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Thread: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

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    African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Hi there,

    Quick background : I bought a Leica S2 few months back and I'm an amateur.

    So its a big toy which I love and had to give away my major Leica M collection, but I wanted to go into the MF game.. and boy, I'm loving it.

    I have the "kit" lens, the 70mm.

    My wife and I are going to African in a few months, Safari parks et all.

    I want to buy one or two lens and here asking for advice ; my family is "planned" to grow in a few months ( well you got the point ) so money for new or used S lens is going to be non existent for quite a while ehehe..

    Africa is a big dream and two things come to my mind : wide angles of that Savana and telephoto of Cheetahs and such, to which I do not have a lens.

    Option 1 ( which I'm more inclined at the moment )
    Buy Leica - Contax oficial adapter - 1500 euros
    Buy Contax 35mm lens : 1200 euros
    Buy Contax 350mm lens : 3000 euros
    downsides : 35mm isnt that really wide
    up : less expensive route, can add a couple of other lens ( 120 macro, 80mm f2, 55mm ) down the road

    Option 2
    Buy Leica - H official adapter - 1250 euros
    Buy used 28mm HCD - 2200 euros
    pray for used Hasselblad H 300mm at this price point : 3000 euros
    downsides : more expensive. other lens down the road will take years
    up : H lens are better

    Option 3
    Buy Leica 24mm or 30mm lens : 5500 euros
    down : no tele, no lens for the nearby century
    up : weather sealed, super wide ( love it ) , superb

    Option 4 :
    buy Contax adapter, Contax 35mm : 2700 euros
    buy Canon 1D4 : 2000 euros and Canon 400mm : 2500 euros which be sold after

    down : having to carry two cameras and dont really like SLR million option for focusing, exposure, etc




    So... here is my dillemma. Is the Contax 350mm a viable alternative ( even with a 1.7x converter from Contax ) or having a 500mm f8 medium format lens without stabilization is useless without a tripod as stable as a tree ? Should I directly to Leica 24mm ? If Contax 350mm + 1.7 aint enough, why would Hasselblad suffice ?

    Contax lens are great, superb, non sealed but cheap ( for MF AF lens standards ) ...
    Leica M9 | 50mm Summilux ASPH | www.proenca.eu

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    I'm not sure I'd recommend MF for safaris at all. I have been on many and find a DSLR far superior for the following reasons-

    First, you need telephoto lenses, preferably 400 mm or more. While I do use a 240 mm on my IQ180 for wildlife and then crop extensively, it is not the ideal.

    Second, it's well nigh impossible to use a tripod. You're usually in jeep or land rover and are not allowed to get out - unless you want to get eaten. In Kenya and Tanzania a guide can lose his licence if he lets you out in some areas of national parks. Still, beanbags are a good option. But a DSLR with lens stabilization is a much better bet.

    Third, you need speed - at least 3 or frames per second. MF can't do that.

    Fourth - fast autofocus is needed. Perhaps the Leica S has that - I don't know. My Phase DF is far too slow.

    Fifth - lightweight. Many of the wilderness camps require light plane flights and you are severely weight restricted.

    Don't get me wrong, I love MF and would certainly prefer to use it for African landscapes. But for my last few trips I've taken a Sony a99 with the Zeiss 24-70 and the "G" 70-400, with an a900 as backup. In dusty areas I put the 24-70 on one camera and the tele on the other - and never remove them. Dust in East Africa in particular is a real hazard.

    If you can travel with a private guide and weight is not an issue, then MF would be ideal for the landscapes but you still need a DSLR for the birds and animals.

    It's simply a question of using the right tool for the job.

    Good luck - it will be a great experience whatever gear you take.
    Bill CB

    www.billcaulfeild-browne.ca
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    First, since money is tight, I would not be making purchases based on this trip.

    For wide, I would learn to stitch panos with your 70mm. I do plenty of handheld panos with my 645D handheld.

    For the wildlife, I would buy an inexpensive APS-C or m4/3 system and put a long focal length zoom with that. With something like an OMD, you would also get IBIS. You are not going to become a wildlife photographer before or during your trip. I would just enjoy the experience.

    That was probably not what you wanted to hear in a forum that is so used to spending other people's money. Besides, you are with your family. Enjoy yourself. It is amazing what you can do with a simple setup.
    Will

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    One thought about whether something is the right lens. If you think your lens is not long enough or not wide enough, you are trying to take someone else's picture. There is never the wrong lens, just the wrong picture.
    Last edited by Shashin; 17th July 2013 at 21:51.
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    I agree. It all depends on the image you are trying to make.

    If you want to get close up images of big cats and other large and dangerous animals very late or early in the day you will need a lens in the 300-500mm range and a 35mm DSLR (full frame or cropped sensor, good in low light).

