Photography Reflections: Be Aware of What You Want - African Impact Blog

Author: Marvin Mechelse

As soon as I knew I’ll go back to Africa, I started to think about which restrictions I experienced with my camera equipment when I was there in September 2017. Good camera gear doesn’t automatically make a good photographer nor a good photo. But as soon as you’ve found your style of photography, your favorite subjects and you know all your camera potential, you’ll start to perfect your work and at some point you’ll see that it can’t get better unless you go on with more sophisticated equipment.

As my budget was clear I had a look at the market and found: there are tons of cameras and lenses etc… So how to decide? I had a few lenses already and was used to the menu and settings of my old camera. So it was most convenient to stick to the same brand. Then I thought about my favorite subjects – birds. Often far away, often super-fast and most likely in difficult lightning situations. That quickly lead to the decision to work with a crop sensor, as these cameras allow much higher frame rates and multiple the zoom factor of your lens. They are of course not  good as full frame sensor cameras in poor lightning conditions. But as long as you don’t want to pay a fortune, you have to deal with some disadvantages. Another decision had to be made on a new lens. I’ve had a 300mm lens but with an aperture of f5.6 which led to super long shutter speeds or annoying noise when rising to high ISO levels in low light. So I decided to get a tele-lens with a fixed aperture of f2.8. As these kind of lenses are only available in upper price ranges, I had to reduce my demand for a super long lens and got a 200mm now. But as the resolution of the new camera is higher you can crop in much further.

To put it in a nutshell, consider:
  • Your budget
  • The equipment you already have
  • The main purpose – your favorite subjects
  • The dependencies between camera body and lens

And a final tip especially regarding your budget: you’ll often find a marketplace in online photo-communities where photographers sell their equipment. Usually professional photographers watch over their camera gear, so you often get used to stuff in superb condition 30-60% off the original price.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Mr Gordon Young says:

    I did the 4 week volunteer project in Sth Africa last Nov/Dec and bought a Tamron G2 150-600mm lens specially, I had a canon 6D mk11 body and a 80D body. I also took my 70-200 f2.8 mk11 zoom and a 15-35. probably 90% of my shots were wtih the 150-600 all hand held and usually at the extreme zoom length. You cannot get out of the vehicle so a tripod and even a monopod is VERY difficult a bean bag a much better solution. Then the vehicle cannot leave the main roads so you find more often than not the animals are a huge distance away, but sometimes extremely close There were a couple of 100-400 zooms in our small group but the wished for the longer zoom range as well. I have another Safari later this year and the Tamron 150-600 is going on my 80D so with the crop factor means a 960mm max zoom which is more than acceptible as camera shake then becomes a major factor. I Have now a 5D mkiv and the Canon 100-400 mk2 with the Canon mk111 1.4 converter so more than enough coverage. I will still take the 15-35mm lens and a new Sigma 24mm f1.4 for any night shots. If on a budget a top quality crop sensor such as the 80D with say a zoom extending to 300mm and a 1.4 converter ( not a 2 times) not ideal because of the max aperture but better than a shorter zoom cropped. any 70-200 f2.8 is going to be expensive

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