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Discussion Starter #1
With a bit of luck I will have a chance to do some 'critter spotting' in the Dark Continent later this year. Hoping to get some nice shots (with camera). Looking for some advice.

I'm using a Canon EOS Rebel Ti, it has served me well for several years. For longer range I use a Canon 100-300 zoom, but would like to reach a bit further (or bring in some more detail).

I am considering several lenses, listed from first to last choice (all Canon)
100-400 f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM
EF 400 f/5.6 L USM and
EF 300 f/4 L IS USM

The latter two I am thinking of adding the Canon 2x EF Extender?

Any wildlife photographers out there who can maybe offer some insight / suggestions?

Thx!!
 

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Don't shoot wildlife, but sort of remember a long zoom shoot out a bit back.
I think the consensus was primes win, long zooms always have a sweet spot. At those distances, IS is good to have. Well that and a humungous tripod.
I believe all those lenses will out-resolve your Ti. That camera has to be what? ten years old and boy, sensor technology has improved since then. Not saying your 12mp is bad it's just that 12mp then is different from 12mp now.

At the time I was looking for a 300 to 400mm lens and I think I looked only at the f4s. Well that and the crazy 200 f2!
If resolution is part of the game, then I think extenders are a bit hit and miss. Also consider that at say, 600-800mm, a heavy, heavy duty tripod is even more important!
Don't forget to consider weight and how far you gotta lug all that glass!

Hope this helped a bit.
 

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What environment will you be in?

Scrub/forest means zoom will be useful as you encounter wildlife at different distances.
Savannah/desert should mean seeing it from distance most of the time and a long prime is fine.
But also a lens is an investment - which lens will be useful to you when you return?

Most importantly, upgrade your body. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Many thanks for the detailed replies

We will be in varying AO, part of it will be scrub and watering hole, part of it will be savanna. We've been advised critters can get close enough to touch practically but some will stay further out. With that in mind and for future use, the zoom seemed more versatile. Last several years have all been dense jungle combined with coastal / beach, but next AO may be quite different.

The Mrs advises me to upgrade my body almost daily :-d

But seriously....

I stumbled across the Sigma 150-500 f/5-6.3 AF APO DG OS HSM for a pretty decent price. But still leaning toward the Canon 100-400. Weight is not an issue, my training evolutions include 18km jungle trail runs with a 35 lb pack and 4 l water.... plus we will have wheels so we won't have to hump the kit the entire way.

Suppose I can find a package deal with the Canon lens, what body would be a recommended one? I can see making the T1i my 'snap shot' rig and setting the other one up for a 'money shots'. I'm just used to the T1i and would need to be as trained on the new one as this one before the trip. Wouldn't want to miss the shot because of lack of familiarity / muscle memory....
 

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I think the Canon bodies are sort of the same. I've used an XSi next to a T5i next to a 60D and while different they are all "Canon intuitive." The learning curve should be fairly flat.
The 60D seems a bit more 'pro.'
I haven't kept up with changes in the Canon line up so don't really know what the latest greatest is.
I will say this though, if you are going to spend that kind of coin on glass, go full frame!
 

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I would advise against going full frame if you're concentrating on telephoto. The x1.6 crop zoom and improved depth of field could be handy.

For the body, I agree you should adapt to any modern Canon quick enough. The 7D2 is the latest and greatest APSC size sensor, then in decreasing specs I think its the 70D, 700D and then the very compact 100D (some of these have different names in the US than in the rest of the world for whatever reason). I think you'd notice an improvement with any of them.

For the telephoto lens I have also looked at the 100-400 - The IS could be very useful at long focal length, trying to quickly get a shot of a fleeting moment from a vehicle...
Which reminds me. think about some kind of support (you possibly already have that covered?) even a bean bag can be useful for resting on a car window/bonnet/etc. I bring an empty bag and fill with sand when I get there.

Finally I would recommend a slightly wide prime for street and wider landscape work.
I use a 40mm pancake on my FF camera and it is so small to travel with and easy to switch to while walking round city/town streets or getting that obligatory sunset shot...
I think the EFS (for APSC sensors) pancake is 24mm with f/2.8. That aperture could be handy in low light interiors as well.
The pancake lenses are great value and I would advise every traveller have one in their bag.

Oh and don't forget back-up SD card and back-up battery (maybe a car charger too if you're working from vehicles a lot)

Enjoy.
A couple of example shots on this thread once you're back please! :)

P.S. I recommend the Casio PRW3000 or PRW3100 as the watch to bring. ABC sensors plus sunrise/set times so you can plan your 'critter' spotting times... :)
Oh and this thread needs a picture (even if off-topic)
IMG_1435_WUS.jpg
 

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Budget?

Reading your initial post one of the initial thoughts I had was you'd be in a lot of low light conditions (esp when 'critters' are involved).

For that reason id suggest something with a faster aperture. The only thing is it shoots up in price and size. In saying that I've never heard anyone who has ever said "I wish I bought a slower lens".

I have used the 70-200f2.8 and LOVE that lens. If I did a lot of telephoto work I'd get it. I have a 70-200 f4 (non IS). It does the job I need it to although having IS would be handy.

How old is the body? My set up is weird. I had a 40D that I love but I travel, A LOT, and it is generally only when I use my SLR. I actually did a 'downgrade' on the body to a 100D, the current, most often used set up is

  • 100D
  • 16-35 f2.8L
  • 24-105 f2/L
  • 580ex II flash (doesn't come travelling)
I told you it was weird.

Id love a full frame camera but my travels are to remote locations, a lot of high altitude stints, so every gram in a back back makes a big difference. A full frame is just too big and heavy for travels and I'd only use it when taking photos for other people so no, practical, reason for getting one.
 

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I personally wouldn't use a 2x converter on anything but a fast prime and even then you'd need to do a lot of work to convince me to use it. A TC WILL reduce your sharpeness, that is a fact of life but sometimes it's not so bad/worth it. Consider it's something else to fiddle with on the camera too, yuck. Now consider what an extra TWO STOPS will do to the lenses you mentioned. Do you really want to try and use that 100-400 at 400 with F11 being your minimum aperture? Or that Sigma at 500 with a minimum of F25?!? You'll max out your ISO in a hurry at these apertures and be super limited in addition to degrading your potential image quality. Even at F11 the amount of sensor boogers you will have to clone out in post will be mind numbingly frustrating, at F25 it will look like someone dumped gravel on your photo -- unless you have the sensor cleaned before you leave and attach the lens and TC in a clean room and never take them off.
So whatever lens you get think hard before strapping a TC on it.
Lenses are forever(ish) bodies are disposable now (as sad as it is to think your $6k pro body is disposable -- it is).
Good luck, don't forget to share when you return.
 

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I can recommend the Sigma 15-500mm with stabilisation. I've had some great shots with it. Offshore at the moment, so I'll not be able to upload any.

100mm more than the Canon at nearly half the price - what's not to like?

Ok - you will lose an F-Stop - 4 to 5.6 iirc, but still a good lens.
 

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Consider that with the fixed lenses, you will be changing lenses a lot with a lot of motion that could distract the wildlife. I would go with a good zoom, like an 80 - 200mm f2.8.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Picked up a T6i w/ 18-55. Mounted the 70-300 to the T6i and the 18-55 to the T1i. Figure the T1 will be my walking around and close up shots. The T6 will be for the longer critter shots. Based on comments from others who have been there, the critters get quite close to 70-300 should be sufficient.

Some random shots taken over the last few years with the T1 - feel free to comment or offer suggestions










 
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