Herd of desert elephants in Namibia

Best Camera Equipment for an African Safari


There are three questions travellers to Africa usually ask. First, what kind of vaccinations/pills do I need for Africa. Second, what to wear on safari in Africa. And third, what kind of camera equipment should I take on safari in Africa. This post is about the latter.

If you need more information about what to wear on safari in Africa, you can read more in my post that tells you all you need to know for your first safari in Africa. For vaccinations you best consult an official website in regards to travel health, like this one

Back to the camera equipment for safari trips…

We visited Africa several times and have been on numerous safaris. Watching other tourists taking pictures of the animals is often more entertaining than the safari ride itself. People use every imaginable type of camera on safari. You see smartphones, tablets, but also 10kg half a meter long lenses which are impossible to hold still and are therefore pretty much useless on safari rides…

If you are a professional photographer going to Africa in order to photograph animals, then this post is not for you. If you don’t care about the pictures and only go on safari for the experience – then this post is not for you either. This post is for hobby photographers who are going on safari and hoping to take at least a couple of decent quality pictures to bring home as a memory of this amazing experience.

Before I continue about what kind of camera equipment you best take on safari in Africa, let’s make a couple of points clear.

Here is what you should know about taking pictures of safari animals

  • You cannot take good safari pictures with a smartphone, a tablet or a pocket camera. You just can’t, believe me.
  • The chances of you getting a National Geographic – like close-up high-quality image of a hunting leopard in action are close to zero.
  • You can take good quality pictures of safari animals even if you are not a pro. But you’ll need good equipment and it helps if you can learn a few basic photography techniques. As a minimum, you need one of the two, so if you don’t know much about photography, you definitely need a good camera and a decent lens.

If you don’t own a good camera yet, a trip to Africa is the perfect excuse to get one. Come on, you are going to spend thousands of dollars to go on a once-in-a-lifetime safari trip to Africa and take a pocket camera with you? Really? You’ll regret it the first day, take my word for it. And no, your latest iPhone won’t do the job either. You may use it to photograph landscapes or a herd of zebras in a distance, but it will be completely useless for photographing moving animals (and they do move, they always do).

Jumping springbok antelope in Africa

It took a very good camera and lots of luck to get a decent shot of a jumping springbok


Tips for the best camera equipment for safari in Africa

I’m not going to go into too much detail about all kinds of different camera brands and models as there are so many of them available with new ones coming out all the time. You can find a few suggestions based on your budget below, but this is what you definitely should know about the best camera equipment for safari in Africa.

  • You need a digital SRL camera to take on safari in Africa. What you need, basically, is a camera that focuses fast and takes a picture the moment you press the shutter and not a second later.
  • You need a good telephoto zoom lens with a reach of at least 200mm to photograph safari animals. There will be moments you wish you had a 500mm with you, but in my view it’s just not worth the price and the weight to carry a lens like that if you are not a professional photographer.
  • You need a wider lens for photographing landscapes, which are often just as interesting as the animals. I use 24-70mm as my main lens when we travel, also in Africa. If you like really wide landscape pictures, you may want an even wider lens, like 16-35mm or 17-40mm. If you have a regular DSRL camera without the full frame sensor, you’ll probably need a lens of at least 18-55mm for regular landscape shots and one from 10-18mm for wide-angle photography.
  • You may want to take a second (cheaper) camera for photographing landscapes so that you don’t have to change lenses all the time when you are on safari.
  • Consider taking a tripod to photograph animals in low-light conditions (morning or evening) at the waterholes.
  • Take enough batteries and memory cards when traveling to Africa – at least twice as much as for a regular trip. Charging batteries might not always be possible (certainly if you are camping) and you won’t find many places selling batteries or memory cards in the middle of the Kruger National Park or the Kalahari desert.
Reflections of two giraffes at Okaukejo waterhole at sunset

You definitely need a tripod to photograph animals in low light


What camera and lenses to pack for an African safari

As I said before, this post is not for professional photographers, but rather for regular tourists. Also for photography enthusiasts traveling to Africa and hoping to get a few decent shots of safari animals.

Below you’ll find a few suggestions on what camera and lenses to take on safari.

I’m going to focus on Canon cameras and lenses as this is what I use and know best.

