Taking Safari Pictures: Expert Advice (1/3) – For the Casual Photographer

SA Logue asked the University of the Witwatersrand‘s Prof. David Bunn – one of the country’s top experts on the Kruger National Park – for some advice on which camera to pack when going to a game park. We’ve illustrated his response with pics from the kinds of cameras he refers to. This is part 1 of 3 – see the Expert Photo Advice tag for more.

There are two different ways of preparing for photography in South Africa, requiring different sorts of equipment. For the sake of convenience, let’s call these two modes “landscape/portrait” and “wildlife” photography.

Level 1. For basic landscape/portrait photography – concentrating on snapshots of the bushveld, of friends, and so on – the best camera would be a good “point and shoot” one – either digital or old-style 35mm film. Ideally, such a camera should include a zoom function so that basic wildlife photography is made easier. Unless you are specifically interested in photography, it makes no sense to go further than this. Rather spend your money on a good, light pair of binoculars (the Nikon Travelite series, for instance). Most of the time, for film cameras, you would want to use KODAK or FUJI print film, 100ASA for normal daylight photography.




Digital cameras should have a good megapixel resolution (4 or better), and a clear, large viewing screen, so that you can hold it over the heads of others and see what you are doing when you take a shot. It’s also much easier to review and erase bad images with a larger screen, and you will certainly have to do lots of sorting and trashing of poor images to make space for the brilliant shots to come. The higher the zoom ratio (5x, 10x, etc.) the better, for wildlife photography.

Make sure that you bring at least one set of spare rechargeable batteries, so that you can leave these charging in the cradle while you are out on your morning and evening game drives. Your camera will probably not need a voltage converter, but you will certainly need two simple adapters before you can plug it into the wall in your hut in Kruger: first, you will need a multiplug US to South Africa adapter. Secondly, you will need what South Africans themselves call an “adapter”: a socket converter that allows you to plug several items into a standard, single 3-pin South African wall socket. Buy this at any supermarket.

Prof. Bunn is head of the Wits School of Arts.