Safari lens suggestions


Link Posted 27/05/2011 - 10:05
Hi All,

It's been a while! I've been crazy busy finishing my PhD thesismso little time for internet forums or photography, but hopefully that will now change a bit.

My wedding is coming up in Sept, and my fiancee and I have decided to take ourselves off on a safari in Kenya as part of our honeymoon.

Clearly I'll be packing the K10D and as many memory cards and batteries as I can physically carry, the question is what lenses to take. I've never been on anything like this before!

I have a few options:

1. my Tamron 300 f/2.8 prime.
2. my FA 80-320 or convince my Dad to lend me his DA55-300
3. Hire a DA* 300 f/4 from SRS
4. Hire a DA* 60-250 f/4 from SRS

The questions which I need to answer to decide this I think are multiple

1. How close do you actually get to the animals on these safaris? Am I going to be cursing a fixed 300 prime for being too long or will I want all the length I can get and more?

2. Are the DA*s better than the DA/FA/Tammy by enough to make it worth the hire cost? I suspect if it comes down to DA* 300 vs Tammy I'm basically deciding if the hire cost is worth the weight reduction and AF.

Answers on a postcard! I'm particularly interested to hear from anyone who's been on a safari trip in 4x4s to know how close you get.
you don't have to be mad to post here

but it does help


Link Posted 27/05/2011 - 10:29
Option 2. I would say a 300 prime will be restricting (I'm not saying don't take one, just that a zoom will be highly useful). You can get VERY close to the animals, especially if you have good driver.


Link Posted 27/05/2011 - 10:31
Another point - the vehicles are often quite cramped so having a big bulky lens can be problematic.


Link Posted 27/05/2011 - 10:33

Similar thread, probably worth having a read.
. My Flickr


Link Posted 27/05/2011 - 10:52
I'd take the 55-300mm by choice, compact and excellent.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 27/05/2011 - 10:56
Mongoose wrote:

My wedding is coming up in Sept, and my fiancee and I have decided to take ourselves off on a safari in Kenya as part of our honeymoon.

You probably won't have much time to go photographing wildlife on Safari so what I suggest is paying for me to go along and then I will go do that while you are otherwise occupied.

Will also save you the cost of hiring a lens
. My Flickr


Link Posted 27/05/2011 - 11:27
Get your dad to lend you his 55-300. You will need a zoom, not a prime as you can get very close to some animals, and don't want to be constantly changing lenses. The 300 will just about be long enough for most shots.
Take something wider with you too.
A Bigma would be even better .

Be very careful changing lenses because of the dust.

A tip I got from our driver/guide was to use a sock over the lens instead of the lens cap when out.

You will be able to charge the camera if you are staying in lodges no problem, and even in tented camps they tend to have a central area for charging electronics.

A beanbag or similar maybe useful though I used the roof of the Toyota to rest the camera on most of the time. In Kenya and Tanzania they go for closed vehicles with pop-tops rather than the open ones you see in South Africa.

Ask the driver to switch off the engine when you are photographing, or even just watching the animals. He should do it anyway, but sometimes they forget.

Make sure you get your immunisations in plenty of time and don't forget the malaria tablets and DEET. Keep the DEET away from your camera gear though - it melts plastic.

Enjoy it, and don't spend all the safari viewing things through the camera, take time to look around and just observe. The memories may last longer than the photos.

Steve Chasey

Link Posted 27/05/2011 - 11:46
Kenya's a bit easier from a photographer's pov.

Vehicles are allowed to roam over the terrain more than in southern africa - so go to the animals and you will get better close up opportunities as a result. But it can get a bit frenetic as the driver/guides watch who's going where and hunt in packs as a result - their end of safari tip is better if their passengers get as many of the 'big five' as possible....If someone see a leopard, it's like Le Mans

Use custom functions to get ISO onto one of the wheels. You'll start out at just before dawn and need high ISO - but within an hour, the light will have come right up and you'll be down to ISO 100.

The 55-300 is probably the best zoom of the options listed - wider front end compared to yr 80-320 and you won't miss the extra 20mm at the long end. Have a shorter range zoom handy as well - you'll be surprised at how often you'll want something in the 20-50mm range - especially if you close to any of the herds of buffalo etc.

Read the thread that Mike-P gave you a couple of postings earlier - some good tips in there.