    If you want to make landscape images one can compose an image with most any lens. Again, all depends on the image you want to make.

    If on a budget medium format is not the way to go. You might be much happier with a 100-400mm zoom and a 35mm DSLR + The medium format gear you already have.

    I would go to a shop to look at gear and get a feel of whats available or even rent some gear (borrowlenses.com , lensrentals.com) before buying.

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Keep it simple. Use a monopod inside the jeep when at standstill and handstitch on the fly with the 70 for wides.

    Get this a Hassy V adaptor: Leica S Adapter for Hasselblad V Lens for Leica S2 Camera 16024

    And pick up a Tessar 5.6/350. There are plenty on the second hand market and go for between 1000-1200 euros in Europe. Not that I have tried, but I'm sure this lens can handle your S2 sensor.

    One body/system, two lenses. Ok total weight and bulk.
    Alpa FPS MAX TC | Alpagon 32Hr | Helvetar 75 | Schneider 120N | Leaf Aptus II 5 Leaf Credo 60 | www.danlindberg.com

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Made a quick search on a spanish buy/sell site:

    http://www.segundamano.es/madrid/obj...=0_s&st=a&c=52

    (Note that I have no idea who this particular seller is)

    I have the Hassy 350 lens, so if you want a raw file from the Alpa FPS and Credo 60 with this lens, just give me a shout!

    Or if you do get the adaptor, come by Marbella and try it for yourself!
    Alpa FPS MAX TC | Alpagon 32Hr | Helvetar 75 | Schneider 120N | Leaf Aptus II 5 Leaf Credo 60 | www.danlindberg.com

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    I did a 10 day trip in Uganda last year with an S2 and just two lenses -35mm and 120mm. You can see some of the pictures elsewhere on this forum or on my webpage, in the travel section. Of course the 120mm is not long enough for detailed shots of many animals but I had decided, before the trip, that I was not really interested in taking detailed pictures of animals (after all, have seen thousands of such pictures...) but rather animals in the context of the land, plus images of people etc. With the experience of the trip in mind, next time I would probably take also a slightly longer lens (have bought the 210/4 HC in the meantime) for the pictures of gorillas, chimps and monkeys. The Leica 180 mm could be a good choice, too. The 300 HC or 350 Contax lenses are of course a possibility but in my view are very large and heavy lenses (especially the 350) and you would find it difficult to use them hand-held from a jeep, especially in the low light levels in the morning or evening when the safari drives take place (the S2 not being exactly a low light champ). Even with the 120mm lens, I was constantly shooting between F2.5-F4.0, ISO 320 or even 640 and trying to keep shutter speeds at 1/250 or shorter - and it was not always easy. So I imagine that with a 350 mm lens (and the Contax lens is a heavy beast) it would be even more difficult and you would have to think about some solutions like at least beanbags or even better a gimbal head (Wimberly) attached somehow (Manfrotto magic arm?) to the car. But then you are getting into a territory of a dedicated photo safari where you really need to have the car for yourself and have very patient or similarly dedicated co-travellers. The animals are of course once on the left side of the car, once on the right side etc. meaning you often have to shoot over somebody else's shoulder - easier to do with a lens that you can handhold (the 120mm for instance) than with one that you can't (the 300-350mm). So, my advice to you is that you start answering the following questions before you decide on the longest lens:

    (a) Will you have the car only for yourself (and your wife) or will there be more people in it (the tour operators often use extended wheelbase toyotas fitting 6-8 people in one vehicle, for instance).

    (b) Do you absolutely want to take the best detailed shots of animals and will your wife be supportive of your goal or do you rather want to enjoy your holiday more by being more nimble and not fumble around with big heavy lenses?

    (c) What kind of car will it be and will you have any chance to support or attach the lens to it (beanbag on the roof? handrails - if there is no roof or just cloth roof?). Will you be able to quickly swap the sides of the vehicle with your solution in case the animals happen to be on the opposite side of the vehicle?

    (d) Will you be also doing any walking/hiking? If so, you will want to leave the long lens behind (too heavy). Will you be comfortable leaving it locked in your room at the lodge or in the car? Will you be comfortable leaving any other expensive equipment in the hotel?

    Once you've considered the above, you may come to a variety of solutions. For my next trip to Africa, I would take the S2 with the 35/120/210 lenses, plus maybe an Olympus OMD with a longer zoom. Or even leave the 210 at home and address all the longer lens needs through the Olympus/zoom combination. Or just do what I did last time - S2+35+120.

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Bill : indeed, NOT getting eaten by the fauna is an option

    Will : great advice with " One thought about whether something is the right lens. If you think your lens is not long enough or not wide enough, you are trying to take someone else's picture. There is never the wrong lens, just the wrong picture."

