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Author Topic: Gear for WALKING safari in Tanzania  (Read 15750 times)
MarkH
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« Reply #40 on: April 21, 2009, 07:30:38 PM »
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Well, I finally made my decision.
After much hand wringing and discussing with many folks I decided on the following:

Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS
Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS (possibly w/ the 1.4X)
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS   
Canon Speedlite 580EX II
Canon Drop-in Polarizer for the 300mm
Better Beamer

Now I haven't made the decision on what camera to add.  I've got 2 5Ds (one for the wife w/ 100-400)
and one for the 70-200.

For the 300mm I can't decide whether to spring for the new 5D II or save a chunk of change and get the 50D...  

also now debating in whether to pack the 16-35 or the 85 as my extra lens....

Oh, and it looks like we may be the only ones booked on this safari
« Last Edit: April 21, 2009, 07:31:47 PM by MarkH » Logged
stever
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« Reply #41 on: April 21, 2009, 11:39:51 PM »
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buy a 5d2!  

 i've been pixel peeping my new 5d2 and the results with my 100-400 (which appears to be a pretty good copy) are significantly better than my 5d.  i'd recommend using the 5d with the 100-400 and the 300 and 2x extender with the 5D2 (with the opportunity to switch)-- the 300 2.8 seems to be one of the few lenses happy with the 2x.  with the 100-400 my 5dii is a bit sharper cropped than the 40d (i also tested a 50d and found it no better than the 40d even with micro focus adjustment)

i'm still planning to take the 100-400, rented 400DO, 1.4x, 24-105, and 50 1.4.  definitely the 5dii, and will decide between the 40d and 5d shortly before leaving when the 400DO arrives.  

if you have a good 100-400, i wouldn't bother with the 70-200.  a 24-105 is a much better compliment to the 100-400.

i also don't think the 16-35 will be very useful unless you are a hardcore wideangle guy.  i'm taking the 50 1.4 because it's small and light with super resolution (at f2+) - great for low light and panoramas

i don't think a polarizer for the 300 will be particularly useful as you'll be using this lens mostly when light is a premium.  i will take a polarizer for the 24-105 and probably a 77mm 500D which will fit the 24-105 and 100-400 if a macro opportunity arrises (don't expect much use of this)
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MarkH
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« Reply #42 on: April 22, 2009, 09:45:10 AM »
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Quote from: stever
if you have a good 100-400, i wouldn't bother with the 70-200.  a 24-105 is a much better compliment to the 100-400.

i also don't think the 16-35 will be very useful unless you are a hardcore wideangle guy.  i'm taking the 50 1.4 because it's small and light with super resolution (at f2+) - great for low light and panoramas

i don't think a polarizer for the 300 will be particularly useful as you'll be using this lens mostly when light is a premium.  i will take a polarizer for the 24-105 and probably a 77mm 500D which will fit the 24-105 and 100-400 if a macro opportunity arrises (don't expect much use of this)

I selected the 70-200 as a complement to the 300 since the wife will be unwilling to give up the 100-400 I'll bet
The polarizer is just in case I decide to succumb to the desire to shoot stuff mid-day.
I do love the WA stuff but as you noted the lens will be of limited use.
We do own a 24-105 and may take that as the extra lens but I love the 85 f1.2 for so many reasons...


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MarkH
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« Reply #43 on: June 08, 2009, 08:41:01 PM »
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Well, all the gear showed today.
I'm packing for a Wednesday departure.

Got a question about AF modes and such... I'm a UW photo guy and clearly understand which to use there with my 5D and wide lenses... but the 50D with the F1.8 300MM has me stumped!!
Any guidance on mods form the default for this camera/lens combo given that I'll be in Africa shooting form a vehicle???
« Last Edit: June 08, 2009, 08:41:16 PM by MarkH » Logged
stever
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« Reply #44 on: June 08, 2009, 11:23:07 PM »
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i assume it's the 300 2.8, but that really isn't important.  i set the focus for center point so i know it's focusing on the subject and AI Servo to follow movement.  i normally use Av to control depth of field, but in low light there's an argument for Tv and setting the shutter to stop action, normally about 1/250.  with the 50D i'd try to keep ISO at 400 or 800 if possible  (although 1600 is usally pretty good with the 5D and no problem with 5D2).  I use continuous drive (except at night with flash) and take bursts of 3-5 images both in low light at minimal shutter speeds and to capture action (where you may want high speed)

i just talked to my travel agent today who recommended a short, lightweight tripod that can be set on the roof of the vehicle (i've been playing with 5D2 video which clearly requires greater stability than shooting stills).  he also said that i could expect the vehicle to have a couple beenbags (and if it doesn't i'll fill a sock or ziplock with sand or something)
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fike
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« Reply #45 on: June 09, 2009, 03:10:20 PM »
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Quote from: MarkH
Well, all the gear showed today.
I'm packing for a Wednesday departure.

