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Old May 6th, 2004, 04:38 PM   #1
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Camera for a Safari?

I am going on an African safari and want to know if the DVX100a will be good for it? I am pretty good with camera stuff, as I work in a TV studio, but am pretty new to prosumer DV cams. How is the camera shooting animals? Is there a better DV Cam under $4,000 for this?
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Old May 6th, 2004, 06:02 PM   #2
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Welcome Jason,
For starters, I really don't know.

Perhaps enumerating the characteristics of a camera likely to be most, and least, important will offer you guidance. For example:

Most Important:
- Ruggedness/reliability: I've no reason to think the 100a wouldn't fill this bill.

- Compactness/lightness: Assuming you won't have a crew of porters you probably don't want to schlep more weight than absolutely necessary. Again, the 100a fills that bill.

- Long lens reach: This is probably the biggest ding on the 100a's use for the trip. In my opinion you'll want the longest (and fastest) lens you can get. You are not going to want to risk your safety just to fill a video frame. That's nuts. This is one area where the Canon GL2 is the king of the hill with its 20x Flourite lens. (I own both cams.) No contest.

- Light versatility: You may well find yourself in situations at dusk where a lux or two might make a big difference.

Least Important:
- 24P: In my opinion, if this is a personal leisure/adventure trip who cares about 24P? For that matter, since this will mostly be run-and-gun shooting, many of the 100a's image tweak features will also be useless. You'll be lucky just to get some good, clean, well-composed, steady footage of interesting subject.

This is the process I would follow to make a decision. Of course, unless you plan to rent the camera for the trip (apparently not) you need to consider your applications after your trip.

FWIW, since I have a GL2, DVX100A, and XL1S I would be inclined to take the GL2 on such a trip.

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Old May 7th, 2004, 04:15 PM   #3
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Would the 2X lens filter fix, the length of zoom problem?

I would prefer a 24p camera because I am also planning on taping a movie in the next year. Also, is the low light on the DVX100 that much worse then the GL2?
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Old May 11th, 2004, 03:38 PM   #4
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I second Ken there, my XM2 (PAL GL2) would be the safari trip winner. I love my DVX100A, but with the longer lens, lighter and a bit smaller its a no brainer. Not to mention cheaper if it gets run over by a rhino.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 03:43 PM   #5
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Having been to Africa on safari and lead photographic tours there, I'd be inclined to take the camera with the longest lens. No one on a trip I lead ever wished they had a camera with a shorter lens. However, on many occasions I heard many participants wish for a longer lens. The GL2 would win my vote too.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 04:38 PM   #6
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On the dvx's side, while I agree with the Gl's longer lense, if it is a look that you are going for, the dvx will give it to you. As far as shooting in 24p, I still prefer the look even in run and gun situations. A good example of the dvx on a safari would be the MTV show "Wild boys" The whole thing is shot with a bunch of dvx's and it has a very nice, documentary look to it. While the show is a bit on the "stupid" side, it is still pretty to look at, and the whole thing is shot in 24p. Plus the many wild animals and beautiful scenic shots look great on the dvx. I think it's on Sunday nights around 10p but there are reruns during the week on MTV.
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Old May 12th, 2004, 07:08 AM   #7
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I have also been on a safari in Eastern Africa, and would agree with those that recommend the GL2 (20x zoom without having to mess with adapters, relatively light, good all around performance).

Here are some other suggestions for you: (1) multi-voltage battery charger with foreign electrical outlet adapters (the GL2 battery charger may be multi-voltage but it is a good idea to have the foreign electrical outlet adapters); (2) lens brush and air bulb to get dust off your gear (I experienced a great deal of dust during my trip) ; (3) polaroid filter; (4) small bean bag to support your camcorder upon when shooting from the van/vehicle; (5) lots of one dollar bills to entice/tip interesting individuals to be in your shots (most would turn their backs to the camera if not given at least a dollar or more when I was there); (6) a cotton hat with wide brim; and (7) insect spray to keep the flies off your face and ears.

