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Thread: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

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    Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    Heading to Africa (Botswana and Zambia) for a few weeks and debating what to take for a photography kit. I have an A7R and a number of FE lenses, including70-200 FE zoom. The drawback to the A7R is that the autofocus performance is just "ok." I was thinking of renting an A7II or A7S. The A7II apparently has much better autofocus than the A7R; the A7S has superb low light capabilities, which worked wonderfully for me on a trip to India last Fall in difficult lighting conditions, and I will be out early in the morning and late afternoon and even into the night in Africa. I could take the A7R as a backup and keep my 24-70 FE zoom on it. I am also thinking of leaving the 70-200 FE zoom at home and renting an A mount long zoom with an adapter. A Sony 70-400 zoom, a Sigma 50-500 zoom or a Tamron 150-600 zoom. I may be wrong about the need for such a long lens as I am staying at camps where the safari dirves can go offroad. I also don't know how well such a long lens will work off a tripod. I am hoping that a beanbag setup will work in the safari vehicles.
    TIA for any advice. The advice I got last Fall here recommending the A7s for India was excellent. (A portfolio of my photographs from India is now up on my website.)

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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    My advice would be to take the A7R with the 70-200 and rent a A7II with a 70-400/50-500/150-600 or so lens. I went on a Safari about a year ago and I really didn't use anything shorter than the 55FE and that was mostly for people shots on the river tour or if an animal happened to come within 15 feet of the vehicle. As for supports you can never have too many bean bags but a monopod is handy to have depending on the vehicle type you tour in. I had an SUV and I was the only one in it other than my guide so it made for a great photo experience.

    Enjoy your trip.
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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by HiredArm View Post
    My advice would be to take the A7R with the 70-200 and rent a A7II with a 70-400/50-500/150-600 or so lens. I went on a Safari about a year ago and I really didn't use anything shorter than the 55FE and that was mostly for people shots on the river tour or if an animal happened to come within 15 feet of the vehicle. As for supports you can never have too many bean bags but a monopod is handy to have depending on the vehicle type you tour in. I had an SUV and I was the only one in it other than my guide so it made for a great photo experience.

    Enjoy your trip.
    Thanks. Why take both the 70-200 and the 70-400?

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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by hcubell View Post
    Thanks. Why take both the 70-200 and the 70-400?
    There are some pics that you'll want with max resolution. There's some that you'll want to be able to take from a hand hold able position. Being able to swap fast is a bonus. Africa can be a very dusty place.

    that being said take the longest lens that you can carry comfortably and manipulate in a vehicle easily. The Sigma or Tamron might be a better choice as they give a bit more length on the ong side.
    Last edited by iiiNelson; 6th July 2015 at 15:31.
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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by hcubell View Post
    Heading to Africa (Botswana and Zambia) for a few weeks and debating what to take for a photography kit. I have an A7R and a number of FE lenses, ...
    I have a different (not necessarily better...) take on an Africa trip, and travel photography in general.

    I visited South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia 18 months ago, and took a Leica ME, with 15, 24, 35, 50 and 90mm primes. I had a Fuji X100 as a backup.

    For my style of photography, this was a perfect kit. I didn't find changing lenses sucked dust into the sensor. I personally didn't miss a longer lens as I don't shoot birds, and found that on safari that most animals (elephant, lion, giraffe, leopard, and rhino) were very close and the 90mm was sometimes too long! I took photographs of the people and places we visited, and only had two regrets. First, the low light early in the morning and late in the evening made it difficult to capture photos. Many of the game rides to see the animals start before dawn, and end after dusk, and I was constantly wishing the Leica had better high ISO performance. Second, I missed numerous opportunities to shoot video.

    Photos here: Rivers Photography | Personal photography by Michael B Rivers
    Click on "South Africa" or "Botswana" on the tag cloud.

