Backup camera for Africa

Started Apr 12, 2013 | Discussions
mfouks
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Backup camera for Africa
Apr 12, 2013

I am going on a photo safari in African (Kenya)  in September and I was thinking that I would get an additional backup camera.  I am currently using a D800.  My telephoto lens at the moment is a 70-200 f2.8 with a 2X extender.   My first question is what would make sense as a second camera?  I was thinking that the D7200 would be a good choice but perhaps a D600 would be better (assuming no dust issues).  I believe both are about the same size/weight.

My second issue which I will also post on the lens forum is what telephoto lens to either invest in or rent.  I am looking for something not too heavy (will be using beanbags not a  tripod) as I am very concerned about holding and travelling with a heavy lens although I guess the beanbags will help.  So I am considering the 300 f2.8 lens or the new 80-400 lens that has just come out.  I have rented the 300 f2.8 for another trip and found it to be about as heavy as I can handle.  I also used the 1.4 and the 2X teleconverter with it.  Am I correct that the image quality will be much better using the 300 2.8 lens with teleconverters  as opposed to the new 80-400 lens?  I was thinking that one camera would be used with the 70-200 and the other would be used with the longer lens.

Any comments/ideas would be very much appreciated.

Marsha

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M35G35
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 13, 2013

If it was me, I would have the DX as a backup camera. Simply because of the 1.5x. If you need to travel light try the 70-300, light weight and takes excellent picts.  Enjoy your trip. Good luck.

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mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to M35G35, Apr 13, 2013

Thanks,  it seems like the DX model is the right way to go.

Marsha

M35G35 wrote:

If it was me, I would have the DX as a backup camera. Simply because of the 1.5x. If you need to travel light try the 70-300, light weight and takes excellent picts.  Enjoy your trip. Good luck.

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Harry Behret
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 13, 2013

I have shot Africa 3 times (twice in Kenya). I have always used FF bodies and have rarely missed the extra "reach" of a DX body. You will usually shoot in the early morning and the late afternoon and will want the low light performance of a FF body.

Your use of the 70-200 2.8 will give you the reach of 140-400 at 5.6 so renting out the 80-400 would be redundant. I would rent out the 300 2.8 or the 200-400 f/4 for your 2nd body. The 200-400 with a 1.4 TC will give you some extra reach. I have used the 70-200 and the 200-400 on my trips with excellent results.

If weight is a major concern I saw two photographers get good results in good light with the Panasonic GH-3 and the 100-300 lens (200-600 mm) on my last trip to Kenya.

No matter what kit you take you will get incredible photo ops in Kenya and have a blast.

Harry

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mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to Harry Behret, Apr 13, 2013

You make an excellent point discussing the redundancy.  Not sure if using the 2X extender on the 70-200 would degrade the picture quality more than using the 80-400 with no extender though.  I am leaning towards using the 300 2.8 with an teleconverter for one camera and just having the 70-200 with no teleconverter on the second camera.   I have heard that the 200-400 does not take teleconverters well but you may have had a different experience.   You also make a good point about the low light performance of the ff.  Lots to think about.

I'm very excited about going.

thanks again for your comments.

Marsha

Harry Behret wrote:

I have shot Africa 3 times (twice in Kenya). I have always used FF bodies and have rarely missed the extra "reach" of a DX body. You will usually shoot in the early morning and the late afternoon and will want the low light performance of a FF body.

Your use of the 70-200 2.8 will give you the reach of 140-400 at 5.6 so renting out the 80-400 would be redundant. I would rent out the 300 2.8 or the 200-400 f/4 for your 2nd body. The 200-400 with a 1.4 TC will give you some extra reach. I have used the 70-200 and the 200-400 on my trips with excellent results.

If weight is a major concern I saw two photographers get good results in good light with the Panasonic GH-3 and the 100-300 lens (200-600 mm) on my last trip to Kenya.

No matter what kit you take you will get incredible photo ops in Kenya and have a blast.

Harry

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Harry Behret
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 13, 2013

mfouks wrote:

You make an excellent point discussing the redundancy.  Not sure if using the 2X extender on the 70-200 would degrade the picture quality more than using the 80-400 with no extender though.  I am leaning towards using the 300 2.8 with an teleconverter for one camera and just having the 70-200 with no teleconverter on the second camera.   I have heard that the 200-400 does not take teleconverters well but you may have had a different experience.   You also make a good point about the low light performance of the ff.  Lots to think about.