The majority of vans have roofs that raise up or are open so that you can stand up to see the wild life. The bean bag is useful to brace the camcorder upon and can be useful for pans and steadying shots. You can just about count on 85% of the animals turning their back and looking over their shoulders at you. In that most drivers/guides are not happy to let you out of the van when in among the animals you need to get a good position in the van so as not to get bumped or blocked by the other passengers (unless you will have a vehicle to yourself ... we did but it cost $$$$).

Depending upon the time of the year that you are going, dress comfortably and make sure there is plenty of water in the van. A beer or beers is nice at the end of the day but water is your best bet during the drives (especially in the afternoon). Oh yes, we saw more wild life during very early morning drives as opposed to afternoon drives.

Also, my wife and I did a hot air balloon flight over the Serengeti Plains that was great. Don't know if that is on your itinerary but it was a lot of fun and interesting to see wild life from that vantage point.

Last point, if you are going to purchase any souvigners then haggle/bargain big time. Stuff is marked-up 300% or more in the tourist trap shops (except in quality hotels where it tends to be marked up just 200%).

If it's not raining and things are politically quiet you should have a great time. Probably not a good idea to go off on your own as tourists seem to be prime targets for bandits, even when in small groups. The chambers of commerce don't like to advertise that part of the safari business but it happens and it happened a lot when we were there.

Good luck, Nick
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Old May 12th, 2004, 01:40 PM   #8
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Here's my dilemma...I want to get the DVX100 because I am into making movies, and it is probably the camera to have for that. Also, the GL2 is at the end of its lifespan, and will probably be refreshed soon. It is a lot of money to spend on a product that won't be the model to get in a couple months. My other option is to rent. Does anyone know the average cost for renting a GL2 for 3 weeks?
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Old May 12th, 2004, 08:22 PM   #9
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get a gl2, you will need the longest lens you can get, i would even try and get a extender adapter...get a monopod/or small carbon tripod, and/or beenbag (some safari trips they supply the beanbags/sandbags)

but without a doubt, everything might look like a dot on your screen with a dvx
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Old May 13th, 2004, 08:02 AM   #10
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Jason, Jason, Jason,
I can well understand your reasoning about having a camcorder that will provide dual service; however, it sounds like you are dead-set on purchasing a DVX100 .

It really sounds like you need two different camcorders. One to take on the safari and one to use in making a movie in the next year.

If you want the wild life to fill most of the frame on your shots you have two choices: (1) be within a few feet of them; or (2) have great telephoto capability. You will NOT always be able to be within a few feet of the animals, especially some of the unique big cats. And, if you are one among a van full of tourist, you will not have the luxury of holding everyone up while you compose your shot or move the vehicle to get the sun right (unless you have the vehicle all to yourself).

Rental may not be a bad idea. Getting a good used GL2 for the safari and then selling it to do an upgrade to a DVX100a for your film making may also be an alternative. Another alternative may be the Panny DVC 30 that has a 16x lens. The DVC30 sounds like a junior DVX100 and it is new technology. It's an idea.

If you are going to have a vehicle all to yourself and can get a tele-adapter to max out the DVX100 lens then go for it. But the DVX100 without pumping up the 10x lens is going to be disappointing, IMHO.

Good luck, Nick
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Old May 17th, 2004, 11:09 AM   #11
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Jason, I have been to Africa. Also the Amazon River and Patagonia. Believe me, when you are dealing with wildlife you want a lot of lens. Even if the driver can get you close, the action is always far enough away to warrent a long lens. The XL-1s with 1.6 extender will give you a little over 1,000 mm with an image stabelizer. I would also include a cloth eyecup cover and a pillow case to stick the camcorder into to help keep the dust of it. I always bring a really cheap piece of electrical equip. like an $8 dollar hair drier to "test" the current. Even with an electrical adapter I have blown these out while testing current. Hey, better an $8 hair dryer than your charger. Oh, all the vans there have cigerette lighters so bring a car charger. Much better than waiting to get back to camp to charge thae battaries. Have fun and be safe. Bob
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