A Site for Photographers by Photographers

Community > Forums > Travel > Africa > Nikon lens for safari in...

Featured Equipment Deals

Placing a Flower Photo on a Background Read More

Placing a Flower Photo on a Background

Harold Davis, photographer, author, and print master, shares with you how to create a piece of fine art by placing a flower on a background.

Latest Equipment Articles

4 Outdoor & Adventure Photo Packs Read More

4 Outdoor & Adventure Photo Packs

Photo packs have come a long way in the past decade, especially those that are targeted toward outdoor and adventure photographers. Alaska-based adventure photographer Dan Bailey takes a closer look...

Latest Learning Articles

5 Tips for Combating Red-Eye Read More

5 Tips for Combating Red-Eye

Red-eye doesn't have to ruin your photos. Learn 5 simple tricks to avoid and eliminate this undesirable photographic effect.


Nikon lens for safari in africa

Rachel Gooley , Jan 31, 2010; 02:48 a.m.

I have a nikon D50 and want to know what lens ppl would recommend for travel photography, in particular, for wildlife photography?
I've been recommended the Nikon 70-300 F4.5-5.6G VR IF ED lens.
On the cheaper side, what about the Nikon AF-S DX VR 55-200mm?
I'm not convinced how much money I want to spend yet but up to $1000 is ok.

Any advice is much appreciated!

Responses


    1   |   2     Next    Last

Hector Javkin , Jan 31, 2010; 03:53 a.m.

I have a D50 (also a D90) and a Nikon 70-300 f/5.6 VR IF ED. It's an excellent lens, lightweight, but built well enough, and handles very well with a D50. There's a discussion about it here on photo.net which contains two of my photos taken with it. The second of those was taken with a D50. For a safari, I would strongly recommend the 70-300 VR over the 55-200 VR. Even if the build of the two lenses were the same, and they're not -- the 70-300mm is better -- the extra 100mm of focal length will be very useful.

In fact, you might want more than 300mm, which isn't available new in Nikon in your price range. One possibility would be the Sigma 120-400mm OS (Sigma's term for VR) which many people seem to like, except for its heavy weight. It's available for about $900 at B&H. I don't have experience with this lens.

The other concern about the 70-300mm VR is its relatively small aperture of f5.6 at the long end. Within your price range, you can't do better at these focal lengths. However, you might want to make sure to have a lens of 50mm or so with at least an f/1.8 aperture for shooting in low light.

Finally, avoid the 70-300 non-VR. You will want VR for your trip, and the non-VR version isn't nearly as good optically. Have a great trip.

James Youngman , Jan 31, 2010; 09:27 a.m.

I found the 120-400 disappointing from a quality point of view. I think my technique probably just wasn't up to dealing with the focal length (despite the fact that I was using a bean-bag with the lens OS turned on).
However, there are lots of kinds of wildlife photography, and many of them require different lenses. For example contrast the requirements of wild bird photography with those of, say giraffes or buffalo.

Hector Javkin , Jan 31, 2010; 05:11 p.m.

James, I wonder if you could post a bit more detail about the Sigma 120-400mm, your shooting conditions, etc. It might be helpful to Rachel (our job in this post) and also to me, since I keep thinking of getting a little more reach. Were you using the bean bag on a vehicle window, or low to the ground, etc. Any details, plus maybe an image, might be helpful.

Julie Roggow , Jan 31, 2010; 10:44 p.m.

To recommend which lenses would be better, it would be helpful to know what country you are going to visit in Africa and in what month. I've been to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania. I'd be happy to provide you with photo and equipment suggestions if you could provide more information.
Julie

Michael Huizenga , Feb 02, 2010; 07:16 p.m.

Four years ago, I used a Nikkor 70-300 ED on my F100 film camera on a photo safari in Tanzania. The lens was a bit short occasionally, but otherwise worked very well. This was with Fuji 200 color film. I later bought a D50 as my first digital, and the lens worked quite nicely with that camera too. Since you can shoot pretty safely up to 800 ISO with it, I think that lens would work very well. Of course, it is no longer in production, so you would have to check fleabay or something similar. With your DX format, it would work out to a 105-450mm lens.

Dave Hutchinson , Feb 04, 2010; 05:17 p.m.

