After the first article written just before I left for the Masai Mara photo safari, it was time to check on those comments and to see if they still held after the test of practical experience.
In this critical section, I learned a few useful things:
- I am now totally sold to my Lowepro Mini Trekker AW. this bag is ultra-configurable and very handy in all situations either in the airport or during the trips (let’s not forget I was in a 4×4 car with plenty of available space).
- I did not use my replacement camera (Minolta 9xi), but I still consider advisable to have one if anything goes wrong…
- Tele-lens: I stayed 99% of the time with the Sigma 400mm f/5.6 during all the safari. This is a nearly-perfect focal length for this type of photo adventure. Light was not a limitation or a problem in sunny Kenya, even if I happened to use the Minolta 200mm f/2.8 ApoG when sun was hiding itself at the end of the day. I would have been pleased to have a high-end zoom like the 80-400mm VR f/4.5-5.6 D ED from Nikon; Sometimes, it would have helped for choosing a better framing.
- Special notice about the Sigma 400mm f/5.6: I experienced the actual limits of using a cheaper lens than those coming from the original manufacturer of the body. My Sigma lens was brought nearly to its knees during this safari: The black paint that is covering it starting to degrade itself and to flow or was eroded (white markings are also partially removed). I think it came from the deadly combination of heat, body sweat and dust. I am now convinced that I will never be able to sell it second-hand…
- Memory cards and portable disk drive to empty the Flash cards: The combination of the 60GB Compact Drive PD70X and 2 Flash cards of 1GB (for redundancy) is perfect. I could compare the performances of the Compact Drive with other products brought by the other photographers. I would not swap it for any price. I could empty a card in a matter of seconds while shooting on the second one without a sweat.
The traditional bag
In my bag, I could have been more attentive to the need of bringing several clothes covering the arms. A long-sleeved shirt is needed to protect against the Kenyan sun. And it is also useful to count on changing it regularly to acocunt for the local climate, or you will have the same experience I had of using a dreadfully dusty and dirty shirt after only a few hours.
I did not bring more than a cap for my head, but hats are easy to find locally…
I think that some other things are useful and you may forget them:
- For living outdoors in a bush camp, I should have been checking my lamp (or head lamp) before arriving. It could have been easily corrected in France anyway.
- Sun glasses appeared completely useless. Not for lack of sun (I could sell you some even now), but because it is too cumbersome to remove them each and every time you reach for the view finder. They stayed in the back of the bag and I did not regret it.
As you can see, the initial proposals where not so bad and the Kenyan photo safari went well. It’s your turn to comment or correct.