Everything you need to know about the wildlife photo gear we use to take our photos and film our YouTube vlog.
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This post is a request by many people sending us questions about the ideal wildlife photo equipment for safaris in Africa. So today I’d like to share what Frank and I use. Please note that we are very lucky because we are a couple who can share the wildlife photo equipment and the costs. We take wildlife photos for a living – this is part of our job. An amateur won’t need everything we need.
We use two different cameras – one for filming our Safari Sundays and one for taking photographs :
The perfect film camera: Panasonic Lumix GH5
This truly is the perfect camera for filming. The film quality is excellent. The body is a bit heavier – which actually help a lot in holding the camera still. In-built stabilisation is also very good. Perfect for taking time lapses and high quality slow-motion-video (be aware there is no sound recording when filming in slow-mo). I’m not an expert when it comes to photo camera gear (Frank is…). For me the video quality is important and that the handling of the camera itself is self-explanatory and easy. Both is definitely the case with the Panasonic Lumix GH5.
Our safari photo camera: Sony Alpha 7M3
I have been a Canon-girl for a very long time, but Frank convinced me to make the switch over to Sony – and I’m not regretting it one bit! I used to have the Sony Alpha 6500 and can highly recommend this one as well. As our photography got more and more professional though, we did hit a limit with the smaller Sony. The Sony Alpha 7M3 is the center piece of our wildlife photo gear. We are especially excited about the latest update that now allows for eye detection in animals! Apparently it’s only for dogs and cats so far… but they didn’t say what size of cat 😉 So we will definitely bring this new feature to a test soon!
Safari Wildlife Photo Gear Lenses.
Now, we probably all know a good camera body is nothing without the right lenses. Plain and simple – here is a list of what we use:
- Sigma 18-35mm, F 1,8 + Metabones Speed Booster : this is our go-to-lens for the GH5., We film most of our Safari Sundays with this lens. Combined with a Gobe Variable ND filter you will get the best results (and you plants some trees with your filter-purchase, too!)
- Sigma 50-100mm, F 1,8 + Metabones EF-E Adapter for Sony: Best camera for portrait photography due to amazing depth of field. Also awesome to film wildlife & humans in the same shot, as it makes the animals appear closer than they are. But I wouldn’t recommend this lens for safari wildlife photography alone. Here you need a bigger zoom.
- Sony SEL 100-400mm: Our go-to Zoom lens for animal photography. You could always do with more zoom for wildlife photography and we can highly recommend the Sigma 150-600mm if that’s what you’re after. But the images taken with the Sony 100-400mm are very high in quality and we shoot in raw, so I can easily crop in later in post if I feel like I want to bring the animal even closer.
- Sigma 14mm, F 1,8 : The perfect star photography lens. Frank also uses it a lot for “real estate shots” when taking interior photos of safari lodges for safariFRANK.
There are a lot more bits and bops in our camera bag. Frank has recently started to really get into his star and macro photography, so there might be another article coming out about that in the future. We also use a Zhiyun Crane stabiliser for smooth filming when on the safari vehicle and travel with a very handy solar PowerPort to charge some batteries via USB as we go.
Semi-professional wildlife photo gear recommendation:
For a semi-professional set-up, I’d recommend the Sony Alpha 6500 + a zoom lens of at least 300mm (the 6500 is not a full frame camera, so the crop-factor will give you even more “zoom”) and you’re good to go. But if you cannot afford this – don’t panic! You can take great photos with any camera. It’s the way you see the world that will determine how beautiful your phots will turn out. I have seen someone achieve amazing results with just an iPhone that was held in front of the eye of his guides’ binoculars! Get creative and work with what you have now.
Lightroom for wildlife photo post-production.
Yep, that’s what we use. Lightroom is our go-to software. We have the app on our phone, as well as the software on our laptops. Don’t worry about photoshop – I have almost never used photoshop to edit my wildlife safari photos. In Lightroom I have created my own presets and have a huge library of presets by now. My Tip: If you really want to get into the editing process more – buy some presets on Etsy and learn what the others are doing.
Final Cut pro for wildlife film editing.
I have been using Final Cut for years and find it super-easy to understand. The workflow is self-explanatory and I haven’t hit my limit with final cut so far. But even imovie will get you far if you’re just starting out. A lot of YouTubers use Premiere Pro which seems to be so much more artistic and seems to have a better workflow. But at this point, switching for me would feel like suddenly having to hold knife and fork in the opposite hands – it just doesn’t feel right. In terms of music, I use Epidemicsound to find all the music for the Safari Sundays vlog. They have become SO much better over the last few months and have great music composers – great even if you don’t want to make your own videos, but only like some new tunes to listen to.
Friends, I hope this article about our wildlife photo gear answered some of your questions. Again, please note that our wildlife photo gear is very specialised to our needs. As always with things I recommend: Just take what you need and leave the rest behind.