There are a plethora of choices today! I personally have converted to this new medium, (thus I don’t have to pack bags of film or worry about airport X-ray issues!) I have the following points to offer you: If you are buying an SLR camera that will take your existing interchangeable lenses, expect to spend serious money. The Nikon D100 body alone can be found selling for about U.S. $ 1,000.00 (May 2006), and the excellent new Nikon D70 for $ 999.00. In all cases the storage cards then have to be purchased, and they are not cheap. For compact models, the most important consideration is to buy a camera with a big OPTICAL zoom. I consider 10X optical zoom, as in the Nikon 5700, to be the absolute minimum for wildlife photography.
I use the 5.0 Megapixel Canon Sureshot S21S which has a 12X zoom, (approximately equivalent to a 320mm zoom). Many of the pictures on this website have been taken with this model. It can be found for $ 350.00 (May 2006) The number of mega pixels largely determines the cost of digital cameras – the more pixels, the better the photo. Quality is seldom a problem unless you want to significantly enlarge your images. Generally speaking, even a 2.1 mega pixel camera will produce a good 8 x 10 print, IF you don’t crop your picture to make your subject bigger! A camera with a large optical zoom allows you to do the cropping at the time of taking the picture. When on safari where you must pack light and be able to carry everything you take, photographers must address the issues of charging batteries, storage and editing of photos. Digital cameras consume a large amount of battery power.
Rechargeable batteries are a good answer, but require planning ahead for charging time (not yet always available) – and remembering to do it! While charging facilities are available in most lodges and camps, you must remember to bring your own adapters! Storage and editing procedures must be based on each photographers’ needs and intended usage of images. Shooting in high-quality mode requires more storage capacity – on cards, in cameras or on laptops. High-density memory cards are available, but tend to be expensive.
The alternative to storage cards is to lug along your laptop computer. This allows you to carefully edit and share photos with safari companions as you go along, as the small screens on these cameras are not really good enough to do this. However it will be hard to find the time! Your days will be full, and evening hours rush by chatting about experiences you’ve just had, or are about to have, learning the local lore and hearing your hosts’ adventure tales. Other disadvantages to bringing a laptop is that it is yet one more thing that needs charging, and a laptop, however light, further challenges your weight limits for the light aircraft you will be taking – unless you plan on asking your partner to leave their change of clothes at home!