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PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT

Any modern digital camera that's been released in the last decade is capable of taking excellent photos. As much as people focus on the gear and kit, it's imperative to understand that you do not need to buy the most expensive camera in order to take good pictures whilst on your African safari.

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BRIDGE CAMERA

A bridge camera is essentially an all-in-one piece of kit, where the lens is undetachable and often offers a large zoom range. They're small, lightweight and easy to use, offering a lot of functions and usability at the fraction of a price of what most gear costs. The cons? Image quality isn't as great and battery life tends to dissapear quickly - but these are small cons for the sheer amount they offer.

Recommended for those wanting to get into photography, on a budget or going on long travels where weight and size is a factor.

Who Is This For?

Beginners or extensive travellers

Where Is This Best?

The versatility means it's useful anywhere

How Much?

A modern bridge costs between £300 and £600

DSLR / MIRRORLESS

Whether it's an old hand-me-down DSLR or a brand new Mirrorless fresh out of the factory, a digital camera is essential in order to get the most out of your African safari.

Whilst the brand is mainly irrelevant as they all do the same thing, unfortunately not all models are born equal and the more the camera gives you - the more it's going to cost. It's important to check things like sensor size (full frame or cropped sensor), frames per second speed, megapixel count and dynamic range capabilities - but don't get bogged down in comparing low-end to high-end models. Make sure you have a budget set in place and, if you can, visit a camera store to hold one and see how it feels in your hands. 

If you[re able to, consider bringing two bodies. Safari travel can be tough on cameras and switching lenses in the field is can result in dust damage or missed opportunities. It's quicker and easier to switch to a different camera that's already setup with a different lens - but also if your primary camera becomes damaged or stops working, you will have a backup.

Who Is This For?

Enthusiasts to Pros

Where Is This Best?

The versatility means it's useful anywhere

How Much?

Anywhere from £400 to over £6,000

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ZOOM LENSES

Zoom lenses offer fantastic versatility, but can range drastically in focal range as well as their price tag. The standard kit lens, usually an 18-55mm, is a great introductory lens that usually comes with the camera body as part of a bundle deal. These small and cheap lenses are fantastic to start off with as they offer wide enough views to fit in wide landscape scenery, but can also zoom in for some dramatic and intimate portraiture.

For those wanting a bit more out of their glass, a 24-70 f4 or f2.8 are world-renowned for their productivity and are always found in the bag, if not on the camera, of most professional photographers. Although more expensive, the f2.8 is the ideal candidate for it's low-light capabilities.

A lens with this kind of focal range often comes in handy on a safari for when animals come close to the vehicle and our longer telephoto lenses no longer serve the same purpose they once did. Also fantastic for portraits and group shots of travel companions as well as photographing the landscapes, sunsets and night skies.

Who Is This For?

Enthusiasts to pros

Where Is This Best?

The versatility means it's useful anywhere

How Much?

Between £150 and £2,500

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TELEPHOTO ZOOM LENSES

One of the most popular, if not THE most popular opton, for wildlife photography is without doubt the telephoto zoom lens - offering great versatility and manoeuvrability.

One of the most popular is the 70-200 f2.8, which offers good reach and versatility, but most importantly offers great low-light performance for those animals that like to be active during the twilight hours.

Lenses like a 100-400 or a 200-600 are worth their weight in gold. Whilst they sacrifice a wide aperture and a bit of image quality, the durability and productivity of these lenses are unmatched. Whilst certainly not light, they're mostly hand-holdable and not too big - meaning you can be quick to raise and track your subject.

Who Is This For?

Enthusiasts to pros

Where Is This Best?

The versatility means it's useful anywhere

How Much?

A modern bridge costs between £600 and £3,000

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TELEPHOTO PRIME LENSES

Prime lenses, meaning fixed focal lengths that don't zoom, offer the very best in terms of image quality and speed. Low apertures like f2.8 and f4 are the norm, but you're going to notice this is offset by the size and weight of these pieces of glass. These are often very big and heavy lenses that most will require a monopod or some sort of stabiliser to help with.

Being a fixed aperture means versatility is out the window - so these are lenses that are best used in hides / blinds (in particular for birds) and in large open spaces like in Amboseli or Mara North - where there's maximum clearance between you and the subject.

Who Is This For?

Enthusiasts to pros

Where Is This Best?

Open landscapes such as Mara North and Amboseli

How Much?

Between £5,000 and £20,000

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EXTENDERS

Extenders are a relatively cheap and convenient way of enhancing your telephoto capability. But using them to increase focal length comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. The 1.4x Extender causes a decrease of one stop in the maximum aperture of the lens, while the 2x Extender causes a loss of two stops.

Who Is This For?

Enthusiasts looking for extra reach

Where Is This Best?

On fast lenses, such as a 70-200 f2.8

How Much?

From £200 to £800 magnification depending

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BASIC CLEANING

Have a small kit for blowing dust off and keeping your gear clean in the rugged and often dusty environments. You don't need to go too fancy or buy too much, as a simple air-blower, lens cloth and dust brush will do most the work for you.

A multitool is often handy to keep as well (although make sure NOT to pack this in hand luggage)

Who Is This For?

Absolutely everyone

Where Is This Best?