    I have since left Leica, and plan on taking my A7II, A7s and 15mm to 90mm primes, upgraded to the 15mm Mkiii, Loxia 35 and 50mm, and hopefully Batis 25mm to Iceland in August, and Europe this winter. I will bring the Zeiss 24-70mm zoom with variable ND filter for video on the A7s, and a small shotgun mike for interviews. I think this will be an excellent travel kit, and takes care of the two problems from my Africa trip.

    Have fun on your trip,

    Michael
    Michael Rivers
    Leica Q, SL


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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    I am now in India with my A7s (left the A7r behind), few manual primes (no FE28/2), my NEX-5NM (monochrome camera) and Leica MM. Working very nicely.

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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by RiversPhoto View Post
    I have a different (not necessarily better...) take on an Africa trip, and travel photography in general.

    I visited South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia 18 months ago, and took a Leica ME, with 15, 24, 35, 50 and 90mm primes. I had a Fuji X100 as a backup.

    For my style of photography, this was a perfect kit. I didn't find changing lenses sucked dust into the sensor. I personally didn't miss a longer lens as I don't shoot birds, and found that on safari that most animals (elephant, lion, giraffe, leopard, and rhino) were very close and the 90mm was sometimes too long! I took photographs of the people and places we visited, and only had two regrets. First, the low light early in the morning and late in the evening made it difficult to capture photos. Many of the game rides to see the animals start before dawn, and end after dusk, and I was constantly wishing the Leica had better high ISO performance. Second, I missed numerous opportunities to shoot video.

    Photos here: Rivers Photography | Personal photography by Michael B Rivers
    Click on "South Africa" or "Botswana" on the tag cloud.

    I have since left Leica, and plan on taking my A7II, A7s and 15mm to 90mm primes, upgraded to the 15mm Mkiii, Loxia 35 and 50mm, and hopefully Batis 25mm to Iceland in August, and Europe this winter. I will bring the Zeiss 24-70mm zoom with variable ND filter for video on the A7s, and a small shotgun mike for interviews. I think this will be an excellent travel kit, and takes care of the two problems from my Africa trip.

    Have fun on your trip,

    Michael
    Of note of how close you are will get to the animals it depends what time of year you go and where you go on safari as animals act/react differently at different parks/reservations. During the mating seasons for the larger or more aggressive animals many guides won't approach too close for safety reasons as was the case on my safari. Same could be said very early in the morning or just after dusk as the predators generally start their scouting for hunts.
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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by HiredArm View Post
    Of note of how close you are will get to the animals it depends what time of year you go and where you go on safari as animals act/react differently at different parks/reservations. During the mating seasons for the larger or more aggressive animals many guides won't approach too close for safety reasons as was the case on my safari. Same could be said very early in the morning or just after dusk as the predators generally start their scouting for hunts.
    At least in Botswana, my sense is that the landscape there is not so much vast open spaces like you would see in Tanzania and Kenya, so really long lenses may be less important. I do not photograph birds or other small animals. I wonder if the 70-200mm zoom would be sufficient.

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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by hcubell View Post
    At least in Botswana, my sense is that the landscape there is not so much vast open spaces like you would see in Tanzania and Kenya, so really long lenses may be less important. I do not photograph birds or other small animals. I wonder if the 70-200mm zoom would be sufficient.
    That's quite possible. Looking through my pictures my 180 and 100mm were my most used lenses so maybe the 70-200 will work well for you. I will say take something longer just in case. That's sort of my "rule" on big trips. I rather take it and never need it than not take it and wish I had it.
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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by hcubell View Post
    Heading to Africa (Botswana and Zambia) for a few weeks and debating what to take for a photography kit. I have an A7R and a number of FE lenses, including70-200 FE zoom. The drawback to the A7R is that the autofocus performance is just "ok." I was thinking of renting an A7II or A7S. The A7II apparently has much better autofocus than the A7R; the A7S has superb low light capabilities, which worked wonderfully for me on a trip to India last Fall in difficult lighting conditions, and I will be out early in the morning and late afternoon and even into the night in Africa. I could take the A7R as a backup and keep my 24-70 FE zoom on it. I am also thinking of leaving the 70-200 FE zoom at home and renting an A mount long zoom with an adapter. A Sony 70-400 zoom, a Sigma 50-500 zoom or a Tamron 150-600 zoom. I may be wrong about the need for such a long lens as I am staying at camps where the safari dirves can go offroad. I also don't know how well such a long lens will work off a tripod. I am hoping that a beanbag setup will work in the safari vehicles.
    TIA for any advice. The advice I got last Fall here recommending the A7s for India was excellent. (A portfolio of my photographs from India is now up on my website.)
    I was in South Africa in May this year and last October too. I was in Tanzania two years ago and on all these trips I did take a Nex-7 (Tanzania) and the A7R (S. Africa). We did a brief drive one afternoon in Zambia in the park in Victoria Falls last yr and I used the A7R there too.

