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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Is a small camera in my future?

Call me crazy but I actually like carrying round a dSLR with lenses. Maybe it's the continuous paranoia of not having the right equipment for all situations. An inability to accept that you can't photograph all the great stuff you see.

I've never been much of a street photographer per se. Yes I photograph festivals quite often, and enjoy walking around with a camera, but I'm never really worried about whether my camera is inconspicuous or not. Usually just by being a foreigner you're pretty conspicuous.

Does photographing people with a big telephoto lens make them uncomfprtable? I guess that kinda depends on how comfortable you make them beforehand. If you take a look at my website you'll notice that the vast majority of my portraits are shot up close and personal. There's invariably an interaction with my subject beforehand. After I've formed some sort of rapport I will then choose whether to photograph them with a wide angle lens, to include more of their environment for a sense of story, or maybe to back off and photograph them from a distance with a telephoto.

Both lenses have different looks, neither one better or worse than the other. Different lenses for different situations I say. The important thing is that my subject knows I'm photographing them and is happy about it.

I can't imagine paying a lot of money to go half way around the world and not being prepared for as many photographic opportunities as possible. As far as I can tell (and correct me if I'm wrong!) but the smaller cameras don't seem to have the same capabilities yet.

Even though many of them have interchangeable lenses the focal lengths seem to be at the shorter end of the scale. For many of my images - particularly landscapes - I like to go really long to pull details out of the scene. Some of my most well-known images have been shot using a 400mm lens with a 1.4x and sometimes 2x converter attached.

And, to be honest, even though your shoulders might be sore at the end of the day, I actually like the feel of something hefty in my hands. I carry a point and shoot for fun family events and I never quite feel like the real deal.

So for those of you shooting with the smaller formats how do you find it? Do you get frustrated with missed photographic opportunities or do they do everything you want? Does the convenience of light gear trump any of those inconveniences? I'd love to hear your opinions, especially if you think I'm totally wrong!


Frank Harrison said...

Its Photography 101.

GOOD photographers take GOOD images, no matter what equipment they use.

GREAT photographers take GREAT images, no matter what equipment they use.

Which is why you do!

Frank Harrison

Paul Dymond said...

Hmmm...maybe. But does having lots of gear make things easier, or can you get by with a smaller system do you think? For wildlife I guess there's no choice but for my line of work maybe it's more personal choice.