    Ken : " If on a budget medium format is not the way to go. (...)" ; I know. There was a guy selling a S2 with a very nice price and I had to jump on it. Now, I'm budgeting 10k usd for a new lens or two, after that will have to stop - wife is pregnant, so money spending on lenses is a big no no in the future.

    Dan : get those workshops running fast mate, want to vist you and take pictures with you in Spain .)



    Anyway, I thought a bit more on this and thanks for everyone that gave their inputs.

    35mm DSLR is now ruled out.

    Most of you is now scratching their heads and thiking "oh you imbecil, but its the best thing for that job/trip" ... but, I played with few of my dSLRs ( still have a couple ) yesterday and I hate the things.

    Hate it.

    Love the S2 wich is dSLR like, without the complication. Its simple. Its direct. Its "no frills". Set exposure, focus, bang. No 209384230984 menus to set the mm of the focusing speed .

    I cant live with dSLR's anymore, its official.

    So buying a dSLR to take a few chetah pictures its stupid.

    Going to order the Contax adapter and few Contax lenses. If I can get the 350mm at a decent price and a tripod + beanbag, cool. If not, oh well... landscapes will have to do.

    As I said, children are comming in a very near future, so spending money with new lenses ( specially MF lens with their hefty price tag ) are ruled out for a while.

    Contax seems to allow me to get a few nice lens ( 45,55,35, 120 macro and even a tele ) for a fraction of a price of a Leica S lens.

    If can get a Leica 24mm S lens for a good price, I will jump on it - love wide angles. But since the lens is super new, used is a big no no.

    I would like to compliment my beloved Leica S with a few lens and money will be tight from a few years onwards - kids are a priority. Contax seem the way to go.

    Who would guess there was a decent alternative price wise on medium format land ? .)
    Leica M9 | 50mm Summilux ASPH | www.proenca.eu

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Hi,

    I have been to two safaris in Kenya.

    On both trips I took a Hasselblad H system, along with 35mm system.

    On the first trip I had the H1 and was shooting film.

    Provia 100, exposed at 320 and processed at 400.

    26 rolls of 220. Excellent results. I have 30X40 prints hanging in my family room.

    Lens HC 210 with 1.7X converter.

    On the second visit I used a H3Dii -31 with similar results.

    You can use MFD if you have space inside the vehicle.

    R--

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    I've been to Africa twice and also did Safaris over there.

    So, let me say this:

    Except for very special incidents, you usually CAN NOT compete with any of these professional photographers out there, waiting weeks for the right picture. So, there is really no need to expose your precious camera to these circumstances - it anything goes wrong, you will cry.

    Given all the big numbers in purchasing additional lenses, I would recommend another strategy:

    - buy a small DSLR or Mirrorless System + two lenses (or three)

    You can sell the equipment after the trip or keep parts of it or whatever.

    For further readings:

    About the equipment (especially re a Leica S2 and a Panasonic GH2)
    On Safari


    About the Safari Days:
    Digital Safari Equipment Tips

    If you use the Safari as an excuse to buy a new lens for your S-System ... well

    Regards

    Stan ROX
    stanROX.com
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Excellent comments and suggestions by all in this thread and I often use MF for some local wildlife..but that is where I can set up a sturdy tripod and and have time to prepare for most shots.

    As daunting and often times over-complicated a DSLR might seem, it can be set easily to where it's requires no more input than a S2 (which I've used on a number of occasions), so I'm in agreement that for the long tele shots, a DSLR is the way to go in most cases.

    Keep in mind the crop factor of the S2. A 350mm telephoto has a fild of view equivelent to a 280mm on a full frame 35mm camera...so not particulary long. Keep this crop factor in mind when considering purchase of any lens.

    Lastly have fun!

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    The nice thing about 300--350mm class of lens is you can still handhold it--they are not that big nor heavy. So it is a flexible lens for very variable situations where you need magnification. You can still make nice images of wildlife in a landscape--elephants are probably easier than hummingbirds. I remember a very nice image of bears in the fun with MF thread taken with a 300mm. You can also use it for landscapes as well. Most 1.4X converters work well with them.

    I have a 300mm. Not my most used lens. I rarely use it. But because of its size, it is something I can carry--Pentax is a little bit of an outlier because it has two 300mm lenses and the f/5.6 version I have is quite compact and light, the f/4 version might stay home more because of weight. I have no idea about the Contax lens.

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    RENT RENT RENT

    don't buy them until you try it out. Those long lenses have such a specialized application you probably wont' use them again if you are an amateur. You can try to get long medium format lenses but I'd just rent a Canon 1d and a telephoto 400mm plus. they are cheap now
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    I had the 350 Contax lens for a while when I used to shoot with that system. Superb optically but big and heavy (much bigger and heavier than the Hassy / Pentax alternatives mentioned by others above). Weights almost 4 kg. Despite what others say here, I think you will want to stabilise/support it somehow rather than handhold. Also ask the driver to switch off the engine if he doesn't do it himself, to avoid camera shake - whether you handhold or support the camera.

