Best camera for safari

Best Camera & Lens for Safari in Africa

In Africa, PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS, Travel Gear by JurgaThis post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. More info: Disclosure.

Are you planning a trip to Africa and wondering what’s the best camera for safari or what lens to get for safari photography? In this post, you can read some suggestions for camera equipment to take on safari in Africa.

We cover some of the best cameras and lenses for safari photography. In addition, you can find some general tips for safari photography. Find out!

There are so many cameras and lenses that you can use for safari photography; it’s impossible to cover them all. In this post, I am sharing some general tips that you should know when choosing a camera and lenses for your safari trip. At the bottom of the post you can also find my personal recommendations for the best cameras, lenses, and also tripods for wildlife photography. Find out!

If you need more information about what to wear on safari in Africa, you can read more in my post that tells you all you need to know for your first safari in Africa.

Best cameras for safari and lenses for wildlife photography

Best camera and lens for safari

We visited Africa several times and have been on numerous safaris. Watching other tourists taking pictures of the animals is often more entertaining than the safari ride itself. People use every imaginable type of camera on safari. You see smartphones, tablets, but also 10kg half a meter long lenses which are impossible to hold still and are therefore pretty much useless on safari rides…

If you are a professional photographer going to Africa in order to photograph animals, then this post is not for you. If you don’t care about the pictures and only go on safari for the experience – then this post is not for you either.

This post is for hobby photographers who are going on safari and hoping to take at least a couple of decent quality pictures to bring home as a memory of this amazing experience.

Before I continue with what kind of camera equipment you best take on safari in Africa, there are a couple of things you should know. Read on!

What to know about taking pictures of animals on safari

  • You cannot take good safari pictures with a smartphone, a tablet or a pocket camera. You just can’t, believe me.
  • The chances of you getting a National Geographic – like close-up high-quality image of a hunting leopard in action are close to zero.
  • You can take good quality pictures of safari animals even if you are not a pro. But you’ll need good equipment and it helps if you can learn a few basic photography techniques. As a minimum, you need one of the two, so if you don’t know much about photography, you definitely need a good camera and a decent lens.

If you don’t own a good camera yet, a trip to Africa is the perfect excuse to get one. Come on, you are going to spend thousands of dollars to go on a once-in-a-lifetime safari trip to Africa and take a pocket camera with you? Really? You’ll regret it the first day, take my word for it.

And no, your latest iPhone won’t do the job either. You may use it to photograph landscapes or a herd of zebras in a distance, but it will be completely useless for photographing moving animals (and they do move, they always do).

TIP: If you don’t feel like getting a DSLR camera for safari and having to change lenses, take a look at some of the best point-and-shoot cameras available at the moment. Technology doesn’t stand still and there are some really good cameras with amazing zoom possibilities that might be perfect for your needs. Some examples are Nikon Coolpix P1000 or more budget-friendly choices like Canon Powershot SX70 and Panasonic Lumix FZ1000.

Jumping springbok antelope in Africa
It took a very good camera and lots of luck to get a decent shot of a jumping springbok

Tips for choosing the best camera and lens for safari

I’m not going to go into too much detail about all kinds of different camera brands and models as there are so many of them available with new ones coming out all the time. You can find a few suggestions based on your budget below, but this is what you definitely should know about the best camera for a safari in Africa.

  • You need a digital SRL camera to take on safari in Africa. What you need, basically, is a camera that focuses fast and takes a picture the moment you press the shutter and not a second later.
  • You need a good telephoto zoom lens with a reach of at least 200mm to photograph safari animals. There will be moments you wish you had a 500mm with you, but in my view, it’s just not worth the price and the weight to carry a lens like that if you are not a professional photographer.
  • You need a wider lens for photographing landscapes, which are often just as interesting as the animals. I use 24-70mm as my main lens when we travel, also in Africa. If you like really wide landscape pictures, you may want an even wider lens, like 16-35mm (my new favorite) or 17-40mm. If you have a regular DSRL camera without the full-frame sensor, you’ll probably need a lens of at least 18-55mm for regular landscape shots and one from 10-18mm for wide-angle photography.
  •  You may want to take a second (cheaper) camera for photographing landscapes so that you don’t have to change lenses all the time when you are on safari.
  • Consider taking a tripod to photograph animals in low-light conditions (morning or evening) at the waterholes.
  • Take enough batteries and memory cards when traveling to Africa – at least twice as much as for a regular trip. Charging batteries might not always be possible (certainly if you are camping) and you won’t find many places selling batteries or memory cards in the middle of the Kruger National Park or the Kalahari desert.
Best camera equipment for safari in Africa

What camera to pack for safari

As I said before, this post is not for professional photographers, but rather for regular tourists. Also for photography enthusiasts traveling to Africa and hoping to get a few decent shots of safari animals.

Below you’ll find a few suggestions on what camera and lenses to take on safari.

I’m going to focus on Canon cameras and lenses as this is what I use and know best.

Best-buy cameras for safari in Africa

If you are looking for a decent camera for your trips, but don’t want to spend a fortune on it, you should consider the cheapest DSLR cameras available.

At Canon, it would be the Canon EOS Rebel series. Often you can get a kit (camera + lenses + accessories) for around 500-600 USD. If you don’t know much about photography and just want good pictures without too much effort this camera is just right for you.

Why not just buy a point-and-shoot model? As already said, you do need fast autofocus and a good lens in order to get decent pictures of safari animals. This camera will take care of that. And if you want to learn a bit more about photography, these cheaper DSLRs are perfect to start.

Mid-range safari camera

If you are looking for more possibilities and even better pictures and don’t mind spending a bit more money, Canon EOS 80D might be a good option for you. This kind of camera is great for photography enthusiasts looking for a good price-quality camera to improve their photography skills.

The perfect camera for safari and general travel photography

Probably the best price/quality cameras for those who are serious about travel photography are Canon EOS 7D and Canon EOS 6D series. If you want great quality pictures and use your camera on a very regular basis, then look no further. These cameras won’t disappoint you.

Reflections of two giraffes at Okaukejo waterhole at sunset
You definitely need a tripod to photograph animals in low light

Best lenses for safari

Consider investing in one or two really good lenses if you are somewhat serious about photography.

Standard EFS lenses from Canon are ok with the cheapest DSLR cameras and will do the job for occasional travel photography, but if you can afford it, get the best lens you can and rather save on the camera.

I started out with the cheapest DSLR some 10 years ago, but immediately bought two very good lenses (Canon L 24-70 f2.8 and Canon L 70-200 f4 IS USM). I’ve switched 3 cameras by now, but these two lenses still do the perfect job and are my most used lenses. I couldn’t have used the cheaper EFS lenses on the camera I own now…

It’s a big investment in the beginning, but the quality is worth it. On top of that, the good lenses keep their value and you can usually resell them at a good price later if you decide that photography is not for you.

As already mentioned, you need a good telephoto lens with a reach of at least 200mm in order to photograph safari animals. Preferably 300mm or even more if you can justify the cost and the weight. I use the Canon L series lenses, but there are plenty of cheaper alternatives from Canon, but also from Sigma or Tamron. Just make sure they fit the camera you have as these brands have the same range lenses for many different brands, including Canon and Nikon.

Close-up of a lioness in South Africa
You need a good telephoto lens for close-ups of the animals

Best budget lens for safari

You can buy a good beginner’s lens for wildlife photography for $100-200. Canon has a 75-300mm f/4-5.6 or you can get a similar lens from Tamron – AF 75-300mm f/4-5.6.

