Out in the harsh and unpredictable African wilderness, wildlife photographers only have their wits and trusty camera to rely on in order to capture amazing shots. Follow South African photographer Shem Compion as he tackles the savannahs of the African continent with his partner by his side: the Nikon D850. (Report by Shem Compion)
D850/ AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II/ FL: 400mm/ Manual exposure (f/4, 1/320 sec) / ISO 2200/ WB: Manual
One morning while photographing a pride of lions, I selected the D850’s Silent Live View mode to avoid scaring the lion cubs. All of a sudden, their mother came out of nowhere and walked right past me towards her family. The combination of the AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II lens and the D850’s Silent Live View mode allowed me to quickly frame the portrait of the lioness and capture her in fine detail.
D850/ AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR/ FL: 40mm/ Manual exposure (f/11, 1/640 sec) / ISO 180/ WB: Manual
Elephants frequent the Amboseli Lake in Kenya to bathe and drink after travelling long distances across the Savannah. For this shot, I was approached by two friendly elephant bulls who seemed curious by my presence, which made for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was able to capture the elephants as well as the relatively brighter and azure blue sky in a single shot thanks to the extremely wide dynamic range of the Nikon D850’s sensor.
D850/ AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II/ FL: 375mm/ Manual exposure (f/4, 1/1250 sec) / ISO 1250/ WB: Manual
When one of the lions decided to mate with a lioness, his brother came down from almost a kilometre away to help keep watch. To emphasize his strong and intense gaze, I lowered the D850 outside the vehicle and used the tilting touchscreen LCD screen to frame him from a lower angle. This made his pose even more majestic. Without the tilting LCD screen, I may have not been able to get a shot like this.
D850/ AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II/ FL: 240mm/ Manual exposure (f/8, 1/800 sec)/ ISO 800/ WB: Manual
This shot was taken at Lake Amboseli, a vast lakebed dating back to ancient times. One day, while lying flat on the dusty ground in wait for a photo opportunity, I managed to photograph a Giraffe walking past the sunset. The Nano Crystal Coat on the lens suppressed flare and ghosting even when shooting directly into the sun, and the rugged body of the D850 meant that the camera could survive harsh conditions I was shooting in.
As a native of the African continent, I grew up and fell in love with the vast plains of the African savannah and its wild inhabitants. In order to share my love for Africa with the world, I have been photographing Africa ever since the day I picked up my first Nikon camera back in the year 2000. I’ve come a long way since then, and today am I using the D850. With all those years of photography experience, I can safely say that the D850 is in a class of its own. As someone who travels a lot, I have to constantly be aware of how much weight I am packing into my travel gear. The D850 combines all the elements of a professional camera into a considerably lightweight package which I find quite comfortable for carrying around.
Africa is a land of extremes: it might be hot and dusty one day, and then wet and rainy the next. As such, having a weather sealed camera body is of utmost importance. The main feature of the D850 that I love in particular is the fast continuous shooting speed of up to 7 frames per second (9 fps when paired with the MB-D18 Battery Pack and EN-EL18b battery). When it comes to shooting wildlife, this is imperative in capturing the fleeting moment of a bird flapping its wings in flight, or a giraffe walking through a sunset. Coupled with the incredible resolution of 45.7 megapixels, I am able to capture all the wonders of the natural world around me without missing a beat.
Photographing wildlife in Africa is a tough job which demands only the best and most durable equipment, and for that my camera of choice is without a doubt the Nikon D850.
Shem is a naturalist and professional wildlife photographer working throughout Africa and the world. In addition to publishing 5 books to date, his images have won national and international awards and his work has been published worldwide. Shem runs a specialised photo safari company www.c4photosafaris.com which leads safari photography tours throughout Africa.