Thursday, June 11, 2009

What is my GEAR?

Many people ask me which camera, what lenses and accessories do I own. When they ask me that question, I am sure they are giving more credit to the gear than the photographer :-)

Its nice to see people taking interest in what I use for my photography, it shows they have not only looked through my pics, but also thought about what equipment were behind those pics. It is really encouraging for the photographer when you get such questions, because it not only gives the photographer an opportunity to show off his gear, but also makes him think (at least makes me think) more about his pics from the perspective of the equipment used to produce it. This is important - because as a photographer you have so many things on your mind that sometimes  you are wondering “how did I do that?” when you are trying to reproduce a particular effect which you already did in another pic. But thinking about what you have at your disposal and what you can do with those equipments, you can be pretty much sure about what results to expect. And this procedure has helped me tremendously in bettering myself each day.

Well here we go then


A Note: I am not a professional photographer, so nobody paid for this gear but me. I always wanted a decent equipment so that I can be more serious in the art of photography. I burned more than $6000 in building this gear.  But I am happy I did, because I seldom feel wanting anything now when I am on a photography trip.

olympus-e30-fr-800 Olympus E-30 four-thirds Image Stabilized Camera Body [I will write a blog on the four-third systems and how it is different from 35mm. That will be mostly a researched article than a original blog :-)]
Olympus Evolt-330 four-thirds Camera Body. This  product is now archived by Olympus, meaning they have discontinued it. I think this was the stepping stone to their successes.
Very simple, very basic and very versatile entry level SLR,  does its job very well.
I love it. And its very light too!
g_00034378 Zuiko 35mm macro lens for close up photography of flowers etc
3117303335_08a568f6ce Zuiko 25mm pancake lens (named so because of its flat as pancake). This is general purpose 25mm (50mm equivalent focal length of 35mm camera). This is good of portraits or general shooting. Two advantages of this lens are its very light weight and it is capable of large aperture f/2.8. So this can be used in low light condition where you need large aperture and light camera for steady hand held shots.
Look how thin it is.
12-60mm_01 Zuiko 12-60mm SWD (Supersonic Wave Drive for silent autofocus). This is high-end wide-angle to medium telephoto lens with 35mm equivalent of 24-120mm. Olympus claims that along with E-3 or E30 camera this provides the worlds fastest autofocus. And I can see why their claim is 100% accurate. With E-30 - you will never realize when the camera focused, as soon as you press the shutter half way your target is locked on. AMAZING! Fantastic construction and very very silent autofocus.
zuiko-9-18mm-lens Zuiko 9-18mm wide-angle – A wide-angle lens, has 35mm equivalent of 18mm wide-angle. I bought this mainly for landscape photography. Some may argue, that the 12-60mm almost covers entire swath of this lens then why I got it. I agree to that argument , even I feel so. However, I got this before I got 12-60mm and it has beautifully served my purpose, so I have no complaints.
But a note to audience – if you buy 12-60mm do not consider buying 9-18mm unless that extra 3mm is more to you than life.
415_olympus_70-300_1 Zuiko 70-300mm – I got this for telephoto shooting, but it has great macro capability as well with the shortest shooting distance at 97mm at all focal-lengths. Its a little slow, but its not a high-grade lens so that's expected. Lovely performance though in terms of quality of pics.
Serves my purpose for shooting telephoto and macro well. However I would use either 35mm or the 12-60mm (shooting distance 25mm) for macro, unless I want a very shallow DoF and I can’t reach close enough.
261054 Zuiko 18-180 – this is my general purpose lens which came with the Evolt-330 kit. Its good, I plan to use it on the 330 only.
e30-hld4_x HLD-4 vertical grip with battery holder for E-30. Its god sent for me. Now I can shoot like 1000 pics before I think of recharging my BLM-1 batteries. Its beautifully balanced for portrait shot, fits like a glove on E-30. I cannot live without this.  I have the extra BLM-1 battery for the grip.
This grip is designed for E-3 and E-30 cameras, I am not sure if it will fit other E-Bodies (like E-420, 450, 520, 620 etc). It will not fit the Evolt bodies definitely.
Here is how E-30 looks with HLD-4   on.
fl36 IOMFL50R FL36R and FL-50R external flashes. FL-36R servers most of flash needs. I use FL-50R as secondary flash or when I need more light.
I use this for my jewelry photography (A future blog!). Both these flashes are wireless, which means I can detach them from camera and use it without any connectors.
In combination with Gary Fong Lightsphere II, these are amazing.
LightsphereCloudy_02 Gary Fong Lightsphere II  cloud diffuser. In my view, if you are shooting portraits indoors, then you shouldn’t be shooting without this. Beautiful diffuser – Use it as Gary Fong suggests in his videos . Provides amazingly soft light.
WS-604 KATA WS-604 Waist and Shoulder  camera bag – A great bag (a little heavy) and fits almost all my gear. I love the stability in the waist combined with shoulder strap – which means there is less of shoulder and waist fatigue due to distribution of weight.
That’s my gear!
8d6e_1 Benro tripod with ball head (8KG load)  - beautiful pro tripod
WEPBRFK40_JPG Westcott 40 inch 5-in-1 Reflector with diffuser – I love this and absolutely need this in outdoor shooting either to diffuse or reflect light. I don’t agree to online reviews where people have complained about the zipper.  Mine works fantastic.
PSE7 For editing, I rely of Photoshop Elements 7
Noiseware For Noise reduction I use Imagenomic Noiseware standard. Together with PSE7, this forms very nice combo.

For memory I own 1 x 1GB, 1x4Gb, 1x8GB Compact Flash cards (both 4GB and 8GB are 300x Pro UDMA fast CF cards. I need them to be fast to take advantage of E-30) and 1x1GB XD card. I own various polarizers and UV filters for the lenses.

For backup – I carry my laptop and Transcend StoreJet 500GB external HDD. This is very compact, drop-tested , anti-shock covering and runs purely on USB, that’s one less cable to carry! what else you want?!

I carry my BLM-1 E-30 battery charger and 1 USB cable for E-30 and Evolt-330 and 1 mini USB cable for the external HDD.

I carry the AA batteries and  holder (which goes in HLD-4 for emergency use) and extra batteries for flashes

I also own 2 Canon Film SLR bodies EOS-30 (Elan-7 – This is a beautiful advanced-amateur SLR with eye control focusing point selection, which I miss in DSLRs) and EOS-300 (Rebel) bodies along with 3 lenses. I was once a canon fan, but somewhere along the way I felt alienated by them because of their confusing branding and exorbitant prices of Semi-pro SLRs and lenses. I switched to Olympus four-thirds after much research. I like their branding strategy. I love their technology roadmap and the direction they are headed. I truly feel they are the least confusing camera makers around. I am especially looking forward to their micro four-thirds SLRs (I wish they had their concept camera on sale!).

NOTE: I am not endorsing any of the products - as I said, I am not a professional– I am just writing about what I own and what I feel about them.