Going on a safari trip is one of the most magical experiences you can have. It is just so satisfying to observe the wilderness and wildlife. You are basically in their home and I don’t quite know other experiences that can compare to it. Well, observing nature is one thing, but what I recommend to everyone going on a safari trip is taking a good camera to capture those moments. This is especially important for those that are interested in photography and photographers, but even if you are not, you might be lovestruck with the photographs you take.
While most think that their compact cameras or even smartphones will do, I have to say that it is not quite like that. A smartphone camera just won’t allow you to capture those moments, it isn’t built and designed to do so. Whereas getting a good enough DSLR or a mirrorless system that is built for those situations, you will take home some beautiful photographs.
For that reason today we are going to talk about the best cameras for safari. We are going to check out the top picks in the market, things that make a camera good for safari and much more. Now without further ado, let’s take a closer look.
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Best For Videos
|Sony a7 III|
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|Canon EOS 80D|
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Best Compact Camera
|Sony Alpha a6000|
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The 5 Best Cameras For Safari
5. Sony Alpha a6000
I am going to kick off this list with a pretty affordable mirrorless interchangeable lens camera coming in from Sony’s lineup the Alpha a6000. Despite being pretty affordable this camera has delivered some excellent features and qualities to a wide range of photographers, and I think that it will deliver you a great performance for safari.
The Sony Alpha a6000 is packed with a delightful 24.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor that works rather well with the Bionz X image processor to deliver great photographs. It is also compatible with a wide range of lenses from the company’s lineup and you can get a set of them for an affordable price.
The autofocus performance of this camera is excellent too, making use of its hybrid system of 25 contrast-detect points and 179 phase detect focus points to deliver speed and sensitivity. It can also deliver 11 frames per second in the continuous drive mode which is perfect for our needs. Combined with its super light 344-gram body and great ergonomics you go to yourself a reliable performer.
4. Canon EOS 80D
The Canon EOS 80D was released as an enthusiast-level DSLR camera that delivered some excellent features that photographers fell in love with, including me. I should start by saying that this camera is pretty light and small for what it offers, as it measures 5.47×4.13×3.11-inches and weighs just 730 grams with the battery inside, a battery that offers 960 shots in a single charge.
The Canon EOS 80D is packed with a 24MP APS-C sized CMOS sensor that resolves plenty of detail. On top of that, it has the Digic 6 image processor that has proved its worth. To be honest, Canon has the biggest lens range for their EOS lineup, and no one can even compare it with them at the slightest.
The autofocus performance of this camera comes from its contrast-detect sensor which makes use of 45 AF points, of which all of them are cross-type super fast super sensitive focus points. In the continuous drive mode, it delivers a respectable 7 frames per second establishing itself as a worth camera.
3. Sony Alpha a7 III
I have to say that this is one of the cameras that I have been a fan for quite a while, the Sony Alpha a7 III. This model from Sony has done most everything right and it is a favorite of many photographers. First and foremost this camera is dust and weather-sealed and weighs just 650grams despite being a full-frame model, which is marvelous.
The Sony Alpha a7 III is packed with a brand new 24.2MP back-illuminated full-frame CMOS sensor that delivers a great detail reproduction. I should also mention that this camera is packed with the Bionz X image processor. As far as the lens range goes, Sony has built quite a lineup up for its mirrorless range of cameras and I think you will find yourself some great selections.
The Sony Alpha a7 III uses the 193 point phase-detect autofocus system of the flagship-grade Sony Alpha A9, which is pretty fast and super accurate even in the darkest of rooms. The burst shooting mode of this camera maxes out at 10 frames per second, allowing you to capture everything while in a safari.
2. Fujifilm X-T3
The runner up on this list is the Fujifilm X-T3, which is also my absolute favorite mirrorless model, because this camera does most of the things right, and it also delivers great value for its price. The body of this camera weighs just 539 grams in total, it is weather resistant and is made out of die-cast magnesium alloy, what’s not to like.
Moving on this camera has a 26.1MP back-illuminated APS-C CMOS sensor which is one of the best in the company’s lineup. It also combines rather well with the X-Processor 4 and the X-Trans color filter array. This camera has a wide range of lenses available for it and you can find something for you.
The Fujifilm X-T3 has a pretty fast autofocus system that utilizes the hybrid phase and contrast-detect autofocus system with 425 AF points that cover 99 percent of the area and have 2.16million phase-detect pixels. To conclude I want to mention the 20 frames per second speed in the continuous drive mode, that solidify the greatness of this camera.
1. Nikon D5
Coming up to the top of the list is the Nikon D5. This camera is one of the best in the market despite being released back in 2016. I should mention though that this camera is pretty expensive and quite heavy tipping 1415 grams in our scales, but surprisingly it is quite comfortable to hold.