Best-buy camera to take on safari in Africa

If you are looking for a decent camera for your trips, but don’t want to spend a fortune on it, you should consider the cheapest DSLR cameras available. At Canon it would be the Canon EOS Rebel series. Often you can get a kit (camera + lenses + accessories) for around 500-600 USD. If you don’t know much about photography and just want good pictures without too much effort this camera is just right for you.

Why not just buy a point-and-shoot model? As already said, you do need a fast autofocus and a good lens in order to get decent pictures of safari animals. This camera will take care of that. And if you want to learn a bit more about photography, these cheaper DSLRs are perfect to start.

Mid-range camera to photograph safari animals

If you are looking for more possibilities and even better pictures and don’t mind spending a bit more money, Canon EOS 60D, 70D or 80D series might be a good option for you. These cameras are great for photography enthusiasts looking for a good price-quality camera to improve their photography skills.

The perfect camera for travel photography

Probably the best price/quality cameras for those who are serious about travel photography are Canon EOS 7D and 6D series. If you want great quality pictures and use your camera on a very regular basis, then look no further. These cameras won’t disappoint you.

The best lenses for photographing animals on safari in Africa

Consider investing in one or two really good lenses if you are somewhat serious about photography.

Standard EFS lenses from Canon are ok with the cheapest DSLR cameras and will do the job for occasional travel photography, but if you can afford it, get the best lens you can and rather save on the camera.

I started out with the cheapest DSLR some 10 years ago, but immediately bought two very good lenses (Canon L 24-70 f2.8 and Canon L 70-200 f4 IS USM). I’ve switched 3 cameras by now, but these two lenses still do the perfect job and are my most used lenses. I couldn’t have used the cheaper EFS lenses on the camera I own now… It’s a big investment in the beginning, but the quality is worth it. On top of that, the good lenses keep their value and you can usually resell them at a good price later if you decide that photography is not for you.

As already mentioned, you need a good telephoto lens with a reach of at least 200mm in order to photograph safari animals. Preferably 300mm or even more if you can justify the cost and the weight. I use the Canon L series lenses, but there are plenty of cheaper alternatives from Canon, but also from Sigma or Tamron. Just make sure they fit the camera you have as these brands have the same range lenses for many different brands, including Canon and Nikon.

Close-up of a lioness in South Africa

You need a good telephoto lens for close-ups of the animals


Best budget lenses for safari

Mid-range lenses for travel photography

Best quality lenses for safari photography

Best tripods for travel photography

If you only have the smallest DSLR and don’t want to spend too much money, remember that any tripod is better than none (as long as it can hold the camera without falling over, of course – otherwise you better don’t use any). You can get a tripod for under $50 and it will probably do the job.

If you have a heavier camera and/or lens, the cheapest tripod is not going to be good enough. I use and recommend Manfrotto tripods, depending on the camera/ lens weight and your needs. For travellers I recommend Manfrotto carbon tripods since they weigh much less and are therefore more suitable when traveling. They are not cheap, but worth every cent. I had two different tripods before I got this one 6 years ago, and none of the previous ones lasted even two years. Manfrotto is in constant use and it’s still as good as new.

For traveling I bought Manfrotto 494RC2 ball head since it’s so small and takes less space in my luggage. I now actually use this ball head at home too.

If you found this post useful, please share it and pin these images!

What camera to pack for safari in Africa. Complete guide to the best camera gear for wildlife photography.

Best camera equipment for safari in Africa

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  1. Your post on best camera equipment is very helpful. Would appreciate knowing the best camera bag to purchase for an African Safari. I would like the camera bag to also double up for other miscellaneous items.

    Thank you!!

    1. Author

      Hi Anupam, I find that a bag is such a personal choice – it depends so much on how you expect to use it.
      I personally gave up on camera bags when we started traveling with 3 kids and often use this lightweight day backpack from Jack Wolfskin or this a bit bigger backpack from Thule. These may not be ideal for a camera, but they are so versatile and can fit everything I need during the day.
      If you rather have a special bag where you can nicely sort your camera gear, I’d recommend a camera backpack for African safari as it indeed also allows you to easier take some other items with you. Better than a shoulder bag in any case. Here are some good options that I found:

    2. AmazonBasics Backpack for SLR/DSLR Cameras and Accessories
    3. Zecti Camera Backpack Waterproof Canvas DSLR Camera Bag
    4. Lowepro Photo Hatchback Day Camera Backpack for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras
    5. Hope this helps.

