Safari with EM1.1 (x2) + 12-100mm +100-400mm

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Thanks for the comments Bisonbison. I have had no issues at all with my em1ii and 100-400, I love them both. I was determined to buy the 100-400, and decided on a camera upgrade at the same time. I tried it with both the Em1 and G9 in the camera shop. For me the EM1 just handled better with no issues with the mount on either camera.

Biggest issue I have with the 100-400 is with my technique and camera shake. Shots from my Olympus cameras (Em1ii, Em10 and grip) are better than those from the GX80, even with dual IS, as I can hold it more securely (I took the GX80 to Namibia as my wife has a TZ200 and they share batteries). Revisit your technique and practice loads.

Not sure what you currently own, I assume that you have one em1 and a 12-100 and in your position I would buy a second em1 mk1, 100-400 and a fast prime. Only one battery type and no hassle of learning yet another camera system and capable of fantastic shots.

The Zambians are wonderful people. Don't get too worked up about the photography just appreciate the people, the country and the animals and enjoy your trip, I'm sure you will.
 

turbodieselvw

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I have thought longest and hardest about your response. The reason I was considering this kit is for its lower weight, convenience, IBIS and extended range. However.... I would really like your feedback on your plans to 'drag' your D500 and D7500 along on your upcoming Namibia trip. What did you miss with the OMD kit that prompted you to take the heavier, larger nikon kit? I appreciate mft for all its benefits, but your experience will help me in my current predicament.
I currently have a Fujifilm X-T3 body and 100-400mm lens. It gets me to 600mm EFL, but I find that I need to stop down to f8 to get best results. I feel lens options are limited with Fuji - nothing longer to be had, if I want faster, the option is a 50-140mm/2.8, which is almost as heavy and bulky as the 100-400mm. With just those two lenses, two bodies and a small wide zoom, I am already at almost 4kg. If there are benefits to be had by just buckling down and carrying that extra weight, it becomes much easier to just maintain status quo. I will buy the 50-140mm and sell it after I return from the trip. I really can't see myself using it much later (although it is by all accounts an excellent lens). Fuji has also allowed me to get away with minimum post processing.
Namibia for me will involve a lot of low light shooting situations. In fact, the majority of shooting will be before sunrise and after sunset. It is for this reason that I will be going with my Nikon kit. The 2 bodies and lenses, batteries, etc already weight 22lbs in my bag. That’s a heck of a lot heavier than my Olympus kit. I was actually considering buying the new EM1X for this trip but decided not to as the EM1X will not do any better than the EM1 MKII in this case. Depending on how things go after the trip, I may end up hanging up my Olympus kit for good.
 

turbodieselvw

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Not sure what you currently own, I assume that you have one em1 and a 12-100 and in your position I would buy a second em1 mk1, 100-400 and a fast prime. Only one battery type and no hassle of learning yet another camera system and capable of fantastic shots.
i agree, if you’re going to get a second body, get another EM1 or the Mk II as they use the same batteries.
 

Bisonbison

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Thanks for the comments Bisonbison. I have had no issues at all with my em1ii and 100-400, I love them both. I was determined to buy the 100-400, and decided on a camera upgrade at the same time. I tried it with both the Em1 and G9 in the camera shop. For me the EM1 just handled better with no issues with the mount on either camera.

Biggest issue I have with the 100-400 is with my technique and camera shake. Shots from my Olympus cameras (Em1ii, Em10 and grip) are better than those from the GX80, even with dual IS, as I can hold it more securely (I took the GX80 to Namibia as my wife has a TZ200 and they share batteries). Revisit your technique and practice loads.

Not sure what you currently own, I assume that you have one em1 and a 12-100 and in your position I would buy a second em1 mk1, 100-400 and a fast prime. Only one battery type and no hassle of learning yet another camera system and capable of fantastic shots.

