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Thread: Taking a Nikon D810 on an African Sufari

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    Member Mr.Gale's Avatar
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    Taking a Nikon D810 on an African Sufari

    I'm more of a landscape photographer and have done very little wildlife photography but I'm going to Africa in a couple of weeks and I need your advice. I'll be mostly using a 80-400mm f5.6 lens and will probably shoot at between f5.6 and f11 at 500 to 2000 of a sec, auto ISO in manual mode. Does this sound reasonable for shooting animals? Also, should I use AF-S (single servo AF) or AF-F (full time servo AF)? If you have any other suggestions, I would very much appreciate it.
    Thanks for any help you can give me,

    Mr.Gale

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    Senior Subscriber Member Steen's Avatar
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    Taking a Nikon D810 on an African Safari


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    Member Mr.Gale's Avatar
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    Re: Taking a Nikon D810 on an African Safari

    Quote Originally Posted by Steen View Post
    Thanks, Steen! I'll check them out.

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    Re: Taking a Nikon D810 on an African Sufari

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Gale View Post
    I'm more of a landscape photographer and have done very little wildlife photography but I'm going to Africa in a couple of weeks and I need your advice. I'll be mostly using a 80-400mm f5.6 lens and will probably shoot at between f5.6 and f11 at 500 to 2000 of a sec, auto ISO in manual mode. Does this sound reasonable for shooting animals? Also, should I use AF-S (single servo AF) or AF-F (full time servo AF)? If you have any other suggestions, I would very much appreciate it.
    Thanks for any help you can give me,

    Mr.Gale
    I've never been on an African safari, but I understand these expeditions are not cheap (and can be once in a lifetime). As such, I'd try and find some local wildlife areas to practice taking photographs of animals with different AF settings if you can, just to get some more practice taking photos of wildlife....even if it's just squirrels or birds. You may be planning to do such already but just wanted to throw it out there. Enjoy your expedition!

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    Senior Member Swissblad's Avatar
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    Re: Taking a Nikon D810 on an African Sufari

    I really would recommend taking a second body eg D500

    Seriously, a back up is always a good idea, and a Body with a bit more reach and higher framerate will be a Benefit.

    HTH, S
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    Re: Taking a Nikon D810 on an African Sufari

    I shot some quick and dirty iPhone video while out, and though it's more for memento than anything particularly artistic, I thought it might help you plan. The ride is quite bumpy (this has been stabilized in post), so anything more than a 200-500 or that class needs to be properly secured. Vehicles specifically used for photography have folding brackets mounted to the side and usually a Wimberley gimbal on top; the driver and tracker know to verify everyone has secured their gear before moving on. Other than this the main advantage of a photo-specific drive is that you get a seat row to yourself, but I got that anyway. We were just five to a vehicle that seats nine. (LR Defender with a 3-bench insert. Land Cruisers were common as well, saw many of those.) The naturalist driver was also a serious amateur photographer, so was very responsive to photographic needs (which are different from general touristing) and was stoked to have another photographer along. The enjoyment from a photographic standpoint greatly depends on the driver and fellow passengers; different lodges attract different clientele. The main advantage of arranging photo specific or private drives (if available) is you're guaranteed peace and quiet and either the driver understands interesting subjects don't make interesting photographs but it's about light and other properties, and shooting plain-jane vanilla ho-him hippos in morning light can be just as interesting and more photographically interesting than getting a poor shot of some highly elusive animal. Either that or just do what you tell them. Good photography and "counting leopards in trees" is really two very different activities.



    If you go on the big concession operations in the NPs... those will be far more crowded.
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    Workshop Member ptomsu's Avatar
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    Re: Taking a Nikon D810 on an African Sufari

    I would not hesitate a second to take the D810 for an African Safari. Have taken my D800E 4 years ago and worked absolutely fabulous. The D810 should be even better!

    Best lenses for safari (taking into account that you most times will be sitting in a car for shooting, so minimum focal length is definitely as important as is maximum focal length) - thus my recommendation in this order:

    1) Nikkor 80-400VR2
    2) Nikkor 200-500 (while more reach is good, I found myself the 80mm of the 80-400 much more important than the maximum fl of 500mm of the 200-500

    Have fun

    Peter

    PS: BTW my next safari in November will be with a totally different system . Fuji XT2 and the marvelous Fujinon 100-400 - I think an even better suited combo
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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Taking a Nikon D810 on an African Sufari

    One interesting camera/lens combination I would look at for something like a safari or anywhere else where there's a need for reach variety and a backup camera (I would never go on a safari without a backup camera) is:

    D810 with 80-400
    D7200 with 200-500 giving 300-750 eqv. reach

    I would prefer the D7200 for a safari since it's smaller, lighter, cheaper and has more MP than the D500. For a sports event or an airshow, that may look different. The D7200 would probably need the battery grip to be comfortable to hold with that long lens.

