Right, but I have a 1D.

There are photographers and there are people who collect equipment.


  1. For me, the lesson of this episode was: don’t bring a prime lens to an event photography gig.

      1. I recently ditched almost all of my gear for a comfortable strap and a small, fairly wide angle prime lens. My camera gets used more, I move myself to compose the shots, and I take better photos.

        1. Totally. Also a well-made prime can fall off a car and take no damage. And they’re cheaper, and faster.

        2.  My husband (pro photographer) hasn’t ditched all his gear, but the 50mm prime spends the most time on his camera — both when he’s shooting for fun and at paying gigs. It’s a really fast lens and sharp as hell. If you told him he could only keep one lens, he’d pick that one without hesitation.

          1. I’m not really a pro, but I love my Nifty Fifty. I only have the cheap plastic one so it sucks in a lot of ways. But it’s still my favorite lens for most things and gives such rich, beautiful color.

      2. “When I can see the grain I know it’s art.”

        My pictures are grainy as hell. I thought I was just a crappy photographer who can’t judge lighting worth a damn, but it turns out that I’m actually one of the world’s best artists!

    1. WTF did I just watch?
      To be honest, it didn’t make me happy nor sad. It made me feel…. indescribable. But I guess that’s art for you, right?

  2. I used to shoot some pretty budget boat weddings in Newport Beach and almost every time some uncle was there shooting with gear much more expensive than mine.  I would get questioned on my choice of gear all the time.  Oh, that’s a Nikon?  Why didn’t you get the Mark II?  How high does the iso get on that?  Etc, etc…  My answer was usually along the lines of “Dude it’s embarrassing how little I’m getting paid for this event, my wife is with child, and I need to eat.”  

    :—-Insert comment about how it’s not the camera, it’s the photographer here—-:

    1.  I agree with your comment about how it’s not the camera but the photog, that you never inserted. 
      So true. 

    2.  Whenever people ask me about the camera I’m using I like to ask them about their stove at home and how much better their cooking could be.

        1.  And you probably know some pretty good chefs who use pretty inexpensive pans since they’re going to replace them in six months…   :)

          1.  We use cast iron, each piece of which was picked up at flea markets for under a dollar, all of which is 50 to 100 years old.

    3. I’m an old ex-pro, got out before the digital shift (and I still use a Rolleiflex, which makes me a different kind of asshole). Equipment junkies make my stomach churn.

      “So you paid how much to shoot perfectly centered faces?”

      1. I still shoot Rolleis as well. I also shoot digital and/or pretty much anything that’ll let me get the image I want. Its about the photograph — not how you took it.

  3. The funny thing is.. I do photography semi-professionally.. and hell if I know what half the stuff is half the time.. I just go by what looks good and gives me the results I want. Annoyingly enough I still stick by Nikon lenses because I’ve found other companies lenses to be.. lacking I guess. Anyway, feel free to call me incompetent if wanted. (Footnote, I actually learned photography on an old Chinon SLR and have progressed to a D5100, which I wouldn’t trade for the world.)

    1. Your lens comment reminds me of my discounted, discontinued-model Nikon 10×50 binoculars I bought almost 20 years ago. People always want me to check out their REALLY fine binoculars as they ignore my “cheapie”. I make sure they check out my binoc’s for a minute while I look through theirs. Next thing I know, they want to borrow mine again.  Hee-hee!

      Excellent lenses.

      1. Well the biggest reason I stick to Nikon lenses is because they are sourced from Zeiss, second reason, last time I tried Sigma lenses I found the motors dont lock, so when its in autofocus you can still turn it which produces a horrific grinding noise and can probably cause massive damage..

        1. Nikon produces its own lenses in Japan. Along with Zeiss and Leica they’re considered the best in the world. Zeiss just crops up on  nearly with nearly every camera manufacturer because they just make optics. Aside from the odd camera here or there and their 3rd party lens business their business is all in partnering with other manufacturers. 

          1.  Technically, Zeiss makes more than just optics.  It’s just that the average person doesn’t use the stuff they make that isn’t a piece of glass in a camera. 

          2. Lieca and Nikon make that sort of equipment too. Its sort of the definition of Optics company. Scientific equipment, sport optics, medical equipment, cameras, surveying equipment etc.  Zeiss is just more purely about optics, as opposed to being a camera manufacturer as well (they have made a few through the years though).

            It’d just be really odd for the largest optics company in the world (Nikon) to source lenses from either of their 2 biggest competitors.

