How and Why I Shoot With Two Cameras

How and Why I Shoot With Two Cameras

Shooting with two cameras seems to be a growing trend in the wedding industry. When I first started shooting, I saw people doing this and I just didn’t see the point. I figured I could always change lenses, and then I would be good to go. Once I gave it try I completely fell in love. Here is my “how and why” I shoot with two cameras.

What Lens On Each Camera

For the most part, when I shoot with two cameras, I utilize a 35mm and an 85mm lens attached to each camera. These two lenses can accomplish 80 percent of what I need to do on a wedding day. The 35mm is perfect for cramped hotel rooms and hallways, and the 85mm is perfect for more close-up portraits and ceremony images where I can't get close enough.

When the reception comes around and traditional events are over, I will trade out my 85mm lens for my 20mm lens. I’m usually right up in the thick of things so I don’t need a lot of reach. I also like to shoot with lower shutter speeds to create light streaks across my images and I’m not a huge fan of this look when shooting at 85mm.

It can be argued that if I shot with a 24-70mm, then I would only need one camera and one lens, and that’s perfectly acceptable for a lot of people. I shoot weddings with my wife and she prefers the 24-70 and she rocks it. It’s just two different styles of shooting. You could also shoot with a 24-70 on one camera and a 70-200 on the other and cover a greater focal range, but then you are left with greater weight to lug around. The reason I stick with the 35mm and 85mm is because they are both f/1.4 lenses. Since I can get a lot more light through them, I am able to use them in darker situations without having to bump up my ISO. I also do a lot of playing with depth of field, so being able to shoot wide open at f/1.4 is very important to me. Because prime lenses have a simpler construction, they are also generally lighter and cheaper to purchase. By shooting with two cameras, I now get the benefits of shooting with a zoom lens along with the benefits of shooting with fast prime lenses.

Aperture Priority + Auto ISO

In a past article I explained how I have my camera setup and why I prefer aperture priority and auto ISO. To expand on this a little more, another reason I use aperture priority with auto ISO is because I shoot with two cameras. If I’m using camera one outside for a while and then switch to camera two and move inside, I want to be able to quickly grab camera one and start shooting. If I shot both cameras in manual, then I would have to constantly think about what lens I had on and what shutter speed I need to stay above. Also, if I’m shooting with camera one for a long time, I have to constantly remember what my settings are on camera two in case I need to quickly change. Instead of this, I let my camera know not to go under a certain shutter speed for each camera, and I just shoot. I will, however, always shoot in full manual for both cameras when I’m using any type of flash.

Image of the bride taken over the balcony of the groom's bedroom where he was getting ready at the time. Taken with my 85mm camera.

Taken right after the above image with my 85mm camera in the dark-lit bathroom of the groom's bedroom. I didn't have to touch one setting on my camera to move from the above image to this image.

Double Camera Strap

It can get pretty annoying trying to have two cameras hanging from your neck or trying to manage two different sling straps. Because of this, I knew I wanted a strap that was specifically designed to hold two cameras. When searching for “double camera strap,” you are presented with a lot of options and I’m sure they all work very well too. However, in my opinion, none of them look as good as the Moneymaker from Holdfast. I know there are a few cheaper DIY options out there and I even tried to go that route, but it just didn’t look and feel like I wanted it to. So I broke down and got the Moneymaker and I’ll never be looking back. I can wear this strap all day without issue and the cameras are always in a good position for me to shoot. They stay very secured to the straps and I have actually ditched the little black safety clips that come with the strap because the sail clips they use are solid. I enjoy the ability to quickly remove a camera from the strap for various reasons and didn't want to have to deal with the safety clips in order to do this. Receiving a few compliments on the strap at every wedding isn't such a bad thing either.

"Mmmmm... I look good. I mean really good. Hey, everyone! Come and see how good I look!"

Two Identical Cameras

When I first started using two cameras at the same time, I had my DSLR on one strap and my Fuji X100 on the other. When I would switch from one to the other, I constantly had to take a moment and make that mental switch saying “I’m using this camera now, this camera has these buttons and features.” Because of this, I feel it’s important that both cameras are the exact same camera and have the exact same settings. The reason for shooting two cameras is to seamlessly switch from one camera to the other. If you have to make a mental switch as to which camera you are using, and where this camera has that button you need, then you could miss the shot you wanted because you were fumbling around. The same thing happens with your settings, if you have your Fn button mapped to ISO on one camera and the other Fn button is mapped to white balance, then you could make accidental changes that can ruin your shot.

Two Cameras at the Exact Same Time

On some occasions I will shoot both cameras at the exact same time. This takes some getting used to and practice.  I have not fully mastered this yet, but figured I would share it anyway. I basically hold a camera in my left hand and a camera in my right hand. The camera in my right hand gets braced against my left shoulder. The camera in my left hand gets braced against my right hand. The strap for the camera in my left hand gets a little tight in this position and I can use this tension to stabilize everything. Then, utilizing live view I get both cameras lined up and I’m ready to shoot.

The reason I started playing around with this is for the first kiss. I like to get multiple focal lengths of this occasion, if I can, but most of the time it happens so fast that switching cameras is impossible. Therefore, using both cameras at the same time I can get two focal lengths of the same moment.

First kiss at 35mm

Exact same moment as above, but at 85mm.

What are your thoughts? Does this make you want to shoot with two cameras or stick with just one? Does anyone have a different technique to using two cameras at the same time? What lenses do you use when shooting two cameras? What strap do you prefer?

