New Lens for Trip to Africa

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by colin_jensen, Jun 2, 2014.

  1. Hello Everyone!
    I am currently planning a trip to Africa in the fall, and I am looking for some advice on buying a new lens. I currently have a Canon Rebel T1i, with the kit lens EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS. I am wanting to upgrade to a longer telephoto lens, but my budget is only about $500 right now. I know that is not a lot, especially when you are talking about telephoto lenses, but thats really all I can spend at the moment. I know Canon makes a lens that goes up to 300mm, that sells for a couple hundred, but it doesn't seem like that big of upgrade. I also know there are other brands like Tamron and Sigma who produce cheaper telephoto lenses, but I am a little hesitant to buy one of those. Basically, I have bits and pieces of information, but nothing substantial enough to feel comfortable making a decision. Hahaha. So any help that you can give me is greatly appreciated. Thanks a bunch in advance! I look forward to reading your responses!
  2. Consider buying 2nd hand. Since you already have the 22-250 you might add a 400 mm prime. With proper adapters you don't have to stick to Canon but you can also consider Nikon/Pentax and other brands.
    On 2nd thought: I would never do a trip like this without a 2nd body and since your budget is on the low side you may consider a compact superzoom like the Canon SX-50HS or similar offerings from Fuji, Panasonic or Sony.
  3. Luckily you aren't leaving right now! ... Which means you have time to supplement your budget.
    Frankly, there are no new long telephoto zooms which are worth having in that price range. You can get used Tamron 200-500s for about that (or a bit less) on ebay (albeit units without VC), but being hesitant to buy a 3rd party lens is frankly a bit silly when you've got only $500 for a budget. Generally these units work exceptionally well. -- especially for the pittance they cost. Though VC/OS is a feature that is absolutely worth an extra $250+ at these focal lengths!
    Sigma 150-500 OSs and Tamron 200-500s (w/ VC) can be had for ~$725 and up used on ebay and at KEH. Frankly, that is, by far, IMO your best option. If you are willing to sacrifice 100mm on the long end, a Sigma 120-400 OS can be had (used @ KEH) for ~$615.
  4. You could rent one. I've rented multiple times from and found their service very good. The Canon 100-400 and Tamron 200-600 are two lenses you might consider. Be sure to tell them you'll be taking the gear out of the country.
  5. (Whoops, I meant the Tamron 150-600)
  6. [[you may consider a compact superzoom like the Canon SX-50HS or similar offerings from Fuji, Panasonic or Sony.]]
    This was my thought as well, something like the Panasonic FZ200, which offers an equivalent field of view of 600mm with an aperture of f/2.8 would be a good option, and goes for under $400 these days.
  7. I'm not sure that the extra 50mm is worth the upgrade to the 70-300mm, most especially the one without the IS. Optically, the 55-250 is pretty good. I did fine many years ago on safari, before longer lenses were affordable for me, with a 70-210 zoom on a film 35mm. Most tours, I imagine, will still get you pretty close. I had a 2X converter, but rarely used it. I'm in agreement that $500 will probably not put you much ahead of where you are now. Those kit lenses are real bargains, after all.
    I think a zoom and IS are essential these days. A prime long lens will only work well if you have another body with a zoom on it, IMHO. Anyhow, the good primes are pretty expensive too.
    If I were you, I'd consider digging into the reserves (this is not a trip you'll be doing frequently) and going for something like the Canon EF 100-400mm IS L. It's more expensive than your budget, but not bad by current standards, and there are some savings possible in refurbished and used ones. If you go that direction, get it early enough to be able to test it out before hand. It's very flexible and a fine bit of glass, when all is considered.
  8. I was going to suggest what JDM already has but didn't because it will probably be close to double your indicated budget. However, it would be a lens that you'll possibly get great satisfaction with for a lifetime.
    Plus, I'd like to throw in, . . . if you're anticipating any use of Teleconverters make certain that you do adequate research. Not all lens will accept coupling with a TC!
  9. It would help a lot if we knew what you were going to be doing in Africa and for how long.