Mid-range safari lens

There is a lot of choice of good telephoto lenses for safari in the mid-range budget. Some good examples are Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM or Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM.

You can even choose a 2-in-1 solution – a lens that is wide enough for landscapes, but also has a telephoto zoom for animals. Here are a couple of good examples: Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS or Tamron 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3.

Best quality lenses for safari photography

The best lenses for wildlife photography will quickly cost you over $1000. As I said, it’s an investment and these lenses will do a great job for many years. However, if you only need a camera and tele lenses for this one safari trip to Africa, then it’s a really expensive choice.

Probably one of the best safari lenses from Canon is the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. I personally find it a bit too heavy and too expensive to justify this purchase, but I still have to meet a photographer who doesn’t love this lens. I use a bit cheaper and lighter version – Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM.

A good alternative with a bit more reach is Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM. I have to admit that I had one of these, but didn’t love it. Maybe it was just one bad lens, because the reviews are really great.

Best tripods for safari trip

If you only have the smallest DSLR and don’t want to spend too much money, remember that any tripod is better than none. As long as it can hold the camera without falling over, of course. Otherwise, you better don’t use any. You can get a tripod for under $50 and it will probably do the job.

If you have a heavier camera and/or lens, the cheapest tripod is not going to be good enough. I use and recommend Manfrotto tripods, depending on the camera/ lens weight and your needs.

For travelers, I recommend Manfrotto carbon tripods since they weigh much less and are therefore more suitable when traveling. They are not cheap, but worth every cent. I had two different tripods before I got this one 6 years ago, and none of the previous ones lasted even two years. Manfrotto is in constant use and it’s still as good as new.

For traveling, I bought Manfrotto 494RC2 ball head since it’s so small and takes less space in my luggage. I now actually use this ball head at home too.

So, this is our guide to best safari cameras and lenses. I hope it helps you decide what camera and lens to pack for your trip to Africa and get some really good pictures on safari. Have a great trip!

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What camera to pack for safari in Africa. Complete guide to the best camera gear for wildlife photography.


  1. Hi there Jurga,
    I am going to Kruger National Park for the first time and I just bought the Canon deluxe kit eos rebel t7i with two lens one is EF-S 18-55 and EF-S 55-250 IS STM. I also bought one sd card 128 gb. I have very little knowledge on photography. My questions to you are, should I get another sd card and what lens should I use as I don’t want to be changing because I will probably miss that once in a life time great picture. Or do you have a recommendation on a different size lens?
    What is the best setting for a beginner to leave the camera on? Thank you so much for your help in this. Happy Journey’s

    1. Author

      Hi Irene, if you are a complete beginner in photography, then you’ll probably best leave it in automatic mode – in most cases, it will do the job. But you have to be careful with the built-in flash around the animals, if your camera has one… Otherwise, you have to switch it to Program (P) modus where you can turn off the flash and e.g. increase ISO value for photography in lower light. Try to google a few things like this, so you know how it works and what it does.
      If you use just one lens for the animals, then I’d go with the 55-250. I wouldn’t spend even more money for yet another better lens in your case.
      Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip and try to live in the moment rather than trying to photograph it all…

  2. Great article. Would you bring a Canon 100-400 F4.5-6.3 or the 70-200 f2.8. I have a Canon R and 7DM2



    1. Author

      Hi Vito, if you are taking two camera bodies, then take two lenses. If I were to choose, I’d go for the 70-200 2,8 – the picture quality is amazing and I find the 100-400 too big to deal with… But that’s just my personal preference and you might miss the 400 range at times… It’s really up to you.
      Enjoy the trip!

  3. Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic blog article and so helpful to help me decide which camera to pack for safari. Really looking forward to my safari experience and hope I can get some nice pictures as well.

    1. Author

      Glad to help, Rich. Enjoy your trip and try to just enjoy the moment rather than always striving to get the most perfect picture. Remember, it’s first and foremost about the experience!

  4. Great article with some good tips.

    Another tip: For the people that don’t want to BUY any lenses, in some countries (I am living in Portugal), there are shops (even online) where you can rent lenses (and even cameras and other equipment). As I probably won’t be using the lenses I will use for my safari very often, for a fraction of the price, you can have very good lenses for the time you need them.

    1. Author

      Hi Roar, yes, you can rent lenses in most countries indeed. But if you are going for a 2-4 week trip, it’s sometimes really costly. But yes, if you never need a lens after that, then it’s still much cheaper than buying a new one.
      Thanks for sharing your tip – I’m sure it will be useful to the other readers as well.
      Happy travels!

  5. Hi Jurga,
    Thank you for this post. We are going to Tanzania and I’ve been trying to figure out a balance between having a couple of lenses and their weight. Also what kind of camera bag to get. I have a backpack camera bag, but find it very cumbersome. Since we will be in a jeep most of the time, I don’t want to have to take it off my back and open it every time I want to change lenses.
    Any tips on camera bags?

  6. Can you also share a typical camera setting to take photos of animal in motion and still? As well as settings for taking animals in the morning and sunset where there is low light. Appreciate your help.

    1. Author

      Hi Noel, that’s so difficult to say. If it’s darker (morning, dusk), you will need to increase your ISO value (so, let’s say during the day you’ll use 100 or 200, but when it gets darker, you’ll need to adjust it) and it’s also best to have a lower aperture (lowest your lens will allow – so f2,8 or f4 for example). For moving animals, you can put your camera in shutter speed mode (Tv) and if it’s light enough, you can probably get some good shots at 1/60- 1/200 seconds, but it’s really a matter of trying. Otherwise, just leave the camera in Program (P) or Aperture (Av) mode and choose ‘High Speed Continuos’ setting instead of ‘Single Shooting’ – that way you make lots of pictures in a very short time and can then delete all the ones that aren’t good and just keep the best ones.
      Photography is all about light and all the camera settings depend on that. The good thing with digital cameras is that you can experiment as much as you like without it costing you more.

  7. Hi Jurga,
    What a great article! I read it twice to make sure I understand all the details 🙂
    I am going to Kenya on a safari and looking for a new camera. As I am new into photography I am doubting whether to go for a cheap DSLR with two lenses as described or go for a zoom camera. (Nikon d3500 versus Nikon p900). As I understood from the article I should go for the DSLR but in the comments I read that a point and shoot is also fine. So I am somewhat confused…

    1. Author

      Hi Maarten, this is a really difficult topic, as there are so many different cameras, lenses, and also people have different expectations.
      Of course, a DSLR and a very good lens will give you better pictures. Especially if you have several lenses and can use the one that fits the circumstances best. However, there are many people who just don’t want to carry a big camera and don’t want to deal with several lenses. In those cases, I do recommend a good point-and-shoot camera with a very strong zoom. Often, especially if you know how to use the camera and can adjust aperture and/or shutter speed as needed, you can get very good pictures with those cameras as well.
      I would consider what you are planning to use the camera/ lenses for and how comfortable are you with carrying a big heavy bag filled with camera gear. If you are ok with the weight, changing lenses, if photography is your hobby, and you want to use the camera for many other trips for years to come, then I’d go with a DSLR and a few really good lenses (they are the best investment – I changed so many cameras, but my expensive lenses are still doing a great job in more than 15 years of very heavy use).
      If, however, you just want some pictures to share on social media or put in a family album, don’t want to spend too much money, and will only use the camera for this one trip and maybe very occasionally after that, then it probably makes little sense to invest in an expensive DSLR. Especially, if you don’t want to change lenses or carry heavy weight…
      So it’s really a very personal decision based on what you will use the camera for, how much money you want to spend on it, and – I can’t stress this enough – the ease of use and weight are also very important for many people. So take that into account as well.
      Good luck and enjoy your trip!

