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Telephoto Lenses: The Saving Grace in Taking Pictures during African Safari Trips

Southern Sky Adventures: Telephoto Lenses: The Saving Grace in Taking Pictures during African Safari Trips

Packages for African safari trips offered by travel agencies like Southern Sky Adventures can make you feel like a National Geographic photographer. The wide open space and animal herds are just begging to be captured in images. You may not be a professional lens man for a nature magazine, but there are still things you can do to produce the best looking shots.

Long Distance Photography

You’ll most likely be shooting from a distance, probably from the comforts of the safari vehicle. The logic behind this is simple: even camera gurus from National Geographic will tell you it’s dangerous to get too close to a wild animal. You must keep your distance from a lion, for instance, especially if it’s in the middle of a meal.

Dallas Dahms for Digital Photography Review writes that safari visitors often take pictures from a distance of about 100 meters (sometimes farther). At such a distance, normal lens won’t be able to get a picture of the animal up close. Fortunately, there’s this really long camera lens designed with longer focal length that’s ideal for this kind of situation. Called a telephoto lens, it will allow you to take a full picture of a single subject even from a distance. These lenses usually start at around 70 mm, but many photography professionals consider 135 mm or more as the real deal.

Some safari visitors use a telephoto lens with up to 400 mm range—at which point the lens itself becomes bigger than the camera it’s attached to. Such lenses will have to be clamped or supported by a special monopod or tripod so that the images don’t come out blurry if the subject is moving.

Equipment Care

It’s par for the course that dust and dirt will be a part of African safaris and tours. Photography specialists suggest sticking to one type of lens throughout the trip, as constant switching from one lens to another can cause dust and dirt to enter the camera and ruin very small components. It’s best to decide on the telephoto lens before your group sets off.

Keep in mind that you can only carry so much in a safari. In fact, Dahms says you can never go beyond 8 kg for trips within Africa. That being said, you need to decide which pieces of photography equipment you can and can’t do without on your trip.

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