Packing for an African Safari with Dave Brosha,
SIGMA lenses and the Canon R5
Many photographers dream of being able to go on a proper African Safari some day: having the opportunity to photograph some of the most incredible creatures on earth, under the warm sun, and being surrounded by incredible hospitality…what’s not appealing about the idea?
This past November, I had the opportunity to travel to the Okavango and Chobe regions in Botswana to spend days immersed in the multitude of wildlife in some of the most abundant areas on the African continent. I’ve been fortunate that my photography has brought me to Africa numerous times before, but this was the first time I was there in full-on “safari” mode, and wow, what an incredible experience! Botswana truly is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve been to, and the only other place in the world I’ve experienced the sheer abundance of wildlife as I experienced there was in South Georgia and Antarctica.
As the date for my departure to Botswana came closer, I had to make some hard choices for gear. We would be flying into the Okavango Delta on a smaller twin prop plane, and we were pretty weight-limited to what we could bring with us. I have numerous great Sigma lenses, but I had to decide upon three lenses, and three only. After much deliberation I settled upon these three, which have always served me tremendously well for wildlife:
While there’s always times in the field you wish you had your entire arsenal of lenses, I quickly found in Botswana that I was very happy with my choices. The longest lens of them all, the 500mm, is truly a beautiful lens in every regard. The speed of autofocusing with this “monster” is impressive and allowed me to capture all sorts of quick-moving subjects. It is also one of the sharpest lenses I own, and time and time again I would load images onto my computer at the end of a long and incredible day of shooting to just have my mind blown with the detail captured.
Not every composition requires the power and range of a 500MM, though. I found myself taking quite a few images in the 70-200MM range, too, especially for one of my favourite styles of wildlife photography: environmental portraits of wildlife that showcase their surrounding environment. Other times, I just found myself too close to wildlife to utilize the 500MM (a great problem to have!)
Finally, at times on this safari I was even lucky enough to be within extreme close range to wildlife; so close, in fact, a wide angle would make for some interesting compositions. We were set up in an elephant blind one day in the Okavango and had families of magnificent elephants within metres of us—perfect conditions for the 14-24 wide angle. The wide angle, as well, was great to have around camp for interesting behind-the-scenes and documentary images, which is something I’m always conscious to capture as I love telling the “full story” of my experiences.
I shoot with the Canon R5, and I’ve been really impressed with this leap forward in the mirrorless space. I know some are worried about using lenses with an adapter, but all three of my Sigma lenses work seamlessly with the Canon lens adapter without any loss of quality; in fact, I actually love having the adapter for my wide angle work because the adapter model I have allows for a “drop in” ND filter (comes with the Canon adapter) so that I can do filtered work with only a tiny ND filter inside the adapter, and not a big external filter system on the outside of my Sigma lenses. It’s really made me embrace long exposure photography even more, having this adapter system.
Bottom line, I feel like I made strong choices for this trip. Three lenses, three perspectives, and an entire endless range of creative opportunities emerged over my time in Africa.