To capture a great Safari image, you need to be in the right place at the right time. Moments happen quickly and often in Low Light and in the distance. There is a lot of skill and luck involved, however, Camera equipment does make a big difference.
If you haven't booked your Safari yet, I wrote an article here! About things to consider before your trip.
Here is my Camera Gear List for Safari and Wildlife Photography.
Best Camera's for Safari:
Cheaper Safari Camera Options
Sony RX100 VI is a 20.1 MP Premium Compact Digital Camera w/ 1-inch sensor, 24-200mm ZEISS zoom lens and pop-up OLED EVF
If budget is a limitation. This camera is the best Wild Life and Safari Camera under $1000
Best Canon Camera Bundle Under $1000 Dollars for Safari
Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera Bundle with Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is II Lens + Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Lens + 2pc SanDisk 32GB Memory Cards + Accessory Kit.
Reviewing the Sony A9 II and Sony FE 600mm f4 GM OSS
Camera vs Lenses for Safari and Wild Life Photography
Both Camera and Lenses are important for Safari Photography, however, in my personal opinion, most Safari Images could be improved more by upgrading your lenses than by upgrading your camera.
Mirrorless Vs DSLR for Safari photography?
I switched over from a full-frame DSLR to a mirrorless camera. The main reasons are image stabilisation, and size. I also work as a film-maker and photographer and find that in general mirrorless cameras Capture better images and video.
If you are looking to fix a blurry image or slightly missed focus on a Wild Life image. Check out my Lightroom and Topaz Labs Sharpen AI tutorial here.
2 Cameras are better than 1
If you are able to take 2 cameras on Safari, I highly recommend it. The reason being is that often you will see an animal far away then the next one will be right close by. Changing lenses happens a lot on Safari, and it can get very bumpy and dusty. I usually keep a long focal length on 1 camera and a shorter focal length on another.
Best Safari Camera.
There are a lot of great cameras for Safari. What I look for in a good Safari/ Wildlife camera is the following
Good Auto Focus- Often subjects are behind grass or bushes and light can be low. Animals are also on the move often, which means you need to track them. I'm a big fan of the Sony AF lock-on tracking system
The Number of frames per second. Moments happen very quickly on Safari, especially if you are into Bird Photography. The more frames per second you can capture the better chance you have of capturing an epic image.
Low Light Capability Almost all safari game drives happen early in the morning and late in the afternoon. This is when the animals are most active and you get the best light. This brings with it the change of low light. Normally you will be shooting on a telephoto lens, which means you will have to increase your shutter speed to mitigate camera shake or blurry images. You will need a camera that can handle high ISO or you will need a low f-stop lens. Lower f-stops (also known as low apertures) let more light into the camera.
Image Stabilisation I'm a big fan of the new mirrorless cameras for Safari. One of the primary reasons is great image stabilization. Which helps with camera shake and low shutter speeds in low light. I also enjoy the flip screens of mirrorless cameras. If you are waiting a while for a shot, I prefer not to hold the camera at my eye. It also helps me to appreciate the experience.
Best Safari Camera Lenses
I always take a variety of lenses on Safari, ranging from Wide angles to Primes and Telephoto lenses. The reason is as a Travel Photographer that also does Safari Photography, I don't just take images of Wildlife, I capture the journey of Safari too.
Telephoto Lens for Safari
If money is not an option you would want a telephoto lens of up to 600mm or even more. That said in most cases you can get away with up to 400mm, or even 200mm if you are visiting a premium Safari lodge, that offers 'off-roading'
One of my best bits of advice is to get a Teleconverter. Most of my best images have been taken with a Sony G Master 70-200mm F2.8 with a 2x SONY Teleconverter.
Prime Lens For Safari
Prime lenses are great for low light or if you get close enough to an animal that you can take a sharp portrait. I recommend an F stop of F1.4 or less. I normally use a 50mm or 85mm F1.4
Wide Angle Lens For Safari
WIde angle lenses are really great for Capturing Moments close to the (Safari Truck) Landcruiser! There are also incredible big landscapes that can be captured on Safari. Not to mention the Stars. Africa and Safari is an incredible place for Astro Photography.
Due to the nature of safari photography, you will be shooting your RAW images in burst mode. This means fast memory cards are extremely important. They also need to be durable.
Tripods aren't that important on Safari, I usually take a travel tripod, mainly for the purpose of capturing Camp Fire shots, Long Exposures of the Safari lodge or Astro Photography.
On Safari you will normally be shooting with a telephoto lens in low light. You would like to avoid both camera shake as well as the weight on your arms. Since you cant use your tripod in the Safari truck, you can rest your lens on a bean bag on the side of the car.
Safari Bean Bag (LensCoat LensSack Pro Camera Bean Bag Support Digital Camo)
Camera Cleaning Stuff
Safari can get dusty and muddy. It's always good to keep cleaning stuff on hand.
Safari photography has a lot of gear to it, and you get in and out of a car with other guests most of the time. Having a good camera bag that you can quickly access and organise your stuff makes a huge difference.
I hope you enjoyed the article. Come and say hi on Instagram @CraigHowes
Cheers Craig // SoCoMunity