There are so many things you want to double and triple check you need for a safari trip. What medication do I need? What kind of clothes should I be wearing?
One of these questions is what kind of camera will I need?
There are some crazy huge cameras that when you turn up with your little camera it can make you feel highly unprepared.
However, don’t because each person is different. Choosing a camera also depends on what you plan to do with it afterwards. This is a breakdown for the best camera for safari…
I am writing this for people like my Dad, who aren’t super camera nerds but would like a decent camera to get nice pictures from a once in a lifetime holiday. I have added different styles of camera to fit every budget, style and more.
Factors To Look For In The Best Camera For Safari
I have been on safari once but saw enough there to know what kind of camera average visitors would benefit from.
While smartphones weren’t a thing back when I went (I am 27 and visited 10 years ago, but technology has advanced massively in that time) they are a great contender these days. The key elements you will be looking for in the best camera for safari are listed below.
- Great autofocus
- Long and short distance lenses
- Quick sensor
- High frames per second
When you are looking for the best camera for safari you will need to think of all the different scenarios you will be in.
Majority of the time you will be in a jeep/ 4 x 4 style truck, on dirt tracks trying to spot animals in the wild.
It is going to be hard to get perfectly still photos in these situations so finding a camera that will not only stabilize but be lightweight and easy to hold will be perfect.
When you are looking for the best camera for safari an important factor to consider is the comfort and weight.
Can you hold it steady without it feeling like a major work out at the gym?
Is it comfortable to hold?
There will be a moment you will want that shot but might have to wait in position a while.
Quite a lot of the DSLR cameras have a good grip to enable ease when holding the camera.
They also have rubber edging to help a stable grip. If you feel the camera is too big or heavy for you look for a smaller model which will be much easier for you to use.
Frames Per Second
As you are going to try and get shots of animals that aren’t just hard to see at times, they are also very much free to roam.
Meaning that you want a camera that can be as quick as taking the picture as quick as a herd of giraffes can disappear into thin air.
I have seen it happen, they strangely blend in well. Your camera will need to be able to shoot bursts of frames at a rapid rate to be able to get the shot.
The sensor is the part of the camera that effectively captures the light, this then converts to what you would see through the viewfinder or on the LCD screen.
This part of the camera is important as you want a sensor to be able to move fast, focus well and pick up every detail of your shot.
Most DSLR cameras are built to be weatherproof, they can handle being out in the dust, dirt and even rain. As there is likely to be plenty of dust, dirt and rough weather conditions you need a camera to be prepared to battle through.
Best Compact Camera For Safari – Point And Shoot
I decided to list a couple of points and shoot camera for those who like them, feel comfortable with them and just would like one that size.
While point and shoots won’t be able to zoom into the next plane they will be able to get some nice shots of the view and closer animals.
I think taking a point and shoot is great for people who aren’t particularly into high tech cameras or just want something a little more simple.
Canon G7X Mark III
Though not technically a point and shoot, it is a compact camera. We have had 2 of these already and still have one now. We mainly use ours for video as it is small, fits in your pocket and easy to carry around.
It’s great quality images without having to add on lenses and extra equipment and is great for filming. If you plan to capture any live-action I would suggest using the Canon G7X Mark III as it is handy, easy to use and has great image quality.
There are many great features of this compact camera. It films in 4K and slo-mo along with great image quality and is great for falls. It is damage proof so it can be dropped and still survive, which is great for safari.
The downside to the Olympus is that is doesn’t have a great zoom so you are limited in the range, but if you plan to use this more for behind the scenes, family photos it is a great option.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mk III
Though not technically called a point and shoot or a DSLR this is a compact camera with a zoom lens. The lense is flat to the camera when switched off and opens up when switched on. The camera is a great size for travel with a compact lens and small body.
The Olympus has an electronic screen which also tilts which is great for getting shots in the bright sunlight.
The camera also films in 4K if you are looking at getting film footage. The great thing about this camera is that it can give you just as much as a DSLR with interchangeable lenses but also works great as it is.
Best Camera For Safari – Video
Though I wasn’t originally going to add this in, I thought about how many people make videos these days. Especially on safari where you can actually watch a lion eating a wildebeest or a cheetah out hunting. Those moments you can only dream of capturing on film. Here is my best camera for safari for filming.
Go Pro’s are a great way to get some amazing action shots. They don’t have to be strapped to the front of the jeep to be used in a great way. The great thing about a Go Pro is that it can capture high-quality video and images.
