As a full-time pro for 30 years, 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 Canon or Leica in my kit. With their cameras and lenses, I don’t have to think. I just do. When Leica discontinued their 35mm SLR “R” film-based system, I switched to autofocus Canon EOS 35mm SLRs.
Around the same time, I also switched from Kodachrome 25 to Fujichrome Velvia 50 slide film. When digital camera image quality evolved to a more than satisfactory level, I transitioned to Canon’s full-frame digital camera bodies and their latest lenses for my editorial and commercial work. I’ve stayed with Canon’s latest offerings since then, along with Leica’s Q and M cameras and lenses. DJI drones provide an aerial perspective when an air charter is not required.
For flash, the Profoto B1X portable lighting system has proven ideal for moving subjects both outdoors and indoors. A pair of these are always added to my kit and used as needed. Apple’s latest Macbook Pro and iMac, with Lacie and SanDisk external hard drives, remain essential on the road.
Photography equipment is simply a tool. Seeing and having something to say are MUCH more important. That said, I look for gear that is of the highest quality, easy to use, and has characterful rendering.
Note: The following list is constantly being updated.
I. MAIN KIT #1 – STILLS ASSIGNMENTS:
Canon 5D SR Full-frame 50MP EOS System Camera #1
Canon 5D SR Full-frame 50MP EOS System Camera #2
Canon 5D MKIII Full-frame 24MP EOS System Camera #1
Canon 5D MKIII Full-frame 24MP EOS System Camera #2
II. MAIN KIT #2 – VIDEO ASSIGNMENTS:
Canon EOS R5 Full-frame 8K Cinema EOS System Camera
Canon 5D Mk IV Full-frame 4K EOS System Camera
SELECT LENSES AND ACCESSORIES AVAILABLE FOR BOTH KITS:
Canon 15mm f/2.8 EF lens
Canon 16-35mm f/4 EF-L IS lens
Voigtlander 21mm f/1.4 lens
Canon 24mm f/1.4 EF-L II lens
Canon 35mm f/2 EF IS lens
Voigtlander 50mm f/1.1 lens
Canon EOS 50mm f/1.4 EF lens
Leica 80mm f/1.4 – R lens
Canon EOS 70-200mm f/4 EF-L II IS lens
Canon Tele-Extender 1.4X EF III and 12mm extension tube
Canon 500mm f/4 EF-L IS lens
Variable ND and Polarizing filters
Canon 250D close-up lens
Canon Control Ring Mount Adapters – Canon EF to Canon R
Leica M to Canon R adapter
Leica R to Canon EF adapter
Variable ND and Polarizing filters
Canon 250D close-up lens
#1. MAIN KIT #1 in Rolling Pelican Air Case 1535 with select lenses
#2. MAIN KIT #2 in Rolling Pelican Case 1535 with select lenses
#3. DP Carry On Back Pack – Backpack or Small Filson Dry Bag:
Leica Q with 28mm f/1.7 lens, Mac Book Pro and external hard drives, Spare LiOn batteries for flash and drone, headphones, music, sunscreen, eye drops, passport, cellphone, wallet, money, papers, snacks, water bottle, change of clothes, and small dopp kit
#4. Asst. Carry On Backpack and/or Checked Patagonia Black Hole:
Clothes and dopp kits
#5. Checked Bag – Large Rolling Pelican Air Case 1615:
DJI Mini Pro 3 w/ monitor, binoculars, ND filters, spare batteries, and chargers, chamois
Go Pro camera and accessories
Profoto B1X kit with Pocket Wizards, Soft box, reflectors
Car-to-car harness, walkie talkies
Bogen Super Clamp w/ Leitz ball head and extended camera release
Gitzo 320 w/ Micro-D Ball Head
Spare batteries and cards, remote releases, sensor cleaning kit, chamois, small reflector
Plastic rain covers for everything
III. LARGER PRODUCTIONS:
#6. Checked Bag – Large Rolling Pelican Case:
DJI RSC-2 stabilizers, video monitors, headphones
Monfrotto or Bogen fluid head, Rhino slider
Tascam 4-channel recorder, Headphones , C Stand
Rode on-camera microphones – stereo and shotgun types
Additional lenses as needed
#7. Checked Bag – Medium Rolling Pelican Case:
DJI Phantom 4 Pro Version 2.0 + drone, goggles, ND filters, spare batteries, and chargers
