ATRAX PHOTO by Clifton Beard | Gear Page

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 Fujifilm X-series as my main camera system, with a Nikon digital SLR as a secondary system for some situations.  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 whereas the Fujifilm system is based on APS-C sized sensors, which are about half that surface area.  However, advances in sensor technology and other equivalence factors mean the smaller sensor cameras perform extremely well and offer huge size and weight advantages.  Both use Sony-based sensors which are 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, such as when pushing shadow detail.


My preference in lenses is very much with primes and I love the fast aperture XF primes from Fujifilm.  I also have a small handful of the excellent Zeiss ZF.2 prime and Sigma Art primes, which are awesome lenses when teamed with a Nikon D800. These lenses 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 have 2 of the amazing Profoto B1 off-camera flash units with TTL control for both Nikon and Fuji 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.  I also have smaller speed light flashes where such powerful lights are not needed.

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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 either fire 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 texture, or use light modifies such as softboxes.  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 think it may be of interest for the reader to know why my preferences have shifted from larger to smaller cameras for both my work and leisure photography, so here goes;


In the last few years there has been something of a revolution in so called ILC, CSC or mirrorless cameras, so called because they dispense with the bulky reflex mirror and complex prisms of an SLR type camera to give a smaller, lighter body.  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.  As I stated above, the bodies are based around an  APS-C sized sensor but, combined with the exceptional Fujinon 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 due to limitation of the focus system employed.  The Fuji cameras can also shoot completely silently, the benefit of which is huge for wedding ceremonies.


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, then the incredible X-T2 and X-E3 with significantly better image quality and performance.  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 understated.  In truth I find myself reaching for the Fuji system all the time now as it simply works for me.  Hard decision though it was, I have been selling off most of my Nikon kit to fund the new system and de-clutter, retaining just a small Nikon system for when I wish to use it.


Using more than one camera body gives me good backup and I will typically take 3 of these compact Fuji bodies to a shoot or a wedding.  This ensures that I have more lenses mounted and ready to shoot, so I am less likely to miss a moment and minimises the risk of damaging or dropping 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.