Safari Photography Tips for the Uninitiated

If you’re going on safari, you will most likely be looking to invest in a good camera.  A digital SLR camera will mean that you can get some great wildlife pictures, but there are some important things to remember before you head off on your adventure.  If you’re used to the point and shoot cameras and are considering stepping into the world of digital SLR for your upcoming safari, here are some firsthand tips.

Buy a good zoom

Getting a camera with good zoom is critical for your safari shots

While it’s important to have a good quality camera, the quality of the lens is even more important.  Buy the best telephoto zoom that you can afford (or are willing to spend), because there’s nothing worse than seeing some amazing wildlife in the distance, only to have it show up as a little speck on your photo.  I would say that 300mm is the minimum, and anything upwards of this will mean that your shots appear all the more closer.  Although you will see plenty of wildlife up close, there is also a lot to be seen in the distance.

Learn to use your camera before the safari

Key tip - learn to use your camera before you go

It sounds obvious, but there’s no point turning on your camera for the first time when you are on the plane going over.  While the “auto” mode on your camera will take some good shots, there are some tricky lighting situations on safari, and being familiar with the camera can mean the difference between a great shot and a blurry indistinct blob.  I found that a lot of wildlife was back-lit, and the auto mode just didn’t pick up the detail I wanted.  Try playing around with your settings, and learn when a flash will help out.

Watch out for dust

Dust will kill your camera, so be wary

There’s lots of it on safari, and it will destroy the insides of your camera.  Change lenses as little as possible outside, and always be careful.

Bring a small point and shoot camera

Bring a point and shoot for moments like these

The downside of a telephoto lens is that it will be close to impossible to take a photo of anything that is right in front of you.  Safaris are all about luck – and there’s nothing more unlucky than having a leopard pass in front of your vehicle and you’re fumbling around with switching lenses.  Bring a small point and shoot digital camera with you for these situations, so you always have something at the ready for those “once in a lifetime” shots.

Africa looks better through your eyes, not your lens

Don't forget to suck up the experience with your own eyes, the best lenses!

Yes – take some great photos!  But don’t forget to put the camera down and soak up the awesomeness of your surroundings.  You are in the cradle of civilization, so observe it, breath it in, and love it!

What are your friendly tips? Don’t be shy. Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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