Gear for Africa trip? Need advice

Started Apr 5, 2012 | Discussions thread
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rogersmj
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Gear for Africa trip? Need advice
Apr 5, 2012

Hi everyone...I'm going on a trip to South Africa at the end of August and need help determining what additional gear I might want to acquire before I go. We'll be going to Cape Town (for wine and culture), Hermanus for whale watching and shark cage diving, and then Kruger for safari.

I'm a hobbyist, not a pro, and this trip is really a vacation for my wife and I. I want to maximize my opportunities for great shots without hauling around more than one medium-size backpack full of camera gear.

Currently, relevant gear I have:

  • Nikon D90

  • Nikon 18-200mm f3.5-5.6

  • Nikon 50mm f1.8

  • Decent ball head tripod with quick release plate

  • Nikon SB-600 flash

  • A variety of 4GB SDHC cards

  • Cleaning kit (air blower, microfiber clothes, lens cleaner)

Concerns with this setup:

  • Reach. 200mm isn't all that much sometimes when photographing wildlife.

  • Low light performance. Obviously my do-it-all zoom isn't a fast lens, and the D90 isn't the best thing these days in low light.

  • Only one body? Never had two bodies, but I'd hate to be switching lenses while trying to capture a lion or something.

I'm considering a few things. Let's pretend I'm willing to spend up to $2000 if I must.

1. Should I sell the D90 and purchase a D7000 (net cost: ~$500-600)? I like that it seems to have better low-light performance and has U1/U2 instant recall modes for quick flip between my settings. Also like that it has two card slots for instant backup. I also believe it is more weather-resistant than my D90.

2. I'm trying to figure out what to do about a longer and/or faster zoom. I borrowed a friend's Nikon 80-200mm f2.8D for a trip to Yellowstone last year, and I almost never used it because it was just so freaking heavy and ungainly when it was on the camera. I also found the push-pull zoom very awkward. I've considered the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 OS HSM, which is highly reviewed, but it appears to be the same weight. Also, if I bought this, I wouldn't be able to afford a second body. I would have to switch out lenses.

3. Should I instead buy a longer zoom, even if it's no faster than the one I have, along with a second body? Problem is, anything beyond a Nikon 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 is going to be too expensive to also accommodate a second body on my budget (like the Sigma 150mm-400mm f4.5-5.6), and is also quite heavy. I'm thinking that if I do get a 28-300mm, I would also try to get an ultrawide, something like a Sigma 10-20mm. But that could be a tall order on this budget if I also want the new body. (~$1000 for 28-300mm + net $600 for D7000 after selling D90).

I'll also need to allow room in the budget for a couple new filters, as I currently have none for 77mm lenses.

I'm paralyzed by indecision, never having had a trip this big since I started taking photography seriously as a hobby. Advice appreciated!

 rogersmj's gear list:rogersmj's gear list
Nikon D7000 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD +1 more
Nikon D7000 Nikon D90 Pentax K-r
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