    Also don't forget that some animals will be closer to the car (giraffes, antelopes, elephants) and the 350 will be too long - and the 35 perhaps still too wide - and you'll wish you had a normal lens with you (Planar 80 f2.0 maybe, or the Distagon 55 f3.5, if you want to stick with the Contax line for cost reasons - both superb lenses that can be bought for next to nothing today).

    Last edited by baudolino; 18th July 2013 at 14:11. Reason: added picture

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Buy a second-hand Canon/Nikon with long telephoto lenses. The best place is FM Forums. Don't rent them.
    If you don't want to keep them, you can sell them after you come back with a loss less than renting. I used the Nikon 200-400mm VR I for 3 years (bought from FM Forums) and just sold it at Craigslist with only $100 loss. It is a top-quality zoom lens and great for big animals but a little short for birds. It would be a perfect lens for your Safari. It's still good with x1.4 TC. If you are strong you can hold it for a while. VR is great.
    You can bring the S2 with a couple of lenses along with the Canon/Nikon but not with a long telephoto lens. I've had a Hasselblad HC 300mm but I would not recommend it. It's too heavy and needs lots of light. The pictures would be blurred if you shot in a car.

    Good luck for your Safari!
    Pramote
    Last edited by Landscapelover; 20th July 2013 at 05:11.
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Hey guys, I am really glad I found this thread. Ok. My thoughts, in no particular order.

    I lead photo safaris, and I also shoot with medium format gear. I have a Phase One DF, IQ160 and my longest lens is a Schneider 240mm (155mm equivalent in 35mm terms). Yes, medium format isn't the best format to shoot everything, it does have its place. I have found the 240mm lens to be the perfect lens, as it gives me enough sky to work with while still giving the subject enough size in the frame. It's a great balance, and it works for me. Most of my shots are at ISO 100 or 200, and I am often at around f/8 or f/11 and have around 1/250 sec to work with. I shoot on a bean bag, and it's plenty stable for what I am doing.

    I can post some examples when I am back in the studio tomorrow if you are interested in seeing some of what I have shot recently.

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Hi Andy, I would very much be interested in seeing some of your recent work with MF.

    Proenca, I have tried the Hasselblad 350mm, Pentax 67 400mm, and Leica R 400mm on my S2 and it is a real challenge to get photos with no evidence of camera/lens movement. It is doable, but my keeper rate was fairly low for the short period I tried each combination. I expect that my keeper rate would have improved over time as I perfect techniques for the lens. However, I am not a complete noob when it comes to telephoto work having previously owned and used the Canon 500mm for sports and wildlife several years.

    Maybe Pesto can chime in and share experience/advise from his use of the S2 with the Mamiya 500mm.

    Whatever you do as far as lenses go, do it as soon as possible and practice a lot before your trip to Africa.

    One other thought based on Andy's comment. The Leica 180mm is equivalent to about 146mm which is not far from the 155mm equivalent Andy has been using successfully. You can probably pick up a used 180mm for a decent price.

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    MF does work on safari - but I just don't see it as the best tool.

    I could not get this without fast autofocus and image stabilization. Many wildlife shots are snatched, not contemplated! I feel MF is best for the latter.

    Bill CB

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    What do you intend on doing with the work after you return?

    Do you exhibit monster prints in a gallery for sale, or do you prefer self-publishing a Blurb book for friends and family? Big difference in terms of ability to crop, etc.

    I'm not a fan of 35mm DSLRs either ... much preferring to use my S2 for anything I can ... even to the point of defying conventional wisdom. Frankly, I also think too many folks under-estimate what you can do with these MFD cameras, especially what you can and cannot shoot with a S2.

    Personally, I find it a bit creatively stimulating to have some limitations so you are forced to approach the situation differently. There are so many damned good shots, many by those who's business it is to take weeks for a few great images, that it seems less likely I'll get anything as good of a similar subject, no matter who I am or what I have with me. So, I try to think differently.

    I owned the Contax 350/4 ... it is HUGE and super slow focusing. I also owned the Hasselblad 300/4.5, which focuses a little faster, but is also big and cumbersome. If I even took a long lens, and had a choice, I'd do the Hasselblad HC 210/4 over the Contax 210/4 (which I also used) ... the Hassleblad is optically better, and provides the bonus of allowing use of the central shutter on your S2 for high speed flash sync up to 1/750 shutter to avoid those pesky white skies. Perhaps not correct for field shots of Lions whom you do not want to startle , but can make for nice people and environmental site shots using a SF58 speed-light.