  2. Hi Jurga, thanks for writing up this post which is exactly what I need at the moment. I bought a canon 70d few years ago with a EF-S 18-135mm lens. Figured that it won’t be enough for my upcoming trip to the safari and have been looking for a better lens. I found a place where I can rent the lens for the trip but am stuck in which one I should pick. What would you advice?

    -EF-S55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM
    -EF-S18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
    -EF70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM (double the cost of renting the above EF-S lens)
    -EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM (this is the most expensive one)

    There is also a big difference in the cost of renting the EF-S and EF lenses, I would really appreciate if you could give me any thoughts. Thanks in advance!

    1. Author

      Hi Angie, as I tell everyone, the choice really depends on you. What kind of pictures do you expect to make? Do you want to switch the lenses or not? Of course, an expensive lens like 70-200 f2,8 will cost multiple times more, it’s also much better quality, but also very heavy…
      If you want the most versatile lens and don’t want to change it, then 18-200 is probably a good option for both landscapes and animals.
      If you want to take really good pictures of the animals, then any of the 70-200 or 70-300 lenses is of course better in quality. I personally didn’t like the 70-300 too much and most of the time use my 70-200 f4, which is half the price and half the weight of 70-200 f2,8.
      Hope this helps

      1. Hi Jurga, thanks for getting back to me! I have also told that Tamron lens might be an option. Have you try them before? I have done a bit of research online and shortlisted the below lenses. Any idea if they are good?

        – Tamron 16-300mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD (APS-C lens)
        – Tamron 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD (APS-C lens) [this seems to be provide more coverage?]
        – Tamron 28-300mm F3.5-6.3 Di VC USD (full-frame lens)

        1. Author

          Hi Angie, I don’t have any experience with Tamron lenses. Some people love them, some – hate them and go for the original Canon or Nikon.
          The choice of the lens for safari is all about the range and the aperture (f number), and it’s mostly about your preference and what you expect that lens to do for you. They all have advantages and limitations.

          1. Thanks a lot, Jurga. I really appreciate your time and am so sorry for bugging you with all these choices. I think I am leaning towards the EF-S18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, like you said earlier it is probably good on both landscapes and animals. Just wanna double check that I didn’t misunderstood the range here. I understand that the range I will have with the lens on my canon 70D would be 1.5x, meaning that it will have a 28-300mm range?

          2. Author

            Hi Angie, no worries 🙂 I’m not sure of 70D has a 1,5 or 1,6 crop sensor (I think the latter), so yes, 18-200 would in fact be 28-320 range.

    2. Hi Jurga,

      Thank you for writing the post. I’m going to South Africa in a couple weeks and I think I need a new lens and would like your opinion please. I currently have an older model Canon T3i. I have a Canon Lens EF 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 IS USM. I’m thinking about purchasing a used Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 L IS II USM, which honestly is still a lot of money for me. But the reason I like this one is that I think it will be good for taking pictures of my sons hockey games. I really enjoy photography but I’m just a beginner. Do you think it is worth the expense ? What would be your rough guess of how good the pictures would be with what I have vs getting the new lens ? Do I have to get a new camera as well? because I really don’t want to spend that kind of money right now. Thank you for your help

      1. Author

        Hi Wendy, it’s a difficult choice only you can make. My honest opinion is that Canon 70-200 f,8 lens is much too heavy and too expensive for your camera. It’s an amazing lens and of course pictures will be much better, incomparable to the lens that you have now, but you also have to know how to get the most of it. Which is probably not ideal with the camera that you have.
        I think that if you already consider a new lens, better go for Canon 70-200 f4 IS II USM – it’s about half the price, but also half the weight, and gets amazing images too. Also, this is the newest generation of Canon lenses, so it’s an investment that you’ll use for years. I have the older version of this lens, used it on three different cameras through the years, and I still think that it’s more than enough for those occasional close-up shots like going on safari or similar. It’s still my main lens for close-up photography. You can see one of my recent images taken with this lens (over 13 years old now) here.
        If you invest in the quality lenses, they will outlast any camera that you have now. If you later decide to upgrade the camera, those lenses will still do the job perfectly. So if the choice is between a new camera or a new lens, go for the lens. But consider the cost/weight/size of the lens and what you’ll use it for.
        Hope this helps a bit. Enjoy South Africa – it’s my favourite country in the world!