This camera is packed with a 20.8MP full-frame CMOS sensor that combines well with the Expeed 5 image processor, and it has an ISO range that spans from 50 to 3,280,000, making it a beast in low light scenarios. The lens range is also quite rich and with tons of variety, you can choose from.
The autofocus system consists of the contrast-detect sensor with 153 focus points of which 99 are the cross-type with a sensitivity that goes down to -4EV. The biggest selling point of this camera though is the 12 frames per second burst shooting mode that works to perfection, definitely the best in the market.
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Things You Need To Know Before Buying a Safari Camera
There are several things you need to know about before buying a camera for a safari. They are not something very hard to follow, and if you stick within those parameters you will get yourself one of the best cameras in the market. So let’s get on with it.
The first thing you need to do before buying a good camera for safari is determining your budget. It is necessary to determine how much can you afford to spend on a camera and how much you will use it. If it is a one-off scenario than you probably should not buy an expensive model and stick with the budget picks. However, if you will use your camera more extensively and think it will come in handy on multiple occasions, than yes, you may choose a more expensive and advanced model. Whatever you do, be realistic, there are a lot of people who buy expensive gear just to sell it a month later, don’t be that person. Buy a camera and enjoy your newfound hobby and have fun.
The sensor is the heart of the camera, meaning that without it you wouldn’t be able to produce those tasty images that you imagine in your mind. The better the sensor of the camera the better the results. This is not just getting the camera with the most megapixel count but checking out what size sensor they have. While the bigger the better it doesn’t mean better, because cameras with full-frame sensors are really expensive compared to crop models. But then again stick within your budget and get the best your money allows.
The lens compatibility of your camera will truly bring out the best qualities in it. In some cases, you will see that some cameras work better with particular lenses and the more choice you have the better, for a safari or otherwise. This is especially important for those that already own a camera and a few lenses. For that category of photographers, I always suggest they buy a camera from the same brand that they have. This will allow them to have more lenses that they can experiment with and cut the costs of buying new lenses.
I have seen several photographers consider changing brands, and to find that they can’t use their existing lenses. Well of course if you have Sigma lenses at your disposal good for you, as they work with most of the brands in the market, especially the two bigger players in the camera market Canon and Nikon.
The speed that your camera can shoot at can determine the difference between a perfectly taken shot and not a good one. The speed that you will be able to take photographs will depend on two things, the autofocus system and the burst or drive shooting speed of the camera in question. Let’s discuss them.
Now the burst shooting speed or the frames per second your camera can shoot will determine how many shots can your camera take in a second. I usually recommend going for the camera higher than 6 frames per second to get the best results in a safari. You have to know that you are usually on a moving car and the animals move as well so the more shots you can take in a small amount of time, the bigger the chances of you landing a good shot.
Another important thing is the speed of the lens. For example, if you want to take photos of elephants, you don’t need a specialized lens, but if you want to capture photos of something fast-moving such as birds, then you need a lens that specializes in bird photography.
All of that would be for nothing if the autofocus system of the camera you are considering is sluggish and can’t focus on the subject properly. It is a heartbreak missing on some beautiful photographs. A good and speedy autofocus system won’t allow that to happen at all. It will focus on the subject excellently and allow you to take perfectly focused photographs.
Safari can be quite demanding and you will be on some rough terrains most of the time, so you will need a great build quality from your camera. While you might think that you won’t drop your camera or you will take good care, I have to mention that most of the damage in safari comes from dust, heat, humidity, and rain, not dropping it and shock damage. So you will need to at least have a camera that is dust and water-resistant. Of course, waterproof and dustproof cameras are even better and will allow you to have full functionality of your device all the time, even in the most extreme of circumstances. Also, most of the time cameras with dust and waterproofing have super solid bodies that also are shock resistant.
Ergonomics and Comfort
Ergonomics and comfort play a big part in whether you will be able to take good photographs or not. On top of that nobody will enjoy photographing with a heavy or a camera that you can’t quite hold it properly. Also, you should factor in that you will combine your camera with a large lens most of the time, even a telephoto one which will make things even worse. So check the ergonomics of the camera before buying, see if it has a good handgrip and if the weight is distributed evenly on the body. You can read buyer feedback as they will tell you exactly how it feels.
There you have it, my fellow photographers. I think that you are ready to get on and buy the best camera for safari. Following the tips above you will get yourself a nice model that will be handy and will allow you to shoot the best photographs in a safari. Then again don’t forget checking out the top picks, since I have provided some critically acclaimed models that will deliver you a good enough performance for safari and so much more. Now go on and have a good safari trip.
Photographer & Writer
I specialize in landscape, street and portrait photography and I have been featured in various galleries and publications. I believe that photography is a way to tell stories!