      1. Thanks for your reply Jurga!
        I went for the dslr! I have to learn a lot, but am looking forward to it!

  8. HI,
    I’m going next week to kruger park (my first safari) and I have aquestion that I hope you can answer. I will take the canon 5D and 70+200 l 2.8. I will borrow from a freind the 2.0 extensions (L from canon). I don’t want to change the lenses during the safari because of the dust (!). Is it worth trading the apperture (2,8 to 5,6) with the reach (200 to 400)?

    Paulo (from Portugal)

    1. Author

      I can’t really tell you that, Paulo. There will be situations when even 400mm will not be enough, and there will be situations where you wish you had f2,8… It’s always about compromises…
      Doesn’t your camera have a crop function that you can just choose in the settings? I have a 5Ds and can do that, but my older camera didn’t have that option. So maybe check that – it’s a good alternative if you aren’t sure as you can just crop on the camera itself, without having to change lenses or sacrifice on aperture…

      1. Thank you for your reply. Mine is a first generation 5D. Unfortunately doesn’t have the crop function.

  9. Jurga: In about 6 weeks my wife and I will take our first safari, in South Africa (August 2019). I’m at a loss as to what I should get for tele shots. I bought my first (and only) SLR in 1973. Lugging that relatively light Mamiya Sekor and its hefty, real glass Vivitar 70-210 macro-zoom (one of the first in the world, and a pretty good one) became too much of a burden on vacations. Now I carry a Canon “pro-sumer” G-5x with a 1″ CMOS sensor. But it does not allow for changing lenses, and tops out at 100mm. I guess I need to make a big step, but am resisting a dSLR because of bulk, weight and (re)learning curve. Here is my basic question: Is a long-reach, 20-60x semi-compact or compact Canon PowerShot a tolerable supplement to my very satisfactory G5 X? This is more than a money-saving hope (although it would be 1/2 to 1/5 the price of an EOS setup? The learning curve could be unworkable if controls are much different from Canon PowerShots (as would be Nikons, Sonys, etc.). I’m looking at the G3x with 1″ sensor, or the slim SX620 HS.

    1. Author

      Hi Bob, I understand exactly what you mean with bulky cameras and changing lenses, etc. In fact, just at about the same time you wrote this comment, someone else asked a similar question. You can see my suggestions for alternative cameras if you just check the comments below yours or click here to jump straight to it.
      Hope this helps.
      Enjoy your trip!

  10. Hi Jurga,
    We will be going to Southern Africa next summer and are already reading up on cameras and lenses. Your article really helps, thanks! We fit into your mold of “we don’t know much about photography and just want good pictures without too much effort.”
    In your article, you said we should consider the cheapest DSLR cameras available and, for Canon, it would be the Canon EOS Rebel series. When I looked at your link on Amazon, there are many, many models of this series. We’re not as worried about budget as we are about the quality of the pictures.
    For lenses, you recommend the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM. I’ve read about lenses that are more versatile (16-200mm) and you can just use the one lens, but I don’t want the picture quality to suffer.
    Soooo, my questions specifically for our African safari are:
    What would be your choice of the Canon EOS Rebel series for us to purchase considering picture quality, ease of use and weight?
    Should we purchase an additional “all-in-one” lens (16-18 to 200) or the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM?
    Thanks in advance for your help!

    1. Author

      Hi Lynn, from what I read, you’re basically looking for a good point-and-shoot camera with a powerful lens that doesn’t require you to change lenses nor change too many settings.
      I think that in that case, you’re better off with a very powerful point and shoot camera with a very good zoom instead of a DSLR. In fact, I was just researching cameras like that for myself (as changing lenses and carrying two bags of camera gear is not always what I want to do on vacation). There are so many really good cameras on the market right now that can give you same picture quality as cheaper DSLR’s but don’t require separate lenses. Here are the cameras that I myself consider at the moment (haven’t decided yet though):

    2. Sony Cyber‑Shot RX10 IV – it has incredible reach (24-600mm) and if budget is not an issue, then this camera should get you amazing safari pictures, but is also nice to use for all other types of travel photography
    3. PANASONIC LUMIX FZ2500 is a somewhat cheaper alternative that also has a very good lens and great reach (up to 480mm equivallent)
    4. PANASONIC LUMIX FZ1000 or Canon Powershot SX60 are cheaper alternatives in the same type of cameras.
    5. Hope I didn’t confuse you even more, but from what I read in your comment, I think that these cameras fit your description the best.
      Good luck with the choice and have a great trip!

  11. Hello,

    I am traveling to Kenya next month. I have EOS 77D and have one wide lens of EFS 18-135mm. I want to get another lens. Can you please guide and suggest?

    1. Author

      Hi Mohita, you can find a lot of suggestions in the article already. It’s really about your budget and your needs. If you are just taking pictures as a hobby and don’t feel like spending a fortune, then you could go with a lens like this – Canon EF 75-300 f4-5,6. If you want better quality at a reasonable price, then try something like this: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 is II USM Lens.
      If you are willing to spend a bit more, then I think that L lenses are a really good investment. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM is one of the nicest quality lenses in the somewhat more affordable price range.
      Hope this helps.

    2. Thank you ever so much for this invaluable information!
      From everything I read, point and shoots can’t do the job of even a cheaper DSLR, but as you well know, technology changes at a very rapid pace.
      Since we are not traveling until next summer and we aren’t in a hurry, is it at all possible for you to let me know which one you end up buying and why?
      Thanks a million Jurga!

      1. Author

        The two more expensive cameras I linked to can definitely do the job of the cheapest Canon DSLR – no doubt about that. The problem in my case, is that I’m comparing it with the full frame camera and very good lenses that I already have, and then there is indeed a big difference. But once again, probably not significant enough for semi-professional use like my blog or personal albums…
        For now, I decided not to buy any of those cameras with big zoom, as we have no wildlife trips in the planning at the moment. I just got another camera instead – Fujifilm X100F – it’s meant to help me take nice city/landscape pictures without having to carry my bulky DSLR. It’s not a full frame camera and has a fixed lens that doesn’t even zoom, so it has its limitations, but the picture quality is amazing. I’m taking it on all our summer trips this year in hopes of traveling lighter. It’s all about the choices and for certain trips, I’ll also still take my DSLR, but I’m really hoping that this camera will become my main travel camera from now on.
        I know this is not helping you with your safari camera choice, though. It’s such a personal thing. I think for safari good zoom is a must, but versatility (no need to change lenses) is also a very important factor.
        Good luck with your choice!

  12. Hello, I am so pleased to have found your blog. I am heading to Kenya this month and have a Canon m50, I have already purchased a mount adaptor and now looking for a lens.

    Do you have any recommendations in terms of 70-200mm Canon or 18-400mm Tamron? Any help would be much appreciated.

    1. Author

      Hi Nikki, it’s really a personal choice. A lens like Tamron 18-400mm is much more versatile, so you can just take one lens and it will cover all your needs. Whereas any lens of 70-200 will have its limitations and you’ll definitely want to take another wider lens for landscape photography. Also, there are at least 3 different lenses from Canon with that reach – the cheapest Canon 70-200 f4 lens costs about as much as Tamron, but has a much better light and image quality that will be incomparable to that of Tamron. But you’re sacrificing on reach. So if you just want to pack one lens, then 18-400mm lens might be a better option for you.

  13. Hi Jurga! Great article!

    I am heading to South Africa in June and am a pretty new photographer. I bought the Canon SL2 and have the kit lens that came with it (18-55) as well as a nifty fifty and a 55-250. I’m looking at renting a lens or two for the trip. What would you recommend? I’m thinking the Canon 300mm f/4L IS?

