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Gear, Pics & Stories From Fotozones Wildlife Safari 2019

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Note: This thread will contain a series of entries about the Fotozones Wildlife Safari 2019, including images, impressions of the gear I used and anecdotes about the safari itself. I wrote some of it while on safari, but had to stop as my laptop just wasn't up to the task of proper editing, so I am now doing the editing at home and will add my favourite shots as I go. Please feel free to ask questions about the trip and the gear in this thread. 

 

I've been in Johannesburg the past two days welcoming our 2019 Safarians, including @GrahamWelland, @CarreraS and @rbeesonjr. Yesterday we rented a minivan and drove about 90 minutes away from the airport hotel to the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary. This is the home of "The Lion Whisperer" (Kevin) who campaigns tirelessly against the practise of captive lion breeding and canned lion hunting. There's a lot behind the story of how he came to have all these lions in his care, as well as 4 black leopards and a small group of spotted and striped hyenas, but I won't get into that right now. 

 

I took along the Olympus E-M1X and 12-100/4 as well as the Olympus 300/4. So far, what I am seeing I am liking. A lot. That 300mm lens is just phenomenal. So much reach and so sharp, yet in such a small package. If you're a birder using MFT or you need a lens for distant wildlife as well as some sports, this is for you. The image below was shot from behind a chainlink fence. 

 

P6230122.jpg

 

This particular lion was quite menacing and twice he charged the fence towards us, which then set off a roaring frenzy between him, his brother and a group of white lions in the next enclosure who thought he was charging them. It was incredible to hear!

 

Today we head off on our flight to Skukuza and the first official game drive of the 2019 safari. We are all very excited to get there!

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I look forward to seeing the dispatches from your 2019 Safari.  

 

Dallas, I will be interested in how the new 12-100mm f/4 lens stacks up for you against the already excellent older 12-40mm f/2.8 lens (which I know we both have).

 

Have fun.

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Thanks Hugh. So far the 12-100mm is impressing me too. I will be able to offer a more comprehensive review after I have used it a bit more in the field. For now though it certainly offers a very convenient zoom range and is pretty sharp. 

 

Here's a shot of one of the black leopards, also taken with the 300mm, ISO 2500 on the E-M1X. 

 

P6230133.jpg

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That is one very scary cat.

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5 hours ago, Dallas said:

Thanks Hugh. So far the 12-100mm is impressing me too. I will be able to offer a more comprehensive review after I have used it a bit more in the field. For now though it certainly offers a very convenient zoom range and is pretty sharp. 

 

Here's a shot of one of the black leopards, also taken with the 300mm, ISO 2500 on the E-M1X. 

 

P6230133.jpg

 

If looks could kill!


Mike Gorman

 

Nikon Z6, Nikkor Z 24-70, 35, 85, FTZ adapter 

Lumix G9 , GX8 - Panasonic 15, 20, 25, - 8-18, 12-35, 12-60, 35-100

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We've reached the halfway mark for our safari as far as game drives go. Seen some great sightings, but it has been a little slower than usual, which I put down to the winter as well as the fact that because there are fewer rangers out looking for things. 

 

Yesterday we came across Maxabeni, the dominant male leopard. He's old but still looks in good shape.

 

P6260564.jpg

 

P6260530.jpg

 

The gang says "Hi!"

 

DAL12971.jpg 

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P6240149.jpg

 

P6240154.jpg

 

Well, I'm back home after one of the most relaxing, amazing weeks of my life. Our first exclusively Fotozones safari ended yesterday morning and it was a real joy. My apologies for not writing more during the safari, but believe it or not, finding time to do serious writing between the arduous task of consuming multiple courses of breakfast, lunch, high tea and dinner every day for a week wasn't that easy! I will of course be writing an article on the change in gear that I used on this trip, including use of the Olympus E-M1X, 300mm f/4 PRO and 12-100mm f/4 PRO. For now enjoy these portraits of a zebra taken on day 1 at Selati (which is now the new base for my Sabi Sands safaris - great camp!). 

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Here's another one of Kevin Richardson's lions having a full on yawn. This was shot with the X and the Olympus 12-100/4.0 PRO. Check out the barbs on his tongue - no wonder cats get fur balls! The 12-100mm is impressively sharp, even through a chain link fence. Click the image to see a high res version. 

