As a professional photographer, the one question I get the most often is "What camera do you use?". (as a side note, I
personally believe lighting is way more important than what type of camera you choose to use) Il've decided to create this section to discuss what equipment I choose to use personally and why.
Camera of Choice (Medium Format) - Phase One XF IQ1:4OMP
Obviously the most common cameras people ask me about are Canon's and Nikon's DSLR cameras. To this, I often reply neither and am met with a look of surprise. I personally have a preference of shooting with medium format cameras whenever get a chance, both on-location and in the studio. To those who are not familiar with medium format cameras, these types originated from the original old cameras where the photographer put his head undera curtain behind the device and the subject
had to remain still for long periods of time. Fortunately, these types of cameras are much superior to any cameras on the market today for many reasons, including the fact they have a bigger CCD or CMOS (2.5 times larger than a DSLR sensor), which allows more light and detail to be picked up, producing a better picture in the end.
Today, the two best producers of medium format cameras are Phase One and Hasselblad. I have choose to work with Phase One, as it is superior in a number of ways to its competitors. Hasselblad has a much longer history in the market, but in the end, I believe Phase One currently produces a better picture all things considered.
Phase One cameras are expensive for starters, which is why they are not common in the typical photography world. There are three components - the medium format body, the digital back, and the lens. The body consists of the controls and connects the digital back to the lens. The digital back includes the sensor and a screen to make adjustments and preview images taken. Due to the detail captured, these lens are often many times more expensive than an entire DSLR camera with lens. Few
photographers carry more than two lens for their medium format camera.
I currently own the Phase One XF platform, which consists of their latest body. For digital back, I own and use the Phase One IQ1 with a 40MP CCD. It has a dynamic range of 13 f stops and produces incredible detail. Phase One offers much larger digital backs that include now the IQ4 with 150MP sensor, however, since my shoots often consists of thousands of photos per session, the pure size of these images makes it unnecessary to have such a resolution and there is rarely an instance which
such a resolution is required in the real world.
Camera of Choice (DSLR) - Nikon D850
Canon or Nikon? I'm a Nikon guy when it comes to DSLR cameras. I have nothing against Canon, it really comes down to a
preference, as Nikon had better CCD's when I first started shooting years ago. Now, the age old argument is similar to the debate between AMD and Intel processors. Both camera manufactures go back and forth over the years in who leads the market. It is mainly a matter of personal preference now days. I will however say that Canon leads the market in video lens, and I believe Canon lenes are somewhat more superior than Nikkors (Nikon's lens brand). I haven't made the transition to mirrorless
cameras, nothing against the technology developed so far, however if I had to choose a manufacture, it would probably be Sony.
I currently own and use the Nikon D850, which is a full frame DSLR (they callLit the FX series), which has a 45MP CMOS. This camera is superior to medium format in low light settings or where an even faster aperture is required. It is often much lighter than a medium format camera. However, as I use portable on-location strobe lighting on almost every shoot, I still prefer to use
medium format whenever possible.
Lens - Schneider LS, Nikkor DX and FX
For all lenes, I only own and use prime lenes,and not any zoom lenes. These are much faster often and have a fixed focal
length which enables me to have a constant image and limited degradation of the image. Prime lenes are often historically sharper than zoom lenes which distort an image further and has more changes to light within the lens itself.
Schneider LS 55mm f2.8
This medium format lens is an incredible prime and is very sharp. It is considered fast for medium format lens, even though I would sometimes like a faster aperture. I prefer it for the focal distance. LS lens can shoot at a faster shutter speed as well, so since the Phase One XF links directly with the Profoto wireless flash protocol, I can achieve some very sharp images in the field.
Nikkor AF-S FX 50mm f 1.8
This Nikon FX lens is the primary one I use for the D850 body. It is a great prime and has incredible speed for aperture.
Nikkor AF-S DX 35mm f 1.8
Even as this is a Nikon crop sensor lens, I believe personally that this is the sharpest lens Nikon has ever made. It is also their least expensive. While I lose pixel resolution when I shoot with this on a full frame body, the sharpness at times makes up for the loss. I have tested many Nikon lens, however this is the sharpest at such a fast aperture.
Lighting - Profoto B1 X4
This was a large investment for me. Each one of these units costs quite a lot and I managed to purchase four. As most of my work is in the field, doing on-location shoots, I needed something portable, powerful, and quick/easy to setup. These units were the answer. Not only does Phase One integrate directly in to provide wireless flash support, the TTL remote can control various elements such as how many stops each channel gets remotely. This is incredibly helpful for on-location shoots, especially when my staff is limited.
