Because you are participating in a photo tour, we should discuss some of essentials and other recommended gear that will let you take advantage of some exciting photo opportunities. While it's easy to just try to bring all your gear and see what works best once you get here, weight considerations also need to factor into your packing decisions. The key is to choose the best combination of gear that you still feel comfortable toting around with you! Here are some tips on photo gear that can help maximize your photography experience.
Most photographers will tell you that good "glass" is more important than a good body. This rings true when it comes to wildlife photography. However, while the quality of the build and clarity of the glass are key, there are more important factors you should look for when it comes to your lens choice: stabilization, aperture and focal length.
Image Stabilization (Vibration Reduction for Nikon users) can typically save between 2 - 4 stops of light. This reduces that shaking we all produce by handling our cameras, helping make for sharper images in conditions where we may not have much shutter speed to work with. Your main lens for this tour should have IS/VR especially if you are shooting hand-held. A lens with a wide aperture can help you capture subjects in low light.
Low Aperture The lower the aperture (or more "wide open" it is), the more light is let in to hit the camera sensor. More light leads to increased shutter speed, allowing you to capture sharper images. A lens that can open up to f/2.8 is ideal. f/4 works well, but at f/5.6 you'll need to rely on higher ISO settings and some good stabilization in order to achieve higher quality images.
Ideal Focal Length is an important consideration, and often depends on your subject matter. If you plan on shooting scenery or macros the whole time, you can get away with a lens with a shorter focal length (10 - 100mm). However, if your goal is to seek out larger wildlife, you need to prepared to shoot subjects that are further away (high up in trees, for example). The minimal focal length we recommend is 200mm for a "cropped sensor" camera body (most entry level DSLRs have a cropped sensor). You can get up to 500 or even 600mm, which is useful for wildlife photography. Just be prepared to deal with the extra weight (and the lower aperture) of those longer lenses! Keep in mind, you'll likely want to bring multiple lenses to handle a variety of situations. The most common combination is a medium-long range zoom combined with a wider zoom or macro lens. And, by the way, having a second/backup camera body isn't a bad idea either!
Here are some recommended lenses that work well:
- Having a range from 10mm to 400mm lenses would be optimum.
- At a minimum, a 24-105mm and 100-400mm will provide you a very workable range.
- A teleconverter can come in handy too. A 1.4x teleconverter attached can be a very useful combination for wildlife.
- We also offer lens rentals if needed, please let us know at least 40 days prior to tour.
Finding a way to comfortably pack and carry all this gear can be challenging. We recommend either a good photo pack or pouch system, keeping in mind that you have to tote the rest of your luggage around as well! A good pouch and belt system full of gear can be carried on a plane, and can be worn with the main backpack that holds your clothing and other essentials.
If you're looking for a camera bag system, check out F-Stop Bags. Scott and Albert use F-Stop Bags
Tripods and Monopods
A tripod or monopod can add more stabilization to your photo set-up. You can never have enough stabilization. A tripod/monopod is recommended for those toting around longer lenses (300mm 2.8, 400-500mm). However, the downside is that they're bulky, often inconvenient to set up quickly and can get caught on brush while hiking. If you do choose to bring a tripod, a lighter option that's easy to carry but still provides a sturdy base is ideal.
Other Essential Gear:
- Several batteries to sustain you up to 10 hours / Day
- Extra Media Cards
- Polarizing and Split-neutral density filters
- Extra camera body if possible
- Lens hoods
- Several lens cloth
- Remote Trigger/Release
- Laptop computer with at least Adobe Lightroom