        2. A “horrific grinding noise” would really creep me out. I have used Zeiss surveying equipment which was very good, but my last employer had a theodolite that had rattles in it. Not really what I wanted to use for airport construction.

    2. Your approach is fine if it really gets you the results you want, but, it does help to know about this stuff even if you’re only doing basic photography (not shooting sports or herons catching fish).

      The point of the video is that knowing about the equipment does matter. Having the most expensive equipment doesn’t – unless you truly need the expensive features, which chances are you don’t. But you don’t know that you don’t need those features if you don’t know about the equipment :) (or if you only care about it being the most expensive as the guy in the video does)

      Also, mastery of any art usually implies a mastery of the tools of your art. 

      In the case of photography of course that could just mean a mastery of the basic technical and aesthetic principals of photography (aperture, shutter speed, etc., rule of thirds and so on) which does not change from one camera to the next. If you learned on a film SLR (as I did) then you’ve probably got that stuff down :)

      1. My work with my old Chinon film SLR actually got used to teach teachers about the various rules at one point, I’m still stunned by that fact, but since I was a student I only got told that it was being used. x3

    3. Awesome! I learned on a Chinon as well, had that thing for 10 years until a can of soda exploded during a ski trip. I also had a 500mm manual-focus mirror telephoto… definitely took some practice (and a sunny day) to get shots on that.

  4. Gadgets are the baseball cards of the upper middle class. 

    Note: you know if you are upper-class by whether your people take the picture and have to worry about what equipment to use. 

  5. “There are photographers and there are people who collect equipment. ”

    Also true of musicians.

  6. The same occurs in many areas>  Ever been at a driving range and have some people coming to you to compare their new and expensive clubs to yours (and doing very little hitting of the balls themselves)?  As if all results depend solely on the equipment and not in the way you use it…

    1. So true. I used to take great pleasure in riding my lower-end-of-the-range mountain bike through, over and under all kinds of rock, muck and trees while middle aged men in lycra polished their top-of-the-range bikes in the car park. Food stops on group rides were funny. While my space-aged friends would drink odd flavoured bright blue iso-goo (it’s what the professionals use…), my personal choice of rocket fuel was cake and tea. And maybe a piece of cheese. Happy days!

  7. The video reminds me of the “Canon Gear” forum on the Fred Miranda photo blog, where people argue over the minutae of camera & lens upgrades. It’s made me aware that camera gear acquisition is a separate and distinct avocation from photography. As for me, I usually substitute duct tape for gear upgrades!

    1. When it was time for me to upgrade to a DSLR, I got a used banged up 20D from craigslist. For the first 6 months, I made my own lenses with tape and those cheap EOS T-mounts from Amazon. Aluminum foil tape is better than duct tape, it doesn’t let any light in. I troll for kids’ toy optics still.

    2. I only venture into those forums when there is a rumor of an upgrade coming to the camera I already have.   Just to see if say they fix the problems with the current gear.   They can at this point only sucker me in if they do some major improvements on low noise high iso speeds and perhaps wireless built in.

      Love my 7D and has the right mix of features so the camera gets out of the way as much as I can hope for.

  8. When I was a sound editor at Universal Studios, home speaker system comparisons often went along these lines (and I was a person who was fine with a crappy home theater in a box). I wouldn’t cut my Law and Order dialogue on those speakers, but I also wouldn’t drop 20k to watch Law and Order when it airs.

  9. Wait what, he’s got one of those el-cheapo 1Ds? 
    He doesn’t have a Leica M9 with all the lenses.. Total cost about $40k :-(

    1.  Yeah, the proper reply would’ve been: “I dropped off my four Hasselblads at the shop for their annual cleaning and service.”

      (Actually, you wanna talk about superb optics?  Those Distagon lenses…)

      1. the register occasionally tries its hand at “you couldn’t afford this kit” reviews. Apparently this particular Hasselblad camera goes for 36 grand, plus lenses.

    2. This would be the best response because, as far as I’m aware, Leica really dropped the ball when they moved to digital. So in that case you’d be talking up a camera based purely on price.

  10. Recently there has been a family wedding I’ve been to where I’ve acted as a shadow photographer to the guys that got paid. They had a 1Ds, a couple of 5D’s along with a lot of huge L lenses.

    I had a Rolleiflex TLR, a Ricoh GXR and a Panasonic GH2. 

    One of the guys looks at me and says,”You hipster kids and your retro toys!”. Well I wouldn’t call the GH2 retro but I did have some Zeiss glass on it.