    Any recommendations are very welcome!


    1. Author

      Hi Kris, Canon 300mm f/4L IS is a really nice lens, but my personal preference wouldn’t be a prime lens, rather one where you can zoom in and out. Animals just don’t sit still and it’s usually not possible for you to go closer or a bit further to get the perfect shot, so being able to zoom can be very useful.
      I think any lens that goes to at least 200mm is fine. If you can handle the size and the weight, Canon 100-400mm is a really good choice as well. You can find my other suggestions in the article.
      Enjoy your trip!

  14. Hi. Thanks for this.

    I am going on my first safari and have a 7d Mark ii which I plan to use with the 70-300L to get the extra reach and a second hand 5D Mark iii with a 24-105 F4 L. Wondering whether there’s anything to be gained by also renting a longer lens? Feeling I should be ok with what I have (and should minimise having to change lenses, good weight etc) but would really value your opinion.

    Many thanks.

    1. Author

      Hi Anne, this combination of cameras and lenses sounds more than enough for hobby wildlife photography. If I’m not mistaken, the 7d has a 1.6x crop sensor, so your reach is actually 112-480, that should be more than sufficient.
      Taking yet another lens and having to change it is really not ideal and I think it’s so much easier to keep the same lens on the camera all the time.
      Enjoy your trip!

  15. Hi I am headed to South Africa at the end of the year. I have a Canon 5DMIV. I also have good lenses 16-35 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8. I have read your blog and have found it helpful. I have also read other blogs that recommend the 100-400 for safari. I don’t own the 100-400 but thinking of renting it to see how I handle it. My concern is the lack of quality I have read about using the extender with the 70-200m lens.

    1. Author

      Hi Sharon, it’s really a personal choice. I never used an extender, but I know people who do and they are quite happy with it (original Canon converters like this one x2 or this one x1,4 – not something from another brand – those seem to have bigger issues).
      I found 100-400mm too heavy and too big for me, so I sent mine back after testing it for a few days. I prefer to travel somewhat light if possible, but that also means that I don’t always have the perfect equipment for every shot and I’m fine with that. If photography is your main focus of this trip, then indeed you may want to rent a bigger lens to see if it’s something for you.

  16. I tomorrow morning leaving to Safari and just read your article . I am the person who always go for quality so I don’t care about the weight for 5 month trip around Africa pack everything…. But for safari I selected 5mkIII with 16-35 and 7dmkII with 100-400 so I can have both extra wide and zoom up to 640mm with 10fps . Because of safari prices I don’t go to it every month or year so I think it’s important to get as many as possible good shots . Btw 7dmkII I bought 3 years ago specially for safari and 100-400 2 years ago for safari as well . I would say it’s a good combination for sport and wildlife .

    1. Author

      You are absolutely right, George. When going on a once-in-a-lifetime trip you probably want to take the best camera equipment that you have. I do the same.
      Thank you for sharing your experience and enjoy your trip!

  17. Hi Jurga,

    i have the option of hiring lenses at the Safari, rather than bringing my own. Although i will bring my Canon 24-70, 70-200 and 2x Extender .. i am looking to hire either the 400mm f2.8, 500mm f4, or 600mm f4 .. do you have any suggestions regarding any of these lenses ?

    I am opting for the 400mm f2.8 which is a fast lens and i can attach the Extender, thanks.

    1. Author

      Hi Joe, no, I don’t really have experience with these lenses. Keep in mind how and where you’ll use them. If you are on the jeep and can’t set up a tripod/monopod then the heavier the lens, the more difficult it will be to get decent shots.
      I think 400mm with a 2x extender should be more than enough for nice close-ups.

  18. Jurga,

    Your article was excellent. Thank you so much for all the information and your insight. I am going on a safari June 2019. I have a Canon 80D and for my last vacation I bought the Tamron 16-300 3.5-6.3. It seems to be a good “all in one” camera. Do you think this is good enough or do you think I really should look at something that has a greater zoom (like 400)? Also, from your experiences, do recommend a starting point for settings (ISO/Aperture/Shutter). Obviously it depends on time of day….but if I didnt do manual everything, do you think Aperture priority or Shutter priority would be best? Faster shutter speed to get action?

    Thanks again.


    1. Author

      Hi Ken, it’s really about the budget and what you use the camera/lenses for. If I’m not mistaken, Canon EOS 80d is a crop sensor camera? That means that your 300mm lens actually gives you 480mm reach – more than sufficient. I usually use the 70-200mm lens on my full frame camera and it’s ok for most situations.
      Of course, there will be situations when you’ll want bigger reach, but are these worth a couple of thousands of dollars for you…
      As for the settings – it really depends on what and where and how :). I tend to shoot in Aperture mode, the lowest f number my lens allows. For the action, I find that shooting at High Continuous Speed is usually your best bet if animals are moving fast. Just shoot and then afterwards keep the best picture of all that you took. ISO – depends so much on the time of the day. Animal viewing is often best at sunrise and at sunset, so you’ll need to set your ISO accordingly.
      Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!

      1. Jurga…thank you so much for your response. I will do some testing out here with my Tamron and see how it works (simulating a safari). As for the settings….thank you for that … agreed its all about the time of day, light, etc. But lowest Aperture makes sense…maybe auto ISO to start and then I can play around with it.

  19. Hi, I will be traveling to Namibia next year. I Have a Nikon D7500 a 40mm macro and and the chipest 70-300 (last version). I thing I need something wider, so I was evaluating the 18-400 from Tamron in order to avoid changing lens. Did you tested it?

    Thank you

    1. Author

      Hi Mario, no, I don’t have first-hand experience with this lens. As all lenses that cover such a big range, it will probably have its limitations, but its’ definitely easy not to have to change lenses. I see that the reviews for this Tamron 18-400 lens are really good too.
      It’s really a personal choice. But if this fits your needs and budget, then it looks like a good choice to me.

      1. Thank you Jurga. Trip is in June, so I have some time, maybe I will move to a full frame. there some big zoom lens around 1000 (Sigma – Contemporary 100-400mm / Sigma 150-600mm, etc ). If you have some experience with some of these let me know.


        1. Author

          Hi Mario, unfortunately I have no experience with these Sigma lenses. I once bought Canon 100-400mm. While I was really impressed with the quality of the pictures, I just couldn’t handle the weight and the size of that lens. So I sent it back… But for the quality and the reach it has, it’s a great lens. Maybe Sigma is similar – no idea… I’m sure there are plenty reviews online, maybe they’ll help you decide.
          Good luck!

  20. Hi Jurga:

    I am planning a trip to Kenya, and India to take pictures of big cats. I am returning to photography after a prolonged absence (back when there was only film), my career didn’t afford me much time. I am glad to be back.

    Read your blog, and took your advise about spending money on better glass. I have an 80D, with 100-400 L II, and 24-70 L. I did notice a difference between the “L” and the kit lens. Been working with this combo for about 11 months now, at the zoo (to try different settings and see results quickly), plus the local wildlife/greenspace preserves. I have gotten lots great images. I have been handholding all shots.

    Now I am ready to add a second camera to my bag before I go, and have both lenses mounted on the bodies so they are ready to go. It will also eliminate the need to open the camera in the field. Reading the internet is making my head hurt. I am trying to decide between putting a 6D Mark II to get the advantages of full-frame performance at high ISOs and low light (I have looked at the 5D-M4, but being this just a hobby, the price is a lot), and the 7D2 or waiting until the rumoured 7D Mark III comes out. I do not print pictures or make videos, I just share them with friends and display them on my 4K TV.. The crop factor gives me extra range plus there is a better autofocus and more AF points win the 7D, vs. the 6D the bigger sensor better low light conditions and better wide angle. I am not sure which is better, being I have never been outside North America.