Got a question about AF modes and such... I'm a UW photo guy and clearly understand which to use there with my 5D and wide lenses... but the 50D with the F1.8 300MM has me stumped!!
Any guidance on mods form the default for this camera/lens combo given that I'll be in Africa shooting form a vehicle???

For bird and wildlife work on a 50D  I recommend using your AF-On button in AI Servo mode while programming the shutter release NOT to focus.  On the 50D, the AF-On button lands nicely under your thumb and allows you to deal with moving foreground objects that temporarily obscure your view (trees, cars, people, obstacles) without having the lens searching back and forth for focus, during which time you frequently miss the shot.  This also allows you to separate the frame that you use to meter and the frame you choose to focus.  

The other thing I do with the 50d is to set the joystick as my method for selecting focus points.  75% of the time, I leave at the center point, because wildlife isn't predictable, but when I have a chance to think before I execute a shot, I will use the joystick selector to pick a focus point that will allow me to have...say for example...a bird flying towards the center of the frame from a side, instead of centered in a boring fashion.

I can't remember all the custom function settings that allowed me to get this to work in this way, but I am sure you can figure it out.  Most importantly, you want to decouple the shutter release from focus. That alone, will set you, or your wife, free.

For best results (as far as sharpness goes) I shoot my 100-400 using shutter priority mode with auto ISO on.  Then I shoot at at least 1000th of a second.  If you have some good stationary support, you may be able to get down to 500th, but for real tack-sharp focus, stay over a 1000th---and yes, that includes having IS on.  Also, make sure to use the Auto Focus Micro-adjust feature. It works well, and I have increased my keeper rate by using it.  Making a quick focus calibration adjustment isn't too hard with the AAA battery trick.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2009, 03:18:48 PM by fike » Logged

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 #46 on: June 09, 2009, 03:41:19 PM »
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Quote from: fike
For bird and wildlife work on a 50D  I recommend using your AF-On button in AI Servo mode while programming the shutter release NOT to focus.  On the 50D, the AF-On button lands nicely under your thumb and allows you to deal with moving foreground objects that temporarily obscure your view (trees, cars, people, obstacles) without having the lens searching back and forth for focus, during which time you frequently miss the shot.  This also allows you to separate the frame that you use to meter and the frame you choose to focus.

I'm familiar with that mode.  We use that in UW a lot.

Quote from: fike
...
For best results (as far as sharpness goes) I shoot my 100-400 using shutter priority mode with auto ISO on.  Then I shoot at at least 1000th of a second.  If you have some good stationary support, you may be able to get down to 500th, but for real tack-sharp focus, stay over a 1000th---and yes, that includes having IS on.  Also, make sure to use the Auto Focus Micro-adjust feature. It works well, and I have increased my keeper rate by using it.  Making a quick focus calibration adjustment isn't too hard with the AAA battery trick.

This is interesting.
I guess as long a the camera doesn't select ISO 3200 all is well
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stever
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« Reply #47 on: June 09, 2009, 10:20:16 PM »
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using 1/1000 with the 100-400 at 5.6 is a nice ideal, but there's not enough light to do this in the early morning and late afternoo where most of the action is.  on the other hand, if you allow overide, the camera will reduce shutter speed as required and you need to shoot at least 3 images in a burst.  if the 50D allows IS0 3200 in auto ISO, then you're probably better off setting 1600 and switching to auto when there's more light.  wouldn't worry about ISO 3200 with the 5D2 though
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fike
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« Reply #48 on: June 10, 2009, 08:49:24 AM »
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Quote from: stever
using 1/1000 with the 100-400 at 5.6 is a nice ideal, but there's not enough light to do this in the early morning and late afternoo where most of the action is.  on the other hand, if you allow overide, the camera will reduce shutter speed as required and you need to shoot at least 3 images in a burst.  if the 50D allows IS0 3200 in auto ISO, then you're probably better off setting 1600 and switching to auto when there's more light.  wouldn't worry about ISO 3200 with the 5D2 though

If I recall correctly, it only goes to 1600 in Auto ISO mode.  3200 is an expanded ISO setting.  My 1000th second guideline is generally for birds that are frequently moving or in flight.  For stationary or slower moving critters, I imagine 500th would probably be okay.  I would still recommend shutter priority.  You are likely to be switching back and forth between 500th-1200th second settings.  Otherwise, for wildlife you generally want as high an aperture as possible at the lowest ISO possible. I find the 100-400 is best at f/11 or f/8, though I rarely get up that high and still get fine results.
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I carry an M43 ILC, a couple of good lenses, and a tripod.
stever
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« Reply #49 on: June 28, 2009, 05:01:29 PM »
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Mark, if you're back could you spare the time for a quick comment on what did and didn't work.

