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Canon Advice for safari - please

christophertravels
 
Posts: 816

Canon Advice for safari - please

Post Sat Jun 21, 2008 11:30 pm


So I took the plunge and graduated from P&S to DSLR. I bought the new Canon 450 Rebel, XSi, with the kit lens (18-55 IS) and the 70-300 IS lens. I've been practicing around my city and local parks.

I'll be going on a 6 week overland trip from Cape Town to Nairobi. This is not a photo tour, I am not a professional, there may not be time to spend hours getting each photo. I wanted a camera that won't need a constant supply of batteries, will focus reliably and quickly on far away objects manually and auto, and will work in all lighting conditions. I sometimes wonder if I made the right choice buying this camera while my S3 still works. Only the final results will tell.

I have some questions that maybe some of you can answer.
1) What settings should I use most often? Av with max aperture, or P? ISO? White balance? Landscape and moving objects basic shooting or P, Av, Tv, M?
2) Which colour space? Landscape or standard?
3) I'll shoot jpeg simply because I'll take >2000 photos, and I don't want to spend months converting each photo when I return - I have to return to my real job, but are there some conditions you say I must shoot RAW.
4) Should I use the polarizer on my 70-300?
5) Spot metering or something else? I sometime find that when I shoot with spot metering the whole photo is over-exposed.
6) Any safety tips? Camera security in and around camps?
7) Any other tips or advice you can offer would be most welcome.

I know that I'd never use the same settings throughout my trip, I've graduated beyond auto. But there are some usual settings for particular conditions.
Thanks
P.S.
I'll be sharing my photos here September

djwixx
 
Posts: 1360

Re: Canon Advice for safari - please

Post Sun Jun 22, 2008 1:30 pm


I'll start with some vague answers and I'm sure someone more qualified will fill in the blanks.

P mode should be sufficient to allow you some basic overrides (ISO, WB, exposure compensation) that Auto won't allow, but otherwise aperture priority. For ISO stick to the lowest ISO possible and only change it if the shutter speed is getting too slow because of bad light. Each doubling of ISO adds a stop so effectively a shot at ISO100 @ 1/25th can be taken at ISO200 @ 1/50th or ISO400 @ 1/100th etc. With white balance, and if you're using jpg, you could argue that you need to be more accurate, but auto should be pretty close. With regards to aperture, the widest aperture will give you the quickest shutter speed, but again the aperture you need will depend on the shot you want. If you have an animal flat on, full frame at your longest focal length then F5.6 (assuming to be your widest at 300) should be able to capture the animal and render the background out of focus (producing bokeh). The greater the depth of the subject the higher the aperture should be. F8 should be a good compromise in decent light and give you what you need. For landscapes, taking 18mm, you should be fine with F8, if you make a note of your hyperfocal distances. At 18mm F8, a focal point at 9 feet should give you everything in focus from 5 feet to infinity. Check out wwww.dofmaster.com and print off some hyperfocal distance charts for the various focal lengths you are likely to use. At every aperture there will be a distance before the focal point and after the focal point that will be in focus. On your 70-300 I probably wouldn't use you circular polarizer because your losing a stop of light and more than likely won't be at an angle (90 degrees to the light) to make the most of it, so it may cause you more exposure problems than you need for quick captures. Evaluative light metering may be the simplest option to use to reduce exposure issues. Spot metering is great but will bias the exposure depending on if you're metering on shadows or highlights. Spot metering works extremely well, if you use it independently of focusing and shutter release. A good default, but not always ideal, is to set your exposure compensation to -0.7 in bright bright light. For moving subjects check out AFC rather than AFS. Move focal point within the viewfinder to what you want then use AFC to continually autofocus until you're ready to get the shot. Given the environment you'll be in, be very careful changing lenses, and you might want to make sure you have something to get dust off your mirror and sensor.

If thinking about each shot reduces the pleasure, switch to auto and make sure you enjoy yourself :D

christophertravels
 
Posts: 816

Re: Canon Advice for safari - please

Post Sun Jun 22, 2008 4:37 pm


Dave, thanks for the reply. Great advice

but otherwise aperture priority. For ISO stick to the lowest ISO possible and only change it if the shutter speed is getting too slow because of bad light.
This is how I shot with the P&S, so this is common practice. But the Auto ISO on the 450 is pretty good in that is stays low unless necessary. With the P&S I was forced to use only ISO 80.

Check out wwww.dofmaster.com and print off some hyperfocal distance charts for the various focal lengths you are likely to use.
I'll do this, I never did understand hyperfocal length.

Evaluative light metering may be the simplest option to use to reduce exposure issues. Spot metering is great but will bias the exposure depending on if you're metering on shadows or highlights.

Which I think is the problem with this photo I took a couple of weeks ago at my local and large urban lake and forest. What did I do wrong with this picture? 1/200s, f5.6, spot metering, ISO800 I think the polarizer was on, which I've stopped using on the telephoto. It was late in the day mostly shade. And I can't identify this bird - anyone know what is it?
Image

For moving subjects check out AFC rather than AFS.
My camera has the terms One shot AF, AI Focus AF, AI Servo AF. What is AFC and AFS?

If thinking about each shot reduces the pleasure, switch to auto and make sure you enjoy yourself
Great advice, I don't want to miss something simply because I had my head down deleting bad photos. When in doubt I'll use landscape.

mostschaedel
 
Posts: 2

Re: Canon Advice for safari - please

Post Sat Jul 05, 2008 8:49 pm


Hi,
if you are still there -
you should have a tripod with you on this safari!!!
Especially with the 300mm fl you cant produce sharp images without tripod.
Having enough storage cards with you is important.
Anyhow you will never have enough storage with you...

And, being on the way for 6 weeks in such environment you should not forget to
have binocolars with you. For watching the animals during day and the
beautiful summer sky during the night in these dark locations.

Gerald

christophertravels
 
Posts: 816

Re: Canon Advice for safari - please

Post Sun Sep 14, 2008 4:26 pm


So here is the result of my 7 weeks in Africa, Seven African galleries

I took your advice, particularly
If thinking about each shot reduces the pleasure, switch to auto and make sure you enjoy yourself
so I shot landscape often. The colours are really weak in the Tanzania gallery, but that's what it was like there: dry and dusty. I took 2300 jpg photos with two cameras, my P&S Canon 540 and my new Canon 450 XSi.

On a tour, we don't get lots of time to think about and compose carefully crafted photos. We travelled 12 000 km in 6 weeks, it's go, go, go. But I had a great time and met some great people. But the highlight were the animals. Zanzibar is beautiful. Namibia is from another world. Victoria Falls is like a dream. We visited a school and a hospital in Malawi. Slept in a tent almost every night, and bounced around on rough roads almost every day for 6 weeks. I've printed about 200 photos, and I think I'll make a Blurb book along with the story of the trip, and give it to my friends and family.

ImageImage
ImageImage

pattyroth
 
Posts: 9

Re: Canon Advice for safari - please

Post Thu Nov 27, 2008 10:34 pm


Loved the four photos you posted here! sounds like a fabulous trip.


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