    Any thoughts would help? Thanks for your blog and e-mailed newsletter.

    1. Author

      Hi Robert, so your question is basically which camera to choose – Canon6D vs 7D? I think it’s really your personal preference, how often you’ll use the camera and for what purposes, and how do you feel about the budget.
      Obviously, full frame camera will give you better pictures, but will they be that much better that it would be noticeable on your TV screen – not sure. So much will depend on the lenses that you use and from what I see you already have excellent lenses.
      As you say, the crop factor of 7D will give you more reach. 6D will be heavier than 7D – another factor to consider. On the other hand, you already have heavy lenses, so maybe a bit of additional weight won’t be an issue.
      All this being said, we’re back to where we started – it’s your personal preference. I have had several models of Canon 5D cameras through the years and yes it’s heavy and it’s expensive, but I love the pictures I can take with my camera and to me it’s worth it. I also don’t change my camera every year, same with the lenses, so I rather get quality that will keep me happy for years.
      Not sure if this is of any help 🙂

      1. Thanks this did really help. The weight, the 7D is actually heavier than 5DMarkIV, ok it is only 20g so really nothing. Your last comment on quality and length of ownership is absolutely correct. I expect to get many years out of the camera. Sticker price is what you see first….fortunately Canon has the 5D Mark IV on sale for $800CDN off. Plus travelling I want to bring back the best pictures possible.

        They are also throwing in the battery grip. 1) do you have one, is it useful?. My thoughts are not, as 900 shots is approx. a 32 GB SD card, so for simplicity change battery/change SD card, no real thinking involved. Also large cards means potential for loss of a lot of pictures should it go bad.

        1. Author

          Hi Robert, no, I don’t have a battery grip and I never really missed it. However, I always carry an extra battery (original from Canon after some bad experience with the cheap replacements), but it’s very rarely that I need it. Some lenses (mostly the ones with image stabilisation) drain the battery faster, so in that case you may need a second battery during the day, but I never had two batteries run empty in one day. Not even on safari where I easily take hundreds of shots in a day.
          As for cards, I mostly use 16GB now, never had a problem. Also here I usually buy good ones from SanDisk and never had one fail.

  21. Your post on best camera equipment is very helpful. Would appreciate knowing the best camera bag to purchase for an African Safari. I would like the camera bag to also double up for other miscellaneous items.

    Thank you!!

    1. Author

      Hi Anupam, I find that a bag is such a personal choice – it depends so much on how you expect to use it.
      I personally gave up on camera bags when we started traveling with 3 kids and often use this lightweight day backpack from Jack Wolfskin or this a bit bigger backpack from Thule. These may not be ideal for a camera, but they are so versatile and can fit everything I need during the day.
      If you rather have a special bag where you can nicely sort your camera gear, I’d recommend a camera backpack for African safari as it indeed also allows you to easier take some other items with you. Better than a shoulder bag in any case. Here are some good options that I found:

    2. AmazonBasics Backpack for SLR/DSLR Cameras and Accessories
    3. Zecti Camera Backpack Waterproof Canvas DSLR Camera Bag
    4. Lowepro Photo Hatchback Day Camera Backpack for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras
    5. Hope this helps.

  22. Hi Jurga, thanks for writing up this post which is exactly what I need at the moment. I bought a canon 70d few years ago with a EF-S 18-135mm lens. Figured that it won’t be enough for my upcoming trip to the safari and have been looking for a better lens. I found a place where I can rent the lens for the trip but am stuck in which one I should pick. What would you advice?

    -EF-S55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM
    -EF-S18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
    -EF70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM (double the cost of renting the above EF-S lens)
    -EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM (this is the most expensive one)

    There is also a big difference in the cost of renting the EF-S and EF lenses, I would really appreciate if you could give me any thoughts. Thanks in advance!

    1. Author

      Hi Angie, as I tell everyone, the choice really depends on you. What kind of pictures do you expect to make? Do you want to switch the lenses or not? Of course, an expensive lens like 70-200 f2,8 will cost multiple times more, it’s also much better quality, but also very heavy…
      If you want the most versatile lens and don’t want to change it, then 18-200 is probably a good option for both landscapes and animals.
      If you want to take really good pictures of the animals, then any of the 70-200 or 70-300 lenses is of course better in quality. I personally didn’t like the 70-300 too much and most of the time use my 70-200 f4, which is half the price and half the weight of 70-200 f2,8.
      Hope this helps

      1. Hi Jurga, thanks for getting back to me! I have also told that Tamron lens might be an option. Have you try them before? I have done a bit of research online and shortlisted the below lenses. Any idea if they are good?

        – Tamron 16-300mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD (APS-C lens)
        – Tamron 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD (APS-C lens) [this seems to be provide more coverage?]
        – Tamron 28-300mm F3.5-6.3 Di VC USD (full-frame lens)

        1. Author

          Hi Angie, I don’t have any experience with Tamron lenses. Some people love them, some – hate them and go for the original Canon or Nikon.
          The choice of the lens for safari is all about the range and the aperture (f number), and it’s mostly about your preference and what you expect that lens to do for you. They all have advantages and limitations.

          1. Thanks a lot, Jurga. I really appreciate your time and am so sorry for bugging you with all these choices. I think I am leaning towards the EF-S18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, like you said earlier it is probably good on both landscapes and animals. Just wanna double check that I didn’t misunderstood the range here. I understand that the range I will have with the lens on my canon 70D would be 1.5x, meaning that it will have a 28-300mm range?

          2. Author

            Hi Angie, no worries 🙂 I’m not sure of 70D has a 1,5 or 1,6 crop sensor (I think the latter), so yes, 18-200 would in fact be 28-320 range.

    2. Hi Jurga,

      Thank you for writing the post. I’m going to South Africa in a couple weeks and I think I need a new lens and would like your opinion please. I currently have an older model Canon T3i. I have a Canon Lens EF 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 IS USM. I’m thinking about purchasing a used Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 L IS II USM, which honestly is still a lot of money for me. But the reason I like this one is that I think it will be good for taking pictures of my sons hockey games. I really enjoy photography but I’m just a beginner. Do you think it is worth the expense ? What would be your rough guess of how good the pictures would be with what I have vs getting the new lens ? Do I have to get a new camera as well? because I really don’t want to spend that kind of money right now. Thank you for your help

      1. Author

        Hi Wendy, it’s a difficult choice only you can make. My honest opinion is that Canon 70-200 f,8 lens is much too heavy and too expensive for your camera. It’s an amazing lens and of course pictures will be much better, incomparable to the lens that you have now, but you also have to know how to get the most of it. Which is probably not ideal with the camera that you have.
        I think that if you already consider a new lens, better go for Canon 70-200 f4 IS II USM – it’s about half the price, but also half the weight, and gets amazing images too. Also, this is the newest generation of Canon lenses, so it’s an investment that you’ll use for years. I have the older version of this lens, used it on three different cameras through the years, and I still think that it’s more than enough for those occasional close-up shots like going on safari or similar. It’s still my main lens for close-up photography. You can see one of my recent images taken with this lens (over 13 years old now) here.
        If you invest in the quality lenses, they will outlast any camera that you have now. If you later decide to upgrade the camera, those lenses will still do the job perfectly. So if the choice is between a new camera or a new lens, go for the lens. But consider the cost/weight/size of the lens and what you’ll use it for.
        Hope this helps a bit. Enjoy South Africa – it’s my favourite country in the world!