I'm very excited about going.

thanks again for your comments.

Marsha

I used the 70-200 with the 2.0 TC on my last trip to Kenya with excellent results. You can see them on my site http://behret.smugmug.com/Travel

I used the 1.4 on the 200-400 regularly again with good results. I would estimate that 85% of my captures were at focal lengths of 400mm or less.

Harry

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jfriend00
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 13, 2013

On my Africa trip, I needed two primaries - one with long tele, one with mid-tele.  Because of dust issues and the need to be ready for anything, it is very difficult to switch lenses upon demand.  You will want to be prepared to shoot both near and far at any time.  So, you might think about the issue that way rather than as a backup.

I used D300 with 200-400 and D2Xs with 70-200 and found that to be a very good pair for the animals.  The D300 + 200-400 was used for small animals or animals at a distance.  The D2Xs with 70-200 was used for large animals (e.g. giraffes, elephants, etc...) or animals up close.

For landscapes, I would change lenses as the landscapes weren't moving and game me time to prepare plus I didn't shoot a lot of landscapes.

So, now that you've got the D800, you can think about a second lens/body combination that will give you a complementary reach.

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chris_uk
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 13, 2013

IQ from the 80-400 is better than from the 70-200 with a TC attached so I would take an 80-400 and leave the 70-200 at home. You also have the option of using your TC with it as there have been good reports of how it performs.

For a backup camera, hire another D800. If anything does happen to your camera, you will be happier that your backup is exactly the same - especially when looking at your pictures years later!

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frenchy01
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 13, 2013

I have been to Kenya with D300 + Sigma 500mm f/4.5 and D200 + Nikon 70-300mm AF-S VR. I took about half of my pictures with each camera, which means you definitely need a shorter telephoto lens. Neither of above camera's is very good in low light (my standard limit with D300 is 800iso, with some exceptions at 1600iso), and you are definitely better equiped with the D800 (which I have also now and would use up to 3200iso).

In your case I would rent the 200-400mm f/4 to put on the D800 and buy a D7200 or D600 to put the 70-200mm on, so you would have:

D800: 36MPix 200-400mm with good low light capability (up to 500mm in x1.25 crop and 600mm in DX crop). Eventually to be combined with TC1.4 to extend the reach to 280-560mm in 36MPix (up to 840mm in DX crop)

D7200: 24MPix 105-300mm equivalent with average low light capability (I have the D5200 and would limit iso to 800, max 1600 in "good light") or alternatively a D600 which would give you 24Mpix with a reach of 70-200mm with good low light capability.

And of  course you'll need a standard lens (24-85mm FX or 16-85mm DX) for a few landscape pictures...

You could also rent the 300mm f/2.8, and use it with TC1.4 (or even TC2.0 if you really need more reach) on the D800, but then you'll loose the flexibility of the zoom. I would not use a TC2.0 with the 70-200mm.

Regards,

Frenchie

P.S.: D7200 vs D600 is your call, depending on what you generally shoot. D7200 has the better AF system, but D600 has better quality 24MPix... You still have a few month before your travel, if you know some friends having those camera's just try them out (also in low light) to get a better idea of what you can expect.

P.S.2: during safari you are in a car, so the weight of the gear is not a major problem (you just need to move it from room to car and back...). Just check that the hand luggage weight allows you to take the gear with you (most international flights are at 10-12kg, but if you take small national planes this can go down to 7kg?)...

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frenchy01
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to frenchy01, Apr 13, 2013

Sorry, meant D7100, the D7200 is not out yet...:-)

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chris_uk
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 13, 2013

Just had another thought....

Is this a "once in a lifetime" trip? If so, rent a D4. The D800 is not a low light specialist and once you go above 800ISO you are throwing away the benefits of the high megapixel sensor. Image quality from the D4 at 1600 and higher is head and shoulders above the D800 at the same ISO. The D800 is clearly better at ISO800 and lower though. Also with the D4, the higher burst rate could be handy with moving animals or birds in flight.

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Phil_L
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 13, 2013

I would definitely take a second camera if cost isn't an issue.

You are going to have dust "problems" and changing lenses and or adding or removing TC's is a recipe for ruining your equipment and a royal pita.

Take plastic bags to put your camera(s) in when not in use!