In the Pack - Gripped K5 (SE),K7 & K20, Gripped MZ-S(SE)& MZ-S,DA10-17, DA12-24, DA14, DA*16-50, 50-135, 60-250 & 300mm; FA31mm/43mm/77mm Ltds; Sigma 8-16, 135-400 & 150-500
Half Backs: K10+BG,DA16-45, DA50-200
Backs: LXs,Super As and lots of A, M & K lenses
Impact Subs: 28mm Shift, K 135-600 (the Banahan of Pentax zooms ), 400-600 Reflex

vic cross

Link Posted 27/05/2011 - 15:16
I did the mara in 2005 with Freeman safaris and lived in a tent for a week. We (6 of us) went out in open topped Land Rovers. Sun up to sun down (6AM to 6PM)I used two bodies. My Z1P and My then *ist D. This means less lens changing hence less dust in the camera. I used 24mm fixed, 28-80, 70-300, 400mm fixed and at times a 2x converter. I wish I had had my 10-20 and my 50-500 bigma at that time as well. In other words take as short and as long lenses as you can lay your hands on. One of the people had a 600mm with him. With Freeman safaris they supplied the bean bags to rest on the top of the L.R. ENJOY. CHEERS Vic.
Edit. See my pics on my picasa link. Vic.
Born again biker with lots of Pentax bits. Every day I wake up is a good day. I'm so old I don't even buy green bananas.
Last Edited by vic cross on 27/05/2011 - 15:18


Link Posted 27/05/2011 - 15:50
Hire/borrow another body. All that way and all that money with one body?

Lenses: 16-50mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 with a 1.4x

50mm f/1.4 or f/1.7 (low light portraits)?

Plus your 300mm f/2.8 for longer reach with the 1.4x

12v charger for the camera batteries.

Shoot JPG and have a pocket full of cards.

OR just take a HD video camera and a point and shoot.

Best regards
Inspiration is rarer than a plate glass camera.....


Link Posted 27/05/2011 - 16:28
Many drivers won't allow you to use the car charger - they often have a cool box plugged into it, and even if they don't they aren't keen

As I said lodges are no problem for charging batteries, and tented camps, as opposed to camp sites, will often have somewhere you can charge things. You won't even need an adapter - they use UK style sockets.

For my 10 days in Tanzania I had just my Ist Ds with Tamrom 28-300 and the kit lens.
I don't recall using the kit lens once we got out of Arusha.

If you are using internal flights at all then the weight of your luggage is very limited.


Link Posted 27/05/2011 - 17:35
thanks for all the replies everyone! very useful info.

We'll be staying in a tented camp but there is electricity available at least during the day. If I have space I'll probably pack my *istDL2 as a backup/short lens body.

Particularly thanks for the DEET warning Gwyn, I didn't know that!

So it's looking like

16-45 f/4
50 mm f/1.4
55-300 or 80-320
105 macro

I'll probably take a couple of sets of Lithium single use batteries for the DL2 and 3 or 4 batteries plus charger for the K10, plus oodles of memory cards and my eeePC for downloading to.
you don't have to be mad to post here

but it does help


Link Posted 27/05/2011 - 18:00
Definitely the Macro and 55-300.
Not sure why you would take the 16-45, but the 50mm 1.4 would come in useful for evening indoor shots.
You could probably do with something else a bit longer, but not a monster;
Sigma af 400 f5.6, would be useful for birding (if they have them in Kenya).
They can be had for around 200, put a WTB in the classified, you never know who will respond.

K5 + 8mm-500mm zooms and primes
Please feel free to play with any images I post.
My flickr: link


Link Posted 27/05/2011 - 20:59
Just finished reading, and looking at more than 100 shots, from 4 Canon shooters on Safari in SA.

The biggest surprise was how close the animals were a lot fo the time : 80% of the time they were using a 70-200/2.8 and only occasionally a 500 they had (your 300/2.8 and a Pentax AFA x1.7 would be perfect to get you to 500, remember at infinity it almost acts like an AF lense - even on a MF lense).

You will need maybe a 17-50 for sunset and landscape shots, maybe even an UWA, such as a 10-20, would be better still. Pentax. Pentax DA*300/4, Cosina 55/1.2, Lens Baby Composer Pro & Edge 80, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.
Nikon. D800. D600. Sigma 500/4.5, Nikon 300/2.8 VRII, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 35/2.0, Sigma 50/1.4, Nikkor 85/1.8, Nikon TC20EIII, Nikon TC14EII, Kenko x1.4, Sigma 2.0
Last Edited by Frogfish on 27/05/2011 - 21:02
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