The right Photographic Gear for Safari

One of the difficulties of planning your camera gear for safari is there too much to choose from. The fact that the small airplanes you might board will restrict your weight exacerbates the difficulty in choosing just the right gear.

Wilddog on Tumaren

My advice: Keep it simple. This is what I bring on our safaris.

1. A camera body that can easily:

switch to point metering
increase or decrease the ISO quickly (mine goes up to 6400)
switch to shutter or aperture priority fast
switch to manual focus

take an extra memory card (for god’s sake don’t get in a situation of having to delete images to take new ones)
take an extra battery or two – this is key, really key.

2. A Telephoto Zoom lens:

mine is a Nikon 80mm-400mm F4.5-5.6 It is not the fastest lens in the world but I can crank the ISO up on my camera so easily that I rarely have a problem with shake.

avoid bringing a huge telephoto lens unless you have a particular image in mind or you are a professional with plenty of time (most safari goers are only out for several weeks). 9 times out of 10 your better off with a telephoto zoom that can get you into the action quickly but is also easy to wield. I have seen on many occasions, visitors on safari with a 600mm lens fussing and asking the driver to back away from the animal because the vehicle is too close to the subject. This is crazy – the object of wildlife photography is not to just take the animals pupil but to tell a bit more of the story. With a zoom you can compose an image easily and if there is a high speed chase you can start wide and zoom to find the subject. Try following a cheetah making a kill with a 600mm lens – impossible unless you are very practised and you have an excellent tripod.

3. A Wide-angle Zoom

Good for landscapes, people and telling stories. Choose a zoom that has a good close focus.

3. Get a camerabag that is easy to use. I prefer the lowepro Sport¬†200 for walking or while I’m guiding in the car and there isn’t much extra room for my own equipment. For Car based trips I use one of the larger Lowe bags.

LowePro Sport 200
LowePro Sport 200

Something else that I like about this bag is that to its easy to take my camera out of it or to return it with out much fuss.

 Karisia Walking Safaris

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