…and with that, I mean, “matters concerning gear”. These matters are generally overrated. “What camera are you using” is usually not an important question. Gear does not always matter, in other words.
But that is not to say that equipment is not important – because it is. In the studio I use Canon 5D, Canon 5DSR, and Canon 1Dx Mk2 cameras, with a rage of “L”-lenses.
Pro equipment is usually expensive – but you can get good deals buying used. Like in the Michael Willems Photo store in Orléans:
I have an amazing 7D MkII available in the store right now: with only 8300 shutter actuations, this is at only 4% of its life – and it really is as new. And it comes with two batteries, a CF card and an SD card, and a new (and new generation!) 50mm Canon lens. And for just $995, this is an amazing deal. Used equipment can be fabulous if you choose well.
So next time you get “gear-itis”: consider good used equipment. It can often be had for less than you imagine.
One generation older is great; two generations is also possible; older that that may be possible but check specs carefully.
Watch shutter life – the most important measure for a DSLR.
in the case of lenses, try them.
In the case of old film cameras, ensure the the shutter works well, without strange sounds (these often indicate that the oil has dried up).
Make sure that you can trust the seller – take ID if you do not know the seller.
And have fun – in the knowledge that you saved money.
Which prompts me to ask: when do you upgrade? Do you buy new or used? Film or digital?
That’s really two questions. My opinion:
Film vs digital: shoot a roll of film regularly!
It forces you to get good. No preview, and you pay $2 per click.
For the same reason, you think much more about the photos you take.
And especially B/W film has a grainy magic that is all its own.
Then: when to upgrade your digital stuff?
That’s much more difficult. There is no right or wrong answer to this. For me, I tend to like good used equipment. After all a used 70-200mm lens works the same as a new one – exactly the same, for a lower price.
Upgrading comes in three categories: better functionality you need, better functionality you do not need, and better category you just want. Many people upgrade for the last reason: new toys are fun. But that is good for the rest of us: that’s why there is such good used equipment available. You can buy a 5D Mk3 for under $1000. And it works great (I know: we use two of them daily in the studio), and unless you really need a GPS or whatever other new bells and whistles the new gear has, you might consider saving yourself a lot of money. $1000 for a fully professional camera, for example, instead of three times that: what’s not to like?
If you do buy used, be careful: for pro equipment, get shutter counts, and while eBay prices can look low – though very comparable to what I charge – once you buy there, you have to pay for shipping, customs, delays, and so on, and you deal with an unknown. Kijiji is local but full of, eh, flakes; Facebook Marketplace is better but does not have much to sell. That’s why I decided to add used equipment at the store, to take away those drawbacks for anyone interested.
Whatever you do: remember, photography is not about the equipment. It’s about your skills, your artistry, your being there in the moment. Have fun!
It has been very busy at the store (http://www.michaelwillemsphoto.com), so as you will have seen, little time to post. And yet, the need to learn does not decrease, so I will post regularly again.
Yesterday, we posted a composite photo of Maya, our intern, to support Pride Month:
To make this image, we did the following:
Take six photos, using simple lighting, with different props, taking care that the composition was mainly vertical (i.e. not wide).
In each photo, use a background flash gelled to the right colour – or almost the right colour. I use Honl Photo gels.
Take the photos to the computer and crop them to the same vertical aspect ratio and subject size.
In Lightroom, for each image select subject – invert selection – and then slightly tune the background colour if necessary, to make it the right primary colour (half of them needed slight adjustment to look right).
Export each one, 2048 pixels high
Put them together in a composite Pages document
Export from there (either Pages –> PDF — JPG, or screen grab)
In my shop, we print, among the things. We print all day, and we do it well; so well that we call our prints “Premium Prints”.
So what is a Premium Print?
For these prints, we do the following:
We help our customer get the photo off their device (mostly, a phone). This can involve some phone training, Bluetooth, Airdrop, and so on.
We ascertain that the file is the best one there is. Often we get a tiny screen shot from Facebook Messenger etc, where there is in fact a better file available. We make sure that we get the best file available.
We crop the photo is necessary. Sometimes, we have to fill in areas to allow printing at the required size (e.g. 8×10, if the original is square).
We adjust exposure and colour, if necessary.
Sometimes we need to make more extensive changes. These can include de-noising, sharpening, or even removing items.
Then we print, using fine art papers, on one of our “Giclée” printers: printers that have at least 10 different ink colours rather than just three our four. These inks are pigments not dyes: prints made with pigments reproduce colours better and do not fade readily, like the usual dye-based prints.
We then crop these by hand.
If a frame is wanted, we can advice on the kind of frame that would best suit the photo.
Our staff are all trained photographers and phot-editors, so you get the benefit of their experience and knowledge with every print you make.
And prints are important. They should be on walls, not just on Facebook walls.
It is cold in Ottawa. Yesterday was -18ºC (0ºF), and that was warmer than the day before.
We get lots of snow, plus this kind of thing:
While I’d rather have this:
Or perhaps this:
All of these environments present problems for cameras, through. Cold, heat +sand, and humidity, respectively.
Always carry a spare battery; keep your camera clean; do not change lenses when there’s dust; and when in the cold, carry your camera back inside within a plastic bag and keep it in that bag until it warms up.