15 Feb 2022
The anticipated trip to Namibia is almost underway, clothes are packed, shoes and hat are ready, a sleeping bag for cold nights, the rental car is booked, the flight tickets are paid for... But is my mobile phone enough for the photos or should I buy a large piece of equipment with a thick telephoto lens?
This question often takes longer to answer than you would like, because there is so much information, prices and photographic techniques.
I have been travelling in Africa with my camera for 30 years. During this time, I have met many photographers, camera teams and beginners and have seen a wide variety of useful and unneeded equipment. Therefore, I would like to present the contents of my photo bag here and share it with those interested in photography.
The bag itself is a large Lowepro Magnum 400AW weighing a good 2.5 kg.
I'm not very mobile with it, but it protects the equipment perfectly from the inevitable dust and bumps when it's shaken about in the vehicle.
The camera and lens I use on safari are usually open on my lap so I can react quickly to situations.
My second bag is the Lowepro Passport.
This discreet bag is unfortunately not padded. I use it for another lens, batteries, SD cards and water bottle when I'm on foot, at the lodge for dinner or on a walking safari. Or even when I'm visiting a village or walking through town, so as not to attract attention straight away.
I carry two bodies. One full-frame and one APSC camera, the latter I use as a backup or when hiking with another lens so I don't have to change lenses in the dust.
My most frequently used lens on safari is the telephoto 150-450 mm (4.5-5.6), sufficient for most situations and animals near and far.
Super telephoto lens 150-450 F5.6:
Then the fast standard lens 24-70mm (2.8). This is ideal for landscapes, encounters in villages or photos around the evening campfire.
Standard lens 24-70mm F2.8
Rarely used, but with me in Africa, is the focal length 70-200mm (2.8). It is indispensable when speed is more important than focal length, or when you want to use an open aperture to make close-up subjects stand out more from the background.
Telephoto lens 70-200mm F2.8
Since this year I also use the wide-angle lens 15-30mm (2.8) to cover a wider section of the landscape and thus find new perspectives on old motifs.
Wide-angle lens 15-30mm F2.8 :
Always with me for snapshots and to share pictures and films spontaneously is my robust mobile phone. For many years a Samsung Xcover and at the moment a protected Nokia 8.2. For me, the photo/video quality in the mobile phone is not so important, as I only use the pictures there privately. Shock resistance is the most important.
Constantly in use and of high quality are my two different coloured sling camera straps from Hugu, which I attach to the tele or the camera with a carabiner.
A small torch is handy so that the autofocus can focus in a dark hut. I also use it to illuminate a face or to add accents in a poorly lit room.
Also with me, but not yet used in Africa due to lack of opportunity, are two KASE MagnetGrey filters with adapters for the 15-30 lens. My Metz clip-on flash is also rarely used, perhaps for backlit shots or in a really dark room. Most of the time, however, it's too much of a hassle for me, as the situation I want to shoot might already be over by then.
A Manfroto tripod is stored in Africa and I only use it for night shots.
Always in the bag are additionally:
10 SD cards from 4-64 GB
Three batteries, two chargers (one backup)
Several cleaning cloths, simple microfibre towels from the chemist's shop
A puff ball
My recommendation for Namibia first-time photographers* and safari beginners.
- A sturdy camera with a focal length of 16-50mm for APSC or 24-70mm for full frame.
- A good telephoto with a focal length of at least 300mm for APSC or 450 for full frame.
- Spare batteries and enough memory cards.
- An inverter is important if you are camping to charge everything.
- A simple bag to tie or to use Velcro, to pull over the setup on the camera strap as dust protection on a hike (plastic bag also works, but is usually noisy and colourful). If necessary, everything is quickly ready for use again.
Why not a travel lens?
It has the advantage of not having to change lenses, of course, but it usually has severe weaknesses at the lower and upper ends of the focal length and is not as fast.
Why not a laptop/tablet?
For me it is important to be able to move around as freely as possible. Saving and checking on another medium leaves me less time to enjoy Africa, the sundowner or the cosy evening around the campfire.
Additional electronic devices need space, power and protection from dust and impact. This time to take care of things is ultimately what I miss when photographing or experiencing the country, its people and nature.
Most important tip:
Check all pictures on the display in the evening in the tent or lodge and delete the blurred and unnecessary ones of the day so as not to have to do too much at home. (I certainly delete 1/3 of the pictures taken every evening).
Most important piece of equipment:
A large microfiber cloth to cover the camera and lens on my lap when going through the dust with the window open....
Most important photo moments:
Animals near and far, sunsets and travel situations in a group, with a car or around a campfire.
What will you take with you on your next photo safari in Namibia?
Lambert Heil has been photographing wildlife, nature, people and typical travel situations in Africa and Europe for many years.
Sorry, we can’t seem to find any matches for your search. Have a look at our popular searches below.