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-   -   please help me gear up for South Africa (

Jeeky Sep 6, 2006 1:21 PM

First, thanks to all the Steve's members who, through their informative posts, helped me settle on my new Nikon D50 with kit 18-55 lens. I also got a Sigma 70-300 APO lens, which seemed well-reviewed for my price range.

For other gear, I got the Tamrac Velocity 7 bag and a handful of 2gb SD memory cards.

My vacation to South Africa is coming up in a week and extensive reading of these forums is making me nervous about whether I should be getting more gear, especially a tripod, lens filters, and lens hood.

I'll be spending a lot of time in the Capetown area doing landscape shots of cliffs, vineyards, flora, ocean. Then I have a wildlife safari in Kruger Park. And finally I have 3 days in Victoria Falls, where there will be more wildlife on the river and of course the falls themselves.

I have pretty much already exhausted my budget, but I could spend maybe a few hundred more on gear if you experts think it makes sense. After all this is a trip of a lifetime for me!

I have read lots of advice about getting a good tripod right from the start, but I can't afford $1000 (more than my camera and lenses combined). Any advice on an alternative, something that would get me 90% of what a good tripod offers for $100-$200? Do I even need a tripod for what I'll be shooting?

Is a rubber lens hood a basic requirement for all types of shots to reduce glare? Should I get a polarizing filter? I am pretty confused about all this. It's hard enough trying to remember what I learned 15 years ago in college.

Thanks for any advice you can offer, the more specific the better!

bernabeu Sep 6, 2006 6:54 PM

TRIPOD: try the Slik Able 300DX for about $100-110 (for scenic and landscape shots)

BATTERIES: make sure you can charge them !

LENS HOODS: optional

POLARIZER: get a (circular type) 'cheapie' for the kit lens- it will make for some eye- popping skies

IMPORTANT: have fun, don't worry - be happy

Jeeky Sep 6, 2006 11:10 PM

Thanks for the help and the encouragement too. I guess I'm feeling sort of frantic preparing for this trip, so little time to practice with my new camera.

Tripod: I might just hold off on this purchase so I don't have to lug it around everywhere. If I plan to shoot handheld in daylight, do you think my landscapes will suffer? What about with the telephoto, it seems like things get pretty shaky at 300mm.

Polarizing filter: I will pick up a cheap one before I leave. Will I want to use this on my telephoto shots or just landscape?

Thanks again. And nice lion pic! I hope to have some of my own to share soon!

(Note to self: stop worrying, have fun) :-)

Morag2 Sep 7, 2006 6:30 PM

If you shoot landscapes in bright daylight, you will find it very easy to keep the image steady, landscapes mean a small focal length (less image shake) and if it's bright outside, you'll have no trouble.

Does your lens have Image Stabilization? This helps a great deal with telephoto. I can shoot on my prosumer camera at 432mm equivalent focal length at 1/10th of a second and now blur, so for your telephoto you should be able to get away with anything if you shoot at 1/100 and you can probably even manage it at 1/50. And you should get shutter speeds like that if you shoot in African daylight!

Focal length shake just isn't a huge worry in bright weather. I was outside yesterday shooting with my teleconverter, that was a focal length of 750mm or so. And I had no problems with image shake. In fact, at 1/200 shutter speed, you can probably shoot at more than 2000mm focal length (and I bet you don't have a lens with length like that!)

So anyways, that was a big answer for a small question, sorry:blah:

tommysdad Sep 8, 2006 9:35 AM

If you don`t fancy lugging a heavy tripod around have you thought about a telescopic monopod instead,I would suggest using one for landscapes.One with a spike so you can stick it in the ground, set the self timer and you can get some great sunsets aswell.!!!

Good Luck


Jeeky Sep 8, 2006 10:50 AM

Thanks Morag2, I appreciate the input.

I don't have image stabilization on my camera or lenses.

I read that you need a shutter speed of about 1/focal length, so at 200mm, I would need around 1/200? I guess that's for freezing movement, so for landscapes and elephants I can get away with slower?

Maybe a higher ISO setting will be enough for those action shots? Do people use tripods on safari?

Do people use polarizing filters with telephoto lenses?

It's a lot to digest, and mostly academic for me right now. I guess I need to get out there and try some things out instead of just talking about it heh? :idea:

Jeeky Sep 8, 2006 10:57 AM


A monopod sounds like a great idea for some portable stablilization.

I'll look into it. Any recommendations? (I'll probably need a rush order to get it by Tuesday).

tommysdad Sep 8, 2006 3:30 PM

I dont actually own one, but any of the major brands, slik, manfrotto, uni-lock.

Giottos have some pretty cool stuff , lightweight, telescopic and pricewise are pretty good, do a search for a GiottosP-Pod on google.It might fit your needs.

Good Luck


Petepix Sep 9, 2006 8:27 PM

First of all, have a great trip and use up all the memory! I was in the UK the end of August and got caught up in the heightened security restrictions that were imposed while I was there. All flights leaving any UK airport banned ALL carry-on luggage. That meant that you had to check through your camera equipment. I didn't have any of my camera equipment with me but I did see some very concerned photographers and musicians being told that they would have to check their cameras, lens', instruments, etc. and have them ride home in the hull. Some postponed their travel. The restrictions were lifted after a week. Just something to think about when we travel now and are under the control of foreign governments.

peripatetic Sep 10, 2006 5:12 AM


Just something to think about when we travel now and are under the control of foreign governments.
Are you a US citizen? And to think some Brits think you guys don't have a sense of humour. :cool:

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