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faetheburgh

Lens for South Africa Private safari

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faetheburgh

Hi there, 

I'm off to South Africa in April and will be going on a private tours. I hear with private tours that vehicles can get a lot closer to animals. So, I'm pretty sure I will purchase an XF50-140 F2.8 with either a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter to use with my X-T1. 

Besides this, I'm thinking of buying an X-Pro2 with either the 16-55 F2.8 or a 100-400 F4.5-5.6. I'm not sure which lens to buy. I'm not too fussed with bird photography, so I just wonder how much I really need a 100-400 in a private drive? From my research, dpreview's article here mentioned that just a 70-200 would suffice -https://www.dpreview.com/articles/8065882473/gearing-up-for-an-african-safari 

Just wondering if anyone has some other views or experience with a private drive? Also, with bean bags and the completely open vehicles - can I even use one, or should I consider a monopod? 

 

Thanks.

 

Carl  

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artuk

My simple answer was going to be "the longest you can get", as that's always the general advice, and having never been on safari I have no personal experience.  Since the light is going to be good, you don't need a fast aperture lens, so a slower but long lens could work and would keep the weight down.

As for getting closer and needing shorter lenses, I really don't know. 

Why are you thinking of buying an X-Pro2 rather than one of the other cameras?  The OVF is unlikely to be great for safari due to it's parallax and frameline issues (edit: it also will not work with lenses longer than 60mm I think).  As you already have an X-T1, why not one of the smaller cheaper bodies as a second camera and back up (e.g.XT-q0, XT-20)?  Is there something you don't like about the X-T1 you want to improve? Often when people buy second bodies they do so:

- to get some combination of features they don't already have

- to get something smaller and lighter and a second camera or back up camera

- they get a body exactly the same as the one they already have because they like it and know how to use it

So, I'm just wondering why X-Pro 2 and not one of the other bodies?  I am assuming you want one with PDAF on sensor for faster AF< which excludes the X-A and X-M models, which otherwise can make good second cameras, and with the right lens can be small enough to slip into a pocket when you want to travel light for the odd snap (an alternative to a pocket camera).

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veejaycee
1 hour ago, faetheburgh said:

Hi there, 

I'm off to South Africa in April and will be going on a private tours. I hear with private tours that vehicles can get a lot closer to animals. So, I'm pretty sure I will purchase an XF50-140 F2.8 with either a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter to use with my X-T1. 

Besides this, I'm thinking of buying an X-Pro2 with either the 16-55 F2.8 or a 100-400 F4.5-5.6. I'm not sure which lens to buy. I'm not too fussed with bird photography, so I just wonder how much I really need a 100-400 in a private drive? From my research, dpreview's article here mentioned that just a 70-200 would suffice -https://www.dpreview.com/articles/8065882473/gearing-up-for-an-african-safari 

Just wondering if anyone has some other views or experience with a private drive? Also, with bean bags and the completely open vehicles - can I even use one, or should I consider a monopod? 

 

Thanks.

 

Carl  

You'll get all sorts of advice on what to take - mostly from people who have never been on safari. South Africa private reserve safaris are to my way of thinking often (not always) more like a large open zoo with fences where something like the 55-200 will suffice for many animals because the owners/guides know almost every animal and where it will be at any given time and these can often be approached closely but even here we are talking more of the large animals from Elephant to Cheetah in size. Personally speaking, if that's all I had to photograph I'd be bored. The more modern SA reserve will agree open borders with their neighbours as far as the animals are concerned - better for the animals and no fences to maintain. The link above seemed to suggest the 400mm focal length as standard and on APS so would I. My safaris (1 Tsavo W, 2 Amboseli, 3 Tsavo E - Kenya) have been shot with Nikon DSLR FF and APS. The D300 was fitted with 50-500mm (non IS) and the D700 with 28-300 or 24-70 - the former because it had stabilisation - neither setup had WR but were kept out of dust when on the move - in a completely open vehicle that may not be possible and dust can be a problem so no swapping of lenses.

You need to think what smaller animals you might want to photograph (many you won't have though of) and you might regret missing out on the birds/apes/monkeys/baboons in trees - they will need a longer lens. Should you be lucky enough to witness a hunt you will need a long lens. I was lucky to see a (failed) hunt which began when a lioness left her half grown cubs about 20 ft from our vehicle but ended 150 yds away even at 750mm equiv I had to crop a lot - perhaps consider hiring in SA, there are several stores that do this. You need two bodies. Elephants close up will fill the frame of the short zoom. Don't dismiss landscape shots - or more importantly animals in their environment - if you don't show this you might as well be in a zoo. If you allowed in the park after sunset (unusual) then a wide aperture may be worthwhile but otherwise there is plenty of light so the 55-200 will give you extra reach if you decide against the 100-400m. Err on the long side as main lens but have a second body with 16-55 f2.8 or 18-55 fitted.

I use a beanbag rest from the roof of our landcruiser - one of those that screw into the tripod fitting so I could simply lift the assembly down into the vehicle one go. If your vehicle is open then a monopod is ldeal and you may even have some permanent fitting for your camera if the vehicle is owned by the reserve. Take an empty beanbag to be safe and fill it up when you get there. It makes no difference how much you gear weighs once you're in the vehicle. It may be worth contacting the safari/reserve by email to find what gear is best for their particular reserve.

A few of my pictures here to show the variety of photograph you might take and therefore the lenses you might need.

https://goo.gl/photos/ucCYC7PvUgfpNj3D6

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