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Old Jun 2, 2006, 11:38 AM   #1
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I just joined Steve's Forum. My wife & I are going to Tanzania on safari in September. My dinky 3X Canon Powershot A95 is inadequate for photographing the wildlife we will see and I need to buy a suitable camera.

I doubt that a tripod will work, since we will be travelling in 4 wheel drive vehicles. I dount we will get close to any major wildlife, but we will "see" lots .

I know I will need to buy a camera/lens, but do not have a clue as to "what". I don't even know what an f stop is .

I would be very grateful for any specific pointers/directions/recommendations you could give me so that our trip will result in great photos of the wildlife!! (I sent a private message to Jake before I figured out how to send this general message to this Forum.)

Phil Pluta








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Old Jun 2, 2006, 1:34 PM   #2
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im not sure what kind of camera you should get .. i would chek alot of forums and search the wildlife pics and see what cameras and lens's were used and go from there .. but one thing i will recomend and it wont cost ya anything .. is to make yourself a beanbag .. use a old pair of child jeans or your own, cut the bottom half of the leg off and tie one end off and then fill with dried beans ..and tie off the other end .. it is great for slinging over the door or on the hood of the car or anything .. and lay the camera on it ..works great for steadying the camera in place of a tripod
I use one in my car all the time.. when i dont get out of it to take the pics .. and in your case you really wont be able to get out ..
trust me it will bet the cheapest and the geatest piece of equipment you will ever own

Marion
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Old Jun 2, 2006, 2:53 PM   #3
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Welcome Phil. The first things I think you should ponder are how much are you going to use your new gear after your trip, budget, and is it justified. By justified I mean if this could be a trip of a lifetime, and your shots don't turn out, how will you feel? By increasing your budget, you still have 3 months of practice time to get used to new equipment, and possibly take some amazing images. Basically, how serious are you about your images? Buy some good books, do some online research, look through these forums, and you might decide to go dSLR and long lenses, or maybe not.
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Old Jun 2, 2006, 3:07 PM   #4
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My budget is less than about $2000. Yes, this is a trip of a lifetime and I do not want to come back home saying "gee, the wildlife was great, but I could not get any decent photos because they were too far away, and my Canon Powershot A95 was just not up to the job".

We are retired. I don't want to become a professional photographer. I want point and shoot (would be best) and some minor tweaking of settings at worst.

The only drawback to me on a vacation camera would be if it was too big and was a distraction from the vacation. So IF I need a BIG camera to take worthwhile shots on safari, then it would get limited use on non-safari trips, but I could live with that, if the safari photos were great.

IF I need a dSLR, then that is what I will get. My impression of dSLR is that you need to buy a lens to go with the body..maybe that is too simplistic a view. Is there a dSLR camera that comes with a lens for everyday use, and I would need to buy only 1 additional lens for safari use? If so, any recommendations on the camera...I have had good experience with Canon and am slightly predisposed toward that brand, but I am open minded. What kind of lens for the distance shots?