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    Senior Member Swissblad's Avatar
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    Re: Taking a Nikon D810 on an African Sufari

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    One interesting camera/lens combination I would look at for something like a safari or anywhere else where there's a need for reach variety and a backup camera (I would never go on a safari without a backup camera) is:

    D810 with 80-400
    D7200 with 200-500 giving 300-750 eqv. reach

    I would prefer the D7200 for a safari since it's smaller, lighter, cheaper and has more MP than the D500. For a sports event or an airshow, that may look different. The D7200 would probably need the battery grip to be comfortable to hold with that long lens.
    Ah, Jorgen
    You've just never given the D500 a try...... Intoxicating.
    That said, I also prefer the 80-400mm to the 200-500mm on a dx body
    More compact and Easy to handhold - I find the latter rather heavy.
    An issue with the D500 I have are the rather large AF points......
    Have a good WE - regards from Roros.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Taking a Nikon D810 on an African Sufari

    Quote Originally Posted by Swissblad View Post
    Ah, Jorgen
    You've just never given the D500 a try...... Intoxicating.
    That said, I also prefer the 80-400mm to the 200-500mm on a dx body
    More compact and Easy to handhold - I find the latter rather heavy.
    An issue with the D500 I have are the rather large AF points......
    Have a good WE - regards from Roros.
    The 200-500 is not only heavy, but very large and not very suitable for general travel. When that is said, image quality and VR are fantastic, and it's a great lens for sports, wildlife and air shows. For travel, I would prefer the 80-400 or 300 PF.

    As for the D500, yes, it's great, but it's overkill as a backup camera, and the D7200 offers more megapixels and great image quality too.
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    Re: Taking a Nikon D810 on an African Sufari

    Quote Originally Posted by Swissblad View Post
    I really would recommend taking a second body eg D500

    Seriously, a back up is always a good idea, and a Body with a bit more reach and higher framerate will be a Benefit.

    HTH, S
    The D810 on 1.5 crop will match the D500 for reach but the D500 will certainly win (by a lot) on burst rate.

    Also, I would rent the 200-500mm for this trip. IMHO will be much faster focusing and have a constant aperture when compared to the 80-400mm. But that is just me, as I hate the 80-400mm lens.

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    Workshop Member ptomsu's Avatar
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    Re: Taking a Nikon D810 on an African Sufari

    Quote Originally Posted by BlinkingEye View Post
    The D810 on 1.5 crop will match the D500 for reach but the D500 will certainly win (by a lot) on burst rate.

    Also, I would rent the 200-500mm for this trip. IMHO will be much faster focusing and have a constant aperture when compared to the 80-400mm. But that is just me, as I hate the 80-400mm lens.
    While I definitely agree on all of that, I must say I doubt that the D500 burst rate is really needed for safari, except if you are mostly shooting hunting cheetas or lions or leopards, but how often will that be the case - really?

    Burst rate is rather something for sports etc.

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    Senior Subscriber Member Steen's Avatar
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    Taking a Nikon D810 on an African Safari


    Personally I'd be absolutely fine with a D810 even for crop mode captures (in my country that camera body is just too expensive for my taste).
    Still I believe Swissblad has a point about the D500.
    See this 8:20 long video by Steve Perry about: "Crop Camera vs. Cropping Full Frame"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6rZ...ature=youtu.be

    At 3:10 Steve Perry compares the D500 with the D810 in crop mode
    If you'd like to take a closer look at the images in the video, check out the supplement page over at the site at the link below.

    http://www.backcountrygallery.com/ph...a-crop-camera/

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    Member Mr.Gale's Avatar
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    Re: Taking a Nikon D810 on an African Sufari

    I just got home yesterday and had a fantastic time. What I ended up taking is the D810 with the 80-400mm and my D800E with a 24-70mm. I have the 200-500mm and it is a very good lens but it is not as flexible as the 80-400mm. A lot of the time the animals were very close so the lower end was very useful and the dust was a VERY serious problem and you would not want to change lenses.
    I'll be posting images later.

    Mr.Gale
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