Usually, people carry a telephoto lens with a full frame or crop DSLR camera body for an African wildlife photo safari. Have you ever considered taking a wide-angle lens with you? I don’t recommend to carry the lens separately and interchange the glasses on the field. By doing this, you are introducing dust inside your camera body and lens. So, you should carry one more camera body with the wide-angle lens attached.
Wildlife photography is not only about close-ups and portraits of wild animals, but you also have excellent opportunities to capture beautiful landscape shots by including the wild animal in its habitat. If you go through the images of most of the well-known wildlife photographers, then you will realize that their best captures are with wide angle lenses.
It unlocks an altogether different perspective. When you compose the shot with the animal in its habitat you can see it. Sometimes, the animal may come very close to your vehicle, which makes it tough to photograph with a telephoto lens. You can make use of the wide-angle lens in such situations.
What Focal length to use?
There are many wide angle lenses in the market. It can confuse any photographer. If you are using a crop body, then any focal lengths between 10mm and 30mm is a good choice. You can even go with your regular 18-55mm kit lens, which comes along with most of the entry-level DSLR cameras. It is an excellent lens to start with and cost effective too.
A 10-20 mm lens will be an excellent wide-angle lens to own, provided you have sufficient budget. When you use a 10-20mm with a Canon crop body, then your effective focal length will be 16-32mm (1.6x crop factor), and for Nikon, it would be 14-28mm (1.4x crop factor).
If you are using a full frame camera, then you can go for focal lengths between 16-35mm. I don’t recommend using a fisheye lens since I am not a big fan of it. A 24-70mm or a 16-35mm would be a good choice. You may be using a high-end prime telephoto lens. So, don’t expect to have a prime wide angle lens. You will only have zoom lenses which deliver pretty good results.
Improve Image Composition Skills
Wide angle lenses help you to improve your image composition skills. You can make use of any of the basic image composition techniques like composing with horizontals and verticals or the famous rule of thirds, used by most of the photographers. You can even try your own-composition techniques by breaking these rules.
I recommend using a camera lens hood along with your camera to avoid unwanted reflections and flare in the image. It also helps to improve the overall image contrast. You can even make use of ND filters or Grad ND filters.
So, next time when you are travelling to any wildlife parks in Africa for a photo safari, make sure that you carry a wide angle lens and an additional camera body to try out wide angle shots.