Art and Photography

Going to Africa next year, need help with lens selection

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[OP]
Sr. Member
Jan 19, 2013
767 posts
80 upvotes
Surrey

Going to Africa next year, need help with lens selection

Hey everyone

Trip is in the beginning of the planning stage, but i want to start looking at prices on a lens for a Canon 70D camera. I want to get a good all around lens that i can keep on most of the time, and we are looking to do safari's in a few different countries so may be photos of animals, sunset, etc..... I would also like to take videos on it, and prefer the lens is auto focus. I know i will get a lot of heat for this, but i will probably be shooting in auto mode. Any helps, tips, and suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks
24 replies
Deal Expert
Jun 15, 2012
15341 posts
9900 upvotes
Southern Ontario
http://www.photoprice.ca/product/03920/ ... price.html and a CPL filter

The Canon 100-400 is $120/week to rent but a beast and only if you're serious for focal length.

Beanbags, do they supply them?

Maybe a video light.

You have time to learn, I find in testing, shooting in Auto often chooses a slow shutter speed and I get motion blur because it has no idea things are moving, it just guesses the best exposure combo, and may even choose a large DoF causing a gritty ISO if light is less than ideal.
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Oct 15, 2002
2878 posts
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Markham
I did a safari a couple of years ago and shot with a 5D classic and a 1DIII.
I took a 100-400, 1.4xTC, 17-40 f/4, and a 35mm1.4 for low light.

Most tours supply bean bags, but they usually tossed around and left in the back of the truck. They are extremely dusty but usable. I'd suggest buying a bean bag and getting them to fill it with actual beans once you get there. At the end of the tour dump it out until the next stop.

I would highly suggest not shooting auto. At least not for animals. You'll be up against some tough conditions at sunrise and sunset (AUTO will bump your ISO way to high to get clean photos).
If shooting with strong back lighting, AUTO will turn your subject into shadows. If shooting a moving animal, AUTO may not be able to freeze the action as the poster above has mentioned.

Let me know if you have any other questions.
My galleries can be found here:
http://www.shanehophotography.com/Trave ... -Honeymoon
Banned
User avatar
Jun 8, 2008
3977 posts
1419 upvotes
Toronto
When we went to Africa last year, I had my "good" camera (which I'm sure is crap compared to most people's!) - its a Canon Rebel - and I brought with me a 70-300 zoom lens. I kept that zoom lens on the camera almost the entire time. The only other lens I brought with me was a 40 mm pancake lens because it was decent for shooting closer up and small to pack. We brought a point & shoot camera that turned on quickly - so my kids or husband could easily take photos as well. We also brought a stand alone video camera - which was a mistake because the quality wasn't all that great - a lot of the time, we were driving in our vehicle through the game parks and were instructed to not open the videos lest we get eaten by lions - sometimes the video just focused on the window rather than the animal behind the window. Bah.

So I'm no professional photographer but I liked that the longer zoom lens was pretty much always on the 'good' camera. That way, I didn't miss anything as I wasn't changing lenses all the time.
Member
Nov 15, 2011
261 posts
330 upvotes
NORTH YORK
just got back from south africa. took 2 nikon SLRs. 35mm, 55-300 and 18-180 lens + goPro and cell phones. we brought spare SD cards, 1 tripod (only used for night sky pics) and ipad to xfer photos of the day for backup/viewing.
While on safari, my wife used 55-300 lens and was always at 300. i used 18-180 lens and pretty much always at 180. She shoots on Manual. I shoot on P (and just adjust exposure). the only time where we used less zoom was on self drive (Addo) when animals were on the road with us.
So get whatever the biggest zoom you can afford. You may consider renting a lens. my friend bought a 400-800 lens specifically for her trip and has never used it since.

videos were all done on goPro..
35mm was used when in city and food pics.
We regret not bringing our 11-16 wide angle for night sky shots and some landscape shots.

the type of safari jeep differ between countries in africa. in tanzania im told you shoot from a moon roof so you can make use of a bean bag on the roof. but in south africa they are all open land rovers so bean bags are useless. you might want to check that.

on the private reserves there are typically 2 drives a day. 6am-930am and 4pm-730pm. auto isnt going to be your friend in those low light situations.. i recommend before your trip you practice night shots.
Deal Addict
Nov 1, 2003
1183 posts
354 upvotes
I've done safaris in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Namibia over the past few years.
For the guided trips, we had open land rovers/range rovers so we just hand held the camera. For the self drive safaris, we had a normal car so we made bean bags to use on the windowsill. Instead of beans we used the small styrofoam balls to fill it so there was no weight at all.

