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Shipping gear for African safaris
  
 
Lotuselite
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p.2 #1 · p.2 #1 · Shipping gear for African safaris


I know I wasn't asked but may I offer an alternative thought.
Go with a redundancy more closely related to the the odds of failure or of somewhat less than 100% coverage.

I'd guess that what you save might could go a fair way to funding another trip, (which you seem able to do), and you will have the fruits of experience to enjoy what you feel you missed the first time. Consider a return as your redundancy.
How many times have we said to ourselves, "If I were doing it again". "Once in a lifetime" puts a lot of stress on things.

BTW, the operators of small aircraft who are anal about weight are your friends.
Small twins at their performance limits are much more critical with an engine failure .

The person who turns a blind eye to an overweight operation has his fingers crossed behind his back.






Mar 21, 2017 at 03:27 AM
plnelson
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p.2 #2 · p.2 #2 · Shipping gear for African safaris


Don't get silly. If the Land Rover breaks down you maybe lose 1 day of shooting. If the safari company fails then your insurance repays your ENTIRE cost, but with reputable companies those are extremely rare.

But equipment failures are routine - as I said, I had a Nikon lens fail in Ushuaia a couple of weeks ago, I've had a body fail on a trip once, and a Nikon 24-70 just plain stop autofocussing on a trip. Photographic gear is delicate and intricate and the rigours of travel often cause problems. And lost or stolen checked luggage is also routine - I've had that happen plenty of times.




Mar 22, 2017 at 08:20 PM
plnelson
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p.2 #3 · p.2 #3 · Shipping gear for African safaris


marcy45 wrote:
I had my camera (2)bodies in my back pack with 16-35 and 24-105 - had a pelican case with my 500 and 70-200
was able to carry on both of these to NY - when got to KLM to go to Amsterdam had to check my Pelican but did not worry - very rugged - It got dropped 2x not by the Air lines but by the people loading our land rover - still no problem - did this two times to Tanzania - some of the guys we were with had much more equipment and big backpacks they lugged
...Show more

I'm not worried about damage for checked luggage in a good Pelican - I'm worried about it mutating, you know: growing legs! Insurance doesn't help because you can't just buy a new 600mm f/4 in the bush.





Mar 22, 2017 at 08:25 PM
plnelson
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p.2 #4 · p.2 #4 · Shipping gear for African safaris


Bobg657 wrote:
So if Nat Geo will handle shipping for you, what's the problem at hand? Will they handle shipping from home to Africa or just within Africa?


I don't know yet. And I think the National Geographic representative who told me that might have been a little over-enthusiastic - she just contacted me saying that they could do it but they haven't done it before.

I'm also trying to nail down some of the other details, like how many people to a vehicle, how long the stops are; and really, what is the experience level of the group?

I want to work with an operator who does this routinely, and where the expectation is that everyone is bringing big lenses on sturdy tripods and we can take our time getting a great shot.

This being the wildlife forum, if anyone here can suggest a good operator, I'm all ears.




Mar 22, 2017 at 08:34 PM
plnelson
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p.2 #5 · p.2 #5 · Shipping gear for African safaris


Lotuselite wrote:
I know I wasn't asked but may I offer an alternative thought.
Go with a redundancy more closely related to the the odds of failure or of somewhat less than 100% coverage.

I'd guess that what you save might could go a fair way to funding another trip, (which you seem able to do), and you will have the fruits of experience to enjoy what you feel you missed the first time. Consider a return as your redundancy.


Money I got; time, maybe not so much: I'm 64 with a rare blood cancer so while I might be around for many subsequent trips, I might not. So I want to maximize the chance of this one working and I'm a big believer in "failing to plan is planning to fail". BTW the Wall Street Journal did a great article on me about my illness called The Longevity Puzzle, by Liam Pleven, October 10, 2014. It's got a good picture of me, too. They sent a photog out to my house twice, because the WSJ photo editor didn't like the first ones he got. He shot with a Leica M digital rangefinder. (...this is a photography forum, so I just had to mention that )

Think of this like a pro: if you're shooting for a client you wouldn't say, 'that's OK we can do it again some other time'. Seriously, you can't re-do a wedding, a football game, an inauguration, a commencement speech, etc. If you're a pro you make SURE you can get the job done. Well, now I'm my own client, so why should I treat this client any worse?

