I love cameras: all shapes and sizes, formats, brands, and styles. No matter what kind of camera it is, I’m interested in what makes it work and what makes the image quality different than others. I enjoy experimenting with 35mm film, instant film, and all types of digital formats. I believe that using different cameras is a great way to better yourself as a photographer. Over the past several years, I’ve developed a decent collection of cameras and the more I obtain, the more I try and jam into my bag. At a certain point, I started to realize that my obsession was getting ridiculous and it just wasn’t practical to bring all of these toys with me to every shoot I had. This being said, where do you draw the line? And what goes into deciding what camera to bring with you? If you're like me and enjoy experimenting with different types of cameras, here is an inside look at some of my favorites and what goes into my decision process when choosing which one to bring with me to a photo shoot or on an adventure.
While I like to think that my Nikon D750 is my goto camera (and it is for any professional shoot), the camera that I definitely take the most pictures on is my iPhone 6. If you haven’t read Lee’s latest article about his iPhone 6s swimsuit fashion shoot, as well as Alex Cooke's "Why the iPhone Fashion Shoot Is So Important," you need to do that. We have some incredible technology at our fingertips. Whether I am walking a city block or in the middle of the woods, I have my iPhone in my pocket and am always using it for snapshots. I love the simplicity of an iPhone camera and feel as if using it is a great exercise in creativity. It helps you to focus on camera angles, as well as framing. I love using it for point-of-view shots and really enjoy using it to capture behind the scenes photos for social media.
I have a wide variety of uses for a GoPro. The most common times I find myself using it are for behind the scenes videos. Sometimes, I will attach it to the hot shoe on one of my cameras, while other times, I will keep it stationary and let it film the entire time or set it up for time-lapse. I also will use it to shoot stills sometimes when I am going for a walk, but most often if I want to bring a camera in the water. I often use it when I am filming surfing from the shore; I will hand off the GoPro to someone in the water just to have a second point of view. Going back and forth between a water angle and one from shore can make for an awesome video sequence.
If you shoot surfing or enjoy shooting in the water and like to experiment with film, you should definitely check out a Nikonos. I have the Nikonos III. The original model was released in 1963 and was an improvement of the Calypso Camera, which was originally designed by Jacques Cousteau and Jean de Wouters. I love this camera. While there are several lenses you can get for it, I use the 35mm. The camera takes 35mm film and is completely manual, from focus to exposure. This camera is a real test of your knowledge of exposure. It can take some time to get used to, but is a blast to play with, especially if you shoot surfing. If you are interested in finding a Nikonos, I recommend you check out the Nikonos Project; you can find a ton of information about what to look for when purchasing one of these cameras, as well as info on how to develop your own film. While these are not the most practical cameras, they are definitely a blast to shoot with.
35mm Point and Shoot
I have a Yashica T4 Super that I like to bring with me to a lot of different shoots. I’ve mentioned how much I enjoyed Austin Rogers article, "Get Thee to a Goodwill: How Buying a 35mm Point and Shoot Will Change Your Photography" from a few months ago and if you haven’t read it, take some time and give it a read. But for real, this thing is too much fun if you enjoy film. I bring it hiking, when I’m shooting surfing, shooting models, and also weddings. Basically, I bring it with me everywhere. People seem to really enjoy it too. At weddings, I will give it to the bridal party and let them take pictures while they're getting ready. While younger generations might not remember the 35mm point and shoot, most of us grew up with them. You can grab one on Craigslist for anywhere from $20 and up. I personally love the Yasicha T4 Super; it has a great Zeiss lens and and an awesome little scope on the top for shooting from the hip. Shooting with a camera this simple can do wonders for your creativity and besides, film is just fun. I love shooting a roll of film and then coming back to the shots months later for some great memories.
I have three main uses for my Instax Mini 8. One, it's just fun as hell to bring anywhere. Whether you are with your friends or at an event, it's a fun way to record memories. The other two uses I have for it are when I’m shooting with models and at weddings. I always grab a few cartridges of film and let the wedding party pass it around and I let models shoot photos of each other with it. It's a great way to lighten the mood and it seems that the photos always end up being laid out, photographed with an iPhone, and posted on Instagram. Any way you look at it, these instant cameras are affordable and super fun to play with.
I will keep this simple; the Nikon D750 is my goto camera for professional photo and video shoots.
Ideally, I would like to have a second full frame body as my backup, but currently, I am using a Nikon D7000 for my backup body. I also use this camera often when I am shooting surfing and want to get a little extra zoom out of one of my telephoto lenses. It's a great camera and while I take good care of it, if something happens to it, it's not the end of the world. If I’m wandering around and shooting at a sketchy location or don’t feel like carrying around a bunch of expensive gear, but want a DSLR, this is my goto. I love this camera and you can find great prices on used copies on B&H, Craigslist, eBay, or basically anywhere cameras are sold.
So, the bottom line is I love cameras. Sometimes, I feel a little obsessive, but I can guarantee some of you out there have collections much larger than mine. I think that using different cameras and different formats is a great way to learn and stay creative. Each camera seems to give me a different perspective and keeps me entertained when I get bored or stuck in a creative dry spell. I’m sure some of you out there have some amazing collections of cameras; feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments section below.