Lenses for an South African Safari

Started Aug 1, 2013 | Discussions
Cugh
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Lenses for an South African Safari
Aug 1, 2013

All,

I need some help in selecting lenses for an upcoming safari in South Africa.

It's a guide tour with a small group.

Kruger Park, Pilanesberg, Marakele, Mapungubwe, Hluhluwe  and some other places. Focused mostly on animals spotting but not exclusively.

I have  several Olympus lenses for my E5.

- 12-60 SWD, 50-200 SWD, 150F2, 9-18, 35mm

- EC14, EC20 and the EX macro extention tube.

- And finaly the Sigma 50-500 aka Bigma.

So i need some help in selecting the right lenses as i don't want to drag 10 kg of hardware

all the time.  And there is a luggage restriction during the trip anyway.

What's more important ?  Long lenses during the day or fast lenses at dusk or dawn ?

Is it allowed for jeeps to leave the roads in those parks so they can be close to the animals ?

It makes a big difference in lens requirements.

Feel free to advice,

Cugh

Olympus E-5 Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM
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goblin
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Re: Lenses for an South African Safari
In reply to Cugh, Aug 1, 2013

I've never been to a safari, but part of the things you need to know in advance are:

- Will you be constantly in a vehicle (offroad vehicle, truck) ?

- Will the vehicle be constantly moving, just slowing down for sightseeing, or will it actually stop ?

- If it's a truck / open bus and it stops - will it cut the engine, or idle ?

It sounds like nothing, but the differences between the different possible answers to these questions are the differences between you never being able to drop the speed below something quite fast, and you being able to actually use your image stabilization.

Don't ask how I know this Never been at a safari, but my kids dragged me to Disney animal park (don't laugh, it's still elephants and trucks :D), and I can say that I have yet to see an IS which would be able to deal with this thing bouncing in all possible directions and then some, even at pedestrian speeds, while trying to take a shot.

PS: As for the choices themselves - I'd leave only the Bigma, the 35mm and the EX tube at home (or better - I'd bring them and leave them at the hotel the first day). EC's are light and small, the 150mm is too good to be left home, the 12-60mm and 50-200mm are too versatile to be left home.

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tinternaut
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Re: Long long long....
In reply to Cugh, Aug 1, 2013

While there should be opportunities to get closer to the animals on some of the smaller reserves (really kept animals), for real wild animals you're going to need reach. I speak from the experience of not having it :-D.  Think 50-200 or 70-300.

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Darrell500
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Re: Lenses for an South African Safari
In reply to Cugh, Aug 1, 2013

I'm thinking the Bigma is the last lens you want to leave behind and couple with the 12-60 you have the range covered. My only problem with above is that 150 f2 is just so darn good I wouldn't want to leave it, hope Collin chimes in on this one since he is our local expert.

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Cugh
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Re: Lenses for an South African Safari.
In reply to Darrell500, Aug 2, 2013

Yes, Collin is surely the expert regarding game hunting in Kruger NP and other SA parks.

The combinations i' m considering are

1.  12-60SWD + 50-500 Sigma

2.  12-60SWD + 50-200SWD + EC14

The first one has more reach and less lens swapping. But also a bit slower.

The second one has less reach but faster.  But requires more lens changes.

With all the dust in  that area, that is not such a good idea.

The 150F2 is a real gem, but too limited in range for a Safari i think.

Opinions are welcome.

Cugh

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goblin
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Re: Lenses for an South African Safari.
In reply to Cugh, Aug 2, 2013

Cugh wrote:

...

The 150F2 is a real gem, but too limited in range for a Safari i think.

Not limited at all when coupled with the EC-20 which is also available in the equation.

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Messier Object
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Re: Lenses for an South African Safari
In reply to Cugh, Aug 2, 2013

Cugh wrote:

All,

I need some help in selecting lenses for an upcoming safari in South Africa.

It's a guide tour with a small group.

Kruger Park, Pilanesberg, Marakele, Mapungubwe, Hluhluwe and some other places. Focused mostly on animals spotting but not exclusively.

