June 14th, 2011

PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT

The gear I take on assignment depends on what is needed. Contrary to what it might look like, I prefer to work with the minimum amount of equipment.

Being familiar with the gear is most important to me. To that end, I’ve always carried some form of Leica M rangefinder in my kit – a camera I’ve used since 1979. After Leica’s R cameras were discontinued, Canon’s EOS became my professional SLR system of choice.

Today, I carry a minimum of three digital camera bodies for my professional work, each with its own lens attached. My Canon DSLR cameras are mounted with Canon EF EOS 16-35mm f/4 IS-L, 50mm f/1.4, and a 70-200 f/2.8 II IS-L lenses. Canon’s 1.4X III extender converts the 70-200 into a longer telephoto. A Canon 250D close-up lens converts the 50mm into a usable macro.

Specialty lenses like Canon’s 14mm f/2.8 L II, 15mm f/2.8 fisheye, 24mm f/1.4 L II, 35mm f/2 IS, and 500mm f4 IS L are also enlisted. Leica’s 80mm f/1.4 R lens has a unique look and was adapted for my Canon cameras. One or more Gitzo tripods come along with a pan head and cable release. DJI drones and GoPros are added as needed.

Think Tank’s Roller Derby and Pelican cases are my choice for transporting the main kit. A pair of Canon Speedlites provide supplementary light. For more light, the Profoto B1 500 AirTTL has proven ideal. A Zacuto Z-finder and Rode microphone handle basic video. A Case Logic bag holds my 17” Apple Macbook Pro and two Lacie external hard drives.

Photo equipment is simply a tool. Seeing and having something to say are much more important. That said, I look for equipment that is not only of the highest quality and easy to use, but also produces characterful rendering.

Note: The following list is constantly being updated

**

I. FIRST KIT

Canon EOS 5D Mk III cameras (3)
Canon 15mm f2.8 EF fisheye lens
Canon 16-35mm f4 EF-L IS lens
Canon 24mm f1.4 EF-L II lens
Canon 50mm f1.4 EF lens w/ 250D close-up lens
Canon 70-200mm f2.8 EF-L IS II lens
Canon Tele-Extender 1.4X III
Gitzo 226 tripod & fluid head with Leitz ball head
Canon 600EX-RT flash, trigger, Interfit battery
Rode microphone, lapel mic, polarizers, ND filters
Chargers, spare batteries, flash cards, cable release
Sunscreen, eye drops, sensor cleaning kit

II. SECOND KIT

Gitzo 326 tripod & Micro D ball head
Profoto B1 500 AirTTL portable lighting kit
Canon 600EX-RT flash #2, Leica SF20 flash
VarioColor LED
Softbox, umbrella and reflector
Canon 14mm f2.8 EF-L II lens
Canon 35mm f2 EF II IS lens
Leica 80mm f1.4 R lens converted to Canon EF mount
Canon 500mm f4 EF-L IS lens w/ walkie-talkies
Canon Tele-Extender 2X III
Leica M9-P digital camera w/ 28mm f2 & 50mm f2 Leica lenses
GoPro HD Hero 3 and 3+ Blk cameras
Portable Office: Apple MacBook Pro 17″
External hard drives, card readers, etc.

**

III. THIRD KIT: BIGGER PRODUCTIONS

As needed. All of the above, plus a strong assistant:

Canon EOS 5D II camera w/ Mathews suction cups
Canon 17-35mm f2.8 EF-L lens
Canon 24-105mm f4 EF-L IS lens
Canon 50mm f2.5 Macro EF lens
Canon 90mm f2.8 TS-E lens
Manfrotto Avenger C stands
Rhino slider
Roxant Pro camera stabilizer
Sand bag, apple boxes, ladder, broom
Zacuto Z-finder
Tungsten Lighting: Lowell Tota-light kit
Daylight Lighting: Westcott 150W Ice Lights
Additional Leica M lenses: 21mm f2.8, 35mm f2, 35mm f1.4, 50mm f1.4, 90mm f2.8
Analog: Leica M6, Leicaflex SL2 MOT, Canon EOS-1 V, Fuji G617, Nikonos IV

More for Production Video:

Additional Leica R lenses: 28mm f2.8, 35mm f2, 50mm f2, 60mm f2.8, 180mm f2.8 converted to Canon EF mount
Gitzo 504 tripod and large Bogen fluid head
Matthews DC Slider, Kessler K-Pod tripod & high hat
Zacuto eyepieces, Marshall monitors and hoods
Rode Blimp with Sennheiser shotgun microphone
Portable 8-track recorders
Bogen Magic Arms and Gorillapod
KenLab Gyrostabilizer
Hasselblad Pro lens shades, filter adapters
Leitz table tripod with ball head, dolly roller
Handgrip, roller table, light meter

IV. FOURTH KIT: BIGGEST PRODUCTIONS

As needed, All of the above, plus two or more strong assistants:

More Gear for Stills (All Rented):

More portable ARRI and AC flash systems
More light stands, soft boxes, umbrellas and grids
Extra Canon cameras (1DX Mk II)
Canon 45mm f2.8 TS-E lens
Canon 200 f2 or 400mm f2.8 EF-L IS lens
Leica S, Phase One, or Hasselblad digital kit
Budget

More Gear for Video (All Rented):

Bron Kobold or Joker Bug HMI
Extra Zacuto eyepieces, Marshall monitors, audio rigs
Various handgrips, rigs, sticks, sliders, rollers & dollies
Canon Cinema cameras
Arri Alexa or Red Epic with Leica lenses
More Drones
Chase Car
Budget

**

Note that there is back-up redundancy throughout. After the shoot, the used digital cards stay in a secure holder inside a zippered vest pocket on my person. As soon as I return to my hotel, the RAW files are backed up on my computer, Dropbox, and two hard drives. The drives are kept in different locations, or one is FedExed home. I love what I do, but I’ve also learned not to assume anything.

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