What to bring to Africa

Discussion in 'Fuji X Forum' started by KillRamsey, Mar 26, 2015.

  1. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    Ok, it's more or less official. We're going to Africa for a safari in about 2 months. We (me / wife / 5 yr old daughter) be traveling with the couple we always do big trips with, and most of the time will be spent on a safari. Here's what I'm mulling over... Safaris require LONG lenses, and I don't own anything longer than the XF 56. I wouldn't mind a longer lens, actually, but I don't have one today.

    CONSTRAINTS:

    - I want a LIGHT bag, so it's just the XT1, not bringing film or the X100.
    - This trip is EX PENSE IVE. So I reeeeally don't see me blowing over a grand on a new lens.

    Both of those things have me thinking... maybe I should just not even TRY to get long shots of animals close up. Maybe I should live with crops of the 18-55, and then maximize the people and landscape shots. I realize this trip is probably begging for the 18-135 lens, given its weather sealing and Do It All range. I just don't love the overlap with the 18-55, which I own and love.

    So, the big question: Do I go get a 55-200 lens for $600 and swap lenses more often, or I just save the money and use what I have?
     
  2. Kin Lau

    Kin Lau SC Regular

    57
    Oct 23, 2012
    Get a superzoom, the FZ200 falls in your budget.

    I would actually be ok bring my FZ1000 and LX100 instead of my Canon DSLR.
     
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  3. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    The idea of a superzoom did not even occur to me.
     
  4. SnapDawg

    SnapDawg Rorschach Test Pilot

    651
    Apr 18, 2014
    Canary Islands
    Ken
    Depends what you're after. I've seen lots of nice images made with relatively cheap superzooms or bridge cameras. Then there are cheap m43 bodies and that affordable 40-150mm (80-300mm FF equ.) lens for some better IQ. If I were you, I'd get a cheap old manual zoom lens, like a 80-200mm or if that's enough my alltime favorite E-Nikkor 75-150mm/f3.5 - a wonderful lens and pretty compact/light. These old lenses cost you next to nothing, add a 10-15$ Fuji X adapter from eBay and shoot away.
     
  5. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    540
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    If I were in your shoes, I would look into renting an Olympus OMD EM1 or EM5 and an Oly 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II. Only use it for the long shots you need. Should only be a couple hundred bucks. it's one of the things that I tell people all the time. You can buy an EM5 and 75-300 right now used for under $1000 and rent for much, much less.

    Then you can use your existing Fuji gear for everything else.
     
  6. BillN

    BillN SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 25, 2010
    S W France
    Bill
    We've been for the last few years ...... the light is so good it is a paradise
    You will miss so many shots if you don't have a fast DSLR and long lens

    I always take about 15 kg of equipment ...... always try to get away with it as "hand baggage" - hang the Nikon 300mm f2.8VR around my neck ...... argue with the check in girls - so there is no point in asking me

    you will really enjoy it, marvellous ....... I could go to Africa every couple of months if my wife would let me!!! ......... I know that you won't, but try to take a lightweight tripod ....... it can make so much different to some of the wildlife shots
     
  7. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    I feel pretty strongly, reading through it all, as if chasing the wildlife shots is a boondoggle. It means:

    - A $600 55-200 lens (which is still not all that long, but much better than the 18-55)
    - A different camera bag, because I'll have the 18-55, the 35, and this theoretical 55-200 to lug around, which won't all fit in the Domke F10 I have.

    There's just no way I'm bringing a tripod. But here's the question for BillN... I have the XT1, and that's all I'm gonna bring, so would the 200 going to be long enough?
     
  8. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    Wait what if I rented the 18-135... that and the 35 could be IT for the trip. Is 135 going to be enough.... I know it isn't but someone tell me it is.
     
  9. BillN

    BillN SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 25, 2010
    S W France
    Bill
    I don't know the XT-1 ... what 35mm equivalent does it give you with a 200mm lens ......... 300mm is just about on the limit for small wildlife and birds ...... 400mm would be good ....... and if you have a genuine f2.8 all the better

    The tripod I always take is a Redged . weights nothing ...... it is not when you are in the back of a Land Cruiser that you need it ....... it is when you are sitting quaffing that early evening glass of wine on the front terrace that you will see wonderful wildlife shots and that extra bit of steadiness, (remember, you have just downed 3 glass of best S African white wine), really makes the difference

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Redged-TSC-...&qid=1427393083&sr=1-1&keywords=redged+tripod

    Try your proposed set up in your local Park or wildlife reserve

    I took the following with a Nikon 300mm f4 + plus Nikon D300, so DX x 1.5 crop sensor

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    but for small wildlife and birds you need something longer IMHO
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2015
  10. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I'd second the suggestion to rent something outside of the Fuji system - a good long telephoto with the AF to drive it for wildlife shooting just isn't there. Most people I'm aware of who go on safari tend to do almost all of their shooting from vehicles, sometimes moving and sometimes not. So I'm not sure if the size and weight of the kit should be a primary consideration. I'd say the m43 recommendation is a good one, mainly because you can get a LOT of reach at a reasonable size. The AF isn't going to be as good as a DSLR for rapidly moving animals, but I'm guessing a lot of your shooting will be from a distance of critters that aren't moving that fast, or are far enough away that it shouldn't be too tough to lock focus on the basic distance and go from there. A DSLR would be the best bet for AF, but to get to an effective 600mm with a full frame is gonna take a HUGE lens. And not that much smaller with an APS model. I'd go ask around the m43 forum - I think some folks over there may have had some relevant experience and could shed some light. I think Terry, who's been on some of Amin's podcasts, has done a safari with m43 gear - I'm thinking a GH2/3/4 and the Pany 100-300 primarily, but I might be remembering this wrong...