(having written that I just realised I undermined my own premise by citing an example above where a pro DID re-do a shoot. )

Regarding "the odds of failure", no one in this discussion, including me has a enough data to compute that, but in my time shooting in the field I've had 3 spontaneous equipment failures (all Nikon lenses), and I also once accidentally knocked a tripod-mounted SLR with Nikon 180mm f/2.8 to the ground. The lens survived (and I still use it today) but the FM2 body was totalled. I also once left an FM2 on the roof of a car as we drove off, so my carelessness cost me 2 SLRs (I owned four FM2's, altogether - best workhorse camera ever made - always traveled with two), but if you're jet lagged and tired you're going to get careless, so you better have a spare. I also once had the cast aluminum top where the legs attach of Bogen Manfrotto 3051 just spontaneously fracture in the field.

All these failures have happened in the field; I've done lots of studio work with models and never had a lens or body fail there, so maybe having a pretty model present is the secret to reliability, although I did once have a model accidentally knock over a monolight - she wasn't hurt but the light was destroyed. Natch, I had a spare, so the shoot went on. That should be every photographer's motto: "the shoot must go on!"






Mar 22, 2017 at 09:07 PM
arbitrage
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p.2 #6 · p.2 #6 · Shipping gear for African safaris


It sounds like you have your mind made up. Buy a duplicate set of all the gear, ship it to the tour organizer in Africa and then hope you aren't flying small planes once in Africa because I don't see how you will be allowed all that gear (duplicates of 500 or 600mm primes as you mentioned) in one of those planes. Maybe buying the extra seat will get it done if they allow that.

I've never heard of anyone travelling with a duplicated set of lenses (especially one that includes 500 or 600 primes) but if that is what you feel is necessary to have a good trip then go for it.



Mar 22, 2017 at 10:34 PM
Bobg657
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p.2 #7 · p.2 #7 · Shipping gear for African safaris


I haven't used them, but other FM'ers have, you might check out pangolin photo safaris as I think they rent photo gear as well as running safaris.


Mar 23, 2017 at 02:49 AM
plnelson
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p.2 #8 · p.2 #8 · Shipping gear for African safaris


arbitrage wrote:
I've never heard of anyone travelling with a duplicated set of lenses (especially one that includes 500 or 600 primes) but if that is what you feel is necessary to have a good trip then go for it.


But if you haven't heard of it then answer me this - how DOES a photographer on assignment handle an equipment failure? Especially if you're in a remote location where replacement isn't easily done, or if you're at an event where there isn't time to get a replacement - say you're a sports photographer shooting a big football game? Or shooting a wedding.

I know I'm not technically on assignment but I want to impose the same discipline and professional standards to this. So what exactly does a pro on assignment do?

I was at the Super Bowl this year And many of the sideline photogs seems to have multiple cameras and lenses around their necks - Usually a really long lens (600?) on a tripod and a pretty long lens (400?) on another body around their neck and usually a 3rd body with something shorter. BTW, I'm a Pats fan so will be the last Super Bowl I EVER go to! (because nothing will ever top this one!)



Mar 23, 2017 at 05:13 AM
evertdoorn
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p.2 #9 · p.2 #9 · Shipping gear for African safaris


Buying extra seats on small planes could help. Also, for the Mara for instance, you could ask if they can drive stuff over land to a camp while you are flying. Other places could be too remote to do this. Oh in vehicles by the way you generally don't shoot from a heavy tripod because you can't place them anywhere.


Mar 23, 2017 at 06:52 AM
mabidally
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p.2 #10 · p.2 #10 · Shipping gear for African safaris


Shooting wildlife in Africa is mostly done from your vehicle and the best support setup is to use a bean bag. Tripods are rarely used. So remember to take a few bean bags. You can take them empty and get it filled with rice or beans after you arrive. Which country/countries are you visiting? Vehicle types and configuration is different in some different locations, depending on is you need to choose a suitable type of bean bag.

