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African Safari Camera & Lens Recommendations

kingsranch
Contributor

I know this has been asked before, but I didn't want to steal someone else's post. I am heading on an African Safari in June (Nairobi, Kenya) and I am looking to capture everything (photos & video). I currently have:

Canon EOS Rebel T51 (body)

Canon EF-S 55-250mm

Canon EF-S 18-55mm

Canon EF-S 10-18mm (wide)

Canon 50mm

From the brief bit of research I've done, my budget will probably need to be 3k-4k for a new body and new lenses. So, that's what my budget is. I'm looking to buy a new body and new lenses because this is literally a childhood dream come true and it's a gift from my family, I want to get the most out of it. Also, from what I'm reading and seeing, Africa is dusty and you shouldn't be changing lenses whilst out, so having 2 camera bodies (if you can afford it) is a must. I am currently looking at the Sony A7 III and a few other lenses that I'm seeing from a few videos I've watched. So, I'm looking for advice on what second camera I should buy, what lenses to go with it, and if I should buy any new lenses for the camera I already have.

Also, another tip I've heard repeated is there being weight restrictions. I know the larger tele lenses are going to be heavier so the lighter the body the better. We are going to Amboseli National Park, Ol-Pejeta Conservancy, Lake Nakuru National Park, and Masai Mara G Reserve. I don't think we will be going anywhere by bush plane but if we do, a lighter body would be great.

23 REPLIES 23

I am heading out June 4th-14th!

That's good to know, so we have time...

Right now, the Rf 200-800 is on backorder, almost everywhere I know, but that will likely change well before then, but the price is not likely to go down, given the pressures on logistics, that might well result in a cost flow through to the lens price.

The other thing is that Sigma are rumored to be announcing some new lenses specifically for the R-series bodies in February.  I would not be surprised if one of those is a native RF 60-600s lens, considering they designed one for Sony mirrorless cameras last year.  Note that both lenses are a great solution, but I favoured the Sigma because that one lens covers a much vaster range so you will be using just the one lens and one camera most of the time and it will be a better optic than your lenses for the Rebel.

On the other hand, the EF version of the Sigma 60-600s, which is what I have previously recommended with the EF-RF adapter, would also work with your current camera, although being a crop sensor body, your Rebel T5i will render a Field of Capture equivalent to an R5 or R6 with a 96-960mm lens!  So you have that advantage of backward compatibility for when you may want to use that other body as well and it means if you have an issue with the R camera, you can continue to shoot with the Sigma EF lens on your Rebel body.

As regards other things:
With the time you have, the best things you can do is study the operation and controls of whatever camera you decide to get.  Preferably shoot a lot with it, and look at how to best customize the controls for wildlife shooting.  I can help with that if you want.  I recommend downloading the manual for whatever body you get and go on line for videos on how to engage with the interface.
You might find these useful:

and for the R6MkII

Then study the behaviour of the wildlife you will be likely to encounter.  Pangolin Safaris have lots of videos on wildlife shooting in Africa, and another great resource is the BBC Wildlife series hosted by Sir David Attenborough.  I cannot underestimate the value in being able to anticipate an animal's behaviour, either to prepare for a critical moment and get a great shot, or know when it's feeling threatened: although I am pretty confident the safari people will keep you safe!  

Also, if you are engaging with the locals, it's a great idea to learn as much about their customs as possible - often they are quite complex societies and worthy of study in that context, but again, it stops you from inadvertently making faux pas that might cause offense, it's amazing what a bit of consideration does in breaking down intracultural barriers.


cheers, TREVOR

"The Amount of Misery expands to fill the space available"
"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris

shadowsports
Legend
Legend

Thanks everyone.  I've corrected "she" and I see she's going in June.  😁

I do like the rent when you get there idea as I've lugged a 32 lbs pack that was 29lbs of camera and 3lbs of laptop this summer.

The Sigma 60-600 is a fantastic lens $1900 and 5.95lbs

The RF 200-800 is also good, $1900 and 4.5lbs, you lose (difference (f6.3 <> f9) about a stop of light which is made up for with no adaptor requirement, less weight and greater longevity RF vs EF.  This really only matters if the R5 comes into play.