    For a wide I use a CS 35mm (28mm equivalent) because it distorts less when shooting with people in the frame (or wildlife at the edges of the frame). For the wider shots I'd stitch some 35mm lens shots for panos. The Leica S35mm is miles ahead of the Contax and Hasselblad versions.

    Just something different to think about.

    - Marc

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Bill....as I was scrolling down this page reading each post and started to view your image, I thought "hmmm", not much to it! Then I continued to scroll till I viewed the entire frame of the shot including that little bird in the lower right hand corner. Wow, changes the entire impact of the shot (an excellent one at that). As they say "I've now seen the entire picture and get it"...LOL! The approach to the subject matter is different and unique and that is one of a number of reasons it really works!

    Marc said something in his post (above) that truly resonated with me. Yes, I am a firm believer that the right tool for the job is generally preferable but I too sometimes like the challenge of approaching things differently and find it creatively stimulating to have some limitations. There have been times I have used MFD when a 35mm DLSR system was the preferable camera/lens combo to use simply to see how I could get the MFD system to adapt, hopefully resulting in capturing images that are both interesting, a bit different and ultimately useful.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Ok, here are just a few images to illustrate what can be done with medium format out on safari. All shots taken with a Phase One DF + 240mm lens.
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    I would like to put a little twist to the "right tool for the job" concept. Having shot medium-fomat film and digital for documentary work, I would say that you need to develop the "right skills for the job." All the types of images that are presented as proof that AF is required were also made before the invention of AF. While some feature make the "job" easier, the photographer can also compensate for the limitations of the equipment by developing the skills. The first AF camera I bought, Hexar AF, was annoying as hell as I was missing more and slower than with my MF cameras. I did figure it out, but if your photography is only successful because of the technology, you are not there yet. BTW, I find MF on my Pentax 300mm on my 645D faster and easier than the AF.
    Will

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    I agree, Will. Some of the best safari pictures were made LONG before AF!
    Bill
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Caulfeild-Browne View Post
    I agree, Will. Some of the best safari pictures were made LONG before AF!
    Bill
    Same thing with publishable pro sport images. The photographer intimately knew his subject matter and often anticipated the shot in advance...pre focused and had most settings nailed prior to pushing the shutter. Same thing with wildlife shots. Some of the most memorable ones were done long before AF was commonly used.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Quote Originally Posted by D&A View Post
    Same thing with wildlife shots. Some of the most memorable ones were done long before AF was commonly used.

    Dave (D&A)
    Certainly most of the original wildlife shots. I confess that yet another 600mm critter eyeball shot bores me to tears these days ... (and I confess that I've shot my fair share of them myself too).
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    I don't think autofocus is needed for good wildlife photography, unless your interpretation of the natural world is all about action, killing, chases, etc.
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Certainly most of the original wildlife shots. I confess that yet another 600mm critter eyeball shot bores me to tears these days ... (and I confess that I've shot my fair share of them myself too).
    Yeah, I agree and I have sinned too! In the end textbook ID shots are just that - you really don't want them hanging on your wall. Shots with the wildlife in context (se Andy's above) are far more interesting.

    I have shown this pic before but it's worth repeating as an example of what I mean. Interestingly, it was not taken with a DSLR, despite my first post in this thread, but a Phase DF and 240 mm manually focussed!

    Bill CB

    www.billcaulfeild-browne.ca
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Biggs View Post
    Ok, here are just a few images to illustrate what can be done with medium format out on safari. All shots taken with a Phase One DF + 240mm lens.
    Andy,

    Thank you for sharing your photos. Well done. I have done the close up wildlife portraits with super telephotos and dSLRs. However, I have been migrating toward the environmental wildlife photos such as you have posted. I came to the conclusion that I prefer to see the wildlife with some context.
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Bill/Mark

    I totally agree with you both and Andy. Those environmental wildlife shots are beautiful and appeal (to me at least) much more than just animal/tight background shots we often see.

    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    But the great thing about the tight animal portraits is nature documentary film makers can go to the local zoo and get the shots they need without having to blow the budget on actually going out into the wild. Much nicer hotels too.

    + 3 on the environmental work.

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Maybe Pesto can chime in and share experience/advise from his use of the S2 with the Mamiya 500mm.

    I have indeed been using the mamiya 500 APO on both the P1 DF/ P40+ and more recently with my Leica S2-P with the Leica adapter; actually, I go back a little further back than that having used it as originally intended on a Mamiya 645 film camera when it was first offered.