The Go Pro’s are highly compact and great for putting in your pocket and heading out on an adventure. You can get as many accessories you like or none at all, the advantage is that you can get great footage without any accessories. The Go Pro is also built to be dropped, in water and thrown around a little.
DJI Osmo Pocket
A popular piece of equipment in the travel community has been the DJI Osmo Pocket. This is a tiny thing which is pretty good. Many people use if for adventure travel, conferences and fastmoving travel.
It is extremely useful for rough adventure travel such as safari. If you plan to film anything at all on your trip this is such a handy little tool. It is compact, small and easy to use and comes highly recommended. It has stabilization technology built-in along with a gimble head which makes filming smooth and sleek.
Best Camera For Safari – DSLR’s
I decided to break this down as I realised that not just professional photographers go on safari. There are people like the average joe family who are going but still want to get the best holiday photos possible.
There are 2 levels of cameras as I think even if you are in between you can look at all options and decide what is best for you. This also comes down to price, not many people will have such an extensive budget for the camera alone, never mind the accessories and extra lenses.
Best DSLR Safari Cameras
DSLR cameras are a great way to make the most of your trip on safari. You can take as much equipment as you like to go with them or get a couple of lenses to maximise your photography.
Another great thing about DSLR cameras is that you can get the body and change the lenses to get them far away shots or get those intense close-ups.
Canon is a firm favourite with many people across both video and photograph spaces. Canon creates great camera bodies that all generally do similar stuff.
If you are looking to get a body that will do the bases to go for a Canon 800D. You have the option to fiddle with all the techy stuff or you can simply point, focus and shoot.
Another great camera that is versatile. This is another favourite among beginners looking to get into photography and video.
There are multiple settings to change your brightness, focus, etc but also works just as well on standard settings.
We recently purchased this camera as it is small, compact and great for video. It is also great for standard photography, meaning as long as you aren’t wanting to shoot in raw files to then edit in a photoshop editor you will be fine.
The camera has a great colour capture and will produce great pictures, but it does lose it’s quality as soon as you go to shoot in raw files and edit them. This is a great contender for the best camera for safari due to the quality and compact body. You can again add on different lenses to this body to make the most of the shot.
This is said to be a great use for wildlife, sports and action. Though technically less beginner-friendly than the Nikon D3500 above. It has great feature to auto correct vibration reduction, meaning it will stabilise your picture even when on the move etc.
It is also one of the lightest DSLR cameras on the market so holding it for a long time while photographing animals won’t tire you out. You can, of course, buy interchangeable lenses if you are wanting to boost your zoom to get super up-close shots of a lion eating a wildebeest.
Best Advanced DSLR Safari Cameras
Sony A7 III
This is one of the latest models from Sony, it films in 4K and is a great camera for video and still. This is one of the more recent mirrorless cameras that has been released.
This camera has impeccable focus when shooting video or for a burst of photos. Again you can use a variety of lenses on this camera to maximise your shooting range.
This is the latest addition to the Fuji family and as it is a compact digital camera it will give you all you need.
There are many rave reviews about the practicality of the small hand-held camera that can also do big work. This is a great option when looking for the best camera for safari due to its size and capabilities.
If you plan to want to get a range of shots you will want to invest in 1 or 2 lenses. I currently have one but would love another to get closer shots and further out. To be able to capture the animals you will want a lens that can cope with a superzoom.
You also want to think about the weight and practicality of the camera. I chose lenses that will be easy enough to store, carry and won’t be too heavy and also get ou the shot you are after.
Choosing a good lense will make a difference to the best camera for safari, though it is hard to choose which is the right one.
Canon EF 17-40mm f4 L USM Lens
This is a great lens to use with any Canon camera as it can shoot as close as 28cm and zoom to get those ultra-close shots.
It is a decent size lens which will be able to fit in a camera bag and not add to much weight to your camera.
Nikon 2137 AF Nikkor 50 mm F/1.8 D FX
This is a Nikon lens great for action photography. It is fast and solid model perfect for beginners and intermediates. This would make a great companion for the best cameras for safari.
The lens is great at creating sharp and clear images even in low light perfect for early morning shots and evening sunsets.
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
This is a great all-around lens for close up shots and wide-angle. The lens is aimed at people who are really invested in photography in the first place.
I personally wouldn’t buy this as a beginner but if you are really wanting to use this trip to launch yourself into the higher level it is a good lens to choose. It is much more advanced than I have used and would say it was for professionals.
You can find similar styles and sizes to fit other brands of camera. Remember to only use a Canon lens on a Canon camera. As Canon lenses are not compatible with a Nikon body.