#8 Checked Bag – Back Up Kit (2nd Assistant)
Everything from the main kit not in #1 or #2 Case – plus second Profoto B1, Pocket Wizards, flash adaptor rings, 500mm f/4 EF-L IS lens, extension cord, more external hard drives, Tenba or backpack shoot bag, more clothes, including rain jacket and pants
#9. Checked Bag – Large Rolling Pelican Case:
Canon EOS 5D MK II camera with 17-35mm f/2.8 EF lens (my disposable camera mount DSLR), Gitzo 226 tripod w/ Leica ball head and small fluid head with Super Clamp and flash stud, Wescott Ice light and charger, extra flash tube, waterproof housing for Leica Q, Canon right angle finder, bean bag, extension tube, ND Filters, more storage cards and batteries, gaffer tape
#10. Checked Bag – Rolling Cooler:
Bogen fluid head, more GoPros w/ bac pac batteries and viewer backs plus mounts (2-7 units), Leitz table tripod, Go Pro clamps and suction cups, Filson Dry Duffel
#11. Checked Bag – Super Large Rolling Pelican Case (Optional):
Complete video rig (see additional below), Canon 15mm f/2.8 EF lens, Nikkor 28mm f/2 AI lens, Nikon AI to Canon EF adapter, shoulder mount, Backdrops and stands, Marshall monitor with sun shield, Rode Blimp with Sennheiser shotgun microphone, etc. Budget
IV. BIGGER PRODUCTIONS – MORE CASES:
Stills: As needed. All of the above, plus another assistant or two.
Godox 600 portable lighting kit, Mathews suction cups and Manfrotto Super Clamp
More: Marshall monitor, cables, Soft boxes for ProFoto, A/C Flash, Tungsten Lighting: Lowell Tota-light kit Daylight Lighting: LED lights, Westcott 150W Ice Light Portable Studio: Overhead Silk, Backdrops and free-standing support stands, Manfrotto Avenger C stands, Super Clamps, sand bags, ladder, camera car, harness, broom, leaf blower, smoke machine, and air purifier. Budget!
More for Production Video:
Canon C300 camera, Gitzo 404 or 504 tripod and large Bogen fluid head, KenLab Gyrostabilizer, DJI Ronin, Roxant Pro camera stabilizer for GoPro, Wimberly head, Canon 600EX-RT flash units, Interfit battery, Leica SF20 flash, More Zacuto eyepieces, Marshall monitors and hoods, Hasselblad Pro lens shades, filter adapters, Leitz table tripod with ball head, dolly roller, handgrip, roller table, light meter. Budget!
V. BIGGEST PRODUCTIONS
As needed, All of the above, plus two or more strong assistants:
More Gear for Stills (All Rented): Medium format digital cameras and lenses (various), More portable ARRI and AC flash systems, More light stands, soft boxes, umbrellas and grids. Analog (Film): Leica M system, Leicaflex R system, Nikon F system, Canon EOS system, Hasselblad V system. Budget!
More Gear for Video (All Rented): Canon C Video Cameras. Steady Cam and operator, Arri Mini, Alexa and/or Red Epic with Leica lens adapters, Bron Kobold or Joker Bug HMI, Marshall monitors, audio rigs, Various handgrips, rigs, sticks, sliders, rollers & dollies, more drones with operator, Chase Car Budget!
More lenses for video (larger production with several assistants):
Leica R Lenses adapted to Canon EF and RF: Leica 60mm f/2.8 Macro R, Leica 80mm f/1.4 R, and Leica 180mm f/3.4 APO-R lenses. Nikon AI lenses adapted to Canon EF and RF: Nikkor UD 20mm f/3.5 AI, Nikkor 28mm f2 AI, 955mm f/1.2 AI, Nikkor 105 f/2.5 AI Type 6 lenses.
P.S. My kit for vacationing and personal work is a digital Leica camera, usually the Q with its 28mm f/1.7 and/or an M digital rangefinder with a 50mm lens. This is for pure seeing, shooting slowly and deliberately. A small flash and Leica M-mount lenses of 35mm, 90mm, 135mm and 400mm focal length are also used as needed.
** Note that there is back up redundancy throughout. After the shoot, the written-on 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 at least one hard drive. All 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.