Over the last few years there has been a real surge in photography. There are a lot more cameras at weddings and it seems, a lot more interest in photography. You just have to look at the number of photography Apps sold at the Apple store to see that. A lot of people use photography now to communicate and I think it’s great. At most weddings, there is at least one or two people that have an obvious interest in photography (usually their camera is the giveaway) and I’m always getting asked questions about the gear I use, my camera settings and other technical questions. So, I’ve decided to share some of this here on the blog. This will be the first of a few posts about technical “stuff”.
And because it is the most common question I get asked by both amateur and professionals alike, I thought I’d start with what gear I use. I’ll have to warn you though, this is a long one. You might like to get your coffee now.
So, WHAT GEAR DO I CARRY?
My CAMERA KIT for Weddings includes:
Camera Body 1: Nikon D3s
Camera Body 2: Nikon D3s
Primary Lenses: 24-70mm f2.8, 70-200mm f2.8 VRII, 35mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.4
Extension Tubes: 12mm and 20mm
Sandisk CF Memory cards: 8 x 16GB Extreme Pro, stored in a Tamrac: Card pouch
Epson: P7000 portable hardrive
Spare Battery for the Nikon D3s and Epson Download
LED Mini torch with warming Gel Filter (great to add a little light to detail shots)
For me it’s the perfect kit to capture the perfect moment.
For a wedding, I tend to shoot with two camera bodies as the two different lenses I have on those cameras provide two different perspectives. A little like having two photographers at your wedding. I can quickly choose how I want to capture the moment and know that between the two cameras I have a lens that will best capture that moment without hesitation. It also means you have an instant backup if there is a problem with your camera.
Sometimes I want to capture a particular shot, or a situation might call for something special. Over the past 3 years I’ve slowly acquired some speciality Lenses that include: 24mm PC-Tilt Shift, 45mm PC-Tilt Shift, 50mm f1,4. 135mm f2 and the 300mm f2.8. and I will use these lenses when required.
How do I get all this around?
I carry all this in a small pouch/belt bag, so I don’t have to worry about leaving gear unattended. Along side the belt bag I have a small tarmac clip pouch that contains my memory cards and a portable downloadable hardrive by Epson that has its own belt pouch. The Epson P7000 harddrive is fantastic because it provides me with security and means that all the data captures are safely secure on my person, and I have the ability to create an additional backup as I continue to shoot.
Camera Straps: To work with two cameras, the camera straps I use are critical. I use “UpStraps” produced by a little indie camera strap company in Tallahassee, in the USA, because the non-slip ribbed strap grips to my shoulder. This year I have also been trying a holster system called “Spider Holster” which by adding a bracket to the camera body I can holster the camera on a strap that goes around my waist. It really takes the weight off my shoulders (literally) during any downtime – considering each camera can weigh as much as 3-5kg it’s a good investment in the future.
Bags: Spare lenses and backup equipment are safely stored in a range of travelling Tamrac hardcase rollers that is secured either in the car or hotel. If I do need to carry some additional lenses and equipment whilst I’m shooting, I use either the ThinkTank Retrospect 10, 5 or lens changer.
Lighting: Even though I mostly shoot with available light, a few years ago I started to work with portable lighting kits at weddings which range from a strobist kit, to mini video lights & torches and even through to full studio lighting kits on location. I’ll share a bit more on my experiments with lighting in a future post.
But as every situation varies, so does the gear I use. You will find that the cameras, lenses, and technique that I use for my weddings will differ from what I use to capture my portraits or landscapes. I even have specific cameras for street photography where you really need to blend into the surrounds and look like a tourist rather than a professional photographer. .
WHAT BRAND IS MY CAMERA?
Just over 3 years ago I changed to Nikon from Canon after being a solid Canon user all my career. It wasn’t an easy decision. However Adam at the studio has always shot Nikon his entire life and I can vividly remember shooting a commercial job with him that completely changed my mind. He just acquired one of the first Nikon D3 cameras and I had my brand spanking new Canon 1Ds MkII. We were shooting in a variable low light situation and when we compared the images I was surprised. The low light quality alongside with the nano crystal coating technology in the Nikon lenses were a true standout. It took me several months more, but I honestly couldn’t argue that the new Nikon suited my style better than Canon and was helping me produce a superior product, and so I made the move. The choice of camera though all comes down to what works for you, but never be afraid to try something new. I must admit I do miss the banter we had when we had a divided camp in the studio.
Just like any professional, my gear is vital, but it really is all in how your gear is used. It is just like a top golfer selecting the right club for the right shot. Those of us that are weekend golfers can buy the same club used by a professional, but it is how that club is used that makes the difference. So Tip No # : Get to really know your gear and all it can do.