        1. Hi Jurga,
          Thank you very much for the information.

  3. Hi Jurga, I’m heading to Africa in a few weeks. I currently have a D5600 and decided to go for a Tamron 18-400mm. was very close to buying a tamron 150-600mm but decided against it just for the reason that i don’t have to change lenses all the time. I am just wondering should i keep a cheaper digital camera too record some of the action or not? what do you think?

    1. Author

      Hi Sharjeel, I think 18-400 is a good choice if you don’t like changing lenses. As for having two cameras, I really don’t know what to say. I guess it depends on what you use them for and on your personal preference. I know for myself that I often feel overwhelmed when I have to take pictures and also videos at the same time. Remember that traveling is mostly about the experience, so don’t miss it while watching all the action through the lens.
      Of course, everyone travels differently and for me too, photography is an essential part of travel experience. Just do whatever feels right for you and don’t forget to put all the cameras away once in a while and simply enjoy being there.

      1. Hi Jurga, I’m so glad I commented here. For me a safari has always been about the experience but just got drawn into the whole Instagram mindset which is all about good and nice photographs that make you go wow! I’m just going to go with the camera I have and try living the whole experience to fullest!

        1. Author

          Happy to hear that, Sharjeel. I think we all sometimes forget to just be present in the moment rather than document everything to then be able to impress our friends on social media. Travel has become too much about Instagrammable places, rather than experiences…
          Enjoy the safari!

  4. Jurga, I really enjoyed reading your article. Leaving for Botswana in March of 2019. I’m really trying to figure camera equipment to take. I’m always afraid of leaving some equipment behind but on these I know I have too. Will be doing some puddle jumping so I know I have to be somewhat light with my gear. I’m taking my Canon 7D and y 5D MK4. I have a multitude of different lenses but would like to narrow it down so I can use a smaller backpack to carry everything. I have the 100-400, 16-35, 24-105, 17-40, 70-200, and the Tamaron 150-600 G2, I’m leaning towards the 100-400, 24-105, and/or the Tamaron as well as the other necessary equipment. In Tanzania I felt I needed at times the longer reach than the 100-400 gave me. I have no extenders but not opposed to buying one to get the reach. Of what I have shown you as far as lenses, which would you use or maybe something different. Totally open to suggestions. Thanks

    1. Author

      Hi Tom, it’s always a tough choice with the camera equipment and you will have at least one situation where you wished you had another lens, but I’d say try to travel light(-ish) and pack what you think you’ll need 80% of the time. You can’t pack for all situations and you won’t be switching lenses all the time either…
      If you are taking two bodies, then maybe put the 24-105 or even one of the wider lenses (16-35 or 17-40) on your 7D (for the landscapes) and then 100-400 on the 5D. So just take two bodies with one lens each.
      Does your 5DMK4 have a crop function? I have EOS 5Ds and it gives me an option to crop a shot by 1,3 or 1,6 in any mode but automatic. So if you put your 100-400 lens on that camera, you could get to 160-640 range if need be, even without any converters. I think this should be more than enough for hand-held casual safari shots, don’t you think?
      Hope this helps. Oh, and I’m so jealous. Botswana is said to be amazing for wildlife photography. Enjoy it!

  5. Dear Jurga,
    I really enjoyed reading this article, the pictures, and learning more about camera and lenses. We are leaving at the end of the month to Botswana. I have a Nikon D3200, and planning on taking my 18-300 Lens. Do you think it will be good to capture wildlife? I don’t want to have to switch lenses due to the dusty conditions, but don’t want to invest on a second body either. Please let me know your thoughts.
    Thank you 😊

    1. Author

      Dear Aura, there are certainly advantages in having just one lens, especially with such a wide range. It’s actually ideal because you can photograph wide landscapes and close-ups of animals without having to change lenses. I am not familiar with this particular lens, but in general the only disadvantage is that these lenses usually aren’t as good quality-wise, but for simple vacation photography I wouldn’t worry about it too much and indeed go for the easy solution.
      Enjoy it! I hear that Botswana is incredible for wildlife viewing.

  6. Hi Jurga,

    Great Article and amazing insight. My wife and I are going to South Africa Safari and we are interested in a beginner lens. As you mentioned in your article, I am going more for the experience but would like some decent shots for the memories. I have a Nikon D3100 with the standard lens it comes with. What do you recommend?

