South African Birding Trip & D800 (large images)

Started Sep 15, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Dileep Kumar
Dileep Kumar Contributing Member • Posts: 698
South African Birding Trip & D800 (large images)

Dear all,

It seems Africa is heavily addictive. Once you get a bit taste of it, it’s very difficult to control your thrust to revisit this magical land.

I just returned from a South African birding trip and already I started planning for the next year’s trip.

I yet to go thru the complete images captured during this twelve days trip. As soon as I returned, I had to prepare for an exhibition for Qatar University. I have posted some of the images capture here.

In terms to sightings, this trip happened to be one of my best trips ever. We spotted around 200 species of birds and were lucky to spot most of the cats including Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Serval, Civet, Large-spotted Genet, Small-spotted Genet, Spotted Hyena, Black-backed Jackal and Side-stripped Jackal. It’s really sad that we couldn’t capture those moments.

Prime species of this trip was Lammergeier and we were lucky to see at least four of them during our two days stay in Witsieshoek Mountain lodge. Most memorable moments of my life happened when one of these birds (with nine feet wings span) flew so close to me and hovered right on top of my head for a while. I would have got a full frame shot of this elusive bird even with wide angle lens.

This was my first trip since I took D800. It gave me mixed results. I was blown away by its ISO performance in real life scenario. Most of the shots were taken at ISO range of 1200 to 4000. I think you can easily judge its performance in the wild by looking at these images.

Biggest issue I had with this body was motion blur. I found it extreme unforgiving with moving subjects in low light conditions. We had the rare opportunity to walk with a Leopard for 20 minutes right after sunset. Entire first round shots taken at 1/500 got blurred. Whereas, other bodies (D3 & 7D) were able to freeze the motion even @ 1/100 to 1/200. I had to take to 1/800 and 1/1000 to get reasonably sharp images with this body. Whereas, with static subjects I could easily get away with 1/100 (all wildlife shots were taken hand-held).

Processed images will be placed here:

Kind regards,

1) Daybreak sight thru the window of Witsieshoek Mountain lodge:

D800, 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 44mm, f/4, 1/6, ISO-400, hand-held supporting on the window

2) Witsieshoek Mountains

3) Witsieshoek Mountains at Night:
D800, 24-70mm @ 26mm, f/7.1, 43 minutes, ISO-200, on Tripod

Weather was freezing cold with high wind. But seeing such a clear sky (first time in my life) with millions of stars, I decided to take chance and spent the night outside. Used all available warm clothes and body warmers to protect me from Hypothermia). I'm glad that I didn't' back off.

4) Trial shot took from right outside the cottage:
24mm, f/5.6, 13 minutes, ISO-200

5) Typical Sunset

6) Leopard

7) Lammergeier (one of the two most sought after Raptors in the World). Now I need to target Golden Eagle

8) Shows why it’s called as Bearded Vulture


10) It drops the bone onto rock to split it open. It eats mainly bone marrow.

11) Rhino

12) Burchell's Starling

13) Grey-headed Bush-shrike

14) White-crested Helmet Shrike

15) Crowned Lapwing

16) Lesser Bushbaby
D800, 500mm f/4 VR, f/4, 1/250, ISO-3200 and hand-held

17) Crested Barbet
D800, 500mm f/4 VR, f/4, 1/100, ISO-2000 and hand-held. Used my spot light

18) Double-banded Sandgrouse

19) Cardinal Woodpecker

20) White-browed Rochin-chat

21) Large Spotted Genet_ID

22) Leopard

D800, 500mm f/4 VR, f/4, 1/640, ISO-4000 and hand-held. This was taken after the sunset and I had to underexpose the shot by one f/stop.

23) Giraffe

24) Elephant

Canon EOS 7D Nikon D800
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