Pitting a Remote Controlled Nikon Against a Curious Pride of Lions

A few days ago it was a National Geographic robot camera rig vs. a tiger, today we swap out the tigers for a pride of lions and the Nat Geo rig for “Car-L,” a little remote-controlled ‘buggy’ packing a Nikon D800E.

New Zealand photographer Chris McLennan wanted to get some great up-close-and-personal shots of lions in the wild. And so he loaded up his Nikon D800E w/ 18-35mm lens inside of “Car-L” — an AquaTech sound blimp modified by friend Carl Hansen to double as a 4×4 remote-controlled rig.


It all started normally enough with the rig getting a great shot of a big male lion and then making a clean escape, but the video turns into an unplanned AquaTech commercial when the females of the pride decide Car-L is worth some serious attention.

McLennan tries to back Car-L out slowly once the lions gets a bit too curious, but alas, escaping a pride of curious cats isn’t in the cards for the little rig. Fortunately the blimp is sturdy enough to be called “lion proof” and, even though we don’t think the rig was running by the end of the experience, the photos McLennan got made the whole thing incredibly worth it.

Be sure to check out the whole video to see the shots he captured, and if you’d like to see more of McLennan’s work, head over to his website by clicking here.

(via Reddit)

  • sweet ace

    awesome I absolutely LOVE it!!! i especially loved seeing the photogs reactions when they realized they bagged the shot! man that feeling never gets old! bravo!

  • Woody ONeal

    assume he used the intervolameter?

  • Michael Rasmussen

    Nicholas Nixon?

  • Guest

    most of the pics in the clip arent from the buggy lol

  • barb lawrence

    Great pics! You even see that the lioness on the left has two different coloured eyes!

  • lyone

    The cats are so beautiful. And so funny–when they go for the buggy like it’s something to eat–they are just such big kittens. So adorable and playful. The whole clip was wonderful to watch. Glad to see the photos and the video. Thank you.

  • Suheim Sheikh

    Pathetic. this only challenges the dignity of the animals and the jungle and amounts to adding artificiality to nature. Dont see any conservation angle to this. Messing around with animals and damaging the pristine jungle and treating animals as toys is all one can call this .

  • anonymous coward

    She seems to have some wounds on that side of her head as well. It wouldn’t be surprising if her vision is impaired or completely blind on that side.

  • Gronk

    Boy you sure are a negative nancy. What harm came from the making of this video? The lions were not hurt, no people got hurt, and as far as I can tell, even the buggy was salvageable. You need to lighten up some and look at this for what it is. It’s just a safe way to get close up photos of animals that are dangerous to photograph by hand. If taking photos of a beautiful creature is considered treating them as toys, then I think the whole world is full of wonderful toys that are under-appreciated.

  • Suheim Sheikh

    Well Gronk ! The whole idea of nature photography is to shoot nature as it is and not have nature react to artificial stimuli. Sooner or later you will want to photograph animals mating, hunting and eating at close quarters and I am not sure how one will do this without disturbing the process. The buggy and the cameras contain toxic stuff like batteries and if the animals destroy and ingest stuff , what looks like simple play could lead to tragic circumstances. We must not treat the wild like we do zoo animals.

  • Intisar Martin

    Suheim Sheikh, well spoken I share your opinion. These people do not understand the real laws of nature. They merely gain satisfaction at trying to conquer and control everything Allah (God) has created. They do not think that intruding on their existence and entering their personal space is wrong. They find it amusing and entertaining. Yet if they had someone enter their homes and photograph their wives, daughters, sisters, or mothers during an intimate social gathering uninvited or unannounced they would call them names like peeping tom. If they were elevated in status they may go as far as to have them arrested and charged with crimes like trespassing, If the child was deformed and the pictures were upload they could be charged with more serious cyber crimes. If they were not appropriately dressed when the buggy entered their dwellings because it was bath time or something like that they would be viewed as child pornographers and the likes. I think we should not view these creations as mere animals but as free being who were created with a purpose of their own and not put her for our amusement or entertainment. It was obvious the lionesses did not find the buggy’s presence welcomed, wanted, or even the least bit funny. They found it quite the contrary and their teeth were not grinning with amusement like the photographers.

  • Leonardo Abreu

    Is this lens good?

  • Jordan Biagomala

    Did you watch the video to the end?

  • csmif

    That is pretty awesome- especially when one of them grabs it and tries to run off with it.

  • Carsten Müller

    So this video is about nature photography? I think it is about some boys playing with a new toy without thinking. They drive a loud, strange smelling object into a group of carnivores and ooh oh the lions have detected it and are curious.

    So whats the point here: straining for effect – without any responsibility for the animals they abuse.

    I’m not impressed at all. If they where able to get the camera into the group without the lions noticing it – great work but this video is abhorrent.

  • Parth Jha

    Hi Suheim.

    Have you seen ‘Spy in the Jungle’ documentary on Tiger of India? If this video makes you so hurt, that documentary will kill you for sure. It has all scenes, from parenting, mating, hunting and suckling from very very close quarters.

  • Parth Jha

    Haha. You are very much like me. I must say, the dynamic range of Nikon D800 is superb. Such clean blue skies.

  • Parth Jha

    That would be very inefficient. He must have triggered the camera remotely.

  • Leonardo Abreu

    Yeah, I guess not.

  • Gman

    Lions can’t even hold a camera, how are they supposed to photograph the marginalised women in my household?

  • rocket77777

    It should be illegal to harass endangered animal lol.