Thursday, September 4, 2008

Great Pics! What camera do you use?

As a photographer, that is one comment I hear pretty much every time I display my pictures. Lately, it seems that question is getting asked about 4 or more times a day. So, for those curious, I'll list the gear I use.

Main camera body:
Canon 5D. Yup, that is right. I'm using an older digital body. The main reason that I continue to use this camera is because it gives me everything I need. I could go out an buy the newer Canon 1D series, or switch to Nikon, but I've given up chasing megapixels or the latest body release. I find that good technique far outweighs having the latest camera.

Backup camera body:
Canon 20D. I bought this body back in 2005, and it served as my main camera for a couple years. It has done an exceptional job, and in fact some of my gallery images were taken with this camera. It has since been surpassed with the 30D, 40D, and the new 50D from Canon, but I don't intend to upgrade.

Canon 24-70 2.8L
Canon 85 1.2L
Canon 70-200 F4L

Lenses are where you will see a great return on your investment. I have chosen to go with only the L lenses because they are the best. Differences between camera bodies isn't normally that significant, but differences between good and great lenses are huge!

Studio strobes:
Hensel Integra Pro Plus. I love Hensel strobes. They give off such a beautiful light. They are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but are well worth every penny. They are extremely consistent with power output, and color temperature. I also think they give a beautiful enhancement to most skin colors. Had I not gone with Hensel, I probably would have chosen Elinchrom, or Profoto, and been just as happy.

Light modifiers:
I primarily use softboxes instead of umbrellas. I like having the ability to control the light better, and I think the light is more flattering for portraits as well. I use both Hensel and Photoflex softboxes. I plan on picking up some octoboxes as well, and maybe I'll try out the Chimera.

When I'm not using softboxes, I will use a standard 7" or 5" reflector with grids, various snoots, and such, but it is strictly dependent upon the look I want.

Studio Muslin:
Silverlake. I've got probably 8 or 9 Silverlake muslin backdrops. I love these drops for fine art portraits. One day, I'll break down and get a Maheu to add to the inventory.

Well, there you have it. That is a list of the main gear I use. I'm not going to bother to list out everything, as there is just too much stuff (light stands, white balance cards, etc).

Now that I've listed the gear I use, I'll tell you the most important thing: Use the right equipment to support your vision. The image isn't made by the camera, it is made by the photographer. The camera can't pose the subject, direct the lights, and take the picture. The photographer has to do that. The camera only captures the image that the photographer has already created within the scene. Stunning pictures aren't because of the equipment, and that is the reason why I giving a passing yawn to announcement of new cameras being released. I could use Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, or nearly any other manufacturer, and get pretty much the same results. The key is being able to understand how your camera sees the scene you have created, and use the controls on the camera so that it can take the picture you already see in your mind. It is similar to giving credit to the shoes an Olympic runner wears when setting a world record, and not understanding that it is the skill and effort on the runners part to achieve their goal. The equipment just supports them.