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  1. #1
    rfshootist's Avatar
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    African wildlife, min. focal length for tele

    It could happen in a forseeable time that I can make an old dream come true and go to Kenia and Tansania for a photo Safari.
    I have no clue how close on can get to the animals on such a tour and what tele lenses one should take there. The only thing I've learned myself is that more is better for animals, or in other words, you need more than you think.
    The longest SLR lens I have at the time is a 3,5/6,3 28-300mm zoom, not the best idea to use a 2X converter with it which would me push up to f9,5 or so ?
    The question is would the 300mm be enuff for most of the environments or is this a naive idea ? Some affordable zooms go up to 500 and I would invest
    those $ 800 -1000 to come close enuff, if this should be necessary.
    The lens should not be more expensive than the trip, so any 2,8 /300 plus converter are not in the budget.
    Maybe those who have done such a Safari can tell me what their experiences are ?
    Thanks in advance !

    bertram
    A la recherche du temps perdu: www. bersac.de

  2. #2
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    Bertram,

    I would suggest picking up a 300 f/2.8 tamron, with the matched teleconvertors, they are very reasonable now a days, they go on ebay for $400-700, and even with the 2X still gives you a 600 f/5.6.

    My main three lenses I used when I went to Africa were a 80-200 f/2.8 a 300 f/2.8 with 1.4 convertor and a 600 f/4, the 300 got the most use, and for many situations the 80-200 worked very well.

    Have a good trip, Africa is a wonderous place to visit.

    Dave

  3. #3
    jeroldharter's Avatar
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    I have spent alot of time in Africa and have gone on alot of photo safaris. Are you going it alone or with an organized group? It makes alot of difference.

    For your budget, I would get a 400 mm lens. A couple of things to consider: take a good monopod for using in the minivans. I think that would be preferable to a bean bag. Also, be prepared for alot of dust. You want to be able to cover up your camera and lens between stops and be able to pull it out quickly. Likewise, film changes can be dusty as well.. Clean your camera every day. Also, be prepared to be annoyed by the others in your group who constantly jostle around and vibrate the van and chatter with endless wonderment at the thousandth lilac-breasted roller. If you have the time and flexibility:

    Show up in Nairobi, walk downtown, and arrange your own tour. My wife and I did that several times with no problem. We hired a minivan with a driver/guide and a cook/camp guard for a lower price than an organized group. We would camp some of the time and then spend some days at the expensive tourist lodges. Camping is really nice with hyenas prowling around and lions grumbling at night as you wonder why you drank so much water after dinner. Also, you have the vehicle to yourself and can spend as long as you want wherever you want. Not the ADHD pace of the tours. Whenever they spot a leopard all of the minivans take off in a cloud of dust and then create a parking lot around the animal.

    The 400 mm lens will let you get some bird photos of larger birds as well.
    Jerold Harter MD

  4. #4
    rfshootist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satinsnow
    Bertram,

    I would suggest picking up a 300 f/2.8 tamron, with the matched teleconvertors, they are very reasonable now a days, they go on ebay for $400-700, and even with the 2X still gives you a 600 f/5.6.
    Dave

    Dave, thinks for pointing out this Tamron lens, I did not know it ! With the 2x converter it sounds like a perfect solution !

    Regards,
    bertram
    A la recherche du temps perdu: www. bersac.de

  5. #5
    rfshootist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeroldharter
    I have spent alot of time in Africa and have gone on alot of photo safaris. Are you going it alone or with an organized group? It makes alot of difference.
    .
    My wife is in the travel and holiday biz and so there are several good reasons for an organized trip, but six people only in a Landcruiser, windowplace guaranteed and really decent lodges :-) Tansania and Kenia combined, starting from Mombasa.
    You confirm what I supposed to be necessary, 400mm is not an exaggerated FL for this environment.
    Daves suggestion seems better than my idea to buy obe of the 150 -500 zooms, which are new at € 800 ,- here.

    Thanks for the advice !

    Regards,
    Bertram
    A la recherche du temps perdu: www. bersac.de

  6. #6
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    You might Google wildlife photographer Joanne Williams and see if there is anything on her website on this subject. I attended one of her workshops in Florida, and I know she leads photo tours in Africa, and she has a newsletter with photo tips and such.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  7. #7

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    I've not been on such a tour, so maybe this would be unworkable for some reason I don't know about, but another option would be a 500mm mirror lens. Combined with your existing 28-300 zoom and 2x teleconverter, that'll give you a good set of long focal lengths, albeit some with very small maximum apertures. Mirror lenses tend to be small, which should be a big plus in helping to keep your luggage to a minimum.

  8. #8

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    Bertram,

    I rarely use anything beyond 300 mm, and for the price and image quality the Tamron 300 mm/2.8 is hard to beat. In Africa you can get reasonably close to most common large mammals. I´ve used larger lenses mainly for small birds.
    I´ve never been on a tour, always have driven my own car, on my own schedule. Tanzania and Kenia have the worst driving you´ll ever see, so maybe hiring a driver is not such a bad idea. And be careful when you walk dowtown Nairobi. There´s a lot of street crime. Good luck.

    Peter
    Photos are made four inches behind the camera

  9. #9
    rfshootist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Rockstroh
    Bertram,
    I rarely use anything beyond 300 mm, and for the price and image quality the Tamron 300 mm/2.8 is hard to beat.
    Peter
    Interesting, and good to know. Beyond 300/400 it's getting all big and expensive or very slow. There is for example a good Tamron zoom 200-400, but f5;6 and that means tripod only if I want to shoot ISO 100slides.

    I achieved fine results with Superia 800 neg film and my Tamron 28-300, free hand at 1/1000sec. Maybe this is all I need ? Will think about it.

    from left to right, No 1-4 and No 7

    Examples at F6,3(300mm, Superia 800

    The prints look much better (sharper) of course.

    Thanks !
    Bertram
    A la recherche du temps perdu: www. bersac.de

  10. #10

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    Not knowing what mount you are using I don't know what all of your options could be. If you use a Nikon or Pentex K or M you can pick up a used fast manual prime 400 or a slower mirror 500. Most mirrors are set at F8, but I can hold my 500 mirror at lower shutter speeds as the barrel is shorter, and it a monopod is very handy with a mirror.

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