    1. Author

      Hi Keyur, I’m not very familiar with Nikon lenses since I’m a real Canon girl ;), but here are some that I found that are the best equivalents of what I’d suggest for Canon.
      Nikon 70-200 f4 is pretty much what I use from Canon. So this would be my personal #1 choice.
      Nikon 70-200 f2,8 is a more expensive version, which will of course give better results, but you have to see if the extra price and weight are worth it for you.
      If both of these are above the budget, but you still want a very good lens for somewhat less money, try lenses from Sigma (Sigma 70-200 f2,8) or Tamron (e.g. Tamron 70-200 f2,8). They are often quite good as well, but are usually priced better than the lenses of the brands like Nikon or Canon themselves. This would probably be my second best option because you get a really good lens for a good price here.
      If your budget is really limited and you are really interested in the beginner type of lens, then look into these type of lenses, e.g. Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 or alternatively Sigma 70-300 f4-5,6.
      Hope this helps.
      Enjoy your trip – South Africa is amazing!

  7. Dear Jurga
    Thanks for a great articles on Namibia. They have really inspired my family and we are going to Namibia in a few weeks.

    I am thinking of replacing an old micro 4/3 with a new Canon for landscape and travelling – frequently climbing / hiking. I note you have a 5dsr, but was wondering if that or a 5d Mark IV would be best suited?

    Plan to get canon 100-400 L II and the 70-105 L II to go with one of the 5s.



    1. Author

      Hi Ian, good to hear that our blog inspired you to visit Namibia. You’ll love it – it’s a beautiful country.
      As for the cameras, I think I’d go with 5D Mark IV now: it’s a bit newer model, from what I see it’s also cheaper (well, at least on Amazon US it is – Canon EOS 5d Mark IV vs. Canon EOS 5ds), and has better video capabilities. Less megapixels, but way more than you need for regular vacation pictures anyway. Both are great cameras, so I think you can’t really go wrong with either.
      As for the lenses, 100-400L and 24-105L (I guess you meant 24 and not 70) looks like a good combo. Just one thing – 100-400 is really heavy and very long when in use. It has a great reach though, so if you can handle the size, should be great for safari photography.
      Depending where you’re from check also Amazon UK for the best deals – there’s so much price difference in electronics.
      All the best

  8. Hello, Heading to Botswana soon. Ok, so I have a Nikon D 70 with a few lenses but its HEAVY. I don’t really want to invest in a whole bunch of new equipment for one trip. As an ex-professional photographer I realize there is no perfect camera. But… Looking for a smaller, more portable option. I did think about a new lens for my old Nikon but as it’s older (DX) technology I decided that is not a great idea.

    It’s getting the 300+ fast zoom with stabilization and fast auto focus that seems to be the challenge.
    Perhaps I am asking too much?

    1. Author

      Hi Susan, I really don’t know what to say. It’s indeed always a challenge with good camera equipment – it’s bulky, it’s heavy, and you have to change the lenses in non-optimal conditions on safari too. I don’t know Nikon gear as well as I do with Canon, but I found this 28-300mm lens that could do if you want to travel light. It covers pretty much all the range you need on a regular safari vacation and it saves you from carrying too much gear. I see that there are cheaper alternatives from Tamron as well, so maybe something to consider?

  9. I recently got a Canon 80D with a Tamron 16-300, f/3.5-6.3 lens. It is the only lens I have. I am new to photography. We leave in a couple weeks for 3 weeks in Africa. Am I going to regret not having a second lens? Is this lens too slow for morning and evening safaris? I have recently retired and will be traveling a lot the next few years, soo if I need to invest in another lens I would like to do it now, even though I am trying to keep things to pack to a minimum.

    1. Author

      Hi Cheryl, the lens you have seems very versatile and it’s easy to take pictures in most situation without having to switch lenses. Will it be ok for non-optimal light conditions? Probably not really, but then a lot depends a on the camera you have too, and also on what you expect from your pictures. If you want really sharp close up shots of animals from a jeep in the dark, then it’s practically impossible anyway. But of course a good telephoto lens of 200 or 300mm f2.8 will do a much better job in most situations than the lens you have now. It’s really up to you to decide whether you need it, how comfortable are you carrying extra lenses, changing them on the road, etc. If you want to keep it simple, then you are set. If you want better pictures and don’t mind the extra cost weight etc. then yes, there are definitely better lenses for safari photography. Sorry if this isn’t of much help, but it’s so different for everyone.