    And somehow I won out on both video and film. The photo output the firm was offering was super saturated and a lot of the snaps were too in-focus; you’d think there’d be a lot of clients asking for bokeh because of what they’ve seen on flickr over the years. A lot of the outdoor shots had clipped highlights too. I said to press for RAW output so that myself or younger kids in the family can process them properly in LR. 

    Their video was absolutely horrible, and with such bad sound and colour grading. I had a Zoom with me for audio with a Smoothee for steady filming. A hacked GH2 is the bomb. 

    Just goes to show you that if you have photography nerd/s in your family utilise them instead of paying thousands on a guy whose L glass matches his cheap leather shoes and doesn’t know anything outside of the Canikon realm. Bigger is not always better.

    1. The big secret of wedding photo/video is its almost impossible to make a profit at in most cases. People just aren’t willing/able to pay the actual costs for these sorts of crews. 2 video camera, 2 photogs, sound, lights, processing, editing etc at even the low end of professional/broadcast market would go for like $15-20 k for 8+ hours of shooting. So most of your companies doing weddings fall into 3 categories. Professionals doing it as a sideline, for much lower than their usual rates. Young inexperienced teams that usually drop out after they realize how little money is in it. And large wedding-centric companies that make margin by hiring low cost, inexperienced, or otherwise not very good crews.  
      As an example my uncle hired one of these larger companies through his catering hall for his wedding. They actually edited our entire side of the family out of the footage, and then couldn’t understand why he was pissed.

      1. You highlight nicely why I didn’t even attempt wedding photography.  Portrait photography isn’t much different.  How do you compete with Target and chain studios taking pics for $30?  Finding a niche helps, but in the end I take pictures because I love to.  Making a living doing it would probably make photography miserable, at least that’s what I tell myself.

        1. I do know some pro shooters (video an photo) who charge industry rates from pro shoots. IE Fashion, broadcast stuff, corporate events etc. And then do weddings on the weekends and the occasional portrait work at much lower rates. Basically they just like doing it and take the small amount of extra money to cover a vacation or some such. From what I’ve seen these types tend to put out the best wedding work. So if anyone needs a wedding crew I’d say look for a pro who will work for beer.

    2. My wedding photographer showed up with a short skirt and a medium format Hasselblad.  The skirt kept everyone’s attention while she & the camera took some lovely shots.

      You could say “2 bodies and 1 lens!”

  11. I was sure there would that LOL picture of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka with his patronizing smile.

    The last one I saw said “Oh, you wear a North Face jacket? What wonderful adventures you must have!”

    1. When people ask me about my NF jacket and I tell them I don’t have “adventures” I just live in Minnesota, they shut right the hell up.

  12. A 1D?  That’s nice if you don’t really care about craft.  Your petty little digital toys mean nothing until  you drop enough money for a Hasselblad 500EL.  :)

    1. Any medium format will do just as well, IMHO. Doesn’t take a huge budget to get a Yashica-mat or a 645 camera.

      1. I totaly understand small budgets and good results, I roll with a Kowa.   The 500EL was used for Apollo.  :)

  13. The proof is in the photos. Those guys who go on and on about equipment rarely have photographs to show, just stuff.

    1.  I used to date a photographer, for events she’d often use a cheap disposable camera for random close in shots of the guests because she could get a shot quickly and it made her unintrusive.  Thus trading better content for a slight reduction in image quality.

      Another friend takes photo’s as a hobby, he produces professional quality photo’s.  But really as he says with digital most of the work is in recognizing what’s going to be a good image and the post pressing that goes into bringing it out.

  14.  The other thing I hate about owning a DSLR is peoples’ genuine love of talking equipment. I don’t care what tool you own if it will do the job…

  15.  I have a little pocket olympus SW that we take almost everywhere

    I have a Nikon SLR with a bigger (500mm) lens that I only take up mountains.

    The photos aren’t that great either way, but I have the expensive one for shooting things over half a mile. With the Olympus SW I can’t even take those shots, they break up.

    So in this case the camera improves my photographs a lot, even though I am no photographer.

    1. I’ve got an Olympus that I love! It’s a Stylus 790 SW, a great little point-and-shoot, that’s both waterproof and comes with a decent macro function. I use it when I’m traveling and don’t want to carry my better camera.