Put the 70-200 f2.8 on the D800 and rent/buy a D4/D3s and a 200-400 f4, ev. two 1.4TCs.

The 200-400 is heavy, consider the new 80-400 as an alternative if you don't want to carry too much.

I just came back from the Masai Mara a few weeks ago and used the lens combo above on a single D300. Could I have used a second body and better low light performance? You bet!

Have fun, you are in for a fantastic experience and be prepared to want to return.

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Brandon birder
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to chris_uk, Apr 13, 2013

chris_uk wrote:

Just had another thought....

Is this a "once in a lifetime" trip? If so, rent a D4. The D800 is not a low light specialist and once you go above 800ISO you are throwing away the benefits of the high megapixel sensor. Image quality from the D4 at 1600 and higher is head and shoulders above the D800 at the same ISO. The D800 is clearly better at ISO800 and lower though. Also with the D4, the higher burst rate could be handy with moving animals or birds in flight.

The D4 and D800 are head to head upto iso 6400 when viewed at the same  size. And the D800 will always resolve more than the D4.

To the OP. The nearest DX camera to the D800 you already have is the D7100 in terms of resolution and ISP performance.  The new 80-400 vr is sharper at f5.6 than the 70-200 with 2tc at f5.6. The 300f2.8 with all the TC's is sharpest at correct apertures but problems of tc changing in dusty environments is real.

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Ebreuk
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to Brandon birder, Apr 13, 2013

Hello,

Went to Tanzania, used a d700 for WA and low light  (24-70 2.8) and a cheaper D5100 and 70-300 Nik. to get some reach. This setup was fine for me:  i did not have to change lenses (dust,dust, dust) and i had a reach from 24 mm (FF) to 450 mm (DX converted to FF) in a second.

I had very good results with this but fotography was not my main goal. I spent a lot of time looking and made pictures just for the memory. Was okay for me, saw many people only making pictures and missing (in my opinion) the experience. But that's fine, everybody should enjoy this on their one way and needs.  Have a great time!

Greetings

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T O Shooter
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to chris_uk, Apr 13, 2013

chris_uk wrote:

IQ from the 80-400 is better than from the 70-200 with a TC attached so I would take an 80-400 and leave the 70-200 at home. You also have the option of using your TC with it as there have been good reports of how it performs.

For a backup camera, hire another D800. If anything does happen to your camera, you will be happier that your backup is exactly the same - especially when looking at your pictures years later!

X2. You have the DX built into the D800  Any of the D7000, D7100, D600 bodies will also have different control layouts and that will (might) only cause you to miss shots in the heat of the moment. I'd take one D800 gripped and probably the second one not.

And as some have said, a D4 as a second body is a good option if money is no problem or you can rent one.  I use a D800 / D4 combo.  Never been to Africa though, so can't comment specifically to that situation, but I would prefer two D800s. I think!

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Oscarroos
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 13, 2013

mfouks wrote:

I am going on a photo safari in African (Kenya)  in September and I was thinking that I would get an additional backup camera.  I am currently using a D800.  My telephoto lens at the moment is a 70-200 f2.8 with a 2X extender.   My first question is what would make sense as a second camera?  I was thinking that the D7200 would be a good choice but perhaps a D600 would be better (assuming no dust issues).  I believe both are about the same size/weight.

My second issue which I will also post on the lens forum is what telephoto lens to either invest in or rent.  I am looking for something not too heavy (will be using beanbags not a  tripod) as I am very concerned about holding and travelling with a heavy lens although I guess the beanbags will help.  So I am considering the 300 f2.8 lens or the new 80-400 lens that has just come out.  I have rented the 300 f2.8 for another trip and found it to be about as heavy as I can handle.  I also used the 1.4 and the 2X teleconverter with it.  Am I correct that the image quality will be much better using the 300 2.8 lens with teleconverters  as opposed to the new 80-400 lens?  I was thinking that one camera would be used with the 70-200 and the other would be used with the longer lens.

Any comments/ideas would be very much appreciated.

Marsha

Hi Marsha -  I took the family on a safari, trip of a life time, to Tanzania last June.  My recommendation is to consider the D-700 as a 2nd camera because the two are very similar in set-up and it is easier to switch between them.

