A photo gear post
Some people wonder what sort of gear I shoot with, and some even ask within that long list of gear, what do I use the most? Some want to know why a certain brand? I supposed we all wonder about that sort of stuff. Its probably natural to wonder what is used in the other grassy pasture and whether you need it. Or could use it. Until I did this full time, I bought products on a whim filling shelves with "stuff" but now, I buy what I will use and I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about that use. Some times it makes my head hurt. I swore an inner oath to only buy that which would serve a purpose which translates into either making money or increasing my skills which hopefully will make more money.
I'm a Nikon person. Its like being a Chevy or Ford guy, a "Lab" or "Golden" lover, etc. I also shoot with Fujifilm's newer X system cameras. I didn't want to have two systems but I do. The Nikon's are my work cameras, 100%, but they do sometimes wind up taking personal family photos. Not often though. That was how the Fuji's came into my life. They were for trips, for birthdays, Christmas, and at parties. Now, they have become VERY good cameras and their lenses are, dare I say, as good if not better than Nikon's offerings in similar focal ranges. Don't take this lightly. I switched from Canon back in 2007-ish because I loved the way Nikon glass rendered photos along with their camera bodies wrapped around their sensors. So lets talk Canon for a moment. Get that out of the way. Canon is the largest of the camera makers. They are about 6 to 8 times (guessing) larger as a company than Nikon who is always the perennial second largest camera maker. Canon has some 40% of the camera market, Nikon about 35% and Sony has the bulk of whats left. Fuji, Panasonic, Pentax, Ricoh (Pentax's owner), and Olympus are all in line after Sony. The numbers change every quarter but the fallout is always pretty similar. Things are starting to change, slowly the numbers are changing but thats for another post. It's still Canon, Nikon, Sony and everyone else. So why don't I shoot Canon? For me, I'll just get it out of the way and let people diss me but I don't like their product. I like their design and research even less. They make crummy sensors, mediocre glass (to me) and are exceptionally slow to develop and implement new change to their systems. Nikon is no speedster here either, but the last new really good Canon camera was the 5D MkIII which was in 2008. Granted the new crop sensor 7D MkII is out and its pretty good but it's also pretty even with other cameras that have been out for a while. Canon announced a 50 mp camera last week. Wow. The problem is they did not improve dynamic range, exposure control, color depth or focus systems beyond those 5D MkIII standards of 2008. And thats the way they do business. All the time. No innovation, just lots of "me too", eventually. I also don't think much of Canon's flash system which was what really drove me to Nikon. So even though Nikon is slow, they are less slow and they tend to build better firmware for their cameras which use Sony's sensor - oddly Sony can't match the Nikon's firmware and sensor tweaking. They have some sort of secret sauce still. Nikon is far from perfect, but what they have does work and it does produce the best (to me) color, contrast, ISO range and dynamic range of all the full frame cameras. Right now. Thats changing too. Fuji is a smaller system, being mirrorless, which is sort of designed around producing the same results as their excellent films did way back when. AND they just happen to build exceptional lenses to match their well designed cameras. I do like Fuji - a lot. Their APS-C cameras are very, very close to matching Nikons results and in some cases, they do better. Yep, you read that correctly. I just wish they had the same level of professional glass, flash systems, and support for third party vendors that Nikon does. I think its coming but its not avalanche like, it's more glacier like. Remember Canon sells lots of other stuff, Fuji is really big and cameras are their tax write off, Nikon is just a camera maker - they have a few small businesses but not the diversity virtually all the other camera makers do. I can see Canon being slower to bring things to market, same for Fuji, Panasonic, Sony, but Nikon should be doing a better job. If Nikon doesn't fix internal issues quick, they are poised to take one in the shorts. So thats my take on cameras and lenses. What do I use now? I roll with a Nikon D4s, D810 and Df coupled with my main lenses which are the 85mm 1.4, 70-200mm 2.8, 24-70mm 2.8 and Sigma 35mm 1.4 plus lots of batteries, straps, and stuff I can't live without. Which weighs about the same as the anchor for the Queen Mary. I usually have my 50mm 1.4 and or a Sigma 15mm 2.8 fisheye in my main bag. On the shelf for tag team duty depending on what I'm shooting are the 14-24mm 2.8, 80-400mm 4.5-56 G, 105mm macro, and my beloved 200 f/2. I am still shooting Nikon so I can use the 200mm f/2. I have all the tele-converters, extension tubes, and a few other pieces of glass but they are called into play for only certain things. On the Fuji side its the X-T1, X-Pro1, and X100 and X100T bodies. The X100 series are fixed 23mm (35mm eq.) lens cameras with APS-C sensors. The X100T is the same as the X-T1's sensor (well almost) and the X100 is not. But its special and different. For lenses, I have the 50-140mm 2.8, 10-24 f/4, 23mm 1.4, 35mm 1.4, the super special ultra fine 56mm 1.2, and the 60mm 2.4 macro. I can carry all that stuff in one backpack bag that weighs about a third of what the Nikon kit does. I can still fit jackets and bottles of water in the Fuji bag. I couldn't fit 2 Trojans in the Nikon bag.
Other gear considerations.....
Gear is bought based on where you are and where you want to be moving forward. I'm speaking about photography here but it can be the same for other vocations, hobbies and interests. As a photographer, I still find it hard to call myself that, I embrace light. Probably a good thing because there is no photography without it. I love natural light, but it just doesn't occur naturally in the places I am or want it to be, all the time. So I'm a huge user of flash. I use speed lights and I use studio lights. I use a couple Nikon speed lights and a couple of Phottox speed lights. Hard to say if either is better cause they are pretty much the same but the Phottix cost a lot less. I use Phottix Odin triggers for manual and TTL use with my speed lights. I tried the PocketWizard Flex system for years and finally gave up. The Phottix Odins work. All. The. Time. Period. I do use PocketWizard Plus III's in my studio and love them there or even in manual use on location but the Odin lets me set power remotely. They win. I use Cactus V6 triggers with my Fuji's and my speed lights. I can control the power manually and remotely with them and thats cool at times.
My location speed light modifiers are really getting more and more simple. Its getting time for a garage sale of whats not getting used much anymore. I like and use a Westcott Rapid Box kit, composed of one 26" octa and one 10x24 strip box. Comes with stands, case and all I need. I use a 40" ish Phottix umbrella, Lumiquest Softbox III, Lastolite McNally 24x24 softbox with grid and an Impact 15x15 softball with grid. I also use two Lumi-something beauty dishes.
In the studio, whoa, I have options. I'm pretty much all Profoto with a token Einstein. I have a D1 500 Air kit, three B1 500 Air strobes which are all cordless and TTL capable. Plus a 600R pack - I love it with a Elinchrom 39" Deep Octa and a Mola Beauty dish. I have an Einstein married to a large 79" Rime Lite Grand softbox. It just works well with everything. I have a variety of Plume and Chimera soft boxes, large and small most all with grids. I love grids. I'm using Profoto deep umbrellas now on location and like what I see so far. Maybe a dozen C-stands, to hold it all along with a few rolling stands and this or that. So, all in all, thats pretty much how I roll.
So thats my "systems". My stuff. My kit. What I work with. I have experimented with things like a Pentax 645z, an Olympus micro four thirds system, and some other cameras but sold them off and kept what I have. This will suffice for me for quite a while. I hope. I made the investment hoping it does anyway.