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Botswanna Safari Point and shoot camera

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by lfmerrell, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. A friends are going on a two week Botswanna safari. It is a group trip all adults.

    I have been asked for camera recommendations. My initial thoughts are a quality, pocketable, point and shoot preferably dust and water proof. GPS is a plus or minus, my concern is using excessive battery charge. They shall have an iPhone so I thought GPS4Cam would be good for GPS tagging. Also theses iPhone apps, PS Express from Adobe and Autosticth for simple panoramas.

    They are point and shoot photographers.

    Extra cards extra batteries are a given.

    Thanks in advance for any help.
  2. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    We just got back from Africa. My wife carried a Panny ZS10, her choice because it is the biggest camera she's willing to carry and it is 24mm at the wide end. It has a GPS, though we did not use it.

    The photo quality amazed me. The two issues were (1) frequent slight softness due to camera motion at long focal lengths and (2) softness due to the autofocus choosing shoots of vegetation between her and the animal subjects. But any lightweight, non-viewfinder camera will have the camera motion issue.

    Since this type of camera is your friends' choice, I suggest you teach them how to support the camera by leaning against things, wedging knees into corners of the game drive vehicles, supporting the camera on another person's shoulder, etc. Probably a monopod with a small ball head is a little too much for them to consider but it would be A Good Thing.

    I wouldn't worry too much about dust resistance or waterproofing. Just carry a ziploc bag. They will be shooting from stopped game drive vehicles, so not raising dust, and the vehicles will probably have canvas roofs protecting against direct rain. It's the rainy season for the next few months but its not that rainy.

    Here's a lores version of a backlit lens test chart she shot:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    and a 100% crop:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    These were exported from Lightroom without any post-processing.

    The camera was $300 at Costco about six months ago. IIRC the ZS8 is the same camera sans GPS.

    All that said, though, if you can convince them to buy one of the superzooms with an eye level finder it will give them better pictures. The extra stability of having the camera pressed against a forehead will help, particularly at the longer focal lengths they will be using. Say what you want about image stabilization, it is not as good as actually having a stable camera.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Thanks for this reply. I am passing this information on to them plus the link to your photos here.

    They will have an iPhone so there I recommend GPS4CAM for logging GPS tracks.
    Thank you again.
  4. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    A superzoom is definitely the way to go, something like the Sony HX9V, Panasonic ZS10/TZ20, etc. You'll miss the range otherwise

    To me, GPS doesn't seem to be a necessary feature for a safari camera. Is it really going to be important to know on which particular Botswana backroad they found a particular elephant or zebra? For street shooting, or a European countryside road trip, it would be useful to remember which country, town, or part of the city that one is in. But for your friends' safari photos, I would think that "Botswana" is specific enough.

    Don't worry about a waterproof camera, because the image quality isn't comparable to a regular point and shoot, and the zoom range won't be nearly enough.

    Will the safari campsites have limited power? Will they be in vehicles most of the time? Definitely buy at least two extra batteries and a car charger, plus memory cards. Charge one battery in the car charger at all times. Make sure that the included AC charger can accept 240V, and get the correct cord or adapter.
  5. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    No problem. A couple of other thoughts that came to mind:

    1) With a zoom, I generally insist on 24mm on the wide end because IMHO 28mm is simply not enough for good interior shots. But in this case, interiors are not the objective, so I would look to the long side of the lens and forget the wide. No telephoto will be long enough for everything one wants, but I shot the Panny 100-300 on our trip and the equivalent 600mm focal length sufficed in most cases. Example (no cropping):

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    (Note the twigs in front of her. This shot was manually focused, which is a b1tc# with a magnified 600mm focal length hand-held, but otherwise the autofocus would have grabbed the twigs.)

    2) Buying a camera for this trip shouldn't IMHO be viewed the same as buying a camera for life. Cameras are just tools, and buying the right tool for the trip, then selling it afterwards might just be the right tactic. For our trip I bought an extra G1 body and the 100-300mm lens, then sold them after we returned. Net cost to have them on the trip, about $30! Even if it were $100 or $200 that is a small price to pay compared to the five-digit numbers that the trip probably is costing. So get the right tool.

    There will be outlets, but not many. Maybe only one. Carry a cube tap. Power may come from a generator that is turned off in the wee hours, so it is important to get the batteries on charge IMMEDIATELY upon returning to camp, even before you get a beer.

    In game drive vehicles, but without access to power. Probably traveling between camps in small buses, again without access to power.

    Amen on the batteries. They are unlikely to use a car charger, but will need one AC charger for each camera. I carry one fresh battery for each body in my pocket. At night I put the fresh batteries in the cameras and charge the depleted camera batteries overnight, which then are my fresh ones for the next day.

    Several small ones (1GB if shooting JPG, 2GB if shooting RAW.) Change cards every night and rotate through them so your photos are spread around. Don't carry all the cards in one place. Then, if you lose a card or a camera, you still have the majority of your photos.
    Yes, though I have yet to see one that does not.

    Yes. There are no electrical goods stores in the bush. The British inflicted two styles of huge clunky plugs on their colonies. One has round pins and one has square pins. Both are in use in Southern Africa. Take both, plus a couple of the small round-pin European adapters. Often the outlets in a tourist facility will also take these.
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