Two Photographic Tools That Have Made My Job Way Easier

Two Photographic Tools That Have Made My Job Way Easier

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.

close up of a Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head

Well machined, sturdy, robust, and accurate — but enough about me. This thing is worth every penny.

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. 

the Canon 6D MKII with vari-angle LCD screen on a Manfrotto Geared Tripod Head

Backed into a corner, but still able to frame a composition and level the camera accurately — a winning combination.

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.    

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36 Comments

Previous comments
Mike O'Leary's picture

Lightroom's auto alignmet rarely gets it right for me, I'm afraid. It will often make it worse tbh. Maybe it's because most of my compositions are one-point perspectives, and it's just more difficult to get things balanced?

Paul Lindqvist's picture

It is for anyone who wants to do right in camera. You don't do one motion with your ballhead, since most ballhead can't isolate the movement of X/Y which means for any precision framing a good geared head will be faster any day of the weak. Resorting to LR to fix and effectively crop your images is less than ideal for many of us.

Paul Lindqvist's picture

Just a word of advice for those who consider the Manfrotto Xpro (their latest geared head offering) Simply don't. it's mainly plastic and its optimistic rating of 4kg is more like 2kg and even than it will flex if you put your finger in it.

It's, of course, better than a ball head for precise single axis adjustment, but spend just a little more and get at least the 410 which is so much better in terms of stability.

dale clark's picture

I believe Benro just came out with one that is cheaper and better than the Xpro

Paul Lindqvist's picture

Well it's a copy of the 410, so much better to get the original. I'm not to fond of copy cats like Benro.

Larry Wynkoop's picture

Totally agree with the tripod head! Although my personal choice is different (I use a slightly modified Manfrotto fluid head) it's important to think about how you shoot and choose the head that works best.