Safari and camera bags

Started 8 months ago | Discussions thread
C Sean Senior Member • Posts: 1,903
Re: Safari and camera bags

I want to add further information because late night it was getting late and I was on the verge of falling asleep.

Very often a lot of photographers you will see on safari normally have one camera body and maybe two lenses but most of the time only one lens. The typical set up you will see on safari are Canon 5d + 100-400 mark 2. There are those using the third party zooms, bridge cameras or crop sensor DSLRs. However, the typical set up you will see on safari is Canon Full Frame and the 100-400 mark 2.

Other than the one body, one lens solution, there are two other options for camera set up for safaris.

Option 1:

  • 5D or crop + 100-400
  • 5D + 24-70mm

Option 2 which we both are doing:

  • Camera A + long telephoto
  • Camera B + medium telephoto
  • Camera C + wide to short telephoto

Option 3 for professionals or people who live in Africa

  • Telephoto primes

Safari Vehicles

Your typical safari vehicle in Southern Africa are converted trucks. Each safari vehicle has four rows, and can hold ten passengers. It should be noted the passenger seat next to driver is normally where the driver keeps his or her camera.

You don't hear about it but less people inside the vehicle the better. There is a common occurrence which often not talked about but there are feuds inside the safari vehicles. In my experience I had:

  • The selfish pensioners in Botswana, who occupy the lower rows of one of the vehicles and didn't look for animals.  It should also be noted they were wearing hats inside the vehicle and were getting up late, preventing the safari vehicles leaving early. Also on the back row of these vehicles, you couldn't see much because the roof were low. So having them at the front and people spotting at the back resulted in miss sightings. They should have been split up between the vehicles because the majority of the photographers didn't want to be in the same vehicle as them.
  • In Kenya, I had chap jealous of my Panasonic 100-400 and I was able to photograph subjects he couldn't reach with his zoom.
  • Kruger Park, we had four birders but luckily they stuck together to one vehicle and we have semi birders who kept joining them. The birders were nice people and overall they didn't spoil the holiday. People cooperated with each other and we ended up with a birders vehicle and a general wildlife vehicle. That said I did go into the birders vehicle twice and it wasn't my cup of tea. 

It's important to share the vehicle with like minded people to spot the animals and enjoy the safari. A successful and enjoyable safari requires team work. Sometimes people don't like their safari drivers or sometimes the safari drivers screwed up like one of my Kenya drivers did a few times. It should be noted a safari driver is like a waiter and he or she will stop the vehicle if you tell him or her to. So it's important to pick your time to stop the vehicle to avoid offending other people. Only stop the vehicle for the first encounters, important sightings or a good photo. This is why sharing a vehicle with birders is a bad idea because they want to id birds that are at a distance.

Limited space on a safari vehicle.

Having spare seats on the safari vehicle is great because you can put the camera bag on spare seat instead of the floor also less obstruction and fights. However you not only taking cameras with you. You need a pair of binoculars but the good news, seats in front has pockets stitch to the back of them and you can put them there. You will need a hat, so it can't be hard and need a string to hang around the back of your neck or stuff it in the seat pocket with the binoculars. Then you need a pair of sunglasses. Then of course you have camera or camera bag filled with cameras, lenses and lens cleaning gear.

My safari bag is the Tenba DNA 13 messenger bag. Big enough to hold GH5 + 100-400, GH4 + 35-100 and the GX80 + 12-35 but it's a bit tight. There isn't enough room to hold three GH cameras.

My holiday

I'm going back to South Africa, and what should be a sell out safari, there are still several spaces per holiday. My safari there currently at least seven spare seats and that's great news for me. However, with a few weeks to go, there might be a few last minute bookers. There is a possibility the safari vehicles will become over crowded.

So here is my plan.

Blyde River Canyon, possible walking safari

  • Gh5 + 100-400 - Birds and other wildlife
  • GH4 + 35-100 - Landscape
  • GX80 + 12-35 - Landscape

Kruger Park - Game drive

  • GH5 + 100-400 - Wildlife
  • GH4 + 35-100 - big game, environment shots and close up shots

Sabi Sands - Game drive and walking

  • GH5 + 50-200 - Wildlife
  • GX80 + 12-35 - Close up shots of wildlife or environment shot

If there's plenty of spare seats I will bring the GX80 +12-35 on the Kruger game drives and the GH4 + 100-400 on the Sabi sands game drives.

Final note it's worth setting up your cameras with custom settings for good light, poor light and shutter speed. This save time playing with settings to get exposure right, making mistakes and give you more time getting the shot.

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