Camera recommendations for a safari?

I’m going on an African safari next month (two and a half weeks in Tanzania), which is like nothing I’ve prepared for before. Besides special safari clothes and things, one of my biggest concerns is a camera.

I’ve been in the habit of using my iPhone SE for snapshots, but for serious wildlife photos it’s not going to cut it. I don’t want to (and can’t afford to) invest in major DSLR camera kit, and I’m actually severely limited in the amount and weight of what I’m allowed to pack for this trip, anyhow. So I’m looking at either a pocketable point-and-shoot with a decent zoom or a ‘bridge’ camera.

After reading a bunch of reviews, the cameras that seem to get the most recommendations are the Lumix DC-ZS70S, the Lumix FZ1000, and the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II. There’s also the older Lumix DMC-FZ70 with a whopping 60x zoom.

Anyone have any experience with these cameras or shooting in Africa? It’s been years since I’ve bought an actual camera and the wide range of options has me unsure what to get.

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Last year, about 10 months ago, my D80 went to silicon heaven and I got a Lumix FZ1000.
The plan is to get another Nikon body sooner or later in order to keep using the lenses and other kit, but I’m not in a hurry as the FZ1000 does a good job.
When we had the lunar eclipse a couple of weeks ago I would have rather used the Nikon, but that’s the only time since using the FZ1000 when I really missed it.
The FZ1000 has a very good zoom range and is easy to use.
One point somewhat irks me: proprietary rechargeable batteries that you’ll have to remove to charge them. Some digital cameras can be charged via USB, i.e. you can top the battery up while in a car or with a power bank. (There is a socket for an external power source on the FZ1000, but that’s for a mains adapter for studio use. I plan to get one to try my hand at time lapse.) As the FZ1000 is a bit power hungry, what with the electronic viewfinder and the good display and the stabilizer function and the power zoom and the autofocus, it’s good to have some fully charged spare batteries with you. I usually don’t use the flash and find myself going through 2, sometimes 3 batteries on a day trip.
All things considered, I am a satisfied customer. A very good camera for all-round use at a very reasonable price.

The Canon PowerShots are very good, too.
I have a (now defunct) G12, was very satisfied with that as well.
No experience with a G7 X, though.

If I may, two suggestions:
Whatever camera you buy, buy it now and spend some time getting used to it. Play around a bit to find out what it can do and what it can’t do. Get used to the handling, that way even spontaneous snapshots improve. “Safari” sounds to me like lots of great photo ops you can’t plan or repeat.
Get a camera with a filter mount. And get an UV filter. If you scratch the filter you can replace it. If you scratch the front lens on your camera it turns into an expensive paperweight.


Thank you, this is super helpful. I’ve also run across the tiny little Lumix GM1, which has swappable lenses and a filter mount, and is super cute.

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I’ve got a friend who travels a lot and owns the 60x monster. She was very happy until it died a premature death in the Indonesian jungle due to humidity.

Another friend owns one of the Sony’s, can ppbl look up the model later, and had this one on several trips including to TZ. Super happy with it.

However, depending on where you go exactly and what you want to snap, I would vote for the Superzoom.

Please feel free to PM me if you don’t want to share your detailed plans. I’ve been to TZ, and can ppbl give better advise if I know more about your trip.
Just FTR, since I actually did work in several parts of Africa, I tend to overprepare my trips. But I usually came across many tourists who were ridiculously more overprepared than me. Hence my advise: don’t get nervous and prep too much. TZ is pretty comfortable for tourists.

I appreciate the advice! I’m honestly not terribly worried as the trip I’m on is through a travel company mostly catering to retirees. Their trips are on the milder side of ‘adventure’ but they focus heavily on local culture. (I’ve traveled with them before, they do an excellent job). The specific trip I’m doing is this one. It’s the only one that fit with my travel companions’ schedules.

I mostly just have to get some new shorts and the quick-dry underwear they recommend.

Here’s some photo inspiration from a friend of mine:


From an older article:

As I mentioned at the outset, lens choice is largely dependent on where you’re traveling. In most of the National parks of Southern and Eastern Africa you are not allowed to drive off road at all. So if there is a lion kill happening 100 meters in from the side of the road, you’re stuck where you are will need some reach from your telephoto lens if you want to get in closer. This is particularly true of places like the Serengeti and Kruger National Park.

Of course, the writer’s audience is people who are going on safari specifically to get once in a lifetime images. You might have other priorities.

Forget the G7. That’s a really short lens.