We always brought two cameras and I shot stills with one camera while my husband filmed videos with the other. You really want both cameras on simultaneously as the animals will quickly do very interesting things without warning (like a cheetah deciding to sprint and take down a gazelle right next to our car, or a male lion come up and literally sniff you from a foot away in an open truck, or a hippo ambush a group of young male lions just for fun, or when a hungry baboon sees your snacks and attempts to jump into your vehicle.) I value both my photos and videos equally, but for different subjects and times.

I actually used a bridge camera with super zoom (eg. Canon SX60HS with 1365mm equivalent) and used it on auto most of the time. I got just as tight shots as the BBC and National geographic crews with their giant set ups, and also used it for tracking instead of binoculars since it had better range than any we had with us. I have not enlarged any of my photos beyond 11x14" so the small sensor was ok and the 65x optical zoom more than made up for it. Even though I have a mirrorless Sony now, I would probably defer to my bridge camera for safari again.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jan 19, 2013
767 posts
80 upvotes
Surrey
SENSEI wrote:I did a safari a couple of years ago and shot with a 5D classic and a 1DIII.
I took a 100-400, 1.4xTC, 17-40 f/4, and a 35mm1.4 for low light.

Most tours supply bean bags, but they usually tossed around and left in the back of the truck. They are extremely dusty but usable. I'd suggest buying a bean bag and getting them to fill it with actual beans once you get there. At the end of the tour dump it out until the next stop.

I would highly suggest not shooting auto. At least not for animals. You'll be up against some tough conditions at sunrise and sunset (AUTO will bump your ISO way to high to get clean photos).
If shooting with strong back lighting, AUTO will turn your subject into shadows. If shooting a moving animal, AUTO may not be able to freeze the action as the poster above has mentioned.

Let me know if you have any other questions.
My galleries can be found here:
http://www.shanehophotography.com/Trave ... -Honeymoon
Thanks for the reponse! I have an 18-135mm lens, and want to get a second lens, the 100-400mm canon looks good, but it also has a $2500 price tag, the 70-300mm is a few hundred less but with less zoom. I need an all around lens, do you link the 100-400mm is it? (and to be sure, were talking about Canon the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM?). I dont want to be changing lenses out on a safari, at one point or another i may get dust in the lens. My problem is, I kind of know how shutter speed, aperture, and iso, work together but I dont want to miss out on an photo while im trying to change the settings.
wirebound wrote:When we went to Africa last year, I had my "good" camera (which I'm sure is crap compared to most people's!) - its a Canon Rebel - and I brought with me a 70-300 zoom lens. I kept that zoom lens on the camera almost the entire time. The only other lens I brought with me was a 40 mm pancake lens because it was decent for shooting closer up and small to pack. We brought a point & shoot camera that turned on quickly - so my kids or husband could easily take photos as well. We also brought a stand alone video camera - which was a mistake because the quality wasn't all that great - a lot of the time, we were driving in our vehicle through the game parks and were instructed to not open the videos lest we get eaten by lions - sometimes the video just focused on the window rather than the animal behind the window. Bah.

