Safari Lens

Discussion in 'Travel' started by robert_dare, Jun 20, 2009.

  1. Hello all,
    I'm preparing for a week spent in Kruger National Park and want to purchase an appropriate lens for my Canon 40D.
    I'm at a toss up between the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM and the Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS USM.
    Of course, for a Safari, the extra range of the 100-400 would seem to have an advantage, but I've heard conflicing reports on its image quality. The 70-200 seems to offer higher image quality, and is also a faster lens (thereby making it a more versatile addition to my kit).
    So, keeping in mind that the crop factor of of the 40D makes the 70-200 a 112-320, would I be well-served with the 70-200 and higher image quality? Or do I really need the extra coverage of the 100-400 (which would be 160-640 on my camera)?
  2. I just returned three weeks ago from two weeks on safari in Botswana. We went out in Land Rovers and looked for the animals. We were generally able to get quite close in these vehicles, and the animals appeared to be almost completely untroubled by our presence. I had with me two 40D's; one with a 24-105mm lens, and the other with the 100-400 lens. I took probably 90% of my shots with the 100-400 setup, and it served almost perfectly. A few times, especially with elephants, I needed the 24-105, and a few times, with birds and small game, I could have used at least a 500, preferably with a tripod. On the whole, though, between the lens IS and raising my ISO setting, the 100-400 did nearly everything beautifully.
    I also own the 70-200 f2.8 lens, so I know what it is capable of, but the 100-400 did very well for me, especially when I did my part in focussing carefully and using good technique in general. It is not quite as sharp as the 70-200, but it did the job. For the safari I went on, the 100-400 was ideal, and I recommend it highly.
  3. On safari, I rarely shot over 200mm back when on a 35mm camera, but if I were you I'd get the 100-400. That little bit of extra reach would be really fine if you need it, & the lens (link ) is good otherwise. You'll probably be shooting most of the time from a vehicle, so size and weight are not a major deciding point. There's almost always plenty of light, and it's better to have a somewhat noisy picture of the hyena at night, than to have no picture, so crank up the ISO when you need to. It's there, so use it.
    However, if you were going to Treetops or somewhere else where there is a lot of night-time shooting, maybe after all consider the f/2.8 (link )-as you say, on a 40D you're getting a fairly good long end anyway.
    My personal choice would still be the 100-400, however.
  4. I was there a hear and a half ago and in my opinion you will need 2 cameras, one with a shorter focal length zoom (28-70) and the longest lens you can afford (300-500). Yes the jeeps do get you much closer to the animals than you would think, but some animals are much more dangerous and/or are skiddish and you can't get very close so you need to be prepared for both situations at all times. I was 30 feet from a mother lion and her 6 cubs and my 70-200 was perfect to fill the frame. Also works for elephants. However the jeep will not get that close to rhinos, hippos, springbock, etc. I shoot Nikon but the crop factor is about the same. You might want to look into renting a 300 which is much sharper than a 100-400 zoom. But you really would be best prepared with 2 bodies so you have shorter, wider angle on one and a very long telephoto on the other.
  5. Hi Robert..... The Kruger used to be my old stamping ground about 10 years ago. Yes I would take 2 cameras and as Brad says, the longest lens you can afford. I use a 70-300 on my Sony Alpha plus a matched 2x converter. Also pop a polarising filter in your bag as the light there can be quite bright and it may help to get some definition in the sky.
    A slight drawback with the Kruger is that unlike other less frequented reserves, one can't always get close in to the animals... one is mainly restricted to a network of tar roads so you could well use the long lens... alot. Might I suggest you take a monopod too, unless your camera has a built in anti camera shake (like the Sony).
    Sept. last year I returned to Africa with my Aussie partner, just to do some reserves, and whilst we didn't go to Kruger we did have some awesome sightings in the reserve we went to. Just to whett your appitite, you may like to look at my gallery/presentations.
    Have a great trip and I look forward to you posting your shots when you return home.
  6. Years ago I was in Tanzania and the 100-300 on a film camera worked well for all but a few situations. Often we were very close to the animals. (close enough to think about changing to the 28-105)
    Also, think about getting a nice beanbag. I used a monopod, but a beanbag would have been easier.
  7. You'll need every bit of reach you can get. I took the 100-400 with me to Tanzania a couple of years ago on a 20D and for the most part it was enough. I think topping out at 200mm would be too short in many situations. Many times we were able to get quite close to the animals, but not always. As for IQ, in my experience the 100-400 delivers fine quality - I've printed the photos I took on safari up to 12 x 18 and the detail is quite impressive. Also in my experience, the 100-400 doesn't cause any more sensor dust than any other lens.
  8. "Also, think about getting a nice beanbag."
    Make your own. Fill a few socks of various sizes with dry beans, pasta or anything else you can think of. Sew it up and presto! your own bean bag.
  9. The 100-400 definitely, because you need the range. It is a good lens and certainly sharp enough. With plenty of light overthere, you do not need the f2.8. The photo's I took in Tanzania were 95 % of the time with the 100-400.

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