- XF100-400 ; my main wildlife lens
- XF50-140 ; for wider shots and potentially as a back-up with the XF 1.4TC if something would go wrong with the 100-400
- XF10-24 ; for wide angle vistas (rarely used)
- XF23mm f2 ; for street photography when traveling between places
- XF18-55 ; all round travel lens, although used it could have probably stayed home
- XF1.4X TC ; teleconverter used a lot on the 100-400 lens
I brought plenty of memory cards; a total of 288GB which allowed me to not format a single card during the trip. This will give you an extra backup beside the download on the laptop and external harddrive.
Leave the tripod home as their often is no real use of it, except if one wants to photograph the night sky which can be very dramatic. But bring a bean bag to stabilize long glass on the window/roof sill of the car. When you are tight on baggage allowance, bring an empty bag and buy the cheapest beans you can find in a local (super)market. It will work just as well.
All was carried in two camera bags, the main one being a ThinkTank Streetwalker Pro and the second one an Everyday Messenger bag from Peak Design.
OTHER GEAR TO PACK
Generally try to pack as light as possible, but make sure to pack a few warmer clothes for those early morning Safaris. Believe it or nor but it can get a bit chilly in Africa, especially in the higher elevation parks like the Ngorongoro Crater.
- A good flashlight will come in handy as a lot of the more basic accommodation will probably not have electricity during the night.
- Take a few zip-lock bags to protect stuff that can't handle the dust; It will get into everything.
- Bring a Safari hat; a classic baseball cap is really out of place and will not protect you from the harsh midday sun.
- Make sure you have the correct electrical plug converters for the country you visit; click here for more.
On my latest trip we however wanted to go to the Serengeti during the dry season (just before the short rain season) which gives a very different perspective to the place but also comes with specific challenges! While dust is always present during a wildlife safari, it proved to be very much the case on this one. The "where" to go I'll leave entirely up to you as there is plenty of choice!
1/ A few weeks before leaving, check what vaccinations you might need. Most places in Eastern African will also come with the recommendation of taking anti-malaria tablets; check with a medical professional for more.
2/ One will often have to fly on domestic flights when going on safari. Avoid exceeding the hand and check-in luggage allowances; not only in weight but also in size, especially when flying on the smaller single-engine aircraft. You really don't want to load your photo-gear in the cargo hold of the aircraft. Believe me, as an airline pilot I do know how checked in luggage is often handled!
If traveling with two photographers, a back-up camera as well as some lenses can be shared; maki amongst the two of you. Using mirrorless cameras like Fujifilm, allows me meet those weight requirements much easier.
3/ Try to only use weather proof photography gear; not so much as a protection for rain but much more for dust. The African safaris are notorious for a lot of dust while driving. If you don't want to ruin your photographic experience, plan on not changing any lenses while being out and about; use your back-up camera with the alternative lens.
4/ If you do take a personal driver/guide, advise him at the start of the trip what you expect from him. Agree on how you will make him stop when you see something and that you'll let him know when it is OK to start driving again. You might also have to explain to him that you normally prefer to have the sun in the back.
5/ Rather than taking breakfast in the lodge/tented camp, ask for a breakfast box so you can leave before sunrise. Tell the driver you are ok to come back to the accommodation during the mid-day harsh light and then leave again around 2.30-3pm. In order to be able to do this, it is advisable to have your accommodation inside the National Park.
6/ Use a geotagging app on your smartphone. After the trip, Lightroom will sync all of the images to the GPS track which will give you a good idea where exactly you took your shots. I personally use geotagphotos.net
7/ Go as low as you can! Getting a low perspective will often lead to more dramatic images. This is where the advantage of an open 4x4 will come in handy. If not, consider shooting through the side windows rather than from the higher open roof viewpoint when the situation allows it.
9/ When the animal is close to the car, don't put the long glass down! Details shot often make for interesting wildlife photography.
10/ Enjoy the experience of being in the wild. Don't forget to sometimes just put down the camera down in order to really let the whole experience sink in!
Personally I believe that cameras like the X-T2 (review here) are near perfect for Wildlife photography; fast auto-focus with excellent glass like the XF100-400 make for a great combination.
Before my recent trip to Tanzania, I had limited experience with the XF 1.4X Teleconverter and XF100-400 lens. It is not a secret that Teleconverters will degrade the image quality. However when paired with the 100-400 lens, the sharpness remains really good. Actually I can hardly notice the difference with or without it. I therefore had the TC on the camera most of the time; especially when I suspected that extra reach might be needed. The image below is taken at 560mm or 840mm full frame equivalent and is tack sharp!
I did end up charging almost of my batteries with the AC-9V Power Adapter that comes with the X-T2 Power Booster Grip rather than using the standard battery charger. They charge really fast and will do two at the same time. I often topped up my battery load in the car while driving between locations and never took out the batteries in my X-T2 for the whole trip!
A few more sample images of the trip can be found below. Please refer to the metadata below the image for more details.
Those of you who want to see all of the edited images of the trip so far, can visit the gallery "Tanzania Wildlife safari 2016".
Feel free to share this blogpost on social media or your personal blog; permission is not required as long as credit is given to Bjorn Moerman PHOTOGRAPHY!