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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

Tronhard
Elite
Elite

I have a question as to what your output will be: 
Are you going to produce for social media, digital display, small-medium prints, or very large detailed prints?


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

I want to post to my social media accounts and definitely have prints of varying sizes to put around the house.

Tronhard
Elite
Elite

Thanks for responding.
You will need a range of gear to cover all the options from wide-angle to very long telephoto, and that can get expensive, especially at the long end.  Furthermore, weight is an issue, both for shipping the gear to the location, and carrying it in situ. 

One major question to consider, are you likely to use this gear again?  If not, I would suggest considering renting at least some of the gear, preferably the telephoto lens, preferably at the location.  I would suggest contacting the organization with which you will be on safari to get their suggestions and to see if you can rent gear locally - that reduces your overall cost, and you don't have to consider the costs and risks of travelling with large, bulky gear.

If you are expecting to use the camera body again, then that is a good candidate for purchase.  In that context, I would recommend the Canon EOS R5 or R6MkII, along with the BG-R10 battery grip.  The grip has a couple of advantages - you have extra battery capacity without switching and you get a set of portrait controls.  This latter is very useful when wanting to shoot in portrait mode with a large, heavy lens - having to hold the camera and shoot without that set of controls is ergonomically challenging and more likely to result in camera shake.  However two of those cameras would exceed your budget without lenses. So, if we stick to one body, then we need a single lens that will do almost everything.

In that regard I would suggest the Sigma 60-600 Sports lens.  It has an unmatched focal range, is weather sealed and should cover the majority of the images you are likely to take. It has image stabilization and would work seamlessly with the R5 or R6 body via the Canon EF-RF adapter.  I have used this combination for a couple of years with the R5 and R6 bodies and it has performed flawlessly. 
The lens is a brilliant unit, not light, but for long work none of them are.   
Here are some recent image taken with that lens but with the lower resolution Canon R6.
NZ Kaka EOS R6, Sigma 60-600@ 475mm, f/6.3, 1/400sec, ISO-1600NZ Kaka EOS R6, Sigma 60-600@ 475mm, f/6.3, 1/400sec, ISO-1600    Canon EOS R6, EF70-300L@ 300mm, f/6.3, 1/320sec, ISO-500Canon EOS R6, EF70-300L@ 300mm, f/6.3, 1/320sec, ISO-500  

Oyster Catcher - R6, Sigma100-500mm f/6.3, 1/100sec, ISO-200Oyster Catcher - R6, Sigma100-500mm f/6.3, 1/100sec, ISO-200  Canon EOS R6, Sigma 60-600@600mm, f/6.3, 1/640sec, ISO-2000Canon EOS R6, Sigma 60-600@600mm, f/6.3, 1/640sec, ISO-2000

For wider angle, if you take your existing body with you and the wide-angle lenses, 10-18 and 18-55, that should cover the wide end.


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

Definitely agree with the rental option.  However, based on what gear you'll rent, for how long, and perhaps most importantly, the insurance, it may end up being very costly.

If the rental cost would say cost you around 50% of what the gear would cost if purchasing, that would start me to think about buying.  If you end up not needing certain lenses ever again, they do retain much of their value, so you could sell them.

--
Ricky

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

Hi Ricky:
It's tricky... while $3-4k might seem a lot, a good body like the R5 will soak up quite a bit of that, and that limits the options for glass.  Definitely, if there is very little likelihood of using big telephotos again, a rental option would save money, and if it can be obtained locally that cuts down the travel risks and costs.

Alternatively, for a cheaper option, the Canon R6 MkII will take great shots for social media and moderate-sized prints at good resolutions.  That would open up some more funds for glass.


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

I guess there's also a mix-and-match.  Purchase either a good body or lens.  Then visa versa for the rental.

--
Ricky

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

shadowsports
Legend
Legend

Greetings

Did she tell us when she was leaving?

I like the R5 idea.  For Africa the RF 200-800 would pair well.  Assuming a 2 camera set up, the T5i with shorter FL's can handle the rest.  If you aren't going to buy mirrorless, then the Sigma will pair nicely with the DSLR.  

Unless you are under a departure pressure, I'd rent the gear and buy when it's most favorable for me.  Rents, R5 is $175 per week.  200-800 $83.  

Don't be afraid of buying refurb.  The R5 refurb was $2200 at Christmas.  I expect it to dip again when the mkII is announced. Probably Feb.  Also note Canon's end of year is March.  I work for a Japanese company too 🙂.  Gives you a few more months of socking away cash.  

Renting also means less risk during travel abroad.  Buy insurance.  You can also buy one piece and rent the rest.  Again, putting you in the driver's seat.

Trevor's and Ricky's suggestions are great.  Buy when it's most favorable, and get the gear you really want.  

~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

Ha Rick, you must have not see the OP's image.  SHE is a very beautiful young lady!

Hopefully, as someone old enough to be her grandfather I can pay that compliment without offense!


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

Tronhard
Elite
Elite

One question we have not asked is when are you going on your trip?   If you have some time, what is available and how much it costs may vary quite a bit.
I will also note that the Sigma 60-600, works PERFECTLY well via the adapter on the R-series bodies - I have used it on the R5 and R6 bodies with absolutely not issue.  Sigma got a bad rap because of negative comments about another of their lenses, the 150-600 Contemporary, and predominantly when used with the Canon EOS R7, which is NOT a camera I would recommend.  I will note that others swear by it rather than at it... and yes, that's my absolutely my personal opinion, but I have explained why in other posts ad nauseam.

Renting in North America offers some benefits, but will not give you the advantage of not having to transport it to the location with the cost and risk that involves, so again, I suggest you engage with the safari people to see if they offer a rental service in situ, and what they recommend.


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
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