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Need advise on what Canon SLR & lenses to take

San Francisco...
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Need advise on what Canon SLR & lenses to take

You guys have been a great help so far, hope you can do me another favor and give feedback on what Canon equipment I should take on safari & to Zanzibar. As a side note, I used to shoot weddings on the side (one of those folks!) so have a bit of equipment, but have not done so for a while and so my stuff is rather old. Also my lenses may not be long enough since the "feet zoom" is not as useful on safari as it is in weddings :)

I want to travel light for camera equipment and thus limit my gear to 4 items: a body, a telephoto lens, a wide lens, and one other piece. This will also limit my losses in case something happens to my stuff while in Africa. Can you please advise?

1) BODY: I currently have the Canon 10D, 20D and 5D bodies (told you my stuff was old). My 10D & 20D are really beat up and I'd prefer to take a light crop body over my 5D (which my hubby says is crazy -- I tell him to take the 5D instead of me). I'm considering buying either a 60D or a 7D, leaning towards the 60D since it's much cheaper and the features don't seem to be that different. However some have said that the 60D body is pretty flimsy. What are your recommendations?

2) TELEPHOTO: I'm thinking of either renting a 100-400L or the new 70-300L, leaning towards the latter since it's lighter and a newer design. However will I miss the 400 length? Or maybe instead of either, should I take my existing 70-200 f/2.8L lens and use a teleconverter? Though that last option doesn't seem like a good one with the loss of light and potential focusing issues.

3) WIDE. Normally on vacation I take my 10-22 lens which is really great for wide shots -- I don't mind the distortion since at heart I'm a "quick & on the fly" photographer instead of a deliberate landscape photographer. However for safari there are a lot of landscapes, should I instead take my 17-40 f/4L instead? Or go some other route?

4) EXTRA: This is where it may get interesting. Do I take a medium range zoom like the 24-70 f/2.8L, an all-purpose general lens like the 28-135 (my defacto vacation lens along with the 10-22), my 20D body (after I get it cleaned) as a backup, or maybe something different?

As mentioned, my initial feelings were to buy a 60D, rent a 70-300L, and bring the 10-22 and the 28-135, but maybe there are better choices before I commit. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

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State College, Pa
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1. Re: Need advise on what Canon SLR & lenses to take

With your being a professional photographer (weddings are difficult I understand), who am I to offer advice? Thus, just a thought, On our most recent safari I took a Canon Rebel T1i with a 70-300mm IS lens and the 18-55mm lens that came with it. Also, a point-n-shoot Canon S3 as our back-up. Turns out I didn't bother with the smaller lens, using the S3 for the close in pics, etc. Maybe laziness or concern for dust/dirt while switching or in some cases lack of time to do the switch. The S3 was nice for sticking in a pocket while going to dinner etc. Just a thought. Dick

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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2. Re: Need advise on what Canon SLR & lenses to take

I would suggest a second body to avoid the hassle of swapping out lenses and risking getting dirt, etc. inside the camera mechanisms.

Washington DC...
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3. Re: Need advise on what Canon SLR & lenses to take

When I go on safari I bring my 100-400 L, 70-200 F4 IS L (my favorite lens) and 28-135, and a 1.4 extender (though I don't use it with the 100-400). The workhorse is the 100-400 L. It is heavy and I suggest you have a bean bag available to stabilize it. Before the 100-400, I used the original 75-300 IS and, honestly, I was very happy with the shots I got. I've found the extra reach of the 100-400 is especially good for getting bird photos. Sometimes, though, I wished I had the lighter 75-300 with me. I don't think you'd miss much if you opted for the 70-300.

I use a 40D and always bring a back-up body. On one safari my primary body got wet and shorted-out. Luckily I had the 2nd body. Good luck, Steve

Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: Need advise on what Canon SLR & lenses to take

Will your husband be shooting? My partner doesn't shoot much, but stick wild animals in front of her and you can't stop her.

If that is the case, then consider two bodies with different sensor sizes and two lenses. The different sensor sizes gives you more flexibility with your lenses. Even if your husband isn't shooting it allows you to have two setups ready to use. People talk about getting dust in their lenses/cameras, but I seriously swapped lenses about every 5 minutes. Didn't have a problem with dust.

You could then take something like: 17 - 40, 70 - 300. Which in combination with a 5D and one of your crop cameras (or perhaps a new 7D), would give you pretty much all of the equivalent of 17 - 480mm. However, you may miss a general purpose mid range 28-135 when walking about streets in Stonetown.

