Lens options for the Big 5 Safari

What telephoto lens should I bring to use on your Big 5 Safari? This is one of the most common questions I get from people interested in joining this amazing wildlife safari. There are a few options open to you and I suppose it depends on just how big your budget is and also what camera system you use. Fast Primes  [singlepic id=290 w=320 h=240 float=right]Most of the time the best wildlife photos are obtained with the use of a fast prime lens, something like a 300mm f/2.8 or a 400mm f/2.8. These lenses offer the best possible image quality, mainly because the light they capture passes through fewer glass elements than a zoom lens, so what you get at the business end of the sensor is light that is “purer” in a sense. You also get superb subject isolation at the widest apertures and the bokeh (out of focus background highlights) is as good as it gets with a telephoto prime lens. If you’re going to bring a prime lens I would recommend a 300/2.8 with a couple of teleconverters. This will give you some good options for range. The 400/2.8 would be good too, but I think it will be more difficult to travel with than the 300mm. Fast Telephoto Zooms A drawback to using fast primes at a place like Sabi Sabi though is that sometimes you might find yourself too close to the action for your chosen focal length to provide effective framing options. For this reason exotic fast zoom lenses like the Nikon 200-400mm f/4 VR or the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 OS are ideal. They both offer a very useful zoom range as well as very acceptable bokeh. Most of our Big 5 safari guests who shoot Nikon have brought out this lens and none have been disappointed with it. On our last trip in 2012 I used the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 OS almost exclusively and was very happy with the results. You can read my full review of the lens (kindly supplied by Tudortech) here. The one good thing about the Sigma is that it is available in all the major manufacturer mounts, including Canon, Sony and Sigma’s own proprietary mount. […]