If you are paying me to shoot your wedding or other event it seems only fair that you should know what gear I shoot with.  If you are just curious, then this page is also for you as I am always happy to share this information.  For professional work, image quality, reliability and back-up are the main considerations.  I may bring all or just some of this kit on a shoot, depending on the nature of the shoot and practicality.

 

I currently use 2 main camera systems, these being Nikon digital SLR and the Fujifilm X-system.  I remain open to changes in technology and try to embrace the best of what I find.  In summary, these 2 systems allow me to shoot a variety of work in both a documentary style and using dramatic lighting.

 

My Nikon system is based on  "full frame" cameras that have a sensor the same size as an old 35mm film negative.  These give superb low light performance, dynamic range and allow creative use of depth of field.  For weddings I tend to use these with a Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 zoom and fast aperture 35mm and 50mm prime lenses.  These are all big, expensive and above all "fast" lenses.  This means that they have a large aperture size so let in a lot of light for better image quality and better control over depth of field (how much of the scene is in focus).

 

I believe that Nikon currently do (and have for some time) use the highest-performing camera sensors in the industry with the best dynamic range, colour and noise performance that can make a real difference in some shooting conditions.

 

With the Nikon system I also use their excellent TTL flash system and use Nikon Speed light flash guns.  These provide excellent quality light in a highly portable package.  I also have 2 of the amazing Profoto B1 off-camera flash units with TTL control for Nikon and full high speed sync for using wide apertures in bright outdoor light.  These incredible lights offer 500 watt/sec of power from a clip-in battery pack and are especially useful for dramatic outdoor lighting.

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My flash shooting technique is carefully considered.  I do not simply blast flash from on the camera directly at my subjects as this gives flat, harsh and unpleasant light.  Instead I set my camera to Manual exposure mode and select suitable shutter speed and aperture settings.  I then adjust the ISO sensitivity to get an exposure either the same as or around a stop below the ambient light levels.  I then shoot the flash over my shoulder, so it bounces off the ceilings/wall and comes from a different direction to my shooting position, therefore adding a subtle lift to skin tones and textures.  This way the flash looks natural and preserves the ambience of the venue so any existing lighting from natural or artificial sources will also register in the exposure.  I call it being sympathetic to the ambient light.

 

I also have a small handful of the excellent Zeiss ZF.2 primes lenses, which I use for slower work where the manual focus is not a hindrance.  These are truly awesome lenses when teamed with a Nikon D800, a camera with an incredible image sensor, the potential of which is realised when such high quality glass is placed in front of it.

 

In the last couple of years there has been something of a revolution in so called ILC, CSC or mirrorless cameras, so called because they dispense with the reflex mirror and complex prisms of an SLR type camera to give a smaller, lighter but still powerful tool.  I decided to buy into Fuji's X-system as its combination of retro styled bodies and controls teamed with bang up to date technology appealed hugely.  In fact I have grown to love this system so much that it has become my go-to system for all my day to day shooting needs.  I can carry 2 bodies and a few lenses in a really small day bag and going light like this has real appeal.  The bodies are based around an  APS-C sized sensor (about half the size of full frame) but, combined with the exceptional Fuji lenses and deadly accurate focus, the system gives truly excellent image quality, even at wide apertures.  I can confidently shoot at f1.4 or f2, achieving shallow depth of field and making best use of available light, knowing that focus will be accurate.  That is not my experience with DSLR cameras where focus accuracy can be a real headache.

 

I find these X-cameras simply inspiring to use which helps creativity and enjoyment.  Fuji have been excellent at improving all the models with firmware updates and each camera offers 7 custom settings, film simulations and user-configurable function buttons.  I started with an X-E1, then got an X-T1, a fixed lens X100T, which is an exotic compact camera with an innovative, switchable, optical and electronic viewfinder, an X-T10, X-70 compact and most recently the incredible X-T2.  I am fully confident in the ability of this system to perform to professional levels on a technical basis, but importantly it offers one big advantage over the larger Nikon system....For wedding and similar work, these discreet cameras barely get noticed and allow me to work fast and mix it with the goings-on, without intimidating or getting in the way of the subjects as I document the natural flow of the day's events.  This benefit simply cannot be underestimated.  With the introduction of a satisfactory flash system (Nissin) additional, creative lighting is now covered too.  In truth I find myself reaching for the Fuji system almost all the time now as it simply works for me.

 

Using more than one camera body gives me good backup,  and ensures that I have more lenses mounted and ready to shoot, so I am less likely to miss a moment or damage gear while lens changing. 

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I also enjoy a small collection of film cameras including some Nikon classics such as the FE and FM3a, with manual focus AiS lenses and the classic Rolleicord TLR, with its stunning image quality from medium format film. 

 

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