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Author Topic: African Safari - should I upgrade to FF?  (Read 2061 times)

loonsailor

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African Safari - should I upgrade to FF?
« on: November 07, 2017, 03:04:53 PM »

I'm off to Kenya in February for a wildlife safari, and I'm thinking about gear.

I've switched to Sony after a lifetime of Nikon .  I currently use an A6300, with my Nex6 as a second body when needed.  I have an 8mm Fisheye, 10-18 Sony, 18-200 Sony, 70-300 Sony, and a few wide to medium Zeiss and Sony primes.  I've generally been happy with the APS-C gear, because it's lighter and smaller (and cheaper - nice but not a driving factor for me), missing full frame pretty much only when doing night time work.  I find the photo quality of the APS Sony gear to be very fine.  I shoot 99% still, so video quality doesn't really matter to me.

I'm an experienced photog - studied at Art Institute of Chicago, worked for a while as a studio photog (mostly using 8x10 Deardorff!), both a few decades ago.  A bunch of my work is posted here .

Having never been on an Aftican safari, though, I don't really know what I'll encounter, and I don't want to miss opportunities.  So, I'm hungry for advice.  Is there any reason to consider moving to an A7, or even an A9, for this trip?  Would auto-focus, which seems like it might be important, be a lot better?  I know I'd need a bunch of new lenses, but I'd do that if there's a compelling reason.  (If I don't move to FF, I'll at least get an A6500 body)    Is there a particular lens I should get?  Any other advice?

Thanks, in advance, for any help!
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Wolfman

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Re: African Safari - should I upgrade to FF?
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2017, 04:22:31 PM »

You might consider the soon to be released Sony a7r3 with improved auto focus, faster frames per second (10fps), 42 mega pixel sensor, dual card slots. It's less $$ than the A9. You say you have a 70-300...guessing it will work on full frame. A medium zoom ( 24-105 or 24-70 ) would be the other addition to cover most situations.
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loonsailor

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Re: African Safari - should I upgrade to FF?
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2017, 10:37:13 AM »

Thanks, Wolfman.  I think I'll wait until I can try the A7rIII, and see how much better it feels.
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BradSmith

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Re: African Safari - should I upgrade to FF?
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2017, 02:09:35 PM »

Staying with APS-C will give you longer reach with your lenses.  But I've never been on a safari, so I don't know if your lenses are adequate for reach with FF or your photos would benefit from the 1.5 or 1.6 multiplication factor.  Someone who has been on a Safari should chime in regarding the desirable lens reach.
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tom b

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Re: African Safari - should I upgrade to FF?
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2017, 02:28:21 PM »

Regular LuLa contributor Glenn Bartley (I know he's a bird photographer) has some very interesting gear information on gaining reach.

His thoughts on gear here.

Cheers,
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Tom Brown

MattBurt

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Re: African Safari - should I upgrade to FF?
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2017, 04:32:33 PM »

I just did a Tanzania trip in August/September.
I even own full frame and medium format gear but decided to just bring crop with me.

I wanted to be able to travel relatively light. A big part of the trip was climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and I wanted gear that was nice enough without being too big.
I wanted reach for the post-climb safari, knowing I'll be confined to a vehicle that is confined to the roads. 
I was a little concerned about theft and did not want to take anything especially valuable.

I took a crop body (Pentax K-3) and a 18-135 sealed zoom, a 15/4 UWA, and a 50/1.8 for low light on the climb and added a 55-300 for the safari only (didn't want to carry it on the mountain).

IMGP9546-Edit by Matt Burt, on Flickr

IMGP1185-Edit by Matt Burt, on Flickr

I was pretty happy with what I managed with that setup, but if I could do it again, I'd bring a 70-200/2.8 for the safari for a little nicer IQ than the 55-300. Other than that it seemed like appropriate gear for the harsh environment and I'm happy with my photos.

A sealed zoom on safari is a good idea since it is very dusty if it's dry. I did very few lens changes so something versatile helps there.

One night in a public (but fenced and guarded) camp ground, my tent was robbed while we slept! My tent mate had a cough so I had earplugs in and didn't hear the intruder. Fortunately my gear was up by my head. My tent mate with gear at his feet lost a bag with three cameras and all his Kilimanjaro photos!
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BradSmith

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Re: African Safari - should I upgrade to FF?
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2017, 06:08:26 PM »

Matt,
Spectacular elephant photo.
Brad
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MattBurt

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Re: African Safari - should I upgrade to FF?
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2017, 11:34:50 AM »

Matt,
Spectacular elephant photo.
Brad

Thanks Brad! I loved the elephants and took hundreds of photos of them. Beautiful creatures!
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luxborealis

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Re: African Safari - should I upgrade to FF?
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2017, 07:03:38 PM »

I'm off to Kenya in February for a wildlife safari, and I'm thinking about gear.

