What camera equipment to bring on Safari?

Photograph by Rick Sammon – Masai Mara giraffe

In August 2013, professional photographer Kevin Pepper and internationally recognized photographer Rick Sammon are taking their clients to Tanzania for a photographic Safari – Capture Tanzania by Lens.  On this Safari [August 8th to 16th] the group will get to explore amazing Tarangire National Park, dense and captivating Ngorongoro Crater and vast, green and breathtaking Northern Serengeti.

Besides enjoying these National Parks, the group will have Kevin and Rick with them at all times to improve the photography experience. From what setting to use, right aperture to capture the shot, picture composition to getting back to camp in the evening and talking about post processing. Want to join them on Safari? Contact us at Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com.

Kevin is taking a Safari to Tanzania in April to get a taste of Tanzania and I have asked him to talk about cameras and all the other accessories that need to be considered with taking a Photographic Safari. We will follow up with him after he comes back and get his final packing list for his August Photographic Safari with ‘natural light guru’ Rick.

For us photographers its time to make some decisions — what camera equipment do we take with us to get the photos we expect to be taking?

Camera bodies: Take a main body and a spare if you have one. One will suffice… but two is optimal. On my next Safari with Journey to Africa in April of 2013 and then again in August of 2013 I will be taking the Canon 5D MkIII and the Olympus E30.

Lenses: I suggest full coverage from wide angle to telephoto.  I will be taking the 11-22mm f2.8-3.5 wide angle, a 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 and a 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 with a 2.0x teleconverter for my Olympus body. For my canon body I will have a Sigma 150-500mm f5-6.3 and a 17-40mm f/4.0L

Flash: An external flash is also a suggestion. Filling in shadows and creating proper lighting indoors and when shooting local tribes people is something a flash will help you with.

Camera Bag: A backpack camera bag is ideal. You’ll want to be able to carry your equipment on to airplanes to avoid theft, so a backpack works best. I will have my gear in a LowePRO protrekker 400 as it will fit both my bodies and lenses in the bag while I am travelling.

Tripod: I am not going to tell you that this is a deal breaker… you can choose to shoot in any light situation you want… but why chance it. I will take a monopod , a beanbag and a light carbon fibre tripod. Chances are you will be using the bean bag most while on safari and when not using it the ISO adjustment will compensate for any low light situations. But for golden hour or blue hour shooting you will be kicking yourself in the butt when you see a scene at low light and you have no way to steady your camera for a couple seconds.

Storage Media: I shoot all my photos in RAW and will take a minimum of 5 media cards for the 7 day trip. Each card will be an 8gig or 16gig Sandisk Extreme CF cards and will hold between 400 and 1000 images on each card. If you are a serious photographer, bring a laptop as well, with software for basic editing. Plus, you may want to invest in some kind of external hd backup system so your photos are kept in two locations.

Other accessories: Take a rain cover for yourself and your camera body if you are going to be there in the rainy season like we sometimes will in the coming years. While rain last for very short periods of time in Tanzania, the down pours are hard.

Batteries and chargers: I have four batteries for each camera body and I will take them all. I will also be taking chargers with the appropriate wall plug to charge my batteries as they drain. You can also buy a solar panel charger from a company called voltaic systems for a couple hundred dollars if you want to go that route.

Filters: I will be taking my entire cokin P series polarizers and ND filters with me when I travel. I also have an assortment of Tiffen filters I use. At some point on your safari you will wish you had the right filter. Harsh light or bright skies and darker foregrounds will definitely have you scurrying to borrow someone’s filter if you do not take your own.

Lens cleaners and cloths: Take cleaners and cloths for both your lenses and sensor (if you know how to clean your sensor) If you are not careful when changing lenses you can easily get dust on your sensor.

Conclusion: But let’s not forget, an African safari is about experiencing a once in a lifetime event… that bucket list trip that will leave you with memories of a lifetime.

So there Safari goers. You have your camera equipment guidelines. Now go on Safari with Kevin and Rick and come back with loads of your own photographs and memories! Karibu Tanzania!

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