        1. Hi Jurga,
          Thank you very much for the information.

  23. Hi Jurga, I’m heading to Africa in a few weeks. I currently have a D5600 and decided to go for a Tamron 18-400mm. was very close to buying a tamron 150-600mm but decided against it just for the reason that i don’t have to change lenses all the time. I am just wondering should i keep a cheaper digital camera too record some of the action or not? what do you think?

    1. Author

      Hi Sharjeel, I think 18-400 is a good choice if you don’t like changing lenses. As for having two cameras, I really don’t know what to say. I guess it depends on what you use them for and on your personal preference. I know for myself that I often feel overwhelmed when I have to take pictures and also videos at the same time. Remember that traveling is mostly about the experience, so don’t miss it while watching all the action through the lens.
      Of course, everyone travels differently and for me too, photography is an essential part of travel experience. Just do whatever feels right for you and don’t forget to put all the cameras away once in a while and simply enjoy being there.

      1. Hi Jurga, I’m so glad I commented here. For me a safari has always been about the experience but just got drawn into the whole Instagram mindset which is all about good and nice photographs that make you go wow! I’m just going to go with the camera I have and try living the whole experience to fullest!

        1. Author

          Happy to hear that, Sharjeel. I think we all sometimes forget to just be present in the moment rather than document everything to then be able to impress our friends on social media. Travel has become too much about Instagrammable places, rather than experiences…
          Enjoy the safari!

  24. Jurga, I really enjoyed reading your article. Leaving for Botswana in March of 2019. I’m really trying to figure camera equipment to take. I’m always afraid of leaving some equipment behind but on these I know I have too. Will be doing some puddle jumping so I know I have to be somewhat light with my gear. I’m taking my Canon 7D and y 5D MK4. I have a multitude of different lenses but would like to narrow it down so I can use a smaller backpack to carry everything. I have the 100-400, 16-35, 24-105, 17-40, 70-200, and the Tamaron 150-600 G2, I’m leaning towards the 100-400, 24-105, and/or the Tamaron as well as the other necessary equipment. In Tanzania I felt I needed at times the longer reach than the 100-400 gave me. I have no extenders but not opposed to buying one to get the reach. Of what I have shown you as far as lenses, which would you use or maybe something different. Totally open to suggestions. Thanks

    1. Author

      Hi Tom, it’s always a tough choice with the camera equipment and you will have at least one situation where you wished you had another lens, but I’d say try to travel light(-ish) and pack what you think you’ll need 80% of the time. You can’t pack for all situations and you won’t be switching lenses all the time either…
      If you are taking two bodies, then maybe put the 24-105 or even one of the wider lenses (16-35 or 17-40) on your 7D (for the landscapes) and then 100-400 on the 5D. So just take two bodies with one lens each.
      Does your 5DMK4 have a crop function? I have EOS 5Ds and it gives me an option to crop a shot by 1,3 or 1,6 in any mode but automatic. So if you put your 100-400 lens on that camera, you could get to 160-640 range if need be, even without any converters. I think this should be more than enough for hand-held casual safari shots, don’t you think?
      Hope this helps. Oh, and I’m so jealous. Botswana is said to be amazing for wildlife photography. Enjoy it!

  25. Dear Jurga,
    I really enjoyed reading this article, the pictures, and learning more about camera and lenses. We are leaving at the end of the month to Botswana. I have a Nikon D3200, and planning on taking my 18-300 Lens. Do you think it will be good to capture wildlife? I don’t want to have to switch lenses due to the dusty conditions, but don’t want to invest on a second body either. Please let me know your thoughts.
    Thank you 😊

    1. Author

      Dear Aura, there are certainly advantages in having just one lens, especially with such a wide range. It’s actually ideal because you can photograph wide landscapes and close-ups of animals without having to change lenses. I am not familiar with this particular lens, but in general the only disadvantage is that these lenses usually aren’t as good quality-wise, but for simple vacation photography I wouldn’t worry about it too much and indeed go for the easy solution.
      Enjoy it! I hear that Botswana is incredible for wildlife viewing.

  26. Hi Jurga,

    Great Article and amazing insight. My wife and I are going to South Africa Safari and we are interested in a beginner lens. As you mentioned in your article, I am going more for the experience but would like some decent shots for the memories. I have a Nikon D3100 with the standard lens it comes with. What do you recommend?

    1. Author

      Hi Keyur, I’m not very familiar with Nikon lenses since I’m a real Canon girl ;), but here are some that I found that are the best equivalents of what I’d suggest for Canon.
      Nikon 70-200 f4 is pretty much what I use from Canon. So this would be my personal #1 choice.
      Nikon 70-200 f2,8 is a more expensive version, which will of course give better results, but you have to see if the extra price and weight are worth it for you.
      If both of these are above the budget, but you still want a very good lens for somewhat less money, try lenses from Sigma (Sigma 70-200 f2,8) or Tamron (e.g. Tamron 70-200 f2,8). They are often quite good as well, but are usually priced better than the lenses of the brands like Nikon or Canon themselves. This would probably be my second best option because you get a really good lens for a good price here.
      If your budget is really limited and you are really interested in the beginner type of lens, then look into these type of lenses, e.g. Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 or alternatively Sigma 70-300 f4-5,6.
      Hope this helps.
      Enjoy your trip – South Africa is amazing!

  27. Dear Jurga
    Thanks for a great articles on Namibia. They have really inspired my family and we are going to Namibia in a few weeks.

    I am thinking of replacing an old micro 4/3 with a new Canon for landscape and travelling – frequently climbing / hiking. I note you have a 5dsr, but was wondering if that or a 5d Mark IV would be best suited?

    Plan to get canon 100-400 L II and the 70-105 L II to go with one of the 5s.



    1. Author

      Hi Ian, good to hear that our blog inspired you to visit Namibia. You’ll love it – it’s a beautiful country.
      As for the cameras, I think I’d go with 5D Mark IV now: it’s a bit newer model, from what I see it’s also cheaper (well, at least on Amazon US it is – Canon EOS 5d Mark IV vs. Canon EOS 5ds), and has better video capabilities. Less megapixels, but way more than you need for regular vacation pictures anyway. Both are great cameras, so I think you can’t really go wrong with either.
      As for the lenses, 100-400L and 24-105L (I guess you meant 24 and not 70) looks like a good combo. Just one thing – 100-400 is really heavy and very long when in use. It has a great reach though, so if you can handle the size, should be great for safari photography.
      Depending where you’re from check also Amazon UK for the best deals – there’s so much price difference in electronics.
      All the best

  28. Hello, Heading to Botswana soon. Ok, so I have a Nikon D 70 with a few lenses but its HEAVY. I don’t really want to invest in a whole bunch of new equipment for one trip. As an ex-professional photographer I realize there is no perfect camera. But… Looking for a smaller, more portable option. I did think about a new lens for my old Nikon but as it’s older (DX) technology I decided that is not a great idea.

    It’s getting the 300+ fast zoom with stabilization and fast auto focus that seems to be the challenge.
    Perhaps I am asking too much?

    1. Author

      Hi Susan, I really don’t know what to say. It’s indeed always a challenge with good camera equipment – it’s bulky, it’s heavy, and you have to change the lenses in non-optimal conditions on safari too. I don’t know Nikon gear as well as I do with Canon, but I found this 28-300mm lens that could do if you want to travel light. It covers pretty much all the range you need on a regular safari vacation and it saves you from carrying too much gear. I see that there are cheaper alternatives from Tamron as well, so maybe something to consider?