I have several Olympus lenses for my E5.

- 12-60 SWD, 50-200 SWD, 150F2, 9-18, 35mm

- EC14, EC20 and the EX macro extention tube.

- And finaly the Sigma 50-500 aka Bigma.

So i need some help in selecting the right lenses as i don't want to drag 10 kg of hardware

all the time. And there is a luggage restriction during the trip anyway.

What's more important ? Long lenses during the day or fast lenses at dusk or dawn ?

Is it allowed for jeeps to leave the roads in those parks so they can be close to the animals ?

It makes a big difference in lens requirements.

Feel free to advice,

Cugh

I'd take the 12-60 and bigma.
The 150 +EC20 is a fine combination (300mm f/4) and IMO will easily outperform the bigma for speed and IQ, however the versatility of the bigma can't be beaten. Changing lenses and EC combination in a moving vehicle in dusty environment won't be a pleasant experience.

Peter

Peter

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Snowbird_UT
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Read this article from Thom Hogan.....
In reply to Cugh, Aug 3, 2013

it may be of some help.

http://www.sansmirror.com/newsviews/on-safari-four-years-later.html

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Snowbird_UT

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Cugh
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Re: Lenses for an South African Safari
In reply to Messier Object, Aug 3, 2013

Indeed,  that is the biggest advantage of the bigma.

Changing lenses in a moving vehicle with all the dust is not obvious.

Not the mention that animals are no rocks. They may come and go quickly and unexpectedly.

So no time to swap anyway.

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Messier Object
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Re: Lenses for an South African Safari
In reply to Cugh, Aug 3, 2013

Cugh wrote:

Indeed, that is the biggest advantage of the bigma.

Changing lenses in a moving vehicle with all the dust is not obvious.

Not the mention that animals are no rocks. They may come and go quickly and unexpectedly.

So no time to swap anyway.

My wife and I are planning a trip to Kruger some time in the next year or so.
Our kit will be:
E-30 with 150mm + EC-20   permanently attached.    
E-30 with 12-60mm.
E-5 with 50-200mm  + EC-14 
If by some miracle there is an E-7 I'll probably get one and replace one of the E-30s with it.

I have a Canon 5DmkIII  but no lens longer than 105mm so I don't think it will have a place in our kit. My wife wants to get a bigma for it to take to Africa, but on full frame it will be only equivalent to
the ZD50-200 + EC-14 and will be a full Kg heavier

Peter

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Craig from Nevada
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Ball and Chain versus
In reply to Cugh, Aug 3, 2013

Cugh wrote:

All,

I need some help in selecting lenses for an upcoming safari in South Africa.

It's a guide tour with a small group.

Kruger Park, Pilanesberg, Marakele, Mapungubwe, Hluhluwe and some other places. Focused mostly on animals spotting but not exclusively.

I have several Olympus lenses for my E5.

- 12-60 SWD, 50-200 SWD, 150F2, 9-18, 35mm

- EC14, EC20 and the EX macro extention tube.

- And finaly the Sigma 50-500 aka Bigma.

So i need some help in selecting the right lenses as i don't want to drag 10 kg of hardware

all the time. And there is a luggage restriction during the trip anyway.

What's more important ? Long lenses during the day or fast lenses at dusk or dawn ?

Is it allowed for jeeps to leave the roads in those parks so they can be close to the animals ?

It makes a big difference in lens requirements.

Feel free to advice,

Cugh

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Craig from Nevada
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Re: Lenses for an South African Safari
In reply to Cugh, Aug 3, 2013

Cugh wrote:

All,

I need some help in selecting lenses for an upcoming safari in South Africa.

It's a guide tour with a small group.

Kruger Park, Pilanesberg, Marakele, Mapungubwe, Hluhluwe and some other places. Focused mostly on animals spotting but not exclusively.

I have several Olympus lenses for my E5.

- 12-60 SWD, 50-200 SWD, 150F2, 9-18, 35mm

- EC14, EC20 and the EX macro extention tube.

- And finaly the Sigma 50-500 aka Bigma.

