Martin in Deadvlei by Christine Roberts

Namibia Preparation Follow-up (Podcast 378)

On May 4, before I left for Namibia, I released a quick video Podcast (episode 371) to walk you through my preparation for the trip. In that video I said that I'd let you know if anything didn't go according to plan, and in general everything went really well, but...

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
  • RammellPhotography
    Posted at 19:56h, 09 July Reply

    Great blog Martin – good detailed summary.

    I can’t believe Jeremy walked in on those people! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Glad you had a good time, and I can’t wait to see some of your photographs made using the 200-400mm lens.

    Last year I took a trip to Donna Nook here in the UK to photograph Grey Seals. I must admit a lot of my gear became quite ‘crunchy’ too. Especially the buttons on my 7D. The Back button focus (which, I don’t actually use) was stuck too.

    On the trip back from Donna Nook in Lincolnshire I just brushed and tapped away at the camera and gently got the sand out of the nooks and crannies.

    My 70-200 f/2.8 II’s focusing ring was also a little crunchy, but, that slowly worked it’s way out of the lens after a few weeks.

    When we go back to Donna Nook later this year to shoot the Seal’s again I’ll definately be investing in some waterproof gear!

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 20:51h, 09 July Reply

      Hee hee. It’s actually really easily done. The lodges all look the same, and when it’s dark, it’s sometimes hard to see the room numbers with your head-light. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Most of the sand worked out of my gear too, except for the 5D battery grip. I’m not sure it’s sand that caused it, but that’s in a bit of a bad way. The sand in Namibia is so fine that it just gets in everything.

  • t.linn
    Posted at 03:19h, 10 July Reply

    Thanks for another interesting post, Martin, and congrats on the new lenses. At some point I will pick up the 24-70 f/2.8 II but the 200-400 is beyond my financial reach so I look forward to living vicariously through your use of it. : )

    Though I haven’t checked, I’m guessing the 200-400 is significantly heavier than the 300 f/2.8+extender combos you were using on this trip. Do you think the heavier weight of the 200-400 would have impacted you at all on your trip or not really?

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:02h, 10 July Reply

      Yes, the 200-400 is 1,070g heavier than the 300mm V1, and 745g heavier than the 300mm with the 2X Extender fitted. It’s hand-holdable for a short time, but basically this is a tripod, monopod or beanbag lens. With a reach up to 560mm though, it’s a lot lighter than my old 600mm f/4 at 5,360g, and it’s replaced both my 300mm and 600mm, so in total, this is a big downsize for me. It makes taking a long lens overseas much easier, and with this much versatility! Woohoo!

      • t.linn
        Posted at 09:05h, 10 July Reply

        Woohoo indeed! : )

      • Martin Bailey
        Posted at 23:58h, 10 July Reply

        I guess the other thing Martin is that with most of your shots, particularly i Antartica it seems, you’re shooting upwards of f/8 a lot of the time, so, there isn’t much need to obsess with this lens starting at f/4 either. To have one lens that covers 20mm – 560mm and be f/4 throughout the range is very impressive.

        I had short debate with a guy on twitter who called me lazy for purchasing a 1.4 extender for my 70-200. “Zoom with your feet” he told me. Whilst I don’t necessarily disagree with that sentiment when it comes to things like street photography, portraiture and weddings, I’m not sure it applies when shooting cars at Le Man when you can’t get any closer to the track or wildlife when you’re stuck on a boat.

        I wonder what he’d think of the 200-400+1.4 ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Bruce Leventhal
    Posted at 21:07h, 23 July Reply

    Thanks for the update. Your experiences with sand in Namibia match my own with the Samburu Region in Kenya. The good news is that the sand rarely gets into the optics… the grinding seems to be a temporary inconvenience. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about the 200-400L. Having just returned from another two week trip to Costa Rica where we concentrated on birds, monkeys and amphibians, I found myself shooting my 300 f2.8 IS v1 + 2x mark iii a lot. Ever since I replaced my 7D + 5D markII combo w/ a pair of 5D mark iii’s, I’ve had to ditch the 1.4x for a 2x. So far, I think I’m getting great detail, but I know the lens suffers a bit when the 2x is used.

    Regarding your malaria med decision, I was puzzled when you described the intended application prior to your travels. Given that your liver may have been compromised just two years ago, there is merit to advice. Nevertheless, I think I would have taken the Malaria meds during my travels (as I’ve done in two prior trips to Africa and Corcovado) as contracting malaria would be much harder on the liver than the medications.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:02h, 24 July Reply

      Thanks for the comments Bruce!

      On Malaria, it was a calculated risk. The doctor brought up a map of high risk areas, and we were not going to be in them. The north-eastern corner of Namibia is highest risk, starting from the Etosha area. If we had planned to go to Etosha, I would have taken preventative medication for sure.

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