  29. I recently got a Canon 80D with a Tamron 16-300, f/3.5-6.3 lens. It is the only lens I have. I am new to photography. We leave in a couple weeks for 3 weeks in Africa. Am I going to regret not having a second lens? Is this lens too slow for morning and evening safaris? I have recently retired and will be traveling a lot the next few years, soo if I need to invest in another lens I would like to do it now, even though I am trying to keep things to pack to a minimum.

    1. Author

      Hi Cheryl, the lens you have seems very versatile and it’s easy to take pictures in most situation without having to switch lenses. Will it be ok for non-optimal light conditions? Probably not really, but then a lot depends a on the camera you have too, and also on what you expect from your pictures. If you want really sharp close up shots of animals from a jeep in the dark, then it’s practically impossible anyway. But of course a good telephoto lens of 200 or 300mm f2.8 will do a much better job in most situations than the lens you have now. It’s really up to you to decide whether you need it, how comfortable are you carrying extra lenses, changing them on the road, etc. If you want to keep it simple, then you are set. If you want better pictures and don’t mind the extra cost weight etc. then yes, there are definitely better lenses for safari photography. Sorry if this isn’t of much help, but it’s so different for everyone.

  30. Hi Jurga,
    Thank you for this post. I am buying my first serious camera, in preparation for a safari in a few weeks. There are several Canon Rebel T6 starter packs that I’ve been looking at. The cheaper one has the 18-55mm lens with image stabilization. The more expensive kit includes that same lens plus a 75-300mm lens without image stabilization. So the choice is between buying the cheaper one and then also buying a separate 75-300mm with image stabilization or buying the more expensive kit that doesn’t have IS on the telephoto lens. I’m not sure I can justify buying the telephoto lens with IS at this point, given the cost. However, my thought is that I could try to compensate for lack of IS by using a faster shutter speed and also by using flash in low-light settings; my understanding is that IS is mainly useful in low-light with slower shutter speed, so changing those two variables should obviate the need for IS. What are your thoughts? I’m on a student budget, which is the limiting factor here.

    1. Author

      It’s always a tough choice, Laura. The lens I use the most doesn’t have IS, but it has a great aperture f2,8. My telephoto has IS and it’s sometimes useful.
      18-55 is not the range you will use a lot for animal photography, and for landscapes IS doesn’t matter that much. 75-300 – there IS would be more useful. You won’t use much flash for safari photography – it’s useless on big distances and from close by you shouldn’t even attempt – no idea how animals would react to it. 🙂 Your best bet is to use high ISO in low light and hope that the camera can still produce nice results.
      I think you know best what you can justify in terms of your needs and budget. It’s really difficult for me to tell you what to do. Try to think in which situations you will be using which lens most often and then decide based on that.
      Hope this helps.

  31. Dear Jurga,

    I really enjoyed your article and the shots. My wife and I are planning a safari to Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya for our 25th Anniversary. I am thinking of using this trip as an opportunity to upgrade from my Cannon 60D that is about 5-6 years old. Additionally, I may rent another body so as to have 2 cameras with me so I don’t have to change lenses while out on drives. I was thinking about a Full Frame body with a 24-70 lens for landscapes and the closer shots and then a cropped body with a 100-400 lens for the other wildlife shots. Both lenses would be rented and “L” series equipment. Is this a reasonable approach in your opinion?

    Thanks so much for sharing your opinion!

    1. Author

      Hi Ken, yes, this sounds like a very reasonable approach. 24-70 2,8 lens is my most used lens for years. 100-400mm is really big, but it’s a great lens as well. I have a Canon 5Ds camera (full frame) and it also has a possibility to choose crop factor of either x1,6 or x1,3, so if need be you could even increase your 400mm reach to 640mm with such a camera. It’s not a cheap kit, but it’s something you can use for many years.

      1. Thanks for your advice Jurga. As it turns out, I ended up buying a 5D Mark III and a 24-105 L lens. I am also renting a 7D Mark II and a 100-400 L lens. I had originally planned to use the 7D with the 100-400 lens to get the extra reach, but ask if you think I’d be better served to use that lens on the 5D for the added image quality, and then putting the 24-105 on the 7D for landscapes. I do not have the option of choosing a crop factor on my 5D. Thanks so much!

        1. Author

          Hi Ken, why don’t you just try one lens/camera combination and decide once you are there (and maybe even switch depending on where exactly you are planning to go which day).
          Unless you really need huge prints, I wouldn’t worry too much about the image quality. I think both cameras will do the job just fine.
          If you want a really wide reach for landscapes, you should still better use 24-105 on the non-crop camera I think, and the 100-400 will give you better close ups on the animals. Once again, you’ll never have the perfect combination for every shot, but I think the combo you have is really amazing and will help you get some great shots, no matter the situation.
          Have a great trip!

  32. Dear Jurga,

    Thank you very much.
    One more question.
    Do you use a bean bag and if yes is it really helpful?
    Best regards, Katharina

    1. Author

      Hi again, Katharina. No, actually I never used a bean bag. I saw it used once or twice, but have no personal experience.

  33. Dear Jurga,

    Your Blog is great and the the Safari post caught my interest as I am going on to South Africa and also on Safari in a few weeks. I feel lmuch better prepared however in terms of camera equipment I am uncertain.
    I want to do the best out of this vacation obviously 😉 I find your post very interesting but reading so much on the internet confuses me also.
    I have a basic DSLR Canon 100D with the Kit lens 18-55mm. I also have the Canon 50mm.
    I was thinking maybe to upgrade to the 80D and buy one new better lens such as the Tamron 16-300 or the 18-200. Would you recommend the camera change? And what do you think about the lenses with such a wide range? I mainly read sceptical opions, however I am just a hobby photographer and I am not sure where to invest best.
    I would love to hear your opinion.
    Many thanks.


    1. Author

      Hi Katharina, it’s not an easy decision indeed, as everyone has different opinions. You have to find the best balance between your photography needs and the budget you have. If you have to choose between a good lens or a good camera, from my experience, I would advise to go for the lens. A really good lens can make a huge difference, and you can use it for years. I have changed many cameras over the years, but I still use the same lenses which I bought more than 12 years ago.
      On the other hand, a good camera is also important. If you have money for both, then a trip to Africa is a good moment to upgrade your gear.
      If you don’t want to spend too much money and are happy with a few good shots, then just stick to the camera body that you have and buy a Tamron lens like the one you describe. Of course, a lens with such a wide reach will not give you the same quality as lenses with fixed aperture of f2,8 or f4. But a lens like that has advantages too – mainly that you don’t have to change it, and can travel light with just one lens.
      Sorry if I am not more helpful. It’s really a personal decision. If money is not an issue, then go for the Canon 80d and one of the L lenses that I described in this post, e.g. 70-200 f4 L IS USM or 70-300 f4-5,6 L. PS these are affiliate links to as I thought you were from Germany… Maybe it’s more helpful this way.
      Enjoy your trip!

