Kenya 2021/2022

My pho­to­graph­ic equip­ment has now grown to the point where I can no longer take it com­plete­ly with me on my jour­neys. Espe­cial­ly when trav­el­ing by air, the amount and espe­cial­ly the weight of the equip­ment are lim­it­ed. The expen­sive equip­ment should not be trans­port­ed in the nor­mal lug­gage, because the risk of dam­age or, depend­ing on the des­ti­na­tion, theft is too high. The usu­al lug­gage insur­ances will only cov­er a small part of any damage.

So any­thing of val­ue must be tak­en along in the hand lug­gage. There the size and weight of the lug­gage are lim­it­ed. Usu­al­ly, the hand lug­gage may weigh a max­i­mum of 8kg, with KLM and Kenya Air­ways it is still 12kg. This is a sig­nif­i­cant restric­tion on pho­to safaris, as the super-tele­pho­to lens­es I usu­al­ly use weigh already 3-4kg each. The total weight of my safari foto equip­ment usu­al­ly adds up to more than 20kg and must there­fore be dis­trib­uted among sev­er­al fel­low travelers.

Thus, with every pho­to safari, there is always the ques­tion of what comes with me and what has to stay at home. For our Kenya trip at the turn of the year 2021 / 2022 this time I made the fol­low­ing selection:

Photographic equipment

As always, I took 2 cam­era bod­ies with me. My Canon EOS R5 came with me for the first time in safari use. As a sec­ond body served my proven EOS 5DS R again, so that this time plen­ty of megapix­els were avail­able once more.

Because of the huge num­ber of large image files to be expect­ed from the high-res­o­lu­tion cam­eras (I take my pho­tos exclu­sive­ly in RAW for­mat), I had pre­vi­ous­ly upgrad­ed my trav­el lap­top to 2.5TB SSD capac­i­ty. In addi­tion, an exter­nal 4TB SSD accom­pa­nied it for back­up. Since I also want­ed to con­tin­ue using the EOS 5DSR, I only took EF-mount lens­es with me.

There­fore, the Drop-In Fil­ter Mount Adapter EF-EOS R was per­ma­nent­ly mount­ed on the EOS R5, which I used with clear glass, polar­iz­ing or vari­able ND fil­ters as need­ed. By the way, the adapter pro­tect­ed the exposed sen­sor of the mir­ror­less R5 very effi­cient­ly from dust - which is oth­er­wise a real prob­lem on African safaris.

The fol­low­ing lens­es came with me this time:

Every­thing was stowed in two back­packs dur­ing the game dri­ves, a Think­Tank Air­port Accel­er­a­tor* for both bod­ies with mount­ed large tele­pho­to lens­es and a Lowe­pro Pro­Tac­tic 450 AW* for the remain­ing lens­es. Since these were clear­ly too heavy when ful­ly packed, we dis­trib­uted every­thing before the flight on 3 back­packs, each of which weighed just under 9kg. But for this we also had to hang two cam­eras around our necks at check-in 😉

Also with us was the usu­al oth­er stuff: trav­el tri­pod, monopods, Man­frot­to Super­clamps* with tri­pod head (but they weren’t used this time), lap­top, pow­er banks, trav­el adapters, cell phones, LTE router, IPad, etc. All non-crit­i­cal equip­ment and even the Sig­ma 60-600 (safe­ly packed in its case) went into our trav­el bags and was checked in at the lug­gage counter. Every­thing con­tain­ing bat­ter­ies was not allowed in the lug­gage and had to trav­el in the back­packs as hand luggage.

Some addi­tion­al tips on Africa safaris can be found in anoth­er arti­cle on this website.

Small statistics

In ret­ro­spect, I was inter­est­ed to see how I had used the equip­ment I had tak­en with me in prac­tice. After import­ing all the images into Adobe Light­room Clas­sic, I took a clos­er look at the library. This time, as expect­ed, the Canon EOS R5 was used for the most part. Of the almost 18,000 images I took:

  • 88% with the Canon EOS R5,
  • 11% with the Canon EOS 5DS R and
  • 1% with my iPhone 12Pro.

The pho­tos occu­pied almost 900GB of hard disk space.

And regard­ing the lens­es used, this is the result­ing pattern:

  • 71% of the images were tak­en with the EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM II, of which
    • 63% with­ou­tEx­ten­der,
    • 16% with the1,4x III Exten­der and
    • 21% with the2x III Extender. 

I still con­sid­er a fast f/2.8 400mm lens ide­al for safari use. Thanks to the excel­lent exten­ders, it also replaces a f/4 560mm and a f/5.6 800mm lens with­out much loss of quality.

In Africa, it is some­times rather dark in the ear­ly morn­ing and late evening hours, when the wildlife is most active and the light atmos­phere is at its best. In addi­tion, with the fast-mov­ing ani­mals, you also often need fast shut­ter speeds, so you can nev­er actu­al­ly have enough aper­ture. So I took more than half of all shots with the 400mm f/2.8 with and with­out exten­der again at open aperture.

For addi­tion­al

  • 18% of the images I used my recent­ly sec­ond-hand Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM II, this also fre­quent­ly on the 5DS R.

Con­trast and sharp­ness of this lens are first-class and almost on the same lev­el as that of a prime lens. How­ev­er, the bokeh is not as good as that of the 400 f/2.8, and the back­ground is in direct com­par­i­son much more dis­turbed. In addi­tion, it shows more chro­mat­ic aber­ra­tions / col­or fringes in direct com­par­i­son, but these can eas­i­ly be cor­rect­ed in Light­room in the post-pro­cess­ing. Com­pared to the dimen­sions of the 400 f/2.8 and also the Sig­ma 60-600, how­ev­er, it is won­der­ful­ly com­pact and I there­fore enjoyed using it.

The Sig­ma 60-600 that I also took along this time was there­fore quick­ly again annexed by my daugh­ter Luise, who used it with her Canon EOS 7D Mk II. The remain­ing shots were dis­trib­uted rel­a­tive­ly even­ly among the oth­er lens­es that I took with me. The Samyang 14mm was actu­al­ly only used for the inte­ri­or shots of our accommodations.

As a pre­mière on a safari I had my EF 85mm f/1.2L IS USM II with me this time and want­ed to try it out in com­bi­na­tion with the vari­able ND fil­ter at open aper­ture. Some pic­tures tak­en with this com­bi­na­tion were shot in Amboseli Nation­al Park.

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