took my 500 f4 to Africa

Started Mar 17, 2007 | Discussions thread
richardschmon New Member • Posts: 1
Re: With that gear and in that location I expected better...
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I'm a bit late entering this thread, but I can honestly say after three trips to the dark continent with Royal African Safaris ( ), they are without a doubt one of the top five operators in Africa. My first trip with them was in 1993 and my most recent adventure with them was five months after Bill's trip (June 2007). Interestingly, Moses Olesin (pictured in Bill's gallery) was a tracker on our recent trip as well.

Their guides are aware (as all good safari guides should be) that the game will be on the move and most visible in the early morning, late afternoon, evening, and at night. I'm sure most of you (like me) would like to take advantage of your time there and thus be willing to spend as much of it as possible with your cameras on game drives. This will inevitably result in lots of midday exposures. Maybe bring along a Better Beamer and strap it to your flash to fill in those harsh midday shadows...

Bill, I have to say, I agree with most of your advice, however I disagree with the concept of stopping down excessively and shooting at a high ISO. One of the extraordinary traits of your 500mm f/4 is the quality of bokeh or soft focus backgrounds. With super-teles, we pay thousands of dollars for those additional stops of light transmission, and at those apertures (f/4, 5.6, 8, even f/2.8) the image quality and ability to separate your subject from the background is stunning.

For potentially fast moving subjects up your ISO, switch focus mode to AI Servo and set your motor drive to high speed. When the predator goes for it's prey, hold the shutter button down and track with your subject.

Another option is to sign up for a safari with Andy Biggs ( ). He'll probably be cheaper than Royal African, and you get the bonus of having a world class photographer/teacher in your Land Rover with you. I've never been on one of his trips, but I hear they are excellent.


Richard Schmon

Here is my photo blog from my June '07 safari in Tanzania with RAS (the images may take a minute to load as they are high res):

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