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What Canon lens should I use on Safari?

garymak
Enthusiast

I wanted to get an updated discussion going on this topic, which apparently is still open, since it looks like it's been 8 years since this went around - and a lot has changed...

I'd like to ask for those you have been to Kenya on a safari recently, what lens ranges worked best.  Don't care about what camera you brought, just what lens combination worked best for the environment in a dusty-road, open-Range Rover, carry-you-own-stuff, cramped-quarters.  There have been many new lenses in the past years, including updates to the zooms, and the new 600 & 800mm ƒ11 lenses.  (I have the 600mm among others.) If you have been to Kenya recently on a safari, I would love to hear your actual (not imagined or planning to go) experiences and what lens worked best for you.  Any thoughts on accessories would be welcomed. Thanks so much!

27 REPLIES 27

rs-eos
Elite

It would be better to start a new topic.   Note that a moderator may move this to a new topic for you.

--
Ricky

Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers

paddles10
Contributor

Not Kenya because of their politics, but Zimbabwe last summer.  Had an R5, an R3 and a 5D with the f11 800 a couple of 100 to 500's a 70 to 200, and a couple of wide angle zooms.  My wife brought the 800 for her R5 and used it a couple of times.  Most of our shooting was done with the 100-500's as we get better images by getting closer to the animals.  The Leopard was the 70-200, the others were the 100-500. crock_O0A7280-2.jpgking fisher_A0A0003.JPGpoppy_O0A8625.JPGyoung male_O0A9373.jpg

This was our 4th trip, Zimbabwe twice and  South Africa.  My time in Kenya was in the early 70's with a Canon F-1.  Game populations were a lot more robust then.  I would not waste my money on Kenya with Zim, Zambia, Mozambique, and Uganda game herds and scenery better.

Forgot to add Elephants Iphone by our tentIphone by our tentR3R3iphone at dinner in campiphone at dinner in campWe had a tripod and 2 monopods and rarely used them.  With the R5 hand holding the 800 or benching on the hood of the truck worked so well that we rarely loaded either tripod or monopods.  There is so much to see on the continent limiting yourself to Kenya would be a shame.  We're planning on Uganda in '25 and will bring tripods for the Karamoja region where shots will range from 200-400 yards.  At this point planning on short zooms for our time with the Gorillas.  We are not accomplished photographers and find the zooms more useful than say your 600 when dealing with animals at whatever distance they may occur.  

Wow!  Thanks for all you insights and tips!  And photo illustrations!  Very interesting.  As you yourself have said this was not your first rodeo... for us this is our first rodeo, and view it as a "test run" for other trips to other areas (such as you mentioned.) It's like going to the UK and saying "Yeah, I've been to Europe..." I expect it to be a big learning experience all around... but I'd still like to go as prepared as possible even for my first rodeo. 😀. Thanks again.

shadowsports
Legend
Legend

Nice photos.  👍  

~Rick
Bay Area - CA


~R5 C (1.0.7.1) ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10, 430EX III-RT ~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw/MF656Cdw ~Pixel 8
~CarePaks Are Worth It

JoeySnaps
Enthusiast

My sister lives in Kenya.

My suggestion would be the RF 100-500 lens, and perhaps a 1.4x extender. I would mount the lens before leaving base each day and rely on the seals to keep dust out of the lens and off the sensor. If you're shooting from a moving vehicle, dust could be a significant problem. The RF 600 and 800 f/11 lenses don't have dust seals; I don't think that necessarily precludes their use, but you probably don't want to change lenses during the day, and the zoom gives much more flexibility.

.
R6mkII, various lenses, speedlites. Also legacy Canons going back to T90 and even A1.

Great advice... it sounds like I need to stuff my 5D III in my shirt pocket 😏as the second body.  How dusty is it BTW?  Maybe trading for a RF100-500.  I've heard mixed reports on it.  What is your opinion of it?  Has it been good to you?  

Thanks!

ebiggs1
Legend
Legend

I have never been to Kenya but I know what lens I would take for certain if I was planning a trip. I own the 600mm f4L and have used it on American "safari's" for years. From deserts to ice. Fantastic lens which I consider is the best of the Canon super teles.

I have a good friend that did the Kenya trip a couple years ago, before COVID, and we discussed the same question. He had no big lenses at the time before the trip. Both of us came to the same conclusion which worked out very well for him. We both decided on the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens. I think this is the biggest missed opportunity by Canon in not making an entry in this market. The Sport Siggy checks all the boxes. Keep in mind and notice it is the Sport model not the more cheaply made all plastic C or Contemporary lens.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

Thanks.  Good good for thought!!!

ebiggs1
Legend
Legend

"Don't care about what camera you brought,..."

 

You should. It is paramount. Mine and on my friends recent trip we selected a 1 Series camera body. This can be a once in a lifetime trip. Keep in mind it is an expensive trip and the photographic gear can be expensive too.  But you can sell it on when you return if you have no further use for it. That will mitigate the cost somewhat.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!
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