Some gorilla experiences, Uganda - 70-300 G / a65

Started Dec 17, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Stefandreas Regular Member • Posts: 204
Some gorilla experiences, Uganda - 70-300 G / a65


just came back from gorilla trekking in Bwindi, Uganda and wanted to share some pictures and experiences. I was going to the Bitukura family in Ruhija, which was fairly close to walk. Fairly means: one hour of the hardest walk I ever made in my life, steep steep hills, mud, thorns (take cloves !) etc. I thought I was physically fit until I did this... so I'm not sure if I could have done it if it would have been more than one hour one-way.

I was hesitating all the time whether to take the 70-300 G, plus a small cam,  the Sony 18-250 or the Minolta 28-75, plus a Pana Superzoom.

I than met a guy who did it three times and he recommended the longer lens. At the end I had mixed feelings, because:

- undoubtedly a 2,8/70-200 would have been perfect. Of course. Everybody says so and they are right. Of course the 70-300 G is a slow lens and you have to use ISO 800 or 1600 most of the time. But I think the optical and wide open qualities are nevertheless more than adequate.

- You are sweating like hell, if you wear glasses you are constantly cleaning your glasses, the hills are steep, you have to move around, and there is nothing but adrenaline in your blood. So no matter what you wanted to do in terms of settings: you will forget them and will end up with not so sharp pictures with 1/40 at 300 m, because you have just turned a knob accidentally or completely forgot about settings.

- Focus is the main difficulty and you will be absorbed by adjusting focus manually because of all the branches and leaves hanging in your picture. Here the 70-300 really shines. I used spot autofocus most of the time and manually readjusted that - good for the difficult shots, not so good if you forget to reset it. My friends who used only autofocus all the time sometimes got less than 5 sharp pictures out of 300 - so hard to focus.

- The main problem was: the gorilla came so close and even walked right through our group that 70 mm was too long ! I had an Oly E-PM1 with the 20 m lens but things happened too quickly to change cams. And images look too different from the two cams.

- So, would the 18-250 been the better choice ? Maybe, for not missing any shot, but I doubt if the general quality of the good shots at full tele  could have matched those of the 70-300 G.

Final word: I'm really happy with these shots but wished sometimes I had taken the 18-250. But in the end: better to have 10 very good pictures than 100 just good ones.  I would say there is no need to absolutely bring a 2,8/70-200 because for all other safari purposes than rainforest the 70-300 is the much better, not to say perfect, choice. The 70-300 G focuses fast, images are tacksharp at 300 mm/5,6, the colours are extremely pleasing and saturrated and the a65 does a decent job at ISO 1600. The 2,8/28-75 would have been quite useless, the reach is just not enough for getting the portraits.

Please judge for yourself - comments welcome.


Olympus PEN E-PM1 Sony SLT-A65
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