So I'm no professional photographer but I liked that the longer zoom lens was pretty much always on the 'good' camera. That way, I didn't miss anything as I wasn't changing lenses all the time.
im considering the brand new 70-300mm canons is lens, it has a hefty price, but one thing i heard is that this lens along with the 100-400mm lens arent good for wide angle shots?
g5spark wrote:just got back from south africa. took 2 nikon SLRs. 35mm, 55-300 and 18-180 lens + goPro and cell phones. we brought spare SD cards, 1 tripod (only used for night sky pics) and ipad to xfer photos of the day for backup/viewing.
While on safari, my wife used 55-300 lens and was always at 300. i used 18-180 lens and pretty much always at 180. She shoots on Manual. I shoot on P (and just adjust exposure). the only time where we used less zoom was on self drive (Addo) when animals were on the road with us.
So get whatever the biggest zoom you can afford. You may consider renting a lens. my friend bought a 400-800 lens specifically for her trip and has never used it since.

videos were all done on goPro..
35mm was used when in city and food pics.
We regret not bringing our 11-16 wide angle for night sky shots and some landscape shots.

the type of safari jeep differ between countries in africa. in tanzania im told you shoot from a moon roof so you can make use of a bean bag on the roof. but in south africa they are all open land rovers so bean bags are useless. you might want to check that.

on the private reserves there are typically 2 drives a day. 6am-930am and 4pm-730pm. auto isnt going to be your friend in those low light situations.. i recommend before your trip you practice night shots.
Thanks for the advice. I definitely want to buy a lens that i can still use all the time at home, im not avid photographer by any means, i just like to take photos of nature, and animals. We havent book any safari's yet, not even a flight. Where in Africa did you go? Were planning on going to Tanzania and Kenya. I really wanted to goto Botswana, but its pretty expensive. What tour companies did you go with?
GPS wrote:I've done safaris in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Namibia over the past few years.
For the guided trips, we had open land rovers/range rovers so we just hand held the camera. For the self drive safaris, we had a normal car so we made bean bags to use on the windowsill. Instead of beans we used the small styrofoam balls to fill it so there was no weight at all.

We always brought two cameras and I shot stills with one camera while my husband filmed videos with the other. You really want both cameras on simultaneously as the animals will quickly do very interesting things without warning (like a cheetah deciding to sprint and take down a gazelle right next to our car, or a male lion come up and literally sniff you from a foot away in an open truck, or a hippo ambush a group of young male lions just for fun, or when a hungry baboon sees your snacks and attempts to jump into your vehicle.) I value both my photos and videos equally, but for different subjects and times.

I actually used a bridge camera with super zoom (eg. Canon SX60HS with 1365mm equivalent) and used it on auto most of the time. I got just as tight shots as the BBC and National geographic crews with their giant set ups, and also used it for tracking instead of binoculars since it had better range than any we had with us. I have not enlarged any of my photos beyond 11x14" so the small sensor was ok and the 65x optical zoom more than made up for it. Even though I have a mirrorless Sony now, I would probably defer to my bridge camera for safari again.
Thanks for the repsonse! My wife doesnt have a camera, our second camera is a canon s100, point and shoot. I don't want to spend money on another camera yet, so thats why i'd rather buy an all around lens that i can still use when i come home.
AncasterRFD wrote: http://www.photoprice.ca/product/03920/ ... price.html and a CPL filter

The Canon 100-400 is $120/week to rent but a beast and only if you're serious for focal length.

Beanbags, do they supply them?

Maybe a video light.

You have time to learn, I find in testing, shooting in Auto often chooses a slow shutter speed and I get motion blur because it has no idea things are moving, it just guesses the best exposure combo, and may even choose a large DoF causing a gritty ISO if light is less than ideal.
Thanks for the response! Where did you rent the lens from? Home, or in Africa? I'm considering the canon 70-300mm, any recommendations? I havent heard the best on wide angle shots with this camera, thats my only conern, other than the money!
Deal Expert
Jun 15, 2012
15341 posts
9900 upvotes
Southern Ontario
Unless you're going to be shooting >200mm a lot in the future, I wouldn't buy, I'd rent.

https://www.vistek.ca/rentals/rentalequ ... goryId=456

I'm not sure which is better but I would want that extra 100mm in the 100-400 myself. Note if you use a teleconverter, you shrink the effective aperture eg; 2x f/8 at 100mm = f/16 at 200mm. On your 70D, 400mm is 640mm equivalent anyway.

Do you plan to shoot landscapes? Because WA lenses on people closeup usually suffer distortion and you need to get really near animals to give them presence in your composition. On Canon crop, your 70D, 10-18mm lens is a WA option if you want it.