    The most important determinant of your needs is really your wants.

    If you are into animal portraits or close-ups of any kind, then you will need at least 400mm on the long end. You can get away with a 70-200mm lens for many animal in the 'habitat' shots but just about. Anything less than 70mm will mainly be wide-angle with the animal being particularly small in the frame. You certainly cannot do any good bird shots in less than 200mm, unless the bird is sitting 6 feet from you on a bush which is very unlikely.

    I found that with the A7R, focus is critical since the sensor is high resolution. There may also have been some 'shutter shake' although I am not entirely convinced that it is a major issue. Nevertheless, I found that even with the 55 1.8 (my fastest and sharpest Sony lens), the focus and sharpness was often missing when the animals were moving about. And of course it was too short for most images where I wanted to isolate a single animal from a group.

    I tried using the Canon 70-200 f4 with the metabones adapter and it was terrible at getting the focus with moving animals. I did not have the Sony 70-200 so cannot say how much better it would be.

    I don't think low light capabilites of the A7R are a major concern, since it definitely does better than any of my Canon DSLRs.

    My suggestion would be to take a DSLR (rent it if you like) with a 70-200 and/or a 100-400 on it (preferably the latter). Use that as your main camera and it does not have to be too bulky.

    Have the A7R as a second camera to supplement the DSLR. It is highly capable and in some situations will work wonderfully well. For example, late in the day, around sunset, there were no animals around and we were driving to a sighting some distance away. The sun was at the horizon and slowly going down. I kept the 16-35 f4 lens on the A7R at 16mm, shutter speed at 1/500, f11, ISO 400 and just kept it pointed at the horizon while shooting at the trees that we were going past. The vehicle was bumping and the roads as we all know are full of potholes. Still, the images were very interesting (to me) and beautiful.

    Sometimes you just want to take a shot of the animal on the horizon and then crop it out if needed.

    Here are a few shots to illustrate.

    The first one is two tigers that were at least 100 feet away, taken with the 7D2 and the 100-400L MkII lens, at 188mm, which means in 35mm terms at 300mm. Any shorter lens and they would be too far away (for my taste).

    The second is the sunset shot from the moving vehicle - 16mm f11, ISO 400 1/500. I did crop some of the foreground but the A7R allows tremendous latitude to do that.

    The third is a rhino at sunrise again with the A7R and again at 35mm, f11, ISO 100, 1/500. I did crop this one too, but there is enough resolution to make a large print.

    Even in Londolozi (and it is typical of most of the lodges in Sabi Sands), the animals are still too far away if your longest reach is only 90mm. If you are in the open like in the Serengeti or the Mara, you will most definitely need at least 200mm on most shots.

    Pradeep
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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Pradeep View Post
    I was in South Africa in May this year and last October too. I was in Tanzania two years ago and on all these trips I did take a Nex-7 (Tanzania) and the A7R (S. Africa). We did a brief drive one afternoon in Zambia in the park in Victoria Falls last yr and I used the A7R there too.
    Pradeep
    Thanks. I have a D800e, but I want to travel fairly light, so one or two of the Sony A7 cameras is ideal.
    BTW, why are there tigers in your photos from Africa? I always thought that tigers were only indigenous to India and Nepal.

