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:
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:
- Samyang 14mm f/4
- Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
- Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM II
- Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM II
- Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
- Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM
- Sigma 60-600 f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports*
- Canon EF Extender 1.4x III*
- Canon EF Extender 2x III*
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.
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.
- 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.