Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?

Started Aug 22, 2013 | Discussions
Condor
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Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
Aug 22, 2013

Going on an Africa-safari with my brother.  We love all nature shots, big games, birds, insects, flowers, etc.  As we love landscapes and normal touristic shots.  Which lenses should we bought and carry with a DX D7100?

Thanks in advance. Your own safari samples are highly appreciated.

Ed

Bobby Handal
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to Condor, Aug 23, 2013

I would Recommend a 18-55 and a 50-500mm OS sigma.

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Condor
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to Bobby Handal, Aug 23, 2013

Bobby Handal wrote:

I would Recommend a 18-55 and a 50-500mm OS sigma.

The Sigma 50-500mm OS sounds good to me.  Does it need any special adapter for the DX mount?

Ed

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Nexu1
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to Bobby Handal, Aug 23, 2013

Bobby Handal wrote:

I would Recommend a 18-55 and a 50-500mm OS sigma.

Personally, I would skip the 18-55 and get the 18-105.  Much better all around lens.  The 18-55 is pretty crappy at all focal lengths when shot wide open.

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Condor
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to Nexu1, Aug 23, 2013

Nexu1 wrote:

Bobby Handal wrote:

I would Recommend a 18-55 and a 50-500mm OS sigma.

Personally, I would skip the 18-55 and get the 18-105. Much better all around lens. The 18-55 is pretty crappy at all focal lengths when shot wide open.

Thanks, and 18-105 is the normal kit lens.

What's D7100 crop factor (as m43 is 2x and Sony alpha is 1.5x)?

Ed

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tommiejeep
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to Condor, Aug 23, 2013

This appears to be you first venture into Nikon but not photography .  What Nikkors do you have?  What other gear are you taking?  Are you taking any m43, P&S, super-zooms?  Depending on the answers... how much do you want to spend

Bobby has a good idea with the 50-500 OS although I'm opting for the new AFS 80-400vrII.  The Sigma is much less expensive and Bobby gets great results.  I'm a big fan of LTZ470 and he shoots all sorts of gear with great results.

I have not paid much attention but not sure if the 50-500 OS has any problems with the D7100.

I type slow the 18-105 is the kit lens for the D7100 and it is a 1.5 crop but it also has a 1.3 crop with that so you get about the same 2.0 as m43  at 15MP

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AikenMooney
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to Condor, Aug 23, 2013

How much $ for the lens are we talking about??? $, weight, and size usually determine what you will carry. You gave no indication of your experience level or current lens you have for the D7100.

One lens 18-300. Two lens 16-85 and 70-300.

Another 2 lens package, 18-105 + 70-300 would be a very good package at a most attractive price. I suggest a great lens would be the new 80-400 in lieu of the 70-300 but you have just added $2000 to your lens cost.

We are leaving next week for 3 weeks in Africa and this is what we will have on this trip. D3s & D7100 with 80-400, 24-120, 12-24 and 10.5mm. My wife will have a D300 & 18-300. On our previous trips I have carried the 200-400 but will leave it at home this time. I had always considered it the best safari lens but think the 80-400 might push it into second place.

It is such a great experience that you should enjoy it regardless of the eqpt but it is nice to look back at your images and relive the trip. Hope you find your safari to be as enjoyable as we do.

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Condor
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to tommiejeep, Aug 23, 2013

LTZ470 is also one of my most reliable references.

I already own a GH3 + 25mm 1.4 (50mm equiv), which I keep as a permanent set for normal beautiful shots.

I also took advantage of a A57 + 18-55 + 75-300 kit on sale, to which I add a 30mm 2.8 macro, after I experienced the fantastic easyness of use and versartility of that Sony alpha machine.

An SX30 that I bought for my Hawaii trip, which has been recently  replaced by a FZ200 superzoom and it's amazing permanent 2.8.

A pocket-car all around ZS20. And my beloved LX3 and its attachably wide-lens, which I keep always attached.

But D7100 and its 57 focus points, 24 Mp and 1/8000 convinced me to get one unit, for this kind of safari trips, but mostly for my permanent amateur bird ID hobby.

Ed

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JeffryZ
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to Condor, Aug 23, 2013

I don't have any safari experience but given the high cost of longer lenses, you may want to look into renting one rather than buying one. Might even be able to pick one up over there so you don't have to carry it on the flight with you. Something to check into.

