Wildlife Photography – What to Pack?

Male Lion with Massive Mane

Browsing our galleries, you’ll quickly discover that wildlife photography (and videography) is a primary passion of mine and Naomi’s. Over the years, many people, such as the lovely ladies at Well Designed Journeys in the USA, have asked for advice about this niche skill – on their own and/or their clients’ behalf.

In this multi-post series on wildlife photography, I’ll share some important tips on equipment, preparation, camera set-up and technique.

Kicking off with equipment: if you have weight and space constraints when traveling, as is typically the case for our foreign visitors traveling to Africa on safari, then be practical and limit yourself to these items:

  • Two or three lenses, one from about 18 – 80mm (wide-angle), one from 80 – 400mm or 50 – 500mm (Telephoto), and possibly a macro lens. Buy the best quality you can afford and try to have lenses with a maximum aperture of F4 or better—but F5.6 at worst (although this does come at a price premium).
  • Two camera bodies, which helps a lot to prevent dust on the sensor because you do not have to switch lenses in dusty conditions. Also, if one fails, you have a backup.
  • A good speedlight or flash. This helps a huge amount for fill-in photography and contributes to great night photography.
  • A good tripod (or possibly a monopod) with a medium-sized ball-head attached, to allow camera panning and reduce camera shake.
  • Plenty of memory on three or four cards — once again to allow for card failures, which could be disastrous.
  • A good quality backpack-type camera bag, to keep things compact and allow for any walking you may have to do to find your subjects.
  • Very importantly, keep a good micro cloth and lens liquid handy to keep those lenses and equipment spotlessly clean, to ensure clear, sharp images you can be proud of.

This is just a brief intro into the magnificent universe of wildlife photography. It is infinitely complex and takes a lifetime to master, if ever, but I sincerely hope that this short article helps guide you on a magical safari experience.

Please stay tuned for the second post in this series, which covers preparation tips for wildlife photography.

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