Choose your equipment

Choosing your photo equipment for a safari

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FOR WHO ?

Whatever your level, wildlife photography requires specific equipment, if you are a beginner your smartphone as good as it is will provide you at best passable pictures in a small minority of cases and if you are amateur your 50mm f / 1.2 lens do not will be of no use.

Beginner:

You are a beginner, you mainly take photos with your smartphone or a compact and you may have already played with the camera with interchangeable lenses of a friend during a weekend or at a wedding but that’s it, for you photo means aim and shoot.

It does not necessarily interest you to immerse yourself in the world of photography or you do not have the time nevertheless you really want to be able to come back from your next safari with successful shots.

Get the Panasonic Lumix FZ300 :

Lumix FZ300
Panasonic Lumix FZ300

It cost about350 euros (no need to change lens). With this you will get a powerful zoom (equivalent 600mm Full Frame), stabilized (it compensates for your movements) and weather sealed(resists water, dust …), an adjustable and touch screen as well as a recording of videos in 4K .

Its strength is really this zoom which will be more than necessary.

At this price, you keep an open door, if you realize that you reach the limits of the camera and want to push your photo experience further, you can easily resell it or keep it for certain occasions and orient yourself on more sophisticated equipment, you will not be ruined on this first purchase.

A photo in JPG directly from the camera and without post-processing to give you an example:

Cheetah in the savannah
DMC-FZ300 f/3.2 1/1000sec ISO-100 108mm

You have more budget and you are looking for something beyond these 350 euros without going to the prices of cameras with interchangeable lenses, I could recommend the:

Sony RX10 Mark III
(version IV is overpriced).

Sony RX10
Sony RX10 Mark III

The device is great, you get a better sensor (4x more surface) than the Lumix but it is 3x more expensive.

Amateur:

You want to invest a significant amount (2000-3000 euros), you are not on your first safari, you travel often or you already have equipment.

If you miss any terms, go to the site’s glossary page, which explains most of the terms and acronyms in one simple sentence.

What will matter the most will be your focal length.

You do not have a camera:

Get a Fujifilm X-T2
(yes even in 2020)

Fujifilm X-T2
Fujifilm X-T2

You have the choice between a DSLR and a mirrorless. Clearly fashion goes with Mirrorless which has a range of significant advantages for the same quality of image rendering (because they may have the same sensors).

If you really want a DSLR, have a look at the Nikon D500 or the Canon 7D Mark II. Anyway, camera are released all the time, don’t hesitate to look at forums and specialized website for tests and feedbacks.

Among mirrorless you have the choice between two sensor formats:

APS-C or Full Frame

My message is simple, the full format is better because larger but the full format is more expensive (the body and the lenses), heavier and larger. In what proportions? About + 100% for the price, + 50% for the weight and + 50% also for the size.
Remember that you will need to travel with your equipment in hand luggage and carry it all day on safari.

My preference goes to Fujifilm cameras for the choice of lenses and the quality / price ratio. The current version is the X-T4 which comes after the X-T3, which comes after the … X-T2.

Obviously there are improvements but for you who are new to them they are marginal.

I therefore recommend the X-T2. Note that the packs with the 18-55 mm lens are very interesting since this lens will cover 80% of your photos outside safari.

Count about 650 euros on second hand (ebay, local website or reseller) for the Fujifilm X-T2 body and its grip (essential to hold couple batteries and have a better grip of long focal lenses).

Count about 300 euros in second hand / reseller for theFujinon XF18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS lens.

You will find at around 1500 euros in new / sales the Fujinon XF 100-400 mm f / 4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens that you will use all the time on safari.

We are therefore on a total of 2500 euros if you manage well for 1 body and its grip + 2 objectives.

Please note that Canon with its R series or Nikon with its Z series just added couple new great full frame hybrids to their collection. I don’t change my advice in this price range for now. If you have more than 5’000 euros it’s another story and whatever you choose your equipment won’t be the subject.

You already have a DSLR or a mirrorless

If it is a DSLR, go to the Tamron 150-600mm, the Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary or more expensive the Sigma 150-600mm Sport.

Please note that several versions exist depending on the brand of your camera (Canon, Nikon, Sony).

If it’s a hybrid, look in your manufacturer’s range for long focal lenses. At Sony with the FE mount, the Sony FE lenses 100-400 mm or Sony FE 200-600mm are to be looked at, at Fujifilm the Fujinon XF 100-400mm lens is the reference.

To make your choice, favor the autofocus speed, optical stabilization(if your camera is not stabilized), the ISO performance (low light management) and weather sealing.

In any case plan 1 lens in addition to your long focal lens because you will have the opportunity to take close photos and you would not want to miss this leopard who comes to sniff the wheels of the 4×4.

PRO:

I have nothing to teach you.