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Condor
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to Condor, Aug 23, 2013

Thanks Aiken,

I'm very interested in those 80-400 and 200-400 you mentioned.  Since as odd as it could sound, this new D7100 unit would be probably remain always attached to the long lens that I will buy based on other members recomendations on this thread.  For all other situations I already  have sort of permanent kits-units; GH3-25mm 1.4 for the majority of normal life shots, family, groups, etc.  LX3-wide lens for wide shots.  A57 would be probably our macro camera with the 30mm 2.8 macro lens always attached.  But the kit that needs higher perfomance-parameters is definetly the really long shots beautiful images kit, which I decided would be based on the D7100.

I could spent even 3 to 4 k on that long shots kit.

We will share and interchange all these kits with my brother based on circumstances and needs.  We will work as a team, ones take the long shots while te other take the landscape or group photo to document that moment.  And we expect to be almost always on safari cars in this specific trip, so we don't care that much about weight. The other shots would be taken in the safari lodge and its near sorroundings.

Ed

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Wade Tregaskis
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to Condor, Aug 23, 2013

I'm very interested in those 80-400 and 200-400 you mentioned. Since as odd as it could sound, this new D7100 unit would be probably remain always attached to the long lens that I will buy based on other members recomendations on this thread. For all other situations I already have sort of permanent kits-units; GH3-25mm 1.4 for the majority of normal life shots, family, groups, etc. LX3-wide lens for wide shots. A57 would be probably our macro camera with the 30mm 2.8 macro lens always attached. But the kit that needs higher perfomance-parameters is definetly the really long shots beautiful images kit, which I decided would be based on the D7100.

I could spent even 3 to 4 k on that long shots kit.

Including the D7100 or not? Because ~$4k just on the lens gives you some very interesting options (like the Sigma 120-300/2.8 plus a teleconverter).

I have the new 80-400 myself, and it's very good. Pricey, for what it is, but it's in the same league as the also pricey 24-70/2.8 and 70-200/2.8. It apparently outdoes the Sigma 50-500 fairly handily at 300mm+ (so says DxOmark, LensRentals, etc), but I suspect the Sigma'll still get you the better photo if you really do need 500mm, and the Sigma is also noticeably better at 200m and below, at least in terms of sharpness. It's a bit heavier, though, but a lot cheaper.

The 200-400 is obviously a fan favourite, but it is really expensive. Out of the budget you've specified, for sure, even second hand. Apparently for long distances it's "only" comparable with the 80-400 at f8. I've heard this second hand but it's also echoed by DxOmark's tests. It's noticeably - but not massively - sharper at wider apertures, of course, and everywhere else in its range. But, if you're out under bright African sun, shooting as telephoto as you can, the 80-400 is a lot cheaper...

At the other end of the scale, I'll add my minority dissent to the popular opinion that the 18-105 is good. It's just okay. The 18-55 is better value for money and better at the wide end, in my experience (though this is not what's sometimes reported in tests, such as DxOmarks - maybe I've got a good 18-55 and a bad 18-105, or I just dislike chromatic aberration and barrel distortion, which the 18-105 has boatloads of). In any case, if you're spending big money on lenses you can do way better. There are so many options I won't even try to enumerate them. Other than to say that if you want landscapes, get the new Sigma 18-35/1.8 if it's out in time (hopefully arriving in the U.S. in three or four weeks, according to Sigma earlier this week). I don't see anything else on the market right now that even comes close to it (on Canon mount it even beats the also amazing 35/1.4 in everything but maximum aperture).

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Condor
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to Wade Tregaskis, Aug 23, 2013

Wade Tregaskis wrote:

I'm very interested in those 80-400 and 200-400 you mentioned. Since as odd as it could sound, this new D7100 unit would be probably remain always attached to the long lens that I will buy based on other members recomendations on this thread. For all other situations I already have sort of permanent kits-units; GH3-25mm 1.4 for the majority of normal life shots, family, groups, etc. LX3-wide lens for wide shots. A57 would be probably our macro camera with the 30mm 2.8 macro lens always attached. But the kit that needs higher perfomance-parameters is definetly the really long shots beautiful images kit, which I decided would be based on the D7100.

