Tools of the trade

Photography has been identified as THE most popular pastime in North America. There are more cameras in the average household than there are any other device... and that does not even include the camera now found in your phone. As a result, I get a lot of people asking me for details about my equipment so I have outlined my gear list here

Camera Bodies

CameraWhat I likeWhat I don't like
Canon 1DxFor the next few months (from the time I am writing this)... this will continue to be the top camera in the Canon lineup. It has the best autofocus system on the market and it is capable capturing usable images without a flash in very dark environments (at ISO values up to 56,000)When photographing in near pitch black conditions (for example some wedding reception)cameras can use an autofocus assist beam built into the flash. But for reasons I can't explain this camera does not operatewell under those conditions. Aside from that one thing - this camera is about as good as it gets for wedding photographers
Canon 5DmkIIIFor several years the 5DmkII was the "go-to" camera for wedding photographers but unfortunately it suffered from horrible autofocus. This new generation not only fixes the autofocus issues - but it provides new features that make this simply AMAZING for weddings. To start with - it is a Full Frame body and takes great images at very high ISO values (in very dark conditions) and when it is teamed up with fast prime lenses it creates absolutely stunning depth-of-field effects (Bokeh). My favorite new feature on this camera is the silent shutter. I can take continuous photos at about 4fps in this mode while the camera makes hardly any noise at all (a wonderful feature in a quiet church). They also added a second card slot allowing the same instant backup I have always enjoyed on my 1-series bodiesMy current gripes with this camera are of a technical nature. First, the autofocus point appears in the view finder as a black square. That black square is easy enough to see if you are taking pictures of soccer in the middle of the day - but at a dark wedding reception it is impossible to know what your camera might be trying to lock focus on. The second "gripe" is that the sync speed (max shutter speed for normal flash operations) is only 1/200. This low sync speed has always been a "feature" of the 5-series cameras but I'm still allowed to complain... because my 1-series cameras at 1/300 are so much nicer.


LensWhen I use itWhen I don't use it
Canon 16-35mm F2.8This lens comes with me to most of my jobs. The extreme wide ange is capable of making very small spaces look much nicer and bigger. It is very sharp and very fast.This lens has unusual "lens flare" that is not always appealing to me. If I am shooting directly into the sun I may switch this out for a different wide angle lens
Canon 24-70 F2.8This is the "standard wide-normal-zoom" lens that tends to be in the bag of all photographers. Although it focuses very fast and takes very sharp pictures it is no my favorite lens in my bag simply because my other lenses are so good. But there is no denying the versatility of this great lens so I won't deny it gets a good workout in very diverse situations.As a subsitute for carrying this lens I often use the 16-35mm F2.8 (because I appreciate the extra wide angle) Plus my 50mm F1.4 (because I appreciate the very wide aperture).
Canon 35mm F1.4 &
Canon 50mm F1.4 &
Canon 85mm F1.2
This trio of lenses follows me to most of my weddings. The fast apertures are great for shooting in low light. And the small depth of field you can acheive with these lenses helps to isolate the subject in any type of portrait workIf I'm doing an event that is mostly outside then I may leave one or more of these lenses at home
Canon 135mm F2This is the long lens that can be used in ANY condition. It does not suffer from either slow focus or purple fringing common to fast prime lenses - and it is barely long enough to be a telephoto lens in most churches where the F2 aperture is a full stop brighter than any zoom lensThis lens comes to work pretty much any time there is room in my bag. It is almost never my most frequently used lens at an event so if my gear pile is getting too big then I need to leave it behind - but whenever it comes along I always love the shots I get with it.
Canon 70-200mm IS F2.8This lens will pair up with my 24-75mm at many outdoor events. This is also my go-to lens when I am shooting sports eventsThis is a bit of a brute. It weighs around 3 pounds... and although it takes great photos and it is sometimes handy to have a zoom, it literally weighs three times as much as most of my other lenses. And on a 8-14 hour job that size/wieght can be a killer
Tamron 60mm F2 MacroThis is the perfect macro lens to bring to a wedding because it doubles up as a great portrait lens. Although this lens is advertised for use on a crop body camera, the image circle actually covers almost the entire Full Frame sensor. So I just need to remember to leave my in-camera cropping a tiny bit wide if I use this on my Canon 5DmkIIIThis lens will come to most weddings so I can capture "detail" photos - but there is a strong possibility that it will spend much of the day locked in the trunk of my car