Choosing a camera for a BIG photo opportunity (like a safari)

Capturing a wildebeest in Ngorongoro Crater

Capturing a wildebeest in Ngorongoro Crater

Our group planned the safari two years in advance, so we had ample time to think about what camera we would take with us.  We planned to do a walking safari  (best to have a lightweight camera), but we would also do game driving (where a telephoto lens would take the best animal photos).  What to do?  This was the trip-of-a-lifetime for us, and we really did want good photos.

When we all arrived in Tanzania, we compared the cameras we had chosen for the safari. What a surprise!  Two of us had compact cameras (Ellen brought a Canon SX700HS, Beth used a Sony RX100), 4 used cellphone cameras (Betsy had an iPhone 4, Jack and Joe each had an iPhone 4s, Jo used a Samsung Galaxy 5), and Craig didn’t bringing a camera.  Not one person had a DSLR.  No long or wide angle lenses for this group.


We believe we might be at the very lowest end of the spectrum for choice of photographic equipment to take on an African safari, where telephotos appear to be the norm.

We thought you might be interested to see how our minimal photography equipment worked out on the safari, so below are images from each photographer in the group.

DSC07092 - Version 3

Jack used an iPhone 4s





Barbaig woman's feet

Barbaig woman’s feet – photo by Jack

DSC06782 - Version 2

Jo used a Samsung Galaxy 5





Elephants in Lake Manyara National Park- photo by Jo

Stone Town + drive back Tour of Stone Town and drive back Tour of Stone Town

Ellen used a Canon SX700HS





Superb starling and hungry juvenile

Superb starling and hungry juvenile- photo by Ellen

Beth used a Sony RX100

Beth used a Sony RX100




Baboons on the move

Baboons on the move- photo by Beth

Joe used an iPhone 4s

Joe used an iPhone 4s





Guides with little mouse

Guides with little mouse- photo by Joe

Betsy used an iPhone 4

Betsy used an iPhone 4





Zebra portrait

Zebra portrait- photo by Betsy

We agreed at the end of the trip to share our photos on a Shutterfly group site – a bounty for everyone to see and have access to others’ photos . (Unfortunately for some of us the learning curve was steep and the process tedious.)

Understanding what a camera does well and treating light and subject matter to advantage can produce a very nice photograph.  In the end, all of us seemed happy with her or his choice of camera and had fine photos to share (some even had a video or two).  Proving, we believe, that, while the bigger and higher quality cameras get the pictures at higher quality, the little packable cameras can be a good choice too. They were for us.


June 2014

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in Around-the World - 2013-14, Tanzania and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Choosing a camera for a BIG photo opportunity (like a safari)

  1. Love the baboons! So glad you had a great time and got all that you needed out of your cameras!

  2. jackhonderd says:

    Love it! Great post.


  3. You all did very well, and it’s a great idea to share your memories together.

  4. Rob Tobin says:

    Great Post.Two Quotes spring to mind – “It’s not what you’ve got ,It’s how you use it” & “the camera that gets used most is the one that gets the most opportunities”. But I can’t believe someone didn’t take a camera to An African Safari.

    • Thanks for those two quotes. Yeah, even we surprised ourselves by our not taking a “real” camera, and we didn’t even fret about it. We just trusted that our Sony RX100 would meet our needs.

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