Here are a few bullet points of technology changes or tests from my last Tanzania safari.
Did the test work? Yes and no. It worked from a data storage standpoint, that's for sure. After each game drive I just plugged in the CF cards and walked away. Talk about simple. This freed up a ton of time to socialize, help other with their photos, talk about workflow, or just read a book. I did miss having a laptop around to critically review my images. When you start adding up the weight of two storage devices, you are approaching the weight of a subnotebook. The space required isn't that different, as well. I had my Epson storage devices protected with Case Logic hard drive cases, and I cannot think of a better product to help protect these devices.
Canon EOS 1DsMkII, 500mm f/4 + 1.4x, 1/1000 @ f/4
Nikon D2x and 200-400mm f/4
So suddenly I had a D2x, 200-400mm f/4 lens and a 1.7x teleconverter to use. He he. I haven't shot with a Nikon camera since 2002 when I switched to Canon. I enjoyed shooting with the D2x, as the ergonomics is top notch. Button placement is intuitive, usability is much easier than a Canon 1 series camera out of the box. To pick up the D2x and shoot with it is an exercise in not needing to read a manual. There are tons of menu choices, though, so it can be just as dizzying as my Canon cameras to understand everything you need to know.
Nikon D2x, 200-400mm f/4, 1/200 sec @ f/4, ISO 800
The 200-400mm f/4 is a dream safari wildlife lens. I really did enjoy having the capability of zooming in and out to properly frame my images. The equivalent field of view with the lens is 300-600mm. I used the 1.7x teleconverter quite often with the lens, and even though the quality of the final image was quite good, the autofocus speed does suffer when not shooting in midday light. This was extremely disappointing, so my suggestion is to stick with the 1.4x teleconverter for faster autofocus speed.
Canon EOS 1DsMkII, 500mm f/4, 1/500sec @ f/8, ISO 500
Garmin Vista Cx GPS device
How have I lived without a GPS device? GPS is very valuable for the safari photographer, and I was not only able to track where we went, I was also able to determine the elevation and mark waypoints. Battery life was less than optimal when I used rechargable AA batteries, as I averaged around 11 or 12 hours. On some days, we might be away from camp for the entire day, which could be 13 hours. 6am until 7pm. You never know. So I switched to lithium batteries to see if this changed. Talk about a huge change. I was able to get around 4 days per pair of lithium batteries, which averaged around 40 hours of use. The downside is that once depleted you need to throw the batteries away. So I carried all lithium batteries back home with me for disposal.
I used LoadMyTracks to offload the data from the GPS unit to my Mac Pro desktop computer. You can save your files as .kml files for use with Google Earth. Very cool.