You might read sample filled reviews of the cameras with an eye toward how these lenses perform at long distances. It’s relatively easy to come out with an inexpensive lens that makes not very distant things look amazing. It’s much harder to construct an affordable long lens that does the same things with wildlife-- especially birds.

You could get a interchangeable lens camera-- and rent the supertelephoto lens,

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Thanks! But yeah, this is the sort of article that photographer friends pointed me towards when I asked this question; most of them said things like “oh, you’re on a tight budget! Well, a cheap ‘prosumer’ option is this $5000 lens…”

I’m definitely hoping to get some terrific photos on this trip, but my priority here is to enjoy the culture, food, and environment of Africa, not to watch it through a viewfinder.

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From your link and your description, I would advise a bridge superzoom. DSLR and system cameras have come a long way to be prosumer-friendly, but still require some fiddling (aka experience, aka many bad shots on the way). Their forte is definitely low-light photograph - most automatic exposure / F-stop programs suck in the forest or at night/dusk/dawn. But that is not going to be your problem, I think. I skipped Serengeti and Ngorongoro (far above my budget), but from my experience in Ruaha etc I don’t think low light is going to be your problem!

Since you are going next month, humidity is not going to be a problem. Dust, however, may be. Which might well be a point against interchangable lenses.

Talking about dust: if you can get a camera with attachable filters, I recommend a circular polarization filter, if you have a viewfinder. Makes it easier to clean the surface (no coating to be rubbed off), allowes to adapt to water reflection (nice for crocodile pics) and allows you to shoot blue sky (and not a hazy whitish one with a red tint, I would assume). You’ll need the viewfinder to check for the effect, though!

Re: shorts: I would think you wouldn’t need them. I used zip-off Fjallräven trousers. Moskitos probably aren’t as much of an issue as during the rainy season, but light-coloured long trousers are usually the best for malaria avoidance. I usually take DEET products with me, btw, and I use Malarone (never Lariam) if I take prophylaxis. For two weeks, and during the dry season, I probably only would take standby, and get myself s package of Coartem in a respectable pharmacy or a good hospital (in Dar or Arusha, most likely).

Re: underwear, never used quick-drying ones. Just regular boxer shorts. Things are great for women, though, I was told.

Re: shorts and underwear, you should check evening/nighttime temperatures. I think it might get colder than you think. But again, never been there during the dry season. Also, flights and busses might be terribly a/c’ed.


Thanks, much appreciated advice, both on the camera and preparations. I’m planning on layers of clothing for whatever temps hit, and already picked up the recommended meds (Malarone, Zithromax, and typhoid vaccine).

Leica V-lux. Great camera, powerful zoom, fabulous image quality.
Plus, it is not gigantic, which can really get in the way.
I have dragged mine all over the world, and finally upgraded to a more expensive Leica. But before I moved to the V-lux, I had killed several Sonys, and a big Nikon D2-x, all through exposure to dust or moisture.

146mm equivalent doesn’t seem enough, IMO. Just saying. And f 2.8 isn’t really needed, I guess.

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It looks like a terrific camera, except for two things that bug me:
• Apparently it’s literally just the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 with Leica branding and a $500 upcharge.
• A 14x zoom vs. a 60x zoom and about $1000 more than the Lumix FZ80.

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My Dad has the Panasonic, and I don’t think the image quality is quite there, even though they share the same chassis and many components. I was very happy with the Leica, and was aware of the Panasonic comparison before I purchased it. I read a bunch of articles and compared them side by side before purchase.
I would not recommend against the Panasonic. Just for my purposes, the Leica seemed like the one. And I was happy with it. I definitely liked the fact that it is pretty unobtrusive. My M class is even more so, with the right lens.

Every one of us has a different style and needs in a camera. I liked the V-lux, and did carry it in Africa with great results. I am using an M-240 now, and could not recommend it enough. But it is a bit of a cost commitment, to put it mildly. I already had lenses, so I was able to sort of justify the purchase.

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Did a trip through Zimbabwe and Botswana two months ago. Made do with my phone camera, even at the very wet Victoria Falls. Have I posted pics here? I’ll post some here. You’ll see some truly spectacular things, have a great time!

This one’s kinda cheating. It’s from Rottnest Island on the way home. If they’re blurry it’s the fault of my shaky hands, not the camera!

More pics

And some more

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Great shots :slight_smile:


Send more quokkas.

Sincerly, The Internet at large

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Ok! @LutherBlisset

Apologies to @nungesser for the spoilers and hijacking the thread!