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What Camera for a Safari?

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Thanks Alan, this is all brilliant info for me.

Essex UK

Steve, this was taken at a distance of about half a mile, entrance to Dubrovnik cruise terminals very early in the morning so the light conditions were not good but it will give you an idea of what my Canon does on over half full zoom hand held. If you enlarge it you will see the definition is still quite good and yes the ship was still moving at about 10 knots.


Thanks @GDB1 and @Fossil for your thoughts on this.

Essex UK

SX60HS Powershot and for me it is great. I went into Jessops and explained what I did and what I wanted it to do. They gave me a selection to try and I chose this one as it felt more comfortable to hold than the others. This is a review of it.
For indoor shots and low level light without flash I don’t think you can beat my iphone 6 plus as this photo shows. You were there when it was taken.


….. just as a final thought @coolonespa …… there is always much talk about compact cameras and the like with enormous zoom ranges.
Without going into technical detail, I simply ask the question… why do professional photographers spend ££££ thousands on DSLRs and big telephoto lenses if they could get the same results with something a fraction of the price…..?

…. as you anticipated @coolonespa I have lots of thoughts……
My first comment is that you are all right about enjoying the landscape and the animals first….. photography second.
The only problem is that the landscape doesn’t move, but wild animals tend to, particularly birds, so if you want a good record shot for the album, you have to react quickly and have your camera setup just right.
Cameras… lenses… tripods… monopods…..etc. etc….it is a big subject.
You have mentioned bridge, compact, DSLRs… and then there are mirrorless cameras.
If weight is a consideration, the new mirrorless cameras, Fuji, Sony and Canon are strong contenders for casual photography, street and occasional wildlife. Bridge and compact cameras and mobile phones, ipads, etc, will take great shots in average light conditions and not too far away.
It all depends on how much importance you put on having a great shot of a leopard up in a tree at 80 yds!!!
For me, it is, as you know….. that’s why I have Canon 7D (and thinking of a 7DMk2) + a 100-400mm IS lens + a 150-600mm lens….
This is arguably the best camera for natural history and wildlife, apart from the Canon 5D and 1DX, but they are well out of ordinary mortals’ price bracket. On ebay you could buy a 7Dmk1 for £400-500 and a 100-400mm lens for about the same price. Up to 400mm with image stabilization will cover almost anything.
Image stabilization on quality lenses give you lots of scope….. you do not need tripods and monopods (necessarily) for most wildlife….most of my work is handheld. Setting up your camera is the most important….. automatic settings will give average results in average conditions.
Using ‘Av’ for stills and ‘Tv’ for moving objects is a start… aperture priority and shutter priority settings……single point focus…. selective partial metering, auto white balance , and maybe auto ISO….. these are things which take a while to master but are the only way to get the really good shot in difficult conditions. Most cameras will give you these options.
You can manipulate your images in post processing ( Photoshop /Lightroom etc.) afterwards to an extent, but setting up your camera to start with is best….. unless you shoot in RAW as against JPEG…. then you can alter almost anything.
I’ll stop rabbeting on in a minute….
Yes, certainly a cheap monopod will help…. some sort of image stabilization is important…..20x, 30x etc, zoom on compact cameras is no substitute for a decent telephoto zoom on a DSLR or a Mirrorless camera, but if you are only going to do wildlife once, it really does depend on your finances and whether you really really want that special shot……….
End of lecture / waffle..

Fossil wrote:

than being able to hold an 83x zoom steady

That’s a good point Alan & its clearly impractical to use extreme zoom as you’re bouncing around in a truck. I was thinking about getting a monopod for those instances where I’m outside & need stabilisation. Whilst not as good as a tripod, its much quicker to drop down one leg than three. What model of Canon have you got & how would you rate it?

JoCarroll wrote:

and seeing stuff without a camera in front of my face is more important

So true Jo. I definitely don’t want to see the safari through a camera lens, which is part of the dilemma of whether its worth me investing in a new camera.

Any thoughts @GDB1 or @Albatrail ?

Essex UK

I think it depends on how important photography is to you. My husband was a photographer and so taking pictures was the most important aspect of being anywhere. While for me, the being there and seeing stuff without a camera in front of my face is more important – so I see pictures as mementoes rather than something wonderful in themselves.

No idea if this helps!

Having done a safari I appreciate that a good telephoto lens is important but without a tripod Steve there is more chance of winning the Lottery than being able to hold an 83x zoom steady. The problem as you probably already know is that the bigger the zoom the more difficult it is to keep the camera steady and on safari you wont be using a tripod and most of your shots will be done whilst bouncing along in a truck or other sightseeing vehicle. Even if they stop the truck you wont have time to set up a tripod. My Canon has a 65x zoom and keeping it steady under ideal conditions without a tripod is just about impossible. I did the Pilanesberg National Game Park north of Johannesburg and only saw 3 of the ‘Big 5’ so don’t expect to see everything in one go. Half hour TV programs showing them all take months to make.


Next year I’ll be heading to Africa & part of the trip will include “safari time”. So I’m wondering if my current camera will allow me to take the sort of photos I want, or will leave me disappointed. So I’d welcome some tips from the many good photographers we have on the forum to help me decide what to do.

My objective is to be able to take decent photos of the scenery & the animals. They will be for my personal use only, so whilst I may share them on the Forum, social media etc. I’m not aiming to enter any competitions or wanting to grace the front cover of a magazine. Having said that, I like to look at the pics on my Mac screen which is quite large.

My current camera is a Lumix DMC-TZ70 which has a 30x zoom, which works out to about 700mm at 35mm equivalent. I’m concerned that they’ll be plenty of situations where the animals won’t be that close, so will that be enough of a zoom?

The other factor is that, whilst I’ll accept the need to carry a bigger camera for Safari type situations, I probably won’t want to lug it around in many situations e.g. a city visit, where my current camera fits in my pocket.

My current thoughts are:

My current camera & my iPhone will be my go to camera options in most situations, so outside of “special events” I may not get much use out of a new camera

Thus investing in a DSLR & a good zoom lens is probably outside my budget for occasional use (£1500 – £2000 say)

So I was thinking about a bridge camera like the Coolpix P900 as a compromise. This has an awesome 83x zoom, giving a 2000mm at 35mm equivalent. Plus I could probably get one for less than £500.

I would welcome any thoughts & contributions.

Essex UK
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