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Friday, May 24, 2013

Packing for Wildlife Photography Part 1

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 Often one of the most difficult decisions a wildlife photography has to make is what kit to take with on Safari. This is my attempt at trying to help anyone who is planning on coming to Africa or any other wildlife destination, pack their photography kit. The first and most important consideration is the location you will be visiting. Do some some serious homework before you leave, many places are not as remote as you may assume, so you don't have to pack the kitchen sink. That said there is also nothing worse then leaving an essential piece of equipment at home. Most, if not nearly all, Safari destinations will have electricity but double check. Always have at least two charged batteries with you at all times(One in the camera and one spare). If you have more batteries, bring them, they are small and fit into luggage without any issues. I will now go through my kit pictured above and explain why it is in my bag. 

Lenses 

The first bit of equipment I go through is my lenses. Generally for wildlife you will want to be out early in the morning or late in the afternoon, this means you will often be shooting in great and low lighting conditions. So the first two lens I pack are my 300mm F2.8 and my 70-200mm F2.8, these are also extremely handy on night drives where ideally you would want to avoid having to resort to the artificial light of a flash. The maximum aperture of F2.8 gives you great light gathering ability in these tricky conditions and generally a distance the DOF is not an issue. I also pack a 2X Teleconverter and use it with the 300mm F2.8, on high end quality lenses if you use a matched teleconverter you will get a 600 mm f5.6 will practicaly zero image quality loss. The second lens I pack if I have space is my 70-400mm F4-5.6 SSM G, this is a superb lens with great flexibility. I will usually mount this onto my second camera body, this just means that I am not constantly changing lenses in what is normally a pretty dusty environment. Longing eyes
 Then space dependent I will pack a walk around lens in this case a 16-80mm F3-4.5, this is for wide angle and general around the camp people, family, friends pics. Also if I am in the mood and have the time I use this lens for star trails at night. I will also if possible pack a macro 50mm F2.8 for insects etc. and an ultra wide lens 10-20mm for Landscapes. 

Camera Bodies 

 If you have the luxury of more than one camera body pack them in, if you can borrow a second body do so and if you are really paranoid rent one. Not just for in case something goes wrong with your first camera body but because trying to changes lenses when a Lion is walking past is not all that practical and it very unlikely that he will walk past again. If you have a full frame body smile because this will give you better low light performance. If you have an APS-C body smile because this will give you extra reach.

in Part 2 we will look at camera bags and accessories


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