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Camera recs-one more time

Chicago
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Camera recs-one more time

I have trying to research on the forum about recommended cameras, and I have read what is there, but I'm still not sure I have my question answered. I know there is much debate about camera or not, and about DSLR vs bridge vs point and shoot, but it boils down to one question for me (since I don't know much about DSLR/lenses, and don't know how many mm. lens does what). I have a camera that has a 23X zoom, a mid-range small video/movie camera, and a 4X point and shoot. Should that be satisfactory for most shots on safari and around-town? They make up to 50X cameras, but I'm not sure I would use it that much after the trip, and they run about $400-500.

Minneapolis...
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1. Re: Camera recs-one more time

What is the 23x zoom camera? Kind of unusual figure - usually that number indicates security cameras and stuff... that is a long enough zoom for the typical point-and-shoot safari camera... but it all depends on the camera quality. With a good enough quality lens and camera, you can use a digital photo program to "zoom" in the processing to a much longer equivalent length.

So what's the camera in question?

Ottawa, Canada
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2. Re: Camera recs-one more time

<<around town>> You are going to want to keep your camera in your bag when in town as much as you can - as a solo traveller - no one to watch your back. Maybe I was too timid even when I was in Moshi for several weeks, but in the bustling town area, I wasn't prepared to have my camera nicked. In a more rural surrounding, and at the lodge, yes, camera at the ready. Just remember to ask before taking people pictures (they may want a dollar) and keep your camera out of grabbing range if snapping through an open window in Arusha. Violence is limited, but oppurtunistic snatch and grabs can happen.

I took my bridge camera for safari and point and shoot for those other moments.

I have seen people using their iPad as camera on Serengeti safari and others in a tour using any variety of compact point and shoot with video and still getting decent shots. No need for zoom when the lion is resting in the ditch 5 feet away.

nyc
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3. Re: Camera recs-one more time

>>5-ft away in a dtich << - how about right under the vehicle door that you have to contort yourself to figure out how to take the pic.

23X (there are even those at 30+X) P&S will be fine for what you need. 23X is somewhere in excess of 350mm if you were carrying extra lenses or had some fancy DSLR. No need for DSLR, besides the expense and learing curve unless you set at 'auto.' And at 'auto' it might as well be a P&S.

And, if it's unlikely you'll use a DSLR on a regular basis, that's a steep chunk of change to lay out only to gather dust on a shelf. Besides, the higher Digital Zoom P&S are very competitively priced (often less than $250).

The high X/digital P&S do have built-in stabilization, but don't hesitate using a bean bag to steady if you feel more comfortable doing so. Your tour operator can provide, but advise ahead of time so they have on your arrival.

Assume the 4X is small pocket size that works well when that powerful zoom isn't. Easier to grab and quieter. It's also good as a back-up 'just in case.'

You'd be surprised how often you're practically right on top of game as the time we rounded a curve and came upon a momma ellee with baby... thankfully she remained there. We didn't dare backup and spook her, I couldn't use the larger camera... the small pocket/zoom was perfect.

I still have BD photos (before digital... read: 'film') with no fancy lenses and got some great 'romantic' lion shots as good as recent link in earlier thread.

Barnard Castle...
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4. Re: Camera recs-one more time

What do you want to do with the pictures you've taken?

If all you want to do is share them on the www or print postcard-size images, then a point and shoot with a moderate zoom is adequate. (But set your camera settings to take highest quality .jpegs)

If you want to print them bigger than 5"x7", then something better may be needed. A good quality point-and-shoot will (given that you've got the focus and exposure right and there's no blurring) get you up to A4/10"x8" size. Anything bigger and you'll want an SLR.

Edited: 24 December 2012, 21:00
Chicago
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5. Re: Camera recs-one more time

Sorry IAB. I misspoke. It is 26X-Kodak Easyshare Z981 with a Schneider-Kreuznach 26mm-676mm lens (not separate). It takes nice pics. I used it a couple of years ago for a project on petroglyphs in the Four Corners area. I was more concerned about the amount of zoom. And QM- I was thinking the same-pocket camera for town. And I will be using digital images, and maybe print 5x7 up to 8x10, so I guess I will be fine. Thanks for all the thoughts-It always helps to get other perspectives.

Ottawa, Canada
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6. Re: Camera recs-one more time

Well, 4Sandi, I only say five feet because I am standing in the jeep with my head out the roof bending forward and trying not to fall out while trying to see the other one resting in the shade. May have been 6 feet. Height of the wheels and my tall frame bent over:-)

Ensure you have several high speed sd cards, and at least two, if not three batteries. I had my issued battery and two no names at a much reduced cost. They lasted adequately and we had more charging stations available than I anticipated.

If you can, pick up lens wipes or a little pen that has a brush in one end and a squeegy for the view screen on the other. Best five dollar investment made. That kind of thing is very expensive in Africa and dust is not your friend. Clean yiur camera every day and wrap it in a bandanna or pack it away when not in use.

