I have now been a photographer for over 20 years and gone through the transition from analog to digital, which I did quite early compared to some of my friends and colleagues.
I honestly have no desire to ever shoot analog anymore – the speed and flexibility of digital are just so overwhelming that analog is no option for me.
I also don’t buy into that digital-has-no-soul talk… As an assistant, I used to stand in the darkroom for years and the same wonderful mistakes that happened under the red light happen all the time in my digital workflow.
Digital definitely has soul and feeling and by keeping the door slightly ajar for outside influences and “errors” you will constantly be challenged and sometimes amazed by new images and unusual solutions.
In my earliest professional days, I used 2-3 Pentax 6×7 medium format bodies with mostly the 165mm lens. The Pentax was a great, albeit very basic camera, with a huge negative but it broke frequently so you needed to have at least 2 bodies with you – just in case…
My next system was the amazing Contax 645 – which had for me the novelty of autofocus.
All of a sudden virtually 100% of my frames were now in focus – earlier I always had to count on some frames being slightly shaky or out of focus since I mostly shot with a bit longer lenses. Even though I do not own the Contax anymore I have seen the system being used today still – with digital backs – a proof of concept and a testimony to the power of flexibility and “modular thinking”. In short a great camera and system.
At around this time digital started to become a real option and I finally made the switch to the very first digital Canon EOS 1Ds – with a for today’s standards paltry 11mb sensor.
The switch to digital was a major turning point for me. Now I could afford to shoot “sloppier and more emotional” and the fact that the gear was a lot lighter made me more mobile and agile as a photographer – fewer shots stuck on a tripod and more moving around – simply freer.
I honestly credit a lot of my development as a photographer to the fact that I switched to a smaller digital camera – gear is important but sometimes not for the reasons you think!
I stuck with the Canon EOS line and progressed all the way to the Canon 1d Mark III – always with the Canon 28-70mm f/2.8 zoom until very recently when Nikon released the Nikon D800 and D800E models.
I was wowed by the fact that all of a sudden I could have a “almost medium format” feeling with similar sharpness and resolution in a very lightweight setup. Another major factor was the price difference – almost €900,- the difference between the D800 and Canon equivalents made the choice easy. Other factors are the great video capabilities on the Nikon + the fact (that I already mentioned) that the images the Nikon produces are similar in feeling to a medium format camera.
So here I am and this is the current content of my camera bag:
– Nikon D800 with the budget AF-S Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4. (with image stabilization)
– also have an older Nikkor 105mm f/1.8 lens (no auto focus but wonderful for video)
– My everyday-carry-around camera is a Lumix DMC-LX5
– A Linhof Monoball w. quickrelease on a Gitzo tripod (not shown) for the times when I need to go on a tripod – these bad boys are over 20 years old and still function flawlessly – german engineering at it’s best!
– USB sticks in various sizes are a must to have with you…
– A Minolta Lightmeter (which I never use) is still packed in the bag… Sentimental reasons maybe?
– I have a 3 Tb external disk packed as secondary back-up on location – My primary backup is on the desktop for speed.
– Cleaning equipment including swabs and 99.9% alcohol and dust blower
– Google Nexus 7 tablet – great to show images on and is always packed
– 2010 MacBook Pro – still running OK despite scary noises and clatter from the disk (not running a SSD – next time)
– And lastly – a notebook to for notes to-do’s – keeps me focused and I like the analog way of keeping notes.