The question I probably get asked most often is “What kind of camera do you use?”. Whether I’m out at a show, shooting on location, or checking email, it seems I get asked this again and again and again. So here’s the short story on my photography equipment.
Canon 5D Mark II
I never knew I could love a camera as much as I love this one. I remember when I was shopping around for a new body I read other photographers saying things like “it’s an extension of me” and “it’s a part of me”, and I thought they were all nuts. Yes I did. But now I’m one of them.
First, the full frame sensor is exactly what I was looking for. Even just for basic lens selection it makes my life so much easier because I don’t need to worry about crop factors. Plus the images are beautifully sharp and smoothly soft in all the right places since the sensor is nice and big.
And second, the high ISO is a dream. I had no idea I needed high ISOs. I shot film for so long that I was more than comfortable shooting at ISO 400 or less and I’d get anxious at the thought of ever going higher than 800. In fact it was months after owning the 5D Mark II that I even experimented with low light situations but now I push way past that to 3200 and even the occasional 6400. Nice.
This lens almost never comes off my camera. This is the kit lens for the 5D Mark II and the first lens I’ve ever owned that’s matched what I’d grown accustomed to when I shot film. It’s crisp and sharp when it needs to be and cascades into a wonderful softness when I’m looking for shallow focus.
I know what you’re thinking. Using a zoom lens went against everything I believed in when it came to photography equipment selection too, but hear me out.
When I was looking to go full frame I knew I’d need a good lens. Until then most of the lenses I had were optimized for a smaller chip size and wouldn’t even fit on a full frame camera. Because I was investing in new equipment I wanted something that I knew would last, was versatile, and it would be ideal if it fit my budget, which at the time was small because I was shelling out some dough for a new camera. Kit lenses are typically a great price (budget – check!), this particular lens is from the Canon L series so it’s built solid and of high quality (long lasting – check!), and it has a reasonable zoom with an aperture of F4 which pretty much covers 80% of the scenarios I’d need it for (versatility – check!).
I once heard one of my favourite food photographers say that she uses a zoom lens but treats it like a series of prime lenses. Before she starts lining things up she thinks about what focal length she’d like to use for this particular scene, sets her camera to it, and works from there. Brilliant! I figure if it was good enough for her then it was worth a try. This is exactly what I do now and I love it! It allows me to travel lighter, I don’t need to worry about getting dust on my sensor when I change lenses on the beach, and it really does help me to simplify the whole process of picture making. Plus, with seascape photographs, there’s only so much moving around I can do to get an image looking the way I want without getting in over my head.
This is my just-in-case-lens. For just in case I need less depth of field than F4. For just in case I’m in low light and I need a faster lens. For just in case something happens to my 24-105. It’s a good lens that’s lightweight with fantastically shallow focus.
I bought this lens on a whim. I used it a few times but it never really fit my style of photography. It has magically soft focus, a groovy twist on the 4×5 cameras I used for years. Yet something just didn’t click with me. So it stays in my bag. And sometimes even back at the studio.
Maybe I should dust it off and try it out on some landscapes.
So there you have it, now you know. Short and sweet. I try to keep all areas on my life simple, even when it comes to photography.
What are your favourite lenses? Do you prefer primes over zooms? Do you have a big arsenal or a small honed collection?