  10. Rent.
  11. I have a friend who was on safari in the Serengeti a couple of years ago, and he got some absolutely stunning images. The funny thing is that, while he had the 100-400 (on a crop body), since he was so close to the wildlife so much of the time, he claims that he didn't need that much reach. In fact, he said that a 70-200 (or 70-300) would have served him perfectly well.
  12. If you're going to rent, which is a great option, I would recommend you extend the rental to a number of days before your trip, as you will want to get used to the equipment and will want to check it out to make sure it's working correctly. (Or, possibly, renting for a short time this summer, and the again for the trip.) If something is wrong you'll need time to either get a different lens or a replacement. If you've never shot with a lens beyond 250mm before, you'll do yourself and your photographs a service by testing.
  13. If you can stretch your budget to $1000, the Tamron 150-600 is the lens to get. They are in short supply, but you'll get one by the time you leave (hopefully much sooner).
    The best 70-300 is the Tamron, and it's in your budget. Quality is better then the 55-250.
    I can't think of any lens over 300mm and under $500 that's really worth buying, even used.
    You certainly want something shorter too, even if only the 18-55 kit lens.
  14. Rent!
    Rent a camera too.
  15. Agreed that your situation cries out for renting, unless this is a loooooong safari. Also agree that getting the lens ahead of time and learning a bit how to get the most out of it would help. By the time you go, is supposed to have the new Tamron 150-600mm (the say they'll get it July 3), and even a 30-day rental with their full insurance ("Lenscap+") would only cost $258 + probably $25 for two-way shipping, so for $283 you'd get to use the best zoom-lens option. In terms of what they have today, the Canon 100-400mm would be a useful upgrade, and would cost $227+ probably $25 for two-way shipping. Yes, there are prime (non-zoom) lenses that are better, and could be rented, but I think you want one less to be your main lens, so a zoom lens is much more flexible.
    If you insist on buying, you should be able to get a good used example of the old Tamron 200-500mm from KEH for under $500. I can't think of any new lens that would be a worthwhile upgrade over your 55-250mm and cost $500 or less.
  16. Look for a bargain used lens. 100-400L is nice but I doubt you could find one for $500 used unless you get real lucky. I agree the 75-300 is not much more reach than you already have and it would be a shame to blow money for an extra 50mm. I recommend saving up a bit more to get a lens with more reach if you can't find a bargain now.
  17. I'd recommend going with the superzoom as Jos and Rob suggested. Do some searching there are some fantastic bird and other pics taken with those cameras.
    No disrespect intended, but it seems like you're not that much into photography based on your current equipment. The 100-400 or similar as recommended can be intimidating for someone not used to it. Also, not sure of your age or physical condition, but in my 50's I find that I appreciate the light weight and portability of my G series or u4/3 bodies, which almost always outweighs the slight increase in image quality with my dslrs and white lenses for trips, especially if air travel is involved.
  18. There are two issues. One is the focal length, but the other is amount of available light. Much of the best animal viewing occurs at dawn or sunset. So you want a long fast lens and a camera body that supports high image quality at higher ISO. Due to cost considerations, rental is an excellent suggestion. I also have used many times with excellent service.
  19. There are other issues as well. If you want to know how I thought about solutions, you can visit my blog about my trip to Africa
    Not necessarily the best solutions, but it worked well for me.
  20. I second the suggestion to rent. I have several great Canon lenses, but my longest is 200mm. On a trip to Yellowstone, I rented the 100-400 from Their service was great, and the price was very affordable for a 1 1/2 week trip. I am awaiting the same lens to arrive from them for an upcoming trip to Alaska. I works well with a tripod but also has IS and works fine without one if necessary. For a 10 day rental I am paying somewhere around $100, but I am not sure about the cost to take it overseas.

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