View Full Version : What to buy for a wildlife trip

27-03-12, 09:18 AM
I'm planning a wildlife-focused holiday-of-a-lifetime next year and I would really appreciate some advice on buying a DSLR to make the most of it. From what I've gathered, I'll need macro and telephoto lenses as well as body itself but since my mind is rendered into goo by most of the stuff I have read, this may be completely wrong. Presumably a polarising filter will also be useful. My budget will max out at about 3,500, though some of that should be reserved for courses or tuition, so that I'm familiar with using everything well before the trip itself.
So I'm looking for help on what to buy and also on when and how to buy - should I try to buy everything together to get the best deal, or is it better to play with a kit lens first and work up to some of the more specialist gear?

27-03-12, 10:50 AM
hi and welcome what type of wildlife. with your budget i am sure we can get you the right gear

27-03-12, 11:20 AM
I'm planning a trip to the Galapagos islands, with some excursions into the rainforest on the mainland - so the kit needs to be able to cover reptiles, insects, birds and botany both close at hand and in the canopy. It also needs to be robust enough to handle the conditions and my basic capacity to drop stuff.

27-03-12, 12:14 PM
straight away i think that you will need a good body like a canon 7d so for distance i would look at a 70-300 canon, sigma and tamron all do one, you may even be better with 100-400 range. then theres the macro you may be able to save some money and get a lens like the sigma 17-70os it will double as a standard zoom and macro. this adds to about 2000 give or take.

Nigel Atherton
27-03-12, 02:20 PM
There are so many options, but whatever you choose a long telephoto lens is a must. I imagine you'll be shooting wildlife from a boat for some of the time and even when on land may not get as close as you'd like.

The problem is that they're big and heavy. If weight is not an issue for you I'd consider something like the Sigma 120-400mm lens (around 650 and 1.6kg) or 150-500mm ((750 and 2kg) but these are weighty beasts.

A considerably lighter option would be a 70-300mm lens, and there are lots of options. Nikon does a cracking 70-300mm VR for about 550 which weighs 750g, Canon's 70-300mm IS USM is a little cheaper and lighter, while Sony's 70-300mm G SSm is about 750 and weighs the same as the Nikon. Into the mix you could also add Sigma's good value 70-300mm DG OS for about 400, or best value of all Tamron's 70-300mm SP VC USD which, at around 300 delivers great performance.

I would not be tempted to buy a superzoom lens that goes from 18-200mm unless you're on a tight budget. Better to get a second lens that covers the wider field of view, in the 18-55mm range.

Macro lenses? There are lots of those around but go for a telephoto macro, such as those around 100mm. The Tamron 90mm macro is a perennial favourite of its kind.

As for the camera I agree with the previous post. You need a DSLR with a good, fast AF system if you're using big tele's. For me it would be between the Canon EOS 7D, Sony A77 and Nikon D7000. From an AF and burst mode perspective the Sony probably edges it if you don't mind an EVF instead of an optical viewfinder.

If you're looking at travelling lighter you could always go for a compact system camera instead of a DSLR. Although the cameras are a bit smaller the biggest weight saving would be in the lenses, which would be half the size. Performance isn't quite as good but still quite useful.
Olympus is making some fantastic lenses these days - the new Olympus OM-D, paired with the 70-300mm (which is equivalent to the 400mm on an APS-C DSLR) would be a great combination and about half the weight of the DSLR option. Alternatively consider the Panasonic G3 with the Lumix G 100-300 Vario (if using long lenses I'd go for a body with a built in viewfinder).

I hope this helps.

Nigel Atherton
27-03-12, 02:23 PM
As for when and how to buy, you may save a little by getting it altogether but not a lot. There's probably something to be said for getting to know the camera first, but on the other hand holding a long telephoto lens steady does take practice. I forgot to add a monopod to your list to take the weight of your camera/lens and reduce the risk of camera shake. A tripod would be good too but more hassle and less easily manoevreable. Ideally you'd take both.

27-03-12, 04:56 PM
Thanks so much for your replies and advice - a lot of food for thought there but I think I have a much clearer picture of what I need - including some sessions at the gym!

27-03-12, 05:33 PM
remember when buying a DSLR you buy into a system so go try the cameras and see if they have the lenses you require canon and nikon have largest choice including third party. if it feels right then it probably is dont put up with i will get used to it. good luck