Finding a perfect fit case will depend on your camera choice. But whatever you choose you want to look for comfort, protective casing and plenty of pockets. Pockets in camera bags are highly useful for carrying extra batteries, extra SD cards and lenses.
The camera bag will be as important for your camera as your choice of footwear etc. I would advise to buy your full equipment first such as your tripod, lens and camera and then buy a bag to fit it all in.
Your case can be in the shape of a backpack, which may be handy as you can wear it with ease and use it to store everything you plan to travel with. Or you can get a simple over the shoulder case that is smaller and simpler.
Once you’ve picked the best safari camera you’re going to want to purchase a small handful of accessories that should enhance the usability of the camera, and ultimately, that final shot!
We travel a lot and the majority of the time these days we do not use a tripod. We are very relaxed photographers and video creators as we don’t have space to carry every single accessory around with us. A tripod can be a great accessory to take with you as it is great to help stabilize a shot.
Gorilla pod are great tripods to use as they are flexible stands, you can attach them to anything and everything. You could use them to strap the Go Pro to a handle and capture footage that way.
It is also really handy if you are planning on setting up your camera to capture a burst of shots on a solid surface.
Manfrotto Tripod with 3 Way Head
Manfrotto is pretty much at the top of the game when it comes to Camera and tech accessories. From bags to tripods and more, they are a current top leader and for good reason. If you are looking into getting a sold stand for your camera try out Manfrotto.
This tripod comes with everything you will need to set off and set up your stand to take pictures. If you are going on safari and looking to get a great level of stability use one of these. You can alter the legs to a number of different heights and move the camera around with perfect ease.
There are some small simple accessories you can look into getting to help protect your camera and lenses. One of the features ins a UV camera lens, this helps protect your lens from the UV rays.
Though there is a big discussion about whether a UV lense is necessary but for the purpose of safari, I would advise it.
The UV lens acts like suncream for your camera, it also gives a protective cover to your expensive lense. Especially when on safari there can be a number of small dust particles that can scratch your lense and this can help prevent that.
Remember you want a UV lens that will fit your lense so this may change, double-check before buying one.
Where To Find Secondhand Cameras
I can understand that looking at some of these high tech amazing cameras can seem daunting. As some of these cameras are so expensive I decided to show you a couple of places you can find cameras for cheaper.
If you aren’t completely sure how you will use the camera after your trip you can get a one-second hand so that you can save money and don’t have to worry about having a huge layout.
The benefit of buying second hand is that there was a smaller investment and if anything was to happen or if you weren’t confident, this can help build your confidence before plunging into a newer model.
If you find a new model you like the look of and think it would be one you want you can always look for the version down from that second hand.
eBay is a great way to find a second-hand best camera for safari. The bonus of this can be that you are more than likely going to find the exact model and hopefully for a much lower price.
I would still look into getting a model that is a little older as you are more likely to get a better deal.
CEX – UK
I found my camera in CEX, practically brand new in box and came with everything I needed.
The great thing about shopping with CEX is that as long as the camera comes back in good condition you can then trade it back in. That is if you decide it is no longer useful to you.
The other big bonus is that you can purchase these for much cheaper than high street stores and you can physically inspect the product before buying it.
There are different grades to the items and you can check online for stock in your local area. This is a great place to find the best camera for safari as you can really save some money on quality products.
Shpock- Craigs List – Gumtree
Though not as popular in the UK, Shpock and Gumtree are other online shops where you can buy second-hand items.
Gumtree and Shpock are locally based so you physically go pick up the item, you can inspect the item before paying. The downside to this is if there is a fault, later on, there is no one to officially be on your side to get your money back.
You can find some really great and useful courses online that cost very little and should help you get started with your safari camera.
Udemy has a full range of courses from a variety of people who have everything you would need to know about how to get to grips with your camera all the way up to how to edit your photographs afterwards.
Don’t forget to check what baggage allowance you have with your airline and package. We went on a package holiday so we were allowed a significant baggage allowance.
However, if you are booking your safari experience separate to make sure you check what your allowance is. Also, don’t forget that all this equipment will need to fit into a bag to carry with you on the days you are out on safari.
I would also look into insurance, most people will have travel insurance for health reasons but make sure you can cover your luggage, equipment and camera.
There you have it, our best camera for safari. Whether you are looking for the top range or something simple and easy I hope we managed to cover it here.
If you have any suggestions on camera, lenses or gear you use that you think is worth getting, using or just love let us know in the comments below.