Gorilla Photography - AYU

A question for you photographers who have done a gorilla trip.

I'm looking to pack my kit bag for my next trip and trying to decide on lenses.  I'll be taking two bodies, with a view to leaving the same lenses on each one, these will be a Canon 50D sporting a 100-400 F.4.5-5.6L and a 5D loaded with 24-105 F4L.

I'm sure these will cover most requirements on the trip, but when we get to the Gorillas I'm not sure whether to take an additional 70-200 - to sit on the 5D in preference to the 25-105.

 Be interested if anyone has any advice.


Hi Hannah - thanks that does support my initial thoughts, I figure the 70 - 200 would always be a reluctant addition as it just adds weight (and the 100-400 is already heavy enough!!).  

 That's a great picture by the way!


I was glad to see your question and answers on the best lenses for the gorillas and wondered if either of you were worried about damaging your cameras during the trek? Is it ok to take a "nice" camera if you have the right case etc? And then unpack it when you get to the gorillas? Perhaps the terrain isn't going to be a rough as I thought!

I'm traveling at Christmas and so am slowly stocking up on extra batteries and SDHC cards each month - I just can't wait!




And wow Hannah, what a great photo... I've got a IXUS compact too so that is definitely coming on the trip!


Hi Joanne - there's always a risk factor to carrying camera stuff, but providing you're sensible then you should have no problems.  On my last trip I carried a couple of DSLRs, a large lens and a small lens in a Tamrac expedition pack - well padded if a little bulky. There are some good insurers who can provide good cover when abroad as part of their standard package (be sure to check small print though!).  On AYK both my cameras got quite dusty, but cleaned up perfectly when I got home (in fact I've probaby picked up more knocks at Brands Hatch than I did in Africa!) 

From what I've read on another forum, you leave your bags a little distance from the Gorillas and then carry the kit you need to where they are.  So you'd limited to what you can carry on your person - that said I think you'd be wise to have camera gear ready to go from the moment you stop (an every ready case is probably the best option here)

When your looking at batteries and memory cards be sure to budget for more than you think you'll need.  On my last trip I took 3 batteries to use between two cameras, this time I'm taking 10 (which is overkill) - you can always charge on the truck, but space is limited so it's best to be as self sufficient as possible. 

On the memory front - try to avoid really big cards and opt for a greater number of smaller ones.  Not only is this a little cheaper, it also means that if you loose a card (or one fails) you won't have lost all your images.

Hope this helps - sorry if it's a bit long winded



That's great advice Paul, thanks for such a detailed response.

Maybe I'll just buy a battery every month until I go!

I tend to go for 8GB cards - do you consider that small enough please? I think you're spot on re: the risks of using too big a card.  

I never expected all the planning for the trip to be so much fun!


8Gb is absolutely the ideal size (in my opinion) - I think once you go bigger cost goes up (certainly on CF cards) and a lost 16,32, or 64gb card is a lot of images.  Currently I have 8 x 8Gb cards (acquired as much for normal use as the trip). I may add another couple of slower ones.  It's worth sticking with branded ones or ones you've used before. 

Your right through - planning is fun - I don't go for another three weeks, but I'm already starting to pack and repack and pack and repack!


Girilla photography? =o Sounds interesting. Sorry if spamming, had to mention it ^.^

Thanks Jeff - some great images there.  Particularly like the close ups of the eyes and the lazy cheetah!

Going on this trip soon, very excited! Have a Nikon D7000 and just added a sigma 50-500 lens plus 1.4 teleconverter for safari shots. Plan to take sigma 10-20 wideangle  but wondering if should take smaller lighter 18-200 as well. Also are there opportunities to use tripod/monopod as am prepared to take one? Bought spare battery and aload more Gb of space.


I would say definitley take the 18-200 - even at the expense of the 10-20.  There are a couple of reasoms for this.

You are almost certianly going to need a walkabout lens - there's a lot of this trip that benefits from a smaller lens.  This is particularly true in towns and the optional activaties in Uganda.  The 18-200 is ideal for these purposes. (I would say that more than half my pictures were shot using a 24-105). The 10-20 is a great landscape lens - but you'll be fine with 18mm.  Of course if you have the space to take the 10-20, then it's a bonus!

On Safari the sigma 50-500 will give you pretty much all reach the you'll need; it'll also cope with instances where animals are close (which happens more than you would expect).  I'm not sure that the TC will bring you much when used with this lens. While more reach is always welcome the TC will reduce the speed of the lens by a stop - I'm assuming that you may also loose autofocus (not sure of if this is the case with Nikon, but the majoriy of canon AF bodies will only focus down to f5.6).  A lot of the best safari shots are at dawn or dusk- so every f stop counts.  The excellent low light performance of the D7000 will really come into it's own on the dawn game drives.

The other thing to bear in mind is that the Gorilla trek can involve a hike of anything between an hour to 3 hours, some of which will be spent hacking through rain forest, on steep inclines and loose ground. The 50-500 is a big beast to lug that sort of distamce - so from that point of view it may be worth taking the 18-200 - which will have easily enough reach, but much less weight (the Teleconverter could be used to good effect here - you'll need to check if a sigma converter will work on Nikon).   You can hire a porter to assist if necessary

 Tripods and Monopods - forget 'em, there's no space to set them up on the 4wd in the mara and there's no time to get one set up with the Gorillas - plus it's extra wieght.  The best bet is to take bean bag or a bracket that can be clipped to the roof rails.  Bear in mind that space can be limited and you'll have to move around a bit in vehicles so everyone gets to see.

Anyway hope this helps - you'll get some great photos on this trip and see some amazing sights!


Thank you for that Paul...Very Very useful to me. ( Bought the Sigma OS as fed up with waiting for Nikon to upgrade their slow 80-400 ) You are right ...no AF on Sigma TC with Nikon. Have amazed myself by fitting all lenses plus filters and bats etc into a Think Tank Urban Disguise bag.. a true Tardis . Now to purchase a bean bag!

  In the next 2-3 yrs want to do the Arctic and Antartic trips... Its only my childrens Inheritance!


Add new comment

Login or register to post comments

My Forum Activity

You have not posted anything in the forum yet.

Please create a topic or reply to a topic to see your forum activity.

Latest Forum Topics

Call us on 020 8772 3936