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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by hcubell View Post
    Thanks. I have a D800e, but I want to travel fairly light, so one or two of the Sony A7 cameras is ideal.
    BTW, why are there tigers in your photos from Africa? I always thought that tigers were only indigenous to India and Nepal.
    If you are determined to take just the A7 series then I recommend you take at least the 70-200 with you. Traveling with anything less than 90mm will deprive you of many opportunities, at least that has been my experience. You don't travel to Africa that often and especially Botswana, which is perhaps the most expensive of all places. Unless there is a compelling reason to travel ultra-light, I would take a long lens.

    I too am going to Botswana next April, and will definitely be taking my DSLRs and the Pentax too.

    Ah, the tigers in africa! Yes, that is complicated. I've written about this on another forum. The short version is that there is a private reserve in South Africa which is the size of the Ngorongoro crater (and larger than the Ranthambore park in India). Here, a conservationist started a program for the breeding of tigers and it has been very successful, he now has 26 tigers including a white female. They are allowed to roam free, hunt (he has large herds of prey animals), mate and breed as they do in the wild. For all practical purposes they are truly in the wild except there is a fence over the entire area to prevent the tigers from running into the sheep farms nearby and vice versa. Nothing unusual because Kruger is also fenced, as is Sabi Sands. Needless to say it offers an exceptional opportunity to observe and photograph these beautiful animals, way better than anything you could get elsewhere on the planet.
    Too much to list, let's just say I have a bad case of GAS.........
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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Pradeep View Post
    If you are determined to take just the A7 series then I recommend you take at least the 70-200 with you. Traveling with anything less than 90mm will deprive you of many opportunities, at least that has been my experience. You don't travel to Africa that often and especially Botswana, which is perhaps the most expensive of all places. Unless there is a compelling reason to travel ultra-light, I would take a long lens.

    I too am going to Botswana next April, and will definitely be taking my DSLRs and the Pentax too.

    Ah, the tigers in africa! Yes, that is complicated. I've written about this on another forum. The short version is that there is a private reserve in South Africa which is the size of the Ngorongoro crater (and larger than the Ranthambore park in India). Here, a conservationist started a program for the breeding of tigers and it has been very successful, he now has 26 tigers including a white female. They are allowed to roam free, hunt (he has large herds of prey animals), mate and breed as they do in the wild. For all practical purposes they are truly in the wild except there is a fence over the entire area to prevent the tigers from running into the sheep farms nearby and vice versa. Nothing unusual because Kruger is also fenced, as is Sabi Sands. Needless to say it offers an exceptional opportunity to observe and photograph these beautiful animals, way better than anything you could get elsewhere on the planet.
    Thanks. I will take a longish lens. I have the 70-200mm FE zoom and that's a possibility, but I have been considering a longer A mount zoom like the Tamron 150-600 with a converter. (I also have a Nikon D800e and the Nikon 70-200 2.8 zoom, but that's a heavy handful and I don't see much advantage to it.) I am not sure in Botswana how important it is to have really long lenses, as the landscape looks "close in." I have no interest in birds or small animals.

    I guess it's just me, but putting non-indigenous animals into a fenced in area feels like a zoo exhibit.

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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by hcubell View Post
    Thanks. I will take a longish lens. I have the 70-200mm FE zoom and that's a possibility, but I have been considering a longer A mount zoom like the Tamron 150-600 with a converter. (I also have a Nikon D800e and the Nikon 70-200 2.8 zoom, but that's a heavy handful and I don't see much advantage to it.) I am not sure in Botswana how important it is to have really long lenses, as the landscape looks "close in." I have no interest in birds or small animals.