If you have a decent smartphone, one with 4K would be great, a Feiyu G4 or Z1-Smooth C will give you stabilized daytime video, that would be your "auto" option although the 70D is one of Canon's video centric DSLR's with its dual pixel AF as you know.
Your wife perhaps could do video with the gimbal while you still shoot. If you don't want to use your phone, these same gimbals work with GoPros and alternatives like the more affordable Xiaomi Yi 2 (4K 30fps) with the proper clamp.

For someone that is not comfortable changing lenses and is entertaining staying in Auto, I'd think a FZ1000 is more up your alley.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/55578240
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/55211230
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/54610361
Banned
User avatar
Jun 8, 2008
3977 posts
1419 upvotes
Toronto
tonysoprano wrote:
im considering the brand new 70-300mm canons is lens, it has a hefty price, but one thing i heard is that this lens along with the 100-400mm lens arent good for wide angle shots?
Thankfully I was gifted the lens from my Dad who is much more into photography than me! I honestly don't know, I have very little to compare it to in terms of wide angle shots and I'm no professional. We did a few wide angle shots.

We did a self-drive safari in Botswana and Namibia - was wonderful and we found is affordable. Its not quite for everyone though since we were driving ourselves through the parks, setting up our own camps etc. Message me if you want more info or specifics. Consider Etosha in Namibia - amazing place.
Member
Nov 15, 2011
261 posts
330 upvotes
NORTH YORK
Our safari portion was 2 nights at Lalibela Game Reserve (essentially 4 safari drives) and 2 days at Addo National Park (2 all day drives). Both are near Port Elizabeth in South Africa. We also sent 5 nights in Cape Town. Our restriction was we travelled with my 4 yr old daugther and 90% of the private reserves dont accept kids that young. My wife also didnt want my daugther to have to take malaria pills. The national parks where you self drive you can bring your kids. none of the tour companies would accept my daughter since she was too young.
The big park in South Africa is Kruger but alot of ppl including some ppl that were at Lalibela with us complained it was too touristy. too many ppl. But they are the largest park and have the most animals. ie 1000+ leopards.

Something to note, a private reserve doesnt mean you will see more/better animal sightings than a national park.

We booked it entirely ourselves with alot of help from Tripadvisor forums. there is a very good article on the South Africa forum on whether to choose private vs. national park. The rand is tanking against the CDN$ so things werent so expensive. only the international flight was $ and the private reserves. domestic flights, food, car rental, etc were cheap.

You are not going to change lens during your safari drive unless you are self driving. in the open vehicles its dusty and bumpy and you dont want to miss something because you were changing lens. you're going to shoot, shoot and shoot and photoshop/crop your pics later.

it was amazing trip and we want to go back.

check out lionworldtravel.com to get an idea of an itinerary. i also found the following website excellent for getting an idea of the private reserves. http://www.africatravelresource.com/locations/map/
Member
Feb 13, 2014
211 posts
70 upvotes
Ottawa
I will provide two comments from my experience. First you'll need to be able to shoot close, not just far. The animals are often very close to the vehicle and people with long zooms don't always get shots of them. Second, if you're in an open vehicle, a monopod can work well and is very light to carry.

Prepare yourself for the best trip you'll ever take. Africa is simply amazing. I can't wait to go back.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Oct 15, 2002
2878 posts
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Markham
tonysoprano wrote:
SENSEI wrote:I did a safari a couple of years ago and shot with a 5D classic and a 1DIII.
I took a 100-400, 1.4xTC, 17-40 f/4, and a 35mm1.4 for low light.

Most tours supply bean bags, but they usually tossed around and left in the back of the truck. They are extremely dusty but usable. I'd suggest buying a bean bag and getting them to fill it with actual beans once you get there. At the end of the tour dump it out until the next stop.

I would highly suggest not shooting auto. At least not for animals. You'll be up against some tough conditions at sunrise and sunset (AUTO will bump your ISO way to high to get clean photos).
If shooting with strong back lighting, AUTO will turn your subject into shadows. If shooting a moving animal, AUTO may not be able to freeze the action as the poster above has mentioned.

