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-   -   Newbie needs a new SLR and is thinking about Canon (

JohnG Jan 7, 2006 2:37 PM

My estimate was around $3000 because the stated purpose was for a safari in Kenya. Which means long range capability and preferably a wide aperture. I think there are quite a few options for $1500 or less but I'm not sure how well the 5200 or 9000 is going to do in that situation. What I would hate for you to do is spend $1000 on new camera equipment and be dissatisfied with the results. You can take a look on a site like pbase to see what types of safari shots people have taken and what equipment they have used.

And for that matter, what equipment did your friend use? You mention an SLR but which one and what type of lens.

I think MTs suggestions are very good for the rest of your photography needs but buying a $1000 DSLR camera and using a $200-300 zoom lens on it does not have a high probability of producing breathtaking photos from a safari I wouldn't think - unless they get you very close to the animals in good light conditions.

bernabeu Jan 7, 2006 3:09 PM

KM 5D................................................ .......................$725

KM 28-100 'kit' lens.............................................. ....$60

Used Minolta HS AF 80-200mm f2.8 APO..................$750

total............................................. .............................$1530

equivalent 35 coverage = 42-300mm

mtclimber Jan 7, 2006 8:08 PM


Well, the questions have been validly raised. Thus far, we have looked at both the lowest and lower cost alternatives for your African Safari. Is it time to examine some mid range alternatives?


hwalin Jan 8, 2006 11:31 PM

Everyone, thanks for all your help so far.

JohnG, I will take a look at that website you offered up and see what I can find out. I'll also ask my friend what type of lens he has to figure out his setup and cost.

Mtclimber, I'm willing to look at "midrange" options as well. What do you have in mind?


peripatetic Jan 9, 2006 2:24 AM

If you're looking for a decent midrange set I would recommend:

Canon 20D + 17-85 IS as a kit. ($1660)
Canon EF 70-300 IS. ($1110)

If that's too much then consider the XT:

Canon Rebel XT + 17-85 IS. ($1174)
Canon EF 70-300 IS. ($1110)

Prices from B&H taking rebates into account.

Both those setups will serve you well on your safari and for general photography before and after. To significantly improve on the picture quality possible with those setups will mean you will have to start spending some serious cash.

The image quality is essentially identical between the 20D and the XT, but the 20D as a camera is just a bit nicer in every department.

Another possibility worth considering is

KM 5D + 18-70 kit. ($ 600)
Sigma 100-300 EX f4. ($ 800)
Sigma 1.4X teleconverter ($ 170)

Which is a bit cheaper - possibly more around the price you're looking for and will also serve very well on your safari and thereafter.

The KM 5D has the big (price) advantage that it has Anti-Shake built into the body whereas Canon has it in the lenses. Canon has an advantage in megapixels and AF speed but if you want to spend $1500, the KM option is very attractive indeed and that setup will certainly mean that for a long time the limiting factor is likely to be the photographer, not the equipment.

The Sigma 100-300 EX f4 lens will allow you to add a 1.4x teleconverter and still maintain AF extending your range to 420mm. That is a very very sharp lens, probably the best made by any manufacturer that covers that range.

You will need at least a 2Gb CF card to hold a day's images, preferably 2 of them in case one malfunctions.

You are also going to need a way of getting your photographs off your camera onto another sort of storage - I happened to be on a 3 hour game drive yesterday and took around 300 photos, so you should probably count on up to 500 a day.

The best thing would be to take along a laptop with DVD burner so you can transfer them to a hard drive and take a DVD backup of the images you shoot that day every night.

hwalin Jan 9, 2006 9:06 AM

Hi Peri,

There seems to be two Canon lenses for the 75-300mm size and at different price points. One is more compact and expensive (the one you mentioned) and one is half the price. Any idea what the difference is?


peripatetic Jan 9, 2006 9:17 AM

Yes the cheap one is dreadful. Avoid it like the plague. You'd be better off with the Sigma 70-300 APO DG Macro.

But it doesn't have IS and on safari you will be shooting hand-held from the back of a Land Rover so you will want the image stabilisation.

You could get away with the Sigma 70-300 if you were to go the KM 5D route on the body.

That would bring the KM 5D package costs right down too.

KM 5D + 18-70 kit. ($ 600)
Sigma 70-300 ($ 200)

Still a very respectable package i.t.o. image quality, and very good value for money. IMO probably as good as any 2 lens + camera combo you can get for < $1500.

It gives you image stablisation and a focal length equivalent of 29mm-450mm in 35mm terms.

BillDrew Jan 9, 2006 9:49 AM

No comment on the camera and lens, but you do have one issue well thought out:

hwalin wrote:

... I am planning on taking some basic courses and using the next 6 months to really get familiar with the camera and various lighting conditions. ...

Don't dawdle and let the time to learn how to use whatever you get become much shorter than that. The last thing you want to be doing on your honeymoon is reading a manual to figure out how to use the camera.

For the same reason, get a whole bunch of memory. You don't want to spend your time squinting at a little LCD trying to decide which pictures to delete so you have space for the next days shooting. Get the memory well in advance as well: most electronic stuff will either fail in a couple of months or will work well for a long time. Unlikely to have problems, but if you do, you don't want it to happen on your honeymoon.

hwalin Jan 10, 2006 1:24 PM

Hi all,

Thanks for all the help. I think I've narrowed it down to the KM 5D and the Canon Rebel XT, which has been discussed in these forums to death. What it boils down to for me is the IS capability of the KM and the color reproduction of the Canon. I just love the color the Canon provides and am very satisifed with Canon pics I've seen to date. The KM I have less experience with in seeing real photos but the reviews have been very good, so I'm not that worried but I do suspect I may not like the color as well. On the other hand, the IS built into the body of the KM sounds like a very convenient feature and may save me money on lenses down the road.

I guess it boils down to personal preference at this point. I think that regardless of the camera I choose, I will probably get a 75-300mm lens from the appropriate manufacturer or a Sigma lens as some of you have suggested. I'll post my final decision whenever that comes. Thanks for all your help guys!


MaryRose Jan 12, 2006 11:48 AM

Hi- I realize you posted your last reply a week ago. Perhaps you have already purchased your camera. If is something I discovered in the last few days.

Based on everything we had read about the Rebel XT my husband decided it was the one he wanted. We went to a camera store to see the camera in person. I was shocked that we both hated the XT. I had read warnings that the grip was small. My hands are not large so I didn't think it would be a problem for me. It was. I felt like I was going to drop it atany second. It was very uncomfortable for my husband as well.

We then looked at the Nikon D50 and the KM 5D. We decided on the KMK5D based on the anti-shake feature, user friendly controls and large menu display on the LCD.

We have since spoken with sales people in several local camera stores. They highly recommend both the Nikon D50and KM 5D but lean towards the KM for the IS (anti-shake) feature.

If you can - check out the camera in person before you buy.

Good luck and have fun on your trip!!


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