Skip to main content

Gearing Up: The Equipment I Use

Anyone who has done photography seriously will tell you that it's not the camera but the photographer that makes pictures. Why bother with a list of gear, then? For one, I have found that the equipment I have used has evolved to reflect the development of my photography. It is not always about the sharpest or the fastest, but often about choosing the most expressive tool for one's photography. I find that even though I have settled on my main kinds of equipment, the entire lot is constantly in a state of gentle flux - constantly being tweaked, having minor changes and adjustments made. In other words, my gear, like my photography, seems to be a work in progress.

So, on this page, I will try to keep a more or less current list of the equipment I use for my photography. Hopefully you will find it interesting beyond the mere specs and the sharpness count.

Over the years, I have tried to do a few distinct kinds of photography seriously. Consequently my equipment has evolved to suit the challenges posed by those genres. For any kind of photography that lends itself to a thoughtful, slow and precise approach - landscape, still life etc - I use a large format camera, whose precision and quality I find to be unmatched:
  • Chamonix 4x5 view camera
  • 90mm f6.8 Schneider Angulon lens
  • 150mm f6.3 Fujinon-W lens
  • 210mm f6.8 Rodenstock Geronar MC lens
  • Sekonic L-558 digital meter
  • F64 backpack
  • Feisol 3442 carbon fiber tripod with ballhead
But my other great interest is street photography which requires a fast, almost instictive approach - almost the diametrical opposite of my large format photography. And for that I find the speed and spontaneity of 35mm rangefinders unmatched.
  • Zeiss Ikon ZM rangefinder camera body
  • Leica M4-P camera body
  • 15mm f4.5 Voigtlander Super-Wide Heliar lens
  • 28mm f1.9 Voigtlander Ultron lens
  • 40mm f1.4 Voigtlander Nokton lens
I finally gave up my Nikon SLR system that I had owned since I started doing serious photography, and got into the Micro Four Thirds format that let's me use my M mount lenses along with some other fine glass. I still have one old Nikon as a keepsake.
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC G1 camera body
  • Canon FD 200mm F4 macro lens
  • Konica geared focussing rail
  • Nikon FG Camera body
  • 50mm f1.8 Nikon Series E lens
  • Nikon SB-28 and SB-18 flash with SC-17 cord
Other cameras:
  • Yashica Mat 124G
  • Holga 120N
  • Holga 120N body modified as an ultra-wideangle pinhole
At present I don't have a darkroom to do silver gelatin prints as I had to give up my 4x5 darkroom. But I use a community darkroom on occasion and do alternative printing at home. I also use a scanner and a densitometer.
  • Epson V700 scanner, with Vuescan software
  • X-Rite densitometer

Popular posts from this blog

Leica 40mm Summicron-C vs. CV 40mm Nokton

So, I was getting bored working at home but didn't have the time to go out to do any meaningful photography. So I decided to do the next best thing - some meaningless photography! a.k.a. lens tests. Since I had newly acquired a Leitz 40mm f2 Summicron-C, I decided to find out how my usual street lens, a Cosina-Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 Nokton MC, matched up against it. So I drew up a plan and shot off a roll of film and here are my findings.

I tested for the factors that I find important in how I use these lenses - i.e. handheld street photography. Of course, all the standard caveats of informal testing of photographic equipment apply - sample variation, non-objective criteria, do-your-own-testing yada yada - but I hope you still find the review interesting.

Camera was a Bessa-T, with TMax 100 film at EI 64 developed for 6.5 mins in HC110B (.1 - 1.35 density range). Everything scanned with a Nikon Coolscan IV at 2900 dpi. Minimal or no postprocessing applied. Where I have applied even t…

Metering by Eye

Light is the basic element of photography, just as sound is that of music. A good photographer should be as familiar with light as the good musician is with notes and scales. Photography is, at its core, based on a very simple principle. An image of the world is captured by allowing a certain amount of light to fall on a piece of photosensitive material. Whether the photosensitive material in question is a silicon chip, silver film, glass plate or salted paper, this elegant little concept holds. Whether or not the light is shaped by the latest cutting edge in glass and coating technology, an old brass lens or indeed a humble pinhole, the same principles apply. The crucial questions of how much light reaches the photosensitive material and in what ways that amount may be controlled go to the very essence of photographic technique – the determination of exposure.

“Reading the light” or “metering by eye” can be easily mastered with a little practice, yet most photographers leave this cent…

Cyanotype: An Overview

As I explore a photographic process, I will post brief summaries of its essential technical elements. These summaries are not meant to be comprehensive or to substitute for books that deal in-depth with these processes. They are more field notes for myself and might be useful for a quick lookup while working with these processes. Remember that many of these alternative processes have been around for a century and a half and more and they have evolved considerably over that time. Remember, too, that these processes were not originally meant to be used with silver or even digitally printed negatives as most modern practitioners of alternative photo processes do. There are endless variations of formulas and techniques rather than one simple "right" method as my quick overview might imply to the superficial observer. But hopefully these summaries will serve as a quick reference or encourage you to read and explore further.

History: The Cyanotype was first described by Sir John H…