Let me know if you have any other questions.
My galleries can be found here:
http://www.shanehophotography.com/Trave ... -Honeymoon
Thanks for the reponse! I have an 18-135mm lens, and want to get a second lens, the 100-400mm canon looks good, but it also has a $2500 price tag, the 70-300mm is a few hundred less but with less zoom. I need an all around lens, do you link the 100-400mm is it? (and to be sure, were talking about Canon the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM?). I dont want to be changing lenses out on a safari, at one point or another i may get dust in the lens. My problem is, I kind of know how shutter speed, aperture, and iso, work together but I dont want to miss out on an photo while im trying to change the settings.
As people have suggested, you can easily rent a lens for a fraction of the price of buying new. Rent from a place here in Canada. Another option (which I did) was buy it used and then re-sell. I actually made a few hundred this way myself.
Remember that you are using a 70D so your effective focal length (mm) will be 1.6X what is on the lens.
This is a once in a lifetime trip. Most, if not all, L grade lenses are weather sealed and are built much much better then your kit lens (made of plastic)

The L lenses are sharp from corner to corner and at ALL focal lengths. A lens like the 70-300 will not give the same image quality and at the longer zoom lengths, quality will degrade significantly.
Yes, I'm talking about Canon the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM.

However, there are many different kinds of tours and vehicles you can be shooting out of. A bit more detail might be helpful. I was on a completely private tour with just the two of us and a private guide. We had a full-size land rover all to ourselves. Top completely came off and we were free to roam from the front to the back without anyone in our way. I've seen lower end tours with vans pull up packed with people that have to roll window down and shoot over people's heads out of a window.

The park you end up going to will make a difference as well as vehicles need to stay on marked paths for most of them. You may or may not get lucky with animals being next to a path or far away. In one case we caught a glimpse of a black rhino, but it was so far away I could only shoot it at 400mm with a 1.4x TC and a 1.3 crop camera (that's almost 750mm). In some cases, lions and hyenas came right up to the edge of our door and I needed a 35mm to capture it. Also, you won't be able to shoot with a tele at camp/hotels/around rest areas if you are taking more panoramic shots and shots of your group and yourself.
Deal Addict
Nov 21, 2008
1361 posts
249 upvotes
North Vancouver, BC
I have the 70D and the 70-300 EF IS. Decent for sports, good fire wildlife.

The 70-300 EF IS can be purchased used in the $400 range. Stopped down, it is fairly sharp. You should have good lighting, so shooting at F8 with a decent shutter and ISO should be doable.

You also have a crop body, so you'll have a 110 to 480 equivalency.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jan 19, 2013
767 posts
80 upvotes
Surrey
AncasterRFD wrote: Unless you're going to be shooting >200mm a lot in the future, I wouldn't buy, I'd rent.

https://www.vistek.ca/rentals/rentalequ ... goryId=456

I'm not sure which is better but I would want that extra 100mm in the 100-400 myself. Note if you use a teleconverter, you shrink the effective aperture eg; 2x f/8 at 100mm = f/16 at 200mm. On your 70D, 400mm is 640mm equivalent anyway.

Do you plan to shoot landscapes? Because WA lenses on people closeup usually suffer distortion and you need to get really near animals to give them presence in your composition. On Canon crop, your 70D, 10-18mm lens is a WA option if you want it.

If you have a decent smartphone, one with 4K would be great, a Feiyu G4 or Z1-Smooth C will give you stabilized daytime video, that would be your "auto" option although the 70D is one of Canon's video centric DSLR's with its dual pixel AF as you know.
Your wife perhaps could do video with the gimbal while you still shoot. If you don't want to use your phone, these same gimbals work with GoPros and alternatives like the more affordable Xiaomi Yi 2 (4K 30fps) with the proper clamp.

