Talking Crop on Safari – Part 1

#4 of the Judging a Photograph Series

I read some so-called advice this week about the best photography equipment to buy for a safari holiday. I strongly disagreed with it. The “advice” said to take two telephoto lenses and to buy the longest zoom that you can afford, preferably up to 600mm.

Don't talk so much crop on Safari on Falcondale Life blog. What lenses to take on safari. Photography tips.

This is stuff and nonsense. Unless you’re planning on ignoring the lumping great elephant at the waterhole immediately in front of you, and perhaps you want to shoot birds instead, then you don’t need to remortgage your house and build your biceps to carry a massive telephoto. All you will end up doing is shooting the kind of extreme close-ups that you can get in a zoo. It will not be special. Don’t crop out the environment; instead make the most of the landscape. Tell the story.

You WILL get close to the animals (in some cases, frighteningly close). If you don’t, the rangers aren’t doing their job properly. Either that or you’ve picked a season where everything has migrated the heck out of the park.

Lenses and Cameras for a Safari – Tips

Much more important equipment for safari is a second camera body. Pick two very different lenses and attach them to your DSLR before you leave the lodge in the morning. Do not remove lenses from camera bodies once out on the road as the dust is evil and will get everywhere. You risk more from dust than from the lions! Keep it sealed shut.

You won’t have time or space in the safari vehicle to prat about with a tripod. You will need to shoot hand-held a lot, so I recommend image stabilising lenses. You might get some use out of a monopod and save a couple of f-stops that way.

Don't talk so much crop on Safari on Falcondale Life blog. What lenses to take on safari. Photography tips.

How We Took Photos on Safari

When we went on safari (pre-kids!) my husband and I took identical camera bodies and swapped and took turns with them. Our two main lenses were image stabilising. One was 28-105mm and the other was 75-300mm (both on full-frame SLRs). These turned out to be perfect choices and nothing was too close or too far away. We never had any need to argue over who had which camera and lens, because there was always a great shot to be had at different focal lengths.

Next week I’ll show you how one of these photos was judged in a contest, and how easy it is for photo competition judges to fall into one simple trap!

Read about the camera we used on our safari trip here

The Judging a Photograph series can be read from the start here or continue to read the next blog post about this here. Read the previous blog in the series by clicking here.



  1. 28th February 2017 / 10:14 pm

    I have been dreaming about safari for a long time now, Janet! Your story was very inspirational.

  2. 21st February 2017 / 6:29 am

    I would love to go on a safari again it is one of the most magical things I’ve done in my life!

  3. 15th February 2017 / 1:16 pm

    One day I would love to do this


  4. 14th February 2017 / 9:26 am

    Some great advice. I take less and less photos on holiday now as I always feel like I am missing the moment in my mind whilst focussing on photographing it.

  5. 14th February 2017 / 8:56 am

    I want to take the boys on safari when they are a bit older. I think it is very important to support conservation efforts and to teach them about the importance of protecting other species. Thanks for the camera tips.

  6. 13th February 2017 / 2:35 pm

    My aim is to go on Safari at some point

    Thank you for linking up

  7. 13th February 2017 / 2:44 am

    So basically you had 28mm – 300mm between you. Did you ever want a wider angle? That seems like an excellent range, though. And no tripod, interesting. Great reminder about not changing lenses and dust. With bad knees and advancing age, I see each shoot as a safari so thanks for the tips.

    • 13th February 2017 / 2:40 pm

      28mm is quite wide on a full frame. I did have a fisheye which I used just once for a shot of a tree. You simply can’t use a tripod inside a vehicle. And the animals are moving, anyway. Thanks for your comment.

  8. 12th February 2017 / 9:18 pm

    Such amazing photos. I have never been on a safari before I bet that it is so amazing seeing the animals in the wild and getting up close to them x

  9. 12th February 2017 / 4:54 pm

    Such great advice. I know people who have bought telephoto zoom lenses just for safari holidays and never used them again at s ridiculous cost. I will certainly be keeping going your post in mind if I get the chance to go on safari, so thank you!

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