    I guess it's just me, but putting non-indigenous animals into a fenced in area feels like a zoo exhibit.
    I owned a Canon 600MkII but found that to be too bulky and heavy for me. I sold it and got the Tamron 150-600 VC and took it with me to South Africa last year. I also took it to Bosque a few months ago but sold it recently because beyond 400mm it was just not sharp enough for me. Granted it was lighter than any other 600mm, but it was quite a long lens and will get longer with a converter. If you are wiling to take something like that, then the Nikon D7100 with a 70-200 f4 would be a great option, would give you a range of 100-300 roughly which should be quite adequate. And don't forget that with any of these lenses your biggest problem will be the AF.

    Talking to people who've visited Botswana it is no more 'close in' than Sabi Sands so it may be better to be prepared.

    Yes, animals in a habitat that is not indigenous look strange, but it is extremely difficult to see them in their natural environment these days. When the animal is allowed a territory larger than it's native land, is free to hunt and mate it's not in a zoo, but I guess everybody has their own thoughts on this. If bald eagles were being raised in India to be ultimately released back in the US would you mind photographing them? In any case I am very happy I went, the experience was unbelievable and one of the best wildlife trips I've taken - and I've done a few. Still, different strokes......

    Pradeep
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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    I have 2 friends with the Tamron 150-600 and the quality is surprising excellent. A little large but nothing like a large Nikon or Canon fixed lens would be. I got to try it and it was much lighter than i anticipated. I have an inexpensive Tamron 70-300 and while the quality is no where near as good as the 150-600 it is still pretty good stopped down. I have attached link to an example from mine (A7II at 300 and 7.1) so as not to clutter up your discussion with images
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/18507227723/

    Jim

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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by JMaher View Post
    I have 2 friends with the Tamron 150-600 and the quality is surprising excellent. A little large but nothing like a large Nikon or Canon fixed lens would be. I got to try it and it was much lighter than i anticipated. ..................................

    Jim
    That is the key isn't it. We all try to get the best quality in the smallest size and for the least price. There has to be a compromise somewhere.

    Coming from the Canon 600MkII, I found the IQ of the Tamron lacking above 400mm. That would be a given, but it was hard to accept, hence I sold it. Better to have something like a Canon 100-400MkII and crop as needed, or use it on an APS-C body.

    Another option would be the new Sigma 150-600 Contemporary (not Sports) lens which supposedly has better IQ and its price and heft are similar to the Tamron.

    OR, wait for the new Canon 400 DO MkII to become available. Preliminary reports suggest it is as good as the large 500 f4 but smaller, lighter and less expensive (though still costs six times the Tamron).
    Too much to list, let's just say I have a bad case of GAS.........

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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    I noticed some safari shots with the 24-240 in another forum that might be helpful in gauging what ~200mm gets you:

    http://www.talkemount.com/threads/11019/page-3

    I've never done a safari trip in Africa, but it seems like you'd be kicking yourself for not having the right lens in your bag. Another option you might consider is renting an A6000 to pair with your 70-200mm. That would get you a bit more reach, and the A6000 focuses faster than any A7x camera so far. Or if small/light is a concern, rent a m4/3 kit with the Panasonic 100-300mm + GH4 or G7.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/grahamgibson/
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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    LOL the Canon should be better at about 10Xs the price. I have shoot the Canon 500 and the quality is excellent but I would not want to carry it or the 600 any distance. I's all about compromise as stated above

    [QUOTE=Pradeep;649932]That is the key isn't it. We all try to get the best quality in the smallest size and for the least price. There has to be a compromise somewhere.

    Coming from the Canon 600MkII, I found the IQ of the Tamron lacking above 400mm.

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    Re: Sony A7 Kit for Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by JMaher View Post
    LOL the Canon should be better at about 10Xs the price. I have shoot the Canon 500 and the quality is excellent but I would not want to carry it or the 600 any distance. I's all about compromise as stated above
    Agree completely. I had a 500 MkI originally and when the new 600 came out, it weighed less than the older 500, so I bought it. I found it to be fantastic optically but a pain to carry around.

    Honestly, I would not mind paying for the same quality in a package that was much smaller.

    After all, you only live once
    Too much to list, let's just say I have a bad case of GAS.........

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