  10. Hi Jurga,
    Thank you for this post. I am buying my first serious camera, in preparation for a safari in a few weeks. There are several Canon Rebel T6 starter packs that I’ve been looking at. The cheaper one has the 18-55mm lens with image stabilization. The more expensive kit includes that same lens plus a 75-300mm lens without image stabilization. So the choice is between buying the cheaper one and then also buying a separate 75-300mm with image stabilization or buying the more expensive kit that doesn’t have IS on the telephoto lens. I’m not sure I can justify buying the telephoto lens with IS at this point, given the cost. However, my thought is that I could try to compensate for lack of IS by using a faster shutter speed and also by using flash in low-light settings; my understanding is that IS is mainly useful in low-light with slower shutter speed, so changing those two variables should obviate the need for IS. What are your thoughts? I’m on a student budget, which is the limiting factor here.

    1. Author

      It’s always a tough choice, Laura. The lens I use the most doesn’t have IS, but it has a great aperture f2,8. My telephoto has IS and it’s sometimes useful.
      18-55 is not the range you will use a lot for animal photography, and for landscapes IS doesn’t matter that much. 75-300 – there IS would be more useful. You won’t use much flash for safari photography – it’s useless on big distances and from close by you shouldn’t even attempt – no idea how animals would react to it. 🙂 Your best bet is to use high ISO in low light and hope that the camera can still produce nice results.
      I think you know best what you can justify in terms of your needs and budget. It’s really difficult for me to tell you what to do. Try to think in which situations you will be using which lens most often and then decide based on that.
      Hope this helps.

  11. Dear Jurga,

    I really enjoyed your article and the shots. My wife and I are planning a safari to Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya for our 25th Anniversary. I am thinking of using this trip as an opportunity to upgrade from my Cannon 60D that is about 5-6 years old. Additionally, I may rent another body so as to have 2 cameras with me so I don’t have to change lenses while out on drives. I was thinking about a Full Frame body with a 24-70 lens for landscapes and the closer shots and then a cropped body with a 100-400 lens for the other wildlife shots. Both lenses would be rented and “L” series equipment. Is this a reasonable approach in your opinion?

    Thanks so much for sharing your opinion!

    1. Author

      Hi Ken, yes, this sounds like a very reasonable approach. 24-70 2,8 lens is my most used lens for years. 100-400mm is really big, but it’s a great lens as well. I have a Canon 5Ds camera (full frame) and it also has a possibility to choose crop factor of either x1,6 or x1,3, so if need be you could even increase your 400mm reach to 640mm with such a camera. It’s not a cheap kit, but it’s something you can use for many years.

  12. Dear Jurga,

    Thank you very much.
    One more question.
    Do you use a bean bag and if yes is it really helpful?
    Best regards, Katharina

    1. Author

      Hi again, Katharina. No, actually I never used a bean bag. I saw it used once or twice, but have no personal experience.

  13. Dear Jurga,

    Your Blog is great and the the Safari post caught my interest as I am going on to South Africa and also on Safari in a few weeks. I feel lmuch better prepared however in terms of camera equipment I am uncertain.
    I want to do the best out of this vacation obviously 😉 I find your post very interesting but reading so much on the internet confuses me also.
    I have a basic DSLR Canon 100D with the Kit lens 18-55mm. I also have the Canon 50mm.
    I was thinking maybe to upgrade to the 80D and buy one new better lens such as the Tamron 16-300 or the 18-200. Would you recommend the camera change? And what do you think about the lenses with such a wide range? I mainly read sceptical opions, however I am just a hobby photographer and I am not sure where to invest best.
    I would love to hear your opinion.
    Many thanks.


    1. Author

      Hi Katharina, it’s not an easy decision indeed, as everyone has different opinions. You have to find the best balance between your photography needs and the budget you have. If you have to choose between a good lens or a good camera, from my experience, I would advise to go for the lens. A really good lens can make a huge difference, and you can use it for years. I have changed many cameras over the years, but I still use the same lenses which I bought more than 12 years ago.
      On the other hand, a good camera is also important. If you have money for both, then a trip to Africa is a good moment to upgrade your gear.
      If you don’t want to spend too much money and are happy with a few good shots, then just stick to the camera body that you have and buy a Tamron lens like the one you describe. Of course, a lens with such a wide reach will not give you the same quality as lenses with fixed aperture of f2,8 or f4. But a lens like that has advantages too – mainly that you don’t have to change it, and can travel light with just one lens.
      Sorry if I am not more helpful. It’s really a personal decision. If money is not an issue, then go for the Canon 80d and one of the L lenses that I described in this post, e.g. 70-200 f4 L IS USM or 70-300 f4-5,6 L. PS these are affiliate links to Amazon.de as I thought you were from Germany… Maybe it’s more helpful this way.
      Enjoy your trip!