 

48168324006_8c06679db6_o.jpg

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The lion is impressive in a frightening sort of way.  A lot of detail in that shot. The 12-100mm is looking good so far.  Once you have recovered from the trip I will be interested to hear your feelings as to how in compares with its smaller 12-40mm sibling.

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8 minutes ago, Hugh_3170 said:

The lion is impressive in a frightening sort of way.  A lot of detail in that shot. The 12-100mm is looking good so far.  Once you have recovered from the trip I will be interested to hear your feelings as to how in compares with its smaller 12-40mm sibling.

 

Thanks Hugh. They are both amazing pieces of glass. Deciding which one to choose is not going to be easy for anybody, so it will come down to whether you need f/2.8 or 100mm. The f/2.8 comes in very handy for me in low light situations like events, but the 100mm stretch for the newer lens makes it a very useful travel or general purpose lens. When you're using it in combo with either the X or the Mk II (E-M1) and you have a stationary subject, the stabilisation eradicates the need for f/2.8. The IBIS and lens IS combined are incredible. 

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When a lion stares at you from across a giraffe carcass a part of your soul quivers. Olympus E-M1X and Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5. 

 

48177927081_e2e6fdbd01_o.jpg

 

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On our first drive we were taken to the scant remains of a giraffe that had died a day or so earlier. When we got there the hyenas and vultures were picking at what was left. I flitted between shooting with the Olympus 300/4.0 PRO and my own Olympus 50-200/2.8-3.5 SWD. I was very surprised at just how sharp the 300mm is and also how useful it can be, even at relatively close quarters. 

 

48172591232_31ec348dd6_o.jpg

E-M1X + 300/4.0 PRO

 

48172560731_675c07a56b_o.jpg

E-M1X + 300/4.0 PRO

 

48177617096_1f1bfef857_o.jpg

E-M1X + 300/4.0 PRO

 

48177667121_62908592e9_o.jpg

E-M1X + 300/4.0 PRO

 

Then on one of the other cameras (my personal E-M1 original) I had the Olympus 12-100/4.0 PRO. This lens is very useful on safari for me to make reference photos and the occasional "artsy" shot. 

 

48177787212_b42cfe51dc_o.jpg

E-M1 + 12-100/4.0 PRO

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I want to talk a little bit about the Olympus 300mm f/4.0 PRO as a lens for the kind of safaris I am offering. 

 

When it first came out I was a bit skeptical about the usefulness of the 300mm on a safari as it gives the same angle of view as a 600mm monster on the ubiquitous 35mm camera systems. If you've ever used a 600mm lens you'll know that it's a lot of reach! We usually get really close to animal sightings, so for me the Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 has been a wonderful companion on the last few safaris I have done. However, on the 2017 safari I found myself using it with the 1.4x TC a lot and I was almost always maxed out to 280mm. A 300mm MFT prime would be something that might actually be useful on safari. 

 

Boy did that turn out to be right. After the first couple of game drives I didn't use the 50-200mm again after I saw what I was getting with the 300mm PRO. That lens is probably one of the sharpest I have ever tried. When combined with the IBIS in the E-M1X the stabilisation is nothing short of miraculous. You can position a subject in your frame handheld and it just sits there. Shift your aim slightly and the frame almost does a Michael Jacksom like moonwalk to the new position. It's actually fascinating to experience this. 

 

So, I will most definitely be wanting to get one of these for myself the next time I go on safari. If you're into birding this lens is a must (especially with the built in "cheat mode" of Pro Capture on the new Olympus cameras). 

 

These two lion portraits have not been sharpened. All I did was lift the shadows and tame the highlights. 

 

48188457367_bfb3992a45_o.jpg

 

48188879632_6cd7fdeb41_o.jpg

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Luuurve the Hyenas


Mike Gorman

 

Nikon Z6, Nikkor Z 24-70, 35, 85, FTZ adapter 

Lumix G9 , GX8 - Panasonic 15, 20, 25, - 8-18, 12-35, 12-60, 35-100

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Dallas, thanks for your comments on the 12-100mm and the 300mm lenses.  The 12-100mm retails for around $A1,450 to $A1,800 here and the 300mm for around $A3,120 to $A3,900.  These figures include 10% GST and the Aussie dollar is wandering around at about $US0.69.  It is good that both lenses are up to the mark, especially the 300mm - which at nearly $4k I guess that it ought to. 