    Sounds like fun!

    -Ray
     
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  11. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    It's packability (and weight I guess) that I care about with tripods, so I'll check the link out.

    The 200mm translates to 300mm. But it's 85mm at the wide end, so if I have that on and I feel like taking a shot of us or the guides or anything closer, it's going to mean a lens change, which is (I'm told) a thing to avoid out in the dust, and I agree. This is pushing me towards the 18-135, which is only a 210 equivalent, but it could stay glued on all day.

    Sigh.
     
  12. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    As far as "renting a M4/3" setup goes... it feels like a lot of $ and trouble to learn to use another system, and I wouldn't touch it for anything but the long shots, so it's a lot of extra bag space for one specific use. I think. I'd just as soon bring some superzoom if I were going to have another camera, and live with smaller sensors. I think.
     
  13. BillN

    BillN SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 25, 2010
    S W France
    Bill
    300mm is better than 200mm and presumably it has VR or OS ...........but it's also about getting near enough to get detail and clarity if you don't have a long lens

    because of the weight issue I usually take a 300mm f4 a 300mm f2.8 Plus a x 1.4 and x 2 TC and a 70 200mm f2.8VR ......... but I'm more interested in the birds

    Ideally I take a 400mm f2.8 and a couple of TC's

    I tried more compact camera, including bridge and M4/3 and OM something ... but they did not work for me .......... but I am sure pother manage perfectly well

    Have a great time ........ and don't forget the food and wine
     
  14. BillN

    BillN SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 25, 2010
    S W France
    Bill
    If I had to take one camera and good value lens, I'd take

    Nikon D5300 or similar
    Nikon 70 300mm f4.5/f5.6 VR zoom
    Nikon 50mm f1.8
    Small Redged tripod

    probably all from less than US$1,500 ........ sell them when you get back if they are not for your normal shooting
     
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  15. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    540
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    The forum owner over at Fotozones runs a safari business as well being a pro photographer. He uses only m43 gear on his safaris now. Used to be a Nikon guy.

    If you think about it, the amount of space it would take for an EM1 and 75-300 is going to be roughly the same as any APS-C lens that will get even remotely close. Field of view on the 75-300 is 150-600mm and the OMD bodies also provide a built in 2x digital teleconverter which doubles those field of view figures even more. Works well in good light and lower ISOs.

    You might be able to get away with a long-ish Fuji zoom, but if it were me, I wouldn't. That being said, you might just have to be happy with what you have and push the cropping ability of the Fuji files and see what you are able to pull out of them. The thing with safaris is that we are talking wild animals. No guarantee on where the animals might be or when or if the guide is good or can get you where you need to be. If there is ever any reason to have longer glass, this would be it.
     
  16. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    540
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    Or possibly look into the Nikon 1 system with an f mount adapter and a decent AF-S lens.
     
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  17. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    What if I...

    1. Borrow an XE-2 from a friend (he'd totally let me use it, I think)
    2. Got a 55-200 lens, and stuck it on that XE-2 permanently
    3. Used the XE-2 for the "long shots from the truck" by resting it on a bean bag
    4. Used the XT1 for everything else, bringing the 18-55 and the 35 f1.4...


    edit: now that I type that out, it should probably be the XT1 with the long lens, for fps and AF abilities, much less the better grip.
     
  18. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    540
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    I guess I'm not seeing where this helps you with the reach issue, unless you are fine with the 300mm equiv field of view. Then, you should be fine. The VR on the 55-200 is very good, s you probably wouldn't need the bean bag.
     
  19. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    There is no longer option than (equiv) 300 for Fuji, so given that I don't want to rent a completely new system, it's the 300 or the 85 I have now. In that case, the 300 is a big improvement, and probably good enough.

    It's worth noting that I'd actually like to own a 55-200 for longer shots, anyway. Perhaps this is my excuse.

    Anybody wanna sell one used?
     
  20. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    If you're determined to stick with Fuji, I'd recommend going with the 50-230 instead of the 55-200. It's not built as well, but it's optically almost identical, it's lighter, it's cheaper, and it buys you another 45mm of effective focal length. And since you're already at about the minimum focal length I'd want to go into a safari with, that extra 45mm wouldn't hurt. I've had both and I always thought the 50-230 was better for almost anyone who doesn't shoot long a LOT of the time and really abuse their gear - in which case the build quality might matter. It's a bit slower at the long end, but the 55-200 is already a pretty slow lens, so either one of them is basically for use in good light.

    Worth a thought anyway...

    -Ray
     
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