Phil Pluta


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Old Jun 3, 2006, 5:45 AM   #5
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PRPluta wrote:
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IF I need a dSLR, then that is what I will get. My impression of dSLR is that you need to buy a lens to go with the body..maybe that is too simplistic a view. Is there a dSLR camera that comes with a lens for everyday use, and I would need to buy only 1 additional lens for safari use? If so, any recommendations on the camera...I have had good experience with Canon and am slightly predisposed toward that brand, but I am open minded. What kind of lens for the distance shots?
I shoot with Canon too, but IMO the Olympus 4/3 system might fit you best:
1. It's quite small for a dSLR
2. The whole outfit kit (with two lenses) for everyday use can be acquired for about $700
3. The E500 has a 2x crop factor which effectively double the reach on any longer lenses
4. An aditional 50-500mm for wildlife for example will keep your whole outfit well under $2000, but its reach (@ an equivalent 1000mm) well exceed all other camera systems.
-> The beauty of this is the whole thing fit in a small camera bag whereas an equivalent reach lens alone on a Canon (or Nikon for that matter) system will force you to ship the lens as an extra baggage... Plus the required sturdy tripod (and gymbal...)!
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Old Jun 4, 2006, 2:25 PM   #6
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NHL wrote:
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PRPluta wrote:
Quote:
IF I need a dSLR, then that is what I will get. My impression of dSLR is that you need to buy a lens to go with the body..maybe that is too simplistic a view. Is there a dSLR camera that comes with a lens for everyday use, and I would need to buy only 1 additional lens for safari use? If so, any recommendations on the camera...I have had good experience with Canon and am slightly predisposed toward that brand, but I am open minded. What kind of lens for the distance shots?
I shoot with Canon too, but IMO the Olympus 4/3 system might fit you best:
1. It's quite small for a dSLR
2. The whole outfit kit (with two lenses) for everyday use can be acquired for about $700
3. The E500 has a 2x crop factor which effectively double the reach on any longer lenses
4. An aditional 50-500mm for wildlife for example will keep your whole outfit well under $2000, but its reach (@ an equivalent 1000mm) well exceed all other camera systems.
-> The beauty of this is the whole thing fit in a small camera bag whereas an equivalent reach lens alone on a Canon (or Nikon for that matter) system will force you to ship the lens as an extra baggage... Plus the required sturdy tripod (and gymbal...)!
NHL is right, the 4/3 system cameras are a good deal smaller than the usual Canon/Nikon DSLRs, and probably a better fit for your budget, as well. to get the kind of zoom you'd need for the shots you want to take, you'd be looking at over $1000 just for a 100-400mm lens, and that still wouldn't get you as much zoom as a 500mm lens on a 4/3 body. justmake sure that either the camera or the lenses have image stabilization. shooting from a vehicle with an unstabilized lens will give you nothing but blurry pictures.
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Old Jun 6, 2006, 9:00 AM   #7
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HiPhil - Sorry for the late reply : There are a few ideas that one can throw around - I started photography with a Panasonic FZ10, which has/had a zoom 0f 432mm. I used it for wildlife and found itgood enough for most instances, exceptfor faster moving animals and flying birds, where it is hopeless.I progressed to a Canon 20D, which I am very happy with. The lenses I use are the 100-400 IS, and the 17-85. During a "safari", I hardly ever take the 100-400 off, as it is a very versatile lense, the 100 side widening enough to capture anything that is fairly close to the vehicle [apart from an elephant10ft away], and the 400 zoom giving an equivilant of 640mm. One NEVER has enough zoom, especiallyfor birdphotography.

Here's a suggestion [only] - Maybe look at the Panasonic FZ30,[or something similar],an 8 mp camera with a zoom of 432mm at the long end, 28 at the wide, Image Stabilized, macro capabilitiesincluded. Having one lens of those specs gives you theabilityto take almost everything you want to, from long zoom to landscaoeswithout changing lenses.The DSLR's focus quicker, but unless you are taking fast action shots, the FZ30 should do. A disadvantage with DSLR's in the bush is dust on the sensors, especially when changing lenses regularly, and also, if an animal does get too close for your long lens, you most often miss the shot due to the time it takes to change lenses. Pro wildlife photographers use a few camera bodies and keep wide, mid-zoom and long zoom lenses attached to the different bodies.

You could also attach a Tele converter to the FZ30 to get a bit more reach when required. The FZ30 will also be a lot lighter and more compact/portable than a DSLR, basically a macro to reasonable zoom in one small package, without the disadvantage of DUST.That said, I enjoy my equipment that I have, however, I have my own vehicle to carry a few bags of stuff like sensor cleaning kits, different lenses, laptop computer - [a must, or some similar means of offloading and storing shots]. Please feel free to ask more, I'll try to give some info where I can, hope the above helps.:-)
PS Which ever route you go, take at least one spare battery !!!!!



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Old Jun 6, 2006, 10:10 AM   #8
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JakeTPegg wrote:
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PS Which ever route you go, take at least one spare battery !!!!!
and plenty of memory cards!

actually, something like the FZ30 might not be a bad choice at all. the lens gives you 12x zoom, to 432mm, but it also has a feature called EZ zoom, which lets you extend the zoom range even further, to 19.5x, i believe, but at the expense of image resolution. using the extended zoom basically records the image only on the middle portion of the sensor, and you get a 3Mp or 5Mp image instead of the full 9Mp, depending on the level of extra zoom you select. still, a 3Mp original image is often enough, and usually givesbetter results than trying to crop and enlarge something that's too small otherwise... and Panasonic lenses are pure magic. i have an FZ20, and the glass in those Leica lenses is second to none. the only downside to the FZ series cameras is, as Jake mentioned, that they're no good for fast-moving targets, and they produce a lot more noise than DSLR's, though the latter is easily dealt with in PP with Neat Image or the like.
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