If not, I'd go all in on the Sigma.  I've watched quite a few of Sabine's wildlife videos.  Pagolin looks to be a good tour vendor.       

 

~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

"I do like the rent when you get there idea as I've lugged a 32 lbs pack that was 29lbs of camera and 3lbs of laptop this summer."

In her situation this is a terrible idea, and she would do well to ignore it. You and others making this suggestion are highly experienced photographers, well versed in mirrorless. A rental may be a reasonable solution for you. She is a Rebel T5 owner, and going on an African safari. This is no time to be out in the field fumbling through unfamiliar menus, and gear that is completely new to her. I say to her buy a good rig and shoot the hell out of it in the months before traveling to Africa. Get over that initial learning curve, get comfortable with the gear, so that when you are out in the field, you won't be stymied by the basics. It would be awful to miss a lot of shots due to the unfamiliarity with rental gear and its behavior. 

John, I agree that it is better to take the camera there, but I was suggesting renting the lens, not the body! 
To quote from my second post: "If not, I would suggest considering renting at least some of the gear, preferably the telephoto lens, preferably at the location."
In my third to last  post I followed up by saying:
"With the time you have, the best things you can do is study the operation and controls of whatever camera you decide to get.  Preferably shoot a lot with it, and look at how to best customize the controls for wildlife shooting"


cheers, TREVOR

"The Amount of Misery expands to fill the space available"
"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris

John_SD
Whiz

There are some forums that are devoted to African photo safaris. Those are the people you should be talking with. Enjoy. 

March411
Rising Star

I would have to agree with others regarding the Sigma 60 - 600mm, it is one of the most versatile lenses I own and has preformed incredibly. Personally I like the range of the lens, I can get away with landscapes @ 60mm and wildlife @ 600mm. When talking about it's weight I tend to believe there is a big tradeoff. For the most part I can leave other lenses at home and just carry the Sigma so the weight I have to move around with is greatly reduced.

I do use EF bodies so I don't have to worry about an adapter or loosing light. 

5D Mark VI, Sigma 60-600 ISO 400 @ f8 1/640

Blue-billed-Heron.jpg



Be a different person on the web, be kind, respectful and most of all be helpful!

90D ~ 5D Mk IV ~ R5 ~ R6 Mk II ~ R50
Photoshop and Topaz Suite for post processing
http://commonhangout.com/piwigo/

Nice Image there!

Yes, the one-lens solution is, to me a huge benefit, and using it with either DSLR or MILC bodies, I have found no difference between them in terms of light transmission.


cheers, TREVOR

"The Amount of Misery expands to fill the space available"
"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris

shadowsports
Legend
Legend

I think she has plenty of helpful advice to consider.  The OP said she is traveling in June.  5 months is enough time to acclimate to a new camera, a new lens or both.  She also indicated she's interested in an upgrade and provided a budget.  Some suggestions were provided. 

Investing further in DSLR's or EF glass makes the most sense if you are sticking with DSLRs.  Sigma EF vs Canon RF.  There is no difference in light transmission, I was merely pointing out difference between 600 at f6.3 vs 800 at f9, which is nothing.  These particular lenses are at the same price point.  In other scenarios, there is money to be saved investing in EF glass.  In addition, adapted EF glass can work very well if you want a mirrorless body and plan to transition slowly.  Cost, weight and performance are a matter of budget, intended use and personal preference.  From an investment standpoint, going mirrorless and RF is a better long-term investment.  Renting, buying refurb and selling existing gear are all good ways to off set a capital expense, increase your buying power and stretch your dollar.

~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

kingsranch
Contributor

You all are amazing! Thank you so much for helping me out with such great advice and dialogue. Thank you Trevor for the compliment and pronoun correction 🤗 On first glance, having short hair and my father's face, I often get that and tend to brush past it 😆 I will definitely do some looking into all of your suggestions to decide what's best! I am definitely a beginner and have only taken nature photos around our property so, any and all advice is welcome!

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