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73 Comments

Justin Haugen's picture

Good job pulling off the simultaneous kiss photos. I ask couples to kiss twice so I can switch to my other camera in time.

Great read, thanks for sharing! Going to try out shooting with auto ISO on my next shoot to see if I'm comfortable with the results.

Jason Vinson's picture

Let me know how it goes!

Eric Duminil's picture

The most obvious reason is "backup body". Never ever shoot a wedding with just one camera.

Jason Vinson's picture

Totally agree. The point here is to use both at the same time instead of having that backup sit in a camera bag.

John Sheehan's picture

I've had friends who have said to me point blank that having two cameras on a job is overkill. These same friends will call me to borrow a camera when theirs drops, falls in a fountain, or is smashed in a fight between the groom and the bride's lover. Always have a backup on you.

Jason Vinson's picture

Agree. You don't need to shoot with two cameras but you do always need a backup camera

Scott Mosley's picture

Was fun to read this because I use the exact same D750/sigma85/35 combo and also occasionally shoot both cameras at once. People always look at me like i'm crazy but totally effective in especially in dual 3d tracking modes. Awesome!

Jason Vinson's picture

have not tried the 3D tracking.... will have to play around with it sometime.

Aaron Brown's picture

Love the idea of shooting two cameras at once, dude! Nice! :)

Eric Pare's picture

haha niiiiiiiice!! I've been shooting with 2 cameras at the same time for a while, but in a very different context. I frame/setup the first one on a tripod, and when I'm satisfied, I start shooting with the intervalometer set at 1 second. Then I'm free to move around with my second camera while the first ghost-shooter do the work.

And when I get it in the frame, that gives me some cool BTS shots ;)

Are you syncing the camera clocks on both cameras? That really helps matching the files... I do this with the usb cable prior to the shooting....

Jason Vinson's picture

I love this idea! Gave me some good ideas. Rock on Eric!

None of this is really new, is it? The only time I didn't shoot a wedding with two cameras was when I was shooting medium format. My typical kit was a trio of EOS 1N bodies, with another for backup. Some 160 ISO, 800, and B&W in the 3rd body, with an assistant to carry my bag and help with lens swaps.

Since we can get low and high ISO off the same body with digital, and B&W can be handled in post, two cameras is more about lens selection, but I still can't imagine shooting with just one. I would just bring one body with a 17-40, one with the 24-70, and keep the 70-200 nearby. Didn't often have the luxury of shooting with my primes, as it seemed like the pace was usually too fast.

For carrying my cameras, the Peak Design Capture Pro is my top choice. You only need one for a two camera setup, but having two for dual-wielding is great for those times when I might need to go hands-free.

Jason Vinson's picture

It's not really new but it's also not really talked about hole lot. So beginners can be left confused as to the reason behind the idea. But agree the reason are a lot different now when compared to the days of film.

This site is awesome!

I guess I need to start adding some <sarcasm> tags.

Jason Vinson's picture

the internet is no place for sarcasm!!

Brent Eysler's picture

Nice shots... TheTwo Body 35/85 Combo's a classic... as is the 28/50 and often like in this case with burrows and huit, a 28/50 Rangefinder in addition to a SLR with a 180 2.8 or 70-200 f4

Roman Kazmierczak's picture

I am not always shoot weddings but when I do, I use two cameras.

Jason Vinson's picture

i read this in the voice of the "most interesting man in the world" lol

I've been shooting weddings with two bodies for 15 years, I can't imagine not doing it that way. When I first started out I also carried a Medium format for formals.

ALEXANDER TARDIF's picture

Nice! Exactly how I've started shooting this year. I do portraiture so my setup has been 50mm and 135mm on my Sony A99s, but I'm now adding the new E mount A7Rii (already use A7ii) and I'll be dropping to the 35/85mm combos since I have more room to play with if I need to crop/zoom. I have all of the fast zooms but like you I prefer working with primes. Built an "improved" version of my own MoneyMaker and can't imagine going back to any other setup, it just works so flippin' well! A priority with auto ISO is the way to go for me too. By the way, I really like your work, fantastic eye for the space and composition, I'm humbled!

Jason Vinson's picture

Thanks Alexander! I used to be Sony shooter myself up till a couple months ago!

Aaron Bratkovics's picture

Great article!

I've shot a wedding 2 weeks ago.

I've tried, for the first time, the A mode + iso auto. Game changer. 90% of my shots are sharp. There's noise, but hey, my clients don't notice. Some may even think it adds "character" to the photo.

I'm also a double camera user, Shooting on a Macro 18-55 (my all-around lens) coupled with a 70-200 f2.8 on the other camera. I also carry a pouch on my belt who hosts a fisheye lens. I don't ever change the 70-200 lens because I couldn't carry it around my belt.

The other important tip is to set the same time on both camera (to the second). When importing, a quick sorting out then renaming. And then, retouching.

Jason Vinson's picture

very true. syncing the time stamp is a major help when you get to post production.

Drew Morris's picture

I stopped shooting with two cameras a long time ago. Now the minimum I shoot at the same time, is 3, but on average I would say I'm closer to 5. I especially have honed the skill of holding 6 cameras at once, all with different focal lengths and moody settings, all set with pocket wizards on different channels that each fire a group of no less than 7 independent flashes which are carried by my 40 assistant interns.

Quentin Decaillet's picture

I would absolutely love seeing a backstage video of that ;) I am sure we could make a very interesting article out of it!

Drew Morris's picture

Ill have my personal executive assistant's adjunct intern's peon appointee reach out to you.

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