  14. Hi Jurga. I’m Karen. Heading to Rwanda and Tanzania in a month. I was buying an additional battery for my Canon Rebel XT and was pretty much told that my 10 year old + body is obsolete and won’t serve me well on my trip. That gives you an indication of my photography expertise.!! I do have the Tamron 18-270mm lens. I wasn’t anticipating this new purchase. What base would you recommend that isn’t going to break the bank? And could I make do with the one Tamron lens? We’ll also have our smart phones/Ipad for some shots. Glad I came across your blog. Happy Travels, Karen

    1. Author

      Hi Karen, if you are thinking of upgrading your camera, then a trip like that is definitely a good moment to do it! If you like your Canon Rebel and want to use the same lens, then the most obvious choice is probably the Canon EOS Rebel T6i. The lens you have has quite a decent reach, with a crop-sensor camera it gives you a good range of up to 432mm (270×1,6), so for close-ups of the animals it should be more than sufficient.
      Don’t count on using your smartphone and tablet for animal photography – it’s just not fast enough unless the animals are very close by and standing still, you won’t get any decent shots. It is ok for the landscapes and such.
      Hope it helps. Have a nice trip!

  15. Hi Jurga, great read and advice – just the type of article I was looking for!

    I’m considering either of the two options – relatively similar in price – on a Canon 60D, just wanted to get your thoughts? (my significant other will be on the trip too, armed with a decent point-and-shoot, so she can take some snaps too)

    – Canon 70-300mm EF f/4-5.6L IS USM
    – Canon 300mm EF f/4L IS USM

    I was also thinking about a 1.4x teleconverter, but not sure if that will be necessary.

    Other sources recommend a monopod; however, a tripod would be more versatile, right?

    1. Author

      Hi Mitch, glad you found this info useful. Lenses is a tough choice, as fixed focal length will give you better light, but you loose flexibility. I somehow always prefer zoom lenses, especially when photographing something unpredictable like animals. You can zoom in and out as animals move. But that’s my personal opinion, of course.
      As for teleconverter, I never used it. 60D is already a crop camera, no? So it already gives you 1.6x reach, meaning that 70-300mm actually becomes 112-480mm. For most situations this will be more than enough. Both these lenses look really good quality-wise.
      As for tripod vs. monopod, depends where you are planning to use it. On safari vehicles you can’t set up a tripod, maybe a monopod would help. But usually you won’t have much time to set all your equipment for a perfect shot anyway – you’ll just have to quickly snap a picture and hope it turns out well. Most animals don’t wait. If you are thinking of taking pictures on the ground, at the waterholes and such, then a tripod is still much easier I think.
      Sorry if I’m not more helpful. Everyone has their own preferences, so it’s really up to you to decide what works best for you.

      1. No worries – I was leaning more towards the zoom lens without teleconverter, so thanks for the reply!

  16. What do you think of the bridge/superzoom cameras such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300?

    1. Author

      Hi Arvid, I never tried this camera, so all I can say is based on the reviews that I read on different sites. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 seems to have incredible reach of 600mm (!) with fixed aperture f2,8. I have no idea about the quality of the pictures, but purely based on these numbers, it looks like a really good deal price/reach/aperture wise. So if you don’t want to invest in really expensive lenses and have to carry a bulky kit of DSLR+lenses with you, then this definitely looks like a very nice alternative. It only has 12MP though, but for regular vacation pictures this should be more than enough. If you compare with any DSLR lenses with this reach, then this camera looks like a real bargain.
      My only concern with wildlife photography would be how fast the autofocus is. Animals rarely sit still to pose for a picture. That’s – to me – still the biggest advantage of DSLR cameras. But then again, if you are not a professional photographer and just want a couple of good shots to remember your vacation, then it will probably serve the purpose quite well.