The Zambians are wonderful people. Don't get too worked up about the photography just appreciate the people, the country and the animals and enjoy your trip, I'm sure you will.
Thanks for the detailed reply. I actually don’t have any mft gear at all at the moment. I had an EM5.2 but sold it a few years ago to get an FZ300 Panasonic and then went up to a Fuji kit. It’s precisely because I don’t want to be changing lenses and lugging a huge camera kit that I’m planning a move back to mft. I’m looking forward to Zambia and will keep your words in mind and enjoy the trip :) thanks
 
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Bisonbison

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Namibia for me will involve a lot of low light shooting situations. In fact, the majority of shooting will be before sunrise and after sunset. It is for this reason that I will be going with my Nikon kit. The 2 bodies and lenses, batteries, etc already weight 22lbs in my bag. That’s a heck of a lot heavier than my Olympus kit. I was actually considering buying the new EM1X for this trip but decided not to as the EM1X will not do any better than the EM1 MKII in this case. Depending on how things go after the trip, I may end up hanging up my Olympus kit for good.
Thanks! That makes sense.
 

alex g

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Thanks for your inputs and comments about the 40-150mm/2.8. I see your point about needing a faster lens as light levels go down. What ISO would you be comfortable using in the low light?Since you also mention the post processing needed to soften nervous backgrounds, I wanted to ask what software you use for processing your images? For the past couple of years, I have gotten by with very little post processing of any kind. So don't have any software of choice. Will take a fast lens along with me for the lower light situations.
Re: ISO, it's obviously hard to give a definite figure, because so much depends on the individual situation and personal tolerance of noise, but as an indication, when shooting in Aperture Priority mode, I generally have the auto ISO upper limit set to 1600 on the E-M1.1 and 3200 on the E-M1.2. That's not to say that the latter has one stop less noise than the former — they have different kinds of noise patterns. With the E-M1.1 there's more apparent chroma noise, which conceivably may partly be a function of how the eye perceives its lower pixel density. That said, the E-M1.2 still has some pretty aggressive luma noise, even at low ISOs — it's just that to my eye it's a bit less objectionable than the older camera's chroma noise. I'd say the E-M5.2 lies somewhere between the two.

Of course it's not just the amount of noise that's of interest — as ISO increases, so colour precision decreases, and lack of colour precision can start being apparent quite quickly when the subject is typically relatively subtle tonally: pale grasses and cool low-saturation shadows can lose their delicacy once you pass ISO640 or so.

For post I just use Lightroom — as much as anything because it's what I started with. There may be better options available now, I can't speak from experience.
 
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Bisonbison, if you are visiting the falls, do go on the Victoria Falls River Safari that use the smaller boats that get right into the bank, rather than the larger booze cruise boats. Much better for photos

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oldracer

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Your proposed two-body approach is what I have use in African trips. In my case it has been the 14-140 and the 100-300 or the 100-400. The reason for two bodies is not worry about dust, etc. It is simply that things can happen very fast. I recall one time when I was shooting a leopard in a tree with the 100-300 and it decided to climb down and walk past our game drive vehicle. Far too close for 100mm but grabbing the 14-140 camera got me the shot.

You will almost certainly be in game drive vehicles. These vary, with pop-top Toyota seemingly more popular in Tanzania and Kenya, and Toyota pickups converted to carry three rows of seats behind the driver and with an open pipe frame. In both cases you are under a roof or canvas, so I would not worry too much about weather sealing.

The other thing I always have is a monopod with a ball head and a quick-release system. This can be a huge asset, particularly at 300 or 400mm and in the open-sided vehicles. Wedge yourself in place with the camera on the monopod, tilted at whatever angle gives you the best camera stability and use the ball head to level the camera. I have the crazy idea that there is no such thing as a camera that is too stable, so the monopod is kept busy. Whatever I get from image stabilization I consider to be an un-earned gift and I do not rely on it for anything.
 

flamingfish

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Nothing much of substance to add here (I just saw the word "safari" and had to join in, still being under the influence of a Tanzania safari last year). I had the 100-400 on an EM-5 ii and a 14-150 on an EM-5 i. You're right that you'll want absolutely as much reach as you can get, as well as the ability to capture subjects at closer range. I agree that you should get as much practice as possible with the 100-400 beforehand. I have a frustratingly high number of shots in which a bush or a blade of grass is in perfect focus, while the animal behind it is blurry. (Can I consider this contextual bokeh?) I did not have my macro lens with me and didn't miss it. Game drives don't provide the opportunity for macro -- at least in Tanzania, getting out of the vehicle was absolutely forbidden, even when there wasn't a lion standing next to it. I would recommend getting a harness that allows you to wear both cameras rather than keeping one camera in a bag. When a vehicle stops for a sighting, people move around to get the best view, so you may not have easy access to your bag. (Your vehicle may differ. We were in a pop-top Toyota Land Cruiser.)

