Over the last few years there have been a few pieces of photographic equipment that have either sped up my workflow or turned awkward, finicky techniques into simple and swift processes. But there are two specific tools that have made my life so much easier, especially when used in conjunction with each other.
The Geared Tripod Head
The Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head has been an absolute game changer for my interior photography. For those that don't know, a geared tripod head lets you make fine adjustments on three axes, so no faffing around with a slippery or jerky cheap tripod head. I've had it for two years now, and I'd be lost without it. Before I bought it, I was trying to level a camera with a ball-head. I swear to god, I lost more hair than usual trying to level that thing.
If you're wondering why I need to level my camera to such a high degree of accuracy, you have to understand that for interior photography, the vertical lines in the final image need to be perfectly straight, and, for certain clients, I really mean perfect. Case in point; I was working with a certain company who must have been either relying on pernickety A.I. or manually going through each of my photos with a fine-tooth comb, because when they sent certain images back to me to be corrected, I couldn't tell where the verticals were off until I dragged out the rulers in Photoshop and zoomed in to 200%. It was overkill on their part, I know, especially considering the fact that they wanted 80 shots per property, but I wasn't going to get paid if I didn't fix it. Needless to say, I don't do work for them anymore. But now that I work for better paying clients, I need to produce higher quality images so it's just as important to get those walls standing straight.
To get back to the point that I was about to make, the more level the camera is when you take a shot, the easier it is to correct it further in post. In walked the geared head to my life — on the advice of one of Mike Kelley's tutorials — and, even though my hair didn't start to grow back, my life on the job was made invariably easier. I can be standing in a tight corner, not enough room to breath properly, and I can still get the camera level. There is no way I could do that to any degree of accuracy with a ball-head. Faster to set up, and time saved in post — money well spent.
The 6D MKII
The canon 6D MKII was absolutely torn apart when it came out, and in most contexts, rightly so. But, what people seemed to like most about it — apart from Canon's superb dual-pixel auto focus — was the vari-angle LCD monitor. It actually turned out to be a bit of a hit with vloggers for those two reasons, but why did I buy it? I talked about it a bit in this article about my first — and almost disastrous — foray into videography, but to spare you the bother of going through it: I wanted the cheapest way possible to get 1080p at 60fps. I was already invested in Canon glass, so it was a no-brainer. Turns out, to my great surprise, that the vari-angle screen is super handy for interior work. I'm not shooting massive commercial projects yet, so the 26.2 megapixel sensor of the MKII suits my needs for the time being.
Now I can back my whole camera and tripod into a really tight corner or between furniture, without having to look through the viewfinder. Not ideal, and I wouldn't do it for higher paying jobs, but for my bread and butter stuff, like Airbnb properties and other holiday homes/real-estate, it's perfect. Not only that, but the touch screen means that I don't have to mess around with a remote trigger or waste time with a two second timer. This might not sound like I'm saving much time, but if I've to use a two second timer for six hundred shots a day because I forgot to bring my remote shutter, then that's an extra twenty minutes at work — I could cook a meal in that time!
What about our readers? Have you a piece of equipment, or an unusual combination of tools that has made your work simpler? We would love to hear about it in the comments below.