TVRPhotography – If it moves, Shoot It!
The Equipment I use….
I get asked all the time what equipment I use to create the images that grace my website or client publications. The simple answer is, a camera and a bunch of applicable lenses. Of course it’s a rather vague answer, but would a more precise one make a difference in someone else’s photographic results? Most likely not.
Now I’m not trying to sound sarcastic or mean, but usually the question is asked in this way: “Wow! Cool shot. What camera did you use?” While the question itself is a valid one, the implication it provides is rather demeaning. In other words, it wasn’t really me who conceptualized the image, coordinated the players, organized the formation, visualized the proper lighting and positioning and selected the right tool for the job, it was the camera that did all the work.
Would it really have mattered if I used a Nikon instead of a Canon, or the other way around? Would it have made a difference if I used a 28-200 instead of a 70-200 when the focal length needed was 135mm? Probably not. So does it really matter what equipment a photographer uses? In most cases, no it doesn’t.
Just like choosing a certain brand of hammer won’t make your house last longer, a photographer’s job is to use what he or she already knows about photography and apply it to the specific tool of their trade. If you hand me a camera that is missing certain features of a more expensive model, it’s my job to find a way around those limitations. If you put me in a Formula One racing car and Michael Schumacher in a Pinto, chances are he’ll still beat me on the track. The tool only assists in achieving the desired outcome. If one does not know how to use that tool, it’s useless.
I once heard a great quote; “It is not the arrow that hit the target, but rather the archer’s skill that put it there.”
When I was in high school I recall building a pinhole camera out of a shoebox. When asked what type of camera created that image, I took pleasure in noticing the looks on everyone’s faces. My challenge to you is to put to work a basic manual camera and apply your magic. The fundamentals of photography apply to any camera no matter how few or how many features that camera may have.
Have fun, and remember it’s you who creates the image, the camera is simply a tool.
Edit: To be fair, many think being a professional requires professional equipment, therefore who am I to talk. In an optimal world, that would be the correct logic and it would only be fair to my clients that I have professional, reliable gear. But, this is the real world where my camera gear reflects the conditions of the market and what it will bear.
To answer the pending question literally, at this moment I use a consumer-level Canon 5D and a used 28-135 I found on Ebay for the majority of my photos. The rest of my lenses, though considered high-end are all from the pre image-stabilization days. A 400 2.8 Series II, an original 70-200 2.8 and a 17-35 2.8 from the days of film.
The real eye-opener came when I borrowed a $6,000 camera body and a few $2,000 pro lenses from a competing manufacturer. While the equipment itself was quite spectacular and a pleasure to use, the photos from my 4 year-old 5D came out superior not because it was a better camera, but rather I was unfamiliar with the tools presented to me.