      I also have a Canon Rebel T2i. The lens I typically use is a 100mm macro. I normally shoot insects. Lately I’ve started posting some images to Project Noah, a worldwide site for archiving living organisms: http://www.projectnoah.org/users/christinefisher

      Kommkast was earlier raving about Nikon lenses and their great auto focus function, and I do like Nikon, but Canon camera bodies feel more stable to me. (I’m left-handed.) Besides that, I don’t have to worry about anything other than the glass. At my scale – and with moving targets – everything is focused by eye and hand. Not saying I’m great at it, just saying that every camera has a function, and as long as you buy something decent (just like the people who argue Honda v. Toyota) it’s a matter of personal taste and comfort after you figure out which class and type of rig you need.

      No lie: I’m currently in the market for a 100-400mm lens because I’ve met some birders, and I have have plans to go shoot more pictures of birds. They’ve convinced me to move out of the realm of the tiny. :)

  16. Reminds me of a story I heard of a painter, who had exotic colors he would scour the world for  – and have people over and show him all of the paints. Not his paintings. They were really the excuse to collect.

  17. learned on a Nikkormat full manual plus a full darkroom, processed my own film and printed my prints.  took better flicks than anyone I knew, except my professor.   had a 50 and a tele, but usually used the 28.  all this digital is fly-by-wire bullshit.  For digital, I settled on a Canon G-10.  RAW format, manual settings, and don’t have to babysit a huge camera all the time.  It’s pretty OK.  pic related.

  18. Reminds me of the joke about how a music-lover will listen to Mozart on a transistor radio while an audiophile would listen to a kazoo on a $50,000 system.

  19. I’m a pro concert/event photographer with a (*gasp*) crop-sensor Canon 7D and some good glass.  I see kids (literally…16 year olds) from bands’ street teams in the photo pits at concerts wielding their 1Ds and (now) 5DMkIIIs set on full auto.

    It ain’t the gear, it’s what you do with it.

    1. Absolutely agree. I’m getting to grips with my first DSLR (first SLR in fact) and I have terrible “with great power comes great responsibility” anxiety about it.

      1. As a owner of a 5D I to now own a SLR, bought a Olympus PEN E-P3 along with an assortment of lenses, absolutely love it. The size of the camera is starting to make a big reason for these SLR shooters being so popular. I heard Nikon also makes a decent kit as well but I’m very happy with the Olympus thus far. I still prefer the Canon for video as I have never owned anything that shoots so well and I had a 1D, waste of money unless you shoot sports, or wild game.

  20. When I need good quality, I shoot a match needle with a prime 50 f1.4 or a 28-75 f2.8 zoom. If I’m shooting distance in good light, I have a 50-200 f5.6 zoom. Most of the time, I leave the long zoom at home, and the short zoom stays in the bag, just in case. When I’m shooting snapshots, my phone is good enough, always there, and doesn’t get in the way.

  21. While attending a friend’s wedding, I noticed the photographer had some nice medium format equipment (Pentax 4×5 or something), but what was most impressive is that he would position himself wel and take 1 or sometimes 2 shots and back off.  He worked the room after the ceremony with the same style but it was clear he got everybody there.  The photos blew me away especially the candids, of course, and on that stock everything looked incredible.  I used him for my wedding and kept recommending him again and again, he ended up getting some very high-end work and out of gratitude gave us the negatives and a large family portrait, sitting to frame.  He would have rocked the place with an Kodak Instamatic.

    1. So happy to hear you gave him continued support! It’s really a difficult job to do correctly, and with the cost of digital making it an inexpensive way for people to start a “business” – wedding photography has gotten a bad rep. Glad you found a pro!

  22. I have found the oft mention trick of taping over all marks and idents on my cameras has reduced this kind of “kit talk” to minimum. 

  23. I do find that people approach me to ask what it is I’m using to take pictures with, but I think part of that is just my subjects. I shoot insects. So I go to local gardens, parks and estuaries and focus on apparently “nothing interesting” or “nothing at all”. I get a lot of questions about my lens because I primarily shoot macro using natural light sources. 

    So, I don’t mind talking to people about cameras when I’m out. The other day, I told a lady who had a 70-300mm on her camera and was mainly shooting birds and flowers that she didn’t need a macro, and then took comparison shots with her. It helped her to understand my lack of depth of field and my improvement on fine detail based purely on lens. She chose to wait to buy another lens (she had a 50mm as well) until she was better practiced. I’d made her hand-focus all the shots, and it was a new challenge for her.

    I’m not into talking up my rig, because it’s a tool and is only as good as the person using it. Also, what works for me, won’t necessarily work for anyone else!

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