I found the following set - up best for me:  I had the 200-400 f 4 on the D-800 and the 70-200 f 2.8 on the D-700 most of the time.  I also used the 24-70 f 2.8 occasionally on the D-800.  Dust is an issue and having the two cameras as I did was just about perfect and I rarely had to change lens and risk getting dust inside.

Today, because of size and weight of the 200-400, I would consider the new AF-S 80-400 instead.

I also took the 1.4 TC but never used it relying on the high MP of the D-800 to crop which worked great.

Remember to put down the camera from time to time and enjoy it.  Photos are important but so are the memories.  Africa safaris are amazing and for most of us a trip of a life time -ENJOY!!!!!

Oscar

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mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to Harry Behret, Apr 13, 2013

Henry, I just looked at your pictures- excellent.  You got some amazing shots. You have shown that you can get good results using the 1.4 TC with the 200-400.  At this point I'm tempted to buy the 300 2.8 and get the 1.4 and 1.7 teleconverters.  I agree that the 200-400 would be an even better option but that one is even more money and heavier.  I could use the 70-200 on a D7100 and then use the 300 with a teleconverter on the D800.  I have been told that because of all the dust you shouldn't change lenses in the field.

Thanks again,

Marsha

Harry Behret wrote:

mfouks wrote:

You make an excellent point discussing the redundancy.  Not sure if using the 2X extender on the 70-200 would degrade the picture quality more than using the 80-400 with no extender though.  I am leaning towards using the 300 2.8 with an teleconverter for one camera and just having the 70-200 with no teleconverter on the second camera.   I have heard that the 200-400 does not take teleconverters well but you may have had a different experience.   You also make a good point about the low light performance of the ff.  Lots to think about.

I'm very excited about going.

thanks again for your comments.

Marsha

I used the 70-200 with the 2.0 TC on my last trip to Kenya with excellent results. You can see them on my site http://behret.smugmug.com/Travel

I used the 1.4 on the 200-400 regularly again with good results. I would estimate that 85% of my captures were at focal lengths of 400mm or less.

Harry

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Mark Dennis
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 13, 2013

I am off to South Africa in August. I will hopefully get time to do a little wildlife photography. I plan to take the D600 and D700 along with the new 80--400mm, the 24-120 F4 and a 50mm 1.8G plus a couple of SB700 flash guns. I have also considered taking my D300S instead of the D600 as have a have a relation out there who has a few DX lenses I could borrow. She has said that dust is a major issue. It is difficult knowing quite what to take. Whilst there I have to photograph a couple of projects for a charity. Maybe I need an 85mm. Tricky....Good luck with your choice and your trip.

Kind regards,

Mark

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mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to jfriend00, Apr 13, 2013

I agree with you John- I will need a second camera.  Although I said backup camera, I really meant complimentary.   I'm kind of thinking about the D800 with a 300mm f2.8 lens withe teleconverter and a D7100 with my 70-200.  However, the new 80-400 is very tempting given its weight and reach.

Thanks,

Marsha

jfriend00 wrote:

On my Africa trip, I needed two primaries - one with long tele, one with mid-tele.  Because of dust issues and the need to be ready for anything, it is very difficult to switch lenses upon demand.  You will want to be prepared to shoot both near and far at any time.  So, you might think about the issue that way rather than as a backup.

I used D300 with 200-400 and D2Xs with 70-200 and found that to be a very good pair for the animals.  The D300 + 200-400 was used for small animals or animals at a distance.  The D2Xs with 70-200 was used for large animals (e.g. giraffes, elephants, etc...) or animals up close.

For landscapes, I would change lenses as the landscapes weren't moving and game me time to prepare plus I didn't shoot a lot of landscapes.

So, now that you've got the D800, you can think about a second lens/body combination that will give you a complementary reach.

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mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to chris_uk, Apr 13, 2013

You are probably right in that getting another D800 is a great idea.  However, I really like the idea of a lighter camera like the D7100.  I'll have to think about getting the 80-400 and leaving the 70-200 at home but if I went this route I would probably bring both.

Thanks,

Marsha

chris_uk wrote:

IQ from the 80-400 is better than from the 70-200 with a TC attached so I would take an 80-400 and leave the 70-200 at home. You also have the option of using your TC with it as there have been good reports of how it performs.

For a backup camera, hire another D800. If anything does happen to your camera, you will be happier that your backup is exactly the same - especially when looking at your pictures years later!

 mfouks's gear list:mfouks's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon Df Nikon D810 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR +4 more
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