Absolutely everywhere

How Much?

£10 - £50

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SMART PHONE

Don't be fooled out of it. Your smartphone is your best friend when it comes to most aspects of your life, and it's no different on a safari. Sometimes you don't have the luxury of packing a second camera body, nor have the time to switch lenses - so what do we do? We pickup the phone.

For snapshots, social media videos and just a stress-free way of quickly and effortlessly capturing the moment - phones are hard to beat.

Who Is This For?

Absolutely everyone

Where Is This Best?

Absolutely everywhere

How Much?

With a good camera, £500 - £1,000

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CAMERA BACKPACK

A good camera-bag is not something you want to go cheap on or disregard entirely. Not only are these bags designed specifically to take care of your gear, but they're also great at being general travel bags with the ability to hold plenty of other accessories and gear.

It's definitely worth noting that you should NEVER check-in any camera gear or valuable accessory when flying. Anything of value should be carried with you at all times, so what camera bag you decide to end up buying - first and foremost - should be able to hold all of your needed equipment. Now, having said that - don't fall into the trap into thinking this bag needs to hold ALL of your equipment, as over time that library of lenses and multiple bodies will no doubt increase. Instead, have a bag that represents your photo safari needs - whilst it needs to hold alot, you're ultimately always going to be restricted by size and weight (especially with small flights) - so use this bag to help you plan carefully.

Who Is This For?

Absolutely everyone

Where Is This Best?

Absolutely everywhere

How Much?

Anywhere from £100 - £500 size depending

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STABILITY AND SUPPORT

You may find yourself wanting to invest in a form of support for your camera, and usually for one of two reasons. If you're wanting to accomplish long exposures for the likes of low light, landscape and astrophotography - then a good sturdy tripod is definitely recommended. Make sure to invest in a sturdy and strong product, as you don't want to risk your valuable camera and lens with a cheap and lightweight tripod.

 

Sometimes you simply need help in supporting the weight of a heavy lens, in which case consider getting either a monopod or beanbag. Bean bags are lightweight and easy to pack, can be filled when your'e at your destination with stones or rice, and are great for taking the brunt of the weight off you. Monopods are a bit fiddlier, but are often extended and deployed between your own legs and adjusted so that the camera is at eye level.

Who Is This For?

Enthusiasts

Where Is This Best?

For supporting heavy equipment and long exposures

How Much?

£10 - £500

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MEMORY CARDS

Needless to say that a camera is pretty useless without a memory card inserted. We can't recommend buying enough of these, but don't go cheap - make sure to spend wisely and choose a reputable brand such as Sandisk and that it not only has a decent amount of storage but also has a fast transfer speed in order to handle the amount of data you'll be sending its way.

BATTERIES AND CHARGER

Make sure to bring a minimum of two spare batteries out with you, preferably more if using a Mirrorless system. You don't want to be caught out in the middle of a safari with no juice to power your camera. It's also worth advising to look into dual-charging docks so you can charge more than one battery at once - a real time saver!

POWER ADAPTOR

A well experienced traveller will say you never travel abroad without a power strip or adaptor. This way you can charge multiple devices from one wall-socket and you only need to carry one adaptor. There's some rally great compact designs that offer multiple plugs and even come with USB charging - ideal for multiple accessories. Make sure you bring the right power adaptor for the country you're visiting.

PORTABLE HARD DRIVES

It's recommended you try and backup your photos atleast every day, if not after every game drive, and like with the memory cards - don't go cheap. These are the devices that are looking after your prized possessions after all!

Reputable brands are the way to go with Samsung, Lacie and Sandisk proving very reliable and worth every penny. For extra speed and security, it's worth looking into SSD drives as they're also smaller and easier to pack - and no moving components means they're more durable. We recommend looking for at anything from 1TB upwards, as you'd rather have more space available to you than too little!

LAPTOP

Not everyone wants to lug a laptop and the needed cables and accessories on safari, that's perfectly understandable. However, we do recommend considering it - at least from a backing up standpoint to make sure all your images are safely transferred. It also gives you the opportunity to reflect back on current images and learn from what you're doing to develop and try new things for future activities.

Editing and Lightroom tuition is also a lot easier when conducted on the machine you plan to use and understand - so having Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop downloaded and installed is also highly recommended in order for you to get the most out of your photo safari.

It's also worth noting that, depending on what memory cards your camera uses, you may also need to bring a specific card reader - as most laptops only have SD card slots.

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FILTERS

Polarizer, neutral density, and haze filters can sometimes be helpful, but only if you are accustomed to using them. Keep in mind the more glass you put in front of your sensor, the more detail and clarity you lose in your image - so if you wish to invest in some filters, make sure they're good quality.

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FLASHGUN

Flash photography is usually frowned upon on safari - especially when on a photographic safari. As such, we don't allow any flash photography on our trips for the main reason is that it can negatively affect the animals we're with. At night we tend to use spotlights, so additional lighting will be available.

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DRONES

Drones are not allowed in the national parks or reserves that we visit while on safari. The consequences of breaking these no-fly zones are severe and can lead to the pilot being fined, arrested and their equipment seized by authorities. As such, it's probably best to leave it safe and sound back at home.

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