I prefer Profoto for a number of reasons, but the paramount reason is thatI consider them the leader in the industry, offering the best and most cost-effective solution for the quality I need. Previously, I have used Norman lighting equipment, but made the move to Profoto once my field work increased, pulling me away from. studio settings. The other leader in the industry is Broncolor, however I still prefer Profoto lighting for a number of reasons, but primarily for their light modifiers.
I use several lighting modifiers, all OEM from Profoto. This is one of their strongest areas - making light modifiers. My collection includes grids, reflectors, gels, softboxes and umbrellas. By far, my favorite is the studio umbrella, which has a silver reflector inside, even though they are much less forgiving when caught by a strong wind and blown over.
The strobe trigger, which remotely fires the flash, is the Air Remote TTL (Nikon version). The built-in Phase One/Profoto
integration is also used when I shoot medium format.
Tripods and Stands- Manfroto
The quality of equipment of course is a high concern for me when making a selection. Also important, as any good
photographer might suggest, is the fact that the equipment matches my brand color theme. Just joking of course, but this does seem like a night add-on benefit.
I rarely use tripods except in studio settings, or when shooting astrophotography. Long exposure is also something I might use a tripod for when shooting cityscapes.
The stands are used for background support, as well as mounting lighting equipment. As the investment is heavy for the lighting equipment, I would suggest to anyone that they invest in solid stands, which have air cushion support to avoid heavy shock to
the strobe's flash blub.
Drone - DJI Mavic Pro 2
I consider DJI the industry standard but I prefer the DJI Mavic Pro 2 for the portability as well as the quality that it gives me. It features a Hasselblad camera and sensor which produces incredible fine images.
Flight time is good as far as industry standard is concerned.
I am also a licensed helicopter pilot, where certain controls make sense with my previous training. DJI does a good job of creating a standard which follows general FAA guidance on best practices.
Computer - Microsoft Surface Book 2 and Apple MacBook Pro
I have always used PC's to a greater extent than Mac. Microsoft's premium tablet is the Microsoft Surface Book and is an incredibly powerful machine. While I also use a Mac Book Pro, I prefer the Surface Book for a number of reasons, doing primary editing. First, it has a pen which can be used directly on the screen's surface, allowing you to make updates by drawing these things in. The Macbook Pro still doesn't offer a version with a screen similar. Also, the Surface has better performance on both photo editing and video editing cycles than the Macbook Pro. I still of course use both, but my primary machine is my
Both of these laptops are incredibly light. I used to be concerned thatI would need a more powerful machine for rendering the edits which I did, however technology as of late has been able to keep up with the industry standards as far as resolution. For this reason, I no longer use a desktop in editing. Both of these machines are great, even under heavy load, in disturbing heat during the most intensive processes. I wouldn't recommend using in bed to edit, but on a flat surface, they dissipate heat quite
For previewing images in a studio setting, either unit is great to use with Capture One. Depending on the setup,
have to use a cable between the camera and the computer anymore. Even in remote on-location setups, I can effectively use a unit for preview images if a creative director is on site.
I would highly recommend the Microsoft Surface Book as a primary editing machine. It's light enough to add to your standard equipment which you haul around, even allowing you to do editing on the plane or in places where previously you might not have enough power with a laptop to accomplish the needs of high end editing and retouching.
Editing Software - Adobe Photoshop and Capture One and Adobe Premier and Avid Pro
Primarily, I use Adobe Photoshop for photo editing and Adobe Premier for video editing. I also use Capture One for some color correction and pre-edit work in the RAW files, especially for the medium format images. And of course, my favorite in video editing is AVID, which used to be an industry standard many years ago.
Bags and Cases - Manfroto
You might guess, as Manfroto makes several quality products, I have also been greatly impressed by their products for storage and transportation. I use their bags for most of my stands and equipment. When it comes to the higher priced equipment, such as the medium format camera and lens I choose Pelican as my first choice. Phase One actually has a partnership with Pelican to product their OEM case which is highly impressive.
Calibrite ColorChecker Passport
One of the hardest areas for me personally as a photographer is in producing a standard color pallet. Equally important for consideration is making sure white balance is maintained between shoots. To ensure a good standard and consistency is met, use the best the industry has to offer, the Calibrite ColorCheck Passport. You might see in some photo shoots, where a model is holding what appears to be a small wallet with squares of different colors on the inside. This is exactly what
Screens and Reflectors - Westcott
I prefer to use Westcott for my screens and reflectors. They have become somewhat of an industry standard, where quality is concerned. They hold up extremely well to the abuses on-location photo shoots often give to these products.