central part of its sensor corresponding to the area of the 50D's sensor.

With a given lens, say your 300 mm f4.0, if you crop the central part of a 5D's frame so as to fous on a distant subject, say a lion trying to eat a giraffe, you will end up with a 5MP image with the 5D and a 15MP image with the 50D, same crop, same lens.

This explain the so-called zoom factor that you enoy with an APS body.

You can of course believe that the pixels of the 5D have a higher quality that those of the 50D, but:

- this is mostly not true due to the fact that the 50D's sensor is 2.5 years newer technology,
- there is no way slightly better 5D pixels could compensate for 5 times more pixels in the 50D (15MP vs 5MP)

So de facto, you can really consider that the actual focal lenght of your 300mm on the 5D becomes a 450mm on the 50D. Ask people shooting birds... most of them use APS bodies.

The day Nikon releases a 15MP D400 I will buy it in a heart beat as a backup for the D3x for those assignements where I need to go longer.

So globally my view remains that, considering your walking scenario, you will probably have a better experience with a 5D, 50D, 300mm f4.0 and a tripod that you would with 2x5D, 400mm f2.8 and monopod.

I am not a safari expert though, but this is what I would do in such circumpstances. Andy Biggs and others should be able to help you more with this.

Cheers,
Bernard
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MarkH
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« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2009, 06:56:41 PM »
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Quote from: BernardLanguillier
A good tripod (Gitzo 3 series for instance) and head (RRS or Arcaswiss for instance) weight around 2.5 kg. How heavy is your bag itself?

...

This explain the so-called zoom factor that you enoy with an APS body.

You can of course believe that the pixels of the 5D have a higher quality that those of the 50D, but:

- this is mostly not true due to the fact that the 50D's sensor is 2.5 years newer technology,
- there is no way slightly better 5D pixels could compensate for 5 times more pixels in the 50D (15MP vs 5MP)

...
Bernard,

Thanks for the education.  Actually the 5D Mark II is a 21MP sensor and I would hope it is at least as modern as the 50D but I do understahd yourpoint.
I'm limited to 15Kg baggage total so you can see why even a 2.5Kg tripod is an issue
 
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2009, 02:11:09 AM »
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Quote from: MarkH
Bernard,

Thanks for the education.  Actually the 5D Mark II is a 21MP sensor and I would hope it is at least as modern as the 50D but I do understahd yourpoint.
I'm limited to 15Kg baggage total so you can see why even a 2.5Kg tripod is an issue

All things being equal, you would need a 37.5 megapixel FF sensor to have the same pixel density found in the 50D.

Cheers,
Bernard
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MarkH
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« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2009, 08:16:43 AM »
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Quote from: BernardLanguillier
All things being equal, you would need a 37.5 megapixel FF sensor to have the same pixel density found in the 50D.

Cheers,
Bernard


Well, I had hoped that this would not degrade into a pixel war.
I'm not looking at a 50D and personally I believe (right or wrong) that the size of the pixel matters more than the density to a certain degree.
I do like that the 50D nd the new 5D use the new sensor technology and I really like that the 5D has better dust management than my old one.
So, I've made the decision on camera body for now.
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fike
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« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2009, 08:36:24 AM »
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I hear you on your decision to stick with the 5DMKII, but I need to second the sentiment that both a cropped sensor and a full frame sensor camera should be in your kit.  The extra reach from the APS-C sensor is substantial...it is like adding a teleconverter but without the quality degradation. As a matter of fact, that 300 f/2.8 you have on a cropped sensor 50D with a 1.4x teleconverter is a really fantastic combination for everything from small critters and birds to long range scenics out on the horizon.


I also agree with Bernard on the panoramic technique.  For wide angle landscape work, there really isn't an enormous need for very wide lenses.  A two, three, or four image panoramic using a normal range lens will far exceed most wide angle lenses.  Couple that with the fact that panoramics allow you to avoid so much foreground and sky and you have a great combination.
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Fike, Trailpixie, or Marc Shaffer
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I carry an M43 ILC, a couple of good lenses, and a tripod.
MarkH
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« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2009, 01:39:27 PM »
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Quote from: fike
...As a matter of fact, that 300 f/2.8 you have on a cropped sensor 50D with a 1.4x teleconverter is a really fantastic combination for everything from small critters and birds to long range scenics out on the horizon...

You guys do make a really good point.  I'm not stupid, just a little stubborn.

When you mention that combo I can really see the advantage!  So I end up with an Image Stabilized 588MM F4 lens that weighs not too much and I can shoot 6fps and to top it all off it doesn't weigh a ton!
All this for the cost of about $1200 plus another 1.4x converter

Am I understanding correctly?  Seems like a pretty good Safari solution to me

Now someone please play devil's advocate and tell me why I would NOT want to make this selection???
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fike
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« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2009, 02:33:41 PM »
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Quote from: MarkH
You guys do make a really good point.  I'm not stupid, just a little stubborn.

When you mention that combo I can really see the advantage!  So I end up with an Image Stabilized 588MM F4 lens that weighs not too much and I can shoot 6fps and to top it all off it doesn't weigh a ton!
All this for the cost of about $1200 plus another 1.4x converter

Am I understanding correctly?  Seems like a pretty good Safari solution to me

Now someone please play devil's advocate and tell me why I would NOT want to make this selection???

The most relevant counter-argument is that you will suffer in low-light, high-ISO conditions.  But if you have both a 50D and 5DMkII in your kit, that will be easy to rectify by using the full frame camera.  

For that setup, I would suggest some sort of lightweight tripod or monopod too.
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Fike, Trailpixie, or Marc Shaffer
marcshaffer.net
TrailPixie.net

I carry an M43 ILC, a couple of good lenses, and a tripod.
MarkH
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« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2009, 03:07:36 PM »
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Quote from: fike
The most relevant counter-argument is that you will suffer in low-light, high-ISO conditions.  But if you have both a 50D and 5DMkII in your kit, that will be easy to rectify by using the full frame camera.

My intent would be to leave the lens on the 50D for the duration... I'm afraid of the low light.

what are the particular issues?

I guess I could simply drop the extender or as you say, simply move the whole rig to a 5D if I knew I would see such conditions...
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