  34. Hi Jurga. I’m Karen. Heading to Rwanda and Tanzania in a month. I was buying an additional battery for my Canon Rebel XT and was pretty much told that my 10 year old + body is obsolete and won’t serve me well on my trip. That gives you an indication of my photography expertise.!! I do have the Tamron 18-270mm lens. I wasn’t anticipating this new purchase. What base would you recommend that isn’t going to break the bank? And could I make do with the one Tamron lens? We’ll also have our smart phones/Ipad for some shots. Glad I came across your blog. Happy Travels, Karen

    1. Author

      Hi Karen, if you are thinking of upgrading your camera, then a trip like that is definitely a good moment to do it! If you like your Canon Rebel and want to use the same lens, then the most obvious choice is probably the Canon EOS Rebel T6i. The lens you have has quite a decent reach, with a crop-sensor camera it gives you a good range of up to 432mm (270×1,6), so for close-ups of the animals it should be more than sufficient.
      Don’t count on using your smartphone and tablet for animal photography – it’s just not fast enough unless the animals are very close by and standing still, you won’t get any decent shots. It is ok for the landscapes and such.
      Hope it helps. Have a nice trip!

  35. Hi Jurga, great read and advice – just the type of article I was looking for!

    I’m considering either of the two options – relatively similar in price – on a Canon 60D, just wanted to get your thoughts? (my significant other will be on the trip too, armed with a decent point-and-shoot, so she can take some snaps too)

    – Canon 70-300mm EF f/4-5.6L IS USM
    – Canon 300mm EF f/4L IS USM

    I was also thinking about a 1.4x teleconverter, but not sure if that will be necessary.

    Other sources recommend a monopod; however, a tripod would be more versatile, right?

    1. Author

      Hi Mitch, glad you found this info useful. Lenses is a tough choice, as fixed focal length will give you better light, but you loose flexibility. I somehow always prefer zoom lenses, especially when photographing something unpredictable like animals. You can zoom in and out as animals move. But that’s my personal opinion, of course.
      As for teleconverter, I never used it. 60D is already a crop camera, no? So it already gives you 1.6x reach, meaning that 70-300mm actually becomes 112-480mm. For most situations this will be more than enough. Both these lenses look really good quality-wise.
      As for tripod vs. monopod, depends where you are planning to use it. On safari vehicles you can’t set up a tripod, maybe a monopod would help. But usually you won’t have much time to set all your equipment for a perfect shot anyway – you’ll just have to quickly snap a picture and hope it turns out well. Most animals don’t wait. If you are thinking of taking pictures on the ground, at the waterholes and such, then a tripod is still much easier I think.
      Sorry if I’m not more helpful. Everyone has their own preferences, so it’s really up to you to decide what works best for you.

      1. No worries – I was leaning more towards the zoom lens without teleconverter, so thanks for the reply!

  36. What do you think of the bridge/superzoom cameras such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300?

    1. Author

      Hi Arvid, I never tried this camera, so all I can say is based on the reviews that I read on different sites. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 seems to have incredible reach of 600mm (!) with fixed aperture f2,8. I have no idea about the quality of the pictures, but purely based on these numbers, it looks like a really good deal price/reach/aperture wise. So if you don’t want to invest in really expensive lenses and have to carry a bulky kit of DSLR+lenses with you, then this definitely looks like a very nice alternative. It only has 12MP though, but for regular vacation pictures this should be more than enough. If you compare with any DSLR lenses with this reach, then this camera looks like a real bargain.
      My only concern with wildlife photography would be how fast the autofocus is. Animals rarely sit still to pose for a picture. That’s – to me – still the biggest advantage of DSLR cameras. But then again, if you are not a professional photographer and just want a couple of good shots to remember your vacation, then it will probably serve the purpose quite well.

  37. Hi Jurga,

    Thanks for this blog. I’d be interested in knowing what lens you used for each picture and how far approximately you were from the subject.. I had entertained the thought of buying a Tamron 600mm, but all of can think of is that I’ll have to carry whatever I take.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Author

      Hi. With 600mm you could photograph pretty much anything! I was contemplating taking a 100-400mm lens, but then tried it and sent it back as it was much too heavy for me to carry around. The lens I used for the safari pictures in Namibia was Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM UD. The picture of a lioness is from our trip to South Africa, it was taken with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens. I also had a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM with me, but I used it mainly for landscapes and people when not on safari.
      I am not good in estimating distances, but most of my safari pictures were taken at the maximum reach of the lens (200 or 300mm), so it will give you an idea. Also, I have a full frame camera so 300mm means just that; if you have a crop sensor DSLR, 300mm would give you 480mm reach (300×1,6). Some animals were far, some nearby, so I used what I had to make the best of it. The lioness was very close to us, just a few meters away, so I took a close-up just because I could.
      There were moments when I wish I had more reach, but it’s all about the choices. If I were traveling alone with a sole purpose of photography, I’d definitely carry a longer lens for safari. But with three kids in tow I need something versatile and easy to use (and hold).
      I can’t really say what you should do. It depends on your travel style, photography skills, budget, and the purpose of the trip. Try to find the compromise that works best for you and covers 80% of situations. You can never have the right equipment for everything. You might have 600mm lens and then run into a group of lions so close to the vehicle that all you can photograph is their eyes… Try to be creative with the equipment you have depending on the situation. And also remember that often you won’t have the time to switch the lens to a perfect one. The animals are fast, so better take a less perfect shot than be too late ;).
      Hope this helps you a bit.

  38. Hi Jurga

    What is the difference between a DSLR Camera and a Mirrorless Digital Camera I was thinking of a Fuji X-T2….. What do you think

    PS. I did one safari and thinking of doing more in the future with better equipment, I am a beginner

    Thanks in advance

    1. Author

      Hi Alfredo, I’m not really an expert. There are so many cameras and new additions all the time, that it’s difficult to follow :). Here is what I found in regards to mirrorless/DSLR cameras: Mirrorless cameras have the advantage of usually being lighter, more compact, faster and better for video; but that comes at the cost of access to fewer lenses and accessories. DSLRs have the advantage in lens selection and an optical viewfinder that works better in low light, but they are more complex and bulkier.
      The Fuji X-T2 seems to get excellent reviews.
      I see that there are quite some lenses available for this camera that would be perfect for safari, so that shouldn’t be an issue (55-200mm looks like a very affordable choice, or a high-end lens with incredible reach 100-400mm). So yes, it looks like a good choice. When it comes to cameras, there is so much choice, it’s really more about what YOU prefer and how much money you are willing to spend.

  39. Hello Jurga, On my search for a family trip to Namibia I found your blog and I’m glad I did. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect for such a trip and you reassure on many points. As far as photography, I do own a Canon already and will certainly upgrade with some of your great recommendations. I have a question however. You mentioned that you had a lot of sand traveling to Namibia. How did you handle that with your camera equipment?

    1. Author

      Hi Melanie, thanks for your kind words. I’m so glad you found some reassurance for your trip to Namibia. It’s a beautiful country, perfect for family trip, and I’m confident that you will love it!
      As for the camera, I didn’t do anything special in regards to sand. I had a Canon 5D Mark II at that time, so it’s already pretty robust and protected against the elements. Same for the lenses. If you can afford it, better buy one L lens rather than two or three cheaper ones. They are the best! I have several and use them a lot for more than 10 years now and they are worth every cent if you are somewhat into photography. Of course, you should take some precautions: don’t change your lens outdoors if you can avoid it; put the camera safely away inside your bag if you are going to roll/run down the sand dunes. If you are still worried, you can take a big plastic ziplock bag to stow your camera in when not using it.
      Hope this helps!

  40. Hi, do you have any experience with teleconverters?

    1. Author

      Hi Marc, no, I don’t. I also considered buying one of those, but never did because I just couldn’t decide which one was better – the 1,4x or the 2,0x. They are rather expensive, but of course are cheaper than most of the tele lenses and take less space. I know someone who bought one from a cheaper brand (I think it was Tamron) and they were pretty happy with it. I guess it all depends on the camera/lenses you have.

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