Also when talking of planning there are a few other things one needs to pay attention to in an African Photographic Safari. Your vehicle and driver guide are critical to get you into the right spots and sightings. Selecting locations/parks also is important because different rules/timings apply and some offer better photo opportunities. Need to consider stuff like off road permits etc where applicable.




Mar 23, 2017 at 07:47 AM
 

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plnelson
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p.2 #11 · p.2 #11 · Shipping gear for African safaris


mabidally wrote:
Shooting wildlife in Africa is mostly done from your vehicle and the best support setup is to use a bean bag. Tripods are rarely used.


Looking over photos taken by well-known photographers of African wildlife, in galleries and coffee table books, this does not seem to be true. It may be be true of tourists taking pictures of lions and other dangerous predators, but I'm not very interested in lions, leopards, etc, because they're sort of African cliches, like taking pictures of penguins in Antarctica. Yes I did take some penguin shots in Antarctica but the shots I'm most proud of and that were my highest technical achievements were other birds there. If I came home with a lilac crested roller or a malachite kingfisher or a mandrill I would have no regret at not seeing a lion or leopard.

If Africa I hope to shoot birds, and various smaller, less well known mammals. I hope to spend relatively little time in a vehicle, but my lenses will all be VR just in case.


Which country/countries are you visiting?

That will depend entirely on the answers to my questions about transporting gear, since it's becoming clear that this is a huge issue there. Some of the airlines in Africa have 5kg hand-carry weight limits, "strictly enforced", they say.


Also when talking of planning there are a few other things one needs to pay attention to in an African Photographic Safari. Your vehicle and driver guide are critical to get you into the right spots and sightings. Selecting locations/parks also is important because different rules/timings apply and some offer better photo opportunities. Need to consider stuff like off road permits etc where applicable.


So how do I tell from the States which photo-safari companies are up to snuff with those?



Mar 23, 2017 at 04:08 PM
plnelson
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p.2 #12 · p.2 #12 · Shipping gear for African safaris


evertdoorn wrote:
Buying extra seats on small planes could help. Also, for the Mara for instance, you could ask if they can drive stuff over land to a camp while you are flying. Other places could be too remote to do this. Oh in vehicles by the way you generally don't shoot from a heavy tripod because you can't place them anywhere.


I want to work with a tour company that makes all the arrangements for me.

Driving through a game park in a Land Rover and shooting lions out a window is a cliche and if I want to see a lion and I can go to a zoo in America. Africa is home to a huge and fascinating range of birds, small mammals, and reptiles, many of which would be driven away by the sound of an approaching vehicle. I'd rather find a good location, stop there, set up our tripods and wait patiently and quietly for whatever the wildlife we're expecting to come to us. I've shot wildlife all over the world except Africa and that's gotten my best shots.

All my lenses will be VR and I will bring beanbags to shoot from vehicles when necessary, but I can't imagine wildlife photography with a long lens that doesn't occasionally need a tripod, especially at dawn or dusk which is when many interesting creatures become active.




Mar 23, 2017 at 04:26 PM
plnelson
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p.2 #13 · p.2 #13 · Shipping gear for African safaris


Here is a tale of woe regarding SAA from another forum...
http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=c504de5f49f75b781d7939d4ee4447c5&topic=21973.msg418468#msg418468

... so getting back to the original question . . . several people here have had advice about safaris, beanbags, etc. So when YOU went to Africa,

What was the total weight of your kit (including cases)? What was your longest lens?

Did you feel like you had adequate redundancy for equipment failure at whatever your most important focal lengths were (how? TC's, extra lenses?)

How did you get your gear there without running afoul of weight limits?





Mar 23, 2017 at 05:36 PM
Bobg657
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p.2 #14 · p.2 #14 · Shipping gear for African safaris


In light of your desire to shoot birds, etc more than mammals, you should know that it's very rare you'll be able to shoot from a tripod on the ground. You may be interested in birds, but lions and other predators may be interested in you! Africa is very different than other areas such as Antarctica, predators are ubiquitous and humans can be prey.

Instead, I would look at photographer led trips that are birder friendly (Pangolin?), and see what's available through them.