I'm leaving Tue
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MarkH
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« Reply #50 on: June 28, 2009, 09:23:51 PM »
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Quote from: stever
Mark, if you're back could you spare the time for a quick comment on what did and didn't work.

I'm leaving Tue

I shot the big F2.8 300mm with a 1.4x on a 50D and was very happy.  Shutter speeds were fast enough to hand hold most of the time.
I found myself shooting Aperture priority mode and set this to F4.
The wife loved her 100-400 zoom.

There were a few cases where she didn't have enough light, and some cases where the critters were too close for my lens but I also had the 70-200 on another 5D as a backup.
Also packed the 24-105 and that also had its uses.  Didn't shoot as much video as I had planned because the migration had mostly moved north by the time we got to Serengeti.

I carried the 300mm for a 30Km walk one day.  It sure got heavy after a while  

Here is what I would change were I to do it again:

a) The 300 x 1.4x x 50D was great but only necessary 30% of the time.
 The 100-400 on the 5D was the sweet spot and I'd also add the 24-105 for some of the WA and closer up stuff.
c) Charging was not so much an issue.  I brought too many batteries and multiple chargers because I thought I'd not see power most places. (even brought an inverter for the car)
d) Flashes were not useful.  Took 2 plus better beamers and found that I didn't use them much.
e) Most places had connections for US plugs.  Only used my adapter at one Lodge.  The lodges have loaners too.
f) I bought a Colorspace UDMA drive form Hyperdrive (http://www.hyperdrive.com) and it is the sweetest unit for downloading and backing up the cards.  It turned out that the fastest way to download was to load the Colorspace drive and then set it into USB mode to transfer to the Computer.  I didn't use my FW800 card reader after I figured this out.
g) 8Gb cards were fine.  Shot about 5000 total frames between the two of us and we threw away about 100-1200 before we landed in LA.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2009, 10:25:51 AM by MarkH » Logged
stever
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« Reply #51 on: June 29, 2009, 04:23:50 PM »
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thanks, looks like i'm ready then
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MarkH
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« Reply #52 on: June 30, 2009, 10:34:44 AM »
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Haven't had much time to edit/cull the photos, but here is an uncropped/unretouched sot fo a pair of lions shot using the 50D, 1.4x and 300MM combo:
[attachment=14979:lions.jpg]

Also one of the bird shots I was able to get....
[attachment=14980:roller.jpg]
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« Reply #53 on: July 02, 2009, 04:24:52 AM »
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I am waiting my vacation next your to Africa, and then i will see what i need, only one lens i am thinking about, either 500 or 600, money is not issue, weight is not an issue as i will use always tripod and not thinking for handhold, even that 500 which is lighter than 400 and 600 i will not handhold it more than 1 minute or longer even i can.
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MarkH
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« Reply #54 on: July 02, 2009, 07:50:42 AM »
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Quote from: Professional
I am waiting my vacation next your to Africa, and then i will see what i need, only one lens i am thinking about, either 500 or 600, money is not issue, weight is not an issue as i will use always tripod and not thinking for handhold, even that 500 which is lighter than 400 and 600 i will not handhold it more than 1 minute or longer even i can.


I found that there was little room in the vehicle for such a large setup.
The tripod would be a challenge (albeit really nice) and swinging such a large lens will be tough depending upon what type of top the truck has.
I assume you will be going in a truck by yourself as to avoid a mutiny when you setup each time.
There is no opportunity to leave the vehicle while in the Tanzanian parks nd the small intra-aftica flights have both weight and space restrictions.

But, if you can get past that, and don't mind shooting larger animals that are too big for your frame you can get a lot of nice shots.  The bird life was wonderful!
« Last Edit: July 02, 2009, 07:51:45 AM by MarkH » Logged
stever
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« Reply #55 on: August 19, 2009, 11:04:00 PM »
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Got back from Tanzania and Rwanda almost a month ago to an over-full plate at home.

Fantastic trip - from Arusha, went to Tarangire, Ngorongoro, central Serengetti, and northeastern Serengeti near the Kenya border - between the 4 camps, great variety of scenery and wildlife.  