Having never been on an Aftican safari, though, I don't really know what I'll encounter, and I don't want to miss opportunities.  So, I'm hungry for advice.  Is there any reason to consider moving to an A7, or even an A9, for this trip?  Would auto-focus, which seems like it might be important, be a lot better?  I know I'd need a bunch of new lenses, but I'd do that if there's a compelling reason.  (If I don't move to FF, I'll at least get an A6500 body)    Is there a particular lens I should get?  Any other advice?

Thanks, in advance, for any help!

It all comes down to two factors: what you intend to shoot and the end purpose of the photographs.

FF is excellent, but becoming less necessary for quality, except to very large print sizes.

If you intend to shoot small birds, the APS-C is ideal for getting additional reach from a 400mm or 500 lens. Add a TC and you can shoot almost anything (as Glenn Bartley does).

If you intend to shoot birds on the wing, fast AF is helpful, but FF isn’t needed to achieve this.

If you’re not shooting professionally nor for stock, then go have some fun with the smallest, lightest-weight gear that will allow you to do what you enjoy.

If you’re on a tour, you *might* see a cheetah or lion chase, but you’d be lucky if you did. Fast lenses for the lower light of morning/evening and fast AF would help, but using this criteria for equipment purchases if this is a trip and not a job may be unrealistic.

I lived in Arusha, Tanzania for 4 years (the safari capital of East Africa) and self-drove dozens of safaris. I saw a lot of big glass which, if you have money, go for it, but is not really necessary. Spend the extra money on being in a smaller group size of dedicated photographers...

...and a great driver-guide from a reputable company. You don’t want people in the truck who might get bored waiting for a scene to develop. Many people on safaris are “tickers” - once they’ve seen “it” they want to move on to the next, irrespective of whether there was a photo op or even a developing photo op that may take more than a few minutes to materialize. You could have the best cameras and lenses in the world, but one impatient person in your group could ruin it for you.

Me? I’m heading back to Tanzania this summer with my Sony RX-10iii. I might just leave the D800E and lenses at home. The photos I make will be perfect for photo books and prints up 17” and I’m no longer interested in selling stock for a dime a dozen. Besides, the Sony has a sharp 600mm f/4 lens (down to 24mm f/2.4) which will cover all my needs and wants. BTW: two of my most memorable photos from when I lived there are a couple 16x20” portraits of two Maasai friends, shot with a 5mp early digital Minolta.

Hell, take the Deardorff and really make a statement!

Remember... “It’s not whatcha got...” Great gear rarely compensates for the serendipity of safaris and being in the right place at the right time, which a good guide can do for you.
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AnthonyM

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Re: African Safari - should I upgrade to FF?
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2017, 12:57:56 PM »

Good advice from Luxborealis.

APSC is fine for safari.  Unless you are very unlucky indeed, you will capture wonderful sights even with 300 mm, although 400 would be better.  What surprises many is that much shorter focal lengths often are beneficial.  You should have animals coming very close to your vehicle.  I have filled a frame with a leopard at 35 mm equivalent f/l.

Much of the photography is early morning or late evening, so fast lenses are a huge advantage to cope with the low light.

The most useful thing is to have two bodies with different f/l lenses.  Changing lenses takes too long, and dust is a big issue.  One moment you are following a distant animal, the next something is happening right in front of you.  The animals do not wait for you to change lens.

A big issue is often weight.  Last year in Tanzania we had an absolute limit of 15 kgs, because of light airplane flights.  APSC may help with this.

Enjoy!
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Two23

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Re: African Safari - should I upgrade to FF?
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2017, 07:08:15 PM »

I would put the money into a better lens.


Kent in SD
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Martin Kristiansen

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Re: African Safari - should I upgrade to FF?
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2017, 03:52:30 AM »

I have a A6000 A6300 and an A7rii. If I was doing the trip I would leave the A7R at home. A good cleaning kit with a very good bag is where I would focus my attention. Loads of people have the attitude that filling the frame with the animal, bird whatever is first prize but there is much more interesting things going on in my opinion.

I am not a big wildlife photographer but enjoy visiting game parks. usually manage a visit or two a year.
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Dan Berg

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Re: African Safari - should I upgrade to FF?
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2017, 02:13:50 PM »

Although it is not small or light and has a small sensor (1") the new Sony RX-10 IV 24-600 is one fine camera.
I purchased one for my wife and she absolutely loves it. She shoots a lot of birds and the 24 fps is just crazy fast.
We looked at  longer lens for our other Sony's and the cost for one lens was more then the $1799 we paid for this camera.
The lens at 600mm will fit right into just about anything you will shoot on your trip.
No changing lenses with dust issues and just about perfect file size at 20mb.

To answer your question I would not go without FF.
The 6300 with your bag of lenses.Maybe sell a few to cover some of the new stuff.
An A7rII used with a 16-35 F/2.8 for landscapes. A7rII used are around $1750
RX-10 IV for all the long range stuff and bif. Don't forget it's 24fps, nothing out there even close for the price.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2018, 07:43:28 AM by Dan Berg »
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