Stanley, Falkland...
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7. Re: Camera recs-one more time

Happy to be corrected, but my understanding is that a 50mm lens gives an image equivalent ot what you see. So 35mm is a wider view. 100mm is twice as close as normal eyesight.

On my first trips, I would have a 300mm zoom lens, plus a doubler, making 600mm, or 12 times normal view.

It weighed a lot and took up most of the carryon luggage.

Now I can get a good camera with 16 x zoom that fits in my pocket....

Don't forget, as you zoom in, you narrow what you can see. And also the more you zoom in, the more your hand (or vehicle) shaking will blur the picture (unless you have image stabilisation).

Minneapolis...
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8. Re: Camera recs-one more time

sciguy - your cameras are more than adequate for the job.

Don't rely too much on any kind of stabilization that is built in - the key to good photos will be how steady and stable you are.

When you shoot, make sure the driver turns off the engine. The vibration of an engine running will spoil most shots.Most of the drivers do know the drill and do this automatically, but I've spoken to people who had to remind him to do so - usually when a not so good relationship was involved. Our guy, Mussa, loved looking at our photos with us and was very aware of angles and light.

I believe your camera does not have a viewfinder. This makes holding it steady a little harder... the old camera-glued-to-the-head with the arms forming a tight tripod worked for over half a century... now we need to learn to hold a camera out away from us to use the screen to frame our shots. In the vehicle, you should be able to put both elbows on the roof, forming at least a "bipod"

When in doubt, don't try to zoom too tight or crop the shot too much in the camera. Better to have a little extra around it and crop it in your computer than to have too little. My avatar picture would be a lot better if I'd left a little more head space on that giraffe!

My camera is similar to yours... as noted by QN and Sandi, you can get pretty close with that much "reach." This one wasn't even zoomed half-way...

…photobucket.com/albums/…

Michigan
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9. Re: Camera recs-one more time

Sciguy25

You mentioned your camera has a 23 x zoom. Is this Digital Zoom or Optical Zoom? There is a huge difference. A lot of people get all excited when they see a large zoom number on a camera ad. Do a simple search on the difference between digital and optical and it will open your eyes a lot.

"No need for DSLR, besides the expense and learing curve unless you set at 'auto.' And at 'auto' it might as well be a P&S." I'd have to disagree with this. A lot of people think a DSLR can be intimidating. Not really. Now if you really want to take advantage of every feature a DSLR has, yes, there is a learning curve. But even if you set a DSLR on auto, there is a difference in image quality between it and a point and shoot.

I'd agree, it depends a lot on what you want to do with your photos. If you just want to post photos for your family and friends on a site like Picasa or maybe print out a few 4 x 6 prints, you may be ok. But what if you capture that special image that you want to make an 8 x 10 or 9 x 12 print? Then you may want a camera with better resolution.

My opinion on what may be the most critical thing about a camera on safari is to check out how fast your camera can write images to the camera card. Realizing that not everyone wants to go on a safari like I do with 2 DSLRs and a small point and shoot (for taking quick photos in the dining room at night without lugging the gear). However, my point and shoot camera is a pretty decent one but the writing speed is fairly slow. If this were the only camera I was carrying, well, you may snap a photo of a lion walking towards the vehicle, but miss capturing the image as it gets 10 feet closer as it is roaring looking right at the camera - simply because the writing speed is so slow.

Whichever way you decide to go, read the reviews of the equipment and even more importantly, practice a lot with it and get very familiar with how it works prior to using it on a safari. I've seen too many people who buy something and then think they can learn the camera on their flight to Africa.

Minneapolis...
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10. Re: Camera recs-one more time

The Kodak in question is 26x optical... so that's why I think it is adequate to the job. I always want the next newer camera... but if I had a Z981, that's what I'd take (along with the other point and shoot.)

And I see I was wrong - it does have an electronic viewfinder. I know lots of folks have gotten used to using the screen, but I still believe that unless the angle of the shot is better holding it lower, we can hold the camera steadier and improve our shots using the viewfinder.

Do follow the advice about extra battery or preferably two. And ask your TO about charging in the vehicle while you drive. Ours had an inverter and it was much more handy to charge the camera batteries there than to worry about finding a charging station at the camps... and I always worry about leaving a charger and battery plugged into a wall someplace - been there, done that!

Ditto the good advice about the extra cards. In our case, we also carried a small netbook. Most nights I'd pop the card into the reader and copy the photos to the netbook - backup copy. Then I'd slide one of my spare cards into the reader and copy the file back to that card... second backup. As it turns out, I didn't lose any photos or video and was able to delete all the rest later - but other folks have not been so lucky. With no backup, if the camera gets nicked - all the photos are gone. The camera falls into a crevice... all the photos are lost. And those little cards are just too easy to lose all by themselves. So... if it is possible - make backups!