The Perfect Wedding Camera
My search for the perfect wedding camera has taken some time. My very first “serious” camera was the one I purhased way back in the 1970s. It was a Practika LTL Serious in the sense that it was my first single lens reflex camera. It opened up the world of inerchangeable lens and the ability to meter within the camera. I soon got into photography in a big way, devouring every book I could find in the local library and reading all the photographic magazines. I joined the local camera club and started entering the monthly competitions. A makeshift darkroom followed and I learnt how to develop and print my own black and white films. Success in print and slide ( transperancy film ) competitions spurred me on and I even had some success in photo competitions in the national photographic magazines of the day. Amateur Photographer magazine which is still in publication today was a regular weekly read. I submitted a few articles with accompanying pictures and they were published. Sadly today the printed version of AP is a very slim volume compared to it’s hey day.
I learnt a lot about photography from the Camera Clubs that I joined back then. The books and magazines added to my knowledge and of course I progressed through several camera systems, dabbling with large format cameras along the way. It wasn’t until many years later when I bought my first digital SLR that I started to buy into a complete camera system, i.e. a semi-professional grade camera and a full set of lenses. When I eventually gave up the day job to join the growing ranks of professional wedding photographers I settled on the Canon system of DSLRs as along with Nikon they were the leading lights as far as professional camera systems went with a long history and a vast array of lenses and accesories. So my search for the perfect wedding camera began. Starting with a D60 I quickly moved on to the first Canon 1DS, a real solid beast of a camera. The 1DS was a great camera albeit an expensive one ( a hefty 5K at the time ) . Next it was a brace of 5Ds. The 5Ds were much better at high ISOs which as a wedding photographer I found I needed. The 1DS was very noisy once you got past the 800 settings. I bought the top end L series lenses 16-35mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm – all the standard high quality lenses most commonly used. Also had the 85mm 1.2 and then the 50mm 1.2 – all fantastic quality peices of glass. The 5D MK11 came along at the end of 2008 and I couldn’t wait to get hold of one to try out the amzing video capabilities offered by this camera. Two camera bodies were essential and for a long time the 16-35mm and 70-200mm were my mainstay with both cameras on my person throughout the wedding day.
I was happy with the Canons but I am always on the lookout for the perfect wedding camera. Then along came the Fuji Xpro1 and I was intrigued by it’s design and the fact that it took interchangable lens and they actually had aperture rings and knobs on the camera that allowed you to change settings without having to dive into menus – just like the old days – fantastic! Early days with the XPro1 were challanging as it was quite clunky in operation although the 35mm standard lens was a real joy and I still use it today. Wasn’t too keen on the optical viewfinder which a pain once you tried differnt focal length lenses. I now have an X100T which offers the same switching from OVF to EVF but it is a fixed lens and doesn’t have the same parallax issues. Plus you can now have the camera in optical mode with a small EVF in the bottom right of the screen. I love the electronic viewfinder as it allows me to see exactly what I am getting in terms of exposure etc. I knew this was the way I wanted to go as I work very quickly when photographing a wedding. I had instinctively got used to making adjustments on the fly with the DSLR. For example I would spin the back wheel to open up a stop or two in back lighting situations. But having a live view in the viewfinder rather than the back of the camera was ideal. I could be much more creative with this method of working. I eventually swopped the XPro1 for the XE1 and bought a few more lenses.
At weddings I was now using the Canons for the safe shots plus the Fuji for the more the more candid work as it’s size was ideal. I also found that after several updates from Fuji the manual focus was much improved. Using the 35mm lens on the XE1 in manual focus resulted in some great images. With the arrival of the XT1 I wasn’t too sure. I liked the rangefinder look of the XE1 and XE2s but wasn’t keen on the mini DSLR look of the XT1. It was getting rave reviews so I decided to give it a try.
Which brings me up to date. Having found my perfect wedding camera, I have sold off all of my Canon gear and now switched over completely to Fujifilm. I use two XT1s plus the XE1 and the X100T. I have six lenses for the two main cameras and I have recently bought a Nissin i40 flash which does a suprising good job when needed. Not as powerful as the two Canon 580s I used to use but more flexible in operation. Also have a Cactus wireles system for off camera flash which works every time unlike the Canons and pocket wizards. So you could say that I have scaled everything down somewhat but I am enjoying the freedeom that brings. Of course there are pros and cons and it was a brave decision to change a complete system that I have been using for years as a professional wedding photographer. However for the time being I think I have found the perfect wedding camera. No doubt newer models and systems will attract my attention but for now I am enjoying the move and the freedom that the smaller outfit brings to my wedding photography.