A1 in East Africa Safari

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swwang Regular Member • Posts: 110
A1 in East Africa Safari

I went on a safari in Tanzania and Kenya in August. I finally completed processing the photos from that trip. Let me first summarize my equipment:


  • SONY A1 - Primary
  • SONY A7R4 - Secondary/backup
  • Each camera has RRS base plate


  • FE 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 GM with RRS lens foot
  • FE 135mm F/1.8 GM
  • FE 24-105mm F/4 G
  • 1.4X TC


  • BlackRapid camera strap with push button “Quick Detach D-Loop Sling Swivel” that connects easily to either camera base plate or lens foot for flexible carrying and shooting, this set up worked really well for me.
  • 2 regular PD camera straps when I don’t use the BlackRapid shoulder strap.
  • 3 extra FZ100 batteries
  • 10 128GB SONY Tough SD cards for A1
  • 6 128GB Sandisk Extreme Pro SD cards for A7R4
  • 1TB Sandisk SSD for backup
  • 2TB Sandisk SSD for Lightroom photo store (count also as a backup)
  • 13” MacBook Pro laptop
  • Chargers, cables, etc.

Camera bag:

  • Gura Gear Kiboko 2.0 22L backpack (chosen for its ability to hold two cameras with long lens attached).
  • ThinkTank Retrospective 7 V2 shoulder bag.
  • On game drives I wear the BR camera strap and “hand carry” the A1 with 100-400mm, and A7R4 with 24-105mm or 135mm mounted in the ThinkTank).

I made a hard decision not taking the 200-600mm F/5.6-6.3 G due to its size and especially weight even though the Gura Gear backpack can easily accommodate it. As it turned out 100-400mm was completely adequate especially with in camera crop mode using the C3 button. I did not use the 1.4X TC much, preferring crop mode in the end. No doubt high resolutions for both A1 and A7R4 contributed to this decision.

I also did not take any monopod or tripod for the same reason of weight and bulk, though I wish I had the monopod when I was taking video of the wildebeest migration river crossing. But it turned out good enough for me with the stabilization from the camera and lens.

I used Mark Galer’s A1 and A7R4 camera set ups which I found to be excellent once you follow his workflow. As expected almost all photos used setting 2 for Action. For Drive mode I used Low continuous shooting and found it adequate. I did not need or use Hi frame rate on this trip, also I dread the thought of having to deal with all the frames and storage. There were a lot of low light shooting situations because game drives are early morning and late afternoon. Many sun rise and sun set opportunities.

Lessons and conclusions:

  • Changing lenses on a safari truck is to be avoided, 2 camera with attached 24-105 and 100-400 worked great. Two identical camera bodies would be ideal.
  • While prime lens (e.g. 135mm F/1.8) is nice and sharp, zoom is the way to go.
  • Fast auto focus is critical and A1 works very nicely.
  • Tracking Expanded Spot and Spot focus areas are used most.
  • Tip:
    • I took ~19,000 shots, files are organized according to date and time of capture. I copy the files from the SD card to the SSD; then import into LightRoom folders by year, month and finally date as the lowest level folder.
    • In post processing Google “search by image” is an excellent tool to identify the animal and birds for use in the captions.
  • Most desired new camera features:
    • Universal eye focus: I found needing to switch between animal and bird eye focus a nuisance and caused missed shots.
    • Time/date synchronization between two cameras, I used SONY’s Imaging Edge Mobile app on the iPhone and it worked well with the A1 on time clock and GPS; but it needs to support additional cameras at the same time. When you use multiple cameras sorting and organizing photos with capture date becomes a real challenge. Any manual sorting has to be done multiple times as you export to different systems (e.g. SmugMug or Apple Photos).

On to the sample photos:

Cheetah Mother and cub

135mm F/1.8 is one sharp lens, lion cub

Common Eland

Lion King

Snapshot image from a slow motion video on wildebeest migration crossing

Cheetah cubs

Wildebeest scrambling up after river crossing

Wildebeest scrambling down toward the river


Wildebeest at sun set

Vulture in flight

Waterbock before the rain

Lion at sunrise

Lion at sunrise

You can access the full set of posted photos on SmugMug below:





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 swwang's gear list:swwang's gear list
Fujifilm X-Pro2 Fujifilm X-H1 Sony a7R IV Sony a1 Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS +13 more
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Sony a1
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