What’s In The Bag?
It’s a question I’m asked all the time - by fellow photographers, airport check-in staff and passengers who can't believe I got this much hand luggage on board!
And it’s a fair question. 'Big Bertha' (as my bag is known) is an enormous burden to be carting around. So here is the mystery revealed, along with my recommended kit list if you’re a really keen photographer coming on safari.
My Recommended Essentials:
DSLR, mirrorless, bridge, compact or point n shoot - it doesn’t matter, bring what you can lay your hands on - we’ll get the best out of it! And do bring another backup camera in case of failure - even if it’s just a phone.
For game drive predator photography a good telephoto zoom (eg 100-400mm or 200-500mm) is perfect as it is flexible and has plenty of reach. As fast a lens as possible (wide aperture/low F-stop value) is also a bonus because much of the action happens in low light around dawn and dusk
Avid birders may wish to consider a longer reach: 500-600mm or a 1.4x converter
Please be aware if you only bring a very long fixed lens that the wildlife here - especially in the conservancies - comes so close that at times you could well struggle to fit it in your frame!
A wider angle lens - the wider end of the spectrum (anything from 24mm – 100mm) will give great shots that include some habitat context as well as your subject
Specialist lenses are not necessary for general safari, but if you wish to participate in any astro photography sessions an ultra-wide lens is optimum for this (around 10-16mm). In your free time you may also have the chance to use a macro lens for flora and insects
Other Important Stuff
Chargers for both cameras and plenty of spare charged batteries
Card reader and memory cards for both cameras plus spares
Power adapters if necessary (Serian uses British configuration 3 square pin plugs in Kenya)
If you would like to try some longer exposure wildlife photography a solid (not graduated) neutral density filter will come in handy if you have one – if not don’t worry, we will simply adjust camera settings as much as possible
A water/dust proof covering for your camera and lens – doesn’t have to be expensive, I have a cheap transparent plastic one from the internet – it does the job fine and has the bonus of being really light
Cleaning materials for your camera and lens - cloths, cleaning fluid, air puffer brush
Sturdy waterproof and dustproof camera bag
A beanbag can be useful for the vehicles, though basic ones will be supplied
Tripod: not necessary unless you wish to participate in any landscape/astro/macro sessions in your free time
Binoculars if used
There are of course a gazillion gadgets and accessories you can include in your kit – it’s down to personal preference - but that should be sufficient to cover just about every situation you’ll come across out here on safari!
My Complete Kit as Photographer In Residence - Limited By What I Can Carry On A Plane! (see photo above)
Primary Camera - Nikon D5
Secondary camera - Nikon D850
Action camera - GoPro - old v4 but I don’t use it that much so haven’t upgraded
iPhone 8+ (not pictured as I used it to take this image!)
400mm F2.8 - Nikon
70-200mm F2.8 - Nikon
24-70mm F2.8 - Nikon
14-24mm F2.8 - Nikon
105mm macro F2.8 - Sigma
(NB I’m really missing the 200-400mm gap in my focal lengths!)
A small light with rechargeable batteries
Loupe viewer for dslr screens - Zacuto
Filter holder - Lee
10 stop and 6 stop filters - Lee
Chargers and batteries for all cameras
Stabiliser for iPhone - ZhiZen
Travel tripod - MEFOTO
MacBook air laptop - Apple
2 x 4TB hard drives - Seagate
Spectacles and spares - Specsavers
Rechargeable head torch - Blusmart
Camera straps - Peak Design & Maa Trust