    On any of the "modern" cameras you will be be limited to stop down metering and manual focus. The focusing "problem" turns out to be not all that significant given Leicas bright view finder, the lenses great optics, and its inherent shallow depth of field at open aperture (which is what I have used for the majority of my images). I have always loved this lens as its image quality, when I am able to get things right, is exceptionally good. I would however hasten to warn that this can be a difficult and unforgiving lens to use and it is heavy and cumbersome to use in the field, especially the South Florida swamps and marshes. A strong tripod is an absolute necessity and a gimbal head is to strongly recommended as well. All that I can say is that this lens will test your patience, your skills, and your endurance but in the end I still find it all worth while... well, most of the time I do!

    Since the question has been asked, I believe that my preference would be for the Leica S2 and Contax 350. You would gain full open aperture metering, superb image quality, and a much more compact and manageable package...just my two cents.

    I hope that this helps and wish you well.

    Douglas Benson.

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    I have the S2 and was in a similar situation where I was deciding what to carry for an upcoming trip to a rather remote and rugged geography where I would be hiking for 8-10 hours. It may be heresy, but I am going to get a compact super-zoom - the Panasonic FZ200 (600MM FF equiv at the long end) as a supplement to the S2 for long range shots. Playing with sample RAWs from the FZ200 and looking at some Flickr samples convinced me that is the perfect companion to the S2 for my purposes. S2 with 35 and 120 + FZ200. My M9 will stay home. I will see how it works out.

    I don't exhibit my prints in a gallery [they are not that good anyway!], nor do I print big, but still like to have good quality IQ when displayed on a monitor. In good light, the newer compact super-zooms are quite capable. Some fleeting photo ops will present themselves only at a distance and for trips such as these you better be prepared for them - if you are fiddling with changing lenses, you will likely miss them.

    On another note: if you are patient, you can get native S lenses at a good price from private sellers. I was able to get the 35, 70 and 180 S lenses in mint condition for US $9K.

    Or, you can ditch the S2 altogether and get the Nikon D800E with the 24-70 and the new 80-400 lens which will cover all bases with no loss in IQ + allow you much greater hand-holding capability. For your once in a lifetime trip, that may be a viable option to consider.

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Bill/Mark

    I totally agree with you both and Andy. Those environmental wildlife shots are beautiful and appeal (to me at least) much more than just animal/tight background shots we often see.

    I think we're up to +4 on the enviormental work and justifiably so. I think at one time or another many of us were into close up portrait type wildlife imagery but it's only natural to gravitate to or have our concept of wildlife photography change. It's no different than changing likes or dislikes for different forms of image capture.

    For the most part I've moved away from the super telephotos of the 35mm DSLR variety, but am guilty of keeping a medium format 600mm for occasional use. At least in the case of this lens, its manual focus and does often present a challenge under certain types of shooting situations and for this I am thankful.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    I understand the above comments about "environmental wildlife".
    As some of you may know, I love MFD as much as all of you. However, if I have a chance to go to Safari tour, at least I want to get a few shots of the lion etc with big bright eyes. I don't think you will have this opportunity with the Leica S2 unless you will be there for months but you may turn out to be their meal
    If this is a yellowstone trip, I may try the Leica S2 alone but this is a Safari! I don't want to scratch my head or cry by not bringing necessary equipments or finding out most pictures by a long MF tele in a car or in low light are all blurred.
    I would bring both a 35mm-DSLR and long tele (prime or zoom) to get big bright lion eyes (at least to show to your kids you went to Safari) and a wide angle lens and the S2 with a couple of lenses to get environmental wildlife. The 35mm-DSLR weight nothing. And I think it is a challenge to create pictures with a super tele that different from others, I think there is always a possiibility.
    To be honest, the quality of pictures by D800E and Leica S2 are not that much difference. Why bother to use the MF lens which is good for only slow environment over the big aperture with VR (or even zoom) 35mm -DSLR lens. I don't think, in general, you can tell from pictures whether which ones are taken by Leica S2 or D800E.
    The bonus is you can get the African landscape with freezing stars, milky way or star trails with the 35mm DSLR. I don't believe Graham will go to Safari without his D600
    Well! This is a MFD forums, what can I say? Try to post the same title in LUL or Fm Forums and the responses would be very interesting

    Best
    Pramote
    Last edited by Landscapelover; 24th July 2013 at 02:56.
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Landscapelover View Post
    I understand the above comments about "environmental wildlife".
    As some of you may know, I love MFD. However, if I have a chance to go to Safari tour, at least I want to get a few shots of the lion etc with big bright eyes. I don't think you will have this opportunity with the Leica S2 (I have it myself) unless you will be there for months but you may turn out to be their meal
    If this is a yellowstone trip, I may try the Leica S2 alone but this is a Safari! I don't want to scratch my head or cry by not bringing necessary equipments or the pictures by a long tele are all blurred.
    I would bring both the 35mm-DSLR and long tele and S2 with a couple of lens to get both "environmental" and regular wildlife.
    Well! This is a MFD forums, what can I say. Try to post the same title in LUL or Fm Forums and the response would be very interesting

    Best
    Pramote
    Leave ALL the gear at home, and buy a "Lion with big bright eyes" from Shutter Stock for $20. There are a million to choose from ...

