What kind of camera do you use ?

A question that bridal magazines or photography blogs often recommend you ask your potential photographer :

“What kind of camera do you use … ?”

Another question you may want to think about is this :

“Does the camera make the photographer ?”

Both questions are very relevant.

In a limited sense, the answer to each one helps you determine if the photographer is an amateur or professional. Most professional photographers will bristle inside when asked about what type of cameras we use. It is because underlying this question is often an assumption from some who think “if only I had that same camera, I would make the same images”. As if the camera somehow controls the photographer and magically makes the images on it’s own.

An amateur may try to cover your wedding using a mediocre camera that makes it impossible to work well, because there are no manual controls over the aperture, speed, ISO or white balance; it has a sensor of poor quality, a lack of autofocus points that do not allow it work well in low-light situations, a cheap lens that focuses too slowly or gives poor image quality, a burst speed that is too low or an image processor that is too slow to capture those important moments quickly …

However, if one is gifted, you can get good results from decent mid-range cameras and lenses (in a range of situations that are albeit more narrow, being limited by the capacity of the equipment, especially in low light). In this sense the camera does not make the photographer.

A professional photographer naturally works with tools made for pros, tools of precision, speed and quality using only high quality optics. Nonetheless, the quality of a photographer does not stop (or sometimes start) with one’s gear.

Because conversely, an amateur could have the biggest camera and most expensive lenses and still work in completely automatic mode, not having a sense of artistic composition, lacking the reflexes and timing to take photos at the right moments – and then nothing comes out well. In this sense the camera also does not make the photographer.

That said, good cameras will certainly enhance the images taken by good photographers. Cameras are tools – the photographer’s education, experience and sense of timing uses that tool well (or not). A better tool can produce technically better images, but only if the person using the tool has the sense to wield it properly.

I have years of experience photographing many types of live events including weddings, which has honed my instincts; I have a natural artistic sensibility further developed by my years in art school, and finally I am a bit of a technician and a geek. I work in manual mode to control what the camera is doing precisely and all my images are taken in RAW format (this requires work in post production in order to develop an image but it permits much more creativity and flexibility with the resulting images). I work with professional quality equipment. The Canon L series lenses I use exclusively are the highest quality “low dispersion” glass produced by Canon.

I work with :

  • A Canon 5D Mark III body
  • A wide-angle zoom Canon L series 16-35 F4 stabilised lens
  • A mid-range zoom Canon L series 24-70 L II F2,8 lens
  • A telephoto zoom Canon L series 70-200 F4 lens
  • A telephoto zoom Canon L series 100-400 F4-5.6 II stabilised lens
  • A prime Canon L series 100mm F1,2 normal to macro lens
  • A Canon 7D MKII body
Lighting :

  • Two Canon Speedlite 600EX RT flashes
  • A flash diffuser (allowing a better softer light quality from the flash)
  • Stands and umbrellas for the flashes (often used for formal or group portraits)
  • A Canon ST-E3-RT radio remote control for the flashes
Other :

  • spare batteries for the camera bodies
  • spare rechargeable LR6 batteries + charger
  • Several CF cards with over 128Gb of storage total (thus explaining the time necessary in post production!)
  • Tripod
For post Production :

  • a Mac computer
  • a NAS server for image storage
  • many additional hard drives for triple back ups of your images
  • a professional large screen
  • a colour metre to calibrate the screen
  • a Wacom tablet to work on retouching
  • Adobe Lightroom to manage the images and do basic retouching
  • Adobe Photoshop for complex retouching
  • Professional hosting accounts with large storage capacity – for digital delivery of your images