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Old Sep 14, 2009, 5:36 PM   #1
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Default African Safari -which lens

I am about to buy a Canon 50D and want if possible a single lens for landscapes and animal photography for my upcoming African safari. I will take a few portraits, but they are less important. I like the low light capability, fast speed, and quality. I need image stabalization and a good degree of zoom. I can take a tripod or monopod. My old Panasonic FZ20 was great with 12X zoom but is slow and I have missed many animal shots. But I don't want to lug around several lenses and go through the agony of changing and worrying about too great a learning curve with too many lenses at first. Someone suggested a Tamron 28-75 as a good general lens, but they do not photograph animals. Steve's review used the 18-200mm from Canon. I want to blow up a few choice photos to 14"x16" if possible and use others as a base for my paintings so capturing great color and detail is important. Thanks for any help. Lyn in Dallas.
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Old Sep 14, 2009, 6:29 PM   #2
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Landscape
Animals on safari
Low light
fast speed
quality
Image stabilization

Unfortunately the criteria you want does not exist in one lens

For animal shots, you're going to need reach. Something at least 300mm, preferably 400mm. You're going to find 75mm way, way too short. Even 200mm is going to be very short for animals on safari. A 400mm 5.6 would be a nice lens, or even 100-400L but that's a good bit of money. You may want to consider renting such a lens. It will cost a bit, but if this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, it may be worth it.

Now, one of the challenges with such lenses is they are 5.6 aperture. Which means in dawn/dusk you're going to get very slow shutter speeds - even shooting at high ISOs (think 3200). But, it's a bit cost prohibitive to move up to wider aperture lenses with that kind of reach.

Please don't be offended by this, but I think you have completely underestimated what type of gear is necessary to shoot animals in the wild and get great color and detail.

If you don't wish to rent or don't want to invest in the lenses above, the canon 70-300 IS is a good consumer grade lens. 300mm is going to be a bit short but it's only $580 or so. It's not the same quality as the two L lenses I mentioned above either - but that's the trade-off with going with a smaller, consumer grade lens.

I assume your safari is by jeep? If so, I would suggest a bean bag type support rather than monopod/tripod. Kinesis makes a great one.

Also on the 28-75 - probably a poor choice of lenses. Way too short for animals in the wild and 28mm on a 1.6 crop camera isn't very wide. My advice would be stick to the kit lens for wide landscapes and one of the mentioned lenses for safari.
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Old Sep 15, 2009, 9:41 AM   #3
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as John said, even a 300mm is too short...i would rather get an used sigma 100-300 F4 which is selling between 500-625 in FM forums. The lens is pretty fast and even with a 1.4X extender, the lens performs really well at 400mm.

Personally i would carry a wider 17-50 Tamron and the 100-300 Sigma if cost was a major issue.
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Old Sep 15, 2009, 12:39 PM   #4
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I highly suggest renting a Canon 100-400L IS. I did an African safari (Uganda's QE Nat'l Park) and a Rwandan gorilla trek and the lens was superb. Being able to rent it with shipping and insurance for 3 weeks for under $200 was great, too. I used www.lensrentals.com and recommend them highly (I have no financial interest in them in any way).
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Old Sep 15, 2009, 12:57 PM   #5
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You may also want to consider a Bigma (Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3) as your primary lens. It's got more focal range from wide to long compared to most lenses reaching out that far. I'd still carry a wider lens with me for shots you may need a wider angle of view for.
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Old Sep 15, 2009, 1:26 PM   #6
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People who know me are going to laugh, but one of the bonuses in this application of the Canon lenses is Image Stabilization. The Bigma doesn't have it. It's also larger/heavier than the 100-400. But I think IS will be a huge benefit - since tripods aren't really an option on safari. So, yes, I do admit there are times when IS is of benefit and I think this is one of those times. Just another aspect to consider.
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Old Sep 15, 2009, 4:07 PM   #7
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I just bought a Sigma 150 - 500mm with Optical Stabilization for what I think was a great price. It won't break the bank and I think it will get the job done regarding shooting animals. Ofcourse you'll probably be in trouble in low light situations but you can't win them all. For landscapes you can use the Tamron 28-75 that someone sugested you. Like JohnG said, you can't do it all with just one lens.
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Old Sep 15, 2009, 8:26 PM   #8
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Forget Canon and go with a Sony A-900 and a 70-400mm.
Stabilization in the body will work with any lens.
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Old Sep 16, 2009, 5:49 AM   #9
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ahhh i forgot..why not get a olympus E-620 kit. costs around 900, comes with a standard kit of 14-42 and 40-150. that covers from 28mm-300mm at a good speed.

now based on available funds u can add the following

1) 70-300 F4-f5.6 (Costs around 350-400)
2) Bigma 50-500(imagine this wonder lens on E620--just becomes a 100-1000 mm lens with IS)

My personal choice for this trip would be the E-620, Bigma...and may be a wide angle(11-22 or 12-60 zuiko lens. One can get them and sell them for a price that u wont lose much on the money front)

i would go the olympus line here for sure
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Old Sep 16, 2009, 6:04 AM   #10
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OK guys... The OP wasn't asking what camera to buy. He was asking what lens would make a better choice for a 50D. This is the Canon Lenses Forum, not the What Camera Should I Buy Forum. ;-)
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