I could spent even 3 to 4 k on that long shots kit.

First, thanks for your excellent response, sharing and advices.  You covered my problem very well.

Including the D7100 or not? Because ~$4k just on the lens gives you some very interesting options (like the Sigma 120-300/2.8 plus a teleconverter).

Including the D7100

I have the new 80-400 myself, and it's very good. Pricey, for what it is, but it's in the same league as the also pricey 24-70/2.8 and 70-200/2.8. It apparently outdoes the Sigma 50-500 fairly handily at 300mm+ (so says DxOmark, LensRentals, etc), but I suspect the Sigma'll still get you the better photo if you really do need 500mm, and the Sigma is also noticeably better at 200m and below, at least in terms of sharpness. It's a bit heavier, though, but a lot cheaper.

I really do need the 24 Mp - 1/8000  500mm for when mine 16 Mp A57 + 70-300 or mine FZ200 630mm small sensor don't really deliver.

The 200-400 is obviously a fan favourite, but it is really expensive. Out of the budget you've specified, for sure, even second hand. Apparently for long distances it's "only" comparable with the 80-400 at f8. I've heard this second hand but it's also echoed by DxOmark's tests. It's noticeably - but not massively - sharper at wider apertures, of course, and everywhere else in its range. But, if you're out under bright African sun, shooting as telephoto as you can, the 80-400 is a lot cheaper...

Definetly 200-400 exceeds my budget.  80-400 sounds as an excellent lens but as you said a little pricey and I really need to reach those 500mm and obtain a beatiful image on those attempts.

At the other end of the scale, I'll add my minority dissent to the popular opinion that the 18-105 is good. It's just okay. The 18-55 is better value for money and better at the wide end, in my experience (though this is not what's sometimes reported in tests, such as DxOmarks - maybe I've got a good 18-55 and a bad 18-105, or I just dislike chromatic aberration and barrel distortion, which the 18-105 has boatloads of). In any case, if you're spending big money on lenses you can do way better. There are so many options I won't even try to enumerate them. Other than to say that if you want landscapes, get the new Sigma 18-35/1.8 if it's out in time (hopefully arriving in the U.S. in three or four weeks, according to Sigma earlier this week). I don't see anything else on the market right now that even comes close to it (on Canon mount it even beats the also amazing 35/1.4 in everything but maximum aperture).

Thanks for this last paragraph, since even tough this D7100 would be basically my long shots permanent body solution, it is such a good machine that I can't waist the oportunity to eventually use it for wider shots.  And I really love wide shots, so much that when I bought my LX3 and attached the first time to it its wonderful wide conversion lens in that 2010 Las Vegas trip, I almost just never took it off, and my Vega's shots (and we are talking about at least 1,000 shots and videos) are 95% 18mm equiv shots (instead of native LX3 24mm wider end).  And I've also learned that fast lenses produces such beatifull images that coming Sigma 1.8 attracks me so much... But, unfortunatelly DX bodies ignores the best angle of wide lenses, its widest angle.  And due to that fact I would rather go for something like NIKKOR $500 10.5mm f/2.8 DX Fisheye and digitally process its output to obtain linear 2.8 wide images.

Ed

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stuntmonkey
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You should read Bythom first
In reply to Condor, Aug 23, 2013

Condor wrote:

Going on an Africa-safari with my brother. We love all nature shots, big games, birds, insects, flowers, etc. As we love landscapes and normal touristic shots. Which lenses should we bought and carry with a DX D7100?

Thanks in advance. Your own safari samples are highly appreciated.

Ed

http://www.bythom.com/safari.htm

Hogan wrote this a while back, but it jives with what I've heard from folks coming back from their safari trips:

"35mm users need a minimum of a 500mm lens, preferably with a 1.4x or 2x extender. A fast 80-200mm zoom and your wide angle of preference should round out your basic kit. If you have a Nikon digital SLR, you�re finally going to find a reason to love that 1.5x focal length effect imposed by the small CCD sensor. Suddenly your 70-300mm lens becomes an almost perfect wildlife lens (100-450mm), and your 500mm is a eyeball-grabbing 750mm. Basically, you need a mid-range zoom and a longer lens (zoom or fixed). And you'll probably want them permanently mounted on two bodies, as you don't want to be constantly changing lenses due to dust. My current choice is a D2xs with a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR and a D2xs with a 200-400mm f/4 VR. That leaves me a little short of where I'd truly like to be (500mm) at the long end, but for more reach I just crop rather than risk dust entry by putting on a TC. You still need an occassional wide angle shot, so bring a good compact camera for that, or a third body with one of the 18-x zooms."