For someone that is not comfortable changing lenses and is entertaining staying in Auto, I'd think a FZ1000 is more up your alley.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/55578240
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/55211230
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/54610361
Thanks for the reply
I'll likely be gone for 3 weeks, and it would cost me almost $500 to rent the lens I want, i would rather just put that towards a lens. I also have a 55-250mm lens that i forgot to mention. And as for the fz1000, looks like a great camera, but i would rather put the money towards a lens.
wirebound wrote:
tonysoprano wrote:
im considering the brand new 70-300mm canons is lens, it has a hefty price, but one thing i heard is that this lens along with the 100-400mm lens arent good for wide angle shots?
Thankfully I was gifted the lens from my Dad who is much more into photography than me! I honestly don't know, I have very little to compare it to in terms of wide angle shots and I'm no professional. We did a few wide angle shots.

We did a self-drive safari in Botswana and Namibia - was wonderful and we found is affordable. Its not quite for everyone though since we were driving ourselves through the parks, setting up our own camps etc. Message me if you want more info or specifics. Consider Etosha in Namibia - amazing place.
If we goto South Africa, i think we would definately go there!
g5spark wrote: Our safari portion was 2 nights at Lalibela Game Reserve (essentially 4 safari drives) and 2 days at Addo National Park (2 all day drives). Both are near Port Elizabeth in South Africa. We also sent 5 nights in Cape Town. Our restriction was we travelled with my 4 yr old daugther and 90% of the private reserves dont accept kids that young. My wife also didnt want my daugther to have to take malaria pills. The national parks where you self drive you can bring your kids. none of the tour companies would accept my daughter since she was too young.
The big park in South Africa is Kruger but alot of ppl including some ppl that were at Lalibela with us complained it was too touristy. too many ppl. But they are the largest park and have the most animals. ie 1000+ leopards.

Something to note, a private reserve doesnt mean you will see more/better animal sightings than a national park.

We booked it entirely ourselves with alot of help from Tripadvisor forums. there is a very good article on the South Africa forum on whether to choose private vs. national park. The rand is tanking against the CDN$ so things werent so expensive. only the international flight was $ and the private reserves. domestic flights, food, car rental, etc were cheap.

You are not going to change lens during your safari drive unless you are self driving. in the open vehicles its dusty and bumpy and you dont want to miss something because you were changing lens. you're going to shoot, shoot and shoot and photoshop/crop your pics later.

it was amazing trip and we want to go back.

check out lionworldtravel.com to get an idea of an itinerary. i also found the following website excellent for getting an idea of the private reserves. http://www.africatravelresource.com/locations/map/
Thanks for the reply!
I would love to goto South Africa, just not sure if it will happen. The top places are Kenya, Tanzania, possibly Botswana and South Africa. Botswana is pretty pricy, so probably wont happen. If we do Kruger National Park, and Cape town are a must! I would love to rent a vehicle there, but were thinking of doing a "group" excursion with a tour company, just dont know who. I can totally see the upside of going on your own, but i think i would feel safer as a group. And i definitly dont want to get any dust into the lens, so most likely lens changing wont be happening.
alljay wrote: I will provide two comments from my experience. First you'll need to be able to shoot close, not just far. The animals are often very close to the vehicle and people with long zooms don't always get shots of them. Second, if you're in an open vehicle, a monopod can work well and is very light to carry.

Prepare yourself for the best trip you'll ever take. Africa is simply amazing. I can't wait to go back.
Thanks, super excited about it already! That's why im torn, i dont know if i should get the 70-300, because i heard its good at capturing the object, but nothing everything else around it.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jan 19, 2013
767 posts
80 upvotes
Surrey
robertz wrote: I have the 70D and the 70-300 EF IS. Decent for sports, good fire wildlife.

The 70-300 EF IS can be purchased used in the $400 range. Stopped down, it is fairly sharp. You should have good lighting, so shooting at F8 with a decent shutter and ISO should be doable.

You also have a crop body, so you'll have a 110 to 480 equivalency.
I'm looking at purchasing the 70-300mm L version.
SENSEI wrote:
tonysoprano wrote:
SENSEI wrote:I did a safari a couple of years ago and shot with a 5D classic and a 1DIII.
I took a 100-400, 1.4xTC, 17-40 f/4, and a 35mm1.4 for low light.

Most tours supply bean bags, but they usually tossed around and left in the back of the truck. They are extremely dusty but usable. I'd suggest buying a bean bag and getting them to fill it with actual beans once you get there. At the end of the tour dump it out until the next stop.