 

BTW, very nice shots of the lionesses with the 300mm, especially the first one.  Definitely a portrait!

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Graham, if your images here are anything to go by, you have some serious sorting ahead of you. The second one is particurlay nice for me.

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1 hour ago, Hugh_3170 said:

Dallas, thanks for your comments on the 12-100mm and the 300mm lenses.  The 12-100mm retails for around $A1,450 to $A1,800 here and the 300mm for around $A3,120 to $A3,900.  These figures include 10% GST and the Aussie dollar is wandering around at about $US0.69.  It is good that both lenses are up to the mark, especially the 300mm - which at nearly $4k I guess that it ought to. 

 

BTW, very nice shots of the lionesses with the 300mm, especially the first one.  Definitely a portrait!

 

Thanks Hugh. I picked up the 12-100mm for ZAR8000 (A$800), which was a bargain of note, considering it hadn't been used before. It is a lot bigger than the 12-40/2.8, but I think I might hold onto the smaller lens - it does come in handy at indoor events. 

 

As for the 300mm, I don't know if I could afford to get one, plus there is a 150-400mm Olympus PRO coming out soon, which might be the ultimate lens for safaris. I would also like to try the Pan/Leica 100-400mm, which a colleague here in SA is using on safaris (he is quite a renowned wildlife shooter) and absolutely loves. 

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Here's a cool shot I just edited. So on the first morning (2nd drive at Selati) we went back to the dead giraffe and discovered that the remaining lions of the Southern Pride (which had sadly been mostly decimated after an attack by some rogue males a few months ago) had taken over the carcass and were fending off a huge pack of hyenas. At one point one of the females went off to the side and was surrounded by hyenas who tried to intimidate her. I think that she may have gone off on purpose to distract the hyenas away from her pride who were trying to strip the remaining meat off the bones. 

 

48178231977_0bbabff518_o.jpg

Olympus E-M1X + 300/4.0 PRO

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Graham, those were pretty cool shots !

I'm still clearing my editing SSDs because I  cleared my laptop b4 the trip, but not my main processing workstation ..

 

Hopefully post something soon ..

 

Regrettably, the paramedic's diagnosis after my skid/fall at JoBurg airport on the way in (wet marble floor in gentlemens area) was insufficient, my GP has subsequently added Aggravated DVT to the Sprained Ankle, so I am on blood thinners and had ultrasound diagnosis today .. ;( .. calf is slowly going down fron drumskin tautness !

 

Cheers with leg up ! .. Maurice

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"Wild things are always faster"

from 'Two Dogs' by Philip Hodgins

Wild-Things@btconnect.com

www.Wild-Things-Photography.com

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8 hours ago, CarreraS said:

Regrettably, the paramedic's diagnosis after my skid/fall at JoBurg airport on the way in (wet marble floor in gentlemens area) was insufficient, my GP has subsequently added Aggravated DVT to the Sprained Ankle, so I am on blood thinners and had ultrasound diagnosis today .. ;( .. calf is slowly going down fron drumskin tautness !

 

Oh dear, hope it doesn't take too long to heal, Maurice. You were quite a trooper though, considering all the moving about we did. 

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10 hours ago, CarreraS said:

Graham, those were pretty cool shots !

I'm still clearing my editing SSDs because I  cleared my laptop b4 the trip, but not my main processing workstation ..

 

Hopefully post something soon ..

 

Regrettably, the paramedic's diagnosis after my skid/fall at JoBurg airport on the way in (wet marble floor in gentlemens area) was insufficient, my GP has subsequently added Aggravated DVT to the Sprained Ankle, so I am on blood thinners and had ultrasound diagnosis today .. ;( .. calf is slowly going down fron drumskin tautness !

 

Cheers with leg up ! .. Maurice

 

Maurice,

 

Ouch - you were wise to get the ankle checked given the DVT find. I've had those before and now it's my ticket to fly business class for work travel but being slime'd for the ultrasound and then taking the blood thinners is no fun. However, the alternative could have been SO much worse for you so kudos for getting it checked early!

 

 


Graham

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Another from today's edits. People tell me that medium format digital is terrible at low light/night work. I humbly disagree!

 

 

_DSF5655 2.jpg

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Graham

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