Mar 23, 2017 at 06:50 PM
evertdoorn
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p.2 #15 · p.2 #15 · Shipping gear for African safaris




plnelson wrote:
I want to work with a tour company that makes all the arrangements for me.

Driving through a game park in a Land Rover and shooting lions out a window is a cliche and if I want to see a lion and I can go to a zoo in America. Africa is home to a huge and fascinating range of birds, small mammals, and reptiles, many of which would be driven away by the sound of an approaching vehicle. I'd rather find a good location, stop there, set up our tripods and wait patiently and quietly for whatever the wildlife
...Show more

In a lot of places you're not allowed out of the vehicle at all.

Walking safari's in South Luangwa could be great or places where they have hides near water holes.



Mar 24, 2017 at 10:59 AM
starlights
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p.2 #16 · p.2 #16 · Shipping gear for African safaris


Sounds like you are pretty well off OP, so why not sponsor a couple of friends to join you. They can carry all your extra gear all through with their hand bag allowance and also assist you during your safari shooting...


Mar 24, 2017 at 11:22 AM
evertdoorn
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p.2 #17 · p.2 #17 · Shipping gear for African safaris


There's a private reserve in SA called Zimanga, not too far from Hluhluwe and they specifically target photographers; they have a couple of hides where you can stay overnight in combination with regular gamedrives. Could be good . Although these smaller reserves feel a bit like a zoo too....


Mar 24, 2017 at 11:26 AM
mabidally
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p.2 #18 · p.2 #18 · Shipping gear for African safaris


You can use a reputable courier company like DHL to deliver your goods to most big towns in Africa. Also you may want to obtain a carnet permit to avoid customs duties as you will be taking everything out of the country again http://www.atacarnet.com/what-carnet.

Also, re good driver guides, I have an excellent guide for birds in Kenya, he is super knowledgeable and knows all the birds, their behaviours and nests etc etc if interested pls PM me.



Mar 24, 2017 at 01:07 PM
plnelson
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p.2 #19 · p.2 #19 · Shipping gear for African safaris


Bobg657 wrote:
I haven't used them, but other FM'ers have, you might check out pangolin photo safaris as I think they rent photo gear as well as running safaris.


I wrote to Pangolin and suggested I would want to bring a 15+kg kit and they said,

I am just not sure 15kg + of gear will be permitted on these small regional flights. I will have to make further enquiries and let you know.

I'm floored that that they don't routinely handle that much weight if they're attracting serious wildlife shooters. Here's my proposed kit (weights based on Nikon specs):

600mm f/4 VR 3.8 kg
300mm f/2.8 VR 2.9kg
70-200 f/2.8 VR 1.5 kg
assorted smaller lenses for wide angle and macro work
2 kg
Pelican 1510 to put it in 6.2 kg
2 Nikon 810 bodies 2 kg

That's 18.4 kg ,assuming we could fit it all in the one Pelican which I think is a stretch. And not including the weight of tripods, beanbags, etc,

... so where am I losing the plot here?

Even if they could make an exception or special arrangements for me, I wouldn't want to do that because part of the pleasure of the trip like this is to spend it among other serious wildlife photographers, not just holiday snapshooters.




Edited on Mar 24, 2017 at 04:15 PM · View previous versions



Mar 24, 2017 at 03:56 PM
plnelson
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p.2 #20 · p.2 #20 · Shipping gear for African safaris


mabidally wrote:
You can use a reputable courier company like DHL to deliver your goods to most big towns in Africa. Also you may want to obtain a carnet permit to avoid customs duties as you will be taking everything out of the country again http://www.atacarnet.com/what-carnet.

Also, re good driver guides, I have an excellent guide for birds in Kenya, he is super knowledgeable and knows all the birds, their behaviours and nests etc etc if interested pls PM me.



I really don't want to make all my own arrangements. I want to go on a trip organised by a company that is used to catering to the needs of serious photographers who routinely bring big, heavy kits. Part of the pleasure of being on a trip like this is spending time with other serious or professional photographers, talking shop and comparing notes. If all the other photogs are just casual amateurs shooting with kit-zooms it won't be as much fun.

How do I find an operator who caters to serious photographers?



Mar 24, 2017 at 04:12 PM
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