If you still have that FZ300, you might want to lend it to one of your family members for the trip. That's what my traveling companion used in Tanzania, and she was very pleased with it.
 

Bisonbison

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Nothing much of substance to add here (I just saw the word "safari" and had to join in, still being under the influence of a Tanzania safari last year). I had the 100-400 on an EM-5 ii and a 14-150 on an EM-5 i. You're right that you'll want absolutely as much reach as you can get, as well as the ability to capture subjects at closer range. I agree that you should get as much practice as possible with the 100-400 beforehand. I have a frustratingly high number of shots in which a bush or a blade of grass is in perfect focus, while the animal behind it is blurry. (Can I consider this contextual bokeh?) I did not have my macro lens with me and didn't miss it. Game drives don't provide the opportunity for macro -- at least in Tanzania, getting out of the vehicle was absolutely forbidden, even when there wasn't a lion standing next to it. I would recommend getting a harness that allows you to wear both cameras rather than keeping one camera in a bag. When a vehicle stops for a sighting, people move around to get the best view, so you may not have easy access to your bag. (Your vehicle may differ. We were in a pop-top Toyota Land Cruiser.)

If you still have that FZ300, you might want to lend it to one of your family members for the trip. That's what my traveling companion used in Tanzania, and she was very pleased with it.
Thanks for your inputs.. I don’t have the FZ300 anymore, but got a cheap used Nikon p900 for my daughter and she loves it ... I have to ask before I use it now. It’s her camera :)
 

Bisonbison

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Your proposed two-body approach is what I have use in African trips. In my case it has been the 14-140 and the 100-300 or the 100-400. The reason for two bodies is not worry about dust, etc. It is simply that things can happen very fast. I recall one time when I was shooting a leopard in a tree with the 100-300 and it decided to climb down and walk past our game drive vehicle. Far too close for 100mm but grabbing the 14-140 camera got me the shot.

You will almost certainly be in game drive vehicles. These vary, with pop-top Toyota seemingly more popular in Tanzania and Kenya, and Toyota pickups converted to carry three rows of seats behind the driver and with an open pipe frame. In both cases you are under a roof or canvas, so I would not worry too much about weather sealing.

The other thing I always have is a monopod with a ball head and a quick-release system. This can be a huge asset, particularly at 300 or 400mm and in the open-sided vehicles. Wedge yourself in place with the camera on the monopod, tilted at whatever angle gives you the best camera stability and use the ball head to level the camera. I have the crazy idea that there is no such thing as a camera that is too stable, so the monopod is kept busy. Whatever I get from image stabilization I consider to be an un-earned gift and I do not rely on it for anything.
I hear you on the Image stabilization being a gift. Planning to take a monopod. Haven’t settled on one yet. I have a solid manfrotto aluminum one. But would like to get a carbon fiber monopod before I travel. I’ll use it with a monopod head. I tried and hated a ball head... too many degrees of freedom for me.
 

oldracer

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I hear you on the Image stabilization being a gift. Planning to take a monopod. Haven’t settled on one yet. I have a solid manfrotto aluminum one. But would like to get a carbon fiber monopod before I travel. I’ll use it with a monopod head. I tried and hated a ball head... too many degrees of freedom for me.
Let me tell you about this shot:
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It was near twilight. Shot with 100-400 cranked to 400. It was so dark in the tree that she could hardly be picked out with the naked eye.

I was seated on the left side of an open game drive vehicle. The GX8 was on a QR on an Acratech SP ball head. I was leaned against the vehicle pipe frame for stability. The bottom end of the monopod was on the floor against my right foot. It was tilted maybe 20 degrees left so the camera ended up between me and the leopard. It was also tilted to the rear so the middle of the monopod was braced by the seat edge and the camera ended up at about eye level. The ball head was cranked to level left/right and slightly upwards toward the subject. Moral of the story: That's the way you end up using monopods in game drive vehicles and a "monopod head" would make the monopod totally useless. You need those degrees of freedom.

IMO a "monopod" head is based on the paradigm that a monopod is a vertical stick used to support a camera. That is hugely limiting. If you poke around the internet using a search term like "how to use a monopod" you will find a few of the many creative way this tool can be used beyond the vertical stick paradigm.

