Lets face it, at one point or another, whether sitting at your desk or in your dreams. We have thought of going on an African safari. I mean, who wouldn’t want to dream of such a thing right? Well after years of dreaming, me and my family decided to finally do it!
All I’m going to say is that if you are on the fence about it… You definitely won’t regret it!
Being an avid photographer, I wanted to find out what the best cameras for safari would be including other equipment such as lenses and tripods. As I was already spending thousands of dollars on the trip. I thought why not get some good gear as I will be seeing some of the most spectacular scenery and animals known to man.
First Off, Your iPhone Or Point & Shoot Wont Cut It
While this might seem super obvious to most, a lot of times, people were asking me if I took my smartphone or P&S to take photos. While I technically could have, I feel like I would have been doing a great disservice to the animals and scenery that I was capturing if I did.
Another thing is that smartphones and point & shoot cameras simply don’t have the required features to take truly great photos. On the other hand, a DSLR or mirrorless have big sensors that allow for more information/quality to be absorbed.
Not to mention the ability to swap lenses which is a must in my opinion for when on safari.
Types Of Gear You Are Most Likely Going To Need
- DSLR Camera: As I touched on briefly above, a DSLR or Mirrorless camera is a great option for a safari trip. Their sensors are far superior which will deliver stunning HD quality images that you could print later on. Also having the ability to control the shutter speed and aperture will give you the best results for landscapes and wildlife.
- Telephoto & Wide Angle Lens: While on safari, you typically are driving through a park with animals that are typically in the distance. This means that a telephoto lens is best for getting as close as possible without intruding on their space. Also a wide angle is great for capturing the breathtaking vistas.
- Sturdy Tripod: When you can, I always try and opt for a tripod. This allows you to capture sharper images and long exposures which can be stunning. Also having a tripod makes it easier to track and capture animals with a telephoto lens.
Top 5 Best Cameras For Safari + Lenses & Tripods!
1. Canon EOS 80D Kit With 2 Lenses, Tripod, SD Card + Extra Battery (Editor’s Pick)
Coming in first only my list is an ultra value packed kit that has everything you’d ever need on safari.
Included in the kit is the relativity new Canon EOS 80D, which is an absolute beast (pun intended). Also included is a 18-55mm and 75-300mm lens, tripod, 64gb SD card, lens protecter, spare battery plus more!
When purchased separately, there is about an extra $300 on top. But bundled together, I found this was a great deal and provided the right balance of equipment needed. Especially the extra lenses!
So what about the camera itself?
Essentially this sensor allows in a ton of light which gives a remarkable color rendition on images. You can check out some sample images here which shows it at its full potential. Combined with the sensor is also an incredible quick 45-Point auto focus system which really comes in handy when capturing fast paced animals.
While a camera is extremely important, the glass/lens in front of it, is just as critical for capturing stunning images of Lions, Giraffes or any other wild life.
In this kit, there are two kit lenses which in my opinion perform extremely well for an entry level lens. When on safari, I was mostly using the 75-300mm lens which really allowed me to get in close to an animal. Both lenses also have Image Stabilisation and Continuous Auto Focus which comes in handy for video too.
All in all, this is an amazing camera kit that I would highly recommend to anyone going to Africa or on safari. While its not the cheapest camera on the market, in my experience, it was definetly worth the extra money!
I also find myself using this camera frequently for hobby photography while back at home.
2. Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR Camera Bundle
Next up on my suspects of the best cameras for safari is the entry level kit by Canon with a Rebel EOS T6 with all the accessories you could ever wish for!
Seriously, this kit is packed to the gills with extras!
There is of course the two entry level lenses, the same ones as above actually, cameras bag, 50″ tripod, 7 filters, 2 x 32gb SD cards, SD card reader, lens hood, flash and the list goes on if you’d believe it!
While I didn’t purchase this camera for my safari trip, this was actually the first ever camera that I purchased when I got into photography. This also seems to be the case with many beginner photographers as the learning curve for the Canon T6 is extremely easy.
When comparing the image quality of this camera to the Canon 80D, the quality is noticeable, but only subtly. Is it a $500 difference in quality, I wouldn’t say so. But for photography, every increment in quality, it becomes increasingly more expensive.
If you really want to up your photography game on your next safari, trek or journey, but not wanting to break the bank. Then this kit is an absolute steal!
3. Nikon D3400 Kit With Tripod, Lenses & More
Moving on! I’ll come out straight away and admit that I am a Canon fanboy!
It was what the first camera brand that I started with, and have been using them ever since. But when it comes to the rivalry between Canon and Nikon, there is no denying that Nikon has a stellar line up of cameras that simply can’t be ignored!
That is why I decided to include this Nikon D3400 into this list as it delivers a lot of value for the price. It is also an ideal contender for someone in the beginner to intermediate photography level.
So how did this Nikon D3400 perform in the great plains for Africa?
From what I could tell, they picked this camera as it has all the necessary features that I touched on in the beginning of this article. It also has similar lenses to the Canon models which are the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G and the 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G Lenses. On paper, these lenses are almost identical to the Canons, except for some minor aperture settings.
Overall, I have heard great things about this camera and believe it would be a good addition to any safari or adventure. I even received a nice coffee table book from the family that were using this camera for their trip. Thanks again Trish, Phil, Amanda and Josh!
4. Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Lens – Best Lens For Safari
If you already have a DSLR camera, then you may only need to add a lens to be safari ready. So what is the best lens for Safari? Personally, I found having a telephoto lens with a minimum focal length of 100mm is a must!
This is mainly because, while out during the day, you will be taking photos from the 4×4 or Jeep. Also when you do get out, the guides do not like to get too close to the animals incase they get frightened or that we may be encroaching on their territory.
So having a lens that allowed me to get in on the action, without actually being close by, is a telephoto lens. As I was shooting with my Canon 80D, I was using the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 lens which has an insane focal length for the price. As of writing this, the lens is sitting just under $200! You can check out some sample photos here.
When it came to the performance of the lens, I found that it did extremely well… In most situations. I’ll explain in a bit.
While this lens performed well, I did notice that it did fall behind in low light situations. Mainly during dusk or dawn. This is mainly due to the widest aperture of f/5.6 at 300mm.
But I found this was easily remedied by upping the ISO and also shooting in RAW format. I was then able to go into Lightroom and lift the shadows and blacks if it was a tad underexposed.
Overall, this is a fantastic lens for almost any photography challenge! A must have!
5. Neewer 66″ Carbon Fiber Tripod/Monopod – Best Tripod For Safari Adventures
Wrapping up my list of the best cameras for safari is actually a tripod! Say what!?
If you were to ask any photography what their most annoying and valuable piece of gear would be. It would most likely be a tripod. Annoying because they can be cumbersome to travel with at times. Infinitely valuable for delivering pin point sharp images and a helpful tool for composition.
So what tripod do I recommend for anyone going on an African safari?
Well, it would have to be the Neewer 66″ carbon fiber tripod/monopod. There are three main reasons for me landing on this particular tripod.
Talking about heigh, that is the second reason that I wanted to bring this tripod with me. As I am 6 foot 1″ tall, I prefer tripods with a higher extension as I don’t have to hunch over. If you want to learn more about tripod, you can check out my mega guide here.
Overall, a great inexpensive pick!
Thats It Folks!
If you have come this far, thanks for reading! Hopefully I have helped guide you on how to pick up a great camera on your next safari adventure. I would also love to hear what camera you have used or plan on using for your next trip.