I would highly suggest not shooting auto. At least not for animals. You'll be up against some tough conditions at sunrise and sunset (AUTO will bump your ISO way to high to get clean photos).
If shooting with strong back lighting, AUTO will turn your subject into shadows. If shooting a moving animal, AUTO may not be able to freeze the action as the poster above has mentioned.

Let me know if you have any other questions.
My galleries can be found here:
http://www.shanehophotography.com/Trave ... -Honeymoon
Thanks for the reponse! I have an 18-135mm lens, and want to get a second lens, the 100-400mm canon looks good, but it also has a $2500 price tag, the 70-300mm is a few hundred less but with less zoom. I need an all around lens, do you link the 100-400mm is it? (and to be sure, were talking about Canon the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM?). I dont want to be changing lenses out on a safari, at one point or another i may get dust in the lens. My problem is, I kind of know how shutter speed, aperture, and iso, work together but I dont want to miss out on an photo while im trying to change the settings.
As people have suggested, you can easily rent a lens for a fraction of the price of buying new. Rent from a place here in Canada. Another option (which I did) was buy it used and then re-sell. I actually made a few hundred this way myself.
Remember that you are using a 70D so your effective focal length (mm) will be 1.6X what is on the lens.
This is a once in a lifetime trip. Most, if not all, L grade lenses are weather sealed and are built much much better then your kit lens (made of plastic)

The L lenses are sharp from corner to corner and at ALL focal lengths. A lens like the 70-300 will not give the same image quality and at the longer zoom lengths, quality will degrade significantly.
Yes, I'm talking about Canon the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM.

However, there are many different kinds of tours and vehicles you can be shooting out of. A bit more detail might be helpful. I was on a completely private tour with just the two of us and a private guide. We had a full-size land rover all to ourselves. Top completely came off and we were free to roam from the front to the back without anyone in our way. I've seen lower end tours with vans pull up packed with people that have to roll window down and shoot over people's heads out of a window.

The park you end up going to will make a difference as well as vehicles need to stay on marked paths for most of them. You may or may not get lucky with animals being next to a path or far away. In one case we caught a glimpse of a black rhino, but it was so far away I could only shoot it at 400mm with a 1.4x TC and a 1.3 crop camera (that's almost 750mm). In some cases, lions and hyenas came right up to the edge of our door and I needed a 35mm to capture it. Also, you won't be able to shoot with a tele at camp/hotels/around rest areas if you are taking more panoramic shots and shots of your group and yourself.
I have been looking on Craigslist, but havent seen anything good used come up, thats definately an option I like, but I dont want to rent a lens as its almost 25-30% of the price of a lens. I dont know what kind of tour we'll be doing, but were leaning towards going with a group tour. I like the idea of a private tour, better photos and experience, but personally we would both feel safter being with a group. Do you have any suggestions? Thinking of Kenya, Tanzania, and possibly South Africa.
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Jun 15, 2012
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3 weeks? That's amazing, enjoy! (disclaimer, I know a lot of photography principles but I've never been to Africa myself so value others' experiences/posts higher)

I see a 100-400L version1 for $1100 in Kelowna, that's a bit of a trek from Surrey (3.5h) but if you offer $1000, you could resell for $1200.

My L lenses are from all over Southern Ontario, factoring savings vs travel/time. Too bad you're not here, a few 70-300's on kijiji.

Buying/selling used is essentially a long term rental.
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Nov 1, 2003
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[/quote]
I have been looking on Craigslist, but havent seen anything good used come up, thats definately an option I like, but I dont want to rent a lens as its almost 25-30% of the price of a lens. I dont know what kind of tour we'll be doing, but were leaning towards going with a group tour. I like the idea of a private tour, better photos and experience, but personally we would both feel safter being with a group. Do you have any suggestions? Thinking of Kenya, Tanzania, and possibly South Africa.
[/quote]

