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Africa is truly wild with abundant wildlife and beautiful landscapes that is ideal for unforgettable African safari experiences or for somebody looking for a photographic safari. It is important to bring the right equipment if you are planning to capture those memorable moments of your African safari. It was during my first safari in Botswana 14 years ago that I learned the importance of having the right camera gear.
African safaris sometimes involve flying to remote locations in small planes that usually have a weight limit for bags, so packing light is key. However, bringing a point and shoot camera to save weight will not do justice to your subject matter.
You have invested in your African safari so you should make sure that you have the right camera gear. Safari vehicles may take you close to wildlife but will maintain a respectful distance. Therefore, carrying a combination of two fast zoom lenses would be ideal: one wide angle to medium telephoto (up to 135mm), and one super telephoto (300mm and over) with Vibration Reduction / Image Stabilizing technology. Lenses don’t come cheap so I highly recommended using highly quality UV Filters to protect your lenses.
If possible, carry two fast DSLR or interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera bodies with high ISO sensitivities — one for wide angle to medium telephoto, and one long, about 300mm and over. Having two cameras will allow you to quickly switch between short and long lenses and avoid changing lenses in a dusty environment – prevent risk dust invading your sensors, and provide backup in case a camera break. Also consider bringing a GoPro with a mount for the safari vehicle. Before the trip, familiarize yourself with the basic functions of the camera and practice your focal skills.
Buy the correct power plug adapter for the country you are visiting. Bring extra batteries and more memory cards than you think you’ll need. Always shoot in RAW format or RAW + JPEG. RAW files will give you more flexibility in post processing. Do not forget to bring a good lens cleaning kit with a Rocket blower.
A monopod or a bean bag will be needed to stabilize your camera kit for sharper images. A tripod may be impractical since most of your photography on safari will be done from inside a vehicle. However, bring a compact tripod if you are into star photography. Buy a poncho that you can quickly use to cover yourself and your gear.
Invest in a light sturdy camera bag that is right for you and your camera gear - keeping in mind the weight restrictions on flights. NEVER check any valuable item (including photographic equipment) on scheduled flights.
Lastly, patience is key and it always pays off in wildlife photography.
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