So i need some help in selecting the right lenses as i don't want to drag 10 kg of hardware

all the time. And there is a luggage restriction during the trip anyway.

What's more important ? Long lenses during the day or fast lenses at dusk or dawn ?

Is it allowed for jeeps to leave the roads in those parks so they can be close to the animals ?

It makes a big difference in lens requirements.

Feel free to advice,

Cugh

I do quite a bit of day hikes and day trips here.  Carrying this stuff around, particularly on the trail gives one time to reflect on these matters.

Two issues here:

1-size and weigh trade offs

2.  The ball and chain trap

Like almost all of us you see the trap--you want your best gear with you to avoid remorse (if only........) and you get the weight restrictions. Gear choice something very personal in terms of these choices--you might ask five people and get six or seven answers. You will forever want that 150mm lens with you. There will be times when you will want the Bigma for sure.

Another consideration is security. When you are in a city or town, do feel safe leaving the lenses in the room or will you carry the lenses with you?  Gear can be like a ball and chain.  You have to think security and frequently, maybe not so much on safari but in places populated with people.  I own a 90-250mm, but frequently leave it at home if I am staying in a hotel or lodge.  It is great for wildlife in the morning near the lodge but when I go on a hike during the day that is a different matter. Do I leave it behind?

Seriously, load the aforementioned gear in a pack and hike a dozen miles. You will figure it out.

Your best bet IMHO, is the 12-60mm, 50-200mm and your teleconverters. I do some hikes in the mountains and I can tell you that SHG is nice but you start thinking about whether you can get by with the 12-60mm instead of bringing the 7-14mm too. HG lenses offer the best trade-off of size and quality.

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Craig from Nevada
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Re: Ball and Chain versus
In reply to Craig from Nevada, Aug 3, 2013

wooops.  This somehow got posted.

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Craig from Nevada
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Re: Lenses for an South African Safari
In reply to Craig from Nevada, Aug 3, 2013

HG lenses offer the best trade-off of size and quality.

Should read---IMHO, when traveling, HG lenses offer the best trade-off of size and quality.

Sorry--I need to drink my coffee before posting and wear my glasses.

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kittykat23uk
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Re: Lenses for an South African Safari
In reply to Craig from Nevada, Aug 3, 2013

Hi there,

I do not own a bigma but have been to Kruger a couple of times. In the national park you can't off road but if you arestaying in one of the greater Krugerconservancies, e.g. Sabi sand then they do offroad there.

For myself, I use my e620 and 50-200 with a 1.4 ec.

Here is a set from my last trip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kittykat23uk/sets/72157627853053873/

hope that helps,

Jo.

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Fixxxer
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How many lenses?
In reply to Cugh, Aug 3, 2013

You don't want to switch lenses in the field so depending on how many cameras you have to fit the lenses on you can either have as much zoom as possible or as good lenses as possible. But if you only have one camera, I'd pick the 50-200 and 12-60 as they cover the most range.

The Bigma, that you've suggested is too big and clumsy to have if you need to swap lenses in my opinion.

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John Pucel
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Re: Lenses for an South African Safari
In reply to Cugh, Aug 6, 2013

I was in Tanzania for two weeks a few years back before I got some of my better galss.  The 50 200 with the teleconverters would do well and cut down on the weight.  You are constantly bouncing in the trucks and the dust is usually really bad so you really don't want to switch lenses often.  I had to send my camera in after the trip because of the dust.  Remember to take some type of sand bag to use on the top of the vehicle to protect your equipment.  You always want the longest lenses but the weight and space precude your taking everything you want.

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ajwh
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Re: Lenses for an South African Safari
In reply to Cugh, Aug 8, 2013

Don't worry about weight - you won't be walking around!

http://www.pbase.com/ajwh/shamwari_sept_2010

I found the 50-200 with EC on my E3 the best, with the 14-54 on the E1 when they came closer.

With the dust, there's no way I would change lenses!

I started trying to set the camera myself, then gave up and just used auto!

Just framing the animal was enough to concentrate on.

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Andrew

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