gearhead and anti-gearhead

As I brace myself for shooting Fringe again (last year, I shot thousands of photos), I find myself surprisingly un-anxious about gear. I’ll be using the same Nikon D40 body I used last year. My primary lens this year will be a plain 50mm f/1.8 Nikon, which doesn’t autofocus on the D40 body. I don’t know if I’ll even use any other lenses. Since last year, I’ve invested in a split-prism focus screen, which makes using a manual lens much easer. I’ll also be bringing along a monopod for stability this time around. No flash, of course.

I’ve considered getting the new Nikon 55-200mm VR (although it’s awfully slow), but if I want some zoom it might make more sense to rent a pro lens. And I’ll bring along the stock kit lens for wider angles (it’s actually very nice). I feel slightly disadvantaged in that I won’t be able to use a long lens on a tripod like a “pro”, but getting in close is part of my technique. Go with your strengths, man.

I don’t really need more gear, or even much want it.  I’ve built my photography style around a sort of modernized Cartier-Bresson approach… small camera, “normal” lens, no flash, get in close and be unobtrusive.  As I’ve written before, I find long lenses for photos of humans make me uncomfortable, socially and politically.  I get good photos of people, especially non-portrait photos, but it requires me being close enough to the subject to get a feel for what they’re feeling.

Let the pros have their pro approach, I guess.  But it doesn’t work for me.


2 Responses to “gearhead and anti-gearhead”

  1. 22 July 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I shoot almost all my shows with either a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens or a 50mm f/1.4 lens. I’ll bring along an 85mm f/1.8 just in case I need the extra reach. I’ve never used a longer lens.

    I prefer shooting from the front or second row. The 50’s perfect for that unless there’s a large cast. Thus far I’ve managed to shoot just fine without the use of a tripod or a monopod – even when I was shooting at 1/25s due to very low lighting.

  2. 2 dave
    22 July 2008 at 2:09 pm

    I’m thinking of renting a 24-70 f/2.8 for Fringe myself. I rented an 18-55 f/2.8 last year and found it wasn’t quite long enough. I hate lugging around a two pound lens, though. One of the best things about the D40/50mm combo is that the whole thing weighs less than 20 ounces.

    I think 85mm is all the reach I’d ever need for theatrical photos. If I don’t get a 24-70, I’ll probably get an 85mm just to have that extra reach. I’m definitely with you about shooting from the front row! That, or off to the edge of the stage when possible. I don’t understand the point of lugging a 105mm f/2.8 monster lens around, and then needing to be a hundred feet from the stage for adequate framing and on a tripod to shoot faster than 1/125.

    I do love a monopod, though, partly for that little extra shake reduction, but mostly to reduce the strain on my arms when holding a camera for long periods.

    Somewhere back in the mists of this blog, I wrote about the ethical and social problems of using long lenses for people.

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