    Just yanking your chain

    - Marc
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Leave ALL the gear at home, and buy a "Lion with big bright eyes" from Shutter Stock for $20. There are a million to choose from ...

    Just yanking your chain

    - Marc
    You can buy tons of Sport Illustrated Magazines (Model Edition) to dream of but they will never be better than your wife You can tell the story to your grand kids and they will not get bored.
    You've never known. You may get a picture of butterflies in front of the lion's bright eyes and can win the prize.
    I would not be too pessimistic. Be positive

    Pramote
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Landscapelover View Post
    You can buy tons of Sport Illustrated Magazines (Model Edition) to dream of but they will never be better than your wife You can tell the story to your grand kids and they will not get bored.
    You've never known. You may get a picture of butterflies in front of the lion's bright eyes and can win the prize.
    I would not be too pessimistic. Be positive

    Pramote
    I wouldn't recommend trying to make one of those Lions your wife ... or her cubs will be dining on your carcass ... THEN the other Safari photographers WILL have something interesting to photograph.

    - Marc

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Quote Originally Posted by D&A View Post
    I think we're up to +4 on the enviormental work and justifiably so. I think at one time or another many of us were into close up portrait type wildlife imagery but it's only natural to gravitate to or have our concept of wildlife photography change. It's no different than changing likes or dislikes for different forms of image capture.

    For the most part I've moved away from the super telephotos of the 35mm DSLR variety, but am guilty of keeping a medium format 600mm for occasional use. At least in the case of this lens, its manual focus and does often present a challenge under certain types of shooting situations and for this I am thankful.

    Dave (D&A)

    Over the years I too have moved away from the "filling the frame is the name of the game" approach to photographing critters in favor of capturing a more environmental view. Given the respect and courtesy that I see as due animals in their native habitat, a longer lens is the appropriate tool for me on many occasions and I believe that this consideration is, at least in part, what the original question here may have been addressing. As an additional benefit of the 500 APO, I find the perspective and rendering very much to my liking despite the "inconvenience" of lugging it about in the wilds. With the availability of the Contax to S2 adapter, I have been giving serious consideration to buying a Contax 350 to not only provide a wider view but to significantly lighten my load as well.

    Douglas Benson

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    Wink Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    I wouldn't recommend trying to make one of those Lions your wife ... or her cubs will be dining on your carcass ... THEN the other Safari photographers WILL have something interesting to photograph.

    - Marc
    Marc, You quite obviously have not had occasion to meet my dear wife

    Douglas Benson
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Does the Contax 350/4 with the adapter auto focus on the S2?

    Just curious?

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Landscapelover View Post
    I would bring both a 35mm-DSLR and long tele (prime or zoom) to get big bright lion eyes (at least to show to your kids you went to Safari) and a wide angle lens and the S2 with a couple of lenses to get environmental wildlife. The 35mm-DSLR weight nothing. And I think it is a challenge to create pictures with a super tele that different from others, I think there is always a possiibility.
    To be honest, the quality of pictures by D800E and Leica S2 are not that much difference. Why bother to use the MF lens which is good for only slow environment over the big aperture with VR (or even zoom) 35mm -DSLR lens. I don't think, in general, you can tell from pictures whether which ones are taken by Leica S2 or D800E.
    The bonus is you can get the African landscape with freezing stars, milky way or star trails with the 35mm DSLR. I don't believe Graham will go to Safari without his D600
    Well! This is a MFD forums, what can I say? Try to post the same title in LUL or Fm Forums and the responses would be very interesting

    Best
    Pramote
    Pramote,

    When I was on Safari last time in 2010 I took a D3s and D3x combo with 14-24, 24-70, 70-200VR and a 200-400VR. On the Land Rover I was shooting almost always with the 70-200VR or 200-400VR. I also had a 1.4x converter.

    I'd definitely consider the D800 as an alternative body to the D3x that I took (also the D800 was only a glimmer in it's designer's eye anyway then). For the Lion shots and so on I did find the Nikon AF, VR and shutter rates helpful in snagging sharp shots from an open vehicle. I used a monopod but some of my fellow shooters had wimberly's mounted on the LR cross bars (this was Sabi Sabi where they have open Land Rovers - btw for that place - been there 3x ).

    Token bulls-eye Lion's eyeball shot
    Last edited by GrahamWelland; 25th July 2013 at 03:34.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Quote Originally Posted by rollei8is View Post
    Does the Contax 350/4 with the adapter auto focus on the S2?