So in other words, as long as you can go. My choice would be the Sigma 50-500OS to do the heavy duty work.

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Wade Tregaskis
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to Condor, Aug 23, 2013

I really do need the 24 Mp - 1/8000 500mm for when mine 16 Mp A57 + 70-300 or mine FZ200 630mm small sensor don't really deliver.

Just throwing an idea out there: if you had a Nikon 1 of some kind - possibly displacing one of the above in your travel bag - you'd have a decent "compact" camera for quick photos and wider-angle stuff, butyou could get the mount adapter and stick the 80-400 or 50-500 or whatever on there. 2.7x crop factor.  You need good light to really get images you'd want to print, but it can be done - I have some favourites from the V1+55-300, which isn't even a fancy lens but of course you're only using the centre anyway.  I wouldn't bet on such a setup on an African safari, but if you had the Nikon 1anyway, in addition to your "real" camera, it could be an awesome long-shot.

Plus it has some features that could be really handy, like ~10fps shooting on most models - and on the V1 in fact "60fps", genuinely at full 10 MP resolution in RAW, albeit only in half second bursts... or 30fps in one second bursts... in any case, it's all about high-speed shooting which might capture that right moment.

The down-side is that the current-model Nikon 1s are surprisingly expensive.  Though the V1, which I have, is now going for easily less than $300 in body only, which isn't too bad.  $225 used from Borrowlenses, for example.

But, unfortunatelly DX bodies ignores the best angle of wide lenses, its widest angle. And due to that fact I would rather go for something like NIKKOR $500 10.5mm f/2.8 DX Fisheye and digitally process its output to obtain linear 2.8 wide images.

The Tokina 11-16 is very popular, especially in its just-updated version II incarnation.  Personally I wasn't taken with it, but I'm in the definite minority it seems.  I have the Nikon 10-24 which isn't nearly as bad as people make out.  In fact when you look at actual measurements against its incredibly highly-regarded big brother, the FX 14-24, it leaves you scratching your head as to why such a disparity of opinions.  I think it's just because it really demands particular post-processing love - DxO Optics is incredible with it, in particular.  It's actually a rather sharp and contrasty lens, it just hides it really well.

Sigma also have a surprisingly broad range of ultra-wides, some of which are quite well regarded even if uncommon.  I don't have first-hand experience with them, though.  You can obviously check out DxOmark and Photozone and so forth as well as I can.

I haven't used the 10.5 fisheye, though a friend has one and it's on my todo list to play with.  It's obviously a fair bit more specialised than the relatively rectilinear lens aforementioned.  But it is cheaper and wider aperture [than the 10-24], so if you're into astro-photgraphy at all, you'd be silly not consider it.  You'll probably never get a better chance for it than in Africa.

(I've tried the 10-24 for astro-photography, and it's possible, but not great.. f/3.5.. meh.  I could be missing something - I'm only a newbie in that realm - but... again, the Sigma 18-35/1.8 looks extremely promising )

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Condor
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In reply to stuntmonkey, Aug 23, 2013

stuntmonkey wrote:

Condor wrote:

Going on an Africa-safari with my brother. We love all nature shots, big games, birds, insects, flowers, etc. As we love landscapes and normal touristic shots. Which lenses should we bought and carry with a DX D7100?

Thanks in advance. Your own safari samples are highly appreciated.

Ed

http://www.bythom.com/safari.htm

Excellent article-website for what we intent to do.  Thanks.

