Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Camera gear I take on a hunting safari in Africa

After four African safaris, I'm willing to share my advice on cameras, gear and equipment for hunters and the non-hunters who go with them.

My new camera is a Pentax k200d DSLR. I stepped up to DSLR from point-and-shoot just this year. Long, long ago in the dark ages, I had a film SLR from Pentax, so this new camera is like going full circle.

I will admit that I use the two lens kit that came with my camera, even though camera snobs will not be impressed. The Pentax 15-55mm wide angle zoom was terrific for landscapes with a wide open feeling. I have a polarizing filter for it, and that helps cut down on glare from water and to enhance the sky in most settings.

The second lens is a Tamron 100-300mm zoom. That was also a big step up in zoom range from my last camera. I always find myself wanting more zoom! But there is a limit, and the 300 is pretty big. Not sure I would go with any larger of a zoom, unless I can handle it and make sure it is compact enough to carry comfortably.

Fighting dust and preventing damage

I take a lens pen and a microfiber cleaning cloth. I also specifically chose the Pentax for its reputation for quality weather sealing. That won't stop the dust you gain when you change lenses. I see now that I should have run the self-cleaning shaker function, probably each evening.

Before I left, I put a screen protector over the big back LCD, because my old one got scratched in Africa. The screen protector I found was made for a Palm PDA, but was more than big enough, so I trimmed it down.

Power and recharging
My Pentax uses AA batteries, and that was another big reason I chose it. In a pinch, AAs are available all over the earth.

I brought two sets of rechargeables, plus one set of lightweight lithiums. The recharger is compatible with world voltages, and it has a car adapter. Most safaris involve at least some driving, so you can recharge even where there isn't standard electricity. I also took a European plug adapter, and that worked most places in Namibia, as well as for the layover in Frankfurt, Germany.

You can never have too much memory. An 8GB SDHC card gives me almost 2000 photos, so I took two of them. Safaris present all kinds photo opportunities, so go prepared.

Camera Bag
I bought a Crumpler Four Million Dollar Home from eBags just for my Pentax and lenses. It holds all the gear, except the recharger (which stays in the car or in the tent). That carried my equipment while on airplanes and while riding in the truck. When walking, I put the camera strap over my shoulder, and slipped the big lens into the pocket of my cargo pants.

Point and Shoot Backup Camera
I still take my old Olympus D765 UltraZoom as a backup camera. Because it is small and a bit less obtrusive, I used it to take pictures of people this trip. But it was my main camera on the two previous safaris, and it does take great shots!

1 comment:

Dick said...

Your post had been incredibly useful, so thank you! I have only started wildlife photography so have not had much experience or have "advanced" equipment so thanks again for your post.

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