    Just curious?
    Yes, it does. Automatic aperture also. Behaves just like a native Leica S lens.

    Image below - Leica S2 / 120 mm - cropped image. Great blue turaco in flight. Took me about half an hour of repeated attempts to catch the bird like this. Would have been great to have the 350mm Contax lens via an adapter, at the time (plus heavy tripod and a Wimberly head... but I probably would not have wanted to carry all that equipment with me in the first place).

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Be careful with giraffes.

    First day you take 50 pictures of any giraffe you cross. And you blame those stupid tourists who don't even slow down and contemplate the beauty.
    Second day, after 325 pictures of giraffes, you start waiting for a nice group in a great landscape.
    From the 3rd day on, you don't stop anymore and blame those stupid tourists who seem so fascinated by any standard giraffe.

    Back home, you start showing your giraffes to your friends. Normally after the 50th, 75th for the most robust ones, they all sleep !

    Also, you need sometimes 2 cameras to take the large animal. Like here with my son, I took the legs, he took the head. Easy to stitch afterwards.

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    More seriously, safaris are great experiences.

    You must be aware that dust is everywhere, and when the car stops suddenly to watch an scene, you must wait 10-20 seconds before dust comes down.
    Not a situation where you want to change your lenses.

    As shown above, you can be quite close to animals, so you need an wide angle, also for beautiful landscapes.
    And as you are a hunter, you will be frustrated not to have a long lens.

    What I would do is take the MF + dslr / 300 or 400 mm.
    You sell the dslr when you are back, if you buy it used it shouldn't cost you much.
    I doubt it is easy to sell a contax 350 that you will "never" use again.

    Enjoy your trip, and take the time to stop the car, feel the nature, walk (only in safe areas), stay in the middle of a herd of elephants, etc.
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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Pramote,

    When I was on Safari last time in 2010 I took a D3s and D3x combo with 14-24, 24-70, 70-200VR and a 200-400VR. On the Land Rover I was shooting almost always with the 70-200VR or 200-400VR. I also had a 1.4x converter.

    I'd definitely consider the D800 as an alternative body to the D3x that I took (also the D800 was only a glimmer in it's designer's eye anyway then). For the Lion shots and so on I did find the Nikon AF, VR and shutter rates helpful in snagging sharp shots from an open vehicle. I used a monopod but some of my fellow shooters had wimberly's mounted on the LR cross bars (this was Sabi Sabi where they have open Land Rovers - btw for that place - been there 3x ).

    Token bulls-eye Lion's eyeball shot
    We've had a lot in common! Thanks for sharing the lion with a beautiful eye.
    Pramote

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Not sure where you're going but when Oliver says close, he means CLOSE (the leopard walked up to the LR, not the other way around) ... I've often had situations where the long lens minimum focus distance got in the way and you definitely benefit from something normal/wider.

    Last edited by GrahamWelland; 24th July 2013 at 17:46.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    I would not invest in MF lenses just for the Safari, especially at the prices you are referring to.

    In a Safari you need
    1. normal-wide for general scenery and animals up close. Your S2 will be great in such situations.
    2. Long telephoto. Here cropped sensors are a big help. Get a Nikon D3200 (24mp DX) and a used VR Telephoto. Even 300mm will give you 450mm and with a 1.4TC you get 600mm equivalent. If you are buying new you will get VAT refund at the airport. The total outlay for a new body and a used telephoto will be less than your options. After the Safari if you sell them, then it would be practically free.

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    Re: African lens help !! Please share your experience :)

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Not sure where you're going but when Oliver says close, he means CLOSE (the leopard walked up to the LR, not the other way around) ... I've often had situations where the long lens minimum focus distance got in the way and you definitely benefit from something normal/wider.
    Grrr, spent 3 days in Serengeti only looking for leopards, couldn't see one ...
    Still, love that place.

    We had close visits from some animals when we were camping in Kenya & Tanzania :
    - hyenas coming at night and eating the tent
    - lions surrounding the "camp" (our 3 tents, in the middle of nowhere) ... we slept in the Masai Mara - Serengeti boarder offices after we drove there and asked the scarred guard if statistically we were in danger ...
    - 2 lions surrounding the car in the evening as they started hunting : even if we were protected in our closed car, I can tell you we felt like food when they were looking at us ... those big cats who usually sleep so calm
    - a herd of elephants willing to drink in the river next to which we had our tents ...
    - ... our tents that we found flat on the ground when we came back in the evening : not the elephants but the baboons' work
    - and at night, you browse the horizon around the camp with your light and see hundreds of eyes around ... "are you sleeping ? - no"

    Lodges especially in Tanzania are top, but camping especially in Kenya bring unique emotions and long-term souvenirs !! (more secured in Tanzania & South Africa, perhaps Kenya is safer now)
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