I am writing this in the context of wedding photography, though the thoughts will also apply to portrait and event photography, but perhaps in a different way.

Great Photography Equipment or Great Photographer?

So is photography equipment important and why do photographers spend a fortune on the latest gear? Is it just that we like to play with expensive toys? Is it just an attack of that well known condition GAS! (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) Is the camera really important or is it the person behind the camera that makes great pictures? Or is there a good reason to keep our equipment up to date? I am writing this as someone who has just switched, or I would say upgraded my entire system so I can understand anyone drawing the conclusion that my views might be slightly biased. I disagree!

So I will start with my system switch. Why?

The Benefits of Mirrorless Photography

I switched from Nikon to Sony, or more importantly from DSLR to Mirrorless. Now, as my news section is aimed firmly at visitors to my website and social media, and therefore my clients or potential clients, and not other photographers I will try to keep this as non-technical as possible. DSLR or Digital Single Lens Reflex is a type of camera. So that the photographer can see through the lens it is fitted with a mirror which sits at 45 degrees just behind the lens and reflects the image as it enters the camera to the viewfinder. When the photographer presses the shutter release button, the mirror flips up into the horizontal position and allows the image to pass through to the image sensor where it is recorded and sent to the memory card. A mirrorless camera, you guessed it, doesn’t have that mirror! Instead an LCD screen is contained in the viewfinder to which the image is sent electronically. There is also an LCD screen on the back of the camera, giving the photographer the choice of which to use. Why is that a benefit? Getting rid of the mirror wasn’t an instant success and there were some drawbacks, but the technology has developed to a standard now where the drawbacks are few and the benefits outweigh any that are left.

  • Faster and more accurate auto focus to help capture those special moments.
  • Auto focus throughout a much greater area of the frame. Great for candid wedding photography.
  • The capability for a silent (electronic) shutter release meaning I can keep shooting right throughout the wedding ceremony without that annoying clickety click!
  • More and better viewfinder, or rear screen information.
  • Use of the rear screen allows the photographer to communicate with his subject with greater ease as the camera is not pushed up against his face!
  • Smaller and Lighter camera bodies, simply for better handling.
  • Better high speed continuous shooting, again for those special candid moments.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but they are amongst the main factors that influenced my decision.

Lenses for Wedding and Portrait Photography

The camera is not the only item of photography equipment. Lenses are just as important or perhaps more important. Not only in terms of the quality of the lenses used but also the choice or type of lenses. It is important that a photographers choice of lenses is matched to the type of photography that he practices. With my system switch I took the opportunity to refine my selection of lenses. To equip myself with the best lenses for weddings and portrait photography. For the mean time if I fall short of a lens for event photography I will hire. I chose to have only one zoom lens. It is important to have this for flexibility and this will often be attached to one camera body so that that flexibility will always be at hand. All of my other lenses are what are known as fast primes. In other words a fixed focal length. No zoom function. This allows the lens designers to give us faster lenses. A misleading term really as the lens doesn’t do anything with more speed in it’s self. What it does do is allow more light into the camera thus giving the photographer more flexibility to work better in low light situations, such as some churches and other wedding ceremony venues. Fast lenses are also great for isolating our subject and giving us those fantastic blurry backgrounds that we all love so much.

Portrait of starwars character with bokeh
A natural light portrait of Star Wars Character Rey. Taken with the Sony 135mm f1.4 GM. Check out the bokeh!

Best Photography

To get back to the question. Why is all of this important? Simple. To provide my clients with even better photography and stay ahead of my competitors. And yes, of course the person behind the camera really has a lot to do with it, but certainly as far as photography is concerned, better tools do equip the photographer to do a better job. It’s up to him to use them better. I am really looking forward to the 2020 wedding season and producing some great photography for my couples. Bring on March and the first wedding of the year!

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