I have photographed on safari three times in southern Africa over the last 5 years (South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Kenya. Carrying the right equipment to Africa is always a challenge since you want the longest, fastest lens that you can afford for the animals yet you still need a wide angle for the people shots and photos around the camp. I don't think that the 70-300 is long enough or fast enough. For the animals I have taken my Nikon 80-400mm lens on all trips. Frankly, I don't think that this is the best lens for wildlife. It isn't very fast either, but I still managed to come home with some nice photos. Many of my photos are at my site, www.CrazyAboutTravel.com . For my close and wide angle shots I most recently took my Nikon 17-55mm 2.8 lens. This lens is wonderful for this type of photography. I don't own a Nikon 500mm f/4 which I think would be the ideal wildlife lens, but then again getting that lens on the plane would probably be impossible. More recently I have purchased a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 and a Nikon 200-400mm f/4. The 70-200mm might be great when used with a 1.4 - 2.0 teleconverter. Of course, the 200-400mm would be ideal, but weight gets in the way again. We are trying to put together a trip to Namibia in the next couple of years so I will be visiting this topic again.

J K Ruth , Feb 05, 2010; 10:57 p.m.

What lenses do you already have? I would say the 70-300VR is probably the best you are going to do under $1000. It would be nice to have a faster lens, but I have found the VR extremely handy when riding arond in safari vehicles. You can never have a long enough or fast enough lens in Africa, but for your price range I think you should definitely be able to get some excellent shots with the 70-300VR.
Make sure to take atleast one other lens (a wide angle). Africa offers so beautiful landscapes to shoot. I fast prime (like the 35mm or50mm 1.8) would come in hand as well. I would also recommend a monopod for keeping the lens as steady as possible. Hope this helps

Richard Crowe , Feb 06, 2010; 12:31 p.m.

I am a Canon shooter so I can really offer you no insight regarding Nikon glass but, I can offer a tip which is cross-brand. I would never spend a lot of money traveling to a photogenic location (especially not a once in a lifetime trip) without a second body as a back-up.
I traveled to Alaska's Kenai Peninsula for ten days in 2008 and fell on a slippery slope during the first day of shooting. I creamed my Canon 40D camera but, since I had a 30D as my second camera, I did not lose the chance to photograph for the rest of my trip.
A secondary but, equally important, aspect of a second camera is that you can have a second focal length lens available without having to take the time to switch lenses in the field. The minimizing of lens switching in the field can also serve to protect your camera's sensor from dust and grit.
Another piece of advice. I always travel with an OPTECH Rain Sleeve for each camera. The sleeves are very inexpensive and weigh next to nothing. Although you will probably not experience rain (I doubt that they schedule safaris during the rainy season) the Rain Sleeve will do a great job protecting your camera from dust and grit blowing in the air. I am in the habit of carrying Rain Sleeves wherever I go to photograph.
http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=rain+sleeve&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=2827335531&ref=pd_sl_7qyx452wz4_b

Richard Crowe , Feb 06, 2010; 12:32 p.m.

I am a Canon shooter so I can really offer you no insight regarding Nikon glass but, I can offer a tip which is cross-brand. I would never spend a lot of money traveling to a photogenic location (especially not a once in a lifetime trip) without a second body as a back-up.
I traveled to Alaska's Kenai Peninsula for ten days in 2008 and fell on a slippery slope during the first day of shooting. I creamed my Canon 40D camera but, since I had a 30D as my second camera, I did not lose the chance to photograph for the rest of my trip.
A secondary but, equally important, aspect of a second camera is that you can have a second focal length lens available without having to take the time to switch lenses in the field. The minimizing of lens switching in the field can also serve to protect your camera's sensor from dust and grit.
Another piece of advice. I always travel with an OPTECH Rain Sleeve for each camera. The sleeves are very inexpensive and weigh next to nothing. Although you will probably not experience rain (I doubt that they schedule safaris during the rainy season) the Rain Sleeve will do a great job protecting your camera from dust and grit blowing in the air. I am in the habit of carrying Rain Sleeves wherever I go to photograph.
http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=rain+sleeve&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=2827335531&ref=pd_sl_7qyx452wz4_b


    1   |   2     Next    Last

Back to top

Notify me of Responses