Hogan wrote this a while back, but it jives with what I've heard from folks coming back from their safari trips:

"35mm users need a minimum of a 500mm lens, preferably with a 1.4x or 2x extender. A fast 80-200mm zoom and your wide angle of preference should round out your basic kit. If you have a Nikon digital SLR, you�re finally going to find a reason to love that 1.5x focal length effect imposed by the small CCD sensor. Suddenly your 70-300mm lens becomes an almost perfect wildlife lens (100-450mm), and your 500mm is a eyeball-grabbing 750mm. Basically, you need a mid-range zoom and a longer lens (zoom or fixed). And you'll probably want them permanently mounted on two bodies, as you don't want to be constantly changing lenses due to dust. My current choice is a D2xs with a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR and a D2xs with a 200-400mm f/4 VR. That leaves me a little short of where I'd truly like to be (500mm) at the long end, but for more reach I just crop rather than risk dust entry by putting on a TC. You still need an occassional wide angle shot, so bring a good compact camera for that, or a third body with one of the 18-x zooms."

So in other words, as long as you can go. My choice would be the Sigma 50-500OS to do the heavy duty work.

A Sigma zoom reaching 500mm seems to be the best alternative for my case-budget-needs based on the majority of your great advices and comments.  But while I was checking the Sigma 50-500 at my usual providers; Amazon, H&B and Adorama.  I found the cheaper but almost equal well evaluated Sigma 150-500.  Any comments or safari experience with this last lens.

Ed

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AikenMooney
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to Condor, Aug 23, 2013

When I made my comments I did not have any info on your other eqpt. The D7100 should work well on the 80-400 which will now be a 120-600. I plan to have it on my D7100 most of the time except for very low light levels. I will use the D3s then as I am very comfortable with it up to 4000-5000 ISO. I will have a 1.4 & 1.7 TC. I have not tried the 1.7 on the 80-400 but the 1.4 is fine.

On our last trip I actually go some rhino images with the D3s at 25,600 ISO at a water hole. I printed one at 8x10 & it was fairly good. For web, etc. they were fine. f/4, 1/30 sec at 25,600 is really dark. They were about 50 meters away and I did have to help the A/F with a little manual adjustment. My friend had just gotten his D4 and we were actually just playing around testing it against the D3s. In the real world we saw little difference at the high ISO's but the A/F seemed to be better.

Yes, 500mm and up is a good starting point for Africa but it depends on many factors such as distance to animals, space in vehicle, etc.

I hope you have a great time. Maybe I missed it but did not notice where you were going. We will be in the Sabi River area of S/A in about 10 days and really looking forward to it.

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DanielBme
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to AikenMooney, Aug 23, 2013

Personally, I would simply rent the 16-85vr and the sigma 150-500.  The 16-85vr will give you that extra width which would be good for landscapes.  I've been on safari twice and both times I had a 7-300 and each time felt I would have preferred a longer reach.

The other option is to rent the 80-200 with the 2x tc.  It would still be faster than the 150-500.

If you will be travelling around for 3 weeks, you may not want to carry a lot of big heavy lenses.

If you really could afford it I would buy a second camera body for the 16-85 such as the D3100 or 5200 and sell it after the safari.  For the most part that lens will mostly be used for landscapes.  Keep the Sigma on the 7100.

I just booked a 10 day safari in Tanzania for next year...only 338 days to go lol.  I sold off all my Nikon equipment and will be using my OMD-EM5.  I plan on buying a second body and will keep a 12-35 lens on one and a 70-300 (140 - 600mm equiv) on the other.  I'm a little nervous but I hope it all works out!

Don't forget to bring along an extra battery or two.

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greg mclemore
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to Bobby Handal, Aug 23, 2013

I use the Tamron SP 200-500, for the reach and sharpness its hard to beat for under $1500.00

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Leonard Shepherd
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to Condor, Aug 23, 2013

For the long lens on a safari the new 80-400 AF-s plus TC 14 e probably has no equal below the price point of 200-400 or fast primes.

It has tripod mode VR for use on a bean bag, and should be easily included in aircraft carry on weight allowance.

In the UK you could rent the lens and converter.

In Kenya or Tanzania if you guide is good you can get within 5 feet of a lion, so an 18-105 fits this need.

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david41
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Re: Africa-Safari with D7100. Which lenses to buy?
In reply to Condor, Aug 23, 2013

Tokina 11-16

Nikkor 16-85, or 18-200

Nikkor 80-400.. (it's worth the bucks!)

That should see you through your safari... enjoy!

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