  17. Hi Jurga,

    Thanks for this blog. I’d be interested in knowing what lens you used for each picture and how far approximately you were from the subject.. I had entertained the thought of buying a Tamron 600mm, but all of can think of is that I’ll have to carry whatever I take.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Author

      Hi. With 600mm you could photograph pretty much anything! I was contemplating taking a 100-400mm lens, but then tried it and sent it back as it was much too heavy for me to carry around. The lens I used for the safari pictures in Namibia was Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM UD. The picture of a lioness is from our trip to South Africa, it was taken with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens. I also had a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM with me, but I used it mainly for landscapes and people when not on safari.
      I am not good in estimating distances, but most of my safari pictures were taken at the maximum reach of the lens (200 or 300mm), so it will give you an idea. Also, I have a full frame camera so 300mm means just that; if you have a crop sensor DSLR, 300mm would give you 480mm reach (300×1,6). Some animals were far, some nearby, so I used what I had to make the best of it. The lioness was very close to us, just a few meters away, so I took a close-up just because I could.
      There were moments when I wish I had more reach, but it’s all about the choices. If I were traveling alone with a sole purpose of photography, I’d definitely carry a longer lens for safari. But with three kids in tow I need something versatile and easy to use (and hold).
      I can’t really say what you should do. It depends on your travel style, photography skills, budget, and the purpose of the trip. Try to find the compromise that works best for you and covers 80% of situations. You can never have the right equipment for everything. You might have 600mm lens and then run into a group of lions so close to the vehicle that all you can photograph is their eyes… Try to be creative with the equipment you have depending on the situation. And also remember that often you won’t have the time to switch the lens to a perfect one. The animals are fast, so better take a less perfect shot than be too late ;).
      Hope this helps you a bit.

  18. Hi Jurga

    What is the difference between a DSLR Camera and a Mirrorless Digital Camera I was thinking of a Fuji X-T2….. What do you think

    PS. I did one safari and thinking of doing more in the future with better equipment, I am a beginner

    Thanks in advance

    1. Author

      Hi Alfredo, I’m not really an expert. There are so many cameras and new additions all the time, that it’s difficult to follow :). Here is what I found in regards to mirrorless/DSLR cameras: Mirrorless cameras have the advantage of usually being lighter, more compact, faster and better for video; but that comes at the cost of access to fewer lenses and accessories. DSLRs have the advantage in lens selection and an optical viewfinder that works better in low light, but they are more complex and bulkier.
      The Fuji X-T2 seems to get excellent reviews.
      I see that there are quite some lenses available for this camera that would be perfect for safari, so that shouldn’t be an issue (55-200mm looks like a very affordable choice, or a high-end lens with incredible reach 100-400mm). So yes, it looks like a good choice. When it comes to cameras, there is so much choice, it’s really more about what YOU prefer and how much money you are willing to spend.

  19. Hello Jurga, On my search for a family trip to Namibia I found your blog and I’m glad I did. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect for such a trip and you reassure on many points. As far as photography, I do own a Canon already and will certainly upgrade with some of your great recommendations. I have a question however. You mentioned that you had a lot of sand traveling to Namibia. How did you handle that with your camera equipment?

    1. Author

      Hi Melanie, thanks for your kind words. I’m so glad you found some reassurance for your trip to Namibia. It’s a beautiful country, perfect for family trip, and I’m confident that you will love it!
      As for the camera, I didn’t do anything special in regards to sand. I had a Canon 5D Mark II at that time, so it’s already pretty robust and protected against the elements. Same for the lenses. If you can afford it, better buy one L lens rather than two or three cheaper ones. They are the best! I have several and use them a lot for more than 10 years now and they are worth every cent if you are somewhat into photography. Of course, you should take some precautions: don’t change your lens outdoors if you can avoid it; put the camera safely away inside your bag if you are going to roll/run down the sand dunes. If you are still worried, you can take a big plastic ziplock bag to stow your camera in when not using it.
      Hope this helps!

  20. Hi, do you have any experience with teleconverters?

    1. Author

      Hi Marc, no, I don’t. I also considered buying one of those, but never did because I just couldn’t decide which one was better – the 1,4x or the 2,0x. They are rather expensive, but of course are cheaper than most of the tele lenses and take less space. I know someone who bought one from a cheaper brand (I think it was Tamron) and they were pretty happy with it. I guess it all depends on the camera/lenses you have.

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