I've done three trips to Africa. As a first-timer, I would suggest Kenya or Tanzania (or both) and book with a reputable tour company or camp which you will find lots of suggestions for on Tripadvisor. South Africa is great but not for the faint of heart outside the reserves or CapeTown and it's better to self-drive there but you'll want some safari experience beforehand. In Kenya, I booked a guide to go to Lake Nakuru and then another one to Amboseli at the base of Mt. Kilaminjaro. I prefer private as you can choose the vehicle and driver based on reviews and there is no "bad seat". At Masai Mara, I booked Little Governors where the BBC uses for its Big Cat Diary program. Camp was amazing but tours were shared with other guests so we had up to 4 or 6 people per vehicle. On one trip, a girl had a panic attack when a male lion came right up to us (no doors or windows) and ruined it for the rest of us. I regretted not getting a private driver that camp. In Tanzania, I booked one guide to take us through the country and it was so spectacular. We went to so many reserves and he got to know us so well over the two weeks that it was instinct not to stop and see our hundredth cheetah or lion but to source the rare things like hunting leopard, servals, caracals. If we had been with a group, we would have stopped for every animal as there is always something someone hasn't seen a dozen times before. By the time we did South Africa and Namibia, hubby and I were so comfortable with knowing the animals and the safety tips, we drove ourselves - it was a totally different experience but you will miss a lot if you haven't done a guided safari before.
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Feb 13, 2014
211 posts
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Ottawa
When I did my trip, I was a complete novice to photography. I used an 18x200 mm lens for my whole trip and managed to get some really good shots. The lens let me do wide, close and reasonably far and was very easy for a beginner. I would use a different set up today because I know more about photography now and have better skills, but that is a good lens to use for a novice.

Just a thought.
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Oct 5, 2004
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I've been on quite a few safaris in Africa. Some animals are really close and you can get a way with 70-200,but I really loved my Sigma 50-500. Impressive range and IQ is the same as Canon's 100-400L (their 2nd version). Image stabilization helps too.
It's very dusty in a lot of those places and I strongly recommend taking 2 cameras so that you don't have to switch lenses. I remember 1 guy quickly changed a lens only to find later about 30 dust specs inside... That's also why I always have a dust mask of some sort when I go to Africa.

My recommendation:
It seems you don't own a camera and perhaps know nothing about DSLRs? if that's true, I would recommend perhaps a good point and shoot camera instead. On my last safari, one of the guys in the vehicle had one of these. I think he had around 400mm zoom at the longest. He was taking very good shots with it. Said how great it is for travel and all that.
Unless you will be selling those pictures, I don't think I see real reason to buy a new (and very heavy ) camera you are not familiar with and then take it to a trip like this. You may end up being frustrated as you won't know how to operate it properly. Newer point and shoot. cameras can deliver similar quality images as dslrs.
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Nov 1, 2003
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demi2004 wrote: I've been on quite a few safaris in Africa. Some animals are really close and you can get a way with 70-200,but I really loved my Sigma 50-500. Impressive range and IQ is the same as Canon's 100-400L (their 2nd version). Image stabilization helps too.
It's very dusty in a lot of those places and I strongly recommend taking 2 cameras so that you don't have to switch lenses. I remember 1 guy quickly changed a lens only to find later about 30 dust specs inside... That's also why I always have a dust mask of some sort when I go to Africa.

My recommendation:
It seems you don't own a camera and perhaps know nothing about DSLRs? if that's true, I would recommend perhaps a good point and shoot camera instead. On my last safari, one of the guys in the vehicle had one of these. I think he had around 400mm zoom at the longest. He was taking very good shots with it. Said how great it is for travel and all that.
Unless you will be selling those pictures, I don't think I see real reason to buy a new (and very heavy ) camera you are not familiar with and then take it to a trip like this. You may end up being frustrated as you won't know how to operate it properly. Newer point and shoot. cameras can deliver similar quality images as dslrs.
I agree. I used my point and shoot Canons - SX20, SX40HS and SX60HS, respectively for each of my safaris. The optical zoom on the latter one is over 1300mm equivalent. Never had to change lenses, got closer shots than the pros, doubled as spotting gear as it had better range than my guide's binoculars, and my 11x14 printed photos get tons of compliments. It's about simplicity and quick reaction time when photographing animals, especially at a distance. I would not want to be changing lenses or holding such a heavy set up the entire time on tour.

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