FYI, I took the following:

400D

5DII

17 - 40 L

70 - 200 F/4 L

100 - 400 L

1.4x

Fish-eye!

Photos here: http://www.ianandsam.com/safari

Most of my safari 'keepers' were in the 100mm+ focal length range.

Most of the time I had 5D with the 100 - 400 and 400D with 70 - 200. On occasions the 400D with the 100 - 400 was extremely useful in getting "long distance" shots of animals.

Another thing that we found useful was LiveView. With the 10x zoom on liveview you can see just as well (if not better) than using binoculars. Our guide was impressed with the Liveview on the 5D. So was I when I started using the liveview as a pair of binoculars.

Hope that helps.

Sunnyvale...
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5. Re: Need advise on what Canon SLR & lenses to take

You're a professional asking for amateur advice? hm.

This is what I would bring additionally:

-nice tripod. (I like sporting my SLIK around in a Leki quiver.)

-circular polarizer (bring an extra one too in case you do what I've done and knock your camera & tripod over lens first into some lava rock...thank goodness it was just the filter that got smashed.)

-neutral gradient filter

Since you can get really good postcards of wildlife, short of photoshop, I concentrate on photos where somebody I know is in the foreground or somewhere in the photo. Depth of Field control becomes important. When wife, for example, is in the foreground, the foot-zoom comes important as I back up and zoom-in at the same time to bring the background up to reasonable scale (so the elephant 100 yards behind her doesn't become miniscule in the photo, but becomes lifesize).

Canon has been lackadaisical when it comes to providing cable releases. Their infrared remotes are really handy.

Edited: 06 July 2011, 18:41
Sunnyvale...
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6. Re: Need advise on what Canon SLR & lenses to take

Hey you know that in Tanzanian safaris, you're not allowed outside of your vehicle, or off the road while somewhere like Ngorongoro? Trying to get somebody in the foreground with the lion in the background means working with the available space in the safari jeep.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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7. Re: Need advise on what Canon SLR & lenses to take

And tripods? Really?? I would think there would be little use or opportunity for one.

Sunnyvale...
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for San Jose
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8. Re: Need advise on what Canon SLR & lenses to take

"And tripods? Really?? I would think there would be little use or opportunity for one."

Try to be creative: low-light, telephoto, complex depth of field, rapid shots per second for animals in action, studies of flora/fauna, remote-controlled shots, etc. Hand-steadying a camera has serious limitations if you're serious about photography.

Edited: 06 July 2011, 20:12
Stanley, Falkland...
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9. Re: Need advise on what Canon SLR & lenses to take

I think a monopod or bean-bag would be more useful than tripod.

And don't forget the WEIGHT of all this kit. You do know there are tight restrictions on small planes? (Presume you are flying to ZNZ).

Add in the batteries, spare batteries, film(?), cards, chargers, batteries, and next thing you know there's no room for clothes.

Michigan
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10. Re: Need advise on what Canon SLR & lenses to take

Definitely as others have pointed out, want to take a second camera body. Since you've done weddings, you know how important capturing just the right moment can be. Same goes in Africa. The lighting changes so fast, as do the positioning of the critters, that fast reaction is a must.

I have the Canon XTi and Canon T2i and keep the 18-135 IS on one camera and the 100-400L on the other. I used the Canon 70-300 IS (not L series) on the first trip, and took it along as a back up in case of failure of the 100-400 on the 2nd trip. I have to admit, the optics of the 100-400 are so impressive, especially if you have any shots blown up. I have a couple of canvas 20 x 24 prints on the wall and they really grab your attention.

Dust, even after the rains, is challenging, so better not to have to change lenses. I had a small problem with one camera my last trip (now I travel with a very small bottle of iso alcohol and toothpick) and was glad for the back up.

Tri pod would be a real challenge, but I'm considering taking a monopod next visit. Vehicles I was in provided a beanbag which was really handy, especially considering the weight of the 100-400. I also bought an inexpensive wrist brace (like some use for bowling) and found it really helpful when shooting several hours in a day.

Circular polarizer came in very handy for landscape shots. I took more animals than landscapes, but when the sun is setting or you happen upon a double rainbow, makes for awesome shots.

A small, point and shoot does come in handy, as Dick pointed out, to stick in your pocket for any quick shots. Comes in very handy in lodges and camps to have someone else take your photo for you. The DSLRs can be a little intimidating to a stranger.