We had an enclosed land cruiser with pop-top for the entire trip except northern Serengeti where we had an open vehicle with a top.  The pop-top had 6 seats in back and limited storage.  We put one non-photographer in front and had 3 photographers and one non in the back.  I'd say 3 photographers in one of these "6-passenger" vehcles would be the practical limit.  There really isn't room to set up a tripod with a long lens - best to hand-hold or rest it on the roof (beanbags would have been nice) - i did set up the tripod for video.  The open vehicle was worse to shoot from - no possibility of using a tripod and the top was supported by posts that were always in the way - fortunately we were in an area where i could get out and set up the tripod to video wildebeasts.

What worked -
- Think Tank airport acceleration held 5D2, 40D, 50 f1.4, 24-105, 100-400, 400DO, 1.4X, Flash, etc. and weighed about 25# -- completely impractical to add a computer to the loaded bag.  Tripod, head, and some miscellaneous stuff got checked with clothes in a medium sized duffle.  Computer went in wife's carryon.  No issues with overweight (wife and i together were at least 15# over the 66# allowed together on the flight from northern Serengeti to Arusha) - according to the camp manager, the pilots have scales but don't take the time to weigh luggage.  If you check in at an airport with a gate agent and scales you may be charged overweight, but he's not had a problem in many years carrying eqivalent gear.  Airport Acceleration was also pretty good bag to work out of in vehicle
- 5D2 and 100-400 good combination for the variety of wildlife and "landscape with wildlife" shots from a vehicle, particularly when the vehicle has to stay on the road as was the case everywhere but the northern Serengeti.  We'd all like something better than the 100-400 but a good copy gives better results than i was led to expect on the 5D2 and it's nice to have some extra pixels to crop.
- 24-105 worked fine for people, broad landscapes, etc.
- adding the flash with better beamer for fill flash really improves results - ideally would have both cameras set up with flash, but it's a nuisance to secure the second camera and flash when it's not being used
- after trying a couple different flash brackets, i've settled on the Wimberly M-9 and M-3 attached to the RRS angle bracket.  this is a lightweight combination that keeps everything attached to the camera so you can change lenses without getting tangled up in cords.  Putting the flash and beamer on the hot shoe is pretty sure to damage the camera when bouncing around on dirt roads
- Feisol CT-3441S with short column - this is about as light and compact as anything useful (with care) for a long lens (but i wouldn't use it with anything heavier than the 400DO or maybe the 300 f2.Cool.  the short column is necessary to set up on the roof of a vehicle and you wouldn't want a long column with a long lens on this tipod anyhow. Mostly i used the tripod for video with the 5D2, starting and stopping the camera with a R1 and not touching it during shooting.
- 4th Generation Design Mongoose M2.3 gimbal head.  about the same weight as a good ball head but way better with long lenses (any lens?) and a great pano head.  only bitch is that the bubble level should be standard.  would have been really nice to have a leveling base as it was pretty nearly impossible to level the tripod in the vehicle so video pans didn't work.  i'm finding very few uses for ballheads
- Kingston and Transcend 32 and 16GB cards - no problems
- 40D and 5D2 dust removal - manually cleaned the 40D once, later found a few 5D2 images with spots which were cleaned when the camera was power cycled.  Should have done a periodic cleaning during each day.  This was a vast improvement over my experience with the 20D and 5D in similar dusty conditions
- Hyperdrive Colorspace - my expensive backup in case something happened to the computer - fortunately it only had to function as a usb drive that cost 1/4 as much.  The Colorspace works fine backing up to other usb drives, but the instructions that come with it and the extra-cost usb connector are seriously deficient
- cheap 6 ft extension cord - have found many rooms with outlets in the strangest locations

?
-400DO this close to the equator, the window of time you need f4 is minimal.  performance with the 1.4x and 40D was unacceptable (may be 1.4x focus issue) and didn't use it.  used DO  for birds and a few distant subjects with the 40D.  if you don't need f4, i don't think it's enough better than a good 100-400 to be worth the cost and trouble.  However, something with an equivalent focal length of 600mm or greater is really necessary for birds, small animals, distant subjects.
- Amod geotagger - seems like a great idea, but i've never learned anything particuarly interesting when i Google the location after the fact

Didn't work/not needed
- monopod completely useless
- polarizer - at the equator, not much time when the sun's angle works even when there's enough light
- 500D close up - not dung beatle season, found no macro opportunities

What was missing
- bean bag
- central Serengeti filming pass - costs $1000/ day and lets you go off road and shoot at night.  Need to apply for the pass 2 weeks in advance.
- 70-200 f4 - a better lens for "landscape with wildlife" than the 100-400 would have been nice, but also would have required a 3rd body as time and dust is very much against switching lenses
- bay battery for computer.  the large file sizes from the 5D2 for still and video meant that everything needed to be backed up on external drives - this didn't work well without more battery in computer at camps without power in the rooms/tents (charging was available at all camps)
- soft 2 inch paint brush to dust of equipment



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