Re carbon, I carry a carbon monopod because it is one leg of my Benro carbon tripod, but if your trip is anything like the ones I've been on, you will spend virtually all of your time in game drive vehicles so the lighter weight of the carbon is no advantage. You'll have your bag on the seat beside you with your second body/lens sitting on top of it and the monopod stuck behind. Aluminum is fine.
 

oldracer

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Oh, and this is an example of an open game drive vehicle except that most of them have a welded pipe frame that supports a canvas roof. Some also have roll-down side curtains with clear plastic (though too distorting for photography) windows. Check with your outfitter to see what he has or maybe just look on his web site.

Incidentally, the best seats are the row behind the driver. That back row can be a bucking bronco on rough roads and the canopy doesn't provide much rain protection back there.

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This is the pop-top style. I don't like them because there's room for only about three shooters at a time even though as many as nine people can be stuffed inside. It's nice to rest elbows on the roof for stability though. No monopod needed.

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KeithT

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@Bisonbison
Seeing as I am living in South Africa maybe a few pointers non-camera related as most of the valid points have been mentioned already:

I have just come back from a short ''safari''. Safari is an unusual name for us and the local terms down south are either ''going to a game park'' or ''going to the bush''.

I only used Oly Em1.1 with Oly 50-200 with TC14 when needed. (game = wild animals)

1. Practice, practice, practice . . . . can't say it enough, game move unpredictably so be prepared for the unexpected. There is sometimes no time to fiddle with gear.

2. It's pot luck... sometimes you see everything you desire, other times you can drive and see nothing.

3. The locals know the areas intimately . . . what sometimes happens is that (depending on your length of stay) they will guide you in stages. What I mean by that is show you the mundane stuff first then build you up to the predators. You may, however, be lucky and see lion/leopard/cheetah on your first day.

4. Get to know ''good morning'', ''good afternoon'' and ''thank you'' in the local lingo,it helps.

5. If on private reserves with traversing rights the rangers know each other and you will find rangers talking on radios as to sightings etc. So if your ranger starts taking off a different direction he may just have been told where a recent ''kill'' is or something interesting.

6. Get to know your ranger (a little ''incentive often helps'' :thumbup:) and ask him to position the vehicle where you can get a good shot. You may be positioned where you have bush in the way so get him to move into a better position. The light may not always be in your favour so make the best of it.

7. Depending on the type of game in the given areas the best chance of seeing them is often in the early morning and late afternoons. (I hope f4 will be ok).

8. Game can be either far away (100-400mm :thumbup:) or else right by the side of the road (12-100mm :thumbup:). Maybe a fast lens 75mm 1.8 ... if you can . . . 40-150mm f2.8 even better.

9. Look through the bush not at it, basic bushskills .. and look for movement. The nice thing about having a few people on the vehicle is the number of ''eyes'' looking for game.

10. If you after birds as well as game maybe take a notebook with to record the names of the birds.

Wishing you an awesome trip. I love going to the bush and if I can be of any other assistance please just ask. Just bear in mind my bushskills are better than my camera skills.:biggrin:
 
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KeithT

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bassman

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I used an E-M1 and E-M1.2 pair with the 40-150/2.8 and 100-400 mounted. My logic for the 40-150 was that, in combination with the MC14, I would have a partial backup if the 100-400 failed, as well as having f/2.8 at daybreak and dusk. This kit worked splendidly. About 75% of my game drive keepers were with the 100-400 on the E-M1.2. While the M1.2 is quicker in every regard than the M1, the M1 performed perfectly well in the situations I found. I also had the 12-35/2.8 for wider shots on drives and in the cities, but only used it a bit on the game drives.

Africa Camps
 

alex g

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I used an E-M1 and E-M1.2 pair with the 40-150/2.8 and 100-400 mounted. My logic for the 40-150 was that, in combination with the MC14, I would have a partial backup if the 100-400 failed, as well as having f/2.8 at daybreak and dusk. This kit worked splendidly. About 75% of my game drive keepers were with the 100-400 on the E-M1.2. While the M1.2 is quicker in every regard than the M1, the M1 performed perfectly well in the situations I found. I also had the 12-35/2.8 for wider shots on drives and in the cities, but only used it a bit on the game drives.

Africa Camps
Some great shots in your flickr album! :thumbsup:
 
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