If you’re planning an African Safari you’re probably already looking into bringing the perfect camera for your adventure. Perhaps you have a decent camera but you’re wondering if your equipment will produce the kind of photos you’ve seen other travelers capture? Luckily, you’ve come to the right place! This post shows you the best camera gear for an Africa Safari and examples of the kinds of photos you can take!
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Luckily, most DSLRs and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras take fantastic photos so as long as you have appropriate gear you’ll come back with some perfect shots.
As a full time travel blogger, I have some experience shooting animals, northern lights, landscapes and city streets.
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As of the publishing of this post, I currently own a Leica XU, a Canon 6D (full-frame weather resistant DSLR) and a Sony A7III (full-frame, mirrorless interchangeable lens camera).
Both lenses are weather resistant and perform extremely well on the Canon 6D. Luckily, they would also work on any other Canon full frame sensor cameras.
The 17-40mm is a fast lens that takes great photos. It performed well during my Safari for wide angle shots and is also great street photography and city life lens. You’ll definitely want at least one wider angle lens with you for animals that are daring enough to venture close.
Shooting with the 100-400mm was easily the best camera gear for an African Safari that I used. When paired with the Canon 6D, autofocus was fast and accurate. With a f/4.5-5.6 aperture, it produces a nice bokeh and is plenty fast for everyday lighting conditions while on safari.
There are strict restrictions preventing Safari tourists from touring too late at night. You’ll likely only be photographing animals during daylight so low light performance shouldn’t be an issue. A lens with at least 400mm is must. You will definitely not regret investing in a lens that to capture photos of animals on your safari!
Keep in mind that the 100-400 mm lens can get pretty heavy. I struggled a bit with keeping it steady for some of the shots. However, you can use supportive aids such as a bean bag or a monopod to stabilize your camera and heavy lens. I personally used the bean bag as it worked well by resting it on the edge of the Safari jeep.
Just prior to my safari to Tanzania and Botswana I bought the Sony A7II (now upgraded to the A7III). It is a very capable camera with good low-light performance and a very manageable size. Its sensor produces photos with great resolution and low noise which will come in handy if you crop your photos during post-processing. I’ve since been using the A7III and have to say that Sony has upgraded a lot of the features and if the A7III is in your price point I would recommend purchasing that over the the A7II.
In Botswana I used the Sony 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 FE OSS lens. This kit lens is honestly just okay. It performs well enough, is solidly built and covers a very useful range. However, I was left wanting more.
In Tanzania I used the Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 FE OSS lens. This lens covers a fantastically useful range, has decently fast autofocus and produces good photos when paired with the A7II and A7III. The 240mm maximum focal length, however, just wasn’t long enough for Safari and I ended up using the Canon 6D with the 100-400mm more than any other lens on the trip.
Ultimately, you will want the extra focal length reach of a 400mm (or more) zoom lens. Most of the animals will always be slightly further away than you’d prefer, but it’s important to respect the animals and their space. The safari guides are very good about keeping their distance and protecting the animals.
Camera Tip: f you don’t have a full frame sensor camera, there may be a focal length conversion depending on the type of lens you purchase. A camera with a sensor smaller than full frame will end up adding to some lens’ focal length, essentially giving them more reach. Be sure to check what your maximum focal length will be if you are using a APS-C or crop sensor camera.
Most of all, enjoy your safari and appreciate how close you are able to be to these magnificent creatures in the wild.
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WHAT CAMERA GEAR DO I USE?
- Main Camera: Sony A7III
- Wide angle lens: Sony G Master 16-35mm f/2.8
- Zoom lens: Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3
- Secondary Camera: Canon 6D Mark II
- Canon wide angle lens: Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
- Underwater camera: Leica X-U
- Camera with gimbal: DJI Osmo Pocket & Underwater Housing
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro
- Camera Bag: Polar Pro Drone Trekker
- External Hard Drive: LaCie 1 TB rugged mini external hard drive